The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”
~Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor

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I know that I have not updated this blog in a pretty long time. I feel like I have had a lot on my plate between working two jobs, and juggling a barrage of attacks on my personal life, and on my home. I’ve had some hard times lately, but we have also had some great things going on in our life. So for now, I’m going to bring you, “The good, the bad and the ugly.” However, since I am a rebel, I will do this out of order. I think it will be most important to leave this post on a high note.

The Bad:

I have not been around my blog much.

Or at all.

I try to remind myself that this blog has been so helpful in my healing process…but for a long while, I felt pretty down. It was easier to stay optimistic while we were doing our IUI treatments both before and after my surgery.

Surgery was terrifying in so many ways, but we got through it because we were doing something that may have made a difference. But then, it didn’t really help.

I never got pregnant.

My endometriosis was officially diagnosed and I wasn’t quite stage two…and that was great news. But it didn’t matter.

Our IUI attempts failed because, as the doctor said, because of the endometriosis.

Once our fifth one didn’t work, I posted about IVF being our “best” chance. I always try to be an optimist, so I put this news in a good light. However IVF isn’t really our best chance. It’s our last chance. And we can’t really afford it.

We are trying. I put away every extra cent we have. But we purchased a small fixer upper a year and a half ago. Back when we were truly convinced IUI would work and we would soon have a baby to fill our second bedroom.

Our home is modest. Two bedrooms and one bathroom. Two small bedrooms. One very small bath. We were sensibile. It was our first home. We don’t need much.

But it’s a fixer upper. Though a child never came, the house was ours. We had to eventually get on with the “fixing” unless we wanted the house to fall apart. The “fixing” costs money.

The Ugly:

The same week we found out we needed IVF, our AC broke. Like…really broke. Our compressor blew out. For those of you in the know…that’s the most expensive part to repair in a central HVAC system. And before you ask…it’s less than five years old. That’s part of why we bought the house. Newer AC. 

Not so much…

Because of generous donations from our GoFundMe backers, we now have a small IVF savings account. That money is untouchable, but we had hoped to add our own money to it. But our home woes have only allowed me to add about $1050.00 to that savings.

The Really Ugly:

Oh, and did I mention I needed an emergency root canal but my dental insurance has already been used up for the year? So that’s costing us a pretty penny now, too. Dental insurance is a joke, by the way. 😦

I’m trying not to just whine and complain, but I’m frustrated and I feel like everything is just stalled right now. We don’t know when we will be starting IVF, and I think that’s left me in a state of helplessness about my reproductive chances. It makes me feel like I don’t have any control over my Infertility (not that I did anyway).

I feel like this post was super negative, so I want to leave it on a more positive note.

The Good:

Our quaint little fixer up was  desperately in need of a new kitchen when we bought the house. My dad is a retired carpenter, and so I was thrilled that he wanted to help me build the kitchen. I only had to pay for materials, which dramatically cut the costs of a new kitchen, and we finally (almost) finished the kitchen a few weeks ago.

Before:

 
After:


We still want to replace the fridge (not pictured) and our gas range with stainless steel appliances, and we have a light switch cover or two to purchase, and a few drawer pulls to install; but for the most part this kitchen is done. And what a difference it made! I am beyond thrilled with the outcome.

It is so exciting to see something that I designed come together so beautifully. When I picked each piece: the shaker style cabinets, the counter tile, the back splash, the cabinet color – I had no idea if it would really all work. Obviously, my father’s expertise in carpentry was super helpful, and so he was able to dictate the functionally of each cabinet (the corner cabinets are beautiful, and huge, and deep…and did I mention the Lazy Susan?). That massive farmhouse sink is my favorite part of the entire design, and I think everything else works because it feeds off of that central focal point.

There are a lot more details of the new kitchen that these photos don’t highlight, but I’m hoping to save some of the reveal for once things are a bit more finished.

A Little More Good:

Remember that big trip to Europe my husband and I decided to take before IVF for our own mental health, to give us something to look forward to, and for the good of our relationship? Well, that is still happening…soon. Really soon. I felt a bit guilty planning this trip when I know how desperately we need money for IVF, but at some point I knew we just had to do this. We have been battling infertility for going on four years. I have had some of the lowest times of my entire life during our struggle. For years, nothing has mattered more to me than getting pregnant. I have had nothing to look forward to but a positive pregnancy test. I’m sure that at some point this behavior became unhealthy, but I didn’t know what to do to break the painful cycle.

Only a month or so after deciding to go on the trip, I knew it was the right decision, no matter the cost. Every day I had something to look forward to, that wasn’t contingent on my uterus. Every day I had something to plan. I searched for all the best deals on hotels, airfares, sleeper trains. I even booked a few tours. Did you know that you can go INSIDE Buckingham Palace if you happen to come in the late summer/early fall period when the Queen is away! I’m going INSIDE Buckingham Palace.

Things like this have really tickled me.

It sounds melodramatic to say that planning this trip reminded me of the importance of living life to the fullest, but it’s true. When going through hell for so many years, it can make a person question what life is really all about, and if there is even a point to any of it. I can say now, without a doubt, that I can now see a point in living. Even if that life is doomed to be forever childless.

Well, this novel of a post has gotten away from me. I guess that’s what happens when I stay away for months at a time.

I’ll try not to stay away so long the next time.

~Sam

All I Want For My Birthday…

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.”
~Robert Browning

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The only thing I want for a birthday gift is a positive pregnancy test; the only thing I want is a baby. The only thing I have wanted for some years now, is a baby.

I tried to make a bigger deal of this birthday than I really wanted to, for my friends and family who love me. I told Mark I didn’t care at all if we didn’t celebrate…but he wanted to celebrate me. I guess that’s romantic. And I get it.

Mark’s birthday is one of my favorite days of the year…because it’s the day he was born. That day (that came a few years before I was even conceived) is the day my other and much better half came into existence. I love that he wants to celebrate my life in the same way that I always want to celebrate his life.

I took four days off work (both my regular job and my freelance job), and though we didn’t actually do much, I’ll admit that the downtime was healthy.

We went to Universal Studios on Thursday to meander a bit at Harry Potter World. Traffic was terrible, and the lines were outrageous thanks to spring break, so we didn’t even go on any rides.

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We drank Butterbeer, ate some British food at the Leaky Cauldron, and got the most ridiculous milkshake either of us had even eaten at the new Chocolate Emporium at the way out of the park.

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We met my parents for a teppanyaki dinner at a nearby Japanese Steakhouse. This is easily one of my favorite types of food, but the best part is that the meal comes with a show! My husband is always endlessly excited by that part. 🙂

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On Friday, we finished ripping the tile out of our kitchen to expose the remainder of the terrazzo flooring (we refinished what was under the carpet when we closed on the house last March). We won’t buff, wax, or seal the floor until we install the new cabinets in a few months. Though it was hard work, and not the way I usually prefer to spend St. Patrick’s day, it was so awesome to finally check this huge project off the list.

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Saturday (my actual birthday) we had my parents, and few friends over (and one super cute baby) for a cookout. Since I’m not really drinking, we made fun nerdy beverages instead of booze. I made Butterbeer, and my friend Tina made some awesome pumpkin juice.

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Sunday, I hit the local Renaissance Faire for a few hours. It was a bit windy and dusty, but I always love a good Ren Faire. I picked up an awesome hand drawn map of Middle Earth for my office, got Mark a super cool clay shot glass (he was at work), and even bought one of the “Official” shirts.

Probably the best part was catching up with a friend who owns a jewelry company. She travels the country doing Renaissance Faires, and conventions, while making her own jewelry. She is amazing!

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After the faire, I came back home and got a bit of work done once my parents headed back home. I’m a bit bummed to have to go back to work so soon, but the distraction is probably for the best.

Tomorrow morning I have my ultrasound for our fourth IUI attempt. I wish I could muster up some of the optimism that I had last month, but it is failing me. I feel defeated. Actually, I already feel like this journey is over. At this point, I am just waiting on the last two rounds to finish so we can start IVF. I have zero hope left that IUI will ever be successful. I don’t know how we will manage IVF, but it’s the last hope I have at this point.

The positivity didn’t come all at once last time. Who knows, maybe I will find my way back to that peaceful place before the IUI.

~Sam

Christmas Traditions for Our Future Children

“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.”
~Margaret Thatcher

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My husband and I have a holiday tradition when it comes to Christmas dinner. This is a tradition that was slowly developed over time, and that manifested in a very organic way. This is not a tradition that either of us brought with us from our families.

For Our first Christmas together, I’m fairly certain that I made him a Christmas ham with all the trimmings. I made a homemade glaze and adorned the beautiful half ham with pineapple rings, cherries, cloves, and honey. It was a loving gesture I chose to make because of a tradition that I had brought with me from my family (I used to always make ham with my grandmother). It was also a lot of work for a young couple spending Christmas alone together. We were living in California at the time, and both of our families lived on the East Coast. We spent six (maybe seven) Christmases together mostly alone (away from family) while living as a young couple in Los Angeles.

Things got a bit simpler after that first one and we started making easy Christmas meals like Shrimp Alfredo. After all, it was usually just the two of us. Friends would drop by, but not for dinner, and not often for very long.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, though I think it might have been our first Christmas living together (just under four years into our relationship). I eventually made the connection that lasagna is both my husband’s (then boyfriend’s) favorite meal, and an easy dish to make in advance. In fact, I’ll argue that lasagna tastes better when it is made at least a day ahead of time.

I made him lasagna that Christmas and I don’t think he had ever been happier with a holiday meal.

Ever since then, with the exception of a Christmas where I was super super super sick, we have had lasagna for Christmas dinner. This is a tradition that we also decided early on we would continue when we had children, for one major reason. While Thanksgiving is a sort of “cooking holiday,” where people spend all day in the kitchen eating and snacking (and drinking) while the kids all play together, Mark and I both agree that Christmas is for family time. Once we (hopefully) have children, neither of us wants to be a slave to the stove. We want to open gifts together; spend the day playing with our kids and their new toys; reading them their new books; watching their new movies together as a family.

Lasagna is something that I can make a day or two ahead  of time, and leave in the fridge. On Christmas day, all I need to do is heat it up in the oven, serve it with some warm crusty bread and a salad. I’ll put maybe five minutes worth of effort into an impressive Holiday meal that would even be enough food to feed both of our entire extended families.

Though having that family of “someday children” has never before seemed to be such an impossible reality, our Christmas lasagna tradition will still carry on.

Especially this year.

Our last two years have been pretty much crap. 2015 and 2016 both brought equal amounts of infertility depression, even if I wasn’t officially diagnosed with endometriosis until January 2016…and officially officially diagnosed until my surgery two weeks ago.

So despite the fact that 2016 has seemed to be a pretty all around crummy year for most people…pretty much everywhere…including us…this year was also a really big year for my husband and I in one very momentous area.

We bought our first house together. In fact, we bought our first home, ever. Both first time home owners, and both people who never really thought we would own…ever.

So even though we partially bought this house for our “someday” family (which we still desperately hope to conceive), we did buy a home.

Our first home. 

Our first Christmas in our first home must include lasagna.

I started to make the sauce tonight. It is sitting in my crock pot on low at the moment (it will cook overnight). Just as you can’t make a lasagna you plan to eat on the same day, you cannot make same day sauce. 🙂

I am planing a post for later in the week about a fertility boosting meal plan, (it’s not a diet, so I won’t call it a diet) and my lasagna this year is going to mostly follow that plan. I’ll be back tomorrow to write a breakdown of my “clean” sauce recipe, and talk more about how I am hoping a Mediterranean diet will help our fertility chances for our next IUI attempt.

What are some of your holiday meal traditions? When did they start, and why?

~Sam