Ah, a 6 letter word that makes everyone lean in a little closer. A vulnerable word, right? Who wants to talk about weight? Their weight at least. Talking about someone else’s weight is usually a little bit more intriguing. We read about it in tabloids, google pictures of the latest “FAT CELEBRITY WITH CELLULITE”, judgingly watch E! News hoping to find out if that new mom REALLY lost all her baby weight in 4 days. People are advocating for healthier weights, more realistic models, and it tends to be a trending topic on “news” websites all the time.

So when I mention “weight”, you are interested right? Ohhh, what’s she gonna say? Well, I am going to talk about MY WEIGHT. Ohhh, now its really getting good, right!?

Weight has been a struggle of mine for a while. Partially because I love food and partially because I hate exercise. I have done the “ups and downs” with my weight for many years post high school. Up a little in college, down a little for the wedding, up a lot after the wedding, down a lot a few years later, then slowly back up and up. I know bad/slow metabolism is a symptom of PCOS due to the prevalence of insulin resistance. In fact, recent studies done by the US Department of Health and Human Services say that 70% of women with PCOS struggle with obesity. So, no, that’s not an excuse to be overweight but certainly a difficult factor to hurdle.

Anyways, in 2007 I lost about 45 pounds and felt great. Then I started working and stress became heightened. I slowly forgot about healthy, balanced eating and would get to those “10 lbs” next month. It added up. My doctors tried Metformin for about a year, which helps women with PCOS regulate their insulin but my body was resistant to it and it didn’t help me. What I really needed to do was make a lifestyle change but stress, work, and my love for food (mmmm) made it avoidable.

I think the slow weight gain became a reality check for me last November. In September 2011 Josh and I had been referred away from our doctor since we ran out of options through her. She referred us to a few infertility clinics and we made an appointment with one right away. Of course the time to get in was nearly 8 weeks. We waited patiently for our November consultation. Filled out the paperwork. Had charts sent over, etc. The day before the appointment the nurse called and left a voicemail asking me to call her back. When I returned her call, she sounded nervous which immediately made me nervous, certain she would say they reviewed our charts and our case was hopeless. What she said instead was  that after reviewing our charts, the doctor said I was too fat to be seen there. Ok, so she phrased it a little nicer, stating that “My BMI is not in the “normal” range and until I lost 25-30 pounds, the doctor would not consult with us.” The message was loud and clear. And it immediately made me feel like I was to blame for not being able to have a child up until that point. (Of course, when I was thinner, we still couldn’t conceive so I know that’s not entirely the truth.). Regardless, it stung – really bad. I was really mad! Who is that doctor to say that I was too fat to have a child!? (Later, in talking with some other nurses not from that clinic, it became apparent that the more ideal candidates he selects for IVF, the higher his success percentage is so it wasn’t personal, it was business. Still, rude.)

That call made me realize that I had to do something. Granted, I don’t feel like I have ever been “obese”. But I have been overweight and had to do something about it. In all my reading, studies say that if a woman can lose even 5-10% of her body weight, it can increase her fertility odds nearly 50%.

I sulked for a bit. A good couple weeks. Until my sister decided she would snap me out of my funk and help me get started on the South Beach phase 1 diet. She literally would package almonds for me, divide little containers with cottage cheese, write out my meal plan for the week. It was exactly what I needed to jump start myself and have accountability. I started on December 18, 2011. I took the holidays “off” which I pre-gave myself permission to do so I actually started on 12/18 and didn’t just delay. Then back on for the beginning of the year. I did good the first 5-6 months and plateau-ed a bit in the summer (ok, gained 10 pounds back). But, as shared in a previous blog, knew I needed to hit it full force September on.

It’s not easy! I don’t have a special, magic diet I follow. I try to eat better. To have breakfast or drink my calories with a Starbucks. A salad with protein for lunch and a normal, balanced dinner. I drink a lot of water. I take a lot of vitamins. I try to walk more but still can’t get myself to consistently exercise. But it’s paying off.

2 weeks ago was the one of the first times someone noticed – they shyly asked me in the breakroom at work if I lost weight. It was such a good feeling! Then another person, and another. Then at my yearly physical, the doctor congratulated me on the weight loss. My clothes are fitting better. People are noticing. I am sleeping better, feel more energetic and am wearing pants I haven’t worn in a while. It’s lovely.

This morning was a momentous one – when I weighed myself, not only did I hit my 10 lb loss for the month a week early, but I also hit my 50 lb weight loss since that “start” day December 18, 2011. I can’t imagine myself weighing 50 pounds more, I am not really sure if I was blinded to the weight or  what. Either way, it’s a milestone!

(Now please – I am being REALLY vulnerable here. I respectfully ask that you don’t go through old Facebook pictures of me trying to find my “fat” days or overly scrutinize me now. I am not saying I am “skinny”, I am saying I am getting healthier. It’s tempting to go look, but please, this is humiliating enough! Also, don’t judge my Thankful pictures of pizza or hot dogs, or an instagram photo of French Silk pie. I am not 100% perfect and allowing myself occasional indulgence has really helped me stay on track. So the point is – no cruelly intended stalking or judging. Got that?)

With all that said – weight – it’s tough! I know I am likely going to gain some weight back while on the hormone treatments. I have been told to anticipate up to 15 lbs. My goal is to never see my starting weight again though, even 9 months pregnant. To continue with the healthy eating. To not be afraid to have a cheat meal, as it’s what keeps me sane. To try to start exercising more. And to get into “those” pair of jeans.

On a completely different note – keep us in your prayers as Monday is our last nurse/doctor consult! We will get our personalized “recipe book” based on all our test results. We will get our prescription doses and begin to shop around for the best rates. We get the timeline, pay the full balance, and are on our way. I also have an appointment that afternoon to have a trial transfer done. Education materials explain that as “an important tool for the reproductive endocrinologist in preparation for an IVF cycle. In the trial transfer, we mimic the actual embryo transfer by passing a soft catheter into the uterine cavity to determine the angle and depth of the uterus, and to help discover if there is any difficulty in doing so in advance. This allows us to “map out” an appropriate path for the actual embryo transfer so that this procedure is done as smoothly easily as possible.” So that sounds like a fun afternoon, hehe. But please pray that both appointments go well! We are so excited about all of this and trust that God is in control.

I close with a section of a Proverbs 31 devotional I read this morning: “Perhaps you feel overwhelmed today. You may be experiencing some sadness, loss or worry. You may find that God has called you to a difficult path. “Surely,” you think, “God has an easier road for me to travel.” The truth is, we aren’t wise enough to assume another path would be best for us. Maybe the easier road won’t make us into the person God intends us to be. Perhaps the difficult road is a path of grace—protecting us from the worst. Maybe this road is about learning something new about God or ourselves. Could it be the difficult journey is the path that prepares us for a greater purpose or a greater faith in God? Out of all the possible paths, God knows the best path. Our key verse reminds us, “His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.” Because of this, we can take the path God has laid out for us today. We can trust, and not fear, in His infinite wisdom and love. And we can be certain that God will never lead us down the wrong road.”

I know this to be true. God has us exactly on the road we are supposed to be on. We are learning more about Him and ourselves every passing day. We are prepared to face this next IVF road, knowing that this is the road laid out for us. Trust. Not fear. What a blessing that is.

what i “know”

For the last 50 or so months, I have blamed every ounce of forgetfulness, word twists, and confusion on “the pills”. “Oh gosh, these hormones!”  or “It’s these dumb pills I am on! Makes me so forgetful!”. Now that I am off the majority of “the pills”, I am realizing I really am just forgetful/clumsy with words. I say the wrong words a lot. And I actually may be worse off the hormones than I was on them.

For example:

(In the kitchen at the cabin, talking to my mother-in-law)

C: Huh? Can you repeat your sandwich?

MIL: Huh?

C: Can you repeat your sandwich?

MIL: What?

C: Oh, I think I am saying sandwich. I meant sentence.

At work, while typing http://www.panera.com

C: Why isn’t Pandora pulling up!?!

Typing in http://www.panera.com

C: Is something wrong with my computer? Is someone playing a joke on me?

Retyping in http://www.panera.com

C: Ohhhhh, never mind.

In the kitchen, talking to Josh

C: Dinner will be ready in 240 minutes.

J: Huh?

C: Dinner will be ready in 240 minutes.

J: 240 minutes?

C: Yes

J: 240 minutes?

C: Oh. I meant 10 minutes. I don’t know why I said 240.

In the line at Starbucks

C: I’ll have a venti cinnamon dolce latte, no foam, extra hot. Double cupped.

What I meant to say: I’ll have a venti cinnamon dolce latte. Non-fat, no whip, extra hot.

I have no idea at all where the no foam and the double cups thing came from. No idea. I was really confused when I drank a big sip of whip cream. (Although it was delicious and I clearly have been missing out.)

In a restaurant, talking to a waitress

C: I’ll be fine with this iced Sprite.

W: You want a Sprite?

C: No, I am fine with this iced Sprite.

W: You don’t have Sprite.

C: Oh. I meant my iced water. I don’t want a Sprite. I am fine with my water.

I could continue. And these are only incidents within the last few days. It’s crazy! What is going on with my brain!?! The good thing is that the people around me laugh (with the exception of the waitress who just thinks I am crazy). But it’s frustrating! I don’t know why the words aren’t coming out right. Have I always been this bad??

I couldn’t sleep on Saturday night. I spent several hours watching Guiliana and Bill on DVR and couldn’t stop thinking about IVF. (Sidenote: I just LOVE Guiliana and Bill! Honestly, their positivity throughout trials, determination, and authenticity with their struggles … I just hope I can have a tenth of her good attitude throughout all of this!)

Continuing, as I thought about IVF, I felt prepared. I felt like I knew what was going to happen. I read the books. I talked to the doctors. I researched. But with IVF processes so fresh on my mind, I decided to dabble in the online world just to “confirm” what I knew. Eck. Not a good idea. 2+ hours later, several blogs and articles read  – I closed my browser and took a deep breath.

Here’s the thing:

I knew I would be swollen from the meds. I didn’t know my ovaries would swell to the size of grapefruits, causing aching and making it so I could “feel my ovaries jiggles as I walk.” (Their words, not mine). Oh yes, and every blogger stated that they looked 4-6 months pregnant during the stimulation process. Whoa.

I knew the meds would be a lot. But after seeing pictures people had taken of their table and fridge stocked with meds, my eyes popped out! I could open a pharmacy. All of that has to go in me? Mostly through a needle? Please no.

I knew I would be moody and have to work on controlling my moods. I didn’t know quite the extreme of irritability, mood swings and waves of emotions that would come with it. Even those who sounded extremely sane while blogging pre-IVF made my jaw drop when I saw the rage and crankiness pour on the page while on meds. Someone, PLEASE, keep me in check!

I knew the multiple shots in the same area day after day would be painful. What I didn’t know was the extent of the bruising, swelling, and bricks that form under the skin. I had no idea it would be that painful. Ice bag please?

In the end, what I realized was that I am not going to and will never really know everything about IVF before it starts. But I do know that this is the right decision for Josh and I. And I know that this is the path that God has laid out of us. I know He will continue to be faithful in providing us with support, encouragement, love and laughs. And that there are some things I will have to learn for myself along the way. That’s where your prayers come in really handy.  And your grace to put up with me on the days where my words are scrambled, my moods are difficult to anticipate, and my emotions are a bit much. What would I do without you guys??

q & a

Alright, this posting is dedicated to a Q & A of frequently asked questions I am getting …. I love chatting with people so don’t let this hinder you from asking similar questions, but here’s a one stop shop of details.

Q: How are you doing?

A: I am good. : – ) I think having the end of August and  last month “off” gave me a chance to really decompress all that’s been going on. It’s been a little harder than I imagined, as sometimes time “off” gives you too much time to think. But I think it’s all been healthy time to process and unwind from what’s been a busy last year/few years. Sometimes in this process, you are so busy going from one cycle day to the next, one checklist and medical treatment to the other, that you lose track and forgot about giving yourself time to grieve the difficulties as well. So this has been a healthy break, but I am also ready for my brain to be pre-occupied again.

Q: When does your leave start? Are you still working right now?

A: Yes, I am still working currently! My leave officially begins on November 19th and will go through January 2nd. I am busy getting ready for that leave of absence now!

Q: Are you on any medication right now?

A: Yep! It’s kind of bizarre but in order for you to prep for IVF, they have you start on birth control pills to begin the ovary suppression progress. Of course many women are on birth control pills and it’s a totally normal med to be on. My body is taking some time to adjust to it, as it regularly provides different hormones to my body than I am used to dealing with. But I am feeling good. I will be on these for about 5-6 weeks as we get ready for the “real” meds to start.

Q: How do you stay so strong?

A: I don’t, always. :) Some days are tough. But I have an amazing support system around me and my relationship with Christ gets me through the most difficult days. But I do have pouty tantrums. I do feel really discouraged at times. And I do let myself cry. But at the end of the day, for me, it’s about picking myself back up and moving forward with my head held high.

Q: What’s one of the most helpful things someone said to you?

A: It’s actually something my sister-in-law Monica said to me once. (And I don’t even know that she knew how helpful it was for me!). She told me that it was okay to for me to put my chin down because she was holding hers up for me. It felt like I was given permission to be sad and that it was okay. And that some days, those around me are the ones that have to be strong for me. I still think about that to this day and just love the thought, meaning, and promise behind it.

Q: Is it hard for you to be around babies and kids?

A: Nope! I truly feel like this is a special ability God has granted me with. I was thinking about this the other day and I believe a lot of it has to do with the fact that I don’t know differently. Meaning, this process has taken me so long and I have seen SO many women get pregnant, have their 1st, 2nd, 3rd child … been to more baby showers than I can count and celebrated an enormous amount of pregnancies each year…to carry that sadness with me to each pregnancy would be too exhausting. Knowing how hard it can be to get pregnant, I have nothing but joy for those who conceive a child, knowing that THAT is the baby THEY are supposed to have.

Q: What can I do? I feel like a broken record just telling you I am praying for you.

A: Keep up the prayers! Truthfully there is nothing I expect anyone to do. I always appreciate encouragement – texts, calls, emails, cards … those touch me in a very special way. I was watching Parenthood last week (LOVE THAT SHOW!) and one of the characters was talking about a support system when someone goes through something tough, like cancer or a sickness. She said at first, everyone is so supportive, gathers around you, encourages, prays, helps in many ways … and then it gets old and they drop off. It isn’t “new” anymore. That can be the case with infertility too. It feels like a broken record of “not this month … again!”. The disappointment doesn’t get easier though so the continued thoughts mean SO much. And if you ever feel like “doing” something – come over with a good movie, a fancy drink and some Chinese take-out and just be with me. Just having someone that listens to my word vomit is incredibly helpful, no matter what season!

 Q: What are you doing for yourself to prep for IVF?

A: One of my main concerns right now is continuing to get at and be at a healthy weight. On September 4th, I set a goal for myself to lose 25 pounds by November 18th. Totally possible for me with some real dedication.  It equals about 10 pounds a month for Sept and October and 5 pounds in November. This morning, the 3rd, I hit my 10 pound mark for the last month. YEAH! I know that being healthy, eating right, and taking care of myself is one of the best things I can do for myself right now.

So with that said, maybe I should correct my above answer re: Chinese take-out and say a salad.

Q: Are you watching Revenge?

A: Um, YES! I love that show! And Grey’s Anatomy, Vampire Diaries, Parenthood (as referenced above), America’s Next Top Model on occasion and whatever other show I can fit in. Although singing competitions have fallen off my list this year. Sorrrrrrry #The Voice lovers.

Q: What’s been your favorite verse throughout all this?

A: I have a couple:

Philippians 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Isaiah 41:10 “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Q: What’s your favorite thing about fall?

A: Easy. Boots, scarves, and pumpkin spiced lattes.

Enjoy your day my friends! Thanks for stopping by. : – )