Catching Our Rainbow

Hoping for a rainbow after the storm…

Rambling

I want to start by thanking all of you for your kind words of support and sympathy. I appreciate all of you more than you know.

This past week, it has felt like I’m experiencing so many emotions at the same time–at such a high volume, that I can’t actually feel any of them. Its like I can mentally point out each of these feelings in myself, but I’m completely numb, like my body knows that I can’t handle this again and is mercifully shielding me. There have been so many things that I’ve wanted to write about, but I can’t seem to find the words. But I know that there is healing in writing, so I’m going to give it my best shot. Here’s what has been in my mind, in no particular order:

Guilt This was my fifth miscarriage. Fifth. And, honestly, I’m starting to wonder at myself. I mean, at this point, each loss puts us at a greater chance for another, so how much longer can this go on before I’m responsible? How many times can this happen before I can say that I am consciously killing my children by selfishly conceiving them? I know that sounds terrible, and I’m probably not being fair to myself, but it’s something I can’t get out of my head.

Adoption Before I found out I was pregnant, we made plans to meet with a good friend who is a adoption lawyer for a consultation where we will discuss our options and figure out what direction we want to go. Our appointment is tomorrow, and we are ready. We have talked for years about adoption, and we now know without any doubt that this is the right path for us. Now we just have to figure out which direction we want to take. We’ve discussed the pros and cons of different types of adoption (foster, domestic, private, international), and that is mostly what we are going to discuss tomorrow, so I will update on this later.

Reflections on 2013 Last year I wrote a post where I was ready to say fuck off to 2012. It had been a really hard year with three losses, and I was so ready to move on and had so much hope for 2013. This year also had three losses. We lost Tup in June, we lost Molly in October, and we lost this little one at the very end of the year. Hubby was also dealing with a painful Crohn’s flair-up for almost the entire first half of the year. Between all of my failed pregnancies and Hubby’s illness, we spent most of the year drowning in medical debt and are still trying to work our way free of all the bills and collection agencies. It was another rough year. Yes, the year did have some positives, including my assistantship that allowed me to go back to school (although that has made our financial situation even more dire) and our sweet little Jack Jack, but I’m ready to move on. Things have to turn around for us sometime, right?

Prevention I’m trying to find out what to do about the months to come. My last tests showed a potential cause for these losses with a new treatment (a post for another time), but we are not on that path right now. We are ready to move on to adoption. I feel like we need to prevent for awhile, but I hate birth control and hubby hates con.doms, so what’s a couple to do? I know the copper iud provides birth control without the hormones, but it’s pretty expensive (see medical bills above) and it lasts ten years. Yes, it’s reversible, but that’s a lot of money to pay for long-term birth control only to have it taken out early. Any other ideas? I feel fairly confident that we could handle the family planning method, but after two and a half years of tracking my cycles while trying to get pregnant, I’m pretty much over it.

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If

I came to a realization the other day.

We’re stuck in “if.”

I feel like everything I say starts with “if.” If hubby gets this fire job… If I get pregnant… If we successfully adopt… If we somehow manage to be parents… If I decide to continue and get my PhD… If I get into a PhD program…

I say it all the time.

I used to write about feeling stuck. I felt like we weren’t going anywhere, that the world was moving forward without us. I felt like time kept passing and we were in the same place, like we weren’t growing and our lives were just on pause. But then I got into school, and hubby got his new job and is in a hiring process at a great department and we made the decision that we are definitely going to move on to adoption (as soon as we have the money…). There is some definite forward motion in our life. But now, instead of feeling stuck, I feel like we are moving forward into some great unknown. I have no idea what our life is going to look like in a year–I only know that it won’t look exactly like this.

I’m trying to take comfort from that, but it is pretty scary.

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Do you have any kids?

Graduate school is hard. I’m putting in way more hours as a student than I was working a full time job. But it’s also totally worth it because I’m doing something that I love. I love reading, talking about, and writing about literature, and that’s what I do all the time now. Graduate school also has a unforeseen perk: no one asks you if you have kids or if you are trying to have kids. Whenever I met someone new at my job, they would ask me if I have kids. When I would say no, they would ask if I want kids. I’m not really sure why this seems to be the culturally accepted thing to do when you meet someone new, but it is. At least in the area where we live. In graduate school, however, everyone assumes that you don’t have time for kids and even if you do want them, you will wait until after you are done. I’ve never seen a noticeably pregnant woman on campus, and not one of my friends at school has a child, so I don’t have to hear complaints or stories about them. As an infertile, it’s wonderful to not have the constant reminder.

Hubby isn’t so lucky and still has to deal with nosey people at work, as well as a boss whose wife had a baby a month ago. The other day when someone asked him if he has kids and he said no, they told him that he needs to get moving because the clock is ticking. Thankfully, his boss intervened at that moment because he knows our story and how upsetting the situation was for hubby. Plus, he probably didn’t want Kevin to guilt the man by telling him that all of our babies died. It’s the truth and the man probably deserved it, but it’s not really good costumer service.

It’s a problem every infertile has to deal with at some point or another: everyone has an opinion about whether or not you should have kids, and many will voice that opinion without knowing your story. It weird when you think about it. I spent a semester studying abroad in Germany, and I was amazed at how private the Germans are. Questions that are considered small talk in the U.S., like asking someone what they do for a living, were considered personal and rude. Maybe we should take notes.

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Where We Are Now

I feel like such a tease telling you all that I’m going to start writing again and then not immediately writing a bunch of posts. A lot has happened since I quit writing, but instead of playing catch-up with the last couple of months, I’ll tell you where we are now:

  • I’m going to school full time to get my Masters in English literature. I’m not really sure what the long-term plan is (teaching private high school, teaching college, applying to PhD programs, etc.), but I love what I am doing right now. I love reading, discussing, and writing about literature, and that’s basically all I do now. It’s hard, especially since I took time off after undergrad and had to relearn quite a few things, like how to study or write an academic paper, but I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing right now. Well, that’s a lie. I’d rather be a stay-at-home mom, but that isn’t happening right now, so this is the next best thing.
  • Hubby is in the hiring process at the fire department in our town. After he didn’t get the last job because they basically run on the “good ole boy” system, he started putting in applications at different departments. This department is completely different. Instead of hiring from the volunteer list, they have a multiple-step hiring process that takes months. Hubby passed a written exam back in September, and he is taking a physical exam next week. When he passes that, he’ll be able to get an interview. If he does well on his interview, he’ll take a psych evaluation (1 out of 4 fail it). If everything goes well, it will probably be February or March before he starts working, and if it doesn’t go well, we’ll move on to another department. Apparently, he was the only one out of over 100 applicants who showed up for the written exam in a tie, and he had two separate officers tell him that he made a really good impression, so we that’s a good sign. Also, he got one of the highest grades on the written exam, so that doesn’t hurt either.
  • As I mentioned in my last post, Hubby and I are going to start the process for foster adoption if he gets this job. As it is, Hubby gets paid on commission, and I get a small stipend from school so we have a hard time keeping our heads above water sometimes, especially with all of the medical bills from Hubby getting so sick this past winter/spring. The beginning pay at this department, however, would increase our income by almost $1,000 a month, and by that time, the medical bills should be paid off (assuming we don’t create any more), saving us a few hundred dollars a month. So that would leave us with some baby money. And as an extra perk, we could also afford to start eating meat again.
  • We got another dog at the end of August, Jack Jack. Molly was a very high energy dog, and she really needed a buddy to play with so that she wouldn’t be destructive, so we went to the pound and picked out a new best friend for her. Jack Jack was about nine months old when we got him. He was also scary skinny, and he had kennel cough. Looking back, I have no idea why we got this sickly, scrawny dog, but I am so glad we did. He is the best behaved dog I’ve ever had, and he learns very quickly. Plus, he’s the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen, especially now that he’s put on some weight. I’m sure you’ll agree:

Jack1

Jack2

It’s also nice that he matches our house so well, haha. The only problem is that Jack Jack is also a high energy dog and needs someone to play with–that’s why he was a perfect friend for Molly. Maybe we’ll go get him a friend in the spring because we’re not ready for another furbaby yet.

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A Lovely, Lovely Long Weekend

Sorry I haven’t been a very diligent blogger. We’ve just been so busy with tri training, taking care of our garden, and just enjoying the summer. Every time I think about moving on with my life instead of dwelling on our loss and the sadness that still resides in my heart, I think about a quote from The Shawshank Redemption (If you haven’t seen it, stop everything you are doing and watch it. Seriously, this post can wait). Anyway, the quote is “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”

We are busy living.

This past weekend was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a very long time. I had some paid time off to burn before I leave my job in August so hubby and I took a four day trip to Washington, D.C., and it was just wonderful. The weather on Friday was beautiful, and we left early, listening to an audiobook for the 7.5 hour drive. When we got to our hotel in Falls Church, a small town outside D.C., we did some exploring and then swam our laps because we really wanted to keep up our training during the trip.

Saturday we got up early, thoroughly enjoyed our free hot breakfast (if anyone is traveling anytime soon, Residence Inn is the bomb), rode our bikes to the Metro, and took a train into Washington. Hubby had never been to D.C. before but I went there all the time as a kid because my family lives there, so it was a lot of fun to ride our bikes around while I showed him different sights, and once it got really hot, we went to a couple of Smithsonians.  That evening, we ate dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house where we surprised my Nana who didn’t know we were coming, and I got to spend some quality time with all of them, including my cousins that I hadn’t seen since the last time I was in D.C. about ten years ago.

The next morning we got up early to go to church with Nana, which we hadn’t originally planned so it was like bonus time with her, and then we rode into D.C. again. We spent the afternoon touring different fire stations, including Station 3 which has a museum on it’s third floor. The museum is usually closed on weekends, but a man who volunteers there just happened to pull up when we arrived and he gave us a personal tour. It was fascinating, and while our second day in the city didn’t go at all as planned, it was perfect. While we were in D.C. that day, we were supposed to meet up with Jenn from The Future Fords, a lovely blogger who has stepped back from writing for awhile, but we still email occasionally to check up on one another. Unfortunately, Jenn was having car trouble, but when hubby saw how disappointed I was, he suggested we drive up to the Baltimore area and visit her that evening. So after we spent a few hours visiting with my other aunt and uncle, we drove up to Maryland to visit with Jenn. It was the first time I’ve met a fellow blogger in real life, so I was a little nervous. You hear all of these warnings about people you meet on the internet, so when we walked up to the door, I wondered if it was like the part in a horror movie where the whole audience is screaming “Don’t do it! What is wrong with you?!?” But of course Jenn was just as sweet in person as she is online, and I am so, so glad we drove an extra hour to see her.

The next morning we slept in a little, ate breakfast, packed everything up, and headed home. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip, and I wish we could have stayed longer, but it was so wonderful. I can’t even put into words how nice it was to see my family after so many years, and how much it warmed my heart to see Hubby’s face light up at all of the famous buildings and the impromptu tour of the firefighting museum.  We definitely won’t be strangers to the area now that we have seen what an easy drive it is, and hopefully we can stay longer next time.

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Forward Motion

For months I wrote about how I was stuck. It felt like we were in a constant state of waiting and facing a huge expanse of unknown, and I didn’t know how much longer I could handle the lack of resolution.

When we lost Tup, I was heartsick and angry, but there was also an unexpected emotion: relief. I felt free. I didn’t understand it, and it made me feel like a terrible person who obviously didn’t deserve the child she lost–like I wasn’t properly honoring him. But I’m finally starting to understand that this feeling of freedom and relief has nothing to do with my grief for Tup, it has to do with the huge weight of the unknowns that I had been carrying for months.

The truth is that my life finally has forward motion, and even if I don’t like the results, even if I hate them, I have found some resolution:

  • Hubby didn’t get the fire job. After months of anticipation and hoping, he was not chosen. It sucks, but he started a new job last week that he really enjoys, and he is content working there while he continues to add to his certifications so that he will be a better candidate next time.
  • I got into graduate school, and I was awarded a teaching assistantship that will allow us to (barely) afford it. After months of sitting on a waitlist and trying to figure out how we could possibly pay for school without the assistantship, I finally got the letter.
  • Hubby is feeling better and will not be having surgery right now. This could technically change any day because Crohn’s is a horrible and unpredictable disease, but we are now sitting on the “well” side of the unknown (which is infinitely better than the “sick” side of it).
  • We lost Tup and my RPL panel came back normal, which means we are stepping back from the TTC world for awhile. There is no timeline on this–we will start trying again when we both feel like it–so there is no pressure and no anxious waiting. No waiting until we are allowed to try again (surprisingly, we weren’t given any restrictions), no waiting to POAS, no waiting for test results, no waiting for appointments, no spending hours each day wondering if it will work this time.

I no longer have panicked moments where I worry about the fact that I have no idea what will happen in the immediate future. I no longer try to stare into the unknown and decipher some sort of answer. Sure, things could change and we still don’t know what things will look like long-term, but at least we know what the next couple of months should look like.

I miss Tup and it makes me sad to think about what could have been, but I’m also excited about the things to come. I feel like I finally have something to look forward to and get excited about. I have goals to work towards, goals that I actually have some control over–having a baby was a goal, but it wasn’t something I could work towards because I couldn’t affect the outcome of my pregnancies. Studying and working hard can get me through graduate school, and training consistently can help me finish the triathlon.

I can improve and grow. I can work towards something tangible. My life can finally move forward.

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My Coping Strategy

Today is a beautiful day in small-town, East Tennessee. It’s amazing what some sunshine can do–I’m feeling peaceful and hopeful, and I don’t want to write about grief today. Today, I want to tell all of my blog friends about one of the good things in my life. As I said in my last post, hubby and I are training for a triathlon in August. I actually found it online the day of my second ultrasound and made up my mind then and there that we would participate in it (I say participate because I’m really not good enough to say we will compete). I know that exercise is a good way to keep depression at bay, and the only way I will actually get motivated enough to exercise everyday is to set an optimistic goal and find a training program that will keep me from looking like a fool in August. Plus, I figured exercise will help me sleep at night and help me keep up a healthy appetite (some people eat too much when they are sad, I stop eating when I’m sad). So training for this triathlon is basically a preemptive strike again the sadness that completely overwhelmed me and pulled me under after my other losses.

You can check out our training program here. We are on week four, but we skipped week three because it is an eleven week program and we decided to start training 10 weeks before the triathlon. We try to follow the schedule as closely as possible and also do weight training two times a week (right now it’s on bike days). I won’t lie, it’s been hard. I’ve never exercised regularly before (in fact I hated exercising), so I’m basically starting from nothing, but I’m already amazed at what my body can do. So far, the workouts aren’t necessarily getting easier, but I’m recovering so much more quickly when we are done. I’m getting better at controlling my breathing, and yesterday, I could actually feel myself bringing my heart rate back down so that I didn’t feel so much like I was going to die. The moment only lasted about 30 seconds, but it was there which encourages me that there will be more moments like it.

This process has been good for my body image, and it is teaching me to be kind to myself. I’ll never make it through this program if I constantly tell myself that I can’t do it or think of my body as a failure. It’s also been good for hubby and me to have something to work towards together. It has been a great way for us to support one another and complement each other on a good workout or the progress we are making.

Basically, I’m so glad we chose to do this, and the whole process is exceeding my expectations. If you had told me a few months ago that I would be working out five days a week and participating in a triathlon in August, I would have looked at you like you had two heads. It’s amazing how much a life can change in a year, and as much as I grieve for what was and what could have been, I am thankful that things don’t always turn out as we plan them.

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TWW and Kindness Friday Part III

After months of missing the big O because of hubby being sick and some weirdness in my cycles, I am officially one week into the two week wait. I feel like this is our first full-hearted attempt since my last pregnancy, and as much as I make excuses about why we couldn’t really try each month, I think the truth was that I wasn’t ready. I want a baby, but I wasn’t ready for the emotional roller coaster that is TTC, and as much as I hope and pray that our next baby will be our rainbow, I have to acknowledge the very real possibility that I could have another mc and I couldn’t face that possibility. Now, I’m ready to try. I’m ready to hope. I’m ready to risk great heartache for a chance for our rainbow. I’m ready to hurry up and wait I have begrudgingly resigned myself to waiting.

Whenever we aren’t trying or I’m not currently in the TWW, I always think that it’s not that bad–I can stay calm and be patient and stick to my POAS plan. Seriously, I’m an intelligent, reasonable person, and I can conquer the TWW with grace and sanity. Then, starting just a few days after ovulation, I feel the desperate need to start peeing on all the things. No matter what I’m doing, the upcoming peestick day and everything it represents (the possibility of a baby growing in my ute, the possibility of another mc, the possibility of our lives being forever changed) is always in the back of my mind. The harder I fight it and try to stay calm, the more forcefully it drives itself into the forefront of my thoughts. It’s ridiculous.

So, in an attempt to distract myself from obsessing about the current state of my ute, I’m going to spend the next week doing things that I enjoy and will leave me feeling content and empowered. Let’s think of it as a whole week of kindness that will keep me mentally (and possibly physically?) happy and healthy. Here are some of the things I plan on doing over the weekend and during the evenings next week:

  • I would like to spend as much time as possible outside. I haven’t posted about it, but hubby and I have been busy little bees getting a garden ready for this summer. First, we built a fence to keep out the pup, then we built two raised beds, and two potato towers. We also used the extra lumber from our fence to make some small boxes for me to grow herbs. Now that it looks like we have had our last frost (I hope), I’m ready to plant some seeds and some of the seedlings that we have been growing in our house. I absolutely love the feeling of the dirt under my hands and watching the miracle of life coming from these tiny seeds. It really builds up my self esteem and also makes me feel more connected to God. Unfortunately, it is supposed to rain all weekend, but that’s ok because I have a back-up plan:
  • I’ve been spending some time lately reading blogs and watching youtube videos on how to make my own cloth pads and panty liners.  I spent my winter knitting, and now that it is summer, I am ready to start sewing again! Sewing makes me feel so calm and empowered–it’s like the whole world disappears for awhile, and there is nothing but the whir of my machine. Also, wearing something that I made is an incredible feeling! I’m planning on taking aspects that I like from different patterns and products and meshing them into a super awesome hybrid that’s just for me :o)  I know it may seem silly to make these during my TWW, but maybe I can jinx myself into pregnancy…
  • Over the past few months, I have slacked on my reading and replaced it with watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix. In the past week or so, I have worked on remedying that and revisiting my “to read” list. I’ve started a pretty hefty epic fantasy series called that Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson, and I’ve enjoyed it so far. I’ve almost finished the first book, and it feels really good to lose myself in a series again, which I haven’t really done since I finished reading the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin (can I mention that he needs to hurry up with the next book?). I’m also doing daily bible readings (following the OWNit365 plan), and reading different nonfiction works, like those by C. S. Lewis.
  • The last thing I want to concentrate on is spring cleaning. I’ve gotten a little bit of a head start, but there is still plenty to be done–we bought a fairly large house with the intention of filling it with children (because we are responsible and couldn’t possibly start trying before we had a place to put a baby), so there is lots to clean. Once the nice weather hits, I actually enjoy cleaning–opening all the windows and smelling the fresh air while I organize, sort, scrub, and fold.

So that’s it. My be-kind-to-myself-by-attempting-to-salvage-my-sanity-during-the-TWW plan. What do you think?

Also, here is a bonus picture of our little Molly hanging out in one of the raised beds before we filled it with dirt. She’s not so little anymore!

Our sweet little furbaby!

Our sweet little furbaby!

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Catching up

First of all, thank you so much for your support on my last post. Although I’m a little ashamed of just how bitter I sounded, I appreciate all of you validating my feelings. I guess it just goes to show that people say dumb things no matter what you are going through, whether it be infertility, loss, or even Crohn’s disease. Life lesson learned.

I have a few things I wanted to post, so I’m going to go with bullet points today:

  • Hubby has been doing much better since the ER trip. I’m learning that this pattern of feeling good one day, then having the worst pain of your life the next day, then going back to feeling better the next is fairly typical for Crohn’s. I’m also learning that the frustration, helplessness, and anger that I am feeling is normal, and it is ok to break down every once in awhile. I called a good friend on Friday and cried over the phone with her, and it helped me realize that it’s ok to be emotional and upset–that I don’t have to be an unwavering tower of strength for my husband. You would think that I would have figured this out a little sooner because I have been saying that hubby is allowed to be upset about the IF/loss that we have experienced, but I guess I’m a slow learner.
  • I got into grad school. I’m really excited and proud of myself, but I’m not doing a celebration dance just yet because I was put on a wait list for an assistantship. Which means that my school may or may not be paid for, and I may or may not get the resume-boosting experience. Right now, hubby is of the opinion that where there is a will, there is a way, but I’m not sure how we are going to make it happen without that assistance. Especially when we have medical bills piling up (just when we are almost done paying the bills from my miscarriage). It’s actually looking like we will reach our 2013 out-of-pocket limit this month, which I think is fairly impressive.
  • It’s been awhile since I’ve done an update on my lady parts, so here it is (disclaimer, in-depth period talk ahead): I had a normal period for the first time since I was on BC, and I’m freaking out about it. Ok, freaking out is a little bit of an exaggeration, but I am quite perplexed. On day 29, AF started. It just started, which I thought was weird because I usually have three to five days of spotting before it actually arrives. Then it lasted four days. This is unheard of. Mine usually last a week to a week and a half–and that isn’t counting the spotting that happens before it actually starts. I mentioned to hubby that it was over and he looked at me like I had grown another head and said, “But didn’t it just start a few days ago?” Also, it was blissfully light–it only filled my diva cup about a third of the way every twelve hours (as opposed to completely filling it every six to eight hours). Apparently, this is what “normal” periods look like, and I would be ecstatic if I wasn’t so weirded out by it. Maybe it’s a sign of good things to come?

Those are the biggest things happening in our life right now. The most important thing is that in the midst of everything that is going on, I’m still feeling very hopeful. I just know that things are going to work out, even though I don’t know what it will look like. I’m frustrated, tired, and impatient, but I’m hopeful. I think a lot of that has to do with the beautiful weather we’ve been having–it just lifts my spirits. Spring is trying its very best to settle into East Tennessee, and I am beyond ready for it! It also has to do with the amazing amount of love, prayer, and support we have received from our new church. I hope to post a little more on that soon, so stay tuned!

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The Results Are In!

Sorry it has taken me so long to post the results of the February Little Miss Crafty Pants Challenge. It seems as though a few of us took on a little more than we could handle, and I’m still waiting on some pictures. For now, I’m going to go ahead and post the ones I have, and I’ll post the other results as they are sent in. I just want to say that I’m super impressed with these ladies and their mad crafting skills!

First up, Arwen from MRKH Musings:

Bear2

Bear1

Next is April from R. Savitus:

Here’s what she had to say about her project: I got my turtle finished in one sitting, about two hours. Abby ‘helped’ me, so by the time I was done sewing I’d had enough, and just hot glued his eyes on. Mistake! She pulled them off the next day. He’s blind for now, but I’ll sew them back on.

I did learn how to make his head stand up on its own, although that will have to be tried in the next turtle. This one just got a couple stitches between head and shell.

Lesson: if a two year old with a snotty nose grabs some polyfill, do not attempt to retrieve it. It’s already been used as a tissue. Yuck!

Turtle1

Turtle2

When I picked my project for the challenge, I was spending a lot of time at home sitting with hubby because he was so sick, but he has been feeling so much better that I am spending my extra time snuggling with him, going to the gym with him, playing lazer tag with him and some of our friends, etc. Because of that, my project isn’t even close to being done, but I’m not making any apologies because I love having a hubby who isn’t constantly in pain! But I still wanted to share my progress with you all because I’m still quite proud of it :o)

Sweater

Next is Elle from Hoping on Hope:

She also picked a pretty large project and is still working on it, but it looks lovely :o)

afghan

 

Please go ahead and send me your projects for March (catchingourrainbow (at) gmail (dot) com) and I will try to post them Friday or Saturday. For the lovely ladies who haven’t sent their results yet, you can finish them as your March project if you want–just let me know and I will post them again :o)

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