Monday, March 28, 2011

Here's the story...

of an innocent little email that brought about some very exciting results! For about a month and a half my husband and I have been sitting on some exciting information and are so happy that we can finally share the news - just yesterday we finally got to meet my husband's half-sister from his father's first marriage!

This little adventure really had its start when I was back in grad school and had to put together a family history project for my family counseling class and a part of the project included a family tree. I've pulled this family history project out from time to time over the years to look it over and review the stories that my family shared with me - some made it in the final project and others didn't. Then I got married and the family tree grew a bit so I pulled it out again. As I've had questions and wonderings about my own history over the years, the tree comes out and I try to see if there are answers I can find that hadn't appeared to me before.

A few weeks ago, I was watching the program, "Who Do You Think You Are?" and found myself needing to take another look at my genealogy files once again. I started doing a bit of searching on the internet to see if there were any answers about my history out there in cyberspace. While I was at it, I worked on making sure my husband's branch of the tree was all up to date at As I added more bits of information, there popped up some other family trees that matched up with ours. One in particular caught my eye as I knew that my husband's father had been married prior to marrying his mother. My husband thought that there were a couple of children from that prior marriage as well and those little bits seemed to match up with our tree.

My husband had long thought about trying to find these other family members out there so I sent an email to the creator of the intriguing tree asking if her father might be my husband's father as well. I thought maybe some months or possibly years down the road, if ever, I might get a response back and that I probably wasn't even correct in my guess. And with that, I did a little more investigative work on my own branch of the tree and finally decided to call it quits for the night.

The next morning, I had been busily working away on various projects for a couple of hours when I clicked over to check out my email. I was stunned for a moment when I saw that I had received a response to the prior evening's message. As I opened the email, I marveled as I read that I had guessed correctly and I was in contact with my husband's sister. She gave a little background information and I quickly sent off a reply letting her know that I would be filling in my husband on this exciting news. My husband was so excited and couldn't wait to find out more about this new sister and brother.

Over the next few days and weeks we excitedly emailed back and forth, learning and sharing little bits and pieces of our lives. As we did, we were amazed to find some pretty remarkable similarities and instances where our lives may very well have crossed paths. None of us wanted to let too much time pass before meeting as so many years had already passed without being in each others' lives. Plans were made and we were finally able to meet face to face this last weekend.

It was an amazing day - we shared lunch at Tobie's which stretched into a five-hour long conversation about all sorts of topics, but mostly family.  I was thrilled as I witnessed my husband making this long-sought connection with this wonderful, warm and caring woman who he now can call sister and friend. Plans are already in place for more visits down the road including a stay to include our participation in the BIX 7 race, which my husband and her husband have participated in for years and we discovered may very well have ended up in medical tent together during one particularly brutal race day.

We both feel very blessed to have happened upon her and the miracle of timing and good fortune that brought us together. I have cried so many tears of joy at the happiness my husband feels to have his sister that he's bonded and connected with in such an amazing way and I am just happy to have witnessed all of it happening!

Friday, March 18, 2011

An adventure I'd rather not be going through

The last week has been a rough one for me and for my wonderfully supportive husband. We've been trying to conceive for quite a long time and within the last three months have finally begun seeking some help from the medical community. This has proven to be more frustrating to us than the months and years of trying on our own with no success.

I mistakenly thought that having some assistance from medical professionals would get things moving along and provide some answers and solutions. Instead, I have found myself at least weekly (if not more frequently) reduced to sobs and tears, sometimes very angry, frequently disheartened and discouraged, invaded, violated and deceived. I have truly felt like this process of investigating fertility issues is just a very complex and time-consuming process meant only to actually dissuade couples from trying to conceive. That may sound overly dramatic but our recent experience is all I have to go on at this point.

I'm trying to be open-minded and not lump all doctors in this area together but our assistance has been far less than helpful. The most recent and unacceptable event followed the procedure where dye is run through your fallopian tubes (I know I should know the name of the procedure but so many procedural names have been thrown around and I am suffering from overload). During this procedure, a spot was noticed that the CNP said would need to be looked at with an ultrasound but wasn't anything that she thought that would be preventing becoming pregnant and that she would call the following week to set up the appointment.

Fast forward to nearly three weeks later and no phone call. By this point in time I've determined that we definitely need to seek other assistance as we are clearly not going to get the help and attention we need from our current provider. I've gathered a couple dozen recommendations for providers in our area and am picking up the phone to set up an appointment with a new doctor when the phone rings and our current specialist in on the other end.

I am not happy and let her know it. I tell her that this has been extremely stressful and she basically says we got lost in the shuffle and pushed to the bottom of the pile and she's sorry and says it's entirely her fault and now says that the spot that was seen may very well be preventing pregnancy. This is small consolation to me and my husband. We now have our next appointment set up with one of the doctors recommended to us and we'll see how it goes as I have no confidence in her predecessor's professionalism and expertise. If we're feeling that this doctor isn't on board with helping us and can't seem to pay attention to us and loses us in the shuffle, I've got the next choices lined up.

Maybe I was naive to think that doctors who go into the fertility field would actually be more invested in helping their patients through this process. I certainly didn't expect this whole process to be a cake walk or anything but I thought the doctors would be more helpful than they have been to this point and not get the feeling that they're doing as little as possible and searching for problems without ever addressing solutions and ways to actually feel like there are steps that you can take to help improve the situation.

I'm tired of being poked and prodded constantly and having what amounts to basically a pap every month, something that I've dreaded my whole life and has never made me feel very good. But now taking a couple of days each time I'm examined to recover and feel a little bit back to normal, the last thing I want to do is have sex and that's all I'm supposed to do. At least men get to have a little bit of pleasure for their part in analyzing the situation but as a woman I just keep feeling violated and invaded and hurt.

I feel trapped in this whole system and completely at its mercy. If you're unhappy with your current level of care and seek out someone who's been highly recommended, you're likely to be stuck waiting for an even longer amount of time as the chances of getting in to see them in the near future is not very likely. And then if you dane to see a physician outside of your current health care system it's even more nightmarish as the competing systems in our area can't seem to play nice with one another as I've experienced.

I am learning that I need to be very direct in stating my needs with our next physician if I have any hope of feeling hopeful about this process again. I won't let another doctor forget about me and put me at the bottom of her pile. I also need for these doctors to see me as a person, not a nameless, faceless number on a file. I've had enough of that through this process and the whole gallbladder surgery experience.

Through all of this I am very blessed to have my sister as a great support and listener. I also have a couple of very dear friends of many years who've shared similar struggles and can empathize with our situation and I even have some dear friends whom I've never met in person but thanks to the wonder of the internet have been friends of spirit though we're hundreds and thousands of miles apart. I choose to focus on those wonderful, beautiful people and not on those who I thought would be there for me and be sympathetic and love me the most but have been absent from me emotionally through this whole ordeal.

I was also blessed to find a fellow blogger through my twitter account who is just beginning to share her struggles with this journey as well. All I had done was post "based on my experience I truly believe the whole fertility investigation process is only designed 2 discourage U from trying 2 conceive" and she became one of my twitter followers and then I discovered her blog and our shared experience. Reading about her experiences is like holding up a mirror to my life, particularly the insensitive comments that come pouring out of others.

This is certainly not my normal fare for my lowly little blog, but it is an adventure and one that I wish I was not having to deal with. I had to write about it as catharsis for me and so that I am able to refocus on other areas of my life and be able to get through the days without all of these thoughts trapped in my head spinning around endlessly.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cutout Cuties Contest

Life has been a bit crazy around here of late for reasons which I am not able to divulge just yet, but very soon! Aside from the craziness about things I can't talk about, there are other things that have added to the busyness that I can talk about and am so excited for! 

Once the biggest and most exciting contest to hit Spoonflower was announced, I set to work designing. If you are not a member of the Spooniverse, a very exciting chance to have your designs licensed by Michael Miller Fabrics was announced - this little contest is called Project Selvage and is an amazing opportunity for an undiscovered fabric designer. I'm really hoping it's me!!! (as are a bunch of my other uber-taleneted Spoonflower buddies)

It is an amazing option to have your work seen especially as someone who doesn't live in a big city where one of these fabric manufacturers is located or you don't live right next door to the Houston Quilt Market (neither of which applies to me). I've dreamt of having my designs on display in my meticulously decorated booth at Market just down the aisle from my hero, Amy Butler. I haven't quite made it to the point of creating a scale model of what my booth would look like, bit I think I'm close!

Anyhoo..... back to the contest. The theme for the designs is Baby Boy and the entries are starting to flood in! The deadline for entries is March 24 and you begin by entering one initial design. For about the next week, the wonderful people from Spoonflower and Michael Miller will be perusing all the submitted designs and narrowing the field down to 75 and then the voting opens up to the general public. The top 10 vote-getters then put together 5 more designs to complement their initial entry and then the voting continues again until the winner is chosen and becomes a Michael Miller designer! Once that happens, the winner creates a Baby Girl collection to coordinate with their boy collection and then it's off to quilt market!

So once this little contest was announced about two weeks ago I became one with my computer for a solid week as I set to creating my designs because, as you see, I designed both my entire boy and girl collections, plus a few more pieces! I had visions for the kind of line that could grow with the baby by taking out the most baby-like fabrics and supplementing them with the complementary designs. I also wanted to create something that was more clever than cutesy and I hope my little rows of paper cutout boys do just that as that is the fabric I've entered into the contest.

Now I'm onto baby quilt designs that will use the fabrics I've designed. Last night I was sketching baby mobile designs that can become little stuffed cutout dolls once the baby is past the mobile stage. I've got other plans and ideas that just haven't made it onto paper quite yet, but they will! In the midst of my sketching, I keep stalking my Spoonflower account to see if my samples of my designs have been printed and shipped yet and once they have, I'll be planting myself right next to the mailbox waiting for their arrival!

Of course I'm really hoping I win as I love Michael Miller designs and have oodles of yards of their fabrics in my overflowing stash! But I'm just excited hoping that I make it into the semi-final round of 75. I think most importantly for me this contest is keeping me on track with my fabric design goals which are ultimately to become a licensed fabric designer! I have a big notebook with the little steps leading to the big goal. Now that I've finished one big collection, I'm revisiting some of my other fabric design collections at Spoonflower and trying to fill them out with a few more pieces to expand my portfolio of designs to take to present to the big fabric houses that fit my style. I'm also just really thrilled that I actually have the energy to do this now that I have that surgery out of the way. I have so much more energy than I've had in years!!!!