Ivy's Birth

*If you do not want to see birth photos, then this post isn't for you. Don't worry, there's no nudity*
  After the ectopic pregnancy in 2011, to which I became a uni-tube gal, getting pregnant again proved to be difficult. We tried unsuccessfully for many, many months. Last year around October, we tried an IUI which was also unsuccessful and heartbreaking to go through. Because of the holidays, we decided that we didn't want to add the stress of fertility treatments to our life so we took a break from the madness that is trying to conceive.

Then in February, I decided to randomly take a pregnancy test seeing as I was supposed to start my period soon and I was mildly curious. I didn't have any inkling either way except for the fact that my boobs were still a bit sore, which was unusual for me. I was shocked to see the test come up positive instantly.

Ivy's pregnancy was very non-eventful. I first had an early ultrasound to determine if the pregnancy was in the correct spot and from then on out, it was smooth sailing. She was due on October 26th and the entire pregnancy, I felt very patient for her to get here. I wasn't feeling that , "Okay, I'm DONE" feeling until I was about 39 weeks pregnant.

Now, it's here I should mention that up until 32 weeks, I had been living in Denver and had seen a team of OB's there. I knew that I wanted to try to deliver naturally this time around and that I wanted to utilize the birthing tubs offered in the hospital. They were very supportive of that, which was nice!

Then Tyler got a new job in Sacramento. His job in Denver was not working out and the company was not doing well at all. There were a few times when we wondered if he would be downsized. So we made the decision to move out to California with the new job offer.

Among the many things with moving, I had to find a new OB that was supportive of my natural birth with low interventions, a hospital that supported that practice, and they had to both be in my new insurance network. With the stress of moving, I broke down a bit and said to Tyler, "I can't do all of this at 32 weeks pregnant! If I want to have a natural birth, I might as well find a midwife and do a home birth!"
It was something that I said half-jokingly and then, with the next few days, really thought about it. I was low-risk and a perfect candidate. I could have my peaceful birth with low interventions. I knew a midwife would be supportive of a waterbirth. It was then when I decided to go for it.

I began calling different midwives in Sacramento and when I talked to Randi, I felt an instant connection! I loved so many things about her and her practice of care, like how she came to my home for all visits. Let me tell you, this is the BEST thing ever. Why did we ever change this?

So I had my midwife and my homebirth kit, I was ready to go! I felt completely at peace with the thought of a homebirth and I felt confidence that I could do it. I was not afraid of anything "going wrong" because I trusted my body and I trusted Randi.

On Saturday night, October 24th, I started having some very mild waves (contractions). They felt similar to medium-level period cramps. Not the worst period cramps I've had, but noticeable enough to start timing them. They were about 6-8 minutes apart but mild enough that I could sleep through them. Once they had been coming for a few hours, I texted my midwife to tell her what was going on (yes, TEXTED, how awesome is that?!)

The next morning, they were staying consistently about the same and Randi decided to stop by that afternoon to check me. Yes, no going to a hospital with a bunch of germs! She came to my house on a Sunday afternoon to just check on me even though I had an appointment the next day with her. I was dilated to a 5 and was 100% effaced. During the previous weeks, I had been slowly dilating and at my 39 week appointment, I had been 4cm and 75%.

She swept my membranes and then told me that she was going to go get something to eat, but that she was SURE she would be back in a few hours and we would be having that baby tonight!

Immediately, my contractions picked up in both intensity and time. They were now coming every 3 minutes and I would compare them to intense period pains. Enough that I had to stop and breathe through them but definitely still bearable. I texted her within the hour and told her that she should make her way back.

When she arrived, I had already made Tyler put down the painter's tarp on the living room floor just in case my water broke. I was bouncing on the ball in my underwear and a shirt and listening to my birthing day affirmations. Between contractions, we could easily converse and during contractions, I would switch from yoga ball to kneeling over the couch. I was able to walk freely (no IV!) and get into any position that I felt comfortable with. Mostly it was on the yoga ball with my hips rolled forward.

Every few minutes, Jack would come and check on me and ask, "Is baby sister here yet?" Then he would run back to his room to play. He was very excited to meet baby sister and I had prepared him earlier in the weeks for birth by showing him some youtube videos of natural birth. I didn't want him being frightened if I started making noises. He chose to mostly stay in his room and was totally fine with the whole process.

I was able to labor on the ball for a few hours and when I was checked again, I was at a 7! It felt good to have progress seeing as the contractions were becoming more and more intense. It was at this time that I wanted the tub filled up and try laboring there. Let me just tell you, everything they say about birthing in the tub is true! It's AMAZING! It took all of the gravity off of me and allowed me to concentrate on the pressure of her head on my cervix alone.

I remember that the contractions started getting sharp and I would moan through them. I concentrated really hard on allowing her to put that pressure on my cervix to open it up. That meant relaxing my pelvic floor even though it was difficult. After laboring a while in the tub, and still only being at a 7, I decided to let the midwives break my water so that we could progress some more. They broke my water in the tub and the fluid was nice and clear with some vernix floating around! All good!

After my water was broken, transition hit and I was really having to concentrate on breathing through the contractions. Yet after a while, I was STILL only at a 7 so my midwives suggested that I get out and allow gravity to help me get those last few cm out of the way.

Let me tell you, I did NOT want to get out. The weight was so incredibly heavy and the pressure became so intense. Randi brought in a birthing stool that I was able to sit on. I remember Randi saying, "At this point, you just need to give in to everything. Give in to the pain." and I did. When a contraction would come, I would grunt to the student midwife to indicate that I wanted her to press my hips (or back) as hard as possible, all while I would relax my pelvic floor and squeeze the crap out of Tyler's arm or hand. Over and over again I would do that and try to relax. 

I could feel the student midwives arms tremble from becoming tired. It was then that I realized that when you give birth with a midwife, you aren't just another patient. You feel this sacred sisterhood that is generations upon generations of birth. I realized that their goal was not just to have a live baby in the end, it was also to help me through labor emotionally. They labored along with me instead of just watching and waiting.

It was at this point when I began to seriously doubt how I was going to continue. I didn't know how I was going to be able to bear one more contraction and I would say stuff like, "I don't want to do this anymore" and "I can't keep going." but my midwives were supportive reassured me that I WAS doing this and I COULD get through.

They suggested that I tried laboring in the shower but all I wanted was to get in that tub again. They encouraged me to stay out of the tub just until I had progressed some more, so into the shower I got! Out of all the laboring positions, that was my least favorite. I think it was because my shower was so small that I felt confined and I hated using any extra muscles than necessary, like my leg muscles to hold myself up. I tried sitting on a chair in the shower but I didn't want any counter-pressure on my bum. I only stayed for a few contractions before making my way to the bed with the help of my team.

I laid on the bed and the contractions were so incredibly intense! So much pressure! I knew I was so close and must have only had a tiny bit to go because within a few minutes, I felt the urge to push through the contractions. That's when I said, "I want to get in the tub and push now!"

I waddled over to the tub and began to push and it felt SO AMAZING. It really does take away almost all of the pain from the contractions when you push. I sat on hands and knees and pushed my way through slowly. Pushing was hard work! It was as if I was running a marathon, and sweat would drip off of my forehead. I would try to breathe through each contraction but they were coming so close together that I couldn't take enough breaths before having to push again.

I reached down and felt her wrinkly head progressing down the birth canal. I always imagined that the stretch would only really hurt at the entrance, right when she was crowning, but I never considered that the WHOLE way down would have to stretch as well. I know, it makes sense that the whole vagina would have to stretch but it was something that I had just never thought about before.

What they say about the ring of fire, is also true. At least, it was for me. Oh boy! That stretch was quite the feeling. I remember feeling her head crowning and could only feel about a sand-dollar's worth and wondering how on earth it was going to stretch even MORE. But once I had reached that point, I couldn't slow down. With each contraction, my body pushed her out itself and I merely had to sit there and allow her to come. Again, I had to succumb to labor and allow everything to stretch.

Just when I felt like I couldn't stretch any more, I felt a pop and remember saying, "Her head is out!" and then I switched to my back as I quickly pushed out her shoulders and the rest of her body. At 10:20PM she was born and was quickly put on my chest. I felt the immense relief that it was done! I had birthed my little girl at home and caught her myself (with the help of my attentive midwives). She was very pink and covered in vernix. She would cry intermittently and her lungs sounded very clear.

A few minutes later, the placenta came out (which was so oddly relieving) and when the cord was white and limp, Tyler cut it. The water in the tub was getting cold so I handed Ivy to Tyler while the midwives helped me get into bed and get warmed.  

Moments later, Ivy was placed on my chest for skin-to-skin time and nursed. While I relaxed in bed, the midwives were busy working and cleaning up. They put away the tub, started laundry of all the dirty towels and clothes, brewed tea, threw away all of the used chuck pads, and a million other things that I probably didn't even notice. They worked as they monitored myself and Ivy. Later, they stitched me up (only 3 stitches), showed us the placenta, and did the well-baby check. 

They left at 2AM after we had all been fed and settled and Tyler and I were left to bond with our new little person. Jack was asleep during her birthing and woke the next day to meet baby sister.

After this experience, I told my midwives that I hated it! I didn't feel this empowering rush, I felt exhausted! I couldn't understand how women did this multiple times and I was certain that I never wanted to do it again.

But over the next few days, I began to feel that, "Holy crap, I did that!" feeling. Yes, it hurt but it was so worth it and yes, I would do it again. 

In the weeks leading up to Ivy's birth, I had serious doubts and anxieties about the pain of it all. I wasn't afraid of something going wrong, I was more anxious about the oncoming storm of labor. I told Randi that I wasn't sure I was ready and she told me, "Well of course you can't go through labor now but when it starts, your body will have the perfect cocktail of hormones that will get you through it." and she was right! 

So if you are considering a homebirth (or a natural birth), please don't let the fear of pain prevent you from going through. There are many reasons why some women should not have a homebirth but fear of labor (or tearing or contractions) should not be one of them. There are many things that I would be afraid of and childbirth is not one of them.

Why I Decided To Leave The (LDS) Church.

It may or may not come as a shock to anyone, but in November of 2013, I decided that being a part of the LDS faith was no longer what I felt was right. A few months later, I stopped going to church altogether. I have since "come out" to family and some friends about my faith transition but I have never actually taken the time to explain why I left in the first place.

First, there are many misconceptions about individuals that have left the church. So many, in fact, that I could dedicate a whole separate article listing those. What I have experienced is that usually people are so engrained with the misconceptions that they never actually hear me. They never really take the time to listen. They hear the truths I tell about my transition, but they never actually hear me. They choose to believe their own fallacy.

This is essentially the "agree to disagree" statement. And so, what I have found, is that it is a dichotomy of responses. Either they accept that my experiences in the church were different than the "right" way or they choose to interpret falsely "what's really going on" to pacify their cognitive dissonance.

I understand that some will respond as the latter group. I understand that some will misinterpret me and I understand that I can't do anything to change that.

So why the article?

Because I feel that true freedom comes from authenticity and that being true to myself is where I will find happiness.

                                                                     .                         .                          . 

First, let's cover some background. I was born into the covenant (parents sealed in the temple) by parents that loved the church wholly, who were taught by their parents the same ideals and who raised me to also love the church.

I was baptized when I was 8. We attended church every Sunday and mutual every Wednesday. We had scripture study and family prayers. We attended firesides and watched conference every 6 months. We were taught to have reverence and respect for the prophet. I even attended EFY while I was a teen and graduated Seminary.  Later, I got a degree from BYU-Idaho (a church school).

I was married in the Arizona temple to an amazing man that had served a full-time mission. We paid tithing every month and went to the temple often. We continued to attend church and both would gladly accept any calling the Lord sent our way.

I was devoted. I mean, devoted to my faith. I had a testimony and I believed--no, knew that the church was true.

So what happened?

Around 2010, I decided that contrary to The Church's stance, I did NOT believe LGBT's chose their sexuality. I remember taking a class at BYUI (a Family Proclamation class) that specifically asked this question. "Individuals who are gay are NOT born that way and simply choose their lifestyle"

I couldn't consciously choose "true". I took the hit and the point lost.

I soon learned that being even a tiny bit liberal in the LDS church is a very lonesome place to be. Rarely did people agree with me and if they did, they were also too afraid to say anything aloud. Those lessons where a well-intended person went off on "those liberals and democrats" in a subtly but knowingly way, it felt as if I was being personally attacked.  I was shamed and damned for my different opinions.

But that didn't matter because I knew the church was true and I held on to that. It didn't matter if everyone thought I was going to hell because I supported gay marriage (or abortion, or legalization of marijuana, etc.) because what mattered most was the principles I had been taught my whole life. Trust in the Lord and His mouthpieces and all will be well.

                                                                     .                         .                          .  

A few years later, I learned that I didn't even know much about the history of my own church. I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the early saints had struggles, but I didn't really know.

Soon, issues began to pop up and it was a punch to the gut. Since when did Joseph Smith have 40 wives? Some as young as 14 and some that were already married? Why did I never know that Joseph Smith translated most of the Book of Mormon by placing his face in a hat? You mean to tell me that the priesthood bad was on the temple too? So black men and women couldn't receive their endowments nor get sealed in the temple? Since when are there multiple accounts of the first vision with vastly different details?

Then more and more and more unfolded. Pre-1990's temple endowments, Book of Abraham, errors in the Book of Mormon, blood atonement, second anointing, the kinderhook plates.

That was only the history. There were so many unanswered questions about the policies today. Why can't women receive the priesthood? Why do we never talk about Heavenly Mother? Why do mission presidents receive excessive compensation? Why will they not tell us where the tithing money goes?

And piece by piece everything crumbled and I was left alone in a pile of unanswerable questions combined with questionable history, policies, and doctrines.

Deep depression came over me and I felt completely alone and isolated. 

Unless you have also gone through a faith crisis, you will never understand the excruciating pain it is to find yourself again after one. I prayed excessively to know truth. I opened my heart to both possibilities. I prayed and cried and prayed some more and I got an answer.

That it is so much bigger than the LDS church.

I felt peace and I knew what I had to do. I asked myself, "Do I believe that God would build a multibillion dollar mall instead of putting that money towards humanitarian relief? Do I believe that God commanded adultery? Do I believe in a God that discriminates eternal life based off of skin color or sexual orientation?"

The answer was a resounding, "NO".

                                                                     .                         .                          .

Of course, this transition happened over a matter of many, MANY months of praying and searching. Tyler was along side me the whole way. Talking and supporting and loving me just the same.

At first, yes, I was angry and very depressed. I felt as if I had been lied to my entire life. I was grieving fiercely. I never wanted this to happen and I never asked for this. It made me angry that I was put through such emotional turmoil. And just like any process of grieving, anger turned to sadness, which turned to bargaining, which turned to denial and then back to sadness. And over and over again.

Looking back now, it was my transformation. It was me emerging from the chrysalis until I was finally free and in the acceptance stage.

When I decided to "come out" to my family, I was expecting the worst. To them, I was rejecting eternal life and damning myself to hell for eternity. I had no clue how they would react and just like any group of individuals, the reactions were mixed. Mostly support, which was unexpected but appreciated. Some condemnation. A little gossip. Hey, jerks exist in every group and I didn't allow it to affect me.

                                                                     .                         .                          .

And that brings us to today. I haven't officially resigned out of respect for Tyler and my family but that's just a formality to me. It doesn't mean anything either way.

I'm rarely angry anymore and I definitely don't hate the church. I support those in my family that still choose the LDS faith. I'm happy that they have found something that makes them happy.

As for me, I don't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. Nor do I think that the only way back to God is through the church. I don't believe in any of the doctrine or in the Book of Mormon. I don't believe in a God that would command polygamy or polyandry. I don't believe in a God that discriminates eternal life based off of skin color or sexual orientation. I don't believe that the church is led by inspired men now.

And you know what? I am happy.Very happy. Joyful.

I would hope that my friends and family would still choose to love me for who I am and not which religion I affiliate with. In a perfect world, there would be no side-ways glaces of judgement, there would be no gossiping about "what's really going on" and there would be no, "She's being led away by Satan".

In the end though, I think reactions are a good judgement on character and a good indication of who I choose to remain a part of my life. A life that is perfect and whole without The Church.

                                                                     .                         .                          .

"Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss."

10 Dos & Don'ts When Talking To Infertile Couples

Infertility is something that, for whatever reason, isn't talked about much. Is it any wonder then that not many know how to respond? I'll be honest, before I experienced infertility, I didn't know what to say either.
When I was young, my sister had experienced years and years of painful surgeries, procedures, medications, financial burdens of treatments, and so much more from infertility. Even now, I can't even begin to understand her pain. Back then, I was barely an adult and had no idea how to show my support and sympathy for her.
Now that I am in the thick of infertility, I have a better understanding of what it means to experience it and have learned what has helped and what hasn't.
*disclaimer: I do not claim to write from the experiences of every infertile woman. I can only write what I have personally learned and experienced from my situation. This list may not apply to everyone. I can say, that from talking with many other infertile women, they also feel the same way to some degree*

1. DON'T use the phrase "At least…"
…you already have a child.
… you were able to get pregnant in the first place.
… you haven't had to struggle with this for 8 years like, so-and-so.

No. Just stop. Whenever you use an "at least…" phrase, you are essentially saying that my struggle now doesn't matter because of other factors in my life (either past or future). This is completely untrue and a very uncaring phrase to say.

First off, I don't need you to count my blessings for me, I am very capable of doing that myself, thankyouverymuch. 

Second, just because I may have other positive blessings in my life, does not mean that this current struggle is somewhat "less" of a struggle. Heartache is heartache. Yes, there are always positives in my life, but I don't need you to be a ray of sunshine in this dark point. I need you to be by my side, supporting me through it.

2. DON'T say "Just relax, and it will happen…"
It's rude and condescending to assume that because it was easy for YOU to conceive (or your sister, or your aunt) that it's also so easy for me.

This is essentially like going up to a cancer patient and saying, "Oh just relax and ignore it! All that stress is what's REALLY causing this. Believe me, it will just go away".

It's essentially saying that my infertility is all in my head when, in fact, infertility is an actual disorder.

3. DON'T give me anecdotal advice.
Yes, that's awesome that your sister (or cousin, or aunt, or best friend) had infertility, went on vacation, ate salmon every single day, and then got pregnant that month. Good for them but I don't want to really hear about their happy ending right now.

And please don't tell me the story about how your sister (or cousin, or aunt, or best friend) had sex in some unimaginable position and they conceived. 

Don't even start telling me about when your sister (or cousin, or aunt, or best friend) just started doing positive affirmations and she magically got pregnant.

Seriously, I don't want to hear it. It doesn't give me hope, it just makes me angry and even more frustrated. This is, again, essentially saying that my infertility is a product of my imagination.

4. DON'T tell me, "You can just adopt!"

While this may be a solution to eventually add to our family, it does not undo all of the trauma that comes from infertility. Did you know that studies have shown that the depression and anxiety from infertile couples is comparable to those that have cancer, heart disease, and are HIV-positive?
Think about that for a while and let it sink in.
Plus, there is no "just" in adoption and it isn't something that is easy to do. It's not as if I can run down to my nearest Miss Hannigan's Girls Orphanage and pick out a child to bring home, like I would a dog at the humane society.
While I have never personally experienced the adoption process, I have asked many friends about their experiences. They have all told me of the stress, anxiety, and heartbreak that came from their adoption process. It's not for everyone and it's not a "cure-all" for those with infertility.

5. DON'T bring religion into this.

Please, don't tell me to keep praying or to trust in the Lord and everything will work out. I do not need to hear that this is a trial from God to make me into a better person

I may not be religious like you and even if I go to the same church,, I may not even have the same ideas about deity. It's not a source of comfort to some.
If there is a chance that I do share the exact same beliefs, then I would say to tread lightly. It may be a source of comfort or it may not so I would recommend to err on the side of caution with this one.

6. DON'T ask about my treatment.

I know that family and friends want to show support, but talking about treatment is a very personal thing. It's usually not polite to ask about someone's pap smear or mammogram. We usually don't ask people when they're going to get a colonoscopy or ask about their yeast infection treatment.

Infertility treatment is invasive as it is. What was once something personal that could be created by a couple in the bedroom, is now subject to tests and tubes in a lab.

It's a sensitive topic to most and while I don't want to discourage people from asking, you also need to be prepared that if you do ask, you may be met with, "I don't want to talk about that right now."

Try to understand that it's not a reflection on our relationship and it's nothing personal against you.

7. DO show your support

So while it's mostly not appropriate to ask about fertility treatments, there are other ways you can show your support. Here is a short list:

- Share articles about infertility awareness. I wouldn't recommend tagging the person with infertility and saying "See! This is for you!", but a general interest that you want to bring awareness to infertility is great.

- Donate money (if they have a fund). Infertility is expensive. IUI's can range from $1,500-$4,000 per cycle. Even then, there's only about a 20% chance or less of conceiving. IVF can range from $10,000-$17,000 per cycle. And even with all of that, there is no guarantee that you will have a baby. If the couple has a fund set up, donate! Even $5 can help. If you can't donate, share their donation page on Facebook so they can have more reach.

- Write a simple "Thinking of you" message. It doesn't have to be an official card in the mail, but even just an email with kind and encouraging words can help.

- Offer to babysit (if they have kids) for the couple to go to appointments/treatments/consultations.

- Offer a shoulder to cry on. They may take your offer or they may not, but at least they will know that you are available when they need to vent/cry.

8 DO tell me your experience.
Earlier I mentioned that sharing "happy ending" stories is discouraging, I do appreciate when people tell me their personal experience with infertility.

It means a lot when people say something like, 

"I watched my sister struggle with infertility for years. It broke my heart to see her go through all of these invasive medical procedures only to come out of it not pregnant and even more broken-hearted than before. I'm sorry that you are going through this too."

Phrases like this? Good.

Now let me tell you an opposite example,

"My aunt tried for 7 years to have a child. It was really sad because she didn't have any children and she had gotten married in her 30's. Then, one day, she had a dream she was pregnant. She took a test and she was!!!"

Phrases like this? No good.

One is relating to the individual with infertility. The other is telling a magical ending story that is depressing to people with infertility. Got it? Good.

9.DO allow me to have bad days.
When someone close to us experiences something traumatic, we sympathize with them and comfort  them. I also think it's normal that afterward, friends and family forget. I'm not trying to make anyone feel guilty or place blame upon you. It's just a fact of life. You have your life to concentrate on. Soccer games, birthday parties, school, work, and overall life goes back to normal for you.
But it's not usually how it works for those that have experienced something traumatic. Infertility is a real, traumatic event that affects lives every single day..
Now, I'm not saying to bring it up constantly to show your support either. That's probably not going to help (and I say "probably" only because infertility experiences vary and I cannot speak for them all).
What I am saying, is to not take it personally if I don't want to participate in baby-related events. I may even have trouble being in the same room as a pregnant woman. I'm not mad at the fact that they're pregnant, it's just that it is a very physical reminder of what I don't have.

10. DO say...
Earlier I gave examples of what not to say and I wish I could make an opposite list of phrases that would be appropriate.
The problem is twofold.
First, there really is nothing you can say to make the situation better. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to say a profoundly touching remark.
And second, each case of infertility is different. Some women are dealing with poly cystic ovarian syndrome, some are dealing with endometriosis. There are some that have male-factor infertility, some both male & female. There are some, like me, that have no explanation.
Because there is such a wide spectrum of infertility, the needs are going to be different for each woman or couple.
The bread & butter of phrases to say would be, "I'm sorry. If you need me to do _______, I would love to help you. Just know that you have my support".
. . .

Overall, infertility is a sensitive subject and the best guide would be to be willing to listen and respect the needs & requests of the infertile couple. Even if it doesn't make sense to you. Even if you don't agree. Even if you can't understand.

My (Ongoing) Journey With Secondary Infertility

It's time that I opened up about something that I've tried to keep hidden for almost 3 years. 

The best place to start would be at the beginning. 

In November of 2011, I was admitted into the ER with extreme pains in my lower abdomen. I was 7 weeks pregnant and I knew something was wrong. 

I don't think words can adequately explain just how painful it was. It was off the charts on the pain scale. Labor looked like a 4 in comparison. 

After throwing up several times from the pain, I remember beginning to lose myself. I just thought over and over, "Give me the epidural, give me the epidural". After an ultrasound, they found that the baby had implanted in my fallopian tube where it had grown and burst. I was bleeding internally and would have to have emergency surgery as soon as possible.

I remember waking up in my hospital room afterwards. Just numb.

I knew it that moment that I didn't only lose my baby, I had lost my fertility. I don't know how, but I just knew that this would affect me for the rest of my life. I asked the doctor on call what this meant for my future family. 

"Well, the body is amazing. Because you have both ovaries, your one tube may actually 'pick up' the egg from the opposite side."

Not me, I thought. Maybe it was the deep depression I was in or maybe it was just intuition, but I knew that wouldn't happen.

"Your best bet would be to get on medication that will cause you to super-ovulate so that you would have a better chance to ovulate from the side your tube is on."

No, that won't work, I just know.

That summer, I watched as members of my family had their babies. My due date silently came and silently passed. It was just another day for everyone else while I silently wept in my cubicle at work. Tears poured out while I basked alone in the emptiness that filled my body and soul.

When it came time that we were ready to try again, I began to research everything there was about conceiving with only one tube. The information was hopeful and I read story after story of couples that were able to continue their family and get pregnant. I wanted to prepare myself for what journey lay ahead of me.

When we had been trying for 5 months, I went to the doctor and requested to have an HSG done. It's a simple, and in my case, painless procedure where they inserted a small catheter unto my uterus and pushed dye through. This way, they can look at the shape of my uterus and if the tubes are clear or blocked.

At the end of the procedure, the doctor said, "Now, give me a call when you get pregnant. Many times this will 'clear the cobwebs', so to speak, and women are able to get pregnant within 3 months."

When I hit the official 1 year mark that we had been trying, I cried. I had suspected that this would be my experience but at the same time, I was trying desperately to ignore the fact that one of my worst fears was unfolding.

For those of you that have been fortunate enough to conceive with ease, I will try to illustrate what it is like to be on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Each month, you spend days and days preparing for when you will ovulate. When you do, you meticulously count the days until you can test. It consumes your thoughts. You overanalyze symptoms that you may or may not have. Hope swells in your heart that this might be the month that you see those bright double lines. You can't help but imagine ways to announce the pregnancy. You can't help but think of when your due date would be and who the baby would look like. It's inevitable that you wonder if it will be a boy or a girl.

And right when your hopes are at an all-time high, you get a "no".

For the next week, you get a physical and sometimes painful reminder of your failure. There will be no baby this month. No due date. No boy or girl. No announcements. 

In a sense, you have lost a part of your future. No one knows but you and your loss is not recognized as legitimate so you keep it to yourself and think, "it's no big deal…We can try again next month…"

Month after month after month passes and you can't get off the roller coaster. Each month your hopes rise only to die again. It's a vicious cycle that you have absolutely no control over.

Naturally, you start to self-loathe and hate your body. It's defective and broken.

And the bargaining begins. If I could just have one more, then I promise that they can take my uterus afterwards. If I could just get pregnant, I promise I will never complain. 

Then the anger comes. It's a deep, hateful anger that weighs your heart down. You can't help but feel jealousy towards pregnant women. You feel guilt when you skip baby showers. Some days you feel so alone you just want to scream so anyone will hear you.

But mostly, you are enraged with yourself. You wonder if people really knew how much anger you have and just how much you hate yourself. You hide it away because you don't want to be pitied and you don't want people to feel bad for you.

It's more than just trying to conceive. It's the deep depression. It's the awkward questions. It's the feeling that your heart may break at any moment. It's the hopelessness that comes with infertility.

When I hit the year mark, I decided it was time to lose weight to be more healthy. Only 5% of weight loss can dramatically help your chances. I ate better and I ended up losing 13.4% of my body weight. 

So we took a break for a few months while I concentrated on eating healthier.

When I hit the 15-month mark of trying, I made an appointment with my OB to help boost my chances. I was put on 50mg of Clomid.
Every night I religiously took the pills and would often wake up, drenched with sweat as a side-effect. When that month failed, it was bumped up to 150mg. Then that failed as well.

I felt like my body was mocking me and I forced myself to face the idea that there could be a chance that I may never have children again. I may never experience the feeling of getting a positive test or feeling the small movements of a baby again. 

Now, I realize to outsiders that this may sound dramatic and irrational but it is a fact that people with infertility have to think about. It is just as real of a possibility as the fact that maybe someday I will become pregnant. I'm already prepared at the thought of having a baby, otherwise I wouldn't be trying to conceive. But I have not processed the thought of never having children again.

So yes, it may sound dramatic but it's reality.

And that brings us to today. I have now been on my silent journey for almost 3 years and we are moving forward.

I remember making that call to the insurance company to ask about fertility treatments. I couldn't help it, I began to cry. It just isn't fair that I have to pay thousands of dollars for what other people can get for free.

I'm going to be honest, I cry a lot these days. I cry myself to sleep more often than not. I bottle it up so much, I can't help when the tears fall. It's my only catharsis

The reason why I write this is not to have a pity party. It's not so that you will feel bad for me.

It's so that you will understand.

There will be days that I am bitter and there will be moments where I have to excuse myself. I may or may not want to talk about it and don't judge too harshly when I don't share the same enthusiasm at a birth or pregnancy announcement.

But now that it's out there, we don't have to tip-toe around the subject, like it's a dirty family secret.

Yes, this is the absolute hardest thing I have gone through in my life. Yes, it sucks. Yes, I am still trying to process this journey so be patient as I navigate these unknown waters.

Please. Stop Posting Graphic Images on Your Facebook Feed.

Every Tuesdays and Thursdays my son goes to preschool for 2 hours. During this glorious time I eat breakfast peacefully without having to get up and get yet another glass of orange juice for the umteenth time and I relax. I log onto facebook and other social media websites and I just surf.

Could I be doing better things like cleaning my kitchen? Sure. Should I do better things like take a shower? Probably. But this is *my* time to do what *I* want with no interruption. Plus, I can shower and clean the kitchen when my son gets home.

So as I was soaking up my newsfeed, I came across a picture. An extremely graphic picture of an aborted fetus. I think I can stop there without going into further details.

Immediately my stomach churned and my day plummeted. It wasn't because I have never seen these type of images before, it's because seeing those violent and graphic pictures elicits a deep emotional response from me.

But that's the point, isn't it? Extreme images evoke extreme feelings which...what? Makes extreme change? I'm assuming thats the reason why these photos get posted in the first place. I'm assuming that you aren't a sadist that just likes to see graphic photos. I'm assuming that you shared this particular photo because it's a cause that you believe in.

And you know what? That's okay that you believe strongly in a cause. I too have ideas that I believe in and change I want to see.

And it's not only abortion photos that now frequent my newsfeed. It's animal rights. It's domestic abuse. It's rape victims. It's abused children. It's starving families. 

Is this real life? Yes. Do I want to be exposed to it? Not always.

You see, what you don't realize as you share that picture of an aborted fetus, is that a woman in your friends list had a second-trimester miscarriage the month before. Now she sees these images and the emotions and pain she felt before comes back stronger than ever as she imagines what her precious baby looked like.

And that picture of a woman that was presumably raped and beaten?  Another woman in your friends list now gets to spend the rest of her day coping with the intense anxiety, anguish and even shame surrounding the memory of her own rape.

And that video of animal abuse? Another friend just lost their life-long pet to a horrible car accident and now spends the rest of her day remembering the graphic way her kids had to witness the death of their beloved dog in their front yard.

The reality is that bad things do happen and I'm not saying that we should ignore it. What I am saying is that we need to ask ourselves before we share trigger-worthy pictures, "what is the point?" and "is there a better way to post my views?"

The fact is, there probably is. More change can come from positive influences rather than negative.

Or think of it this way, would you post pictures of a man that was murdered? Or a soldier that was caught in a roadside bomb accident? I would hope that out of respect for those people and their families, the answer would be "no".

So please, stop posting graphic images on facebook. Because while those images might be reality, there's a reality that you CAN'T see. It's the woman that miscarried. It's the man that just lost his beloved pet. It's the woman that was raped. It's the family that lives with an abusive parent.

Please, think next time if you could portray your beliefs without the graphic images and if after all that, you can't, at least put a trigger warning in your post.

Flashback Friday: The Tale of My Batshiz Crazy Rabbit

When I was in kindergarten, we were learning about all the letters of the alphabet. On each day, we focused on a specific letter and if we wanted, we could bring a show-and-tell item that corresponding to the letter.

Well, lucky for my class, "R" day was coming up and I just so happened to have received a rabbit for my birthday.

You see, my birthday is on April 21st and my sister's is on the 22nd which was SUPER convenient for my parents because basically whatever they were planning on getting my sister for her birthday, I got the same thing. Oh don't worry that there was an 8 year gap between us. A rabbit that was an age-appropriate gift for a 12-year old, probably isn't for a 5-year old pet owner as I was.

Of course, I named the rabbit "Thumper" like any respectable 5-year old would do. Let's just say my creativity hadn't exactly bloomed yet, mmmkay?

Thumper was an awesome grey bunny but he was pretty much fudgin' crazy! Whenever we would hold him, he would rip into our arm-flesh and leave gashes. Okay, my 5-year old mind may have exaggerated that a bit but you catch my drift.

The brilliant resolution to this issue was to wear my thick winter coat whenever I held Thumper so that whenever he would go all Mrs. Poole on us, we wouldn't feel a thing.

So on the day that Thumper was to make his debut to my kindergarten class, I was super nervous. I was an unnaturally shy kid. If the teacher even looked at me with any hint of a stink eye, I would bawl. However, growing up with overactive tear ducts did teach me to hide and subside my emotions which explains my heartless demeanor. 

As we were finishing up a story, my dad walked into the classroom with a box that obviously contained Thumper. The thing is that you'd think "Hmm, rabbits are small = small box".

No. Oh, no! I had to have gotten my class from at least one of my parents and it's evident as to whom. My dad came in with the biggest mother freakin' box he could find. Yes, my 2 lb. rabbit was contained in a box that stretched his whole arm-length. 

As the teacher explained why a mysterious man was walking into a kindergarten class, holding a box, all you could hear was the frantic scratch of Thumper trying to find traction.

Shhrk shhhrk shhhrk!

I kid you not, it was like Thumper was going to burst through the box, all Alien's style, with fangs bared.

I knew the routine. I went to grab my protective 1980's puff-coat.

As I walk over to the coat rack, my teacher said, "Oh, Jessica...It's not time to go!"

Now, I know that I must have been a slow child, but just how slow was I? Did my teacher honestly think that I reasoned, "Welp, my dad just showed up with a rabbit in a box....See ya!"? I mean, c'mon lady. I wasn't that slow.

I awkwardly explained to her that in order to keep my arms beautiful so that I could one day marry, I had to wear a coat while holding Thumper.

Of course, my fellow classmates were thrilled to each take turns petting my batshiz crazy rabbit. This. This is quality education, people. You're welcome 'Mmerica.

After a while, Thumper went on to live the rest of his life on a peaceful farm. Oh you think he got killed? No, no. He actually went to a farm. Right, mom & dad?


The time where I get to play Pintester for a while.

I have a bone to pick with the pinner who originally pinned this:


I know that I'm pretty much abnormal and such but when I pin something, I remember it and actually try it. I know, crazy idea.

So when I saw this pin, I was all, "Oh heck yes! I don't want to take time to butter my toast. And while I'm at it, my arm kind of hurts from scrolling through Pinterest in the first place, forget ANY type of flipping action, here."

So I documented my quest .

First, my ingredients.

Gettin' all cozy in the toaster and heck  yes, I'm gonna use shredded cheese,  peeps.

Cooking...Do you see something wrong with the picture?

No? Maybe now that there is a little more noticeable smoke coming out? 

You know how toasters "pop"?  Hoooney...kiiiiiiidds....dinner!

Just pick off the dog fur and dust then scrape off the cancer-charcoal and baby, you've got yourself a meal! I don't know about you, but I always take it personally when pins fail. I'm all, "You don't break me, Pinterest! I'm not defined by your socially accepted pins that people blindly pin without testing them!"

Then I go cry in the shower with the water pouring over my head because you just know that out there, somewhere, the Original Pinner is maniacally laughing, thinking, "Oh you've got them now, you sly dog, you. Just you wait, the repins will pour in and you can relish in the idea that hundreds of pinners will look like fools, FOOLS, for pinning an idea that didn't work."

Curse you, Original Pinner and original pinners everywhere that pin crappy things!