The Disgrace of Infertility- by Nate Pyle

The Disgrace of Infertility- by Nate Pyle

Click the link above to read his article first.

Nate Pyle is a man and a pastor, two qualifiers that surprised me in reading his thoughts/experience on infertility. It’s not often you hear about the male perspective on the subject. This article was refreshing to me on several levels. One, it reminds me that men suffer too from infertility, directly and indirectly. Two, he gives me pause on my relationship with God vs. The Church for support which don’t always jive in my mind’s eye. Thirdly, he recognizes that infertility struggles come with two counterparts: hope and other feelings. Other feelings including discouragement, frustration, resentment/jealousy and despair but after each of those hope comes again.

My husband is the most supportive man and will do ANYTHING I need through this process of IVF and adoption. Helping me helps him and my suffering causes him pain. He is an eternal optimist and a devout Catholic, he prays for me constantly and, I’m sure, for the baby he is certain will arrive. On Sundays he readies himself for church and he offers for me to join, though by now he is used to my shrugging reply. Going to church is a comfort for him, it gives him strength and hope. Sometimes I feel like because it does not give me the same feelings he thinks I’m ungodly and a bad Christian. What Nate wrote about the church being ” a good place to find support, but it isn’t always a tower of refuge” rings true for me. We have all of our friends and family sending us constant prayers, even prayers coming from people who I’ve never seen set foot in a church but count just the same to me. Their prayers do not fall on deaf ears. I am so thankful for their well wishes, concern and upwardly requests to higher powers. Attending a church service and communing with the general “Christian” populous does not give me the same warm fuzzies and sense of understanding or commonality. In many ways it can feel quite alienating.

“The American church is one place in our culture where marriage and kids is an expectation. Singles are constantly met with questions about when they will get married, and unnecessarily pitied or prayed for when a potential spouse isn’t in the picture. Young marrieds are bombarded about when they will start having kids, as if their marriage doesn’t really matter until a child validates it.”

I don’t need to go to church to be guilt tripped or to be pitied. My failing is that I know going to church is to give God thanks and should only be about God and not the rest of the judgmental and flawed congregation who attend it. People will always ask assuming and ignorant questions inside and outside of church but somehow when they come from straight-faced Christians it fills me with anger. Again, my issue, not theirs but these are occasions I just assume avoid. Some may find this terribly ironic given that I so openly talk about these issues on my blog. Somehow it is different though. I can type and you can listen. You can respond of course and that is ever-so-exciting on this blog. I can respond or I can delete. It’s kind of awesome. I feel no guilt deleting the thousands of robot comments, well actually WordPress does that for me…super awesome. This is my kind of place whereas in church someone will take you from left field and throw a curve ball at your chest and while you are trying to catch your breath, you just nod along and continue with the game. You never want to be a bad sport in church.

Going back to Nate’s article I find it reassuring somehow that even a pastor feels some contempt for the church body’s attitude. I think I would even enjoy attending his services. In the end I suppose it’s important to find the places you are comfortable sharing your story, your truth, your human condition. There are so many (too many) places where people can’t share who they are, explain without recourse why they hurt and how they feel. I am so lucky to be surrounded by those who can simply let me say what needs to come out. They can accept it is what is and don’t even necessarily have to put a band-aid on it. When God speaks to me he is telling me that he is sorry I am hurting but there is need to feel things intensely. There is need for struggles and there is need for great loss. There is need to feel these things in order to hope, in order to feel joy more immensely and love more completely. I’m listening too when I’m not lost in the weeds or playing defense in the game.

 

Dear Mom of a…

Dear Mom of an Adopted Child,
I met you in adoption education class. I met you at the agency. I met you at my son’s school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.
It doesn’t matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.
Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasn’t in God’s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousin’s neighbor’s friend. Maybe you ignored them.
Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.
Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it?
I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment disorders, breast milk banks, babies born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive delays, language deficiencies. About counseling support services, tax and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.
I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the classes, so many classes. I know the frustration of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sales and bake sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.
I know how you never lost sight of what you wanted.
I know about the match call, the soaring of everything inside you to cloud-height, even higher. And then the tucking of that away because, well, these things fall through, you know.
Maybe you told your mother, a few close friends. Maybe you shouted it to the world. Maybe you allowed yourself to decorate a baby’s room, buy a car seat. Maybe you bought a soft blanket, just that one blanket, and held it to your cheek every night.
I know about your home visits. I know about your knuckles, cracked and bleeding, from cleaning every square inch of your home the night before. I know about you burning the coffee cake and trying to fix your mascara before the social worker rang the doorbell.
And I know about the followup visits, when you hadn’t slept in three weeks because the baby had colic. I know how you wanted so badly to show that you had it all together, even though you were back to working more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity leave, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.
And I’ve seen you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from work, struggling to understand what’s being promised and what’s not. Struggling to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.
I’ve seen you down the street at the hospital when a baby was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene that’s emerging. I’ve seen your face as you hear a nurse whisper to the birthmother that she doesn’t have to go through with this. I’ve seen you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those moments—while you bite your lip and close your eyes, not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt end in a sterile environment. Not knowing if this is your time. Not knowing so much.
I’ve seen you look down into a newborn infant’s eyes, wondering if he’s really yours, wondering if you can quiet your mind and good sense long enough to give yourself over completely.
And then, to have the child in your arms, at home, that first night. His little fingers curled around yours. His warm heart beating against yours.
I know that bliss. The perfect, guarded, hopeful bliss.
I also know about you on adoption day. The nerves that morning, the judge, the formality, the relief, the joy. The letting out of a breath maybe you didn’t even know you were holding for months. Months.
I’ve seen you meet your child’s birthparents and grandparents weeks or years down the road. I’ve seen you share your child with strangers who have his nose, his smile … people who love him because he’s one of them. I’ve seen you hold him in the evenings after those visits, when he’s shaken and confused and really just wants a stuffed animal and to rest his head on your shoulder.
I’ve seen you worry when your child brings home a family tree project from school. Or a request to bring in photos of him and his dad, so that the class can compare traits that are passed down, like blue eyes or square chins. I know you worry, because you can protect your child from a lot of things — but you can’t protect him from being different in a world so intent on celebrating sameness.
I’ve seen you at the doctor’s office, filling out medical histories, leaving blanks, question marks, hoping the little blanks don’t turn into big problems later on.
I’ve seen you answer all of the tough questions, the questions that have to do with why, and love, and how much, and where, and who, and how come, mama? How come?
I’ve seen you wonder how you’ll react the first time you hear the dreaded, “You’re not my real mom.” And I’ve seen you smile softly in the face of that question, remaining calm and loving, until you lock yourself in the bathroom and muffle your soft cries with the sound of the shower.
I’ve seen you cringe just a little when someone says your child is lucky to have you. Because you know with all your being it is the other way around.
But most of all, I want you to know that I’ve seen you look into your child’s eyes. And while you will never see a reflection of your own eyes there, you see something that’s just as powerful: A reflection of your complete and unstoppable love for this person who grew in the midst of your tears and laughter, and who, if torn from you, would be like losing yourself.
-Kathy Lynn Harris

A friend of mine who has gone through open adoption sent me those words to my facebook page. I thought it was so beautiful and captures so much. It captures many things we have already gone through and so much we have yet to experience. It gives me a picture to hold onto of what life will be like on the other side of the waiting.

I have not posted much relating to our adoption on this blog. You could say we are still early in this process of navigating ourselves through this mapless journey. We are six months into the waiting to wait…6 months of gathering reports, getting physicals, taking tests, having background checks, having home inspections, thinking about our expectations, writing about our life story, reading about other people’s experiences, doing photo sessions, more reading, more writing, some crying, some impatience and anxiety, a lot of questions…6 months into the active waiting to wait and we are moments away from the “official waiting” when we get approval from our agency and go into what is called circulation. We now have a facebook page for our adoption, a letter to potential birth moms about us a couple (basically a brochure of how awesome we are), a website we will be featured on and a 1-800 # for birthmoms to contact us. As soon as we are “live” I will be posting all this wonderful information to this blog.

We can use all the support we can get. I hope you stick with us as everything unfolds!

Christmas in Ardrey

Merry Christmas and Happy Almost NEW YEAR everyone! It’s been a busy one! Today though I spent the entire day in my pajamas just because I could and it was awesome…. after a very long week of family time in very cold Ohio and then a very awful mystery illness that went away as quickly as it came on.  Let me just say that even though my doc said it was not food poisoning I will not be eating tuna from Subway ever again, ever. At least not from a Subway in a very shady, middle of nowhere town in a desolate parking lot next to a gas station whose employees have no teeth. On the up side I am several pounds lighter and I’ll take it, especially considering how many of Aunt Dianne’s raspberry bars I consumed at Christmas!

Before our 9 hour drive to Cincy I walked around our block and took some pictures one drizzly evening.  I wanted to share with everyone how lovely our neighborhood looked for our first year. This is my first house to decorate the outside and we had ZERO decorations, ouch another expense we didn’t count on in moving. Oh well, we got some pretty great stuff to start and my first pic below is the garland I did around the front door.

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Chris hung all of the lights himself and several days after he complained of suffering from “Griswald legs” a condition of extremely sore legs brought on by crouching down on the roof hanging lights.

The big LED snowflake in our picture window is from Costco that we got for $2o. I’m hoping to expand the winter wonderland/snowflake theme over the next few years and add more lights. Decorations really add up fast. I hit Target for the after clearance sale but made the mistake of bringing my husband with me. I wanted two 4 foot potted, pre lit trees which were half off. I wanted these for the front porch to flank the door. He said he thought it was clutter…this is coming from a guy who sings Christmas carols year round!

As you can see the bushes to the left need lights and that little space in the icicle lights drives me nuts (but I didn’t tell Chris that  since he worked so hard, Griswald legs and all). Our next door neighbors really went all out and I was really impressed until I learned that they hired people to hang their lights for them! I mean I’m still impressed how pretty it is but more proud of us for our own efforts which makes the imperfections more acceptable.

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My favorite house on the block is the green one. That is my friend Cindy’s house who is a professional decorated. They just painted their house a couple months ago and I love it. Our neighborhood is meant to be very colorful and the green they chose is just so cheerful it makes me smile every time I walk past it on the way to the dog park.

The rest of the pics are some of my decorations in the house. My favorite thing is the framed Christmas tree made of vintage jewelry. My mom has a matching one and so I will always think of her every year when I hang it in my house.

The little colored tree is dedicated to Chris’ love of all Cincinnati related sports: Reds, Bengals, Bearcats, Xavier…I didn’t want all his sports crap on the main tree. I should note that I don’t think I owned a single Christmas ornament before I met him, I inherited ornaments in our marriage. I think they were part of the contract.

I didn’t have my stockings hung when I took the pictures and I’m too lazy to post them now, haha. I ordered new ones this year with our actual names embroidered on them: Chris, myself, Kryo and Baby (our dogs). They are pretty darn cute!

Our home owners association throws a couple of parties every year. We missed the adult party while we were out in Raleigh at our adoption seminar, signing our contract to adopt a baby! I think it was worth missing it. Then the neighborhood threw a kid’s party where there was cookies and milk with Santa in the club house then horse and buggy rides around the block. It was so sweet watching them go by in front of house and hearing the bells in tandem with the clippity clop of horse hooves…all from the comfort of my front porch 🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? And what have you done new this year?

Being Diagnosed with PCOS: What does it mean for fertility? What, I need to diet?

This coming October will mark 4 years of marriage for Chris and I. We have had a great time together so far and have already experienced a lot of changes/life events. We have already gone through several job changes, purchasing and selling our house and buying our second home and moving across the country. We have had some stellar vacations and we have rescued two wonderful dogs. We are, by all accounts, happy but we have been looking to grow our family as many married couples choose to do.

I’ve been content for the most part, no need to rush things. Everything in due time…it all happens for a reason, all that jazz. I have been off the pill for over 3 years. 2 1/2 years ago I started looking into possible issues with fertility. I’ve never been regular in the period department so I guess in the back of mind I figured that there was a chance things could be “off”. I did bloodwork. I did ovulation predictors, charting my BBT (Basal Body Temperature)… Most recently I did a tortutous HSG, hysterosalpingogram which is a procedure where dye is injected to view if your fallopian tubes are open. (See I am already quite familiar with all the medical terminology and acronyms for things. I’ll try not to be one of those blogs spewing meaningless medical terms without first explaining them.) Then we moved and took a few months to get new doctors and settle in and what not. Two weeks ago, the morning before we flew out to California, we had an appointment at REACH fertility clinic and it is a full speed ahead approach: Full medical histories, more bloodwork, pelvic ultrasound, another HSG being ordered- grrrrreat, 3rd sperm analysis, financial advising, genetic counseling…OH MY GOD…we are really doing this, this is really happening to me, to us. Thank God we left immediately to go out of town, I needed the distraction from all that information.  It’s still not really sinking in. I think this whole thing is like having an out of body experience.

I was diagnosed with PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. My previous doctor had casually mentioned that I had the condition but nothing was suggested in doing anything for it or the severity of it or the implications of how difficult it may be to become pregnant. That doctor pretty much sucked if I do say so. She was extremely unhelpful, unavailable and just twiddling her damn thumbs while the years went by. Oops, there’s my frustration spewing out onto this blog…my apologies. I’ve done my own research in the meantime and talked to my new Reproductive Endocrinologist, Dr. Wing, who seems very competent and actually the founder of this clinic. So far he has prescribed me Metformin and recommends a low sugar/low carb diet since one of the main issues with PCOS is insulin resistance, sigh.

I love carbs. Croissants, fresh baked bread, pasta and everything potato are my great loves. What the hell, I feel cursed! I don’t want to be one of those gluten free band wagon people, one of those crazy cranky Atkins dieters. I am NOT a dieter. Is it terrible that I am more depressed about this than the prospect of having to give myself injections in the stomach? Actually that will seriously suck too. Geeez, I’m being a real downer right now. Of course it’s 3:45 in the morning, my time clock is all messed up from flying across the country and I have the flu!

On the upside the doc says Metformin may cause some weight loss on it’s own, yay. I started taking it this week and since I have the flu it’s hard to tell how I’m reacting. We shall see. I got the results of the bloodwork today and found out that I am a genetic carrier for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. 1 in 50 people are carriers and is the #1 genetic cause for infantile death. Now we have to get Chris tested and see if he is a carrier. I am glad to have the information, being prepared is good but the more I learn the more I realize what a delicate delicate balance life is and what a miracle it is every time a healthy baby is born.

Diets I’m considering for PCOS so far are the South Beach Diet and Low Glycemic Diet. After we get some test results next week we may know more if we need to go straight to IVF treatments with ICSI or if we can try other less invasive and more “natural” methods first….to be continued….

Dessert and Jewelry Party

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I love parties, soirees, gatherings, shin digs…what have you. Any excuse to put together a social event and I am all over it! My favorite part of the day was baking with Katie and making everything (very hastily). I got a little later start than I should have even having done a full day of prep the day before.  I always tend to be overly ambitious in my menu planning than time actually allows. Ce la vie.

Menu

Coconut Macaroons

Strawberry Mini Bundt Cakes with Cameo Chocolates

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecakes

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Key Lime Tarts Key Lime Cake Pops

Melon ball Skewers

Candied Bacon Ice Cream

Drinks

Lemon infused Water

Chocolate Wine

Champagne

Even though I didn’t get my candied bacon ice cream done I’d say it was totally successful. We ended up having tons of extra desserts which I had to immediately disperse to my neighbors so I didn’t eat it all myself! I would make everything again with just a few tweaks, mainly in presentation which I just simply ran out of time for. I would have chocolate dipped half of each macaroon, sprinkled the moon pies with confectioners sugars, glazed the strawberry bundt cakes and garnished the raspberry cheesecakes with a single raspberry each on top. The details just make everything look finished and more appetizing. Alas, I will let the perfectionist in me rest and be happy because it really was all just wonderful 🙂

The jewelry part of it was really fun too. I got to share all the baubles and bling that I love with my neighbors and girlfriends. Stella and Dot has traveled with me here to Charlotte as a part-time business. You can visit my website www.stelladot.com/kendraleelarsen if you liked some of what I had displayed you can order directly from my site. This month I am up to renew as a stylist and since I have been buying it more for myself than selling it to people I may not continue with it. (I’m just not the pushy salesperson type) Let me know what you think or if you are in the area and would like to host a jewelry party at your house! You just send me a guest list, I send the evites and bring over the bling and it’s as easy as that. I was hoping it would be a fun way to meet new people in the area too.  I’m looking forward to the next excuse for a party! Cheers!

Pasta Redemption: It’s Not Hard, It’s Just New

Tackling something new, in life and in cooking, is exciting for me. I love variety and learning new skills as the world just seems to open up wider when you put yourself out there to experience it. The flipside to the excitement, however, is the fear of failure or in this case the frustration of failure. If you read my last post you know my last pasta making attempt was indeed a failure. I waited until my friend Katie came over to give it a try again. I needed support, maybe a little hand holding/tissue box passing and she has made it before, hooray! Together it was easy peasy!

Seafood Fettucini in white wine clam sauce
The finish product of freshly made-from-scratch pasta! Mission Accomplished 🙂

Many problems have such simple solutions that upon solving you think you actually knew the answer the whole time, you just couldn’t trust yourself enough to get to it.

Making the pasta dough
Starting the dough in a bowl is a whole lot cleaner than making it on the counter but certainly not as fun 🙂
workin the flour and eggs into dough
It takes a bit of elbow grease, next time i will try the food processor method
pasta dough ball!
This is already farther than I got last time. My previous attempt was using all semolina flour and not enough eggs to flour ratio. This time I used half semolina and half whole wheat and added an extra egg. Success!
Breaking in the pasta roller
So there are like 10 width settings on the pasta roller. You start at the widest opening and crank the dough through. After each pass or sometimes two passes through each setting the pasta gets thinner and longer.
Cutting the pasta into fettucini width
The Mercato comes with two cutting widths. The wider is the fettuccine and the other is a smaller spaghetti width I believe. Other widths including a lasagna cutter can be purchased separately to attach to the roller as well.
Freshly made raw fettuccine noodles
1 cup of semolina flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
3 large eggs
Yields 6 servings of pasta

Boiling the Fresh Pasta
…and a couple minutes later it’s ready to eat!
To jazz up the pasta I sautéed some seafood: shrimp, scallops and calamari. I added to that 1/2 stick of butter, 1 cup white wine, 1 cup clam juice to make a sauce. Separately I sautéed some mushrooms. Then combined all together seasoned with salt and pepper.
After all is done and we are ready to eat Katie tells me she doesn’t like seafood! Oopsie! We made her a separate seafood free plate of pasta. Thanks Katie for all your help and support in my quest for pasta redemption!

I am pleased to tell you I feel confident now in my pasta making skills and look forward to experiment with different flour and flavor combinations. Fear of failure be gone! My next adventure in new culinary achievements I’d like to tackle is making homemade yogurt. Who’s tried it?

Lost My Noodles

Have I told you about my kitchen gadget addiction? This is in addition to my cookbook addiction, shoe addiction, massage addiction, pinterest addiction (among various other internet time sucks), coffee addiction, scowering every aisle of Target addiction,  Amazon wishlist addiction, crack cocaine addiction– just kidding! In all seriousness though shopping in general for me is a REAL problem, much to my accountant husband’s chagrin. Shopping and food are my therapy and I need A LOT of therapy! 🙂

My last Sur La Table fix resulted in a very nice loot haul: 1 Mercato Atlas 150 stainless steel pasta machine @$79.95, 1 gnocchi board $5.95, 1 silicon red tongs @ $7.95 and a set of micro fiber kitchen towels on clearance.

Oh what grand plans were quickly formulated in my over-active imagination: The romantic candle lit feast of fresh pasta, homemade bread and gorgeous marinara made from vine ripened local tomatoes. I will be serving my husband in high heels and my cute little A-Line retro dress, Andrea Bocelli playing on my pandora, Italian is just rolling off my tongue “bellisimo, muah, la dolce vita, amore amore amore”…uh yeah.

What actually ensued might as well have been a scene out of the Godfather. My pasta is sleeping with the fishes.

Mmmm cannolis, I’ll get on making those as soon as I KILL this pasta

I must tell you how sad, how very very sad it was at my first attempt of making fresh pasta. If only you could have seen the look on my face when my dough just turned into this  chalky crumbly no-one-wants-to-eat-this lump, it was like someone ran over my puppy. Dough in trash=FAIL

Going to try Miss Vitale’s “fool proof” recipe next time. She is Italian, of course, she makes it look so easy! What do you know it’s her grandmother’s recipe…no I’m not jealous, no not at all.

I will persevere! I will make some delicious noodles even if it makes me lose my noodles trying- I lost most of them a long time ago anyway. All of my best learning and biggest feats have come through making mistakes, lots of mistakes. Through failure we become better people. Pasta is a very deep food, oh yes it is.

In any case at least I know how to boil water unlike this kid:

I feel better now. Haha, this kid should win an Oscar! Who says you can’t have pasta with a side of beanie? First rule of cooking: Always keep a sense of humor and experimentation!

Ciao for now my friends!