Our Infertility Journey: Part Three

Infertility impacts approximately 15% of couples in America and is a result of abnormal functioning of the male or female reproductive systems. Because I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), I live with one of the most common causes of infertility in women.

To be clear, my goal with these posts is to be open. Over the past year and a half I've done a lot of searching to find experiences and stories from women living with PCOS and/or going through fertility treatments, and so far I haven't come up with much. Because I want to hear about what other women are experiencing, I am sure that others out there feel the same. While I know this is my story, I hope that by sharing it openly I will help someone else through whatever they are experiencing. 

  We celebrated our second wedding anniversary in October with a drive to our wedding venue... and starting appointments and treatments with a new fertility specialist in Pennsylvania! 

We celebrated our second wedding anniversary in October with a drive to our wedding venue... and starting appointments and treatments with a new fertility specialist in Pennsylvania! 

It's been a while since my last infertility update, but a number of you have reached out to see how we are doing and where we are in the process, so I felt like an update was in order!

If you remember from my last post, our doctor in Florida had encouraged us to find a fertility specialist after we moved and start exploring the process of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). We had a busy late summer/early fall with moving and getting settled in Pennsylvania, so I waited a bit to schedule this appointment. What's nice about where we live now is that we have significantly more options when it comes to doctors. With close proximity to Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York City, it took a bit of time to research and make our choice! We ended up choosing a doctor who works within the Penn University Hospital system. She specializes in treating patients with PCOS, patients who have experienced pregnancy loss and has studied the impacts of being overweight and trying to conceive - a trifecta of things that really described me and our situation! 

We scheduled our first appointment in October and were immediately so happy with our choice. Our doctor listened to our experiences in Florida and offered a couple of options for us to consider. We had to have additional blood work, refresh some testing, and have some new tests administered (including a hysterosalpingogram) to round out both our medical histories, but once we did we would be set for any treatment path we wanted to choose. 

After all the testing was complete, we had our follow up appointment to learn of the results and determine our plan of action. Going into this appointment, Kurt and I were expecting IVF to be the recommended course of treatment based on what our doctor in Florida had said. But, we weren't given that as our only option! Because of our test results, I actually tested out for PCOS, meaning that the symptoms I once had were not present anymore. While some PCOS effects would linger and still make getting pregnant a bit more difficult, I didn't need to treat PCOS and infertility at the same time anymore. 

We also learned that my AMH is very high, my fallopian tubes are open and my uterus is the right shape and size to support pregnancy, and there was nothing out of the ordinary in any of Kurt's results either. All of this allowed us to choose to continue with additional rounds of Clomid! The one change we decided to make was to add a trigger shot to tell my body when to release the egg when the time was right in my cycle. 

Since that appointment, we have done three rounds of Clomid and started a fourth at the beginning of this month. All of them so far have resulted in great follicle development and a great uterine lining, so my body is responding very well to this treatment right now. I had a follow up appointment with our doctor yesterday to talk about how long we can continue this treatment option for and was really happy with her recommendations. We can have up to five more rounds of Clomid before we would need to consider moving to IVF. 

In these rounds of Clomid we can also explore adding Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), but because our fertility issues are caused by my inability to ovulate regularly, it isn't something we have to try if we don't want to. IUI is more typically used for patients with "unexplained" infertility, which is not what we have. If we were to choose to try IUI that would be the point where treatment costs became out of pocket costs. Anything that is marked as "infertility treatment" is not covered by my health insurance, so it's absolutely a big factor to consider as we move through these next few months. 

We are still working to make some changes to our diet and health choices. Any weight loss I'm able to achieve could help increase our chances of Clomid working, so it's a focus for the spring! We are also looking for ways to stay positive and talk about what's going on with friends, family and, in some cases, trained professionals as well. There are so many emotions that come along with fertility treatments that it's sometimes hard to manage. But knowing that we have a support network in place who listens and is trying to understand our current course of action is very helpful. 

If you're thinking and praying for us, we are so grateful! 

My 2018 Goals

Is it too late to say Happy New Year? I have a feeling that it is, but I'm going to say it anyway - Happy New Year, friends!

For two years now I have used PowerSheets to set my annual goals. When I ordered my yearly goal planner last fall, I felt really energized. But as the end of the year approached and then January 1 came and went, my energy waned and I struggled to jump into the prep work. Even though I have seen the positive impact of using this tool for two years now, I didn't really have the drive to begin the process. It felt cumbersome and tiring, not exactly how I thought goal setting should make me feel! 

When I did begin the prep work, I found myself frustrated at the time it was taking. "Goal setting isn't that hard," I thought to myself. "Why can't I just get to the goals?"

It took me a couple of weeks, but I eventually became comfortable with struggling through the prep work. After a somewhat tumultuous 2017 I just wasn't confident in what I was hoping to achieve in 2018 and I needed that time to figure things out. To be honest, I'm still not entirely confident in the goals I've identified thus far. But I know that I can always come back to the prep work and change these goals as I need to - nothing is set in stone in this process! 

In 2018 I'm going to focus on living a life with more focus on STRENGTH. Building a stronger body, stronger relationships, stronger finances, stronger faith, a stronger mind, and strengthened confidence. 

With this in mind, these are the six goals I've identified for this year! 

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Move and strengthen my body. In 2018 I want to focus on building my strength and making healthier choices. 

Why: Because it's time for a change - medically and mentally. 
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: I will walk and bicycle 218 miles this year. I will swim laps 218 times this year. I will have more energy on a daily basis. I will continue to learn what a true portion size looks like and fill my body with wholesome and good foods. I will feel less self-conscious about my body and more confident in who I am. I will enjoy meals more by taking time to prepare them together with Kurt. 
How I will feel at the end of 2018 having made progress on this goal: Happier about what my outward appearance says about who I am. 

Prioritize and strengthen my relationships. In 2018 I want to focus on prioritizing and building more honest, intimate, and supportive relationships.

Why: Because we were meant to live in community, not alone!
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: I will see my family more regularly now that I'm in a location that allows it. I will engage more fully in the PowerSheets online community. I will have regular call and video chat dates with friends who don't live near me. I will schedule trips to visit friends I haven't seen in a while. I will have a stronger support network. 
How I will feel at the end of 2018 having made progress on this goal: Secure in knowing that my relationships will continue to strengthen over time. 

Focus and strengthen our finances. In 2018 I want to continue the progress made in 2017 in learning how to use a budget and being more conscious about my spending habits. 

Why: Because this area is what is causing me the most stress in my life right now. 
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: We will have more saved in our emergency fund. We will have less credit card debt. I will experience less impulses to purchase clothes when I have a closet that is already full. We will be able to plan more for our future and feel less anxious about how we will make our big dreams happen. 
How I will feel at the end of 2018 having made progress on this goal: More secure and less anxious about our future. 

Encourage and strengthen my faith. In 2018 I want to let go of feeling I have to hide my belief in God. 

Why: Because I believe God is there for me and created me for a purpose. 
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: I will be more grateful in my daily life. I will be more open in talking about my beliefs. I will set time in my routine each day for reflection and prayer. We will find a church community that reflects our values and beliefs, and supports us in our lives. 
How I will feel at the end of 2018 having made progress on this goal: More confident, fulfilled and open about my faith in God. 

Challenge and strengthen my mind. In 2018 I want to learn new skills and continue to build and expand my hobbies. 

Why: Because learning new things is an important part of building a fulfilling life. 
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal: I will have more energy each day because of time built in for creative challenges. I will be able to share with others more about what interests and excites me. I will not feel bad ending my work day and beginning other projects when 4:30pm comes each day. I will have a new hobby I love to participate in on a regular basis. 
How I will feel at the end of 2018 having made progress on this goal: More well-rounded as an individual. 

Increase and strengthen my confidence. In 2018 I want to focus on being more honest, open and forthcoming, and spend less time on the things that don't help me live a life rooted in subjective perfection. 

Why: Because I have a lot of things to be proud of and celebrate!
How I will know if I'm successful on this goal:  I will expand the "Becoming Confident" and "Giving with Meaning" series. I will share more openly about my infertility journey. I will share things from a place of authenticity. I will feel confident that those who are reading will find something that positively impacts them. 
How I will feel at the end of 2018 having made progress on this goal: Further along in my goal of living a life focused on subjective perfection. 

If you followed along with my 2017 goal journey, you might see some similarities between these six goals and some of what I focused on last year. When I think about these recurring themes, I see how they align with some of my personal values and I start to feel energized again about this process. I am grateful for the steps that I took in 2017, and with my new goals, I am excited to continue working toward achieving what matters most in my life! 

Friends, I'm wishing for you the best rest of February and the best 2018. I'll be sending you encouragement every step of the way! 

I'd love to know - what are some of your goals for 2018? What are the tools and tricks you use to keep yourself focused and accountable for them each day? How can I help you in making 2018 one of your best years ever? Share your thoughts in the comments! 

giving with meaning: 2017 holiday gift guide

Finding meaningful gifts is something I truly love to do. However, budgets, timing, and distance often impact how I celebrate those I love. In this series I share how I've kept each of those things in mind as I assemble meaningful gifts for my friends and family. You can read more posts from the Giving with Meaning series here!

When it comes to giving gifts at the holidays, I like to spend a lot of time planning and browsing before I do any spending. That way I can limit impulse purchases, stick to my budget, and find unique and meaningful gifts for my friends and family. 

As I think about gifts for my friends and family during the holidays, there are a couple of things I consider: 

  • What have been the high or low points of their past year? 
  • What is something that they've talked about wanting or needing?
  • What does their day-to-day look like? 

Each of these questions helps me narrow down my choices and personalize each gift I'm planning to give so that it is meaningful and thoughtful. Thinking about gift-giving in this way, especially during a season that can sometimes be draining or distracting, helps me say to someone, "I know and care for you, and I pay attention to what you say and do. In my life, you matter!"

So, with that in mind, I'm excited to share the 2017 Giving with Meaning: Holiday Gift Guide! This guide is full of some of my favorite things, and I hope it helps inspire you in your own shopping! 

For someone who loves to travel...

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I bought this crossbody bag from Madewell for myself before our trip to London and Paris at the beginning of this year. After almost a year of use, it's become my absolute favorite bag!

The strap can be adjusted to different lengths, making it easy to use as both a crossbody and a shoulder bag. The zip top makes it easy to keep important items safe, and the overall size isn't large enough that it gets too heavy to carry. For your friend who loves to travel, this bag would be a beautiful gift! 

For someone who is working on their green thumb...


Ever since I started living on my own, I've struggled to keep plants alive. I am constantly watering too much or not watering enough - that balance continues to eludes me! That's why I love these little knitted cactus plants from the You Me Serendipity Knit Shop - they will be ever green! 

Perfect on a window sill, book shelf or a desktop, these little knitted cactus plants are a great way to help encourage your friend who is still working on their green thumb. 

For someone who wants to strengthen their faith...

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I have been following Valerie Woerner from Val Marie Papers on Instagram for the better part of a year. She is a beautiful writer and doesn't hesitate to showcase her real life, which on a platform that sometimes feels like it showcases pretty over realistic is so refreshing! Following her has also given me more confidence as I've worked toward one of my 2017 goals to have less fear in living a faith-driven life. 

Something that I've added to my own Christmas wish list this year is one of her prayer journals. Val Marie Paper journals seem more straightforward and simple compared to other prayer journals that I've looked at. And with a variety of versions to choose from, there is an option for everyone on your list! 

For someone who had a baby last year...


A year later and now all my friends who had babies last year are celebrating first birthdays! I've thought a lot about gifts that will celebrate their first year of motherhood, and something that I think could be so meaningful is a map from The Night Sky.

These 18" x 24" prints feature a unique snapshot of the night sky from an important date. They would be beautiful in a nursery or as a part of a gallery wall. And because each is different based on the date and location selected, they could become a tradition continued for each child!

For someone who just bought a new home...

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While there are a lot of things we've done in our new home, finding a warm way to welcome guests was something I was especially excited about. Welcome mats are a beautiful and efficient way to give a hint about what guests will see when they enter your home! I prefer thick coir mats which are made with coconut husk fibers, making them durable season after season. 

I love this one from Magnolia, and this one from Target. Or, make your own using this DIY from Chris Loves Julia! With changing options for the changing seasons, it is a fun way to bring a bit of personality to a front porch or entry! 

For someone who seems to have everything...


We all have that one friend who seems to have everything. Enter Greetabl! I included this on last year's gift guide, and after sending a few of these little boxes this past year I love how these simple gifts are a great way to send a surprise pick-me-up!

The concept is genius - pick the box design, pick the little item to be placed inside, write your message and it is sent off to your most unsuspecting friend. These cute socks would be perfect for encouraging a friend preparing for a big event! 

I hope this Giving with Meaning: Holiday Gift Guide helps you navigate this gift-giving season! I'd love to know - how do you approach your own gift-giving at the holidays? What are some of the most meaningful gifts you've received? Share your thoughts in the comments! 

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