Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Month in the Life of a Woman Struggling with Fertility

I have gone back and forth about writing this post or not since I have been accused of "sharing too much," but after some encouragement from a few of my close girlfriends, who have all had their different struggles with fertility, I decided to do it. If you have struggled to get pregnant, have had miscarriages, have had any type of fertility treatment, or have had a late loss, every day of every month can be a not-so-subtle reminder.

Day one, you get your period. This is D-day, the day you start clocking and charting and timing and taking your temperature or taking your medicine or giving yourself shots. As your "Aunt Flo," your "little friend," your "monthly visitor," or whatever silly name your husband gives it continues, you endure the cramps and bloating while you get your gear ready to go.

The first day you see there is no "friend" visiting, the temperature taking begins (and for some women, who are further along in their struggle, the steriods, the shots, or other medications begin too). When you wake up, before you even get out of bed, you take your bodily temperature (orally, no silly business) then you head to the bathroom to pee on a stick. This stick is the ovulation test. The result, an empty circle (not today!) or a smily face (you better get busy!)...and who comes up with these ideas, anyway? You do this for the next 2-22 days, or however long it takes for you to see the small spike in your temperature or that smiley face pop up on the stick. And when it does, it is go time. (And for those women who are further along in their struggle, it's time to have an IUI or other type of non-evasive proceedure.) Sex is a beautiful, God-given gift to a married couple, but struggling with fertility can take the flirty fun out of it really quickly and can start to make it seem like work. When the window closes, you wait.

And wait.


For the next two weeks, you wait, and with every ache and pain and unusual tenderness, you wonder..."Am I pregnanat?" "Am I about to get my period?" And when that first morning comes that you can start to test to see if you are pregnant, you head to the bathroom to pee on another type of stick. The pregnancy test. This stick is your biggest enemy or your best friend. You pee on the stick every day, hoping to see "PREGNANT" without the "NOT" in front of it. I got to the point that I could literally see "not pregnant" show up in the exact location on the screen on the stick before it ever actually did.

Then you get your period.

And you cry. You doubt. You pray. You question, "can I go through this again?"

And you do.

You start all over again.

And when you get to a certain point in your struggle, you may choose to have a ton of other tests done. You may choose to take things a step further with IVF. Or you may even choose to adopt.

Even so, every month when you get your period, you still wonder. You still hope. You still pray. You still cry.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Our Big News!

And no, we're not pregnant (I wish!)

We're moving back to Greenville, South Carolina!

Now, please understand that we absolutely LOVE Raleigh, and Paul was NOT looking to make a move. It all started about two months ago when Paul's old boss contacted him to let him know about the position. He applied, not thinking anything of it. A few weeks later, he got a call from the GM of GCC for a phone interview. He had an interview a few weeks later and a second interview with a committee this past Monday. The next day, the GM called Paul and said that the committee loved him and that they were ready to make an offer and to expect it the next day. Meanwhile, Paul and I began to discuss what it would take to move us from Raleigh. We had always said that we wouldn't leave Raleigh, unless it was to go back to Greenville. On Wednesday, Paul got the offer, and it exceeded all our expectations. Thursday was a day of emotion! Excitement and fear, happiness and sadness. I was on the verge of tears ALL DAY. Paul spoke with a few of his "board of directors" (men that he respects and trusts) and we discussed all of the pros and cons. That evening we made our decision. On Friday, Paul officially resigned and accepted his new position.

Then came the whirlwind.

We had a POD delivered Saturday morning to start decluttering and met with our realtor Saturday night to make a list of mini-projects to do before listing our house. This past weekend, my mom and sister were visiting, so we put them to work packing boxes. We also began letting our family and friends know about our move.

Our plan: We will have our house pictures taken Monday and will list our house on Wednesday. Meanwhile, we are working with Paul's realtor from Greenville to find a house via the internet. We haven't worked out all of the other logistics yet, but we will keep you all posted.

This may seem like we have made a hasty decision, but we have not. We've been praying to God for discernment and wisdom, and have asked Him to make our path very obvious by opening and closing doors. As we look at the big picture, we can clearly see God's hands at work and His sovereign plan in action.

We are excited to go back home to Greenville, but we will truly miss the life that we created here as a family over the past three years in Raleigh. To those of you here in Raleigh who have made such an impact on our lives, you know who you are...WE LOVE YOU and THANK YOU!

And we ask that you please PLEASE pray for us during this time of transition!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Meeting Baby Alex...in Hawaii!

We arrive in Hawaii and are greated by Uncle Matty (Paul's brother), and since it is Grace's first trip, Matt welcomes her with a real flower lei.

We grab our stuff, head to Matt's truck, and drive across island to Kaneohe Bay, the base where Matt and Kendal are stationed, where we are greeted by Kendal (it's late, so Alex is already asleep). We quickly get Grace to bed and hang out for a little while, catching up.

The next morning Grace is up early and is dying to get her hand in the sand, so we head to the beach just down the road from M&K's and watch the sunrise. It's beautiful! We we get back, Matt brings Alex downstairs and get to meet our sweet nephew Alex (who was born Nov. 15) for the very first time. What a special time.

Since it's Saturday, Matt is off, so we put on our suits, load up the car, stop and grab some lunch, and head to Kalama Beach! We return to M&K's for naps and start dinner prepartions to grill out.

Sunday, we go to church with Matt and Kendal and come home and just hang out. We spend the next 10 days enjoying the beautiful beaches, hiking, site seeing, and just being with Matt, Kendal and Alex. It truly was a special time making such sweet memories!

Here are just a few of my favorite memories! (And can you believe it, we never got a single picture will all six of us!)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Our first trip to Disneyland!

On our way to Hawaii (I will talk about that trip in the next post), we were blessed with the opportunity to travel with some of our very best friends, the Coulters, to Las Angeles to visit the piece of Disney that they grew up going to, Disneyland!...and What. A. Trip.

Our flight to LA left on Wednesday, March 5 at 5:30 (after a full day of work for Paul). We arranged for our sweet friend Linda to drop us off at the airport so we wouldn't have to pay to park our car for two weeks, and since we live less than five miles from the airport, it is totally doable. We arranged for her to pick us up at 4:00 (which in Linda time is actually like 3:30), and since we were only checking one suitcase and the car seat, we had plenty of time, right? Well, Linda had a small work-related emergency, which delayed her getting to our house by about 20 minutes, no problem! We arrive at the airport at 4:20, say goodbye and thank you to Linda, and check in. Our one suitcase...weighs 75 pounds!...TWENTY FIVE pounds overweight. The lady at check-in explains that it costs an EXTRA $150 UP TO 70, and our suitcase weighs five pounds MORE than that! Well, being the person that I am, I had an extra carry on packed in one of our carry ons, so I pull it out and we start unloading as much as we can into that bag and the other ones that we have. And we did it. We got our suitcase to weigh 50 pounds! They take our suitcase, car seat, and our extra carry on, finish up at the counter, and head to security.

Meanwhile, Krista called me to inform me that, praise the Lord, they allow children in strollers to go through the wheelchair security line (since the same process is used for both.) Since we have never flown with Grace before, we had no idea what the process would be. We do the normal security strip down, put our bags on the belt, and fold up the stroller and send it all through. No problems. Krista and Scott wait for us on the other side (they wouldn't let her take all of the milk and juice that they brought for the kids until they saw a second child...ridiculous!...lol), and Campbell is grabbing us all dinner. We greet each other, put our shoes and stuff on and Grace back in the stroller, and we hear the LAST CALL for our flight...and we're 21 gates away...WHAT?! We still have 30 minutes before take off! Paul grabs the bag, I push Grace, Krista pushes Scott and we RUN, like movie style airport scene run, to our gate. We make it and see Campbell waiting for us. There are no other passengers to be seen, and they wouldn't even let Campbell board the plan because he had "too many carry ons for one person." We check our strollers, the girls grab the kids and diaper bags, the guys grab the bags, they scan our tickets and we head down the hall and onto the plane. We are the only ones standing. We walk all the way to the back of the plane, feeling the "oh no, not toddlers" looks and take our seats (we had the last two rows on the plane).

Since this is Grace's first time on a plane, we let her sit next to the window. As we take off, she gets this indescribable look on her face and says, "Don't fall Mommy, don't fall Daddy." Love it! I will remember that moment forever!

Once we get in the sky, we get the kids fed and feed ourselves. Then, we start playing pass the kids. Grace joins Scoot in his seat between Campbell and Krista for the Cars movie, and then Scoot joins Grace in her seat between Paul and me to watch a little Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Once it gets to be bed time, we separate them and start the sleep process. Scoot zonks out. Grace. Did. Not. Sleep. A. Wink. We arrive in LA at 8:30pm (11:30pm EST), and meet up with Debbie and Melvin, Krista's parents. Grammie (Debbie) begins the grandchild spoiling right then and there, with a kid’s meal for both of them. Scott didn't get to enjoy his since he managed to sleep through getting off the plane, getting in the stroller, getting out of the stroller, getting in the car, getting out of the car, and getting checked in to the hotel (until we got to our room, it was so cool he had to wake up and join Grace in the sleepy run around giggling time...lol) We head to the hotel, but stop at In-And-Out Burger. Yummy!

We check in the hotel and make it up to our room, the presidential suite on the top floor. It is awesome and has amazing views, including Disneyland! We let the kids wind down a little after getting our stuff unpacked and settle in. (pictured below: living room, eat-in kitchen, dining room, office, 2 of 4 bedrooms and 1 of 4 bathrooms, laundry room, entry way, and the VIEW!)

The next morning, Grace and Scott are up at 5am (8am EST, so not really that early to them), so we get to see the sunrise. We grab breakfast in the lobby and head to parks. We pull up and Melvin drops us off. It is so neat! We walk through Downtown Disney and arrive at a big open area with Disneyland on one side and California Adventure on the other. The property is smack dab in the middle of LA, which is crazy to me...especially coming from my Disney World background, where the parks are pretty far off the beaten path.

We spend our first day in California Adventure. There is no one there when we arrive. We walk right on to Toy Story Mania and the "Ferris Wheel of Death" as Becca called it. It is a ferris wheel where all of the cars move on little tracks while the wheel turns. (If you want to see what I'm talking about, ask Campbell. He has blackmail video of me riding...lol) We ride several rides and see several characters, and head to lunch at Wine Country Trattoria. Can we say DELICIOUS?!...and we got special viewing passes for the World of Color, the amazing light show at the park's closing time. The afternoon was all about the kids, we spent it in Cars Land and various other areas where they could ride the rides. (Except when the Mommies and Daddies snuck away to ride the Cars roller coaster a few times, but it's ok because Melvin and Debbie were on Grandparent duty and enjoyed spoiling the kids during that time.) We topped the evening off with dinner at Flo's and the bread making tour, and headed to grab our spots at the World of Color. That show...I mean...wow. I truly can't even put the entire day into words, it was truly magical. The kids fell asleep once they sat in their car seats. We headed back to our room and hit the sack. (pictured below are just a few of my favorites of the day!)

Friday morning, we wake up, pack up, and head to the Disneyland Park. We have reservations to eat with some real characters at the Plaza Inn. Again, it is empty! After breakfast, we spend the morning riding a few adult rides while the kids hang out in Toon Town with the Grandparents (I think Grace has officially adopted them now!) and then catch up with everyone to ride a few child-friendly ones. We eat a quick lunch and it's time for the Rutherfords to leave. (pictured below are just a few of my favorites of the day!)

We grab our stuff out of the Perry's car, say our goodbyes, and wait for our shuttle to the airport. Once it finally arrives (40 minutes late and after a few not happy calls from Paul and him having to, literally, track her down), I strap Grace and her car seat in while Paul throws everything else in the back, and we hit the road. We watch the estimated time of arrival on the GPS get closer and closer to the time of our flight. We have pretty much figured out that we are going to miss it. We start trying to figure out how we are going to get to Hawaii. Somehow, by the grace of God, we make it...with 30 minutes to spare. I grab Grace and our suitcase and race in, up to the Hawaiian Air ticket counter. They quickly check us in, reminding us that they don't know if we are going to make our flight. We begin stripping down as we race to security. Thankfully, there are only 3 people ahead of us, who notice that we are in a hurry and let us go through ahead of them. We race through security, grab our stuff and run to our gate (thankfully the first gate past security). We make it...and we weren't the last ones on the flight this time. We walk to the back of the plane, settle in to our seats, and take off. Grace is asleep in thirty minutes tops. We enjoy our dinner while we chat about the last 2 days of fun. We drift off to sleep and wake up in Hawaii.

This trip was such a special time with special people in a special place. We are so thankful for the sweet friendships we have with the Coulters and all of the fun memories we have made together...and will continue to make! God is so good!