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One week ago, I went for my second progesterone draw, fully expecting this test to show that I had ovulated since my temperatures had confirmed it several days before.  If the results weren’t as I hoped, or if I continued spotting, I had a plan.  My doctor wanted me to have a saline sonogram to rule out fibroids or polyps as the source of the strange spotting, and then we would move on to Femara to address my ovulation issues, which she thought might also be causing the spotting.  So, despite having ovulated late, I was in good spirits.  I knew that I had ovulated!  If my problems continued, I had someone on my side willing to help me deal with them.  And the fact that the sun was out helped.

Later that day, the spotting started – pink at first and then red and constant.  I was looking for it, though.  I have come to expect spotting four to five days before my period.  My spirits took a little dive, but I reminded myself that I had expected this.

That evening, a winter storm moved in bringing bad news.  I discovered a bill in the mail for the first of my progesterone tests.  Despite my history of PCOS and a prolactinoma, and that I had seen my doctor for irregular spotting, all of which are good medical reasons for checking progesterone, the tests had been coded with an infertility code.  Of course, my insurance company had jumped at the chance to deny coverage.

I expected to pay out-of-pocket for actual assistance in getting pregnant.  I knew that my insurance company wouldn’t cover Clomid or Femara, any of the monitoring that goes along with those drugs, and certainly not any of the steps beyond them.  However, I thought that it would cover diagnostic tests up to that point, including the saline ultrasound that my doctor had ordered.  I had taken this test in the past, in part, as a means to diagnose PCOS, and although I had different insurance then, it was covered.  But, this time around, suddenly, I was paying out-of-pocket and had been branded by my insurance company – all too soon – as infertile.

Snow continued falling on Saturday, and the spotting continued.  My mood worsened.

On Sunday morning, I woke up early.  Since I would be calling my doctor’s office on Monday to schedule the saline sonogram, I decided that I should take a pregnancy test at least once.  Then, I could wait for my period to arrive.  I was awake, so I decided that I might as well take it that morning even though it was probably several days too early to be accurate.  I was completely cavalier about it, since I had already decided what the outcome would be.  I hardly waited three minutes before picking it up to throw it away.  I didn’t need to waste time on something that I already knew to be true.  But, I glanced at it as I was carrying the test to the trash can, and what I saw yanked me out of my stupor and caused me to look again.  All of those times that I had spent willing a line to appear next to the control line, and there it was!

I carried the test to my surprised husband and shoved it in his face.  Don’t get too excited, I told him.  I’m still spotting, so let’s not celebrate just yet.  At my insistence, the day went on like normal, but even though I had given up on optimism, I couldn’t help but be a little excited about the possibility.

I saw another positive on Monday morning, but the spotting continued, alternating from red to brown and back to red again.  However, unlike with my daughter’s pregnancy, I was not cramping at all.  With her, I spotted throughout most of the pregnancy, beginning around six weeks or so, but I did not spot this early.  We were on vacation when we found out that I was pregnant with her, and I would remember if I spotted then, because I would have had a heart attack.

Instead of panicking, I called my doctor’s office to report my positive tests and the spotting.  As expected, they wanted me to have my blood drawn for a beta and another progesterone test.  They also agreed to resubmit my previous tests using other legitimate codes.

I received my results the next day, just as the spotting was tapering off.  I had an hCG of 90 and normal progesterone at 25.2!

The rest of the week was uneventful.  After five days of spotting, I have seen no more.  I still have very little cramping.  I even went to a yoga class on Thursday morning.  If it weren’t for the positive pregnancy tests, I would not believe that I am pregnant.

Just as I did with my daughter’s pregnancy, I continue to marvel at our luck.  We reached the point where I was ready to seek help, but we were fortunate to get pregnant without needing it.  Just several days ago, our heads were spinning as we added up the costs of several progesterone tests and an ultrasound.  I cannot imagine the financial burden of having to pay for more as some of my friends have done.  Although I know that few positive tests are not the end of the game, they are a very good first start.

I am ready to grasp onto optimism once again and see where it takes me.  Admittedly, it is much easier to be an optimist when one has already almost gotten what she wanted.  While I am a fair-weather optimist at best, I am ready to push away the dark clouds.  Did I mention that the snow melted away, and spring has finally arrived?

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Make a Wish, originally uploaded by Brandi Jordan, Flickr, Creative Commons.

All of this thought about what was happening in my life two years ago this month has made me a little antsy. I’ll be clear. We are not trying to have another baby right now. Even so, just in case the fates were smiling upon us (or laughing at us, whichever the case may be), I took a pregnancy test on the 25th. A Big Fat Negative stared back at me, as if to say “Ya shoulda known.”

I did have reason to wonder. My monthly visitor hemmed and hawed her way into my life this month, slowly and indecisively enough that I started reading online about strange aspects of early pregnancy. Possibility loomed. After all, we celebrated our annivesary a litte more than a week ago.

For several hours last Friday, I convinced myself that Bear would have a sibling shortly after she turned two. And, then I began anxiously thinking, “But, no! I am NOT READY for that! Bear is just becoming more independent! I am not ready to share myself with someone else! I love having a not-pregnant body right now. I don’t want to breastfeed again just yet…” and on and on. However, when my “visitor” did finally make a decisive appearance, I felt the familiar sadness of “not this time; not again.”

I am not ready to have a baby again, or even to start trying to have a baby again. I definitively know this. But, I think that I am getting closer. And, wouldn’t it be fun if it just happened?

San Juan Islands, originally uploaded by HeyRocker, Flickr, Creative Commons.

Two years ago today, I snuck out bed in the early morning darkness while my husband slept in our hotel room in Canada. I fumbled through our suitcase in the dark and found something that I had eagerly been waiting to use. In the bathroom, I managed to break open the package with my teeth and somehow used the pregnancy test without making a mess. Once the appropriate time had passed (and not before, because I considered it bad luck to peek), I held the test up to the faint light coming through the window and focused my blurred, morning vision on the result. A line! I could see a line! Excitedly, I reached around the bathroom door and flipped on the light. There was definitely a line! Holy cow, there was a line!

I had been waiting and hoping for this moment for a long time. Now that it had arrived, I was unsure what to do or to think about it. I wrapped up the test in toilet paper, put it back into the box, hid it in the suitcase, and climbed back into bed with a racing mind.
When my husband woke up, I told him “happy birthday” but I did not share the news. Instead, we went through the same motions of the previous two mornings. We went downstairs and had a quiet breakfast. I avoided my usual coffee, but my husband didn’t seem to notice. Our time in Canada had ended, so we packed our suitcase and headed toward the ferry. As we climbed aboard and looked back out over the misty city, my husband said, “You know, if we ever have a girl, maybe we could name her Victoria after this city.” I still didn’t share the news. Once into the Puget Sound, we watched for whales and pointed at antelope darting from cliffs on nearby islands. Although I felt that words might jump out of me, I still didn’t share the news.

We arrived in Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands a few hours later, and as we stepped off the ferry, I saw a nearby bookstore. My request to go inside wasn’t an unusual one for me and so he didn’t notice that I was purposeful once inside. While my husband was looking at books that held his interest, I found a card with a picture from the San Juan Islands and quickly purchased it. Later, I made my husband stand at arms-length as I wrote inside the card.

The exact words are his, and someday, our daughter’s, but in essence, I told him that his birthday gift from me would be a life-changing piece of information. During his 29th year, we would have a baby.

I gave him his gift once we arrived at the bed and breakfast where we would be staying and were settled into our room. After reading the card, he looked at me with a mixture of wonder, excitement, and fear.

Two years later – today – this morning – we stood at the bathroom door to our bedroom and watched our daughter sit against the side of the bed and read books. I observed my husband as his eyes followed our daughter’s movements. The fear was gone. But, the wonder and excitement remained.

The first time Bear pointed at a picture of a goat in one her books and said, “Goat,” I was amazed.  The child had never seen a goat in real life, and it seemed like a strange word to choose to make one of one’s first.  There are not an abundance of goats in her books – only one or two that I can recall (and let me tell you, I’ve read them enough times that I would know).  Sid hasn’t learned about goats in his quest to “know everything about everything.”  And, even though Bear has “country” running through her blood despite being raised in the city, she would never come across a goat at our farm.  So, her special attention to goats surprised me.

Today, Bear finally met a goat.  In fact, she got up close and personal with several.  She swatted their noses, despite being told only “soft, gentle touches.”  She beat on the heads of a few goats that weren’t fast enough or cared enough to move, and she grabbed a number of crusty tails that were caked in who-knows-what (OK, I do, but I’m trying not to think about it).  Bear had a good day.

After her nap, I think that I’ll pull out her one or two books where goats make an appearance and enjoy her reaction.

  

009, originally uploaded by raisingbrainchild. 

 
I’m offering you a glimpse into my backyard today.  This past week has gone by so quickly, it is nice to slow down for a moment and appreciate the world around us, don’t you think?
 
My husband and I did some “slowing down” and “appreciating” this past weekend.  After a crazy week full of EpiPens and learning code words for soy, we both needed a break from reality.  Instead of going out to eat with Bear, which is something that suddenly is no longer easy to do, we stayed home on Saturday night and grilled steaks (yes, we are Good Midwesterners) in our driveway.  We usually prefer to cook our meat in the backyard on the deck and away from the curious eyes of anyone who happens to walk past, but my husband had big plans to stain the deck the following day and had moved the grill and just about everything else into the garage and driveway.  So, after thoroughly enjoying our steaks, and putting Bear to bed, we took a bottle of wine and two rocking chairs to the driveway.
 
It was a beautiful evening for mid-July.  The weather was nearly cool.  Fireflies seemed to hover over our lawn in the dusk, and no one was about.  We sat there rocking and drinking for hours.  We had better conversations that we have in years.  When the wine was gone, we were both hesitant for our sweet moment to end.
 
Life all too often is frenetic, and it would do my soul (and my marriage) good to invest in more moments like these.

 

4th of July, originally uploaded by Warren Brown Photography, available on Flickr, Creative Commons

We spent the 4th of July holiday at a small, local lake with my husband’s family. It rained most of every day and night that we were there, so the festivities were considerably dampened. On the evening of the 4th of July, there was a small clearing in the rain, so we were able to hop on the boat and head out to the middle of the lake where we could watch more adventurous folk shooting fireworks from all sides (and some stupid ones attempt to shoot fireworks directly at us – it is a small lake). I spent that brief interval between storms torn between enjoying the beautiful displays and the smooth water and hoping that each boom and zip did not wake up my sleeping baby when I was not home to comfort her, and I did not trust her grandmother to hear her cries should she wake up and realize that mom was not nearby.

Unfortunately, since it rained most of the weekend, Bear was not able to watch or appreciate the fireworks during her first real 4th of July. I was looking forward to watching her look of awe and wonder (and hopefully, not terror). Of course, she was around for the last 4th of July, but even I hardly remember that holiday since we were so mired in colicky babyness.

This weekend, Bear did not stop amazing me with all of her newfound abilities. I had purchased what is most certainly a torture-device of a life jacket for Bear to wear when she is at the lake, and for the first time this summer, I strapped her inside it and took her down to the dock to see the water. I had an entire conversation with her (one-sided, I’ll admit) about how she must wear the life jacket anytime we leave the patio and how it will keep her afloat should she ever fall into the water. I did not expect her to really comprehend any of my reasoning, however, a few hours later when we were back in the house, she carried her life jacket to me and gestured outside. She continued to this for the rest of the weekend when she wanted to go outside, and I was so impressed by her understanding and maturity! If only she had grasped that standing on a dock in the rain is not my idea of a good time!

Bear also learned to say (and sign) “please” this weekend. She now stands at her high chair begging to eat (on an hourly basis) saying “peas, peas, peas, peas.” At least the girl is polite!

hydrangea, by Muffet on Flickr, Creative Commons.

I left work briefly today and took a walk through a neighborhood adjoining my office, something that I have never done during the three years that I have worked here. When I was pregnant, I would occasionally head outside and tramp up and down the sidewalk in front of my office in an effort to churn up some energy, but I have never headed beyond the sidewalk outside of my urban office, in most part due to the fact that the area has its fair share of crime. However, for late June, the weather is fairly nice, and I was in need of a little inspiration, which I always find outside.

Once outside of my office and across the busy street to the South of it, I discovered a community garden, which despite driving past it several times a day, I have never noticed the sweet, little triangular patch of green nestled in-between two highly- traveled streets. As I continued down the sidewalk, on one side I passed a neighborhood school with uniformed children playing basketball outside and on the other, a row of poorly-kept houses. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that outside of one, three cats on leashes were chained to the front porch. They stared back at me with wild eyes, and two of them had hopelessly wrapped their tethers around a tree. Aside from their constraints, which were obviously not well-suited for their cat natures, they seemed well-cared for.

The row of houses led to several recently-constructed condo buildings, which had sprung up a few years ago before the bottom fell out of real estate market. Outside, two young women lounged by a very blue pool reading. I found my real discovery beyond the condos, however, where the neighborhood suddenly morphed into a line of very well-maintained older homes built into a steep hillside. Instead of grassy lawns, most had trails of English ivy bordering the steep driveways that wound up one side of each home and behind either into garages or down into basements. Several homes had terraced gardens full of brightly-colored flowers and plants. I took in the blues and purples of hydrangeas and the bright oranges of tiger lilies with the green of the ivy and the pastels of each home. Large oaks lined the street, which had no sidewalk, and helped drown out the buzz of traffic only a block or two away. I could hear the sweet songs of birds! Along with the sunshine and light exercise, their songs eased my busy mind.

On the way back to the office, I thought about my grandmother. My dear, sweet grandma has been slowly losing herself to Alzheimer’s, and despite the fact that both she and my grandfather are still living, we sold off most of their belongings this past weekend. Following the sale, I spent some time reading through a journal that my grandmother had kept when I was a young child. She wrote of tending her garden, which took up most of her backyard and consisted of winding trails, benches, fountains, statues, and most of all, tall plants that obscured the view of the house. She described how this garden and the nature she observed in it eased some of the pain and tension she felt as a result of a loveless marriage.

Her rough relationship with my grandfather has never been a secret in my family, and the marriage still exists, although now she sees my grandfather as the grumpy, old man who is her roommate, or sometimes, as the grumpy, old man who happens to be in the room with her as her perception does not always go beyond the present moment. However, her description of the solace she found outside, reminds me of myself. I always believed that the peace I found in nature came from my upbringing on a Midwestern farm and the hours I spent playing alone outside because I had no playmates nearby, aside from the cat and dog and horses and cattle. However, I found some of her words in my own mind and her truth in my own heart. As I returned to my office and passed back by the beautiful homes on the hillside, the modern condos with their blue pool, and the funny, little houses and chained cats, I felt better equipped to deal with the requirements of my day, just as my grandmother must have felt somewhat refueled to return to the battle that was her marriage.

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