thank you card

Excessive Peace

In the book of Philippians, it mentions a “peace that surpasses all understanding…” It’s in the context of praying to God as an alternative to worrying about things. This is in the even larger context of being thankful and full of joy in the Lord.

I am often a worrier. In a less negative connotation, I like to plan ahead and be prepared. This is to avoid unnecessary surprises, which can cause me anxiety. I am great at thinking ahead and preparing for the worst.

But all the worrying and planning in the world doesn’t always change things – it simply gives us this false sense that we are in control when we’re not.

In a recent post, I described how my husband and I have been trying unsuccessfully to have a second child for about a year and a half. At the time of writing it, I felt very hopeless, sad, and even somewhat angry. Achieving pregnancy consumed my thoughts a lot of the time.

Since writing it, we got back some test results that were not ideal. Basically what they revealed was that any quick or “easy” fixes (like surgery to correct a problem, for example) were off the table. Our doctor offered us one last option before referring us to try IVF/IUI – but to me, it felt like a last-ditch effort.

After that appointment, I felt like the answer from God as to whether I would ever get pregnant again was a resounding, “no.” And yes, I know logically that there is still a chance, and we’re still trying this last option, but my mind literally began to process it as if it would never happen. I felt myself for the next few days beginning to go through the process of grieving. It was surprising because my husband and I haven’t totally given up yet, but it’s like my mind and body decided it was time to move on. Maybe this was my body’s way of trying to protect myself.

I didn’t fight what my body wanted to do, I just tried to be mindful of my feelings. For a week or two, it was emotional as I processed the fact that I probably wouldn’t have any more children. But what was even more surprising, was the day when it suddenly didn’t feel that hard anymore.

I found myself feeling more and more content with my life. I started paying more attention to Calvin and found myself becoming more appreciative of everything he has added to our lives. I just began to feel really blessed to be a family of 3 – period, full stop.

It felt like the grief was just gone, as was the painful obsession of longing to be pregnant again. (That’s not to say we wouldn’t be thrilled if I did get pregnant, but that intense pain seemed to be gone.)

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family picture Marvel costumes

Behind the Scenes: Easy DIY Marvel Photoshoot 2021

On Sunday my family and I did a makeshift photoshoot in downtown Abilene in our Halloween costumes. I say makeshift because we used only our Google Pixel 4a phones as cameras – and the photographers were myself, my husband, and my 5-year-old son (for a few pictures!) All that to say we are NOT professionals!

But our photos turned out amazing! I couldn’t believe how awesome they looked – I even had a few people ask who we hired to take our pictures! – so I thought I’d go into a bit more detail of how we got some of the shots.

First off, COSTUMES!

We are not professional cosplayers – I bought the Spiderman and Captain American costume off of Amazon. I spent about $35 for the Spiderman costume and $75 for the Captain America costume. My costume did not come with a shield, so I found a cheap plastic kid’s version for about $20 (it’s only about 12 inches in diameter). Dean used a suit and tie he already had for his Loki variant costume, but ended up buying a green vest and the Loki horns, which together were about $50. I made his “Loki for President” button by finding an image online and then using a 2″ button maker in the ACU Library Maker Lab. (Buttons are 5 for $1).

I tried to find some black boots to go with my costume at Goodwill, but the ones I found ended up being too big around my calves, so I opted to just wear black sneakers. You’ll notice Calvin is also wearing his usual Baby Shark tennis shoes in the shots. We could have spent more money and ordered shoes that looked better, but we decided it was good enough!

Overall we spent close to $200 on costumes. Since this was our only expense for this photoshoot, we decided this was a reasonable amount.

Next, CAMERAS!

Dean and I both have Google Pixel phones. Part of why we got them was for the quality of photos they can take. Plus, they have a ton of storage space, so you can take tons of photos until you get exactly the right shot. We also loved using the “portrait mode” to get some great shots – this is a pretty standard feature for most phones.

If you have a smart phone that has come out in the last few years, chances are it will be good enough to get some great pics!

TIME AND LOCATION

We knew we wanted to take photos either at dusk or dawn, since the lighting is the best at those times – and we all promised we would wake up early on Sunday morning to be ready to leave at 7:30am. (Sunrise was around 7:55am CDT.) We also were hoping that downtown would be pretty empty, and it totally was! Now depending on where you live, you may not get lucky to have an entire downtown scene to yourself (perks of living in a small-ish town!) It was also cooler weather, about 50 degrees, so it was a little colder than most would find comfortable (at least here in west Texas) which helped make sure people were staying inside.

I personally LOVE downtown Abilene. And for a Marvel superhero photoshoot, it was a perfect venue for pictures! There were plenty of alleys and brick buildings that ended up being great backgrounds in our photos!

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our family

Secondary Infertility: Our Story of Unsuccessfully Trying for Baby #2

17 cycles.

My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for 17 consecutive cycles.

Really we have tried for longer than that – back in the summer of 2019, when my son Calvin had just turned 3, we tried a few times to get pregnant, but decided to stop because I ended up needing foot surgery. (Calvin is now 5 years old.)

About 7 months ago (March 3, 2021), I told my doctor at my annual gynecologist appointment that I was concerned about possible fertility issues. Literally yesterday (September 21, 2021 as of writing this) we had an appointment with a men’s fertility specialist, who wants to run more tests, and then possibly refer us to a different fertility specialist (for me) if we end up needing to pursue treatments like IUI or IVF. We were warned that it will most likely take between *6-12 months to get in to see this particular specialist.

At that point, it will be somewhere between 2 and 2.5 years that we will have been trying to have a baby, and we will only just be going to our initial appointment with the last specialist we need to see.

My advice for anyone who thinks they may be having fertility issues: don’t wait any longer than you have to before getting some tests done – you can always cancel the tests/appointments if you end up getting pregnant. I had no idea it could be this long of a process just to actually get the problem narrowed down and get in to the doctors I need to see. I’m not sure if that’s because there is a shortage of fertility specialists (there are none in Abilene) or if fertility problems are becoming more common, but it’s definitely been discouraging to think that we might not even be able to begin to pursue some of these treatments until Fall of 2022 (when I will be close to 36 years old.)

Honestly, I’m not totally sure if I really want to pursue treatments like IUI or IVF. Secondary infertility is a weird position to be in. If we had no children, I think perhaps I would want to try it. But we do have one, and when I think about the costs and (probably low) success rates associated with these kinds of invasive treatments, I’m just not sure it will be the right choice for us.

I feel like a lot of people don’t know how to respond when I tell them we are having trouble having a second child. Sometimes I get answers like, “at least you have one kid!” I don’t recommend saying this to anyone who is trying to get pregnant with their second. I’m very thankful we have Calvin and that we got pregnant so quickly with him. But it’s totally okay and valid for me to want a bigger family. That doesn’t make me a selfish person. I can be thankful and longing for more at the same time.

The most helpful and supportive things people have said to me, I’ve listed below:

  • “We are praying for you every day.”
  • “That is so heartbreaking to go through.”
  • “How did your appointment go? Do you want to talk about it?”
  • “Calvin is a great kid.”
  • “You’re a good mom.”

I put those last two in there because it’s nice to hear those things instead of, “when are you going to give Calvin a sibling?” or “do you guys think you’ll have any more kids?” These questions make me feel like others view my family as incomplete, or not good enough.

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