A fresh array of thoughts at the intersection of my to do list and society

Since we lost our beloved Robin Williams, I thought it was best to repost this again. RIP great talent.

The HodgePodge

Some people define a timeless classic as a movie like “It’s a wonderful life” with Jimmy Stewart, or a song like “All you need is love” by the Beatles. I agree these are classics, but if I live to see my grandchildren, I hope to tell them of another true classic, Robin Williams.

I, like most of my generation, was introduced to the comedian through “Happy Days,” and later “Mork and Mindy.” For you youngsters, Williams played an alien who was ignorant of the human race, but found ways to be funny as hell about our social and political imperfections. His comedic timing was impeccable, but also the fastest many had ever seen before. He was the first person I really understood to be a comedian, other than Richard Pryor whom my dad adored. Like Pryor, Williams made fun of societal issues, human stupidity and most importantly, himself.

What I…

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Posted on Mile High Mamas Sept. 5:  http://www.milehighmamas.com/?p=34204 

A few weeks after the failed IVF attempt, it was time to prepare for round two. After we got Nancy home from rehab, we agreed we needed a family vacation before we tried again. We hadn’t been to Florida in a few years so we decided it was time to head south and visit family and friends. The vacation also included a full day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, a day at Sea World and a trip to the beach. We were able to put our infertility struggles behind us and relish in the present moment, which is what we needed to do for ourselves and Maya. It’s a good thing we did or we would have missed out on some great memories, like watching Maya give Peter Pan directions to her house.

After a week of fun, it was time to head home to Denver. We would be home in time for Memorial Day and I was looking forward to the long weekend. As the plane took off, I started to feel a little queasy. I didn’t think much of it because I hadn’t flown in a while and thought I was just out of practice. After we got home, I still couldn’t shake the feeling and began to think I had caught a stomach bug. After all, we just spent a week using public restrooms, touching theme park handlebars and exposing ourselves to airplane germs. A stomach bug makes sense, right?

On Memorial Day, I still felt nauseous and a crazy thought came to me. Maybe I was pregnant. Of course, my next thought was, there’s no way I could be pregnant.Despite my skepticism, I went ahead and took a pregnancy test. I didn’t do my usual routine of staring over the test during the three to five minutes it takes for the result to show up. I didn’t even tell Barry I was taking a test like I normally do. No need for all of that, this was just a precaution.

I went back into the bathroom to check the test and found out why people say that Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor. It was positive. Instantly, I went into Type-A mode and took another test because it couldn’t be right. I didn’t plan for this timing and wasn’t in the midst of a methodical IVF process so I couldn’t be pregnant now. For the second test, I put my glasses on and stared at the test to, you know, control the outcome. The result again was positive. I began to shake all over and couldn’t stop staring at those sticks. Barry came up the stairs a few minutes later and I showed him the tests. He stared at them, scratched his head in silence and stared at them again. We then looked at each other as if to say, “What the F*#&! How did that happen?” We knew how it happened, but how could it happen when I hadn’t had a cycle yet?

I called Conceptions Tuesday morning and made an appointment for the next day. I now had a day to wait and see if this pregnancy was viable and by the afternoon, my excitement turned into paralyzing fear. I was so afraid that we would receive bad news that I began to think of ways to get out of the appointment. I didn’t want to see the nurses’ faces as I walked through the halls and hung my head in shame like before. I didn’t want to see an ultrasound that showed no embryo in my uterus and have to hear the tech say, “I’m so sorry.” I couldn’t handle all of that again.

Wednesday morning finally arrived, and I learned that my worst fears would not come true after all. The embryo was exactly where it needed to be and my HCG levels were fantastic. After two long, stressful years, we finally had a viable pregnancy. We still had a long way to go, but this is was a giant first step. Over the next several weeks, we learned the heartbeat was normal, the Down syndrome test was negative and my continued upchuck reflexes were a very good sign, medically-speaking. I was finally breathing a little easier around 14 weeks and we quietly began to tell family and friends. We finally told Maya as well, who’s very excited to be a big sister.

Our next big step is to find out if we’re having a boy or a girl. Some days I’m still in disbelief that I’m actually pregnant and expecting a new addition to our family in early January 2013. Other days, I’m terrified that something will go wrong. Whatever the day, I keep reminding myself of that important lesson I learned earlier in the year – to have faith that things are going the way they should. If I don’t, I will miss out on this amazing experience. Like our Florida trip, these are memories I don’t want to miss out on.

 

 

 

 

Posted on Mile High Mamas, August 1:  http://www.milehighmamas.com/2012/08/01/embracing-the-chaos-of-ivf-part-4-finding-positive-ways-to-cope/

Our first IVF attempt failed and it was now time to prepare for our second attempt. Before that happened, I had to mentally prepare myself to try again. As a self-proclaimed control freak and non-practicing Catholic, I knew it would not be easy for me to just have faith that things would work out as they should. I needed to be strong enough to handle what was to come – baby or no baby – and I couldn’t do it alone and couldn’t expect my family to manage my stress either.

After the miscarriage last spring, I searched for ways to manage the stress in positive ways as I knew infertility treatments would be an emotional rollercoaster for my family and me. I searched for alternative methods instead the typical ones like psychotherapy, prescription medications and lots of alcohol. I felt I would have to take plenty of medications while trying to get pregnant that I didn’t want to add more to the mix. I also wanted to find options that didn’t break the bank either.

Here are three methods that have helped me manage all of the ups and downs of my infertility journey:

Meditation – I’ve tried meditation many times, starting back in high school when I first learned about color therapy meditation in a stress management class. After that, I would pick it up again here and there, but never made it a daily practice until last spring. At that time, I was working closely with GG Johnston, a dear friend and amazing life coach who helps people figure out how to be the most authentic person they can be both personally and professionally. I could go on and on about GG and her ability to help others, but I only have 800 words for this post. She taught me new techniques and how the power of sitting silently can help you find your true self. I now meditate daily and am amazed at how much it helped me get through our failed IVF attempt. It was through meditation that I could really visualize my family as just Barry, Maya and me, and be OK with it. If you’re interested in trying meditation, check out The Chopra Center’s 21-day Meditation Challenge. It’s free and includes guided meditations to help you learn the practice without feeling overwhelmed.

Biofeedback – There are many scientific definitions of biofeedback, also known as quantum biofeedback, but let me try and simplify it. Basically, you get hooked up to a FDA-approved machine on your head, ankles and wrists, and it measures a variety of activities in your body, including stress level, heart rate, muscle activity and breathing. A biofeedback practitioner, like Kellie Smith, then reads these activities and tells the machine to even out any levels that are out-of-sync. It’s kind of like your body is a printer and biofeedback helps to recalibrate any areas that need to be adjusted. You also can work with your practitioner to send your brain positive, affirming messages like intentions via the machine to help you reduce stress. I know this sounds like something you’d read in a science fiction book, but I promise it works. Plus, Kellie is one of the most positive, enlightening people you’ll ever meet and she makes getting through the bad times a little easier.

AcupunctureAcupuncture, the ancient Chinese technique of placing thin needles into the body to identify and release stress, has been proven to help women with infertility issues for decades. In addition to helping with overall stress reduction, studies have shown it helps to increase blood flow throughout the body as well as increase the thickness of the uterine lining. There are many great acupuncturists in Denver, but I highly recommend finding someone who specializes in infertility acupuncture treatments if you are trying to get pregnant. For instance, Heidi Alexander in Centennial understands how infertility can affect a woman both emotionally and physically, and she knows the right techniques to ensure your session goes well. She also knows the best techniques to use during the IVF embryo (egg) transfer process. This was a plus for me because I felt like I would have an extra cheerleader with me at that critical moment when the time came. Another plus is that acupuncture is sometimes covered by insurance so it’s a nice alternative if money is an issue.

So, am I completely healed from the IVF failure? No, but I’m getting there. Will doing these techniques guarantee that I will get pregnant? No. Will these work for everyone? I don’t know. What I do know is that I wouldn’t be able to cope and share my story without the expertise and support of GG, Kellie and Heidi. No matter your journey, I hope you find at least one of these options helpful for you.

#theatershooting

Today, I choose to listen and not to speak,
Peace, love and hope I solely wish to seek.
I’m not a victim, law enforcement or loved one,
So my voice is mute, my opinion is none.
 
I don’t know why we lost these souls,
How could this make someone whole?
I can’t change the past, I can’t fix today,
But I can help important voices have their say.
 
I will listen to law enforcement, to loved ones,
To hospitals and non-profits getting the job done.
I will re-tweet their information, re-post their news,
I will not share mine or other peoples’ views.
 
Tomorrow I will speak; my anger I will share,
But today, I will only give all the love I can spare. 

What do you think of the new Yahoo! CEO’s statement that she’ll work through her maternity leave? Good/bad for women? http://ow.ly/cj2xd

Hey gang. Part 3 of my #infertility story is now posted via @milehighmamas. Ain’t gonna lie, this one stung a bit: ow.ly/caEIi

(Originally posted on Mile High Mamas on July 11, 2012 – http://www.milehighmamas.com/2012/07/11/embracing-the-chaos-of-ivf-part-3-learning-to-have-a-little-faith/) 

When I got home from the PRSA Western District Conference that Monday night, my husband Barry was awake in the den and the door to my mother-in-law’s apartment downstairs was still open. Usually, her door is shut by this time of night, but since Barry was still awake I didn’t think anything of it. I went upstairs and got ready for bed. Within seconds, my smile vanished as I heard Barry yell my name. I ran downstairs to find out what was wrong, but couldn’t find Barry. I heard my name again and quickly realized it was coming from Nancy’s place. As I turned the corner of her stairs, I saw Barry standing over Nancy who was immobile on the floor.

She explained that she tripped over her magazine rack and fell on her hip. Watching her lay there in pain while we waited for the ambulance was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced. It was like staring at my own mortality. Even though my dad died when he was fairly young, his rapid deterioration from cancer seemed so rare to me that it didn’t put mortality in the forefront. But, this was different. This was an accident that could happen to anyone, at anytime.

In typical fashion, I remained positive while Nancy was in the hospital. “You’ll be out of here before you know it,” I kept saying. “You bounced right back after knee surgery last year, you’ll bounce back from this hip surgery too.”

Meanwhile, I didn’t think twice about my IVF process. Everything was moving along like clockwork, even though my stomach looked like squirrels were using it for archery practice. Plus, everything evens out in the end, right? We had the bad with Nancy’s fall so clearly the IVF was going to work.

I really hate it when I’m wrong, and I was wrong about the IVF. You see, in order for Conceptions to proceed with the process, I needed to grow at least four follicles at 18 milliliters. When I went for my first ultrasound check I learned that my ovaries looked like a bar at 4 a.m., completely empty with only a few drunks passed out on the bar. The second ultrasound showed promise with more follicles, but they needed to grow a lot more within the next few days in order to move forward. I tried to stay positive even when the nurses to prepared me for the worst. At the third ultrasound I got the reality check I needed. I never got four follicles at 18 milliliters, just that one. I walked out of the office with my head down and sunglasses over my eyes so no one could see my tears.

For the first time since the first ectopic back in September 2010, I started to realize that this is a game I may never win. I remember watching an episode of Oprah’s Master Class featuring professional NBA player Grant Hill around this time. He talked about how he blamed himself for his ankle injuries that led to his MRSA infection and how he felt like he had let everyone down. I sobbed out loud listening to him because I knew exactly how he felt. I blamed myself too. I blamed myself for the pregnancy losses. I blamed myself for not growing enough follicles. I blamed myself for Nancy falling. I blamed myself for everything.

We knew adoption was an option, but were so mentally exhausted by this time that we didn’t think we had it in us to go down that path. So, I started to prepare myself for the reality that we might not have another child. While I was heartbroken, I knew I had to find some way to come to terms with this. I had to learn to have faith that this may be the best path for my family and me. This was a hard lesson, but I was lucky enough to have friends and loved ones who helped me understand this.

After our follow-up appointment with Dr. Swanson, we decided to try IVF one more time. We agreed to forego the birth control pills in hopes it would eliminate the empty bar effect in my ovaries. Even though it felt as if our IVF journey was ending faster than I hoped, I had learned to have a little faith in what was to come. I started to find comfort in knowing that no matter what, Barry, Maya and I are a family and will always be a family. Letting go of a dream is hard, but appreciating what you have now can warm your heart in ways you never imagined.

Did you have to let go of a dream? How did you do it and what life lesson did you learn from letting go?