Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How I Met My Husband

Part 1
Well…. my husband and I met online! Neither of us thought it would really work out that way (meeting someone online), but Our Lord has a pretty good sense of humor…
I had been on the site for about 2 years when he first emailed me. In fact, I had even met one of his friends! (Obviously that didn’t work out. :)) So my husband, finally gave in and joined the site I was on. And apparently, my photo kept showing up under his ‘saved searches’ when he logged on. 
So… on a Sunday evening in August 2006, he wrote to me. It was one of the most thoughtful introductory emails I received. The subject line was even “impromptu prelude” which, as a pianist, I definitely appreciated. :)
I made him wait… 2 days… until I wrote back. He wrote back immediately. I made him wait 2 more. And then… it was emails several times a day until we met in person, 2 weeks later. He drove the 4 hours to take me out to lunch which was the best date of my life, until the second… and third… and it STILL keeps getting better. That first date was wonderful - we had so much in common - most importantly, our faith. He was the oldest of 4 boys, I was the oldest of 5 girls. Our parents were close in age; in fact, both sets of parents had birthdays in June, within a few days of each other. (So now, in the summer, we get both families together for an annual baseball game. Lots of fun!) (And, oh, did I mention that when I opened the door, my first thought was “wow, his photos didn’t do him justice!”) On the way back home from our first date, we stopped at the church where I worked - and I unfortunately had forgotten my keys so we couldn’t stop in for a quick visit. We drove home (literally minutes from the church) ... and I had… yes… forgotten my keys, so I had locked myself outside of house! No one else was at home to let me in! At the time I had O.n.st.ar in my car which I used to remotely unlock the car, get the garage door opener, and get in the house. Neat trick. I think my husband was impressed with O.n.st.ar. :) Anyway, back to the church we went, for a quick visit, and on the way out, he asked me if I had ever driven a manual transmission. “Nope,” was my response, “but I want to learn before I’m 30!” So… he handed me the keys and proceeded to give me a quick lesson around the empty parking lot. :) How thoughtful…. 

We went back to the house, where I played one of my favorite pieces for him (which I later recorded and put in our wedding video). I usually get really nervous playing for people I don’t know, but for some reason didn’t mind playing for him. Hmmm… He even spent time looking at an enormous photo collage that I had put together for my Dad’s surprise 60th birthday party. He got to see a number of pictures of me and my sisters growing up that day!
Two weeks later, after daily emails and phone calls, he was back for another lunch, a concert (given by my piano teacher at the time), Sunday mass and dinner. As he said, it was 4 dates in one… the life version of a crescendo. :)
In the middle of October, he told me he loved me for the first time. PURE JOY!!! And we continued with serious as well as random emails - how do you squeeze the toothpaste tube? Which way does the toilet paper roll go? And a week later, when I went down to visit him for the first time, he asked me “what shapes do you like?” This question was, I thought, out of the blue, so my response was “Shapes? Shapes? What do you mean, shapes?” Him: “You know- oval, circles…”. Me: “Uh… I don’t know. I guess… circles? Wait!!! NO!!! Square! The princess cut!!!”
A few weeks after that, he surprised me for a weekend visit. I thought he was out running errands when he was actually on his way to surprise me, and ask my Dad for my hand. I walked into the kitchen after playing for the Saturday Vigil mass and there he was… my parents and sisters knew - what sneaks!
Two weeks after that, the day before Thanksgiving, he drove up to pick me up - we were visiting his parents for Thanksgiving, and I was meeting another brother, and he met me for noon mass at the Cathedral. We were kneeling in front of the Tabernacle after mass, when he told me he had something for me in the car. I said “Really? (very excited) Should I wait here?” Him: “It’s a pumpkin scone.” Me: “Huh?” (looking quite crestfallen, according to him.) Him: “But I have a card for you.” Me: “OK.” (it was a very nice and mushy card). I turned around to put it in my purse, and when I turned back, there he was with the most beautiful ring. Kneeling in front of the tabernacle…. how awesome is that?!?!?! And by the way, I should mention that it was November 22, the Feast of Saint Cecilia.
End of Part 1.
ps: I do in fact, like all things pumpkin. But, I was not expecting a pumpkin scone. The ring was much better. :-D

Why I Love My Husband

First- applause to Kaitlin for coming up with this idea! She said it so well. It's so important that we as women build our husbands up instead of tearing them down. I cannot stand listening to women who complain about their husbands. My husband isn't perfect but then neither am I! With so many marriages in trouble these days, we need to do our best to show others what it is supposed to be. My path to heaven has a name... and it is the name of my husband.
First, I remember an awesome priest I know giving a meditation on cheerfulness. He mentioned that sometimes the most difficult thing to do is SMILE. He told us to use toothpicks if we had to.
Well, my awesome hubby is my set of toothpicks. I can never stay mad, irritated or down-in-the-dumps around him. I'm generally a pretty optimistic person, but boy, when those crazy hormones kick in, watch out! :) He always manages to get me to smile though, whether it's making funny faces, cracking jokes, literally propping up the sides of my mouth, or tickling me until I end up cracking small smiles that eventually escalate into one of those laugh-till-you-hurt moments. And then... I never remember what it was that I was mad about in the first place.
I love being married to a man who likes more than anything, to see me smile.
See... I'm smiling now! :-D I love you Honey!

Monday, January 17, 2011

About me & IF History

My awesome hubby and I were married in May 2007. These 3 1/2 years have been the BEST of my life. Loving him and being loved by him is pure joy. I remember one of my dear friends writing a little note on the card she gave us for our wedding - "may you always be newlyweds." I think we've taken that to heart. :) We're not perfect and we do have disagreements from time to time, but they are rare. And, wonderful man that he is, he always knows how to make me smile - so they don't last long!
We are both faithful and practicing Catholics. (I'll write more later about how we met!) We're both big sports fans (I'm from Pittsburgh and have since converted him into a Penguins and Steelers fan. The Pirates just finished their 18th losing season - yes, in a row - so that's a harder sell. I can't say I follow baseball as much anyway, much to the dismay of my 4 younger sisters.) We both love working out, and eating well. I LOVE to cook and bake. Awesome hubby says he needs to work out due to the good food I make him. They say the way to a man's heart.... :)
We have been TTC since we were married. I figured by now we'd have several little ones running around. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, given my surgeries before we were married (see this post), but here we are, years later, still waiting. After the third month of trying, off I went to the doctor, who told me that they couldn't do anything until we'd been trying a year. (This was a Catholic practice, and while we'd had a simple NFP classes before getting married, there was no discussion about how we were following it, what signs we might be watching for... etc.) And honestly, our only thought regarding it was "NFP? Ha! We want a dozen!" AF has always been quite regular for me, so I figured everything must be fine, right? Wrong...
OK - I was concerned, but wouldn't be able to convince anyone to help us until we'd waited a year.
About 8 months into our marriage, one of the priests DH & I know suggested we take a formal NFP class, which we did, using the Billings method. Fast forward a few more months (after making to to a year of TTC) and we went back to the same OBGYN to see about finding out what was wrong. 
After 3 frustrating months, I was finally able to get an HSG done. The first month I tried to have it done, I was on CD3 and when I went in for the test, the conversation went like this:
Them: "Have you have unprotected sex?" 
Me: "Huh? What does that mean? I'm married! Of course I have!" 
Them: "We can't do the test. You could be pregnant." 
Me: "I'm on CD3, I haven't ovulated yet!!"
Them: "You could be pregnant."
Me: "No, I cannot."
And back and forth it went. Grrrr. They actually managed to convince me that I could be pregnant, so I didn't have the test done. Then, due to travel and the timing of my cycle, it was another 2 months before I was actually able to get the HSG done.
Sept 2008: HSG Results - tubes open!
Fast forward a few more months... late fall of 2008. A close friend of mine, who had also been TTC conceive since getting married, went to see Dr. S in PA, and had surgery. She had some endo removed, both tubes were blocked and then freed, and was hopeful that she would be able to conceive. (Side note: she did, several months later!) She adored Dr. S and highly recommended that DH & I schedule an appointment with him.
Jan 2009 - first meeting with Dr. S, hormone profile scheduled, and surgery discussed. Dr. S, finding out my history of Crohn's and the 2 surgeries related to it (the second surgery to remove adhesions), thought that there was a strong chance I had more adhesions that could be causing IF.
Spring 2009 - Hormone panel shows low progesterone, low estrogen. Begin hormone therapy.
May 2009 - Laparoscopy by Dr. S -shows a good deal of adhesions from prior surgeries. He was able to free my right tube and ovary from the adhesions, clear out some along the back of my uterus (tilted back since my colon is no longer there to prop it up!), but was unable to reach the left tube & ovary. Dr. S recommends a laparotomy to work more extensively on getting rid of the adhesions.
I was hesitant. When I went in for my second surgery for the Crohn's, the intern checking me in said to me "we have a little joke in the ER. Surgery begets surgery." So... this is what has been ringing in my head since then. Not funny at all…  After my DH and I discussed it, we decided to wait and see if the hormone therapy would help, as well as this initial surgery. Miracles, happen, right?
End of 2009 - Friend after friend gets pregnant. Everywhere we turned. We even went away for a weekend to a B&B (our first vacation alone since our honeymoon), and got a call while there from my BIL that he & his wife were expecting. The next day, while at breakfast, the other young couple staying at the B&B informed us that they were expecting. Seriously?? I wanted a nice weekend away with my awesome husband, a chance to forget about IF and WHAM! Two weeks later, on New Year’s Day, another friend announced her pregnancy. It was the beginning of what would be a very difficult year for me in terms of my faith. I've seen others write about the "dark night of the soul." I definitely had such moments.
Spring 2010 - I continued hormone therapy, and completed another hormone panel, as I'd begun bleeding mid-cycle right after ovulation. Since this has never happened before in my cycle, I was a little freaked out. After completing the hormone panel, Dr. S finds that my ovulation doesn't seem strong enough. I begin Femara.
Late fall 2010 - DH & I meet a lovely young couple, who are unfortunately experiencing secondary IF. They become fast friends. The young women recommends that I check out a few blogs written by other Catholic women suffering from IF... and ...
Here I am!
January 2010
I'm continuing Femara on CD3. 
Prometrium & Estradiol on P+3 - P+12.
CM is usually pretty good; overall, where it needs to be.
I am scheduling another surgery - this time robotic! It may turn into a laparotomy if Dr S. cannot remove all the adhesions he wants. I told him this is his last chance! I decided that I don't want to be looking back several years down the road, saying "what if I had had that surgery?" 
Other news - DH & I have decided to adopt! We are currently exploring agencies. Since most agencies seem to have the rule that a couple not be involved in fertility treatments, we're going to make the agency decision (we've already decided on domestic adoption) and start filling out paperwork while we wait for my surgery to be scheduled. We definitely feel called to adopt and have been talking about it for a few months now. We'll see what happens!
Whew... that was a long post! :) If you made it this far, thanks for reading!
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. 
Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why Isaiah 55:8-9?

I've chosen Isaiah 55:8-9 for my blog title because since college, it has been one of my favorite verses. It was during my sophomore year that I first came across the verse, and at the time, I was quite sick with Crohn's disease.
During that year, I was getting lab work done weekly to check medication levels - not exactly what I wanted to be doing while enjoying college! While in the waiting room at the local hospital, I came across a little prayer booklet. I randomly flipped it open and came to Isaiah 55:8-9.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
As high as the heavens are above the earth, 
so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts."
That day, instead of feeling defeated when leaving the hospital, I felt reassured, knowing that God was with me in my suffering. He wasn't done yet though.
Soon after returning to campus, I was in an economics class. It wasn't my favorite class - in fact, it probably ranked up there as "least favorite". :) Though I was attending a small Christian college, this professor had never referenced Scripture during the class. All of a sudden (and to this day, I have no idea how it related to the lesson being taught), displayed on the overhead projector was Isaiah 55:8-9. I remember sitting through the rest of the class in a complete fog. I had never before felt the presence of God so strongly - literally, a physical presence beside me. At that moment, I understood that my sufferings were not in vain, He had a plan for me, and He would help me.
Since that time, He has been with me through my continued sufferings with Crohn's, including routine lab work, several hospitalizations and finally, two surgeries, the first- a colectomy in 2001 (surgery to remove my colon), and the second, to remove adhesions which would have strangled part of my small intestine, had the physicians not discovered it in time.
Through those sufferings though, I began to understand the beauty of the Cross. Through my struggle with Crohn's, Our Lord was preparing me for an even greater cross- the cross of infertility. Intellectually, I know that our sufferings unite us to Christ. It's quite another thing though, to live it! 
I've been following a few blogs for the last few months, and through them, have realized that I'm not alone. I had no idea that there was such a large community of Catholic women who are helping one another with the cross of infertility. I've been thinking about starting my own blog, and I guess today is finally the day. :)
Thanks for reading!
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. 
Because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
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