Friday, July 31, 2015

Lucky VS. Blessed

I won a car the other day.

The total value of the prize was a little under $50,000.  I was really excited.  (Don't worry, it was legit.)

Then I found out that I couldn't be eligible for the prize because Maryland has stupid rules about how a sweepstakes can and cannot be run in the state.  From extreme excitement to extreme disappointment in a couple of days. Way to go, Maryland.

Obviously, this is a first world problem.  Doad and I already have cars, three to be exact.  Technically, we have more than we need.  I don't take that for granted.

But I have been thinking a lot about why this happened.  I entered this sweepstakes accidentally.  I would never have known about it if I hadn't won.  If I just hadn't won or hadn't accidentally entered I wouldn't have experienced the disappointment of almost $50,000 slipping through my fingers.  What was the point of all that?

Maybe there is no point, but I think maybe Satan is trying to lure me into a place of discontentment.  

It's hard not to plan and dream about what I would do with an extra pile of cash in your hands - I started making purchases in my mind and feeling that sense of security that more money seems to give.  And then it didn't happen that way,  and it's tempting to feel a sense of loss - even though I haven't really lost anything at all. 

It's a silly, frustrating situation. I don't understand it.  I'm disappointed, but I'm trying not to get all bent out of shape about it.  It was a prize - I'm not entitled to it, and I am content with what I have.  I could surely have put it to good use, but I don't need more.  I have been blessed with so much already.  

So that's what I've been trying to focus on, the good things that are in my life already.  I don't want to miss out on the MANY blessings in my life right now because I'm pouting about ONE blessing that I don't have.  

In this context, an attitude of gratefulness isn't too hard to grasp and embrace.  It becomes difficult for me though, when I transfer this logic to our fertility story.  I want that blessing of a baby (so much!), and while I do believe that someday, somehow I will receive that blessing - it's really easy to miss out on all the richness in my life right now and only focus on the loss.  It's easy to cultivate that discontentment and wish the days away until that baby we are dreaming of and praying for is in our arms. 

But if I don't fight for contentment now and learn to live in these moments, our baby is going to come and I'm going to find something else to be discontent about and miss those moments too.  

I don't know if this is the lesson I was meant to learn in all of this, but as I climb into my 16 year old car with the AC that doesn't work right and the window that doesn't roll down anymore, I'm going to be really tempted to wish it was a 2016 BMW instead.  I can't change my circumstances, but I can change my attitude.  I want to spend my days soaking up the moments with joy and thankfulness, not wishing them away for better days that may or may not come.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Health Update #4

I don't have tons to update today, but I wanted to let you all know that the HSG test went pretty well.  Thanks for praying with me.  :)

Our follow-up isn't scheduled until the beginning of August, so I can't say for sure, but I feel pretty confident that there are no blockages.  Praise the Lord!  I got to watch the x-ray screen as the dye flowed and it definitely went all the way to the end of my tubes, so at the very least, there are no complete blockages.

The experience in and of itself was also not as terrible as I was anticipating.  Check-in lady was r.u.d.e. and made me want to cry (and maybe I did... a little) but the doctor and nurse actually doing the procedure were very competent and quick and soon it was all over.

I also felt no pain which seemed like a miracle to me.  Every single person I talked to told me to make sure I took some medicine for the pain and that there might be some mild cramping or bleeding.  One lady even told me that she could feel all the dye going in because it burned.  Scary!  (I'm thinking now maybe she had an allergy or sensitivity to the dye.)

On any account, the procedure was painless for me and I attribute that highly to all the prayers that my family and friends were offering up on my behalf.  Thank you!

The next step for me is to get some blood work done and then go to my follow-up in August so we can piece all the test results together and see what our options are.  Hopefully, I will have some more positive news to post soon.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dealing with Fear and Anxiety

I'm writing this post the morning of my HSG test.  I'm feeling a lot of fear and anxiety about this test, so much so that I feel sick to my stomach.  

I usually take all this nervous energy and channel it into something unproductive (Candy Crush, Netflix, Googling the procedure and scaring myself even more...), but I thought this morning that maybe instead of asking everyone else to pray for me and then twiddling my thumbs and waiting for it to all be over that I should actually do some praying for myself too.  

These are the verses that I'm going to try and focus on before and during my procedure today.  I hope they bring courage and strength to you too.  Whether you are facing fear today or some day in the future, I think we all can be encouraged by these words.




Monday, July 13, 2015

2015 Resolutions: April, May, June Recap

These goal recaps have been a little to sparse for my liking this year.  Unfortunately, the checks on my goal checklist are a little sparse too.  That's how it goes sometimes.  But I'm still taking baby steps forward and that's what's important.  So let's see what those baby steps have been these past three months.

1. Whole30

2. Get (and stay) pregnant
So technically I did this... but as I'm not currently pregnant I'm not counting it 'til there's a baby in my arms. ;)  
*If you're confused, read thisthis, and this.

3. Quit my job
Still working for now.  But planning on changing that soon. :)

4. Finish two books with Doad
We finished the first one.  We have yet to start the second lol.  But hey, we've still got half a year. :)

5. Read 24 books
I read two books in the first week of May and thought I'd catch up on this.  Then I didn't finish any for the rest of the month OR JUNE!  I have several that I'm in the middle of reading... but have only officially read 7 books this year.  :/  Definitely need to pick it up.

Book #6 was The No Work Garden Book by Ruth Stout.  We *attempted* to use this method to garden this year, but failed miserably.  I'm pretty sure it was our fault though and I am looking forward to trying again next year.  I definitely recommend it if you are looking for a new way to garden and don't want to spend your whole summer weeding.

Book #7 was The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  This was a great read on the beach in Cancun and I devoured it in just a couple of days.  

6. Marriage Conference
We still haven't found one.  I do want to do this, but in some ways, I feel like the past few months have been a "marriage conference" for us.  We have learned so much about each other and our relationship has grown so much stronger.  He is truly my best friend and even though I hate what we're going through, I'm so thankful to have such a solid man to be my husband and my partner through it.   

7. Cruise/vacation
We went to Cancun!  And it was awesome!  I should probably do a post on that sometime....  Here's a pic until then. ;)

8. Purple hair

I love this look.  It's different, but it feels like me.  I wish my hair was naturally this color.

9. Color run?
The more time passes, the less I want to complete this goal.  I just don't have any motivation for it anymore.  We still attend Zumba and Yoga.  We feel healthy.  I'm pretty sure this one is not going to happen this year... It might not even be on the next recap post...

10. Keep up with Spanish lessons
I haven't listened to Spanish since I got back from vacation.  Haven't even thought about it 'til just now.  Maybe tomorrow ;)

11. Learn to drive stick shift
I have actually made progress on this!  We practiced last Saturday and I drove home (less than a mile lol) from our local pub on Tuesday.  I'm hoping to practice some more this weekend and maybe work up the guts to drive into town or something.  

So there we go. :) My baby steps for this month are working on my Spanish, practicing driving stick shift, and finishing at least two of the books I'm halfway through reading. :)

What are your baby steps this month?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Jessica Smith: Dream Chaser

I'm going to nutrition school!

This kind of happened suddenly, so I'll explain:

A while back, Doad and I decided that I would not stay on a second year as a nanny once my first year is up in September.  That time is quickly approaching so I have been giving some thought to what I will do after that.

During my sister's high school graduation, the commencement speaker (who also happens to be my brother-in-law!) shared his advice for deciding what to do after graduation.  He said that the world needs people who are passionate about what they do and told them not to just look for a job that fills a need in the world, but to look for something that brings them life.  That resonated with me and I have spent the last few weeks thinking about what brings me life.

The answers that I have come up with all have to do with health and nutrition, teaching others how to be healthier, and empowering them to make those changes in their own lives.  Enter: health coaching.

I entertained the idea of becoming a health coach about a year ago when I heard about a school called the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  I've been receiving their emails and attending their webinars almost monthly since then, but hadn't dared to mention this to anyone else.  This blog is all about the dreams that I'm chasing in life - having a family, traveling, making a difference in the world... but felt hesitant to share my new dream of being a health coach with anyone.  What if they thought I was crazy?  What if I can't do it?  What if, what if, what if....

I finally told Doad about it and he jumped on board right away.  He helped me see how well this complements the things that I am passionate about and encouraged me to go for it.  We decided to think and pray about it.  As I did that, I felt the fear and uncertainty fading away and found passion and excitement taking it's place.  I finally admitted to myself that I really want to do this.  So I decided to go for it, I'm chasing this dream.  Last week, I officially enrolled into nutrition school to become a health coach! :)

I start in September and I'm super, super excited! :)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Health Update #3

Last week I shared a little bit about how I have been doing emotionally.  This week I'd like to share how I have been doing physically.  

PCOS - This is basically no longer an issue for me.  The clean eating that I've been doing and possibly my use of essential oils and herbs have helped my hormones to balance.  I don't currently present any symptoms of PCOS anymore! :)

MTHFR - The supplements I was taking to help my body methylate and detox properly also worked and I have been able to slowly wean off of those supplements as my body learns to methylate better on its own.  

My one concern in this area is that my folate levels might have dropped again.  The Methotrexate that I had to take for my ectopic is a folate inhibitor and I was not allowed to eat anything with folate in it while on the medicine so that it wouldn't interfere with the treatment.  

I have been eating greens every day since I got the all clear and am taking a prenatal with folate in it as well, so hopefully this does not become an issue.  I've been told that I should wait for three months before trying to get pregnant again though to be sure that I have sufficient folate to make a healthy baby.  For us, this means no trying until September.  :/  That seems really far away to me right now.

Acupuncture - This is still a regular part of my fertility support although lately it has mostly been emotional support for me.  My body feels healthy and strong for the most part and my acupuncturist agrees with me.  

The area where I am weak right now is my emotions.  Rada has played a huge role in helping me through my grief for both of my miscarriages and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to her for that.  

Testing -  We have also added a new "character" to our fertility story.  After having an ectopic pregnancy we decided that it was time to get some testing done and really dig deep into our reproductive health.  I want to make sure that we do everything we can to prevent another pregnancy loss.  We have begun to see a doctor at Shady Grove Fertility Center and had our first appointment this past week.  

We have several tests scheduled for the next month that will hopefully show us if there are any other reasons why pregnancy has been such a struggle for us.

Please pray for us that these test would come back favorably.  The main test that is causing me anxiety is called an HSG test.  They will put dye in my uterus and tubes so that they can see if there are any blockages that could cause infertility or another ectopic.  I am worried that there is scar tissue from a surgery I had in 2011 that has damaged my tubes.  It would explain why I had an ectopic pregnancy, but it would also mean that my odds of needing IVF to get pregnant are increased.  

I really don't want to do IVF.

I want to get pregnant naturally.  In my home.  With my husband.  And not in a sterile doctors office with nurses and doctors and needles and syringes and $5000 of fertility medicine and synthetic hormones.... 

If it comes to that, it comes to that.  And I will probably process that here on the blog too.  But today, I'm just saying that I really, really don't want to have to process that.  I don't want that to have to be an option.  

So I'm NOT looking forward to these tests because I am nervous about finding out more bad news and I AM looking forward to them because it means we will have a better understanding of what our options are and be that much closer to our Someday Baby.  

Oh, the conflicting emotions.  

Thank you all for reading and virtually sharing this crazy roller coaster ride with me.  I appreciate all your thoughts and prayers and words of encouragement.  I hope none of you ever have to ride this ride yourselves, but if you do, know that I will be there for you cheering you on and supporting you every second.

PS.  This is random, but I'm planning on changing my blog design soon!  Just wanted to give you all a head's up so you don't think you're lost next time you visit this space. ;)

Friday, July 3, 2015

How to Help a Friend Through Pregnancy Loss

I thought I'd share today how I have experienced comfort and encouragement through my friends and family during pregnancy loss.  Everyone is different so I know that these may not apply for everyone, but here is a short list of do's and don't according to Jess. ;)

Do: Ask me how I'm doing
I think that a good portion of the grieving process for me involves processing my feelings out loud to someone.  If you have the time (and energy) to hear an honest answer about the emotions and thoughts I'm having on that particular day, it can be very helpful to know that you are willing to talk to me about it and maybe even cry with me. However...

Don't: Feel like you have to talk about it with me every time I see you
It's definitely okay to not bring up the loss if the situation isn't appropriate.  Sometimes it's also just nice to take a break from the mourning and act like things are normal.  I'm sorry if this seems like contradicting advice, mostly it comes down to discernment.  Thankfully, my friends have really great discernment and know when I need to talk and when I don't.  :)

Do: Share words of encouragement:
I've received emails of verses and quotes, texts about dreams from the Lord, and messages/cards of your sympathies that have been so encouraging and comforting.  I love to have those to look back on when I'm struggling and have even passed some of them on to others who are going through miscarriage and loss.  Also hugs.

Don't: Give me cliches
These are easy to rattle off when you want to say something encouraging but don't know how.  I know you mean to be genuine and comforting, but I don't know how to respond when someone tells me that God is in control and He knows best.  It's not that I don't believe that, it's just that it doesn't help to make this any easier or less painful.  This point has been thoroughly covered in other similar articles so I won't spend any more time on it except to say this: If you don't know what to say, it's okay to not say anything.  :)

Do: Bring meals
This blessed me more than I can explain.  The last thing I wanted to think about was meal planning, cooking, cleaning, or even eating.  It was such a relief to not have to worry about that and yet know that Doad wasn't going to starve or end up on a bachelor diet of frozen pizzas and fast food.

Do: Bring life
Many, many people brought us a small gift of flowers or plants.  I found it so healing to be surrounded by the beauty and aroma of fresh flowers and the life of a growing plant.  It also gave me purpose and something to do - I spent many mornings watering my new rose bush... and crying in the dirt lol, but I think that brought healing too.  Now obviously I don't expect others to bring me presents or even meals every time we go through a loss, but for those of you looking for ways to comfort friends in similar situations these are some great tangible ways so show your love and support.  A close friend also bought me a necklace with the birthstones of both of our babies on it.  I love having something small to keep with me and remember them by and I wear it everyday.

A couple other things that I found comfort in:

There's not a big genre for pregnancy loss music, but I made a playlist of the few songs that I found and played them over and over again during the first few weeks.  I found comfort knowing that I was not alone and that others understood what I was going through.  You can find my playlist here.

I bought a pack of 12 puzzles and finished about 9 in a week and a half.  They were hard enough that I had to focus and it took my mind off of my grief but they didn't take tons of energy and I could still feel like I "accomplished" something.  For you maybe this is video games or reading or baking or binge watching a tv show (which we also did...)

Lacey was therapeutic for both me and Doad because she was a constant.  She didn't treat us any differently than before, she just kept loving us.  She was her same silly, goofy, snuggly self and for some reason that was really reassuring.  She helped bring us back to the present when we were lost in sadness and she gave us a reason to laugh.  I'm so thankful for her and how she loves us.

Friends and family are so important during times like this.  While I can't say that this has been easy, knowing that I have the support of others has helped to make this process smoother for me.  I hope that this has been helpful and gives someone the motivation to reach out and share comfort, support, and encouragement to a friend in need.  It could mean the world to them.  I know it did to me.  :)