Thursday, September 25, 2014

Attempting to Achieve Hormonal Balance

Previous fertility post: Starting From Scratch

This may be really repetitive/redundant and long and boring. Ha ha. But I don't care. My brain is recapping right now and I need to get it all out. :)

When it comes down to it, hormonal imbalance is what's keeping me from getting pregnant. And if I had ever been lucky enough to get pregnant, I would have had a higher risk for miscarriage. So, looking forward... if I want to get pregnant, and if I want to prevent miscarriage as much as possible, I need to achieve some hormonal balance. I need to figure out how to be my healthiest self now to have a healthy pregnancy later. And not just a general "eat right and exercise" kind of healthy. That's a part of it and that may work for 90% of the population who wants to be healthy/fertile. But not for me. So instead of whining and complaining about how life's not fair in that regard, I just need to suck it up and do what it's going to take. I've got my motivation back.

A year ago, I knew something was up with my health. Even more so than usual. I wrote out all my symptoms that I could think of at the time and my list looked like this:
  • general anxiety, over-worrying
  • social anxiety
  • moody, exhausted, depressed, overwhelmed
  • infertility: irregular periods, don't ovulate, haven't gotten pregnant in 9 years of marriage (now 10)
  • anxiety level increased dramatically after failed adoption last July, stayed high
  • can't relax, overly focusing on negative things or things out of my control, kind of paralyzes me
  • feeling super tense and like I'm hyperventilating
  • sweat all the time because I'm nervous/anxious all the time
  • trouble sleeping, jolting awake in the middle of the night or early and can't get back to sleep
  • difficulty focusing on more than one thing at a time, because too much is going on in my head, foggy brain

This was not normal. Normally, social anxiety and infertility was all I was dealing with. I was fighting through all these new problems, trying to be strong, thinking they would go away after I "got over it," and trying to look on the bright side of things. But I started to recognize that something was really wrong and I wasn't handling the grief of the first adoption falling through very well. The second adoption situation being iffy wasn't helping either. My brother told me I needed to get my thyroid checked and up until that point I honestly had no idea what my thyroid did, but he was insistent because he had just been diagnosed with hypothyroidism (which can be hereditary). I found an endocrinologist, talked about my symptoms, got my blood tested, and sure enough I had a problem. So I started treating my thyroid and that opened up a whole world of education on my hormones and how they are supposed to interact and how mine weren't.

The things I had been trying to do to get pregnant (taking a synthetic progesterone and then Clomid over and over to induce ovulation) weren't really addressing the underlying problems. I was so ready to get pregnant and not deal with all the underlying issues that I found a reproductive endocrinologist and started making a plan to do a few IUI cycles (insemination) and then IVF if I had to. I dreamed of twin girls. :)

But something kept telling me to wait and try to heal first. I could waste a lot of time and money and emotional energy to go through these treatments just to get pregnant and it may not work because my body is just not in the healthiest condition hormonally speaking to carry a pregnancy. To seek treatment where the only goal is to get me pregnant just didn't feel right. I was grieving. Losing two babies we thought we were going to adopt was hard. I needed to get through that first. I can't just "rebound" into fertility treatment because I'm grieving. I need to rest, relax, take care of myself. Treat the underlying problems and get myself healthy. The grief triggered a lot of things and forced me to look into what was wrong. I know so much more about my body now. Looking back, I can see the timeline of how everything worked out and how everything pushed me to find a doctor who would check the right things and guide me in a better direction.

I am worth it. My health is worth it no matter if I ever get to a point where I can have children. Not treating this hormonal imbalance puts me at risk for a lot of serious health problems in the future (for example: diabetes, ovarian or uterine cancer, heart disease, etc.)... Yeah. Ignoring the problem just because it's easy and feels like my "normal" is NOT healthy for me in the long run and I deserve better than that.

On top of that, I will never, ever, ever give up fighting for my children, including my hypothetical future children. I will NOT give up on that. Ever. I will open every possible door for us to grow our family, including keeping myself healthy enough so that if I do miraculously get pregnant one day I can increase my chances of staying pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. I can only accept "whatever happens" (whatever God's will is) if I know I did everything I could and didn't give up. I do not subscribe to the thinking that God made me this way and I should accept my health and infertility as is. Because it's a sign or whatever. That's bull. If you want something, you do what it takes to get it. If you're sick, you do things to get better. God made intelligent beings who can solve problems. Not victims to just moan and whine about our plot in life. Maybe in Old Testament times, accepting such a condition as a curse made sense... and relying on Him to miraculously fix it was wise because we didn't have the knowledge we have now. I am going to have faith in God that He has guided me to the knowledge I have now and that He expects me to do something about it.

I have wanted to give up so many times. Give up on trying to get pregnant. Give up on trying to adopt. Give up on taking these foster care classes that are soooo long... and emotionally draining. But I can't do it. Not now. I'm not ready to give up this fight. I feel like I'm just beginning.

I felt renewed when I found a good doctor. Finding a good doctor is not an easy thing to do! I met his wife first. My FB status that day was:
Met someone today - the mother of the girl whose hair I was braiding, a new client. I was describing my struggles with my thyroid and polycystic ovarian syndrome, all the symptoms and how finicky treating my thyroid has been and the resulting infertility that is devastating in and of itself. I've been coming to the conclusion that I just have to accept that my body/health is this way. Finding peace with that. There's too many things wrong, too many things I could try that "might" help. I feel stuck. She looked me dead in the eye and said, "NO. You do not have to live this way." And she gave me the number to a place I'd heard about before, but I was going to so many doctors at the time that I didn't check him out. Something about the way she said it and the good things I've heard about this doctor made me want to burst into tears... Someone cares. Maybe I'll get some answers. All the doctors I've seen have all been varying degrees of helpful all the way down to useless, and I'm only now starting to understand things about my health that I wish had been told to me 10-15 years ago. I'm ready to see a doctor who knows what they're talking about and doesn't just throw a bunch of medicine or synthetic hormones at me. Living with something that other people tell me to "get over" or "just do this" or "just do that" to solve the problem has always made me feel like an idiot for saying there's something wrong with me and wanting the answer to WHY. Today, I feel understood. And that felt pretty dang good.

Going to this new doctor has been good because I trust him. That's not always easy to do with doctors. And my research and his research coincides, so that's good. Sometimes I'll bring things up to a doctor and they won't know what I'm talking about. That's a red flag. I can't know more than my doctor, come on now. Lol.

So, this is what I've learned and this is what I'm doing to "achieve hormonal balance":

Step one was to relax and rest and manage my stress. Learn to live in the present and enjoy the way things are right this second. I spent the whole summer with Kal and laying around and reading books and catching up on shows and just really paying attention to my own thoughts and my own needs. I stopped saying "yes" to everything everyone requires of me. I did what I wanted to do and I had fun. I got rid of the things that were unhealthily stressing me the most, including people. I wrote in my journal and daydreamed and treated myself better than I have in a long time. Made sure I was right with God. I just enjoyed each day... living in our new cute little duplex next to a peach orchard. It's so "home-y" feeling. I love it. I watched a whole lot of The Walking Dead (omg, I love it). I enjoyed not having a calling at Church. I learned to unplug and sit outside and enjoy the trees and the clouds and have cute little 3-year-old conversations with Kal. I ate good food and there was lots of husband & wife time to go around. I got comfortable in my life again, counted my many many blessings, worked through the grief, and came out a better, more confident, happy, optimistic version of Alice Anne. Step one, done.

Then we've got the basics - eating right and exercising and getting to a healthy weight.

I figured out my problem with food:
  1. I crave carbs and sugar all the time. Taking probiotics is supposed to help with this.
  2. I overeat when there's food available. This stems from my childhood.

A lot of people have a bad relationship with food for one reason or another. Mine is because I subconsciously think there's not going to be enough food to go around, or after today I won't have any food, so I eat everything in sight. Big grocery shopping trips are bad for me because I will want to eat all the new food in the house that day. Smaller grocery shopping trips help me spread the food out, but who's got time for that? So, changing my diet has been a challenge, because it's so engrained in me to hoard free/cheap food (not necessarily healthy food at all) when I come across it and eat a whole package of something because it's there right now and if I don't eat it, someone else will and it'll be gone. I'm still working this one out in my mind. Limiting myself or temporary diets are no good and I don't feel safe and then I break down and eat, eat, eat. I don't want to call it an eating disorder, but maybe it is? This is something I'm working through and trying to figure out. In the meantime, I have been doing Bountiful Baskets... where I pay and go pick up a basket of fresh fruit and veggies once a week. It's like a volunteer co-op thing. That way I always have fresh fruit and veggies in the house and if I'm going to snack on something, I'll grab something from that instead of something sweet & processed. That has been helping because I hate shopping for produce. I feel like I'm lost and don't know what to get and Bountiful Baskets just provides what's in season and I don't have to choose. It's cool because I get stuff I've never had before - like cactus pears. :)

I began exercising again. I went to the gym for awhile, but that turned out to be Zay's thing and not mine. I like exercising at home. Right now I've gotten into a habit of getting up 45 minutes earlier than I need to and getting in 30 minutes of exercising (mostly stretching and some yoga) before I start my day. It makes the whole day go better and at the end of the day I can just relax instead of feeling anxious/guilty because I still haven't exercised that day. I get it done first and make it a priority. Even an easy light stretching for 30 minutes feels amazing and boosts my energy/happiness for the rest of the day. This is a habit I want to stick for good.

My goal for this year was to lose 26 lbs... and then next year I want to lose another 11 lbs. I've lost 19 so far. Very slow and steady, ha ha... But seeing the progress has been awesome. My doctor was happy with me. And I've still got a few months to knock off those last 7 to reach my goal before the end of the year. Easy peasy. :)

Managing stress, eating right, exercising, getting to a healthy weight. Then it's important to take the right vitamins/supplements. That's major. I had low Vitamin D. Not having enough Vitamin D can contribute to all kinds of hormonal problems. Many people have low levels and it can be tested and it's easy to pop a Vitamin D pill. I am officially no longer deficient. Woot woot! A lot of people with hormonal imbalances are also deficient in B vitamins or iron or all kinds of other things, so it's nice to get bloodwork done and see where you're deficient. I also researched a butt load of other supplements that are good for an underactive thyroid and PCOS. I found out my cortisol levels do weird things throughout the day (my doctor called it adrenal fatigue) and I found a supplement for that as well. I have been super persistent in taking my handful of vitamins every single day. No excuses. A lot of times supplements can take months before they really start to make a difference, so I have been taking them religiously. I absolutely hated taking pills before and even now they make me gag sometimes, but I knew I needed to get the heck over it. And I have. It's just part of the routine now. Easy peasy. I also let my doctor know exactly what I'm taking. I even made a spreadsheet for him. Ha ha. He was impressed with my regimen.

What I'm taking right now:

Along with my supplements, I'm treating my low progesterone, underactive thyroid, and insulin resistance with medication. I'm taking a bio-identical progesterone pill 14 days a month rather than birth control pills (which is what a lot of people do to fix irregular cycles). I think taking birth control pills in general is silly if I want to get pregnant. HERE is a good article on cyclic progesterone therapy. I'm taking what works best for my thyroid - a combo of Synthroid and Cytomel. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for my thyroid and as of this week my labs looked perfect! Woot woot! It's about time! I'm taking Metformin for insulin resistance. I'm in such a good routine taking pills and taking them at the right times, that it doesn't bother me anymore to take medication. I used to be pretty anti-medication. I feel so much better now that I'm taking what my body has needed all this time and my labs look GREAT for the first time ever. The cyclic progesterone therapy and Metformin combo got my high testosterone levels all the way down in the normal range. I am amazed. It was so high. That is great news!

As of right now, my doctor says that I just need to keep doing what I'm doing and my health should continue to improve. I went in last week. It looks like I've found the right combination of changes and it shows on my lab results and in the way I feel.

Important things to note: I have a "regular" cycle now, but I still haven't ovulated on my own (that's okay, I don't expect to be "fixed" that quickly), and the length of my cycles have been fluctuating all of a sudden. It's almost like my body is trying to figure out how to really settle into a 28-day cycle for the long-term. It's being quirky. But that's okay. I'm trying to teach my body a rhythm that it never learned when I hit puberty... so it's gonna take some time. I just keep documenting it, taking my basal body temperature every morning, and taking ovulation predictor tests around the time that I could possibly ovulate. I'm not so sad anymore when I don't ovulate. I just record it on my Fertility Friend app and think of it all as data to analyze. Ha ha. I'm figuring my body out! It's kinda cool. Like a science experiment.

I am SO not used to having a cycle every month. I don't know how the average woman does it. I feel like I'm bleeding to death. Ha ha. But it's good. It's healthy. It's normal. And having a period is a huge step in the right direction to better health and better fertility.

Other thoughts: The weirdest thing happened when I first started taking Progesterone. It puts you to sleep pretty quickly, so you have to take it at night. I slept so deeply the first night that I woke up the next morning with a CRAZY crick in my neck and had to take it easy and stretch it and massage it ALL DAY for like 5 days before it went away completely. What the heck. That really sucked. But now it helps me get to bed earlier and sleep deeper and not jolt awake at random times. Getting enough sleep is important for my overall health too, so I'm glad I've got an aid with that.

This is going to be a gradual process. Impatient me is just going to have to shut up and get over it. A friend told me I was a goddess of patience. Ha ha. Life circumstances has just made me that way. This is going to take time. I have to accept that. And I have to be okay with not having my life planned out. That is HARD. I like to know what's coming next. I like having a goal and being prepared. Nothing about all this allows me to make definite plans and have an idea about the future. AhhhHH! As of right now, the plan is to just keep going with what I'm doing. No definite timeline about that. Just keep going. I can do that.

Like I've said, this whole fertility thing isn't just my problem. So I finally got Zay to go to my doctor. And he got some bloodwork done, which he'd never done before. And of course, the results were low Vitamin D and low testosterone. I could've told him that. I have been telling him that, ha ha. I didn't need a blood test to know that's what the problem was. But he did. He needed that in writing. He's been on a high dose of Zinc for a few months now, but now he's gonna add Vitamin D and Clomid (ironically, Clomid helps male fertility too) and I've gotta get him as serious about taking his pills daily like I've done. I'm picking up his Clomid prescription today. Woot woot! Maybe since I've got my whole "achieving hormonal balance" thing down, I can work on him. :)


Next fertility post: Keep On Keepin' On

Monday, September 1, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


"Like" the ALS Association on Facebook HERE. Donate on their website HERE.

I got challenged to do this and it took me like a week to do it. Busy, busy! But I wanted to do it because I think it's for a great cause and the more awareness there is and the more donations are given... the more work can be done to fight this disease.

I "tested it out" on Kal first, ha ha ha...

He was a good sport. :)


He didn't like it, but he laughed about it afterwards. He hates water like a cat, lol.

...and then he joined me when I finally got around to do it. And he didn't like it AT ALL. I felt bad, tee hee. Just a little bit.


But he forgave me and wants to watch the videos over and over now. :)

Go donate! Even if it's just a dollar! :)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Too Much Online Sharing?

I'm an open book in my personal life. That spilled over onto the Internet, of course. Ever since a college friend back in 2006 told me I just HAD to get on this new site called Facebook. Lol. I've had online journals since then and thought our journey to adopt deserved a blog. A way to get our message out there and possibly network. And it kind of morphed into... whatever it is now.

I share tons of pictures of Kal and myself. Every once in awhile of Zay. His new motto is, "Don't social media me!" Ha ha. So I've had to limit myself. I wonder how much Kal is really gonna appreciate that (not) when he gets older and there's tons of baby pics of him online, complete with his name attached... easily searchable by his classmates. Whoops.

Sharing our "adoption story" is harder than I thought it would be because I'm not anonymous here. I want to promote open adoption, but I don't think I should share details about Kal's birth family or how our open adoption works, really. And every time we interact with someone considering adoption or get matched with someone, all the details aren't really mine to share. So... I feel stuck. Like, I want to tell a story but I probably shouldn't to protect people's privacy. (I read THIS POST that kinda got me thinking about what I share and what I don't and when I think I should get permission to share something, etc...) So I ride this line of speaking vaguely, generally about adoption topics... and I want to say more. But I don't know how or what to say. Also, when we are matched... I obviously get all excited and share how we're gonna have a baby... and then the last two have fallen through and that sucks and is embarrassing. Soooo.... there's that.

Sharing our "infertility story" is harder than I thought it would be too... because it's not just about me. Ya know? Talking about sperm analyses and things of that nature aren't really things my hubby wants me to share with the world, no matter the results. Lol. So I talk about myself, because I don't care if the world knows about my cycle (or lack thereof)... doesn't bother me in the least. Infertility is hard in real life for me because it's NOT just my problem. I'm a take control type of person and I'd go to a million doctors' appointments and be poked and prodded if that would solve the problem, but it takes two to make a baby... even with a sterile lab environment, ha. I have to think about another person before I blurt things out.

So I'm trying to decide what I'm doing and I haven't been writing here as much. But I don't want to quit blogging, so I'll figure it out.

Important updates (that I don't mind sharing - ha ha):
- I'm ending my reign as stay-at-home/ work-at-home mom: Kal started full day pre-school (that he absolutely loves and was totally right for him) and I got a job! I'm excited/nervous/super grateful for the opportunity. It's going to give me some great experience related to my education and that makes me so, so happy! I'll still be volunteering at the animal shelter on Saturdays, but will take on fewer hair appointments during the week... which I think is the direction I should go.
- The semester started up for Zay and he's still working full-time and cutting hair too, so he's busy busy. Keeping busy keeps his mind off things he wants that he doesn't have control over. To him, the best thing in the world that could happen right now is if we adopt a baby. He would quit his job so fast, lol.
- We're changing adoption agencies, from LDSFS to PACT. I think that will give us our best shot at adopting because they focus on black & interracial families, and their cost structure is similar to LDSFS. I get an "ethical" impression from them. If an adoption works out, it's back to stay-at-home daddying for Zay, which he would love... he fills that role so well. But in the meantime, we're just gonna keep going as if Kal will be our only child. That's the only way to stay sane with all the "what if's"...
- Foster care classes start next week for us. We decided to go ahead and get licensed here and see how it goes. We've had a few powerful spiritual confirmations that this is what we should do and we've got to stop the procrastinating and get started already. I have no idea if we'll even get any placements, but I want to go through the classes and get a feel for the process.
- I'm feeling healthier than I have in years. Not just physically speaking, but emotionally/ mentally/ hormonally. Focusing on taking care of myself this year has been amazing. I've pinpointed so many sources of stress and found ways to completely eliminate them from my life or go about them differently. I feel healthy and confident and optimistic again. That feels awesome! I need to include self-care on a regular basis rather than letting it all build up. Things are really good. :)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

157 Draft Posts

Sooooo.... sometimes I start a post and never finish it. I'm reminded of this when I glance over in blogger and see that I literally have 157 draft posts. I guess I just never fully know what the heck I'm doing with my blog.

I never wanted to be a "mommy blogger" but I kinda do that sometimes to keep my family and Zay's family and Kal's birth family updated on things easily. I used to be an "adoption blogger," but my excitement for that has been waning as I've learned more about adoption as a business rather than a humanitarian effort. Ugh. Plus it's hard to talk about details when I want to protect other people's privacy. I'm also an "infertility blogger," but I'm not actively pursing any treatments that are fun to talk about, like IUI or IVF. I'm just making slow hormonal changes over time in the hopes that I can get my body to ovulate regularly and on its own (well, without ovulation-inducing drugs, I guess). That may or may not work.

I don't know what the heck I am writing about and I can't always finish a thought. I'm just writing. For free. Cuz I can. I like to write, but I can just as easily fill up my journals and abandon the blogging. I think I'm waiting for my happy ending, a way to wrap up our story of trying to add to our family. But I don't think I can keep up telling the story when I have no idea when that ending might be. And while it still feels like someone's missing, I just can't wrap it up and say "happily ever after." .... So I keep droning on and on.

Do I have any lurkers out there who want to ask me a question? Or... what would my readers like to hear about more often? What's going on out there on the Internet??? Anyone blog and wanna link up in the comments? Anyone reading any great blogs you wanna share? Anything exciting happening?

Talk to me, folks. Or else I'll just keep on rambling. :) This infertility/adoption madness sometimes just doesn't feel like it has a point to it.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Family Photos

Here are the rest of the family photos we took in June. :)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Love Languages

Zay & I read The 5 Love Languages out loud to each other and took the quizzes in the back to help us figure out what "love language" we're speaking. I remember learning the idea behind the love languages concept years ago, but more recently we were able to read it together and try to really apply the principles. It helped answer some questions about some of our biggest conflicts and really helped me understand what a friend of mine is going through in her marriage. Seriously, as soon as I finished the book I immediately texted her. I could see so many applications to myself and to those closest to me as I read it.

I love this book. It's so simple. It's all kind of "duh" when you read it, but people complicate love and marriage, and get so caught up in what the other person should be doing. When you realize everyone learns to love and feels love differently, your eyes are opened and you're able to consciously love someone the way they would recognize it rather than solely relying on how you think they ought to be loved. Because those two things aren't always the same. It's much simpler when you're speaking their language! If you continue speaking only in the language that makes the most sense to you, it's like banging your head against the wall.

If you're in a tough spot in your marriage and you're ready to give up, the chapter "Loving the Unlovely" spoke to me as truth. So much so that I had to share it with my friend and I really hope she reads it and takes it to heart. But you know how sometimes people don't want to change and avoid advice if it means they have to... Too many marriages are thrown away because conflicts, miscommunications, and unmet expectations in love build up until your spouse is no longer your best friend but your biggest enemy, or so it may seem. And people will quit at that point rather than realizing that that is the time to give it your all and really rely on God and the vow you made before Him.

We've learned a thing or two about what it takes to make it in marriage, but I still feel like we're young and have room to grow. It's not always pretty, but we actively work to protect our marriage and nourish it. Letting your guard down and forgetting to fill your partner's "love tank" destroys so many marriages. Leaves them cold and loveless. If your marriage gets to that point and all you feel is a dull heart and contempt for the person who is supposed to be your companion, it's so easy to walk away and break that vow. It might feel justified at that point, but the key is to prevent it. With small steps every single day. Or to realize that all is not necessarily lost. Loving someone the way they can feel it could change everything.

Marriage is work. It's commitment. It's a choice. Finding and learning to speak our "love languages" to each other helped it make a little more sense and eased some of our most common conflicts/misunderstandings. Just wanted to pass that message along and encourage everyone to grab a copy and find what language you're speaking. It's good information to know! :)


Mine, in order of most important to least important:

Tied for 1st: Acts of Service & Quality Time
Close 3rd: Words of Affirmation

(huge gap)

4th: Physical Touch
5th: Giving Gifts


Zay's, in order of most important to least important:

Tied for 1st: Acts of Service & Words of Affirmation
Close 3rd: Physical Touch

(huge gap)

4th: Quality Time
5th: Giving Gifts


Thursday, August 7, 2014

How Zay and I Got Engaged

We're celebrating 10 years of marriage this year. I wanted some kind of "do-over" for our engagement photos. We didn't get professionally done photos back in the day and wanted something a little nicer.  I wish I could find any of our old engagement pics, but I can't figure out where I put them right now.

We are just too goofy to do "romantic" poses (and Zay looks bored), ha ha. But we tried. This was so fun! Angie Harwood Photography did these for us in Provo. She got family shots too, so I'll post those too a little later.

The "How Zay and I Got Engaged" story goes something like this... We were dating only a couple of months and we already knew we wanted to get married and had talked about it, so it wasn't a surprise. To me, he was the most intelligent and mature man I'd ever met and it blew me away that he wanted to be with me and accepted me for all that I was (and am). Zay wanted to wait till that Christmas to officially ask me, but he couldn't wait that long. He spent his whole paycheck on a ring (like 300 bucks) and I was super pissed at him for spending that kind of money on me. 1) I don't like jewelry and 2) I have a poor man's mentality... $300 seemed like way too much.

I remember 3 different proposals, because I know I made him re-do it a couple more times after we would "break up" and get back together. I would throw the ring at him all dramatically during a fight and then he would re-propose later when everything was good again. Lol. Teenagers!!! So, I honestly can't remember which proposal came first.

One was in my front yard. He told me he loved me and asked me to marry him and he put the ring on my finger... and I fussed about him spending his whole paycheck, but grinned and was so excited that it was "official." For the record, he was the first one to say "I love you" in our relationship. It shocked me and he asked me if I loved him back and I said, "Ummmmm... I have love for you." Lol. Poor guy.

Another time we were out on a date at a bowling alley and he had written this long proposal on a napkin and he let me read it... or maybe he read it to me. The details are fuzzy. He may have gotten me flowers. I can't remember. But I still have that napkin. And the box my ring came in. They are tucked away safe and sound in a box with all my other treasured mementos and love letters (we wrote lots of love letters to each other and he drew me lots of pictures).

A third time, we were driving to my house and it was raining and I was upset about something. I was angrily looking out the passenger window at the water running down the glass and he pulled over on a bridge, got out in the pouring Georgia rain, and came to my side of the car and knelt down in all the rushing water on the street/bridge and proposed to me again, apologizing for whatever he did to tick me off. I freaked out and told him that was dangerous! And told him to get in the car! Ha ha.

Needless to say, eventually the proposal "took." We got married the summer after I graduated high school and have been growing up together ever since. Out here on our own, adjusting to adult life, college life, Utah life, and now being parents. We've been through a whole heck of a lot together. And this man has stubbornly loved me no matter what I or he was going through (I could probably say "loyal" or "dedicated"... but "stubborn" kinda works). :) Ten years into marriage, thirteen years together... hindsight is 20/20. We were definitely meant to be together. He is all I've ever needed, my partner in crime. ;)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Car Trouble

Our car battery died a couple weeks ago. It was so dead that I couldn't change gears to get it in neutral to push it out of the carport to jump it off. I called my dad and was asking him if there was an emergency override way to get power to change the gears. I found out in some cars, yes actually. But not in mine. Turns out we needed a whole new battery because we hadn't changed ours in the 7 or so years we've had the car, so we went and got one. Problem solved.

Earlier this year I was taking Kal to a friend's birthday party in our minivan. All of a sudden, there was an odd sound under the hood... like a *pop*... and it started sloooowing down. I pulled over on the highway, got it towed to our mechanic, found out something (the water pump?) was rubbing up against the timing belt until it snapped, and we got it fixed. Problem solved.

Kal in the tow truck. I think he's counting. :)

These may seem like normal inconveniences for some, but for me they trigger something. I want to say it's an irrational fear about cars breaking down, but if I explained my childhood to you it wouldn't seem so irrational. Lol. It's more of a survival instinct from having death-trap cars growing up. Cars that would catch on fire on our way somewhere. Cars that would break down all the time and then we wouldn't have a way to school for weeks or months at a time. Cars that my mom got for free or paid someone 20 bucks for. Not reliable cars by any means.

So when my car breaks down now, I tense up and that fear rushes back that I won't have a way to school or work or church or to the grocery store or whatever. That I'll be trapped. That we won't have enough food in the house. That I won't be able to make up my schoolwork or graduate. That we'll have to bother someone to help us, again. And that no one will want to, because sometimes no one does.

I have to remind myself that I'm not in that situation anymore. I'm not in high school. Zay has a job to provide for us. We have two reliable cars. When something goes wrong, it's not a death sentence. We have a great mechanic who is trustworthy. It will get fixed and everything will be fine. We have money to pay for it. Everything's going to be okay. There's food in the house and we're in walking distance of anything we need. We have a huge support system of friends and church members who would go out of their way for us, the same way we would for them.

Sometimes I think back to how rough my brothers and I had it and don't really know how we even survived. Zay came along and saved me, honestly. If it wasn't for him, my younger brother and I wouldn't have had a ride to school for a long time there. The bus didn't run all the way out to where we lived (in the sticks). If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have known how much I was worth and what I could do. He has loved me unconditionally from Day 1. When I told him I wanted to go to college across the country, he sold his most prized possession (his car) and bought a van to pack all our stuff in and drove across the country into the unknown with me.

He continues to save me. Reassuring me that we "got out." That we don't have to live the same way. That we've educated ourselves and made choices to remove ourselves from the struggles we once faced. God sent Zay to me, I know that for a fact. And the little bit of car trouble we've had this year reminded me of how far we've come together.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Nephew

I love this boy to death. He changed my life and his birth set me on a path that led me to wanting to be a mother. Any chance I get to see him now that he lives out of state is a blessing. I've gotten to see him twice this year so far and that makes me SO HAPPY! Because I know we won't see him much if & when we move back to Georgia. I'm taking advantage of how relatively close he is at the moment.

He is so grown up and looks just like my brother when he was a kid. He's obsessed with zombies (me too! must run in the family...) and is super goofy. I didn't get a chance to get to know my niece very well because I was young when she was born (she's a teenager now) and she lived far away too, so I hope I can do something to reach my nephew and help him remember me over the years. I don't get to be an aunt much and I wish I had that opportunity.

My brother picked him up a couple superhero toys and the movie 3 Ninjas for his birthday. When we were kids, we watched that movie thousands of times, I swear. While he's separated from his son temporarily, he thought that might help them feel closer. They talk about the movie on the phone now and it's just so cute! Brings up old memories and makes new ones at the same time.

I remember when it was the 5 of us (me, Zay, Kal, my brother, and my nephew) all living in a one-bedroom apartment for like a month. We had just adopted Kal and my brother needed a place to stay and it was an interesting time. It was hard. But now I miss how close (figuratively and literally) everyone was back then. Everyone has gone in different directions and change can be hard sometimes. It was living in that apartment that my brother learned that his mother-in-law had died in a plane crash. That was painful, to say the least. My heart jumps to my throat every time I think of her and how my nephew won't remember his grandma because he was so young when she died. She loved him SO much. Soon after that is when my nephew moved to Colorado with his mom and life hasn't been exactly the same since. Road trips to see him help piece my heart back together a little bit at a time.

Me & my bro left bright and early.

Switching drivers.


Kal and his "Unka Gosh," as he says

Cousins. :)

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