Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Workout Wednesday: Getting the Boot

Once I signed Little K up for gymnastics, I began receiving emails from her gym. The very first email was announcing the new schedule for boot camp from 6:30am-7:30am two mornings a week at $5 per class. I mentioned my interest in the class to R who immediately stated that he could give me boot camp at home for free.
Oh, really?
Well, he does come from a military family. I’ve heard enough stories about his time growing up on base overseas to realize that he knows a thing or two about PT. A quick negotiation later (at least 5 days per week and I need him to be proactive in getting down stairs to boot me) and we were set.
Here is Rspence’s guide to at-home boot camp:
·         5 Minutes: Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope. I use a weighted jump rope in order to work my arms a little more.
·         Thighs, Buttocks, Biceps: Lunges with Curls. Knee goes all the way to the floor while both arms curl with comfortable weights. I’m currently using 5lb weights since I’m trying to tone rather than grow the arms.
·         Triceps: Weights behind the Head. One arm at a time lifts a weight behind the head. I had to start with 10lb for my right arm and 5lb for my left. Trying to work my left harder so that they are at least lifting evenly.
·         Abs: Marine Sit-Ups. You know, the kind with your arms behind your head and bringing your elbow to the opposite knee. Awful.
·         Pecs: Push-Ups. Nothing fancy about these. I get to do girl push-ups but he wants me to get to the point of doing guy push-ups. We’ll see.
·         Cardio: Run. Again, nothing fancy. Plug in the headphones and jog for at least one mile without stopping.
·         Cool Down: Walk. By the time I’m done getting booted, Little K is ready for a bike ride. She rides her rapidly-getting-too-small bike while we both walk briskly behind her. Then we all cool off with a sugar-free popsicle on the porch.
A quick breakdown of equipment:
·         Running Shoes, Required
That’s it! Everything else is optional:
·         Yoga Mat
·         Comfortable Weights (I have two 5lb and one 10lb)
·         Jump Rope (Mine is weighted)
·         Music and Headphones
The whole idea is that the Marine’s don’t give you special equipment - you use your body to provide its own resistance. I was not about to go out and buy anything special for my husband to torture me with or buy a treadmill. I just happened to already have each of the items above. I don’t even have an armband for my iPhone, I just run gripping it in the regular case. I jump rope in the driveway, do everything else in the garage, and then run the streets in our neighborhood. That’s it.
I have to cop to being much less fit than I thought. I started out only being able to do 10 lunges, 20 sit-ups, and 10 push-ups. I remember a time when I could do 30 of each without a problem. *sigh* I may be able to carry a 50lb 6-year-old but I’m realizing that it’s only because she wraps her legs around my waist. The good news is that I’ve already improved to 16 lunges and 15 push-ups. So, y’know, progress! Yay!
I’m trying to think of a cute way to wrap this up but nothing comes to mind. Working out is hard. It makes me sweat, which I hate. It takes up time, both during the workout and the added shower after. It takes a few weeks to feel the results, even longer to see them. But I feel better physically and mentally after, plus I’m grateful for the extra time with R. And, hopefully, we are modeling healthy habits for Little K.
And now, a little recipe for you.
Not-Too-Bad for You Creamy Pasta
This is a little number I whipped up last night out of our freezer and pantry. It turned out very well and is full of veggies. Serves two adults with leftovers for lunch the next day.
·         1C Whole Grain Bowtie Pasta
·         1 Chicken Breast, Cut into Bite-Size Pieces
·         1C Frozen Cauliflower, Thawed
·         1/2C Frozen Peas
·         1C Chopped Fresh Kale
·         1/3C Shredded or Julienned Carrot
·         1 Garlic Clove, Minced
·         1/2C Chicken Stock
·         3T Reduced Fat Onion Chive Cream Cheese

Cook pasta according to packaging. Drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat your pan or dutch oven with a little EVOO. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown in the pan. Once the chicken begins to brown, thrown in the cauliflower. Once the cauliflower begins to brown, throw in the chopped kale. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Once the kale is cooked, thrown in the carrot and garlic. As soon as you can smell the garlic, add the chicken stock so that the garlic does not burn. Once the stock begins to boil, stir in the cream cheese and allow to melt. Fold in the frozen peas and cooked pasta. Turn the heat down to low and allow to thicken, less than 5 minutes.
Serve in bowls with fresh cracked pepper. Consume.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Brand New Year

Today is the first day of first grade. My baby girl is growing up! Next thing we know, she’ll be graduating high school and then off to college.
Little K started gymnastics last week. As I sat there watching the 6 and 7 year olds practice tumbling, hula hooping on the balance beam, swinging from the uneven bars, and running and jumping off the platform for the vault, a children’s karate class began to assemble.
When my sister Brina was in 4th grade, she began taking karate. A few years later, my mother began taking the class with her. A few years after that, I started karate, too. I continued with karate until the summer of 2005 when I got pregnant with Little K. After that, the heat and stress became too much and I was no longer able to keep up with the exercises. I was about two months away from testing for my adult brown belt. My mother and sister continued for two more years, each of them reaching second degree black and teaching their own group of kids.
I was so proud of us girls; we were tough. It didn’t matter if we weren’t popular or the prettiest girls in school – we were strong. We had learned about perseverance, determination, strength, and discipline. We were more than the top girls in the class – we WERE the top of the class. We sparred with the boys and won as many matches as we lost. Sensei learned not to soften his blows when testing our stances or kata. We went to coed tournaments and always placed. At one point, I made us shirts that said “I Hit Like A Girl” with a silhouette of a woman in her gi, throwing a high kick. J At the height of classes, I was at the dojo for five hours each week; Mom and Brina were there for seven so they could teach. When we weren’t in class, I would practice my kata at home, asking for notes and testing each move in order to perfect the exercise. We bonded over sweat, blood, and the euphoria of learning what we were capable of. I absolutely love remembering our time together.
Back to last Thursday, sitting in the gym. I saw the kids go by in their gis, some carrying weapons and others with sparring gear. I listened to them practice, counting to ten in Japanese and calling out “Ki-Yah!” And I looked at my girl on the gymnastics floor…
I wouldn’t change a thing. She is out there, working hard, and being true to herself. Little K isn’t ready for karate; she may never be. But she’s learning how to control her body, pushing herself to try new things, working up a sweat, using muscles she hasn’t used before, and having a great time.
If she continues with gymnastics, she will have a lot to overcome. For one, she is already very tall for her age; she is within a foot of the height of the best gymnasts and she’s only six years old. For another, both sides of her family have struggled with keeping off weight. And third, gymnastics is an expensive and time-consuming sport. We place a higher value on family time and church than extra-curricular activities in our home.
But we’ll see how it goes. Maybe she will love gymnastics and we will decide to add a Saturday morning class next year. Maybe she will decide this isn’t for her and try girl scouts next year. Maybe she’ll see the karate class and give that a shot.
I have dreams for her, it’s true. Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I can’t wait to get her into piano and voice lessons. I want her to join the choir, to learn to play an instrument, to love show tunes and opera… But that is who I am.
At the end of the day, all I want her to be is who God made her.

Friday, August 24, 2012

In Which I Talk about My Period

If you’d rather not read about it, I understand. Just go ahead and click away – I’ll catch you on the flip side.
Let me lay it out for you: My cycle is long. It used to be 6 weeks, then grew to 7 weeks while I was a donor, and then dropped off to 5 weeks after that ended. Day 1 is always preceded by at least three consecutive nights of waking up at 2:00 AM and staying awake for two hours. Also, intestinal distress. CD1 is usually light, CD2 is heavy, then scales back down during CD3-5. Nothing too terrible.
To review, this past cycle was 8 weeks long and Wednesday was CD1. This time it was preceded by only one night of waking (and staying awake) almost a week prior to my period. CD2 was heavy, as anticipated, but here we are on CD3 and the bleeding has vanished completely.
I have accounted for all of the extra stress over the summer (the kids being gone, surgery, travel, two baby showers, SSA moving out, having to see Little K’s father) which should explain the long cycle. Of course, my CM during that time made me think I was ovulating at three different times. [And, just because it bears mentioning despite the vasectomy, intimacy goes way up when the kids are gone. Just sayin.]
I’ve been temping for the past week, just to get my head around the process. Here are the stats:
·         CD58 98.0
·         CD59 97.8
·         CD60 98.2
·         CD1 97.5 (Moderate Bleeding)
·         CD2 97.7 (Heavy Bleeding)
·         CD3 97.6 (None)
The good news is that, based on the drop from CD60 (?!) to CD1, my body is doing what it’s supposed to do. That’s a relief. The shorter bleed just has me stumped. It usually wouldn’t bother me except that we’re talking about TTC at the end of the year. Eenteresting.
Speaking of, now that my period has come (and apparently gone), I’m dialed WAY down on the baby crazy. When I’m at the end of my cycle, there’s nothing I want more than to be pregnant. When we’re back at the beginning, I’m iffy on the whole idea. What in the world?
In other news, my bio and headshot are being included in a proposal in Florida for a project to be awarded in about two months. Here’s hoping!
So, there’s a little update from crazytown, population dspence. Hope you guys have a rockin’ weekend!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Uncharted Territory

Today is CD1 (FINALLY!). And I have a few questions for you temping girls out there:
·         How important is it to temp at the same time every day? For example, my temp time is 6:30 AM. However, I woke up at 6:15 AM this morning. Do I take my temp at 6:15 or do I lie in bed for 15 minutes?
·         What about the “three consecutive hours of sleep rule”? Example: I woke up to use the restroom at 4:00 AM on Monday. My alarm will go off at 6:30 AM, meaning I will not get another three hours of sleep. Do I temp at 4:00 AM, having gotten 5 hours of sleep, or at 6:30 AM with 2 ½ hours of sleep?
·         Do you temp AND check your cervical mucus or just temp?
Please forgive my ignorance. I’ve never done this before!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Scattered, Smothered, and Covered

This whole post may seem rather scattered and, really, that’s exactly how I’m feeling – scattered. My mind is all over the place right now.
Today marks exactly eight weeks since my last period. And I have no spotting and no positive pregnancy test. My thoughts are that the trauma of surgery and then stress of planning two baby showers delayed ovulation. But what if I’ve stopped ovulating entirely…
I had a dream last night that I went to my center to pick up the donor sperm and, while I was there, my coordinator offered a free ultrasound so we could make sure I was about to ovulate. She stuffed the wand in, took a quick look, and said, “Did you know that you’re already pregnant?”
*sigh*I can’t wait for my period to start.
(A quick story: R bought a new truck yesterday and told me that he’s going to wait to name it until we have a baby, that way we can use the leftover baby name for the truck. His example was having a little girl and letting me know that he was taking Abby (the baby) for a ride with Aaron (the truck). He’s coming around more and more every day!)
I’ve never been on this side of the equation before – actually planning for a baby. Little K just sort of popped up one day and it was “Wow! We’re having a baby!” Now here I am discussing things like “What would be the best time to be pregnant” and “What is the best month to give birth?”
Of course, I know that’s fertile talk. I’ve heard enough stories of women in the IF community talk about the coworker who decides when they want the baby to be born, try one time exactly nine months prior, and BAM! Baby times. And no one likes those super fertile coworkers.
Doesn’t everyone start off that way, though? At least, in some form? You start your journey expecting to conceive right away. You either don’t know -or don’t believe- that you could experience problems conceiving. You start out fully expecting that you have sex and then get a baby. That’s it.
I’ve read the statistics about donor sperm. I know that it takes an average of four cycles to become pregnant with home insemination. But, if that’s the average, that means that *some* conceive faster. Some actually do conceive the first time. And I want to believe that I can be that one.
But I know that there’s a 75% chance that I won’t. And there’s always the chance that it won’t work at all…
I want to be pregnant right away but the budget tells us that we would have the money saved up to cover the hospital stay and two months of maternity leave by September 2013. Subtract nine and we’ll probably try the first time in December/January. Of course, the pessimistic side of me says that, if it won’t work the first time anyway, we should go ahead and try in August/September so that the failed cycle is out of the way. And, if we do try right away, maybe just order one vial so that it’s less money down the drain.
(But what if it works? We won’t have the funds together and our family will go back into debt. GAH!)
Part of me understands that I know too much. Like I said, Little K just sort of happened! If I had never learned of the IF community, I would just plan on cycling once in January and have a baby in the fall. Done. Now I know that I’m not getting any younger, that miscarriages happen, and that someone has to land on the wrong side of the statistics.
My only experiences have been fertile but I know that infertility can show up at any time.
I have labeled myself as experiencing “situational secondary infertility” because of R’s vasectomy. But what is “situational” becomes “actual” secondary infertility? What happens then? Is it worth it to put our family and finances through more invasive treatment? R is turning 50 in a few years. Little K is already closing in on seven years old. And 35 is just a handful of years away for me.
I’m afraid of failure, so I want to try right away so that we can know whether or not it will work.
I’m afraid of success, so I want to wait until the finances are squared away before we try.
I’m afraid that we are overstepping God’s will for our family by pursuing a pregnancy.
I’m afraid that we already overstepped God’s will by getting the vasectomy in the first place.
I’m afraid that our time for growing our family has already run out.
I wish that we were able to just experience an “oops!” pregnancy again.
Lord, Take my fear and replace it with Your peace. Help us to continually seek Your will and be at peace with the result. In Your name I pray, Amen.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Parties and Progress

Little K came home! We had our Welcome Home party Saturday night and a sleep over on the pullout couch. Sunday was a lazy day with just one burst of errands. While we were out, Little K and I decided to stop in at Home.Goods. and happened upon a Halloween costume too good to pass up:

Looks like dspence isn’t sewing for Halloween this year! Woot!
We made some progress on the conception front since Friday. After talking about donor sperm Friday morning, I went online and settled on a bank that meets our needs and ships to patient homes. We did a few searches and narrowed it down to three. R read through all of the information available and picked a donor that is almost a perfect match. A quick call to our clinic and they agreed to submit the physician’s waiver to the bank free of charge. Did some research on home insemination methods, found one that we are comfortable with. Picked up a basal thermometer to begin charting. Got a coupon for 50% off our total purchase of store-brand products at our drug store, so we can purchase several ovulation prediction kits and pregnancy tests for almost nothing.
Holy crap.
And in the midst of all of that, R and I are continuing to have conversations about whether or not to even have a child. The things that are tugging on me right now:
·         I turned 31 in March.
·         I had a brush with cancer in June.
·         Our family of four was knocked back to a family of three in August.
·         We now have a bedroom that could become the nursery.
·         R is finalizing a deal today that will pay off all of our credit card debt.
Another reason is that our adult time (our time alone while the kids visit their other parents during Christmas, Spring, and Summer breaks) is gone now that SSA lives in SC. That means that he’ll be with us for the majority of the time that Little K is in FL. One of the arguments against another child is that we will lose those quiet months...
The reasons why we shouldn’t have a child:
·         R is resigned to another child, rather than excited.
·         Our daycare of choice is $1K/month.
·         We would move from being “comfortable” financially to being basically paycheck to paycheck.
I just don’t know. From our talks this weekend, R has given me tacit approval to move forward with insemination. He has spoken about genetics not being important, about how he would be the child’s father no matter what. He understands my reasons for wanting another child. We had a talk about tell/don’t tell on the donor sperm issue. Even went so far as to discuss whether to try this coming cycle or wait until the next so that the chart is clearer! You would think I’d be nothing but excited right now!
I think I was able to isolate it this morning: When R is vehemently against having a child, I can be vehemently for the idea without any repercussions. I would never move forward without his approval. Now that he’s relenting, the decision is in my hands. And I hate making big decisions. It would be so much easier if a switch flipped and he was supportive and excited…
So, for right now, I’m just waiting and praying. I started temping, just so I can get used to it. My period has been MIA for eight weeks as of tomorrow, so the numbers don’t really mean anything at this point. I am starting to spend dedicated time each day in scripture and prayer, focusing on whether or not to move forward with this. My clinic will email us once they have submitted the form. I’m going to contact the bank to ask about financing so we could buy two vials instead of one for the first cycle.
Just waiting for God to move.
And for my period to start.
Lord, More than I want a child, I want to be aligned with Your will. Please help me to quiet my own wants so that I can hear You more clearly. In Your name I pray, Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Busy Bees

We have several things going on in our home. Perhaps a bulleted list will be best:
·         Little K comes home tomorrow! We are so stinkin’ excited. We have a Welcome Home Little K Party when she comes home after being away for the summer (it’s also a bit of a half-birthday party since her birthday is the day after Christmas), with decorations, a special meal, and a few gifts. We are all set for tomorrow – just need our girl back with us!
·         SSA has decided to live in SC with his mother. It’s a bitter pill for R, who has been raising SSA as a single dad since SSA was 2 months old. But SSA is 13 now and wants to be with his older brother. Prayers for peace and healing for R are appreciated.
·         Work has been absolutely nuts but I feel like we have made significant progress this week. Flu season is upon us and it’s time to get up ‘n go!
·         R is slowly coming around on the baby idea. Little comments this week (like “now we have room for the nursery” when packing SSA’s belongings and “it would be nice to raise a child together instead of in a broken home”) lead me to believe that R is holding up his end of the agreement by really trying to embrace the possibility of another child.
·         We have done the math for IVF with SSR, which is $12K. Today we started talking about home insemination with donor sperm. With my fertility record, our only reason for doing IVF is R’s vasectomy. And, at least for me, it’s more about being pregnant with and raising a child with R; I don’t feel strongly about it being genetically related to him. R likes the idea because it’s much less expensive. Still gathering information about that. Emailed my clinic coordinator this afternoon about sperm banks.
·         And a bit of the crazy has been leaking out. My last period started on June 21st. Which means that the hormones have been building for almost 8 weeks. Of course, all of the pregnancy tests are coming up negative. (Which, duh, vasectomy. Boooo.) I am beyond ready for my period to start. As I wait, I have been designing nurseries - two for a girl and one for a boy. Any votes on whether or not to post the inspiration boards?
So that’s where we are in dspence land. How are things with you?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Exciting, Scared, Prayerful

We’ve been considering IVF.
Well, I’VE been considering IVF. To the point where I’ve already attended a casual consultation with the coordinator at my old clinic, asked questions, prepared a cost spreadsheet, and researched the various options for Surgical Sperm Retrieval (SSR).
R and I have had several discussions over the past few days, most of which come down to the same old thing: I want another child, he doesn’t. The one concession has been that he will spend the next three months seriously considering the idea and trying to come around.
Why the next three months?
Because the treatment being considered is Shared IVF with Egg Donation.
The program goes like this:
We decide to pursue IVF and my profile is made available for selection. A recipient couple selects my profile and the cycle begins. I go through stimulation and retrieval as normal. After retrieval, eggs 1-6 are given to me, eggs 7-19 are given to the recipient, and eggs 20+ are given to me. After that, fertilization and transfer are handled as normal.
The cost savings is about $7000 total.
Part of the good news with this program is that we have seen that I produce far more than 19 eggs per cycle; I believe my lowest count was 23. And we know that my eggs perform well after retrieval, fertilizing, dividing, and hatching well.
The program also includes ICSI, which will be required given that R’s sperm will not be motile from SSR.
So back to the big question – why three months?
Because the cutoff age for egg donors is 31. Once I turn 32, I will officially be too old to be an egg donor anymore.
My birthday is not until March but there would be so much to do (medical screening, profile selection, cycle synchronization, and egg retrieval) that we want as wide a margin as possible. Three months from January to the end of March to get to retrieval means that we need a decision no later than Christmas.
Heck, we need a decision by Halloween.
By… NOW.
Not that it’s any pressure or anything.
And the honest truth is that I am still unsure of what is best for our family. I was so excited yesterday and this morning that I couldn’t stop smiling and bouncing around. Now I’m terrified of the expense and changes that would come along with treatment and a baby. I just… gah. I will post more on that tomorrow. For now, I want to leave this reminder:
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Dear Lord, Thank You for knowing me better than I know myself. More than I want a child, I want to be in alignment with Your will. Hear my wordless sighs and aching groans. Take this desire from me or bring R into alignment with it. Thank You for working all things toward Your good and perfect plan. You are Good. Amen.