Thursday, November 21, 2013

Conquering the Holidays as an Interfaith Couple

For the first and last time in our lifetime, Hanukkah will begin on Thanksgiving this year.  The term Thanksgivukkah was quickly coined and has spread like wildfire.  I admit, I even bought a T-shirt to wear next week.  How can you deny how neat this is?  This article in the Chicago Tribune describes the positives and negatives of it perfectly:
It's a once-in-a-lifetime event that brings together two holidays, one sacred and one secular; two culinary traditions, both with a signature potato dish; and two guest lists, each with an unimpeachable claim to space at your dining room table.
This year we are spending Thanksgiving with my family, yet I don't foresee Thursday's dinner being any different than usual.   I, like most, absolutely love the idea on Thanksgivukkah. On the other hand, I don't want to take away from the sacred meanings of Hanukkah and the Thankfulness of Thanksgiving.  I do think that this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence is the perfect opportunity to have people outside of the Jewish faith over for Thanksgiving dinner.  Why not add a few Hanukkah traditions to your Thanksgiving dinner?  What better time to intertwine the two and teach them a few things about our faith?

In our house, this occurrence has brought up an entirely different issue. I am more than ready to decorate for Hanukkah, but we have an agreement that no Christmas decorations go up before Thanksgiving.  To make life easier, and not negate either religion, we try to both be supportive and make sure that neither religion is "left in the wind" or "overshadows" the other.

So will I decorate this weekend for Hanukkah and put up Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving?  I have no idea.  I want to be decorated for Hanukkah, even this week it feels weird that my Menorah and other decorations are still boxed up. On the other hand, all December decorations are stored together so I'll have to unpack the Christmas decorations at the same time.  Some Hanukkah decorations even end up on the Christmas tree.

I've also been thinking a lot about how we will celebrate once we have children. I know it will mostly be learning & deciding as we go, although we have already decided some of the major issues.

Do I have any interfaith fans out there? How are you handling the calendar this year?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Office Pinspiration

After months of purusing Pinterest and Ikea, I think we have finally decided on our office layout/makeover.

In there we currently have

  • two Ikea bookshelves, 
  • a Walmart bookcase, 
  • wire storage cubes, 
  • file cabinet,
  • My wedding dress
  • My PR overflow stock
  • lots of books/files
  • My PR party/team supplies
  • 4.5 yrs worth of PR "stuff"
  • and an Ikea Expedite with Desk extension we bought off of Craigslist 2 years ago (think two columns of the size below). 

The office is 10'4" square and all of the furniture is black.  I hate it, I wish I could replace it all with white furniture, but my checkbook says we aren't rich so it will just be a mix-n-match situation.

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My original plan was something like the above photo, but when Corey changed jobs he also added the need to fit him into the office, further complicating my plans.

Now I am leaning more towards something like this
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During my last trip through Woodbridge I stopped at Ikea for some organization items and window shopped the desks. I fell in love with this "Malm dressing table":


At Ikea they actually had it set up as a desk, it wasn't until I went to search for it online that I realized it was a dressing table.

Thinking of ending up with something kind of like this:

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I moved a lot of our books and photoalbums to the Expedite we have in the guest room, which cleared up lots of room for my PR stuff that was living on the floor.  Once I had a clear idea that we wouldn't need too much more storage, I played around with the dimensions and came up with two possible setups.  Keep in mind we will have two printers, one on a printer stand (love the drawers of this for paper etc) and one on Corey's desk (his work printer is a portable small one).

Update: 2nd floor plan with captions:

We are leaning towards the bottom one, feel like it is a lot more open. All of that furniture is existing except for the two desks and printer stand.

I have always loved this rug too, so may put it in the middle, great place for the pets to sleep while we are in there (they don't use pet beds).  Also hoping it will help tie together the black and white furniture. 


Might add some color with curtains like this:
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So this is what we are planning for now, hopefully sometime early next year.  Until then Corey gets the Dining table--which drives us both nuts.

What do you think? Any suggestions? It is tough because we need a lot of storage but want it to feel open.  I am also contemplating selling the Expedite with Desk, if we get the printer stand with all the drawers I think we could make it work.  The bottom half of it is all crafting supplies which could go in the closet and the top half is files and different types of paper (I have an office supply addiction).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Too early to shop?

Is it bad-luck to buy baby clothes before you are pregnant?
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Is it kinda like buying a wedding dress before you are engaged? I have a friend who did and it has always totally creeped me out (sorry girlie but it is just weird).  Is this really the same thing?

Am I counting my eggs before I even have any? Or am I just buying an egg carton knowing one day I'll have eggs.

Corey says wait, but I mean how adorable and perfect is this one?
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I can't decide, so for the meantime I have not bought anything but I have my eye on several adorable ones that will be perfect when we get pregnant (see still trying to stay positive that we will get pregnant sooner rather than later).  For now, I just stare at them on Pinterest every so often.
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Trying so hard to stay positive and not lose faith.  Trying....

What do you all think? How early is too early? If you have kids, when did you start buying clothes and other items? Would love to hear some feedback!

Monday, November 11, 2013

@$%&!?&%$ You Monthly Visitor!

I had such high hopes for this month, I just "felt" pregnant.  My Hormones were going crazy and I thought I just knew.

Now I am trying to get the courage to call my doctor to schedule my official negative test so I start round 2 of Letrozole. I have a strong feeling I am going to cry but I have to call during lunch.  UUUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHH! One day this will all be worth it but right now I can't decide if I am pissed or just want to break down.  This would have been the most amazing Hanukkah present ever.  I don't know what I did to deserve all of this pain.

Monday, November 4, 2013

And now the waiting begins

I am feeling extremely good about this month, from little signs my body gave me to what the doctor saw during my Transvaginal Ultrasound. We are now in what the IF community calls the 2ww or two week wait.  By the way, is not actually 2 weeks, since I am so irregular we may have to wait longer to find out either way.
Side note:  I found this amazing blog the other day that has a pretty comprehensive list of all the abbreviations used in the IF world.  When I first joined some of the online support groups, I was Googling every other world and abbreviation. 
Tomorrow I am headed to a local Fertility workshop spearheaded by one of the women in my Resolve support group. I am pretty excited about it. Not only is my Doctor one of the speakers but they are also having several vendors, from other support groups to a Fertility Acupuncturist.   I am really excited to learn more about the Acupuncture, I have heard really good things about it.  It is not covered by insurance & expensive, so it is something we will only try down the road if we are still not successful.  Even if I am pregnant right now (one can only hope & pray during this 2ww), I want to learn all I can.  I plan to be a huge supporter of all research and support.

For now I am trying to stay busy, with my busiest Pure Romance month to date, getting back in the grove of working out and working hard at work.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pure Happiness

September 18th marked our two year wedding Anniversary and September 26th our 4 year dating Anniversary.  It is funny how fast time has flown yet thinking about my life before Corey just seems like an entirely different life.

For us, timing was everything.  We were both in the exact right place at the exact same time, two minutes later and we never would have met.  While we were dating "Big Green Tractor" was our song, but as we started wedding planning we realized "God Bless the Broken Road" really resignated more with our story.  We could not agree on which would be our wedding song, so we were introduced as Mr. & Mr.s Bell to "Big Green Tractor" and had our first dance to "God Bless the Broken Road."  Nothing like starting your marriage out with compromise in a way that makes both of you happy!

The last two years truly have just continued that story of true bliss.  Even though we have both had difficulties in life, nothing has been able to hurt our strong bond and loving relationship.  We have been able to lean on each other and come out together as a strong married couple.  

Corey took care of planning our entire celebration.  He decided on a weekend trip to Washington D.C.  The weekend started with a couples massage, followed by lunch and site seeing with my Dad and then we had an out-of-this-world Seafood dinner.

Sunday, we went to a Redskins game, my first NFL game.  And yes, I am sure this was the "real" reason he decided on D.C. but I had fun either way.  It was perfect timing for us to escape for a few days.

 The next weekend we had our Annual photos done.  Our photo is finally starting to "warp", I absolutely love how it is turning out!

Check out Crystal's facebook or blog for more!  She is absolutely amazing!  Now to pick which one will be our Holiday card...ahh choices!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Prayer Brigade

It looks like all of your thoughts and prayers have worked! I had my ultrasound this morning and my body is responding really well to the Letrozole. I have FOUR follicles, 3 of which are maturing and 2 of those are good size. I am so hopeful but also just extremely happy the new medication worked!

I went in to this appointment prepped for bad news and ready to schedule my Laproscopy. This great news means no surgery until at least January. 

I experienced little side effects with the Letrozole, mostly just weight gain. So this weekend I started back at the gym & invested in a trainer for my Mountain Bike.

This will allow me to get better on the bike and not have to deal with it being dark by the time I get home from work (the local park trail closes at sunset).  This also means I can keep riding *when* I get pregnant. Yes I am staying positive!! 

I also woke up at 5:45 this morning, to go to the gym. Really hoping this sticks, but it is only 9:30 am and I am already 3 cups of coffee into the day. Who knows, maybe I'll become a morning person. Ok, you're right I couldn't even type that without laughing. But I am motivated, especially now. 

Thank you for all the prayers and keep them coming!  Seriously, everyone has been so amazing. I am praying for all those that confided in me that they are experiencing similar situations. 

Love & Prayers, Joanna

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Even with the best of plans....

I am a planner.  Everything has to be at the right exact moment in my life. I have to expect it. I have to save for it. Everything has a time and place. I have to plan for every possible outcome of all variables.

At least I used to be that way.  I used to think there is a time for everything.  An exact right, planned, time for everything.  Oh what a fool I was!  

I have had this conversation 100 times….Each and every time I freeze just as the words start to come out of my mouth.  I am about the burst, whether into uncontrollable tears or a fite rage, I am not sure.  I need to come clean, for me, my sanity, my well being.  It is time to come clean about what this post was really about.  Before I get started I have something to ask of you though:

  1. As therapeutic as this is to write out, it is also very hard to have people know.  Even if you are not sure what to say, please say something.  Even if it is just leaving a comment on this blog post saying "Praying for you", "Baby Dust", “Thank you for sharing your story”, "I love you both"...anything is better than silence.
  2. I am "coming out" because this issue is not talked about enough.  It needs to be talked about, so more research can be done and couples facing this issue don't feel so alone in their journey.
  3. I am sorry to those that would expect us to tell you in person, I tried, I just could not handle it.  

Alrighty, let's do this. *Warning this is about to get tremendously personal.*

I have always, always hated this question.  “When do you plan to have kids?”  I know most do not intend it to be mean or hateful, but no matter what someone’s situation, it is painful and uncomfortable to answer. 

I completely realize that no one is perfect and I know I myself have asked close friends this questions before. Truthfully, I am not sure why I ever thought it was ok to ask, when I have always hated being asked.

Since July 2012 we have been trying to conceive (TTC).  

After 12 unsuccessful months of TTC, in July of 2013 I was referred to a Reproductive Endroconolgist (RE).

Throughout many test and way too many times being pricked and prodded, we have discovered that

  • I do in-fact have internal scars from an Ovarian cyst that grew to 7xs normal size years ago and then twisted and burst.

  • 16 years of painful periods were caused by Endometriosis.  

  • It was also discovered that my erratic monthly cycles are because I do not ovulate on my own.  

Couldn't just have one issue could I?

After two cycles of Clomid (a drug to help me ovulate) and tests to make sure it was working, with no pregnancy, my RE decided to preform a HSG test.  
"An Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is an x-ray procedure performed using dye to identify any structural abnormalities in your uterus or fallopian tubes."


The HSG showed that my right Ovary is completely blocked. I had already taken my Clomid for the month so we were to continue on timed intercourse and call him on my 1st day of my next period for our next plan of action.

That appointment was last Friday and I am so thankful I had a fully booked weekend to distract me.

At this point in the journey we had two options. Continue with the Clomid for three months, at a double dose (to hopefully produce more than one egg) or have a Laproscopy. The Laproscopy would tell Dr.L if it was really Endo blocking my Right ovary or something else. It would also give him the chance to “fix” the blockage and discover any other issues we may not have seen during the HSG or my 6/2012 Ultrasound (which didn't show any evidence of Endo). We decided to try the Clomid for three more months and then if we are still not pregnant and I have been ovulating, we will move on to the Laproscopy.

Clomid has an array of side-effects, most commonly hot flashes & slight weight gain. I have been doing really well keeping the weight down and losing it right after each cycle. The depression didn't even click until my very first support group meeting when someone mentioned it. I had chalked it up to the process getting to me. I have always been very resilient but there is only so much one can take. I was thankful to learn the depression was a direct result of the Clomid.

Dr. L is going to move me to Letrozole. It requires a lot more oversight by the doctor but is known to have less of the emotional side effects and several woman from my support group say it had much better results for them and less side effects. One woman even said she has no side-effects on it!

So that is where we are right now. I am so very thankful to have Corey by my side every step of the way. He has been there for every breakdown, livid rage, cry, throwing of clothes out of my closet... He has continued to be the optimist and support me in everything. I cannot imagine fighting this struggle with anyone else. He truly is my rock.

Next cycle I will start the Letrozole. Until then I am enjoying my coffee, sushi and Mountain Bike riding; trying to look at the future & stay positive. I just know I cannot continue this journey without the rest of my support group.
For those of you that I have missed your Baby Showers, Children's Birthday parties or just not been the best friend or relative, I am sorry. I hope you now understand why, now.

**update: Thank you, thank you for the outpouring of love and support!  It means a lot to have so many people telling me their own stories, offering prayers and just sending love/support.  It really makes a world of difference.  Thank you!