Saturday, May 25, 2013

Knowledge is Power and All That Jazz

So, I've wondered how much I should divulge on our fertility-clinic stuff on the blog.  On the one hand, it's a big part of our life, and one of the reasons I first started posting was to be able to help people going through it to know that they weren't alone.  Also, it's nice to be able to have an outlet to talk about it.

On the other hand, I don't know how much people want to read? Sometimes I feel silly for writing about all of this, because I know there are people who have waited much longer and gone through more trials than we have, so I don't want to complain.  Also, it is nice to maintain a tiny bit of privacy. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate talking to people about it, but I am not sure I want the whole world to know what cycle day we are on, for instance. Kind of weird.  Right? 

But as much time as I've spent trolling around online for information or personal experiences about some of these things, I thought I might share one of our own recent experiences.  It might help people to be a little less afraid and a little more informed.  And both of those things are important to me. 

A little bit ago we were able to do another IUI.  It was a long road to get there.  We did the maximum femara dose, as well as follistim shots to boost follicle growth, because, in the words of Dr. Brown, I have "very stubborn ovaries." Sweet.  Awesome.  Anyway, follistim was stressful.  It included me watching a 25 minute video three or four times in order to learn how to inject shots of medicine from a pen into my stomach.  Don't waste any of the medicine, it's too expensive!  Don't inject too much or you will give yourself Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome and ovulate 47 eggs! "Inject the medicine with a quick, dart-like motion." AHH!!! 

Needless to say, it's been rather intense.  

But after that, I was able to get one follicle up to 17 mm (mature!) and two more at 14.5 and 13.  The one that was 14 mm was not mature, but it might have been able to grow before we did the ovulation trigger shot.  So that ups our chances! Yay!  I did three ultrasounds last month to figure all this out.  Whew!  But it was worth it.  

Then came the IUI.  I have learned these can be kind of painful, but nothing unmanageable.  They are short and sweet.  Usually. This one was another story.  Two nurses came in, one of whom I know and love named Emily.  She is actually an ARNP, and she is fantastic.  It was the other nurse, a bubbly, middle-aged woman with intense eye make-up, who did the procedure.  

For your information, an IUI involves inserting a catheter and thread into the uterus.  From the beginning, she had some trouble getting the catheter in.  OW.  She jammed and jammed but I could tell it wasn't working, and I was really cramping.  The whole time Emily is chatting with Greg, who was trying to be nice and keep up his side of the conversation. 
Emily:  So do you get flight anxiety?  
Greg:  Uh, no, I like flying.  

Finally, the other nurse said that my cervix was "tilted," and since everything was at an angle, she couldn't get it threaded right. Okay, that explains the prodding and pulling. Emily told me later that having your cervix at an angle is not permanent, but just an abnormality that reoccurs in certain women.  Weird, right? Anyway, the nurse told Emily she couldn't do it, and Emily had to take over.  So they all switched places and the nurse brushed against my leg.  "Oh honey!  You are shaking!  Your muscles must be getting tired!" 

I work out, thank you (uh, sometimes).  That is from THE PAIN. 

IUIs are weird.  It is not like period is more intense and I swear I can sort of feel my muscles contracting a little bit.  Very weird sensation.  Emily eventually got the whole thing sorted out, leaving the room with "Sorry, dear, you will have some spotting." I correctly took this to mean, " will basically be on your period for today." 

I was walking around a bit today and it still hurt...kind of like I was totally bruised.  BUT I am so thankful we are able to do things like this. And it really did not last very long, I'm sure it just felt longer at the time. And honestly, I would take any measure of small medical mishaps to make Operation Zollinger Kiddo happen. When Greg and I originally went to Brown Fertility, we felt a little weird.  Were we being too dramatic, too drastic?  We didn't know.  We just knew we needed some hope, and even though things have definitely not been perfect, at least we are moving forward, and that feels nice.  And yesterday, after a torrent of not fantastic news, we did get news that we are cleared to try one last month in June before we leave for Utah.  We weren't sure that was a possibility, so we are happy about that.  

So, again, if anyone has any questions about what this has been like for us, I hope you know you can ask me.  Information can be the key to having hope.  

Hope everyone has a great weekend! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Just Another Week

Well, it has been awhile since I posted last.  Mostly because nothing super interesting or fantastic is going on.

Greg is studying hard for the CFA (Certified Financial Analyst) exam in about a week.  It isn't required for his major or his career, but it is a good thing to have.  I am so proud of him for working so hard.

Things are not really going well on the baby front.  I know things will eventually work out.  It might  be soon.  It might not be.

That being said, I'm looking at grad school options.  It is stressful.  I am not sure what to do with myself.  Grad school has always been a dream of mine, but it also seems hard, unattainable.  Greg has supported me 100% in whatever I want to do, grad school or no grad school.  Nobody has ever believed in me as much as he does. There is no other husband like mine, requesting grad school literature for me when I was too wishy-washy and nervous to do it for myself, and then telling me I could do whatever I wanted. I have been praying about it, trying to have discernment.  I am thinking I will move forward this summer in pursuing a master's degree in Liberal Studies (don't really like that name very much...) at ASU with an emphasis in history and non-fiction writing.  Then I can write family histories, memoirs, etc.  Hopefully work for the church, or at least be of service to my extended family at some point?  We'll see.  Still a lot of questions there.

That's really all.  I have been reading books, but I hate spending money.  On anything, really.  (We still have a few hundred dollars saved up in wedding presents.  For Baby Zollinger, whenever he arrives.  I digress).  I got a library card at the Southeast branch of the Jacksonville Public Library hoping to read good books, but the only books on the shelves are, shall we say, less-than-stellar love stories (read "trashy romances").  So even though it is painful to me, I sometimes buy cheap kindle versions of books and indulge in my literary whims.  Greg won a kindle once at a business meeting at BYU, and my boss Bryan once gave me a Nexus for a Christmas present (he is the picture of generosity).  Anyway, here is my latest treasure:

Call the Midwife was written by a nurse-midwife who worked in London during the 1950s (yeah, I know, babies on the brain).  I had seen a few of the PBS shows, but the book is better.  I have always been interested in delivering babies.  As a teenager, my dream job was to be an ob-gyn (although I knew then that this was not realistic--I hate science and the sheer responsibility would drive me insane, I think).  The other thing that captivates me is the stark, sweet honesty and the beautiful and bare account of love in families who thrived in poverty, all told in the first-person.  Sigh.  Social history.  I love it.  I would love to get my hands on the second and third books in the series.  We'll see how reckless I get on Amazon this week.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Blast From the Past

So blogging is fun.  Probably because for the first time in 2 1/2 years I just read some of a private blog I kept for the first year I was in college, mostly just for close friends and family to read. I hope they don't mind if I share some of it now. 

It made me laugh! It made me remember a lot of things.  Even though sometimes it seems all-encompassing, there is so much more to us than just the fact that we haven't yet been able to have children. Anyway, here are some excerpts from back in the day that might help you to get to know our family.  


Us when we were dating: 

From March 7, 2010 
So about this guy Greg. I've only been on 2 dates with him (the first date was last weekend--we made tortillas from scratch and had Spanish burritos and then got ice cream at the Creamery). I study with him almost every day down in good old Periodicals, but only for the last week or so. He's VERY easy to talk to. The first time I noticed him was when he gave a really awesome talk in church at the beginning of the semester. He's from Idaho Falls, he played baseball and football in high school, he sings in ward choir, and he LOVES to read. And GOOD books, too. We spend most of our time talking about books and traveling and, I don't know, other stuff.... Not like I've really spent THAT MUCH time with him... The thing that I realized this weekend that kind of surprised me is that he likes my slightly sassy sense of humor. Maybe sassy isn't the right word... sarcastic? You know me, I guess. :) But anyway... yeah. I think maybe he's interested in getting to know me better, but for crying out loud, I just decided I didn't need boys, and I was positively thriving in my own delight of singleness. Oh well. Wow, I just spent WAY MORE time talking about that than I thought I would. For all I know (and kinda hope) nothing will come of it. After all, he is kinda short. Barely taller than me. It's sad. But he's so darn fun to talk to. I guess I'm happy because we've gotten to be pretty good friends, and that's just nice. I've missed having good guy friends. So yeah.

**Okay, present-day Me talking now.  Wow, I can't believe I was so rude about Greg being the same height as me.  Oh, wait, yes I can.  IF YOU DON'T STAND UP STRAIGHT, I AM TALLER THAN YOU, GREG. STAND UP STRAIGHT. I LOVE YOU. 

From May 15, 2010 (I am starting in the middle of the post here, but I bet you can guess who "him" is) 

Random Things I Like About Him:
He is happy. He chooses to be happy and he always is. Not in a loud, flamboyant way. He just is a happy person. And it is so easy for me to be happy around him. 

He has a serious side. He takes things seriously. He has thought through the gospel. I hope that makes sense. We both have very strong opinions about certain things, and it is so easy for me to voice them around him. He told me once not to be... I don't know...embarrassed about the things I think. He said strong opinions are a sign of high standards. He's right.

He has a very subtle, quiet sense of sure self-confidence. 

He loves to teach the gospel. 

This relationship was NOT in my plans. AT ALL. 

...(some weird ramblings here....moving on...) 

But he really is SO GOOD. The boy's gonna be a mission president some day. And he's so fun. And he cares about my opinions. And he wants me to be happy. And he respects so much in me. And he brings out good things in me: around him, it is easy to be happy, kind, positive, bubbly, braver, more confident, opinionated (in a good way). And you know? I bring out the good things in him, too. He's told me so. 

From June 11, 2010 (Greg was living in Idaho and I was still in Provo for school) Friday night he left Idaho around 5 and got here around 8:30, and we ate dinner and then went to the park by the MTC, just to talk. We stayed until the really nice security guard kicked us out around 11:30. And then we walked to our bench. Have I told you about this bench? It is red and tiny, and it sits on a little corner in Provo. This is where we have talked about many things, where we discussed dating over the summer for the first time, and where he first kissed me. It's a good bench. I love this bench. 

(Present-day Me here.  In April 2012 Greg made me a present for graduation that involved him taking pictures all around our favorite places related to BYU.  Below is Exhibit A of the bench in question: 

(Okay, back to young Me). 

On Saturday we had a picnic in Provo Canyon. We stayed in the park for hours and hours and hours literally, just talking and watching kids play and then messing around in the creek. We can talk for so long. I can be with him for literally ALL DAY LONG, 18 or so hours, and still not want to say good night at the end of it. How does that happen? 
But Sunday was the best day. I love Sundays with Greg. We were together all day, of course. We studied scriptures together, which we both love. 
And then Sunday night we went and sat on the hill by the ramp just on the edge of campus. And I don't know how it happened. But we've had one of the best conversations, one of the happiest conversations. It was easy but hard at the same time. And we talked about many things. I'll tell you this. We are now seriously dating. Marriage is a consideration. 
So many thoughts, feelings running through my head. But the main things? I am so happy. I feel peaceful. I feel the Spirit so often when I think about it. 
Me When I was Writing all This: 

July 21, 2010

So, it's official!!! And it's public now. Greg and I are going to get married. On October 15th his grandpa will seal us in the Salt Lake Temple. The next night will be an open house in Idaho Falls and the next Saturday the 23rd will be the reception in Arizona.

And after that we get to be married and be together all the time. I don't know how else to say it, but ordinary life with Greg just sounds so wonderful. It IS wonderful. And we never have to be apart ever ever again. (Well, maybe sometimes, but you know what I mean)

It's still sinking in. I get to marry the best man I know. I will be his wife. And we will be so happy. And we will live good lives, and raise good children, and serve the Lord. Life is so good. It makes me want to cry. So many miracles are taking place around me, I'll have to post a whole blog entitled "Things that Have Fallen into Place Lately Because Greg and I are Obedient and the Lord Is Mindful of Us."

*Present-day Me again, for any of you who made it through the college ramblings.  I only have one thing to add:

Greg and I are still obedient.  The Lord is still mindful of us.  We have had to face some hard stuff since those days when we fell in friendship, fell in love, got engaged.

But with Greg, I am still THAT happy.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Second Sunday in May

So, here's a confession.

I was having a super bad attitude about Mother's Day this year.

I mean, I was definitely boycotting Facebook.  And I was just about this close to slamming on my breaks, pulling over, and violently dismantling every cheerful sign on the side of the road that read "Peterbrook's Chocolates Loves Moms!" "Get the Mom in your life an Edible Arrangement!!" and so on and so forth.

Okay, I know this makes me sound like a mean and angry person.  And just to be clear, I have a fantastic Mom and a fantastic mother-in-law, and awesome grandparents, and a second Denton mom in Mesa. And I wanted them all to have super fantastic days.  So I tried really really hard to quit the attitude problem.  By the time Sunday rolled around, Greg and I were really doing pretty good. And we saw a lot of miracles.

First, at the beginning of Sunday School, my Bishop sent someone to come and get me, and I met with him for a good ten minutes.  Basically he asked me how I was and told me that he had felt like  he needed to talk to me today.  He brought up some answers to concerns I'd had that I hadn't talked to anyone about, and told me that Heavenly Father was very mindful of me and I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing, and things would turn out.  He offered help and let me cry a little.  For those who don't know, the Bishop of a ward in the LDS church is over a group of about 500ish members.  And the fact that he had to be worrying about Mother's Day stuff as well as the typical work that Bishops do, and he called me in just to talk to me, was just pretty huge.  For a lot of reasons.  I was reminded that the church really believes in looking after "the one."

Then there was the fact that the two musical numbers I sang in went pretty well, even the solo, which is pretty cool considering I'd just bawled for an hour beforehand, and I had been feeling fairly miffed the whole week that I needed to be ready to sing on a day when I just really wanted to dissolve into the carpet.  In the second musical number for Relief Society I sang "Turn Around," which Mo-Tab sings, about a young girl growing up and soon being a "young wife with babes of her own." (grr) So I sang in the background with some other peoples while moms with kids the appropriate ages twirled their daughters at certain points in the song.  When the "young wife with babes of her own" twirled, her little girl Evie Lou totally spit up all over herself, her dress, her mom, the ground, everything.  And Tenille, the mom, who I LOVE, couldn't keep from laughing and I couldn't either.  The rest of the song was one soprano short.  I don't know why this made me feel better, and maybe it shouldn't have, but it did.

When I came home from church, I opened a package I got in the mail on Saturday night from my best friend Heidi.  She sent me a box of sunshine complete with yellow suns and yellow candy.  Made me bawl.  I am so blessed to have friends and family who love me and somehow innately know when I need stuff like this.  I would upload pictures of the happy suns but I seem to have misplaced all picture-taking devices.  Just trust me, they were happy and sunny.

Last, there is my husband.  Greg is pretty incredible.  What do you do for your wife on Mother's Day when you wife dislikes Mother's Day?  (Wow, if you think about it, that is just about the stickiest situation ever for a husband). Well, you take her out for a huge date on Saturday night without making a big deal about it. You let her bawl into your shoulder in Sunday School and get mascara all over your white shirt.  You also make good on the bet you lost last week during the Kentucky Derby by making homemade Oreos entirely from scratch:

Isn't he cute? And these were not your typical cake-mix Oreos, my friends.  They were de-lish.  And yes, this is what happens when you make bets on the Kentucky Derby and your wife's horse beats your horse.  (Revolutionary finished before Normandy Invasion.  Mostly the race consisted of Greg being sure he would win and me yelling "WHERE IS MY HORSE? I DON'T SEE HIM??")

I know how to read betting odds, people.  Also, my mother is from Danville.  Don't mess with me on horse races.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Faith in the Zollinger Household

This is beautiful. 

It is called "For This Child I Prayed."  From 1 Samuel 1:27.  "For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him."

I was able to meet the artist, Elspeth Young, when we were still living in Provo, and she was just lovely.  Very talented too, as you can tell. 

Today I was feeling down and got on, the website for my church, on a whim.  It was like I didn't know what I was doing but somehow I found my way to some articles written by members of the LDS community that described what it feels like for someone of faith to deal with not having children in family-oriented atmospheres.  And it made me feel better.  (It made me bawl my eyes out, but hey, I'll take what I can get). I especially loved this sentiment, which I have never been able to express so simply before: "There is always purpose in the Lord withholding blessings for a time." 

No, things aren't necessarily better this week.  In fact, we only got some more bad news (which I won't discuss, because frankly, I don't want to).  But I have faith that things will be Okay. And the Lord is withholding blessings because He loves me.  That is a pretty profound Love, if you think about it. 

I know that one day I will be able to say "For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him." For now, other prayers are answered, and that is enough. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

One Year

So I wanted to post something that would be bright and chipper.  Something happy.  But I just can't do it.  It is a crappy day for me.  If anyone wants to know what miscarriage and infertility are like, here are the raw details.  I am sorry, but it is what I have in my heart today.

My babies were due on January 3rd.  January 3rd.  January 3rd. For a few short weeks last summer, this was my mantra.  I thought about it all the time, happy down to my bones and feeling someone else's life inside of me for the very first time.

Today is May 3rd.  If things had gone a different way, my babies would be 4 months old.

Today is the first Friday in May.  This is when I found out last year that I was pregnant.  I felt complete and full and joyous for the first time in months.

After it was over, I remember standing in the shower.  Too stunned to even cry. Standing there and not moving and feeling all the water run over me.  I thought, what if it takes another year? I can't do it.  I can't do it.  Not again.

And then I thought, You can.  You've done it before and you'll do it again, if you have to.  You can and you will.

Now I look back.  I wish I could say I feel proud of myself for having done what I told myself I could do.  I wish I could say I feel a little older now, a little better, a little wiser, a little stronger.

But today, I don't feel any of those things.

I am just empty.