Lucky Sock Exchange.

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Guess what time it is!? Time for our next TTC Exchange! This time …. Lucky Socks! If you are interested in finding out more, click (here to continue reading} and get all of the FAQ’s on the exchange, plus learn how to sign up! You aren’t going to want to miss it! The deadline to sign up is Wednesday, March 11th, don’t delay! The link will bring you to a page that will answer all these questions you have, like:

You’re intrigued right!? Click on over!  There is also a spot for you to link up your blog to the exchange so make sure you do that too! (You can also find the info page on my Menu tab of the blog or by using this address: https://trialsbringjoy.com/lucky-sock-exchange-2015/)

Ok, another fun thing – guess what happened last night!? That’s right, my trigger shot! My appointment yesterday showed a few perfectly-sized follicles and great 9+ triple striped lined, which means our IUI is a go for Thursday (tomorrrrrrow!). Keep us in your prayers as we try this again … fingers crossed it’s our last one ever.

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trigger shot time!

doesn't everyone have a lucky baby troll?

doesn’t everyone have a lucky baby troll?

See you back here for Friday Favorites! XO!

Q & A part 3.

Happy Monday! Hard to believe we have reached the end of our Q & A post series! I am wrapping up the questions today and hosting one last giveaway. These questions have longer answers so let’s dive right in!

Q: Why are you on a Gluten-Free diet? Do you think it helps with infertility?

I had been extremely reluctant to even think about trying a gluten free diet, as I didn’t have any reason to. My sister found gluten caused her extreme headaches and my mom found herself feeling less foggy without it. But I didn’t have a problem with headaches or fogginess. I ignored all articles sent to me and did some mild investigation without many changes. However, as we were going into our 4th embryo transfer in 2013, I decided to look into the research one last time. And what I found was simple yet compelling. One of the symptoms of undiagnosed gluten sensitivity is infertility. But surely I would have other symptoms right? Not necessarily. You don’t have to test positive for celiac to have gluten sensitivity which makes it a little hard to tell if you are really sensitive or not. But that night, I decided to go cold turkey, gluten-free. The reason was simple, if research was showing that gluten sensitivity and infertility are related, and if I was willing to put my body through countless amounts of medicated cycles, then I could give up gluten as well. It certainly wouldn’t hurt. It wasn’t easy at first, but it has become significantly second nature now, plus knowing that this is something that could be making a difference makes it worth it.

Since going gluten free, I have had full and complete healing of all IBS symptoms. I no longer have digestive issues (and when I do, it’s because of my friend Mr. Metformin) and feel significantly less bloated. Also, having PCOS, I need to stay away from carbohydrates and found eliminating the potential of temptation from my diet to be extremely helpful as well. Is a gluten free diet for everyone struggling with infertility? Maybe, maybe not. If this is something that intrigues you to learn more about, do some research. See what you think and how you feel about it. At the end of the day, the only way to be successful with something is to be fully onboard so you have to make a decision that you feel confident in.

Q: What types of exercise do you recommend while dealing with infertility?

I have to be honest, exercise isn’t my favorite thing. I enjoy how I feel after I work out, more knowing that I am done for the day versus those magical endorphins you are supposed to feel. That being said, diet and exercise are the two top ways to combat PCOS symptoms, beh.

While not in the midst of a cycle, I have found a mixture of cardio and strength training to be successful for me. (Josh and I work out at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping here in the Twin Cities and we love it.) However, when I am cycling and have started any type of stimulation medication, I have to switch to something with low impact, like a gentle yoga, walking, or swimming. When you are cycling, your ovaries swell up – like big time. Anything that could cause an ovary to accidentally twist is dangerous and would cut off circulation, thus losing an ovary. (When my doctor told me this, I gulped!) That being said, activity is still important while cycling because you want to increase blood flow and stay healthy. So be mindful of the activities you are doing and if you have any questions, ask your doctor. My abdomen has been particularly tender this week from the letrozole stimulation and doing a few sit-ups were painful. Be kind to your body and know what feels okay, but also, make sure you are doing something.

Q: What are some of the cutest things your pup has ever done?

I love this question! :) Cali is such a joy in our family and has definitely brought a lot of healing to our hearts. Her intuition is incredibly good and I actually am a little concerned that she does think the world revolves around her, ha! I want to share a million pictures and stories, but for the sake of brevity, I will just share one. This video below is a favorite – I ran into the grocery store and left her in the car with Josh for a couple minutes. She was very ready for me to return and very insistent on watching the store door to make sure she didn’t miss me exiting. :)

Q: How do you keep the faith and maintain hope in all of this?

Many people sent me in a version of this question and I struggle with how to answer it, as it seems so complex and yet so simple. I have written about this before a bit in this post back in 2013. But as I sat down to answer this, I thought back to an email I replied to this weekend from another reader, R. As R struggles to cope with another failed cycle, she asked the same type of question – how do you keep going? The more I thought about how to answer this in my blog, I realized that perhaps my 1:1 answer to her would be helpful to someone else, so here you go:

How do I keep going? Oh, only through strength that is greater than my own. This quote has reminded me that He is still in control, even when the outcomes are different than I expected or hoped:

“We mustn’t lose the hope of a specific promise that God has given us. It may not look like we expect it to (who expected the Messiah to be born in a manager?) or arrive when we want it to arrive (who knew Abraham and Sarah could have kids in their old age?), but God is always faithful to His word. Romans 8:31-32 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”  Because this one promise is true, even if you don’t see anything else in your life working the way you think it should, it’s enough! God is still in control. And He is for you. You just have to be patient.” (Craig Groeschel)

R, I keep going when I remember that HIS grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness. When we come to a point where our prayers haven’t been answered exactly how we wish they would have been, cling to the FACT that HE is all we need. His grace is all we need. I don’t know how I always keep going. There are days when I cry out and ask if I am supposed to keep going. But you know what, He has not yet removed the persistent and desperate calling to be a Mom from my heart yet. And I know Him to be a good God, even when it feels like situations are just ugly, because He reminds me that WE can handle this. Even thought our timing is different than we wish, it doesn’t mean He has left you. And it doesn’t mean you are being punished for something, or aren’t good enough, or are broken. It just means that sometimes the process will be so worth it when we get to the end. The Bible is filled with stories of people waiting and hoping and expecting different – Sarah and Abraham waiting for a child, Mary and Martha waiting for Jesus to come heal their brother Lazarus, Job waiting for his sufferings to end, the Israelites waiting and roaming for 40 years to get to the Promised Land, now all of us waiting for Jesus to come back. Waiting seems to be a crucial part of faith – I don’t know why we can’t be spared some of the pain in the meantime but I do want to reassure you that you are not alone. 

It’s okay to curl up and cry all day. It’s okay to pour out your disappointments to Him and keep praying, even when it feels really quiet. I believe that even in the quiet, that He is right there with you. I just want to come give you a big big hug. 

I have been in your shoes many times, I feel your pain. It wasn’t until just this year that I found out that I have a pretty severe blood clotting disorder known to cause third trimester miscarriages, plus many other life-threatening risks associated with traveling, surgeries, etc. The fact that I have been spared so many times without my knowing about this disorder gives me goosebumps. I never wanted to experience early miscarriages like I have, but then I think, what if – what if I was spared from a third trimester miscarriage, which I think would have been an absolutely horrific thing to go through. What if all of the failed cycles were protecting me from an even more tragic outcome that I would have never imagined. What if all these failed cycles were for me and not against me. I choose to believe that the pain you are feeling is not in vain. Even if we never find out the why’s, hang tight to the promises that He cares for you so much. I am praying for you extra today and am so sorry that you have to experience this sorrow. It’s real and valid and I will continue to lift you up in my thoughts.

To all my readers wondering how you keep going, continue to pray about it. Continue to offer your desire up to Him and ask Him to open and close doors to help direct your path. When the calling is still there, just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. Just get through today, don’t worry yet about what tomorrow looks like. Cling to a favorite verse when your heart seems to overwhelm you (some of my favorites are here). Keep opening the Bible and reading His stories. Do you know that there is not one story in the Bible where someone is mentioned as barren or desiring a child that ends with them not having a child? I believe God answers the desires of our hearts, even though the timing is not always our own. Take needed breaks when you are too overwhelmed and never, ever stop crying out to Him.

Q: Have you ever considered adoption? How do you determine that timing?

The loaded question! Many people ask infertile couples about adoption, often with good hearts, wanting that couple to be relieved of the pain of wanting a family and feeling like adoption is a simple answer. The tough thing that many people don’t fully take into consideration is that adoption is a calling. Adoption is not a band-aid for a couple struggling to have their own biological child. The process of adoption is beautiful and needed but God didn’t create every couple with the personalities, wirings or desires to go through the process. You open yourself up to background checks, lengthy waiting lists, and strenuous psychological testing. Then you have to answer questions like domestic or international, open or closed, known illness or special needs or the known, newborn or older, through an agency or finding someone on your own, ethnic difference or similar to you and your spouse …. and what happens if the biological mother or father chooses to change their mind about the adoption, having up to 60 days post-birth in most states to do so?  You’ve already fallen in love with that child. Then the questions when they get older. Why was I given up for adoption? Can I have a relationship with my birth mom? What about my birth dad? Who am I? These are all special questions to be answered and dealt with by the people that God has called to be a part of the gift of adoption.

Neither Josh or I feel called to adopt and I know that many people may not understand that, and you know, that is okay, because we feel strongly at this point that it’s the God-given decision for us. Might that change someday? Yes, of course! I believe God puts and changes the desires of our hearts in His timing. There are people who are made with giftings, desires and strengths to handle all of the unknowns and details that come with adoption – many of them already with children, or many of them feeling called to adopt long before they knew their struggles. There are couples going through infertility that feel passionate about creating their family this way and that is beautiful, special, and perfect for the story God has written for them. But there are others who aren’t called to adopt and that is beautiful and perfect as well.

I have had people share that they just don’t think they could ever handle going through IVF. That they don’t feel called to do that, that they aren’t sure they could handle all of the questions that go with it, or the physical brutality of the process. It re-enforces to me that not everyone is called to the same journey of starting their family. If God has put adoption on your heart, I think that is a wonderful thing. I could fill this page with verses that support adoption, fostering and all the other wonderful things. I also know that God doesn’t put everything in everyone’s heart and that not everyone is equipped in the same way.

I so greatly admire people with the heart and calling of adoption. It is one of the most beautiful processes and I have so many friends who have made this look effortless and have handled it all with such joy and grace. My heart prays for you all often as I know the path that you are on is emotional and full of its own unique stresses and struggles. And likewise, I ask that you continue to respect our journey and calling as well, whatever that turns out to be. Adoption is a big deal and we all are called to start our families in different ways. Isn’t it beautiful how God uses so many unique opportunities and processes?! Everyone has the chance to adopt if it’s something they choose. There shouldn’t be guilt associated with that choice either. So there’s my thoughts on that. :)

If you have made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I feel like I should hand you a lollipop or something. Or how about I offer you the chance to win 2 sets of Jamberry nail wraps and a manicure set? My amazing cousin Lindsey offered up these goodies for a giveaway, simply because she has a heart for my readers and wanted to help spoil someone. How amazing is she!? (Giveaway open now until Friday morning, where the winner will be announced during Friday Favorites. Free entries are a great way to win!)

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Enter Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Until next time! XO!

friday favorites – february 20.

Repeat after me – 28 days till spring. 28 days till spring. 28 days till spring. We can do this.

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Favorite Dinner Date: Josh and I had the BEST dinner date to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The food was absolutely amazing (Acqua never fails to disappoint!) and it felt so good to sit for a few hours and talk and laugh and catch up. I am so grateful for this man. (Plus the basil mojito’s there are on point. Like, #winning.)

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heading out for my 12th valentine’s day date with this hunk!

quick restaurant selfie.

quick restaurant selfie.

allllll the food we ate. bacon ketchup. GF clam chowder soup. plenty of sugary goodness.  All of it, delicious.

allllll the food we ate. bacon ketchup. GF clam chowder soup. plenty of sugary goodness. All of it, delicious.

his and hers bread. (gluten free and regular -- the best treat everrrrrr)

his and hers bread. (gluten free and regular — the best treat everrrrrr)

Favorite Flowers: Trader Joe’s had these gorgeous purple wax flowers on sale at $2.99 a bunch this week. Nothing says SPRING COME SOON like a little bit of flowery life in the house. I have a feeling they will last a while too.

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Favorite Quote: “I want to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude, of groundedness, of enough, even when I am longing for something more. The longing and gratitude, both. I’m practicing believing that God knows more than I know, that He sees what I can’t, that He’s weaving a future I can’t even imagine from where I sit this morning.” –shauna niequist-

Remember how my last cycle got cancelled due to overstimulating? Well, I should have started a new cycle weeks ago. And I didn’t. No, I can assure you, I am not pregnant. My body just decided to revolt, shake things up a bit, make me wait a little longer and storm the castle of confusion.

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We waited and waited. Did some checking, took a monstrous PIO injection used to induce a cycle and then waited some more. Well, even the inducing didn’t work. (And let me tell you, it makes you feel awesome. Um, not.) So on Monday I zipped over to my clinic for some bloodwork and another ultrasound, all showing that my body is truly just trying to be rebellious without a real cause. Yes, a few smaller cysts here and there, but nothing too exciting or unusual for me. So with that news, the doctors plan is just to start another Letrozole (Femara)/IUI cycle and see what happens. They cut my meds down by half, started the letrozole on Monday and finishing tonight, and I will go in next Tuesday to see what’s going on.

Okay, all of this ties back in to the quote, I promise.

So after my early morning, 7-something appointment, I stopped over by Starbucks to make my grocery list and menu for the week. Well, my ‘quick list-making stop’ evolved into a quiet and relaxing morning, watching the snow fall down around me, making me feel like I was in a snow globe, while ingesting the beautiful words above.

Coming out of the appointment I felt pretty apathetic but Shauna’s quote reminded me a few things – one, that I am to be fully and completely grounded in Him, grateful for life even when I am longing for more. It reminded me that God IS weaving a future, even when I can’t see the other side. It reminded me that it’s okay if we can’t see the other side from where we sit right now. (In fact, if we could see the other side, it would omit the need for faith.) It reminded me that above all, regardless of what is going on in my life, that I want to develop into a person of deep gratitude and surrender to the One who holds my future in His hands. And in order to develop into that type of person, I have to focus more on trusting Him then I do on what I am longing for.

I am so thankful this quote lined up with the messy unknowns of another cycle, helping to re-root myself in Him. Let’s do this.

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Favorite Date: I got to have an auntie/niece date with my oldest niece this week, and goodness, did we have fun! First of all, how do kids grow up so fast? Scarlett was chatting away and playing jokes on me and using her big, bright, beautiful imagination in ways that awed me. We stopped for lunch, visited a treasure store (aka a thrift store where she, unfortunately, chose a porcelain bell as the most prized treasure she ever did see. I have a feeling I will pay for this one day when I have children who are out with their aunt, hee hee!), and then spent time chatting over coffee at, where else, Starbucks. I love this peanut. Please, stop growing up.

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oh you know, just passing notes at the table.

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“this is the best thing I have ever had.”

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“i love ringing this bell.”

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oh this little girl just melts my heart into a million pieces.

Favorite Reminder: Wednesday was Ash Wednesday and I have to admit, I can fall into the routine practices that seasons like Advent and Lent can offer. In trying to be more intentional, I ordered the She Reads Truth Lent devotion book in hopes to focus more on what Lent means. I loved the introduction and how it defines lent: “Lent sets aside time for believers to focus intently on that action which is at the crux of our faith – drawing near to the cross of Christ and resting in the shadow of His sacrifice, glory, and forgiveness.”

I shared online that my prayer for myself is that I use this time of Lent to be intentional about returning to the cross, repenting and mourning the reality of my sinfulness, and remembering the precious gift Christ has given me. I pray that this season becomes more than just giving up something, I pray that we can all press pause and remember just how much we need the cross. If you are looking for a great devotional to use, follow along on shereadstruth.com or download the app. The website offers free devotionals/scripture readings daily while the app charges $2.99 for the plan for its app-functionality. It’s not too late to start.

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Favorite Cali Picture: She certainly was not barking at anything right before this. In fact, she too looks confused as to who was yapping at a blowing leaf. (*eyeroll*)

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Favorite Funnies:

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And finally, congratulations to Kristin H. for winning the giveaway for the gorgeous Wishbone + Gem necklace! We are necklace twins, so fun! Thanks again to Crystal for sharing your talents with my readers!

Until next week – xo!

Q & A part 2

First of all, is anyone watching the Bachelor? After 5 hours of Chris Soules + ladies this week, I feel like I need a major girl-chat to process everything that went on. Comment below if you watch and what you think! No spoilers please!

In other news, this week is part 2 of the Q&A Series! Thanks again to everyone who has sent in questions. Today we are featuring another giveaway, this time from Fertile Gems, (see more below), and then next week we will wrap this series up with part 3 and onet final giveaway. How fun has February been!? Love it!

OK, let’s dive into some more questions!

Q: Have you ever questioned blogging or had concerns with sharing private things with your work, friends, family, and church home?

A: Great question! Blogging scares me regularly. Every time I press “post”, I kind of feel like I have stripped down and am running naked through the neighborhood. I would rather strangers read my posts than people I know. It’s such a vulnerable thing, writing, and there are times I hold back thoughts or situations to protect the emotions of those closest to me as well. So yes, there are times I question blogging, but not in a way that makes me stop. It puts a good reminder in my heart and mind to be cautious not to hurt anyone with my words and also, to share in a way that’s helpful to others but (hopefully) won’t damage my reputation either, like in a working situation. I always try to write with the mindset that anyone I know may read this, including the person I may be giving a story about. It helps direct my words and mentality, while still remaining authentic and vulnerable. It’s a tango!

Regarding actual privacy, I try my best to keep identities protected and actual locations hidden if people don’t want that shared. If children are being posted on or about, I run it past Mom or Dad. I also try to make sure that when I am telling stories, I am telling my stories, not someone else’s story. Those stories are for them to share and I don’t want to encroach into their story. It can be hard to untangle experiences and emotions at times, but I want to protect the people in my life too. If I am telling a story about Josh, I run it past him first to make sure he is okay with it. I don’t ever want my blogging to cause others to concern their privacy either.

Q: What are your thoughts about acupuncture?

Ha! Remember the first time I went to acupuncture? Rethinking this experience is making me giggle. Acupuncture is something that I have been doing on and off for almost 2 years now and have to say, am still totally neutral on my opinion. I know some people LOVE IT and others HATE IT. I tend to be pretty undecided. That being said, I found cupping to be an extremely valuable part of my healing process when I had significant hormone-related back pain. I also found acupuncture to help my headaches while on Lupron and stimming during IVF cycles. When I was not on medicated cycles however, I didn’t find it to be hugely successful in helping me ovulate/cycle.

However, one thing that I am hugely passionate about is having pre and post transfer acupuncture sessions in the doctor’s office if they allow it. My acupuncturist came into the clinic and I had the most relaxing sessions right before and immediately after our embryo(s) were transferred. It allows time to pray/meditate, breath, and relax. Plus, you are on valium so it’s like you are floating with glee in a magical PUPO cloud.

Otherwise though, do what you are comfortable with and find relaxing. If it relaxes you, great. If you find yourself unable to relax and over thinking whether its working or not, then maybe it’s not for you. I always suggest everyone gives it a try to decide for yourself.

Q: What are the last 5 movies you’ve seen that have rocked your world?

I wish I watched more movies that rocked my world! I actually tend to be a pretty shallow movie watcher. I feel like the “good”, award winner movies tend to be a little violent/profane/sorrow-filled for me. For example, I would love to see American Sniper if I felt my heart could take it, but sometimes emotions overwhelm me a bit and so I protect me heart and just skip it all together.

So I watch movies on the Hallmark Channel or drag my husband to see Night at the Museum 3 (I laughed … and cried) or Hunger Games or the Divergent series. I love me a good Harry Potter film and PG-13 chic flick too! I wish I had a better deeper answer for you!

Q: How do you feel embryos should be handled ethically?

A: We believe deeply that all embryos created have life. We value the fact that life starts at conception and so it’s been very important to us to ensure that all embryos created that develop and process through the viable stages are used. When Josh and I first started our IVF journey, we knew that it could open a door for our family to be larger than we anticipated, knowing that if we had extra embryos to freeze, that we would continue frozen cycles to give them all a chance at implanting and sustaining life.

Doctors offices will give you the choice to “dispose” of extra embryos, donate your embryos to another couple who can’t biologically create a child or have the desire to adopt an embryo, donate the embryo(s) to science, or freeze them for your own family, continuing to make annual payments to the frozen daycare center. We have always chosen and will continue to choose to freeze them regardless of their quality.

When we were embarking into our 4th cycle, we had 1 little Frostie left. You may remember from this post where our doctors suggested us skipping transferring Frostie because of his/her low quality and instead doing a new fresh cycle. It was important to Josh and I that Frostie got a chance, and so we moved forward with that frozen cycle and our little snowbaby. While that cycle wasn’t successful, I am SO glad that we transferred Frostie and I know that God provided us a lot of peace with our decision to do that, even though it didn’t result in a pregnancy.

If you have a similar mindset as we do and are concerned about the abundance of embryos that could be created in a cycle, please know that there are many options to work with your doctor to minimize the amount of embryos created. It may start with stimulating egg production at a slower rate and removing less eggs, therefore creating less embryos, but it is possible. There is always a chance that when that type of cycle occurs and less embryos are created, that you may have to do multiple cycles, but it is worth pursuing and discussing with your doctor as well. If you ever have more specific questions on this for me, feel free to email me.

All of this being said, these are our opinions that we reserve the right to have so if you view things differently or would make different decisions, I simply ask for mutual respect as these are personal and spiritual decisions each couple makes.

Q: Where do you suggest finding support? How have you been able to develop a good system of support on this journey?

A: This journey can feel really lonely when you are fighting it alone, when no one around you understands, and when you don’t feel you have anyone to talk to. One of the benefits about social media is that it gives you the chance to connect with people who are struggling in a similar way as you, while not necessarily having to live close to you. Instagram has been the number one way for me to connect with other women who are struggling. Did you know that you can also create an annoyomous instagram account, not linked to your Facebook, so that you can have a true TTC outlet? You can start simple, by searching for a hashtag! Phrases like #ivf, #iui, #infertiliy, #ttc, #pcos, #endo, #clomid will all give you a SLEW of women who are ready to share and connect. You would be so surprised at how many beautiful true friendships have formed out of a single hashtag!

Meet my friend Karen! We met over Instagram, started emailing and now not a day goes by where we don't talk, text or skype date. She may live in FL but all that matters is that I have found my "person"! Love you K.

Meet my friend Karen! We met over Instagram, started emailing and now not a day goes by where we don’t talk, text or skype date. She may live in FL but all that matters is that I have found my “person”! Love you K.

I also run TTC package exchanges every few months that several hundred women on this journey participate in and I have witnessed SO many awesome friendships form simply by being randomly paired up. You can search for things like #ttcexchanges on Instagram too if you want to get connected right away! There are Facebook groups as well. My own personal experience is that forums can be really aggressive and mean-spirited so I try to stay away from them. Some churches have small groups that form with women who are struggling, so checking with your local church is a great option too. Otherwise, use websites like RESOLVE to find other methods of support.

Oh and guess what, our next TTC Exchange, similar to the Mug Exchange, will be kicking off at the end of the month! Stay tuned!

Now it’s giveaway time!

My friend Crystal over at Fertile Gems sent me the most beautiful fertility necklace and we just HAVE to share one with a lucky winner! Fertile Gems creates handcrafted fertility jewelry that is meant to put a smile on your face, remind you to calm down, relax and HOPE. They also include the choice of a gemstone and each gemstone has different meanings.

The necklace we are giving away is similar to this one below – except yours will be in sterling silver and you will be able to pick your own gemstone. (The wishbone is known as a good luck symbol of life and fertility.) If you are interested in purchasing one, I know you won’t be disappointed. Check out her Etsy store today!

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This giveaway will last until Friday morning, and then the winner will be announced on Friday Favorites. Everyone ears 5 free entries just for fun! Just include your name / email so I can connect with you if you win. Good luck!

Click Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for sending in some great questions! Next week we wrap this up by talking about the ever-so-big questions about adoption, gluten-free diets, maintaining faith and hope and more!

friday favorites – february 13.

Another Friday is upon us. (A Friday the 13th nonetheless!) Time for some Friday Favorites, here we go!

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Favorite Thing I Am Looking Forward To:  Valentine’s Day celebrations! I have a hot date tonight at one of my favorite restaurants with this stud. Yes, this is a picture from our first date, which occurred 12 years ago on Valentine’s Day. We look like babies. Ah, I love this man. Tomorrow night we are enjoying a quiet night in with our pup and fondue. I am grateful to have him standing by my side through thick and thin. Love you Josh!

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Favorite Moment: Thank you all for the amazing support on my  Fertility Authority ‘5 Things You Want to Tell Your Fertile Friend’ post this week. The response has been overwhelming and I am so thankful it has made many of you feel validated in your emotions and has given you a platform to start some open and honest conversations with friends and families. Thank you to everyone who shared it, clicked on it and read it. That being said, I am sorry so many of you understand what this feels like, but am always grateful when I can share my heart and it makes sense to others.

Favorite Show: My nieces were on fire the other day, putting on several puppet shows for me. Scarlett’s imagination is hilarious and it’s a really good thing that the magic butterfly saved Cali from the evil witch. (Said witch puppet also played the role of the auntie which was a little concerning, but the girls assured me that the puppet was only imaginary and that it could be a witch or an auntie.)

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Favorite Celebration: My dear friend Alicia’s baby shower! Without sharing her story, let’s just say it’s fun to celebrate the upcoming arrival of a longley anticipated baby. She’s glowing and radiant! (Oh and my bib won the “best bib” prize and I am now own the cutest Burt’s Bee’s Tips and Toes kit. Yay!)

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Favorite Spotting: I saw this sign at Barnes and Nobles this weekend and loved the reminder, while also chuckling about how true it is.

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Favorite Gluten Free Product: This Canyon Bread! Goodness, SO GOOD! Target has it on Cartwheel for 20% off at the moment and I tried the rye bread this week and it made me drool. I have always liked Udi’s but this feels and tastes like real, soft bread. If you are gluten free, give this brand a try! It’s in the bakery section of stores, not in the freezer section.

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Favorite Winners: Thank you to everyone who entered this weeks double giveaway! I am excited to share the winners! Congratulations to Sara F. who won a copy of Where Did All the Storks Go and Dawn R. who won the TTC Boost Bundle and BFP bundles from Fairhaven Health! I will contact you both for shipping information. Didn’t win this time? Stay tuned for next week where we have another giveaway featured with our next Q & A post!

Favorite Funnies:

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Have a great weekend friends, see you next week! XO!

5 things you want to tell your fertile friend.

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Ever been there? That place, that moment, when you look around the room and realize you are the only person without kids? The conversation drifts in and out as you refresh your thinking “was up all night with johnny .. so tired .. love when they snuggle all morning … watched too much tv yesterday with them … need a night out … love them more than I knew was possible … love the boppy, although I would recommend … ” You catch snippets of conversation, knowing that you have nothing to offer and for just a moment, you want to weigh in and let your friends know these 5 things …

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Thanks for clicking to continue reading and supporting my writing at Fertility Authority! Please feel free to share this post as much as you can within the next month – your views matter! And I’d love to have you weigh in and share what you wish you could tell your friends with kids – comment there or here!

Also, it’s not too late to enter the giveaway for your chance to win a copy of  Where Have All the Storks Gone? A His and Hers Guide to Infertility by Michelle and Chris Miller or a fertility pack with a TTC Boost Bundle for Her and a BFP Test Strip Little Bundle. Read the previous post to enter or Click Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway.

See you Friday to announce the giveaway winners and share some Friday Favorites!

Q & A part 1

I am so excited to launch this Question and Answers series this month, which will be combined with questions you have sent in and featuring some fun giveaways too! (2 packages today, more to come!) Thanks to everyone who submitted a question – if you don’t see your question answered in this post, know that there will be 3 parts so yours will make its way to being answered. Also, if you didn’t get a chance to send in your question, it’s not too late! Check out the Contact page for the best way to connect or leave a question in the comments below.

Here we go!

Q: Do you have any fiction book recommendations that you enjoyed that touch on infertility in some way?

A: I know many of you went out and read What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and have shared that you loved it! I’m so glad! I have three other books that stand out as a good read with infertility story lines. The first is The Baby Trail by Sinead Moriarty. It is written by a British author and I found it to be hilarious. There are 2 follow up books to this book character and I liked all of them. But this first one is especially relatable to many and I found myself laughing out loud and feeling incredibly understood at the same time. The other book is Barefoot by Elin Hildebrand. While the infertility story line isn’t the predominate feature, it does touch on the emotions and uses language many of us would be familiar with. The third and last one is The Things We Do For Love by Kristin Hannah. I loved this one too. All three of these are non-Christian books so there are mild/moderate adult language and elements, but nothing I wouldn’t allow my Grandma Jones to read. (Hi Grandma Jones!)

Q: What about non-fiction books? Anything that touches on infertility that’s great?

A: YES! So many I love. The first is Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. If you have read my blog for any period of time and haven’t gotten this yet, please do! Her personal essays touch on miscarriage and struggles to conceive in a Godly way (however is not the focus of the book) and this is one of my favorite books of encouragement, relate-ability and hope. (UPDATE: And today only, the e-book is 0.99 on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles!)

The second is a book I recently read called Where Have All the Storks Gone? A His and Hers Guide to Infertility by Michelle and Chris Miller. This book is a funny, touching read, written from both her perspective and his. Her point of view talks a lot about the first steps you take when you learn you are fertility challenged, a great list of questions to bring to your OB/RE, some great advice on how to ignore the comments you wish people didn’t say and what you can expect with medicated cycles and IVF. Michelle does a GREAT job with this! And then the “his” perspective – Chris talks openly and candidly about things like preparing for the changes to the “just having sex” lifestyle, learning how to read semen analysis results, the lessons he has learned as a husband throughout the journey and touching on how he keeps his sanity and stays married through it all. I am SO glad I got to read this book – it was a lot of “you too!?”. It’s funny and touching and I will go ahead and let you know, has a great ending. In fact, I like this book so much that the publisher and I are hosting a GIVEAWAY for you to win a chance to get this book for free! Yeah! Enter below – the contest will end this Friday and the winner will be announced with Friday Favorites. Be sure to enter! (If you don’t win, I would still highly suggest grabbing this book. You can find all the ordering details on their website – www.wherehaveallthestorksgone.com) (This too is written from a secular perspective but is very tasteful!)

The third book is Every Drunken Cheerleader – Why Not Me? By Kristine Ireland Waits. This book is HILARIOUS. It’s written by a Christian author and I am so encouraged and touched by this challenging book. It’s written so that you can relate to it if you are struggling with infertility but also is an amazing resource for those who are supporting someone who is struggling with infertility. There’s an entire chapter (or two) that answers the questions they have like How can I help? What should I do? What shouldn’t I do? When and what should I ask about? How can I best support my friend during this? If I could give a copy to everyone I know, I would. This book is fabulous.

I have many other book suggestions listed under my Reading Resources page so check those out too!

Q: What helps you get though the 2 week wait? Are there any fun activities that help you get your mind off of things?

A: Let me just start by saying 2 week waits (2WW) suck. Never in my life have I known 14 days to take so painfully long. That being said, somehow they do pass. During this time I like to pretend like it’s not happening, while also recording every detail of every day. Makes sense right? I briefly write in my journal each day and this actually has helped keep me sane when reflecting back and reading other 2WW entries. I realize I am crazy EVERY 2WW which somehow brings comfort that this wait isn’t extra special. But anyways, to pass the days, I love to pack my days full of distractions. Coffees with friends (decaf of course!), trips to local and free museums or zoo’s, movie nights, girls days, mall walking (but no buying anything! Never clothes shop under the effects of progesterone.), painting my nails, and doing some gentle yoga (or swimming if you have that option). Things I DON’T suggest you do – Google. STAY OFF OF FORUMS, CHAT ROOMS, AND 2WW symptom websites. I repeat, DO. NOT. DO. THIS. You will drive yourself batty and set yourself up for waves of pointless emotions because you can’t truly count yourself out of this cycle at 3dpo (3 days past ovulation) simply because your left boob doesn’t hurt as much as your right. And don’t start taking tests at 5dpo. They will never show up as positive and you will waste pointless tears. My friend Lisa once told me “I would rather be hopeful and positive and convinced I am pregnant for 13 days and utterly devastated on day 14 if I am not, then spend 14 days in nervous, scared anticipation of failure.” I love that and live by that each 2WW now. Embrace the time you have, even if it doesn’t end the way you have hoped.

But my best advice is to stay busy. I have goals to make a 2WW bucket list for my next wait – it will keep me busy and distracted! What about you? What do you like to do to keep yourself busy during the 2WW?

Q: Are there any pills or supplements you have tried that have worked well or that you would recommend?

A: This is a loaded question! I know SO many people have differing opinions on this so I will keep this brief and allow you to do your own research as well, but here’s what I would loosely recommend*: CoQ10 for egg quality (stop taking this once you get your BFP), Vitamin D (studies showing it increases your fertility), Folic Acid/Prenatal vitamin, and Melatonin (said to play a role in hormone secretion and improve egg quality). Now there are always other supplements that others use and try that are still scientifically unknown if it helps increase fertility, but certainly have positive outcomes and stories! Fairhaven Health is an online source for many of these products and I am excited to try some of the products they sent me recently, like their brand of CoQ10, FertilAid (used to enhance fertility and support overall reproductive health) and FertiliTea. I have heard so much about this tea for preconception and am excited to give it a try! I will keep you all up to date with my thoughts but so far, I am impressed!

That being said, it isn’t fair for me to get stuff and not you! So I am teaming up with Fairhaven Health to offer one lucky winner a GIVEAWAY package of two if their most popular products – valued at nearly $100! The TTC Boost Bundle for Her includes FertilAid for Women, OvaBoost, and FertileCM to encourage hormonal balance, cycle regularity, and to promote fertile-quality cervical mucus and the BFP Test Strip Little Bundle is designed to provide you with the ovulation and pregnancy tests, consisting of 15 BFP Ovulation Test Strips and 5 early detection BFP Pregnancy Test Strips. I can’t wait for someone to give this all a try! Thank you to Fairhaven Health for your generous donations – ladies, check them out and enter for this giveaway below! This giveaway will end on Friday as well and the winner will be announced with the Friday Favorites.


Well that’s it! I have managed to tackle 4 questions and I am excited for the next post in this series, hitting questions like How do you ethically handle embryo creation during IVF? and Where do you suggest finding support on this journey? Can’t wait to answer!

Okay without further ado, here’s how you can enter to win the book and the awesome Fertility package! You will enter using Rafflecopter and it’s super easy – just provide an email so that I can contact you if you win for a mailing address. You can earn more points if you follow me on Instagram, share this giveaway using social media, subscribe to my blog, or leave a comment but regardless, everyone still earns 5 free entries! Can’t wait to share these products with you!

Click Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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* The opinions shared on my blog are based on my own thoughts, experience and knowledge gained throughout this journey. I am not a doctor or health professional so please consult your own doctor before making any changes to your health or TTC plan. It’s important for you to advocate for yourself and make your own decisions based on your health care providers plan. 

friday favorites – february 6.

You guys – your overwhelming support and validation over my last post – relapse – reminded me of why it’s SO important for people to be open, vulnerable and authentic. Thank you to everyone who connected with comments and love. I don’t know whether to feel comforted by or cry over the fact that well over a 100 of you reached out and said ‘me too’. To everyone who understands this feeling, I am so sorry. I am so sorry you have felt this too. Now, I urge us all, don’t get stuck. I know it’s hard, so hard, but please, promise me you will keep moving past the anger. Anger is sticky. Anger is flammable. Anger is toxic. Anger has to be dealt with and is okay to feel, but after a point, we have to dust ourselves off and move past it because otherwise the anger will consume us and we will become permanently bitter. When we begun permanently bitter people, then infertility wins. And under NO CIRCUMSTANCE do we give infertility that power. Stay strong friends and thank you for meeting me in the dirt and reminding me that the roller coasters of emotions are okay.

Now onto Friday Favorites!

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Favorite Flashback: This Jimmy Fallon ‘Saved By the Bell’ sketch this week was the ultimate ‘flashback’. I mean seriously, the original cast members are in their 40’s and they were looking GREAT! Such a fun blast from the past.

Favorite Instagram Pin: Wahhhhh! A few people tagged me so that I saw the new show line made by Sahnda Marie Kids. I mean, look, mini Starbucks Velour shoes. If my heart didn’t already ache for tiny baby things, it’s now official. Aching and loving. If only I could justify this purchase. SO CUTE.

Favorite Tip: I have yet to find a brand of gluten free breadcrumbs that I love for cooking so I make my own! SO EASY! I just buy a bag of gluten free bread (I use Udi’s), throw it on a cookie sheet and toast it in the oven, leave it out for a while so it’s nice and crisp, and then pulse it in a little food processor. I sift out the larger pieces and reblend them until all of the toast is finely powdery. Store them in an air tight container and season as need for each recipe. Sometimes I just add a little salt, or some italian seasoning or leave plain – I make up a batch in bulk and it’s fast and easy and has the same consistency as real breadcrumbs.

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Favorite Date: I got to spend some quality time with my sister this week which was just the best. We took advantage of a groupon at a local bistro and then roamed the mall while catching up. I am so blessed to have a sister who I can have deep, real, meaningful conversation with and our time together just filled me up. She really is amazing (and beautiful).

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Favorite Cali Pic: Cali’s Auntie Bella (yellow lab) drives her a little crazy, but she wouldn’t of course fully admit that. Cali’s hilarious little diva attitude has her thinking that Bella  should play by her rules and I actually think Bella gets a kick out of that. This weekend there were two pictures that made me chuckle – the first, Cali and Bella outside. This was taken right after Bella and Cali got tangled up walking and Bella tried to sit on her. The camera came out, Bella turned into a perfect sitting angel and Cali stood there like “what the heck just happened mom?!”

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The second picture is from when Cali was sitting on the stairs at the cabin and Bella came down to the top of the stairs and wanted to pass her. Cali just wasn’t having it and was completely irritated by this big dog trying to take her stair space. This series made me chuckle.

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Favorite Selfie: I found this awesome fur hat in Josh’s dads truck (SO WARM!) and being the weirdos we are, a husband-wife selfie had to occur. I love this guy.

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Favorite Meal: We got to eat halibut cheeks this weekend, caught from an Alaskan trip Josh’s dad was on and whoa, they were delicious! They tasted like crab claw meat and I am drooling thinking about them right now. SO GOOD. And clearly gone fast because I only got a picture of the last one.

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Favorite New Friend: Wednesday night I got to spend time with my girlfriends, hanging out around the kitchen counter, painting nails, eating snacks, laughing so hard. Finally around 10:30 or 11, we pulled ourselves from the counter and snuggled up on the couch to watch Man in the Moon when my new BFF, Bentley, came over to snuggle with me. I mean, seriously, if Cali only knew, she would be so jealous, but we won’t tell her now will we?

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That’s it! Hope you have an awesome weekend. I’ll see you next week for our first Q&A series post, plus the first of three February giveaways! YAY! Until next time …

relapse.

I hate relapsing.

That painful part in your journey when you suddenly find yourself falling 5 steps backwards, for no reason, and instead of feeling sad or tired, you feel angry. The kind of anger that burns your stomach and temporarily blinds you, like it’s a physical fury bubbling up through your veins.

Anger relapse is among the worst, for I would rather feel sad. At least when I feel sad I can be comforted. But no, anger is a different emotion. Anger makes me want to backhand anyone that heads into my path. My mind spews thoughts and words that can only be described as venomous. There is no logic with anger. I can understand the intent of everyone and still burn with anger. On my anger relapse days, I seethe. I am angry that I am still here, waiting, it’s been so long. I hurt. I am tired of my patience being tested. I am tired of being told just to trust God or that this will be worth the wait. These reminders on my Angry Days only bring frustration because don’t you think I know this?

I have moments where I want to go off on every person complaining on Facebook. Shut up! Don’t you realized how blessed you are? I am so sorry school is closed today and you have to spend time with your children. Boo frickin hoo.

I want to run around and find every piece of sugar, carbohydrates and gluten in my house and shove them in my mouth at a rapid fire pace. Don’t you see, none of this even matters? Still here. Still stuck right here.

I can’t answer my phone on days like today. My brain and lips are too closely connected. An innocent comment on the other end will only risk impulsive words being spoken.

On my Angry Days, the intensity of this emotion scares me. I am angry at myself, feeling foolish for the days I believe so fervently that this will one day happen. I feel angry that deep down, I still believe He is in control and has good, unpredictable yet perfect things planned for us. Even with that, it hurts so much … I feel angry that we keep getting passed, lapped, relapped, forgotten about. How is it so easy for some? And those it’s hard for, well, even they are making this look easy. (again “easy” – remember the logic factor is tossed on days like today.)

I am angry because I know how hypocritical all of this sounds. I am immediately slapped with guilt because I know we are the ones blessed. I know that every Facebook complaint I read has been echoed by a complaint of my own. Oh our house just doesn’t have a deck. Oh my husband has such chatty moments, always at the end of my cable tv show. Yes, my big tv, that I have to dust. Ugh. My life. It is so disgusting that I can even for a moment judge someone for complaining when I do it all the time. Add another anger coin to my stack, this time at myself.

I have two choices on Angry Days – feed the fire (let it burn baby, let it burn, let’s see how high we can get this flame) or douse it out. The later is less fun.

Feeding the fire: It’s been nearly 6 years. THEY have (1/2/3/4/5) children. WE don’t deserve this. THEY don’t appreciate their gifts, WE would appreciate it. That Superbowl commercial was insensitive, not everyone is a Dad. NO ONE GETS IT. I hate pity words, how dare they throw that insincere bandaid statement at me. This is never going to happen for us, is it? Have I just been strung along this whole time? Where have I missed the sign to get off this path? You know how many times we could have traveled Europe? My insurance sucks. How. Much. Longer.

Please tell me you have been here before. Oh it burns so bad. My anger isn’t directed at God, it’s a combination of anger at myself and then the rest residing in this cloud that is hovering above my head.

With the fury still burning in my heart (how could I forget my anger at my lame eggs, the eggs that clearly suck because we are still here), I do what any person trying to “douse the fire” does. I passively flip through my devotions, breeze over some Bible verses, completely uninterested in putting out the fire, because well, once the flames are flying high, the sizzle and heat feels strangely good and comforting.

But then, there it is. The verse that I was meant to read. Esther 4:14 “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

Just like that, a splash. A gentle reminder that maybe, just maybe, I am allowed to struggle with infertility for just such a time as this. For such a time as to be able to be right here, right now, writing this post. I do believe that our skies will someday part and that I will be able to look back and think perhaps it was all for this. If I am being even more honest, reading this verse makes me angry too, because I know it is true and it really rains on my flame-raising thunder.

I’ve been given a bucket today, but the fire isn’t out. The bucket is now in my hands to slowly make the trip back and forth, from the watering hole to the fire, dousing out each flame, each smoldering coal that wants so badly to burn bright. The humanness in me wants to continue to add lighter fluid, yet the part of me that has to continue to fight knows that it’s time to let the flames tame down. Self control with my thoughts is so very hard.

Relapse days. They offer us such choices. But the anger, well, it is only hurting me. (And whoever crosses my path.) It brings damage to relationships, it pulls off the scab on my heart and it takes a lot longer to let the coals cool then to make them hotter. I don’t want to deal with burning coals tomorrow. I want to put this day behind me, oh so far behind me.

5 steps backwards but now it’s time to take a step forward. Time to walk this well worn path, trailing in the footsteps of a stronger Chelsea who already cleared this road. Time to grasp His hand and allow Him to lead me away from the campside and down to the gentle stream. Time to move.

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send ’em over.

I frequently get emails with some awesome questions from readers – everything from “what books to do you recommend?” to “what words do you have for someone going through a miscarriage?” The questions are all SO good and I love interacting with each of you as you pepper me with some thoughtful questions. They cause me to pause and think and that’s a good thing!

My inbox has been especially filled lately (I LOVE IT!) and it has inspired me with an idea for a series of posts – a Question and Answer series! That’s right, all those questions you have been emailing me over the last few years, send them my way via comment or email and I will work my way through them. Don’t make them all serious – send me over some fun, random ones too! :) I can’t wait to address some of the most common questions to specifics about our journey. Faith, treatment, personal life – nothing is off limits!

My email is listed here, you can write it below, or comment on an Instagram post. If you would like your blog tagged back and your name identified, just leave it in the comments (From NAME at XXXX) and I will credit your question to you. However, if you want to be anonymous, that is completely fine as well, just let me know. (First names only will be used.) The question window is open till the end of the month so send them over. I’m really looking forward to this!

Oh and due to a crazy week, Friday Favorites may not be posted until Saturday … just pretend like it’s Friday when you read them. Hehe!

I’ll leave you today with a great message I read a few weeks ago that has been stewing in my brain: “The mention of a journey implies an arrival. If God guides us, however we may dislike it, it means there is a goal to our journey. Because it is God’s will for us to reach that goal, we can be certain we will reach it. We start and stop and change our minds. People disappoint us; we disappoint ourselves and may give up. Not God! He always finishes what He begins.” Rest in the fact that regardless of our outcome, there is an end to this journey and a destination. Chances are it may be nothing like we imagine or plan it to be, but it’s there and it’s going to be glorious. Have a great rest of the week friends!