Thursday, July 29, 2010

beach bound

The downside to taking a trip to Barbados during Memorial Day week is that our beach time ended before summer even began. So, we decided it's time to use a bed and breakfast gift certificate we received as a gift over a year ago. Brad and I are taking Friday off work to head to Virginia Beach this weekend for some much-needed R&R. We've been house-bound the past few weekends--we love our home, but it's time to escape.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

public service announcement

Chances are you know someone who's had one. One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage--it's an unfortunate, but common outcome. You know it happens, but you probably know little else about it. Why would you know more? Miscarriage is a taboo topic. It's like being tapped for a secret society you hope to never be a part of. As my friend and her mother eloquently said, having a miscarriage initiates you into a brave sisterhood of often hushed women.

But like so many other societies, secret or esteemed or neither, seasoned members can ease the transition of the new initiates. I can't tell you how encouraging it's been to hear from so many of you who have experienced a miscarriage. I'm sorry for you, my heart aches for you, and I wish you weren't a member of this club either, but your reaching out and sharing has helped ease my way. I feel like less of a leper now--I know I am not alone in this. You've reminded me that miscarriages happen to good people, for no reason at all, and it could happen again. You've reassured me that there is nothing I could have done to prevent it--God is the one in charge.

One member of the club, a sweet friend here in DC, has held my hand through every step of this process. I'm not good at leaning on others during times of need, but she was persistent in the best way and often anticipated and met my needs before I could tell her not to go to the trouble. She prayed for me, checked in regularly, offered advice, shared her own experience, answered questions, wasn't afraid to discuss details, brought us meals, and remembered Brad's and my love of red velvet cake.:) She, and so many others, have been ideal support networks and have made this difficult time easier.

Lord willing, you will never experience a miscarriage, but . . . you might. And if you do, you will need a "big sister" in the club to help you through it. Now that I'm initiated, I can help. Remember this post. Remember my offer. And be in touch if you need me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

a book club outing

Photo taken from    
My book club has talked for years about planning an outing that corresponds to our book of the month and we finally did it! July's selection was Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, a fictional tale about the love affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and his longtime mistress, Mamah Cheney.

On Saturday morning, nine of us embarked on a special tour for book clubs. For 90 minutes, we had the house to ourselves with our own guide. We enjoyed a special tour of the house and watched a DVD presentation about Frank Lloyd Wright's life and work. The tour guide was outstanding, and this visit to one of Wright's creations made the book we just read about him (although much of it was fiction) come alive. We had a great time and are already brainstorming our next book-related outing. Hopefully it won't take us years to do it again.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

kitchen window valance

My staycation last week wasn't a total waste. I accomplished one project that had been on my to-do list for months while catching up on the second season of True Blood. (Yes, we pay for every sports channel offered. HBO? Not so much. You can guess who makes these decisions in our house.)

My kitchen window has been looking a little naked since we moved in.

My orchid on the window sill and the tiny plants on the shelves (far left in the picture above) need light, so I was looking for something decorative that wouldn't restrict the sunlight.

I hauled my thirty-year-old sewing machine up from the basement and designed and sewed a valance for the window. I completely winged this project with no pattern, but I'm pleased with how it turned out.

I even got fancy and inserted a lining so that it would look neater and more finished from outside the house.

The color matches the green walls perfectly and the valance makes the kitchen look a little more homey.

I love the views of my sweet, still-blooming backyard in these pictures. And now I can still enjoy the view when I stand at the sink--the window just looks prettier.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

follow up

Gentle Readers, thanks for your love: comments, emails, calls, thoughts, and prayers. Brad and I are doing okay. We're on the upswing, I think.

I hope you don't view my sharing via the blog as impersonal. Let me explain my perspective. Infertility and miscarriage, like so many other issues, are very difficult to discuss, let alone bring up in casual conversation. I cringe at the thought of making phone calls to thirty friends and having the same conversation thirty times--it's difficult enough to do once. We've all been caught in situations where another has shared something painful, and while we may have felt instant sympathy for him or her, we had no idea how to react or what to say. So maybe we resorted to cliches. Or maybe an inappropriate question slipped out before we could stop it. Or, in my opinion the worst and most offensive reaction, maybe we felt so awkward and uncomfortable that we immediately changed the subject to something safer, like the weather or our weekend plans.

The point is, there is no perfect response. Allowing others to simply share is oftentimes just what they need. From past experience, I've learned that in most cases it's best not to blindside friends and acquaintances by sharing bad news in person unless your circumstances make it comfortable to do so. Blogs and email, although arguably impersonal, give people time and space to process and react to news. And then they can decide how, when, or if they want to respond. And if they don't respond, that's okay, too. You expect a response in person, but not so much with a mass announcement.

Life is hard. And although it's difficult to do, I believe it's important to open up and be honest when you're struggling. Although most of life's challenges feel isolating when you're in the middle of them, sharing with others reveals how many people go through the same thing or something similar. And that realization makes the world seem a little less cruel, empty, and lonely. You develop a support network. You learn that others have survived and so can you. You begin to see God's work through others' care and concern for you. You feel their prayers.

Several of you have mentioned that you noticed my lack of posting last week. Can I just say how much that means to me? To feel--dare I say it--missed? To know that some people do look forward to my posts about nothing (which, by the way, will resume tomorrow)? I feel a greater responsibility now to post regularly. Thank you, Gentle Readers, for noticing my absence, and for everything.

Monday, July 19, 2010

bouncing back

I try my best here at Dr. Blondie to keep things real. After all, I write a life blog. And life is not always about ice cream and puppies and rainbows and flowers--well, fortunately, my life does include loads of flowers-- and anyone who presents his or her life as pure sunshine all the time is probably hiding something. The longer you live in this world, the more you will know suffering. And although my pain looks and feels different from yours, we both will experience it, and possibly lots of it. But, Lord willing, we will also know the grace that accompanies suffering. Let me tell you about examples of both in my life right now.

This past January Brad and I found out that we have less than a one percent chance of conceiving a child on our own. The nature of our complications caused us to leapfrog over the basic infertility treatments that most people start with, leaving us two options: IUI and IVF. Although IUI has a much lower rate of success than IVF, most people start with an IUI because it's less invasive, time consuming, and expensive than the alternative. Our first IUI in March was not successful. Almost every aspect of our second IUI in May seemed to go wrong, so we fully expected it to fail. But it worked and we found out we were pregnant in early June. What science deemed impossible God made possible. Although God has granted man the wisdom to make amazing scientific breakthroughs in reproductive technology, the final result still rests in God's hands: life is a miracle. This pregnancy was such a wonderful reminder of God's sovereignty.

You can probably guess where this story is headed. The pregnancy progressed normally at first. My hormone levels multiplied as expected; the weekly ultrasounds documented the baby's growth; I experienced pregnancy symptoms; my fertility doctor noted the flicker of a heartbeat on the ultrasound at six weeks and three days, and promptly released me to my regular OB. But two weeks later, at my first OB appointment, everything fell apart. It was a first OB appointment of nightmares.

The doctor couldn't detect heartbeats on the ultrasound. And yes, I say heartbeats (plural) because there were twins, which was a huge surprise to us. Our hearts had selfishly desired twins. And even though we didn't know it initially, God answered that prayer, too! But it also added to our pain and disappointment to lose them both.

The last week and a half have been difficult. Although miscarriage is very common, especially in the first trimester, and Brad and I tried really hard to stay grounded when we first found out we were pregnant, our hearts and minds still ran away with dreams and plans and hopes for the future. We mostly feel sad and disappointed. The thought of starting all over again with infertility treatments (down the road) is overwhelming--it took so much to get pregnant in the first place that it's easy to slip into the "I've already paid my dues" mentality and expect things to unfold perfectly once you achieve that positive result. It's hard not to feel like a failure when conceiving and bearing children seems to come so easy to most people. Even Fern is reproducing! (Do I sound like Charlotte York yet?)

But even in our lowest moments, it's impossible to ignore God's grace. Despite the challenges, he made us pregnant--with twins, even--in the first place. He's provided me a job I love with insurance that includes both rare and generous coverage for infertility treatments. He's blessed us with good doctors and scientific advancements that offer more options than were available to previous generations. The Lord has blessed me with a compassionate husband who loves and supports me, and God's strengthened our marriage beyond what I ever would have expected. Brad and I are comforted by the kind words, prayers, and practical advice and help from sweet friends. A very practical blessing is that I had already planned to take last week off work as my annual "staycation", and although I didn't spend it as I expected to, I was thankful to have the week at home to relax and deal with the bad news. Please pray we will continue to find our strength and hope in the Lord and will set our sights on eternal life in Heaven and not on the fleeting desires of this world. Please also pray that our hearts long for and accept God's will, rather than our own desires. We haven't given up hope that someday we'll be parents. But, we also realize that God may have different plans for us.

Rest assured that I do not intend to turn Dr. Blondie into an infertility blog. While I may weigh in on the subject occasionally, and of course I'll provide updates as Brad and I feel appropriate, I will not document every step of our journey to become parents. Besides praying for us, there are a couple practical ways you can help. First, don't feel awkward expressing your concern or asking us how we're doing. We're happy to talk about this with others, and especially if you are struggling with the same issues, please be in touch. But don't ask for or expect updates of when, where, and how we're proceeding, and what the outcomes are. We get impatient enough waiting for the next step. Feeling like an audience is waiting with us only adds pressure. Second, don't feel awkward telling us you are pregnant. We are happy for you and want to share in your joy. We only ask you to refrain from sharing with us how quickly and easily you got pregnant.:) Don't be a "squeaky wheel", as our fertility doctor would say.

The drama isn't quite over yet. I knew nothing about miscarriages before having one, so I've been amazed to learn how the body can take its own sweet time or even resist expelling the pregnancy on its own. This part, psychologically, has been tough for me. You find out bad news, process it and mourn, and then want to move on, but your body isn't necessarily on the same schedule as your mind and heart. Please pray that I have patience while waiting for a resolution.

Thank you, as always, for reading my blog and sharing in my joys and sorrows. I couldn't ask for better readers! Regularly scheduled programming will resume later this week.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

hot and thirsty

Remember how beautiful my new flower bed in front of the house looked when we first built it?

Had I known then that almost every day to follow would be at least 90 degrees and dry as a stone, I might have postponed my planting. Despite my tender loving care with the garden hose every night since the bed's creation, my perennials--or what's left of them--now look like this.

 It's so sad. And although I'm dying to replace the casualties, I refuse to plant one more living thing in this dreadful heat--I would only be setting it (and myself) up for failure.

Next spring, I will start this bed off right. Until then, I will have to deal with its barren and ugly landscape.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fern's baby

Babies don't stay babies very long.

If you recall, after waiting a never-ending ten months, just after I was about to evict Fern's stump from its prime real estate, I found hope in the pot on April 15th.

I waited with bated breath to see what would come of this new development. Was the tiny sprout simply a weed's seed that had wafted in through our window or front door? Was Fern actually reproducing? I began to affectionately call this new plant "Fern's baby".

And now, only ten weeks later, Fern's baby is really no longer a baby. It might be time for a name of its own. Suggestions?

Isn't the resemblance striking? Mama Fern and her sweet miracle baby . . .

Lesson learned: persistence pays off. I'm so glad I did not give up and throw out Fern's seemingly barren stump months ago when I wanted to!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

a spot of red

After last year's tomato disaster, I can finally claim success!

And just in time for the 4th of July--perfect!

Happy birthday, America!