Thursday, January 28, 2010

negative

IUI attempt #2 definitely failed.

I tested yesterday - cycle day 29 - and got a negative, but my period hadn't shown up yet, so I thought *maybe* there was still hope.

My period just showed up, exactly 2 weeks post-IUI.

My heart is broken, again. You'd think that after 46 months of failure to conceive, I'd be used to it by now.

And I do feel a little bit numb to the full intensity of the grief. But not as much as I wish I were.

I can't fix this; I can't change it. All I can do is keep moving forward, move on to the next IUI cycle in February and pray that - as so many people keep saying - the third time is the charm.

Two down; two left.

God, please give me strength, peace and grace. Please, please, please...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

keeping safe our children

This morning at the Super Family's church, a class was held for the younger aged kids and their parents on keeping the kids' bodies safe. I was happy to see that the family ministry committee makes this a focus of their teachings because it's such a critical topic to address - and keep addressing - with children in age-appropriate ways as they venture further into the world and are exposed to more people, often without their parents present. Even - and, perhaps, especially - in a church setting. Because, as we know, even there - in that most holy of places - there are unfortunately adults who prey on children.

I have never been a victim of sexual abuse, but I've known others who have been, and my heart breaks for the trauma it has caused them, trauma that lasts a lifetime, even with counseling and support. What's worse is that not everyone who sexually abuses is punished for their crime -- in fact, many are never caught, never put behind bars, and they go on to hurt more innocent children.

As a human being who understands the value of my life and my body, and particularly as a parent of another human being whose life and body I value even more than my own, I have fiercely strong feelings on this issue, and I've been talking about it with my son since he was barely more than a baby. I never wanted him to feel like he had to keep any kind of secret from me, particularly one as awful as that, and I've always wanted to make sure he knows that he can come to me with ANYTHING. I was really glad to see that this particular point was emphasized in today's teachings, with us parents telling our children that they can ALWAYS come to us if this happens to them, no matter what has happened or who has done it.

Still, as a parent, you wonder how much sticks in the mind of your young child. Super Boy is nearly 7 years old, and he certainly understands that there are parts of his body that are private, and after years of talking about keeping his body and himself safe, I sincerely hope that he knows that even when we aren't discussing it. But there's always that nagging fear deep down that forces me to consider what would happen if he ever did suffer sexual abuse and was too afraid to tell. It literally breaks my heart to think that.

There is nothing more important to me than keeping my child safe. Truly. I would take a bullet for him; I'd take a thousand bullets for him. I would rather die than see him suffer. I think most parents feel this way about their children. So I just want to share a reminder with all the parents who read my blog that if you have not talked to your child/ren about this topic before, please do so now.

Yes, it can be awkward and uncomfortable, but only if you let it be. My goal in starting to talk to my child about this when he was SO young was to make it a normal conversation for us to have, and to touch upon again at regular intervals. We've been talking about this for so long now that it isn't uncomfortable for either one of us.

Here are some of the key points to address in discussing this with your child:

1.) Their bodies are their own, and certain parts of their body - those that are covered by a bathing suit - are private.

2.) If anyone ever touches their private parts who shouldn't, or in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable or bad, they need to say NO!, get away from the person, and they need to find an adult they trust to tell. And if that person does nothing, they need to keep telling until someone helps them.

3.) They should not feel guilty or as though THEY are responsible for the actions of the person hurting them. They also should not believe the person abusing them if they say something bad will happen if they tell.

4.) Parents need to remind their kids that they will ALWAYS want to know if they are being hurt this way, even if the person doing it is someone they know and like.

Again, please: If you have not had this talk with your kids, please do so, today. Better to share all this information with them BEFORE something life-altering happens than to wait until someone has already hurt them and they don't know how to handle it.

And to all those who have suffered sexual abuse, my prayers, love and thoughts of healing are with you. No one deserves to be treated that way, and it is NOT your fault. If you haven't already, please talk to someone about what happened to you and get the help you need.

As always,
Average Everyday Super Woman

Friday, January 15, 2010

sorry, it can't be helped

Yes, folks, I'm writing about our fertility treatment process again.

Sorry. Really, I am. You have NO IDEA how much I wish this situation weren't still at the forefront of our lives. But, alas, it is.

I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but it is particularly relevant in my life this week, so I can't NOT write about it. (Yes, I know that's a double negative. What can I say?)

So, without further ado, here's where we're at...

For our last IUI attempt in December, my Super Doctor had me take 5 days of Clomid (100mg per day on days 5-9 of my cycle), go in for a mid-cycle ultrasound on day 13 of my cycle, and since everything looked good there, he gave me an HcG shot that day to force me to ovulate, and had me come back the next day, day 14 of my cycle, for IUI.

We waited two long weeks to find out it failed. That was two weeks ago.

As directed, I took another 5 days of Clomid earlier this month, days 5-9 of my cycle. However, instead of having me come in for another ultrasound on day 13, my doctor told me to start ovulation predictor tests on day 11 of my cycle and continue them until I got a smiley face, indicating that my LH level was surging and ovulation was imminent. (I guess I didn't need the ultrasound because he already knew that I respond well to that dose of Clomid.) I got my smiley face on Wednesday (day 15) and Super Man and I had our second IUI attempt yesterday, on Thursday (day 16).

I'm not going to lie: It hurt. Very unpleasant. I don't know why it hurt so much this time when it wasn't all that painful or uncomfortable last month. I guess the doctor had a tough time threading the catheter through my cervix this time. Which isn't all that surprising, I guess, considering that my OB-GYN told me during an endometrial biopsy I had two years ago that I had a SUPER tight cervix, like that of an 18-year-old, most likely because my one and only child was delivered by C-section, and my cervix was left relatively untraumatized.

Still. I figured since it went pretty well last month, with me feeling just a twinge of pain during the procedure, I was in for more or less the same experience yesterday. I was wrong. So very, very wrong. The multiple attempts to pass the catheter through my cervix felt like someone was raking a serrated bread knife repeatedly across those incredibly tender internal tissues. Not something you ever want to experience.

Trust me.

I spent the afternoon curled up in the fetal position (ironic, I know) on the couch, trying to ignore the lingering abdominal pain, with a heating pad on my left shoulder where I ended up with a gigantic knot in my muscles from all the tension I was pitifully attempting to reign in during the procedure. That was all cool until 3:05, when I had to pull my shit together enough to pick Super Boy up from school. I managed that okay, and came home and lay down for another half hour before I had to get it together again to take Super Boy to swim class. Once Super Man was home from work, I spent the evening in bed while he pulled Super Dad duty. Thankfully, I managed to get a great night's sleep, and woke this morning feeling a million times better all around.

Yesterdays pain aside, I feel good about this attempt. My Super Doctor said that when they let a woman ovulate naturally, they sometimes get a better result with IUI. I hope that's the case for us. In addition to that, the total count of Super Man's "good" swimmers yesterday was nearly double that of last month's attempt, so we're hoping that extra boost of swimmers makes a difference, too. Especially because this is a special month for me -- my 36th birthday is coming up on January 29th, and I'll find out whether I'm pregnant by January 28th. I can't imagine a better birthday gift than a positive pregnancy test.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Hope is a very fragile thing. But I have it, and I'm holding onto it.

Before I sign off, let me also say a few words about the tragedy in Haiti, the devastation left in the aftermath of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the Port-au-Prince area earlier this week. As anyone who has seen any of the photos or video footage from the region already knows, the people of Haiti are suffering horribly right now. Many lives have already been lost, and more will follow because of the total devastation of even the most basic of support systems in the area. I'm so proud of our country for responding so quickly to the tragedy, from the highest level of government down to all of us at the grassroots level, and I'm also enormously grateful for the presence of the Internet, as it has made it so simple and easy for those of us touched by the tragedy to do something to help.

If you would like to help, there are many legitimate organizations that are ready and waiting to take your donations to help the people of Haiti. If you check out Charity Navigator, it can help you find a suitable organization to support. You can also check out this post from fellow blogger Chris Sacca, which outlines some simple ways to make a difference.

My thoughts and prayers are with all those in Haiti, their loved ones and friends worldwide. I pray that God will heal the injured, give peace to all the survivors, and provide for the people of Haiti in their hour of need.

from the heart,
Average Everyday Super Woman

Thursday, January 7, 2010

a few of my favorite things TWENTYTEN

* hugs and kisses from my two favorite guys.

* spending time with family and friends.

* laughing.

* playing board games. My faves are Life, Monopoly, Scrabble and Bananagrams.

* puppies. Sweet little Golden Retriever puppies. Like one named Jack. The one I wish I'd dognapped when I had the chance. And like Super Dog, crazy girl that she is.

* granite. We just got a new granite countertop for our kitchen island and I am in. Love. With. It. We chose Imperial Brown granite, from Italy, as it will tie together our charcoal gray concrete countertops (made by Super Man) and our shades-of-brown tiled floor (installed by Super Man). And we scored a great deal on it, as it was a remnant. I love it when that happens!

* Wellspring FlipNotes. I came across these little beauties while on vacation in Minocqua, Wisconsin and bought this one for myself. It just might be the best $9.99 I've ever spent. I love everything about this product. Obviously the price is ideal, and the icing on the cake is that they sell replacement note pads and pens very cheaply as well. And the size makes it ideal for slipping into a pocket, any of my purses (even the tiny ones!), a backpack or even one of the little cubbies in my Odyssey's dashboard. I bought one for Super Man, too, and it fits in the inside pocket of his sportcoats and suit jackets. He's as hooked as I am. It's great for jotting down things on the fly, and as a mom, it's great to always have a pen and paper handy when Super Boy and I have to wait in doctors offices, etc. (Can you say "impromptu game of hangman?") If you don't own one, get one. You won't regret it.

* birds. I just love birds, of all kinds.

* my new favorite drink, Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale. It is fab-u-lous. Super Boy and I discovered it while grocery shopping yesterday and that was one impulse buy I absolutely won't regret! I've always loved ginger ale; the green tea just makes it that much better. Quite refreshing, indeed.

* etsy. 'Nuff said.

* 2010 Desktop Calendar by twosis on Etsy. Beautiful color and illustration, very bright and whimsical, and I love the way it looks on my desk. I treated myself to this for New Year's, but at $20, it's a great gift to give a special someone in your life. And the packaging was adorable! Trust me.

* sushi! Oh, sushi, how I love thee... Thankfully, my love of sushi has rubbed off on all the others in the family, including little Super Boy. One day a few weeks ago while grocery shopping, Super Boy and I strolled past the sushi bar in the store and Super Boy asked if we could get some. I'm usually leery about supermarket sushi, but this is literally fresh-made each day by a sushi chef, so I figured we'd give it a go. Was sublime. As such, on Monday of this week, while picking Super Boy up from school, he asked if we could get some more sushi this week. We did it yesterday. And, again, it was awesome.

* We purchased last night's sushi from our local Sentry grocery store, but our absolute FAVORITE place to eat sushi is at Nanakusa, the restaurant we love most in Milwaukee. I have always had superb dining experiences there, without fail. The food is second to none, literally - we've eaten sushi on both coasts, in the Caribbean and elsewhere, and both Super Man and I agree that we've never had better sushi or other Japanese food than we have at Nankusa. The atmosphere is chic and metropolitan, the staff is friendly, knowledgeable and highly skilled, the owners have become friends of ours, and it's an experience we always look forward to with anticipation.

* Wii Fit Plus, which Santa brought me for Christmas. Good stuff, I tell you. Good stuff.

* Cooking! I never thought I'd say that. I mean, seriously, if you had asked me 10 years ago if I liked cooking I'd say, "HELL NO!" (and I'd scream it in all caps like that, too). But over the years - and especially after I left my job to become a stay-at-home mom - I've found that I really do enjoy cooking. I think it's because I have more time to look through recipes, grocery shop and prepare the food. I now find it relaxing, where it used to just be a source of stress. And I love finding recipes on some of my favorite websites, like The Pioneer Woman and her other site called Tasty Kitchen, allrecipes.com, cookinglight.com, and epicurious.com.

* this apron from Williams-Sonoma in the gorgeous yellow color, a much-loved Christmas gift from Super Man.

* my '06 Honda Odyssey. It's not brand-new and shiny anymore, but seriously, I wholeheartedly embrace that vehicle. Safe, comfortable, great gas mileage, well designed, and R-O-O-M-Y.

* fish. Betta fish, specifically. Talk about the perfect pets: they require a bowl, some gravel, some water, a little water conditioner, teensy-tiny pellets of food, and you just have to clean the bowl every few weeks. They are also very affordable pets, and don't require annual vet visits and a half dozen vaccines and medications a year. They don't poop all over your yard, burn your grass with their urine, or wake you up whining to go out at 6:30am or barking just when you've nodded off for a nap. They don't rip your curtains or furniture to shreds, track litter all over your floors, hawk up hairballs on your carpet, or hiss at small children for no good reason. And they're very pretty, coming in varied colors. Our two bettas, Lola and Bluie, have been with our family for almost a year now and we love them. To sum up: Bettas are awesome.

* Sorel Caribou Winter Boots have made existing in Wisconsin during the long, long winter a little bit more tolerable. They keep my feet warm and dry and will probably last my entire life. Best part? While they typically retail for about $110, I picked mine up BRAND-NEW on eBay with free shipping for $50 back in the fall. Again, I love it when I get a great deal!

* Disaronno. I'm not one to drink much or often, but a small glass of this delicious, silky amaretto Italian liqueur on the rocks really hits the spot, especially on a cold winter's night. And a bottle lasts a long time (at least in our house!), so it's got a very palatable price tag, too, around $20.

* reusable bags like these from Chico Bag. A friend turned me on to them a few years ago, and I ended up buying 5. At $4.99 each, it's silly NOT to get a few. The ingenious design allows you to tuck the bag into its own built-in pocket for tiny storage, making them great to toss in a purse or your car's glovebox, and they also have a built-in clip so those who don't carry purses can clip them on a belt loop or whatever. A great way to help save the environment and save some money yourself, as many grocery stores now give you a small rebate for bringing in your own bags. They also carry other product lines that look seriously cool, like the MESSENGER rePETe. Might have to get me one of those...

* HAND SANITIZER!!! H1N1, colds, seasonal flu, pink eye, strep throat, stomach viruses... Yeah. I'm a HUGE fan of hand sanitizer. I even keep a pump-sized bottle in the door of my van. I'm hard-core.

* chewable Vitamin D from Rainbow Light. Living in Wisconsin where we have about six months of winter weather and little sun, Vitamin D supplements ought to be required. This is my first year taking them, and they've definitely helped boost my immune system.

* Women's Health Magazine. I discovered this last year, can't remember where, but it's now one of my faves. It's a great magazine to keep in your car or purse for when you have those unexpected waits as it's full of short but info-packed articles and blurbs.

* Real Simple magazine. I'm not a subscriber (yet), but I always check the covers for interesting and relevant articles, and I'm almost never disappointed. At about $24 per year, it's probably a worthwhile investment. Great tips for paring down, paring back and keeping life, well... simple. That's something this girl needs, stat!

* The Fragrance Collection by Glade's Lotus Bamboo soy-based candles. Wow... the scent is wonderfully fresh and light, perfect for any room in the house, and they have a clean, minimalist look. I loaded up on them a few months ago. My house smells great!

* and speaking of scents, here's my new favorite perfume, Kenzo Amour, another Christmas gift I received this season. It smells divine - unlike any other scent I've ever worn. Sensual, soft, woody Asian florals. Mama likes!

* my favorite planner, the Her Point of View classic wire-bound weekly calendar from FranklinCovey. While I know many people have ditched paper planning systems, I really can't ever see myself parting with mine. There's just something about writing things down in a calendar that makes them... stick a little better, I guess.

and last but not least...

* Burt's Bees products. Dear Lord, they are wonderful. I've used the lip balms for years (Beeswax Lip Balm, Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate Oil, Honey Lip Balm, Lip Shimmer), but only discovered their fabulous skin care products in the past year. And I adore them. My faves are the Garden Tomato Complexion Soap and Garden Tomato Toner, along with the Beeswax Moisturizing Day Creme. My skin is ridiculously sensitive, and was scarily problem-prone prior to using these products. Since I started my Burt's Bees kick, my skin has looked a million times better, fresher and healthier. And the kickers are that the products are almost all-natural and they cost just a fraction of the price of other skincare regimens. They have a customer for life with me. Seriously.

I hope you can find a few new things to try from this list, and I'd love to hear some of YOUR favorite things, so please post 'em if you got 'em!

Happy New Year!

Average Everyday Super Woman

Saturday, January 2, 2010

a fond farewell to the old and celebration of the new

Reading back through the past few months of my posts here on AESW, it's become completely and embarrassingly apparent to me that I've been utterly - and probably OVERLY - focused on writing about just one aspect of my life. (And, in case anyone has been away from the planet since, oh, September, and missed what that one aspect is, it's my and Super Man's struggle to have a second baby.) In all fairness (to myself), it has been the biggest thing going on in my life lately, so I suppose it's only natural that it should take top billing.

But it's not the ONLY thing that has been going on in my life, and even I am tired of that one thing overshadowing all other things. It's not healthy. And I'm sure that my dwelling on it so much isn't helping my body do its thing. You know, like that saying "a watched pot never boils"?

So, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the holiday season, because it was a good one, for me and my family, and just the right way to send off 2009 and ring in 2010.

For starters, we spent our second Christmas at home this year, in our own house, and it was lovely. To top it off, we had Super Girl for Christmas this year, and this was her first time celebrating it with us at our house as a family. Super Man and I prepared a lovely Italian meal of his signature lasagna with prosciutto, garlic bread and salad. It was delicious. We listened to fun holiday music during dinner, and then all cleaned up together. To my utter and delighted surprise, Super Boy wanted to wash the dishes (!), and he did a spectacular job. I dried them while Super Girl and Super Man put them away.

We spent the evening in the living room by the fire, playing a game of Monopoly City. Despite only being 6 years old, Super Boy does quite well at this game, and it's been a huge bonus that it's helped him learn to count money and understand a little more about both money and real estate!

We allowed the kids to each open one gift that night, and then they had to prepare a plate of cookies and a note for Santa before we shuttled them off to bed. Super Girl is no longer a believer, but she's done a great job of keeping the magic alive for her little brother, for which we are very grateful.

Christmas morning was magical. Super Boy couldn't believe all the presents Santa brought, and he was thrilled to see that Santa brought most of the things he had on his list. Even our stockings were full of all the great little things we each love, like iTunes gift cards, great socks, and our favorite treats. Once all the gifts were opened and the wrapping paper had been gathered up, Super Man made a delicious breakfast for all of us while I finished laundry and started packing for our trip to my parents' house that afternoon.

When we arrived at my Super Parents' house, we were delighted to find that my sister and her husband and young son had already arrived from northern Wisconsin, and my younger brother was there, too. Super Boy and my Super Nephew - the same age - fell into step seamlessly, as though they'd just played together the day before, when in fact they haven't seen each other since June, during the annual family vacation. It was great to see. And Super Girl, being nearly 14 and increasing in maturity all the time, spent the time catching up with my siblings and parents, as she had not seen them in a long while either.

I helped my mom finish preparing the dinner, and we sat down to a veritable Christmas feast. It was fabulous. And the conversation flowed like wine, with lots of laughs, as is the usual with my family.

After dinner, we opened more gifts, then cleaned up and did dishes before sitting down to play Texas Hold 'Em while the boys played my Super Parents' new Wii, given to them by all of our families. Super Man and I were on a mission to win, as we swept the Texas Hold 'Em marathon played at my parents' house over Thanksgiving, and we wanted to keep the winning streak going. As it turned out, our family continued to dominate when Super Girl won two games in a row that evening. She was elated, particularly because my Super Brother is a tough one to beat!

The next day, my other Super Brother arrived from Chicago, where he had been visiting his mom and sister and other family. We were super excited to see my brother, as he now lives out west and we haven't seen him in quite awhile. Plus, it didn't hurt that he'd brought along his sweet new little puppy, Jack. Jack is a purebred Golden Retriever and about the cutest puppy I've ever seen. And well behaved, too, for only being 12 weeks old.

I fell instantly and madly in love with little Jack, and started plotting my Christmas weekend dognapping, despite the fact that my Super Brother was on to me and my plans. (Maybe because I kept telling him I was going to take his dog home with me. Might've tipped him off.) I stuck to Jack like glue, and thankfully he wasn't too annoyed by that. He let me snuggle him, pat his belly, play with his toys, give him hundreds - if not thousands - of kisses, and carry him around like a baby. (Sorry for that one, Jack - I've got baby-on-the-brain!) Lucky for me, my Super Brother was heading to Green Bay on Sunday for the Packer game, so I barely had to share Jack at all on Sunday. And it would've made my dognapping plans much easier to execute, except that I couldn't bear the thought of poor Jack pining for his master after seeing the way my favorite little puppy slunk off to sit by the front door after my Super Brother left, and fell asleep with his little puppy back pushed up against the door. :( Or the way he walked around the house all day searching for signs of his favorite person. So, to make up for it, I just had to snuggle Jack a little extra, so he wouldn't look so sad. I miss that dog like crazy though.

I've already told Super Man that if IUI fails us and we're done trying to have another baby, I am TOTALLY getting a Golden Retriever puppy.

So, yeah. Super Man is ready to head for the hills. :)

In all seriousness, I've been pondering the second dog idea for awhile now. With our Super Dog getting on in age (she's 8-1/2 years old, and for a purebred Lab that means she's got maybe 4 good years left), I'd really like to get another puppy at some point, to help keep our Super Dog "young" a bit longer, to ease the transition of a new puppy into our home and to help us cope as our beautiful Super Dog eases over to "the other side." And we had talked about getting a Golden Retriever when we were looking at dogs back in 2001, but settled on a yellow Lab because we thought the coat would be easier to manage (little did we know Super Dog would shed like a beast year-round). Turns out that the coat is going to be an issue regardless, and I love the disposition of Goldens just as much as I love that of Labs. So, at some point we will get another puppy, it just remains to be seen whether it will be in 2010 or not.

Saying goodbye to little Jack was sad. I had to fight the urge to stick him in my coat and make a run for the car. But fight it I did, and I was told that Jack was delighted when my Super Brother got home the following day, so happy was he to see his master again. Unfortunately for little Jack, he ended up having unexpected surgery this past week while in Madison after a cyst he'd had on his back burst, due to an abcess. Thankfully my Super Brother had some extra hands to help care for Jack (those being attached to our Super Parents), so Jack's recuperation went quite well, and now he and my Super Brother are on their way back out west today.

Our weekdays spent at home were sublime with Super Boy off school. We slept in, stayed in our jammies for most of the day, played outside in the snow a bit, did some things around the house. It was heaven. Well, except for Super Man: he developed an abscess in one of his molars over Christmas weekend and was in misery until Monday when the dentist confirmed the abscess, and then again until Wednesday when Super Man could get the offensive tooth pulled. But that didn't stop him from his usual activities: he repainted our kitchen! It's taking a little getting used to, but so far I'm diggin' it. We went from a deep barn red and light tan to charcoal gray and orange, so you can see why it's a bit of an adjustment!

Super Man picked Super Girl back up on Wednesday, and we've enjoyed spending a few extra days with her. For New Year's Eve, we brought the kids to our Super Friends' house, where Super Girl and two same-aged babysitters watched Super Boy and all of our Super Friends' kids while us grown-ups went out to eat at a good local restaurant. It was a blast, and then we regathered at our friends' house for another hour or two of fun before heading home to ring in the new year in our jammies in bed. Super Boy almost made it to midnight, but couldn't keep his eyes open any longer, and Super Man was out by 11:30, so Super Girl and I wished each other a Happy New Year and then went to bed.

All in all, it was one of the best holidays in recent memory, spent with each other, my family, and great friends. We missed spending time with Super Man's family in Michigan, and my Super Dad & Stepmom in northern Wisconsin, but were thinking of them and able to wish them all a Merry Christmas by phone.

Going into the new year, I'm filled with a sense a wonder, hope, optimism. While I know many have felt otherwise, 2009 was not a bad year for me or for my family. Super Man's job has been a huge blessing and great success, our children have been happy and healthy, we have lived a reasonably comfortable and good life, and we had no major disasters, really. 2010 is going to be the year when many of the unknowns that have lingered over the past few weeks, months or years will be resolved, finally. While the resolutions may not all be what we hope for, at least things will be laid to rest, so we can make new plans and experience new adventures that we haven't been able to experience while living in our odd limbo. I'm excited about that, truly.

So, with that, I bid you all a very Happy New Year! I pray that you and your loved ones will have a blessed, spectacular, miraculous year full of good people, good times, good health and good living.

Yours,
Average Everyday Super Woman