Scars

I’m riding in the car on the way to St. Louis and feeling a little introspective.

Sitting in the back seat, I just stretched my legs across the car and got to looking at and thinking about scars.

I have a scar on my leg from a curling iron burn when I was about 7 or 8 years old. The curling iron had been on the floor on and I crawled over it to unplug it and it got me.

I’ve got several scars around the left knee from 2 surgeries as well. A knee meniscus repair and later a ACL reconstruction (replacement.) I think about those two surgeries and how they changed my life in various ways. The first one basically ended my sports career. That’s something I greatly regret. I miss softball and volleyball and often think how I would do things differently if I could get that time back. I often think about getting into coaching just so I could get back into it in some form.

On the bottom of my right foot across my big toe is a scar from stepping on a beer bottle when I was probably around 10 years old. That one resulted in 15 stitches. To this day that scar can be tender if I hit it in just the wrong way. Always reminding of its presence.

It transports me back to my previous life living in Ellijay GA. The mere fact that I stepped on a beer bottle tells you a lot to begin with. I was always running around barefoot and there were always plenty of bottles around.

There’s parts of my life in Ellijay that will always be special to me and I miss some of those times as well. It was the last time we as siblings all lived together. I cant think of Ellijay and not remember Zac. The mischievous brother who was often pulling pranks on me with his partner in crime, David. I had a worm put on my sandwich, frogs put in my bed when I was asleep and countless other incidents. We were wild and free – a bunch of kids in the northern mountains of Ellijay.

But those memories are accompanied with the bad ones too. The ones where I’m barracading us kids in a bedroom while a domestic fight of some sort was going on. Or the memories of grown men taking advantage of young girls and no one around who cares to stop it. The drugs. Alcohol. Me stealing cigarettes at the age of 9 and 10 and wandering off into the woods to smoke them because some how I found solace in it. It brought peace to my nerves in a constantly changing and unstable environment. Then there’s the memories of one of the “caregiving” adults having me hide drugs in my underwear. …or how about being offered drugs at the age of 10.

Yea. Scars. Some physical, some emotional. I often feel like I’ve lived two completely different lives. I credit all of that to God though. Isn’t that the beauty of it all?

I waited patiently for the Lord ; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1-3

I’ve got quite an impressive scar going across my lower abdomen. It’s at least 10 inches or longer. If you didn’t know any better you would think it was a c-section scar. That’s one scar I wish I knew more about. I woke up one day, ate breakfast…and started having stomach pain. It hurt so bad. I ended up in the bathroom vomiting. I went through the entire day in tremendous pain and sick and no adults around to care. Then when they came home I was accused of faking it to get out of cleaning the kitchen. It wasn’t until I uncontrollably vomited in the bedroom floor that they decided to take me to the urgent care. It was nighttime at this point. And even then the trip to urgent care was postponed long enough to run my step brother home. Home which was at the top of a mountain and a very bouncy gravel road. Did not bode well for my pain and illness. Things get fuzzy for me at this point. I was sent from urgent care to another hospital that was far away. Had emergency surgery and woke up with no appendix or right ovary. I was young (before I started my cycles). My understanding was always that they went in thinking it was appendicitis and found my right ovary Was detached from the fallopian tube. Hence the scar all across my abdomen.

I’ve never been someone super absorbed with my body and looks. That’s probably not been always to my benefit but when you spend the first part of your life just trying to survive it… you tend to have a different perspective. So now when I look at my scars, I’m reminded of what I’ve survived. I’m reminded how blessed I am. That then turns to gratitude. Thankful for so many things.

I am blessed. I’m a survivor but I’ve never been alone and when I look back on the dark times, I see more and more the protection I really had. I’ve risen above. I’ll continue to rise. I don’t doubt that I’ll accrue more scars along the way. And that’s okay.

I recently discovered a song that have some very relatable lyrics in them. This song is called Home by Machine Gun Kelly. I don’t agree with every lyric in this song but the two main verses have some highlights that really resonate with me.

Look, I didn’t power through the struggleJust to let a little trouble, knock me out of my position
And interrupt the vision
After everything I witnessed, after all of these decisions
All these miles, feets, inches
They can’t add up to the distance
That I have been through, just to get toA place where even if there’s no closure, I’m still safe.

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Bigger Than

You are bigger than all my fears
God of love, God my love
You are bigger than all my dreams
God my hope, God my peace
Whatever will come my way
Through each day, I will say
God I trust You, I trust You

Bigger Than – For All Seasons

It’s been some what of a rollercoaster few days. You are going to feel that way if you are reading all of my posts and following my journey.

In my last post you find me in a place of hurt and sadness. And it’s very real.

Today I hope to share with you my hope and outlook that has shifted from focusing on the past to now looking ahead.

Mindset is everything. And disciplining the mind is everything.

I allowed myself to be hurt and feel the sadness Thursday night. But the difference is that I did not carry that with me into the new day on Friday.

Let me walk you through what the last 24 hours have been.

I had a doctors appointment Friday morning. Completely unrelated to fertility/pregnancy. It was a routine physical with my primary care physician who I hadn’t seen in over a year. When I got up Friday, I decided to use my last pregnancy test with my first trip to the bathroom. They always say that first pee is the best to test with. So I figured, why not?

It was negative. But part of me kept thinking… well, I still haven’t started my period. Maybe it’s just too early to show up on a test. Funny how the mind will mess with you. Me not having a period is not an indication of anything. I’ve never been regular and am known to skip months at a time if I’m not on medication. I was holding on to any piece of hope I could. So I went on to my doctors appointment where I secretly hoped she would want to test me. I talked about the treatment I had been undergoing and the timeliness of everything. She just encouraged me to be patient but never mentioned testing and for some reason I didn’t ask.

I left a little bummed. I mean my physical was good. She is happy with my weight loss progress and encouraged me to keep it up. But I was bummed because I had been really hoping she would test me and tell me I was pregnant and we could move on. But not the case.

On my drive to and from the doctors office I was very intentional in playing specific songs and having a time of prayer and just really, pouring my heart out to God. This time -about 20 mins each way, was a large part of where my mind shifted.

While I was talking to God I just kept having this overwhelming sense of peace. I am a very visual/imaginative person and so often I will picture Jesus in front of me when I am talking to him. And I just kept feeling him place his hands on both sides of my face and saying, “My Child, rest.” …to put it scripturally “Be Still, and Know” (Psalm 46:10) ….

And I took a deep breath and then Troy’s words were with me in my mind.

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And yes, I know…. awww… but this conversation was pivotal for me. He was right. This isn’t the end. It just means we keep going.

So, I am good. I am ready to start again. I was not shaken when I started my period this morning. I had a feeling it was coming. But hey, look at me having a cycle on my own not triggered by birth control! ha ha. Looking at the bright side, right?

So the next steps… I imagine sometime this next week I will call the fertility doctor back and schedule this process again. I believe, we will go through all the med cycles again.

I leave you with another song…one which I had on repeat all the way to the doctors office the other day. I have decided… to be grateful and hopeful. I hold captive all other thoughts and worries and leave them at the feet of Jesus.

Find me grateful
Find me thankful
Find me on my knees
Find me dreaming
Find me singing
Find me lost in Your grace

Find Me – Jonathan David Helser

 

 

 

Thursday June 28…

I wrote this Thursday night. I just now reached the point of posting it. It’s raw. It’s right in the middle of deep sadness right before I went to bed.

I have a follow up post I am drafting as my current state of mind has changed. I committed in documenting and sharing this journey and I want to do that whether it’s bad or good. My next post will reflect more on how I’ve been coping and what I’m doing to move forward.

Here’s my Thursday night…

So… as soon as we left work Troy mentioned picking up a pregnancy test…which was all I needed to push me towards just doing it.

We get a three pack and get home and I pee first thing. We decide to leave it while we both take Zoe outside. So we take her out and both anxiously await her to finish her adventures. When we come in I make him go look because I didn’t want to. I started to and freaked out so I waited in the hallway. When he was looking for far too long I follow behind him.

There was no lines at all. The test was faulty.
Both of us bummed…. decided to proceed with dinner and I chugged fluids to start filling my bladder back up.

After dinner I took test #2 in and did my business then left it there. A few minutes go by and he remembered and asked if I had looked at it. I said no. So he went and got it and brought it to me. Just 1 blue line. The blue line that indicates that the test was fine but not the one that indicates pregnancy.

At first I pushed it aside and continued watching TV. But as the night has grown on – the disappointment and sadness has overwhelmed me.

Scrolling through Facebook I saw three separate newborns and their moms. I saw ultrasound pictures and baby bumps.

And the TV show we were watching kept highlighting the pregnant female character.

So yea. It’s everywhere and it stings. I’ve been lowkey crying all evening afraid if I speak or talk about it the flood gates will open. He knows. I can tell he senses I’m off. I just don’t have audible words right now. What do I say?

I will tell you as I came to bed tonight, an ugly thought crossed my mind. A thought of I wish I hadn’t done this. That I hadn’t gotten my hopes up so high and that I hadn’t allowed myself to be completely encompassed in the baby world the last 4-6 weeks. Wishing that I hadn’t opened myself up to everyone about this because it hurts and it’s hard and now I gotta deal with pain that I could’ve avoided had I just left well enough alone.

It’s Been Two Weeks….

I’m getting questions from various sources about what’s next. 🙂 Some of you have even shocked me with knowing that today (June 28) marks the two weeks since my triggered ovulation date. It’s encouraging the excitement my friends and family have for us.

But I – in true Amy fashion – am feeling the pressure and weight of it all. Fertility doctor told us to take a pregnancy test two weeks after the trigger shot.

I took one 5 days after the shot. Negative

I took another one 4 days later (9 days). Negative.

So here I sit at the two week mark, afraid. Actually, I flip flop between the two. On one hand I hear God telling me to trust him. and I do. Then on the other hand I hear that “other” voice that’s telling me I’m getting my hopes up. Of course I’m not pregnant, why would I think I would be?

So yea, I thought I would take a moment and just be real with you all. I don’t know if I’ll take a test today. I want to but I am scared. I’d just rather not know until I know. I have a doctors appointment tomorrow with my primary care – it’s just a routine check up with the normal labs, etc. Nothing to do with pregnancy but part of me hopes she will want to test me to confirm.

The other part of me wants to wait until my anniversary (July 7th) and do it then. But what if it’s negative? Then it’s a bummer anniversary.

I dunno guys… I am afraid of having gotten my hopes up. And it’s hard because I’ve allowed so many of you into this part of my life. Everyone is hanging on the edge for news – excited about a baby … or should I say babies?

And I am worried about having to tell everyone there is no baby.

So yea. That’s where I am today. I love you all for the support and encouragement.

I only write about this stuff to share a little insight of what this process is like.

“Trust and wait for what is still unseen.” Romans 8:24

 

Ready, Set, ….. Go

Well, yesterday was a good yet daunting visit to the Fertility specialist.

I have 4 follicles showing up. 1 is the right size, the other is very close, and the other two are not far.

So, another round of growth hormone Tuesday morning. And then Tuesday night… the trigger shot. This will cause me to ovulate within 36 hours.

After the baby dance…well, then we wait. Atleast 2 weeks before taking a pregnancy test.

It’s very scary and exciting all at the same time. I’ve spent so much time focused on getting pregnant that suddenly I can think of every fear that comes with what happens if I actually do get pregnant?

What if I screw it up? What if the baby isn’t healthy? What if I’m not healthy enough for the baby? What if something goes wrong? Can Troy and I really raise a child? Will we still be as close as we are if a child is here? How do you protect it? Can I handle it when life gets hard for my child?

Oy vey.

As you can probably tell, I have a touch of anxiety. I manage it well because I try to keep rooted in my faith in God and my relationship with Jesus. But if I let my guard down and let my mind run… man can it run marathons…

One thing at a time.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only BE STILL. Exodus 14:14

Be still. Let me just dwell on that and let Him fight my battles for me!

On a side note-

troytext

Discussing baby names has been fun. Yesterday, Troy’s suggestion was Loki Thor. But only because (he says) Thor Loki sounds like a Greek food dish and one that makes you ill when you eat it. (Say Thor Loki fast and you can hear how he was saying it.)

He’s already ran every super hero name past me. He thought he was slick when he suggested Kal or Kal-el. He anticipated that I didn’t know that to be superman’s name but he was wrong.

We have 1 girl name and 1 boy name picked out. We are trying to find back ups in the event that we have twins or more. (With 4 follicles of size, there’s a chance we could have multiples).

I’ve spent so long focused on the getting pregnant part, I am a little freaked out by the idea of having multiple babies.

Lord, Help me….

Disqualified for the Olympics….

I’m in a funny mood today. Not like, a weird funny mood, but a hilarious, everything’s funny mood. You can thank Troy for that. He’s had me laughing all morning.

We are leaving the fertility clinic. I have 4 follicles measuring in the 11-12 range (the goal is 20).

So next up is 2 shots of growth hormone to get them to grow.

So this ought to be fun. Troy has never allowed me to give him his allergy shots but maybe this will win him over. 🙂

Having 4 follicles on the move….increases the chance of having twins. Or more.

Whoa.

Troy and I have been talking about baby names for a few weeks now. We’ve always had a girl name picked out but just recently found a boy name we liked. His reaction to possibly having multiples was ..”We don’t have enough names..” Ha Ha! He’s right. We are most definitely not prepared for twins!

The uterine lining is still thin so we are going to up the Estradiol. Here’s hoping I don’t spontaneously combust in the process. I woke up atleast 3 times last night from hot flashes! I am really starting to relate to Pepper Potts in Iron Man 3.

Fertility Journey Part 1

Alright, so let’s just go ahead and get this information out there.

A quick back story:

When I was 11 years old, I ended up having an emergency surgery where my appendix and right ovary was removed. Unfortunately, I do not know a lot about what happened and why, but the best I’ve been able to piece it together is that the surgery was initially for appendicitis but when they got in there, they found the ovary had twisted and detached from the fallopian tube. So it was removed.

As I got older, I never really had a regular period. In high school this was the best thing ever. I was never worried about pregnancy (because well, I wasn’t having sex!) and I played sports, so not having regular periods was a blessing at the time.

Fast forward many years to someone who is now married and thinking about starting a family, the period thing becomes a situation. In my early 20’s I was diagnosed with PCOS: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The name implies an ovary that has multiple cysts. Oh, it is so much more than that.

It’s more of a hormonal imbalance than it is anything else. I could go into what all I go through with it but I don’t feel like now is the time. A google search can quickly tell you what pcos is like.

I’ve been on and off birth control for years. Starting in high school, to regulate the periods. Every doctor wants to prescribe Metformin as well. Metformin is marketed as a diabetic drug. I am not diabetic – however, they all say that it also promotes ovulation. I’ve taken it off and on over the last many years and never feel that it does anything for me either.

A big part of my fitness journey that most of you follow me for, has been motivated by this desire to be healthy and have children.

I decided in June of 2017 to go see a fertility specialist. There is one right near my office at work and I figured, why not go see what she has to say? The funny thing about the timing of this is that it was about 2 weeks prior to us going on a mission trip to Honduras. 🙂

We went over my history and she was very positive and encouraging that this is very much achievable, we just have to help it along. I guess I needed to hear that because I was starting to believe it wasn’t in the cards myself. At this point, I’ve been married for 10 years, and we’ve been trying (by means of no contraceptives) for atleast 7 years. Can I also say that also during this time all of my siblings had atleast 3 or more kids. Most of my peers had kids as well. Everyone was moving into this phase of their life and here I am, the oldest of my siblings ….and struggling. This wasn’t easy. If you are married, especially recently married, you know that you often recieve the question “When are you guys going to have kids?” — and this became more and more difficult to answer. I always tried to step back and remind myself that they don’t know and the question in and of itself is innocent but it doesn’t make it easy. I usually just laughed it off and awkwardly tried to change the subject or walk away.

But as more baby announcements came, the pain grew and grew. It stung everytime someone close to me revealed they were pregnant. God, when will it be my turn? I went through periods of depression. And worry. And anger.

What about Troy? This isn’t fair to him – or his family.

What happens when we get old? Who will help care for us if Lord willing, we live to our old age?

Why do they get to have all these kids they can barely care for?

Why not me? What’s wrong with me?

Yea…. if you know me and knew me growing up… you can imagine that I argue with God a lot. I am all the time questioning him, His word, and His ways. I am good at arguing. 🙂 🙂

I should pause here and say that I have not been in a pit of depression over the last 8 years of my marriage and this journey. I have had moments of pity and …jealousy? But by and large, I’ve grown a lot through this and have tried to take all of the energy I could spend in pity and channel it into becoming healthier -physically and emotionally.

Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.”

I think there is a lot of things I’ve had to walk through in order become the person on the other side. I trust God. I am learning to trust God more. I believe His word. I know in my heart that he has walked right beside me through all of this.

You can really get lost in pity and wallowing if you allow yourself to do that. I can sit and have all the ugly thoughts in the world and just “waller” all in it. I can lament, cry, ache, and scream out why me all day long. It does nothing but take a toll on my mental and physical health. Instead, I am learning to turn off those thoughts, replace them with HIS thoughts, and rest in that truth.

One of my own parents uttered the words “I think you’re lucky you don’t have kids.”  –I am still trying to work through the sting of those words and that was over 3 years ago. Regardless of what you meant to say, all I heard is that you wish you didn’t have kids. Geez. Thanks. It’s not really like you’ve ever gone out of your way for me anyways, so I can’t apologize for the inconvenience.

–Look I told ya’ll, I’m gonna be real. It’s gonna probably get ugly at times. My committment to myself is to put it out there, regardless of how ugly it is. Maybe I’ll find healing in it. Either way, it’s coming out. Take it or leave it. Unapologetic.

Ok – so you get a little glimpse of the difficulties that infertility can bring. Back to the story at hand.

Fertility specialist was extremely encouraging. I walked out of her office with a renewed hope and faith that I am not broken and that we can do this. As mentioned though, this was a couple weeks out from a mission trip to Honduras, so due to Zika, we had to go on birth control so that we could prevent pregnancy before/during/after the trip until I was cleared. Also, the intial phase of this fertility plan was to get to a better weight. She gave me a number to work for and that’s what I started doing after we returned from Honduras.

Between that time and today, I have lost approximately 70 lbs and reached the weight the doctor wanted me to get to before we started the treatments. 😀  (I am still working on weight loss – this was just the goal to move on to the next steps)

So here’s the deal- I have one ovary.

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And it doesn’t ovulate on it’s own. So the plan is to start the fertility drugs so that we can give it the kick it needs to form follicles, thicken the uterine lining, release an egg, etc.

Can I just say that almost every one of these fertility visits comes with a complementary uterine probe. (ultrasound) -So yea, that’s fun. In the last 3 weeks I’ve had 3 of these uncomfortable visits. I feel like me and that ultrasound machine should go on a date or something. Sheesh.

The plan was to take the Clomid for 5 days and then take Estradiol (estrogen) and see her in a week. I did that and at the next visit and ultrasound, she decided to order a booster dose of Clomid and then scan again in 5 days. The follicles weren’t growing big enough so the booster dose was to get them to grow more.

I went back today to visit Mr. Ultrasound and the follicles were the same size they were Tuesday and the uterine lining is too thin, so even if I did ovulate and fertilize, it wouldn’t have a good lining to attach to.

Not news I was looking forward to. She said that it is common that PCOS patients are resistent to Clomid. She ordered another medication that apparently she can’t order until Clomid fails. Sometimes, I dislike the healthcare industry. (Side note: I work in Healthcare) …I went two weeks on a medicine that wasn’t likely to help me just so that I could then take the medicine that she thinks will help me.

Sigh.

So we start Letrozole today and….yep, see her again next Saturday for another scan.

I won’t pretend that I wasn’t disappointed today. I had physical reasons to believe I am ovulating and was ready for the green light. Not a change of course. But such is life sometimes.

I told Troy today that we are really only two weeks into this treatment plan and I can see that it will become stressful and a hardship if it has to go on for a long time.

These medicines aren’t to be messed with. I really haven’t had the crazy side effects that I read about but I do know that I am super emotional and at times moody in one direction or another. I sat in a baby shower last week fighting back tears for no reason. I wasn’t feeling pity for myself, I wasn’t upset at her baby expectancy, I just felt like crying.

I don’t feel depressed. I just feel like my emotions are on level 100 and I am sometimes afraid of losing control. I have found comfort in hot showers (whether needed or not) and laying in my bed. I feel like too much of the world at times is making me overwhelmed. Memorial Day weekend I asked Troy if it could just be low key and just us.  Usually we would try to grill out and invite friends over. I wasn’t feeling social.

It was the best weekend. I just cuddled up with him and rested in the peace that he brings in an otherwise chaotic storm that seems to stir within me at times.

I’m trying to ride this out and see it through. I ask for patience because if I become emotional or moody at you, I promise, it’s most likely not personal and not about you. I am trying real hard to keep it at bay.

So, that is where we are on the fertility journey so far. I am still hopeful and encouraged and I know in my heart that God’s got this. I just try to focus on what He says about my future and rest in that.

So my day to day looks like this:

I’m taking CoQ10 (vitamin/enzyme) 6 tabs a day, I split them 3 in morning and 3 at night. I am taking a prenatal vitamin, Vitamin D, a probiotic, and the Letrozole starting today.

20180602_210858

Orange is nighttime and green is morning.

I do not like taking pills. I can get one or two down easily but when I have to take multiple it gets difficult and they become harder to get down. I am pushing through it but it’s rough. One of these meds, I think the Clomid/Letrozole makes you have hot flashes.. or maybe that’s the estrodiol, who knows. So I have periods where I am melting also. Which isn’t helpful when summer starts in early May rather than mid-June like it’s supposed to. It’s hot and humid enough without hot flashes!

As I wrap this up-this song started playing while I was typing and it’s resonating with me big time as I’ve walked back through this journey with you. I wanted to share. Music is a big part of how I cope and process life and I have several songs on repeat right now that I’ll be sharing in future posts. 🙂

Hills & Valleys – Tauren Wells

I’ve walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak
And I’ve seen the brighter days
And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowestplace
And I have held the blessings
God, you give and take away
No matter what I have, Your grace is enough
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
I’ve watched my dreams get broken
In you I hope again!
No matter what I know
Know I’m safe inside Your hand
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
Father, you give and take away
Every joy and every pain
Through it all you will remain
Over it all!
Father, you give and take away
Every joy and every pain
Through it all you will remain
Over it all!
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there (to the one who set me there)
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
And I will choose to say “Blessed be Your name, yeah, yeah”
And I am not alone