Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When I look back... I see He carried me

I started this post months ago, but never seemed to be able to find the right ending.... until recently...

My whole life, health has always come naturally to me. Once I got over the chronic ear infections of infancy/toddlerhood, I really wasn't a sickly kid. I rarely remember being sick as a school age kid or teenager. Even in nursing school, when I was getting next to NO sleep, ate haphazardly, and was exposed to every germ under the sun... I really didn't get sick.  In my adult life, I spent very little time in doctor's office or health care settings, as a patient (I spent more then enough time there as an employee!) Until... I got engaged and married.

 I was a virgin when we got married, so I had no need for birth control, up until a few months before our wedding, in preparation to NOT get preggers on the honeymoon. The first appointment was disaster, even though it didn't actually happen. I woke up to find I had started my period 5 days early, and it was a bad one - horrible cramps, bloating, nausea, upset GI,  highly emotional, etc... just the way you want to feel with your feet locked into stirrups with your legs spread before God and the world. I got lost and couldn't find a parking place, but luckily I had left an hour ahead of time, and was only 5 minutes late. I filled out all the new patient paperwork, only to discover my insurance card is NO where to be found. Next I find out they won't see me without my insurance card, and I have to pay a $20 fee for showing up without said insurance card, therefore "no showing" my appointment. Fan-Freaking-Tabulous. The period goes on its merry little way, the old insurance card never resurfaces so a new one is sent to me, and the appointment is rescheduled. 

I ended up loving the Nurse Practitioner I saw, and she was pumped to have "a real live virgin" over the age of 15! HA!  I had experienced several non-discript "female" discomforts over the years - nothing major and with symptoms so vague it affected my day to day life very little. I explained these, in the best detail I could, and the Nurse Practitioner assured me those were all quite normal, not to worry.  I was cool with that. Then came the exam. I will spare you the details, but I will say this - they ruptured my hymen (damage that wasn't diagnosed until later), and I nearly passed out and fell off the bed. Being a nurse, I tried to mentally talk myself out of blacking out, and luckily it worked... that and laying on the ice cold tile floor with my head between my knees, with medical staffers putting wet wash cloths over me. It was glamorous, let me tell you. All this aside, I recovered nicely, and for some idiotic reason, we decided the nuv.a.ring would be the best form of birth control for me. 

As I left, the office I called Jared to inform we very well may never have sex in our married life after what I just experienced, to which he sat in stunned silence, then very calmly and slowly asked me to explain why exactly I felt this way. After getting my dramatics out of the way, I was able to laugh hysterically at the whole situation. I picked up my prescription for birth control and was well on my way. Or so I thought. Again, I will spare you the details, but if you ever think about trying the Nuv-a-ring, first of all, good luck. Secondly, it if comes shooting out being your legs with a force you didn't know that area of you body could create... do not keep trying to insert it ~ 10 times over the course of the next hour... while at Chili's ... for a friends bachelorette party... It just doesn't end well, trust me! Fast forward - the plain ol' pill was just what I needed, and we were back on our merry way to marital bliss.

During the summer months following our marriage, those "vague-non-discript, not life affecting" symptoms became increasingly persistent, painful, and to a point debilitating. I would have shooting pains across my pelvis, down my hip, around my thigh, sometimes even traveling down to my toes. The pains would wake me up at night. I was living in a new town, and knew very few people who could recommend a good doctor. I was brushed off by several practices in the area, who suggested I go to a pain clinic - what the heck!?! I finally opened up to an older lady who was like second mother to me in town, and she completely understood, having experienced something very similar herself! She gave me the name of her physician. We immediately scheduled an appointment with her. This physician was a godsend. She sat and talked to us for 2 hours! We walked away with, not one, but two diagnosis, both with great cure rates, mainly through physical therapy. I had never heard of "women's health phyiscal therapy" and was a little skeptical about where I could find such a provider in our smallish city. As luck would have it (or really as God ordained it) we have one of the most talented and kind hearted Pelvic Pain PT's in our town! Patty, and her assistant Dawn, were such Godsends!!! And they were precious christian ladies, who prayed for and with me several times during those rough months. I ended up having a way more complicated case then anyone anticipated. My pelvis was all tilted and off-centered, my pelvic floor muscles were all contorted, and the lymphatic drainage in my right thigh was all sludged and backed up (for as long as I could remember, moderate pressure on my thigh had been extremely painful.) I spent months with Patty and Dawn, starting out at 3-4 hours a week, doing modalities I never dreamed existed in health care (internal ultrasound therapy, anyone?) Jared accompanied me twice to learn how to help massage and manipulate my muscles, to help ease my pelvis back into alignment. The girl who was rarely a patient herself, but always the care giver, was now being the patient 2-3 times a week, for hours at a time. Talk about loss of control... maybe that was part of this journey for me....

The first 4-6 weeks were unbelievably painful, as my body slowly shifted back to where it was designed to reside. After that, I felt unbelievably better. I still had flare ups, but nothing to close to what I had experienced previously. I stayed with Patty and Dawn for many months. As happy as I was to finally be discharged, and no longer pay for PT, I was so sad to leave them - they really had become very dear friends of mine. We still keep in touch to this day.

One thing we learned through all this therapy was that if I had gotten pregnant, the pain would have greatly magnified and intensified, and permanent damage could have been done.

We went 6-8 months after physical therapy before making the decision to slowly ease into trying to get pregnant. After all we had been through recently with my body, Jared and I both knew it was not going to be one of those "quit taking the pill one month and getting pregnant the next month" type situations... we just don't do life that way.

Most of you know the rest of the story:
- tried for several months without results, then abruptly my cycles stopped all together for 5 months.
- the doctors tested my hormone levels and found zip, zero, zilch.
- commence hormone replacement therapy, at the whopping old age of 27 - grand times I tell ya!
- hormone levels normalize for several months, still no pregnancy.

My gynecologist was only a GYN - she didn't do the fertility or OB side of things, even though I begged her to make and exception for me. :) I was having trouble finding a fertility specialist who understood my past medical history and who understood infertility treatment isn't a one size fits all for everyone. Jared and I had very clear convictions on what was right for us.

Our original plan had been to try for a baby without telling anyone, in hopes of surprising our families on  either Mother's day or Father's day. This goal was obviously, and sadly not obtained. The sweet dreams of trying, conceiving, and enjoying our little embryo as "just our little secret" for a while, were dashed. Letting go of the complete lack of secrecy or surprise has been really really hard for me. At any given time no less then 50 people probably know where I am in my cycle - not at all invasive or embarrassing, really. 

As I  gradually had this dream pried from my death grip, we slowly began telling a few select people about this journey we are on. One night, as we were leaving our friend's house, the husband, Clayton said "Hey, anyway we can pray for you guys." Jared and I exchanged the briefest of glimpses, seconds before Jared says "Well, Amy really wants a baby!" Definitely the fist time we had presented this knowledge that way. Come to find out "baby requests" were a "specialty" of Clayton's... a point which his wife quickly clarified - they knew three couples who had recently seen the same fertility specialist in town, and all three were pregnant. And he was a christian! 

And its gets better. Of course, being the professional skeptic, I had to do research on this guy. I stared at the computer screen for about 5 minutes straight when his profile came up. Not only was he an OB-GYN (who no longer delivered), he was board certified in Reproductive Endocrinology (for anyone TTC, you need an RE, not just a basic fertility specialist!) he was a pelvic pain specialist. Pretty sure I heard the Hallelujah Chorus. How on earth all my research for physician with this specialty never produced his name, I will never know, but I guess it just wasn't in God's perfect timing.

The rest has been recorded on this blog...

Most of us have probably heard the song "Blessings" by Laura Story. If you haven't, you should look it up. It has brought much comfort to me over the past months (and has been sent to me numerous times by several caring friends)

...All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can't satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

I hear lots of girls/hopeful mom's talk about little things they have picked up here and there for their future babies. I just can't do it... at least not yet. However, a few Friday's ago (May 20th to be exact), I only had to work a half day, and being the craft dork that I am, I spent the majority of my afternoon at the Hob Lob, where I came across this:

I stood there staring at it for the longest time. The overall look goes perfectly with our bedroom's theme. I  also really liked meaning of this plaque. But could I actually purchase it, even if it was on clearance? I walked past it several times, before finally deciding to "build an alter", "raise an ebenezer", and "take a leap of faith." Into the buggy it went. It now sits on our dresser, where I see each morning when I wake up. A nice little reminder of God's blessings.

The necklace hanging on the plaque looks like this:

I bought it from one of my employee's kids as a school fundraising project. I started wearing it a few months ago, as an added reminder of my overall "belief." I was recently at the fertility doctor having yet more vials of blood drawn when the phlebotomist commented, "I really like your necklace... I bet it has a very layered meaning." My eyes filled with tears as I simply answered "Yes."

So even  if His blessings come through raindrops ... if His healing comes through tears... Every day still holds the possibility of a miracle... and I choose to Believe. Because when I look back over these past 3 years, as cliche as it horribly sounds... the footprints in the sand are not mine... they are His, because He carried me to each and every place I needed to go to know Him in a more real way.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The first day of the rest of our lives

Today is our 3rd anniversary. Unfortunately, Jared is out of town all week on a business trip. We celebrated this past weekend - it was perfect! As much as I wish we could be together today, I am so blessed with a relationship that doesn't require mere physical closeness in proximity to maintain our "oneness." Here is a glimpse at the cards we exchanged.

His to me:
Let's promise to always take care of our love, to never forget the laughter and smiles we've created in each other's hearts... To look beyond the little things that sometimes come between us, so that nothing can stand in the way of the closeness we share....
Let's promise to believe a little longer, to hope a little deeper than any doubts or fears that find us. And let's promise never to take for granted our quiet times together, when just being in each other's arms feels so very right and nothing in this world matters more than our lasting love.

Mine to him:
You are the one for me... the one I laugh and cry with, the one who shares my hopes and dreams... the one I love.
Since God brought you into my life you have always been the one... making the hard times better, and the good times sweeter.
I look forward to every new year the Lord gives us to walk  and talk and just be together.
You are my best friend and my heart's treasure. You will always been my true love.

Here is a progression of our relationship - in pictures and "meaningful conversations."

When we said "I love you," for the first time... on the Chimney Tops

After he proposed on the Chimney Tops... and I said yes:)

Then it was time become Mr. and Mrs!


A prayer and a song "Be thou my vision"

Then we spoke the most important words we had ever spoken to each other.

I, Jared, take you, Amy, to be my wedded wife. With deepest joy I receive you into my life that together we may be one. As is Christ to His body, the church, so I will be to you a loving and faithful husband. Always will I perform my headship over you even as Christ does over me, knowing that His Lordship is one of the holiest desires for my life. I promise you my deepest love, my fullest devotion, my tenderest care. I promise I will live first unto God rather than others. I promise that I will lead our lives into a life of faith and hope in Christ Jesus. Ever honoring God's guidance by His spirit through the Word, And so throughout life, no matter what may lie ahead of us, I pledge to you my life as a loving and faithful husband. 

I, Amy, take you, Jared, to be my wedded husband. With deepest joy I come into my new life with you. As you have pledged to me your life and love, so I too happily give you my life, and in confidence submit myself to your headship as to the Lord. As is the church in her relationship to Christ, so I will be to you. Jared, I will live first unto our God and then unto you, loving you, obeying you, caring for you and ever seeking to please you. God has prepared me for you and so I will ever strengthen, help, comfort, and encourage you. Therefore, throughout life, no matter what may be ahead of us, I pledge to you my life as an obedient and faithful wife. 

my brothers thought they would be funny...

and assist in the wedding kiss by bringing a step stool up on stage:)

it caused a good laugh

Finally, hubs and wifey:)

Probably the happiest I will ever be!:)

And just because this is so us and (I think) freaking hysterical:)
wedding night fun:)

I lovest you the mostest, Hubs! 
Here's to many more anniversaries to come, and fun times to be had!

Monday, May 23, 2011

You know you are trying to conceive when...

I saw this here, and thought it was so darn funny and brilliantly written, I had to share. (colored text are my own additions.)

  1. Everyone but you thinks the April Fool’s pregnancy prank is funny. For the record – it isn’t…it really, really isn’t.  At this point, pretty sure if/when we get to experience a positive test, people (including my  husband) will still think its a prank, April Fools or not! HA
  2. You can’t walk into a bathroom without instinctively reaching for a stick to pee on. Or  you carry a variety of "pee sticks" in every bag, purse, or have them stashed in hidden places at your place of employment.
  3. You have a minimum of 5 individuals excluding your husband who are actively trying to get you knocked up.  Its mortifying the number of people who know my cycle schedule!
  4. You have fantasized round-house kicking a minimum of one hundred and thirty-seven women (and counting) whose unsolicited fertility advice began with the words “You just need to…”  Better watch out - I have a mean roudhouse kick, thanks to Turbo!
  5. You occasionally forget that not everyone is interested in hearing about your uterus. For real??
  6. Women have strategically positioned themselves between you and their toddler in line at Wal-Mart. Or the parents of all your patients under the age of 3 :) 
  7. You have online friends you’ve never met who know you and understand you better than people you’ve known for most of your life. (I thank God for all of you and pray for each of you.)  Such a blessing, and sooooo incredibly true!
  8. You clean out the very top shelf of the bathroom cabinet and throw away no less than five (okay maybe more like seven) empty ept and ovulation kit boxes.  I actually keep up with this regularly - so the show of failure is less obvious. :-/
  9. You’ve had some of the best conversations with your husband and/or your twitter buddies while holding your legs in the air for 30 minutes.  This is NOT me - I get great reading time in... If this time happens at night, the hubs is asleep 3.5 seconds later... conversations rarely happen in bed - we both pass out the minute our head hits the pillow, usually. Plus I am pretty sure I am the last person on the planet without a smart phone - no twitter convos for this chick.
  10. You would do anything short of committing murder- wait I take that back – you would commit murder in order to protect your baby names from being used by anyone you know. Oh the dreaded name theft... our first two boy names have already been "taken"... luckily, I like unique names, so I am not too worried... but I still get apprehensive every time I wait to hear the name choice.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life Lately.... in pictures. Part 3, the finale!

Easter was an emotional weekend for several reasons, as I wrote about here. All that aside, we had a wonderful time celebrating our Risen Savior, with our friends and family.
My in-law's yard could be featured in Southern Living!

Oh the fertility med PUDGE was in full swing this weekend - ugh!

Me and my SIL

yes, Jared and his uncle took the Easter baskets for the egg hunt, while the kids used bags:)

Its a competitive event in this household!

And even though they are in college, the students still love an good ol' egg hunt themselves

Egg Relay!

Kissing Spoons:)

Egg toss

Then... the inevitable egg fight!

Covered head to toe!

battle wounds from the egg fight!

Cleaning up the mess

Knoxville got hit by the horrible storms that ravaged the south east, primarily in the form of hail. We were very fortunate that our home received very little damage, my car was in the garage, and Jared's company vehicle was under a tree - so very little damage. We did snap some pictures, in between the storms.

Then... it was time to go back to Nashville, but this time with one of our college girls, who was running in the Country Music Half Marathon!
Whitney ran with her mom! Cutest duo in the race

So much fun!

They did GREAT! So proud of you, Whit!

Even though basketball season is over, it wouldn't be time spent in the Elliott household without some driveway basketball!

yes, that is my baby brother DUNKING the ball!

And what do you get with you play pranks on college kids (like cracking eggs all over them) and go out of town... Well, below you can see what we endure!:)

Hope you enjoyed a walk through our life, picture style!:)