Monday, September 30, 2013

Surrogacy on the Brain: Update on "Team Babies"

So, our friends who decided to go the surrogacy route rather than adoption (because they had a volunteer! so awesome) did indeed have triplets! It's so fun seeing this story pop up on different news sites.

Video of "A Sister-in-Law's Special Gift":

I love these 2! And their 3 little ones! SO ADORABLE!

I remember how it all went down, hearing Kim talk about it and watching them struggle with an adoption decision - it never felt right. Then one day Curtis came over to get a haircut and I knew they were waiting to see if the final in vitro "took"... and I was like, "Soooo? Did it work??" And he grinned and said, "There are 3 of them." I was so surprised!!! And he looked slightly scared, ha ha ha. I was so happy that Jamie and the babies stayed healthy throughout the pregnancy and grew so big and strong. What a beautiful little family! So, so happy that Kim can stay home with them and just breathe it all in and enjoy 3 little bundles of joy at once. I can't even imagine! She's got them on an awesome routine and is in the groove of motherhood now and I just love it. :)

Surrogacy isn't as far-fetched of an idea anymore, but you hear about it more from celebrities (like Jimmy Fallon - his daughter was born via surrogate) and not just your regular old folks! I'm happy to have witnessed this happy ending... well, really 3 new beginnings!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Thyroid Lab Results

I got my lab results back yesterday (I wrote my last post about a week ago). From the looks of it, I may have hypothyroidism and a Vitamin D deficiency. I still need to sit down with my doctor and get her insights. But for now, this makes me happy!!! I was totally praying for something to be wrong with me, ha ha. That means I have answers!

My TSH is high, meaning my thyroid is under-active and the pituitary gland is producing more and more TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) to get the thyroid to work (the pituitary tells the thyroid when it needs to step it up... and that's what the lab measures).

I've also read that the "normal" range for TSH is too broad and that a healthy thyroid would make it so that TSH levels are closer to about 1.0-1.5, so I'm going to keep that in mind as I seek treatment. I'm going to pay really close attention to my symptoms and give my doctor the boot if she doesn't listen to me and care about how I feel and respond to what I need to get healthy. I also want to keep going back and getting my thyroid tested every couple of months, whether my doctor recommends that or not. Because I want to be in charge of my health and not just rely on a doctor to do his/her job.

If anyone has any insight into thyroid problems, I want to hear from you! I didn't really even know what a thyroid was until I was about 25, even though it controls so much of your body and how you feel. I'm 28 now and I've probably been dealing with thyroid problems my whole life without a clue. Why don't doctors test for it more often in general?? It can be the cause for so many things (here's a really good list of over 300 symptoms). And specifically, why didn't my fertility specialists not think to do a simple blood test before getting into anything else when we were trying to get pregnant? Thyroid problems can keep you from being able to get pregnant AND be the cause of recurrent early miscarriages. Ugh. Come on now, doctors.

Grief-Triggered Post Traumatic Stress, Anxiety, & Thyroid Issues

Yeah, that's a mouthful of a title for this post. But seriously, that's the only way I could think to describe what I've been going through for the last few months.

Ever since our failed adoption, I've struggled to get back into a good mindset. I've had some good days, and some really, really bad days. Days when I feel like I'm almost back to normal... and days when I will burst into tears if someone asks "How are you?"... There have been days of healing, especially with Zay and how we are growing in our relationship, and then days when I can't get out of bed because it's just all too much.

Honestly, I'm embarrassed by my grief. I keep telling myself I should be over it by now. I've told myself many, many times that I just need to SNAP THE EFF OUT OF IT! Because Kal needs me and I can't be a good mom to him if I'm crumpled on the floor, struggling to function. I'm embarrassed, I feel silly. Life goes on and the world doesn't stop just because mine came crashing down. Other people have had much, much worse happen to them and I'm just being silly being so sad about something so small (or so I tell myself). I'm afraid to talk about it too often, so it comes spilling out in my daily life in unexpected moments. And it's confusing, because it is so up and down. Every time I feel pumped and ready to get on with my life, something triggers a memory that sets me on a downward spiral.

It's hard to explain, but it's just that... in general I'm a really positive, happy-go-lucky person. I trust people. I go out of my way for people. I always think that things will work out for the best if you work hard and have a positive attitude. But positive thinking and counting my blessings aren't getting me anywhere right now. The grief's still there. I'm still sitting in the middle of it. When I just want it to GO AWAY.

The last month or so, I could really tell that something was wrong. My anxiety level just trying to do normal everyday things was increasing no matter what I tried to do to calm myself down. I thought maybe I was suffering from post traumatic stress - couldn't sleep, having nightmares, reliving the same events in my mind over and over, anxiety, sweating, jolting awake in the middle of the night, emotionally numb sometimes and bursting into tears other times, loss of interest in things that used to make me happy, trouble concentrating or remembering things, etc.

When I started taking note of how different I felt than I'd ever felt before, I knew something was physically (hormonally) wrong - something that I couldn't just "get over" by myself. I have vented to friends who I trust and respect. I have written pages and pages and pages in my journal. I've started meditating and trying to eat better and get into a good exercise routine again. And that has helped, temporarily. But I've been finding it extremely hard to stay motivated. I ended up sitting down with our adoption caseworker and I used her for a therapist for a little while. That helped a ton to bring me some peace about what happened. So even though I feel like I'm done grieving for the most part, the physical symptoms were still there.

Talking to my brother and my mom, I realized I could have a thyroid problem. It runs in my family. I listed off numerous symptoms that I thought might be hyperthyroidism (less common than hypothyroidism, but either one could be screwing me up - any thyroid problem would make sense when I look at my symptoms). Maybe grief triggered my thyroid to malfunction and has left me with this severe anxiety? Maybe I've had a thyroid problem my whole life, actually...? It would explain a lot. I thought back to infertility treatments and how quickly my first doctor put me on ovulation-inducing medication without really getting down to the root of the health problem that was causing me to be infertile. He diagnosed me with PCOS, but I can't recall how he came to that conclusion. I remember having my blood tested once, but I don't remember my doctor ever sitting down with me and explaining what any of it meant or what they tested for or what they could have tested for. Maybe I'm imagining ever getting a blood test - I just remember at some point a doctor told me my testosterone was high. When I started seeing a different infertility specialist, he just went with the previous doctor's diagnosis and didn't test me either.

It was like a bell went off in my head when I thought maybe I really did have a problem with my thyroid. Like a "duh" and "ohhhhhh, that explains it" type of feeling. What if my infertility (and anxiety) all boiled down to my thyroid this whole time? Something rather easily treated?! I honestly didn't know any better when I was first seeking fertility treatment. I trusted my doctors to test for the right things and to know what they were talking about. After doing a lot of my own research and deciding to take charge of my own health (for the first time in my life), I made a consultation appointment with a Wellness Center, then went and got the appropriate tests done at a lab (even checked the boxes myself for what I wanted done), and now I'm waiting for the results. I'm sort of ticked off at my doctors for being incompetent. And I feel dumb for not understanding my body better and knowing any better back then. Maybe I wouldn't have felt so crummy and up and down for so long.

I want to get better. I want to feel healthy again. I want to understand why my body behaves the way it does (infertility, irregular periods, bouts of anxiety). Whatever the grief triggered in me, it has forced me to get help because it has begun interfering with my life and it wasn't something I could just brush off. And I think that's a good thing, because whatever's wrong with me now has probably been the underlying factor of my anxiety in general over the years. I may even find out the cause of my infertility! If my test results come back normal/good, I would be extremely surprised.

On that note, IF I am diagnosed with a thyroid disorder... IF I get it under control... IF that was the only thing contributing to my infertility... WHEN I get myself feeling healthy again... we will try to get pregnant again.

BUT, our adoption journey isn't over quite yet. We want to try to adopt one more time. I absolutely LOVE adoption, I don't want Kal to be the only adopted child in our family, Zay 100% wants to adopt again - he has a testimony of it now. If adoption works out for us again, we'll wait a little bit before attempting trying-to-conceive again. If it doesn't work out, we'll get right on it. ;) Either way, I see babies in our future. And better health for me!

Again, some of these hypothetical plans depend on these lab results. Sooooo... I'm kind of crossing my fingers that they come back with a problem. That would give me answers. If not, I'm just as confused as before.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dear Infertile Women: I've Been There

And I'm STILL there. But I've learned (and am learning) lots of valuable lessons on this journey.

I shared this list with a friend who is struggling today. I hope it helped somehow. But I remember the hopelessness of that pre-baby time period and I don't know what words helped me during that time (if any).

Hang in there, my friends! It gets better. Even if you never have children, it will still get better. You literally can't feel that horrible forever. You'll adapt. You'll learn. You'll heal. Eventually.

* God's timing is always right. There is always a lesson to learn, a bigger picture in the works. Prayer and acceptance of WHATEVER God wants for you is the beginning of healing and letting go of your will and embracing His. He knows your heart and wants you to be happy. Know that.

* Bringing a child into your family is not completely out of your control. God wants to grant us the desires of our hearts and He gives us the freedom to make choices and pursue what we want. And if you want to be a parent, I believe you WILL be a parent eventually. It's not a matter of IF anymore in this day and age. You will either find a way to get pregnant or adopt. It WILL happen. So, take comfort in that. Many women throughout history had to just accept that they were barren. We don't have to do that anymore. All it takes these days is seeking out the right information (having the right doctor, knowing your body and how to make it fertile, making the right connections with adoption), and lots of prayer, patience, and persistence.

* Not everyone is pregnant or having children. A huge percentage of people are considered infertile. A whole heck of a lot of people are struggling silently and you may not even guess it. Infertility is pretty common, so you're not alone. It only seems that way because of the tunnel vision of wanting something and not getting it RIGHT NOW.

* You don't have to birth a child or have a child directly in your care to be a mother. Motherhood is just in our nature as women. "Mother" is who we are, not a headcount of the children in our family. "Mother" the heck out of the new babies in your family! They need extended family to love on them just like they need parents. Before you have kids of your own and become so involved in parenting them, you're in a position to supplement other people's parenting and contribute to the well-being of all the children in your life. Don't rob them of that by not wanting to be around family members who are pregnant and having children "easily."

* Other people's happiness doesn't have to decrease your own. Finding joy in other people's excitement/happiness/successes is very satisfying. Plus, you will want people to celebrate with you when it's your turn to welcome a baby, so celebrate with them now. They shouldn't be expected to not find happiness or be excited about something in their lives. Every new life should be celebrated. Let it give you hope rather than being hurt - look at how happy people are when they find out they're pregnant or when they adopt a baby! Be happy that such an amazing thing happens at all! Look at what you have to look forward to!

* Live in the present. When your babies come, they'll come. But right now, don't waste away the days God has given you. Life is short. Make the best of NOW... right now. You most likely won't be any happier a couple years into having kids (after the newness of it wears off), if you don't know how to make the best of the present. There will always be another stage you can't wait to get to.... and soon your days will be over and how many of them would've been wasted waiting for something?

* Happiness comes from inside of you, not your circumstances. Happiness is a state of mind. And putting all that pressure on a child to BE your happiness for you isn't fair to that child. A baby won't solve all your problems... it will most likely complicate whatever problems you already have... and introduce new ones. Babies are pretty magical, but they won't magically make all your problems go away no matter how badly you wanted them.

* Motherhood is the definition of selflessness, and it is A LOT of work and responsibility. Use the time before you have a baby to really think about what kind of parent you want to be. Practice with other children. Become the person you would need to be to be a good mother. Don't wait until they get here to scramble and figure it out. Time is on your side.

* Make a list of things you'd love to do (by yourself or with your husband) that would be much more difficult with a child, and start checking off the Baby Bucket List. Make the most of this time, because it won't always be just the two of you. Take advantage of that.

* Make plans that don't involve babies coming into the family, so you always have something super exciting to look forward to next. That way, your life doesn't depend on hypothetical future babies. Whenever the babies DO come along, just drop whatever plans you had. Easy peasy.

* Take charge of your health. Eat right, exercise, take vitamins. You want to live a long life and be able to physically take care of children, so get in shape! It will also lift your spirits and give you confidence. It's hard to be sad when you're full of endorphins. Plus, being infertile makes you feel like your body is broken. Working out and pushing your body to be strong and healthy shows you that your body is still amazing... and infertility doesn't define you.
* Lose yourself in the service of others. Infertility and the depression it can cause can make you turn inward and become self-absorbed and selfish. Only your happiness matters. But when we seek out opportunities to serve others and make this a habit, your problems become smaller and more easy to bear.

* Laugh! Laugh at yourself, at your circumstances, at something else entirely. Just find a reason! Laugh at how you're reacting, at the irony of life. Laugh at yourself and life will be so much more enjoyable. When you're done crying, replace it with laughter.

I've learned to love myself on this journey. To take care of myself. To love others and feel their happiness as they've shared in mine. I hope we (as women) can all learn that, no matter where we are in life or what our families currently look like.

I wanted to end this by saying "infertility isn't the end of the world," but actually... technically... infertility could be the end of the world. Sooooooo, yeah. Instead, I'll leave you with a picture I took of the sunset over my house.  Ha ha ha... :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Show "Big Brother"

I was totally gonna blog about CBS's "Big Brother" at the beginning of the current season (Season 15). I was gonna talk about my favorite houseguests, who I was rooting for, who was playing the best game, whether I liked the "twists" they throw in each season or not, the alliances, who I perceived as a villain or hero, the drama, etc.

I've blogged about American Idol before, and Big Brother became one of my new reality TV obsessions back in Season 8, so I thought it would be fun to write about it for one season.

What's fun about American Idol is that it is family friendly (for the most part) and you root for the underdog and are happy when arrogant or mean-spirited people leave the show... and you can control who leaves and who stays by voting. Drama doesn't get you anywhere. But a charming personality does.

What's fun about Big Brother is that there are a variety of ways to win the game - you don't have to be a good person to win. In fact, lying and being cunningly manipulative may take you all the way to the end. So, it's all the more satisfying to see the underdog who is loyal, honest, or genuine win the whole thing. And America has little influence on who stays and who goes, so we get to sit back and cheer on our favorites, hoping for the best. And it feels like there is some kind of justice or karma in the world when one of the better people win the game.

You also get to see how people really act when no one's watching, because they eventually get comfortable with the cameras being there and their true personalities start coming out. They also have the Diary Room where they can talk to America and reveal things that they're keeping from the rest of the house. We're privy to all kinds of information as viewers who can "see all" and it's fun to watch how things play out.

This season, though... UGH. If you spent any time at all watching the Live Feeds, you know that the storyline that the producers craft to show casual viewers during each episode is a SUPER WATERED DOWN version of what is really happening. I've never seen such a difference from the episodes to the live feeds before. Not to this degree.

The thing that I love most about the creation of the episodes in Big Brother is that the producers have to guess themselves who is going to win, who is going to get evicted, and how things are going to play out. Because they have to make a coherent storyline for viewers to follow. That has to be crazy hard to do. Because in reality, people go back and forth about what they're going to do and sometimes a good player in the beginning sucks in the end, or turns out to be a huge bully that no one wants to root for anymore (for example: Amanda this season... she was hilariously witty at first and looked like she was going to be able to intelligently move through the game, but she had some kind of emotional breakdown and started tearing some of the other houseguests apart.... it hasn't been pretty). Then someone who most people and America hated almost immediately (Aaryn) because of her racist impressions and attacks on other houseguests that made her a villain right off the bat, ended up being amazing at the competitions and you almost wanted to root for her.... Anyways, my point is that the format of the show is interesting to me because the producers can't really guess what the overarching storyline is going to be for the season when it starts. And they have to create episodes along the way while they're still competing and it's not over yet.

But now it's very obvious that they can use the episodes to tone down what's being perceived as happening and it can be glaringly different from reality. I seriously laughed out loud when I watched this past Sunday's episode IN DISBELIEF. The format of the episode was the last 3 houseguests sitting around the kitchen table, reminiscing about the season so far and all the houseguests who were eliminated along the way. Then there were flashbacks showing some previously un-aired things that had happened throughout the season. It was fun and light-hearted and nostalgic. But that is not what happened at all on the live feeds. They were really just sitting around tearing the other houseguests apart and being absolutely disgusting.

The Final 3

I read this forum post this morning and it's apparent that everyone who watches the live feeds feels the same way:

Screen Capture:

I honestly can't imagine that this is what CBS wanted out of their cast. It CAN'T be. I'm thinking maybe they were looking for drama and casted accordingly, but the group of people they ended up gathering together surprised even them. So, they're going out of their way to save the season and give us somebody to root for... by toning down certain characters ("sanitizing" them is the term used) so that we can stomach them as viewers. They did have to address it (because it was so obvious), so they did two things:
  1. They chose one cast member to vilify. That was Aaryn. Lots of people who don't even watch the show have heard that she was racist and she lost her job outside of the Big Brother house because of it (unbeknownst to her). But she was NOT THE ONLY ONE. Not at all.
  2. They give us a nice disclaimer before each episode:

That seriously was not enough. And I feel bad for Aaryn being humiliated in her post-eviction interview when there were other houseguests who were much, much worse. 

I ended up rooting for Elissa. Who... in any other context... I probably would've thought was super fake and full of herself. But surrounded by the rest of the houseguests near the end there, she was far and away the most genuine and caring and non-manipulative person left. She was the lesser of all the evils. But she was outnumbered. There was no way she could get far in the game without working with some of the people who were spouting out hatred day in and day out. And other houseguests thought she was self-righteous and acting high and mighty. But she just honestly could not stand to live with those people, and I totally get it. I'd be uncomfortable and disgusted too!


Once she was evicted, I couldn't care less who won. None of them deserve the money based on their behavior in the house, that's for sure. And GinaMarie (one of the three that's left) attacked someone for being adopted... saying her mother didn't even want her. 

*moment of silence for that sickening comment*

Okay, my rant is done. My love affair with Big Brother may be over. This season has just taken all the fun and heart out of it. :(

Monday, September 9, 2013

The "Empowering Fearless Birth" Event

Well, my friend Kayla and I are getting things rolling with our small business! Woot! Woot!

(I feel like I really need something to go right in my life right now, and so far this project has helped me heal.)

We've been meeting often and working out the details of how to get this thing rolling and have been filling lots of custom orders already. Once we're done with one, we're right onto the next one. I am SO HAPPY that people actually like the idea of having giant squid stuffed animals sitting on their couch/bed, chilling in their apartment, eying you with their big squid eyes, being a conversation piece or a cuddle buddy. Lol.

The Fat Squid

People like them! Yay! College students like them for their dorm rooms, parents like them for their kids, new moms like them for their baby's nursery, anime-lovers like them because omg-a-squid-that's-so-cool-and-weird-I-want-one! Ha ha ha...

We ultimately want to just travel around to different conventions/conferences for things that we like (anime, comic book, birth/adoption, fabric/sewing, blogging, etc.) and sell our stuffed animals as vendors for these events. I've never done anything like this before, she's never done anything like this before. So, we don't know what we're doing! Ha ha. But it's been super fun so far and a huge learning experience.

We're testing the waters this month to see how well we do - we have our first vendor opportunity! It's at an event in Provo called "Empowering Fearless Birth." It's gonna be on Saturday September 21st.

It's totally my scene (I don't know why I love this stuff so much but it's basically all I talk about) - there are classes about health, fertility, prenatal, birth (including some pretty amazing birthing videos), post partum, adoption, etc. (You can register HERE if you'd like to attend! The "All Day w/ Lunch" option is the most popular.)

AND... I'm gonna be on the adoption panel! Eek! I have to sit in front of a group of people and answer questions about adoption!!! Scary! But I'm gonna do it. :)

The Fat Squid will have a booth up and running, ready to take custom orders from all the lovely ladies in attendance (and guys... I'm sure there will be a few guys there) who want a huge crazy stuffed animal to match their decor. I know there's gotta be a few takers for that. Ha ha.

What's awesome about these stuffed animals is that you can pick pretty much any color combination or give us ideas for prints you like and then we get to go fabric shopping for you. It's a win-win, seriously. Right now we're working on a giant squid made from this mermaid print fabric that a customer requested. It's gonna be crazy awesome when we're done with it. She wants it to be super fun and she's already given her squid a name.... Starfish. Omg, those are the best customers right there! Ha ha ha. Hopefully we get quite a few more fun customers at this conference!

I keep thinking of this as the "pregnant lady conference" and although I don't know what it feels like to be pregnant, I know what it feels like to be expecting a child (through adoption)... and that nesting instinct that makes you want to go all out to decorate a nursery. I know my next child's nursery is gonna have a giant squid in it, that's for sure - an "under the sea" theme. IT'S GONNA BE SO AWESOME! Lol.

Hope to see some of my readers and friends at Empowering Fearless Birth! Stop by our booth if you get to go. :)

Wrong Superhero

Come on, Kal. You know better. :)


Batman?? Okay, much better. Plus the Superman shirt balances out the hat.

By the way, who is excited for the Man of Steel sequel? Batman and Superman together on the big screen for the first time? YES! (P.S. - the announcement that Ben Affleck would play Batman was kind of a flop around here... but the idea is starting to grow on us...)

superman vs batman hope vs fear
Yep, Superman wins. Easy. :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Moo Moo is a Monster

That's what a friend said about Kal's kitty Moo Moo. Lol.

He used to be so itty bitty, but now he is twice the size of Zeus (who is about 5 years older than him)! MONSTER!

Itty bitty Moo Moo and baby Kal.

Monster Moo Moo! Poor Zeus is just dominated.

Side-by-side comparison. What a FAT CAT.

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