Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Male Factor/Female Factor-confusion and madness

It's funny that whenever I hear my wife talk about other people in the infertility area I always hear her talk in the well its male factor or female factor.  Whoever came up with this saying obviously does not have feelings.  I understand that I am the sole reason that we are in this mess, however male factor could possibly be just as bad as saying, "you suck!"  I have no problem telling people that I am infertile, but for some reason whenever I hear male factor I wanna scream.  

Last night, we went in for my pre-op for my Testicular mapping and if you think it sounds bad, well it does.  18 needles mapping out each testicle?!?!?  I'm still uncomfortable grooming!  Well that was not the point that shocked us the most last night.  I feel bad because I kind of snapped at Stace last night because we asked the question of, "if there are any sperm found, do you freeze them and we can use them?"  to which our guy stated no!  He then went on to say it would be another 3-6 months before we could use them.  The look on Stace's face was that she did not want to wait another 3-6 months and I shot her that, "are you kidding me?" look.  It's not her fault though because I first thought it too as soon as he said it.  Then my thoughts went in and said well I can wait another 3-6 months if there is a possibility to utilize my sperm.  By all means, we want to be parents and we want everything to be about us, however we also have realized that it's okay if it has to be with a donor because as I have said in the previous post, it's still is my kid.  So yeah, if they find some it will be another 3-6 months to figure out if we can utilize those swimmers.  

Another shocking part was that last night we had to pay over $3k for the procedure, something that we were not expecting.  Well, last month I sold all of my stock and put some money aside to put into our Baby Fund.  I am just happy that we have the money to pay for this procedure because we were not expecting that, but since I went $23k into credit card debt when I was younger, I have always made sure that I have enough money to take care of anything.  Oh and I paid back all but about $5k of that debt because my dad bailed me out for our wedding gift and put me on a strict payment plan to pay him back---Thanks Dad!  So I said to Stace, why would the Dr. not submit this procedure to insurance?  Every other visit they did?  I am pretty good with money and knowing what to do with it, however when it comes to what to do with insurance and how to submit procedures and what is covered and what is not----I have no clue what to do.  We know that IVF is not covered but some say IUI is covered.  However, do I call the insurance company and say I have a sperm mapping procedure to be done and I was charged this, do you cover it?  I need an advisor to help me with this money...Oh wait that would cost more money?!?!?  Why do some states mandate the insurance companies to pay for infertility and why do some insurance carriers provide it but some do not???  It seems unrealistic, its not like I decided I want to be infertile.  For something that is effecting so many people, why would the insurance companies not pay for it??  Its funny to me too that there is adoption assistance built into our insurance plan but trying to have the baby on your own----your on your own????

Sorry this is just my rambling and I am sure that some get it and others are like what????  I tend to understand both sides and give everyone a shot at explaining their sides and what they bring to the table, but in the insurance world and my fight to have a baby, it seems like I am in a losing battle on all fronts!  You're infertile-time to do tests(meaning time for lots of money to be spent).  You're still infertile after making love to plastic cups over and over again(btw I am 30, grew up in the 90's and 00's, I am not about 70's & 80's culture of material!)--More money...You're still infertile, now you are going to be a pin cushion----lots more money....You're still infertile---insurance isn't going to cover anything----more money.  Compared to the other side, "hey I think we made a mistake and we are pregnant,"  its okay the insurance will pay for pretty much every doctor visit and every hospital stay and when you see that bill and you have to pay $1000 for all of it, thank you for having a baby the natural way, even if you were not trying.

I said this to a lot of people at work lately, "how much is your time worth?"  This was in relation to getting the sale item for Black Friday weekend, but really how much is it?  For me, to have my own baby, I will continue to spend money and after waiting now for almost two years and lots of bills to be in the same place that I was two years ago, its a lot of money.  My happiness is worth whatever I have to spend on it, because my happiness is being able to have a baby with my beautiful wife, that we have been dreaming about ever since we got married.  We waited until we were set with our jobs and house.  We did the right thing and did not rush into it.  Now all we want is to have a baby and be able to come home and take care of it.  Crying-who cares.  Dirty diapers-bring it on.  Spitting up-don't mind if I do.  Baby smell---makes everything worth it.  Baby falling asleep in your arms---makes you feel as if you are not even there.  Having someone to call you mommy and daddy-they can never do anything wrong.  I just want to be able to have these moments and in 4 weeks we will find out if we have to wait another 3-6 months or if we can start in a month!  Either way, I am ready and I can't wait!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Origami Owl

Some background into the Origami Owl company, and why I decided to join the team. 

What is Origami Owl?
~Origami Owl is a jewelry company that was started a few years ago by a teenage girl, Bella, who wanted a car. Her parents encouraged her to save her babysitting money and come up with an idea of how to make money. She created the idea of Living Lockets, sold it at a mall kiosk, and it was an instant hit! Isabella earned enough to buy her car, and now she is a multi-millionaire due to her extremely unique idea. Origami Owl is most known for its Living Lockets, glass-window lockets in which you place charms that describe things close to your heart... charms that share your life story, and things you love, with the world. They sell necklaces and bracelets, and not just lockets. Their jewelry is customizable and rarely are 2 lockets created exactly the same; but if they were, that would be a pretty neat conversation starter! 

~Origami Owl is all about sharing stories through jewelry. It's all completely customizable and unique. The hard part is narrowing down all the fun options to display your story. Their mission statement is "OUR MISSION IS TO BE A FORCE FOR GOOD; TO LOVE, INSPIRE + MOTIVATE PEOPLE OF ALL AGES TO REACH THEIR DREAMS + EMPOWER THEM TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS". Some of their famous quotes, "You tell stories with words. We tell stories with jewelry.... Every locket tells a story...What's yours?" 

Where did Origami Owl get its name?
~No, the jewelry is not made of paper and doesn't resemble origami. Bella had always loved origami, and her lockets represent origami in that no 2 are alike: each person/locket folds in its own unique way, with their own characteristics. Owls represent wisdom, strength, and courage... the two names together make a strong and unique company name! 

How can I buy Origami Owl products?
~Origami Owl is not sold in stores. It's a direct-sales company, so you can only buy/order from the company itself, or through one of its "Independent Designers" (aka consultants/sales reps), like myself. (wink, wink!)

You can shop/order from my direct site: www.wishuponastar.origamiowl.com

How do I host a party?
~Hosting a party ("jewelry bar" as O2 calls it!) is easy and fun! It's a great excuse to have people over for a fun girls' night in! Simply contact your local rep (who may be me! I do local parties, but willing to travel a bit for close fam/friends!) and set up a date. All you have to do is supply a guest list, supply some goodies for your guests, and start thinking about what items you want with your hostess rewards. Hostess rewards are determined by the amount of sales brought in by your party (either direct sales at your party, or orders made online to your direct party link). The more sales that come in for your party means more free and discounted products for you! It's really that simple! I hosted a party and ended up getting over $250 worth of items for free! There are also special monthly hostess exclusives available only to those who host a party... Excuse to party, time with your girlfriends, and free jewelry? What are you waiting for?! <3

What does Origami Owl mean to me? 
~Since Origami Owl is all about sharing personal stories and what means the most in our lives, I wanted to share my story. I first learned about O2 last year when I went to a jewelry bar with Alli, at her friend's house. I instantly fell in love with the company and the whole concept of building your own locket. I realized right away that O2 was different from other direct sale companies because I wasn't just browsing the catalog and selecting an item I liked. I was exploring the catalog and selecting items that had meaning to me... things that described me and shared my loves, interests, and life experiences. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am super indecisive on a lot of things in life... so giving me a catalog of endless options and no simple thing to choose from is pretty silly in a sense. I would have needed to study the catalog a week in advance to really choose something perfect, but somehow I pulled it together within an hour at the party. Of course I loved EVERYTHING, but also didn't want to spend an arm and a leg, and I knew I could easily add on in the future. So in an effort to start simple (yes, me... imagine that!), I selected the following for my 1st O2 purchase: a silver chain, a large silver locket, a silver word plate that says "BELIEVE", a glitterly butterfly charm, and a glittery star charm. That's it. No color, and not too much bling off the bat. Just simply 2 things I love~ butterflies and stars, and one of my absolute favorite words~ believe. 

~I felt these things described me because they are things I love, but they also describe our journey with infertility. At the time, I didn't yet know that Scott was infertile. At that point, we had only been trying just under a year, so there was no medical assistance thrown into the mix yet. It was just heartache and aggravation. But immediately it shared my story with those who were curious. Naturally, some of the people started talking about what they were selecting and why, so I went that route too. Believe has always been a favorite word of mine (well, in the last few years anyway... I've always been a believer in all things magical, whimsical, and what's meant to be). I believe in positivity and I believe in happy endings. I believe goodness will overcome darkness, and I believe Scott & I will become parents some day. I believe in true love, and I believe in miracles. I believe we will come out stronger and happier on the other end of this obstacle in our amazing race to a baby. I believe, I believe, I BELIEVE. <3

~Knowing the story of my 1st locket brings me to where I am with O2 today. Ever since that party, I've had an interest in the company, but didn't do anything with it. This past summer, I ran into a few O2 reps at a local vendor show in my town, and I signed up to show interest in hosting a party. Fast forward a few months and after having the party and talking to the rep, I realized it was a fun and "easy" way (on the outside! haha) of making some extra money on the side, and meeting some fun people as well. Since we are nervously approaching the world of IVF and crazy fertility treatment bills (just at a CHANCE to get pregnant), I've been getting nervous about bank account funds. We currently have enough set aside for one round of IVF meds and procedures, but I'm cautiously optimistic. I want to be positive but I am also well aware that it doesn't always work on the first try (even though that would be nice!). So if we need more than 1 round, we will need to come up with some funds with assistance. I know some couples have started fundraising sites, are selling t-shirts, and having fundraising events, but I just personally don't feel comfortable going that route just yet. Part of the reason I joined O2 was to use it as a side job in the hopes of bringing in a little extra money on the side. That way, customers are donating without really doing it directly. They get a product out of it, and I'm working for it. I make a certain commission based off sales, so that money will be put aside strictly for a Team Ricci baby fund. I'm working for the money, getting paid indirectly, and customers receive beautiful products that have true meaning to them. 

~From the second my O2 starter kit arrived, I knew it was THE perfect company for me. First off, their signature color is Tiffany blue... which was our main color scheme for our wedding. Our bridal party wore that color and it was on anything and everything at the wedding. Second, the box was covered in cute little sayings and quotes... another thing I am ALL about. Friends have joked that our house is like a Shutterfly photo book because there are so many pictures to look at and quotes to read. I have a zillion quote decals and framed sayings around our house. So seeing cute little quotes on the box and in my designer book just sucked me right in, made me smile, and reassured me that I made a good choice. The company is different from the norm, and so am I. They're all about pretty colors, fun quotes, and everything happy, cute, and positive... I mean, really... I think I'm a good match for this company and their beliefs. I'm all about positivity, in case you couldn't tell! <3

~Once I joined, my mentor told me that it would be a good idea to start a Facebook business page... but I also needed to create a personal page too, in order to access all the resources on our team page. I was not super thrilled about this because I decided to separate myself completely from FB in the summer of 2012 and I was super happy without it. So the thought of going back was kind of repulsing to me. Once I got the hang of it again (thankfully refraining from throwing the Mac on the floor because I was so frustrated at the logistics of the site and all that's changed since I was last on), I created a business page, https://www.facebook.com/OrigamiOwlStacyRicciIndependentDesigner, where I post sample locket ideas, quotes, helpful tips, ideas, and more. On my personal page, I really am trying to focus on just using it to interact with my design team and to access company resources. I honestly have no interest in getting sucked back into multiple drama avenues on there, so I'm hiding all posts on the homepage in order to keep away. Being in Germany last summer and away from all contact for a week was a nice wakeup call in a lot of ways, and I have no interest in going back on to just feel left out of things or be dragged into pointless drama from various social circles. No offense to anyone out there, but not trying to be on there as me, just trying to be on there for business purposes. I'd rather interact with people on the business page side of FB than have friend requests on the personal page. I do have to say, the business part is fun. There are a lot of great O2 pic ideas out there, so trying to share for ideas to spark creativity while trying to build/design your own. 

So, what are you waiting for? If you haven't already, check out my shopping link & FB business page. From either, you can place an order or get ideas. If you're stuck on something, shoot me an email for some design or ordering input. Happy shopping! Get out and create (or add to!) your story today! <3



Monday, November 18, 2013

Hoot, Hoot!

It's official.... Newest member of the Origami Owl team right here!! :)

I bit the bullet and joined the consultant/designer team tonight! I've been in touch with the designer who did my party, Lindsey, and was excited about the idea of joining, so jumped right in! I'm super excited to represent this company and share my story with others, while helping them to create custom jewelry that fits their own unique stories. You get to pick your own name for your personal corner of the site, and I chose Wish Upon a Star... Stars are bright, they sparkle, guide you through darkness, and you can wish upon them. I thought that fit me pretty well, huge dork that I am! Plus, it's a Disney reference of course! <3

The best part.... I have my 1st party booked already!! My friend, Kortney, signed up to host a party, and Lindsey passed it on to me as my 1st one (thanks!)... so in 2 weeks I'm jumping in head first for my official launch! Ahh!! :) :) Scott won't be too thrilled with this part, but it means I get to do a little shopping! A successful seller needs cute accessories to spiff up and decorate her display table! So if you know of any cute owl-themed accessories/decorations/etc, send the info my way! I'm always looking for a good bargain (and super cute stuff!). 

What is Origami Owl? 

If you're not familiar with the Origami Owl jewelry line, here's a little background. No, it is not jewelry made from paper, and no it does not resemble origami, and it's not all about owls.  Found from a compilation of different sites from a Google search,...

 "Two years ago, 14-year-old Isabella "Bella" Weems told her parents she wanted a car for her 16th birthday. Her parents made a deal with her. If she wanted to create a business and earn the money, they would match her investment. With $350 in babysitting earnings and $350 from her parents, she invested in some clear lockets. She called them Living Lockets. Customers could customize by choosing charms to place inside the lockets. Weems named her business Origami Owl and got to work designing and selling lockets and sharing her goal with others." 

Origami Owl is most known for their lockets... but they also sell regular necklaces/charms, and just launched a bracelet version of the lockets. No two necklaces are the same, as you choose what tells your story and what speaks to you. You could essentially buy one locket with different charms and mix/match with different outfits or seasons.  The possibilities are endless and it's a fun way to let your creativity shine. 

Where does the name Origami Owl come from?

"Founder Bella Weems has always loved origami. She's had it hanging from her ceiling since she was a little girl. It's a perfect representation of the lockets. Each person folds in their own way, so all have unique characteristics. That's the signature of Origami Owl jewelry. No two are exactly alike. Owls represent wisdom, strength, and courage. When they put the name Origami Owl together, Bella and her mom, Co-Founder Chrissy Weems, loved the way it sounded. They loved the meaning even more." 

If you're interested in buying, contact me for details about my direct shopping link! :)


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Random Babblings

Hi everyone!

Lots of random things to post about today. I'll TRY to make them short and sweet (stop laughing because you know me all-too-well... At least the intention was there!) ha! :) 

~*Love, Support, and Gratitude*~

First off, thank you to everyone who read Scott's blog post and showed some love and support. It was a big step for him and I'm very proud of him for writing and getting that all out. We laughed because his post had more hits on our blog than any of mine! Go, Scoot!! haha... show off.  The second cool thing is that his post happened to be the 27th post on here and that's one of our all-time favorite numbers (because our dating anniversary is 2/7.... and I'm all about hidden messages and meanings in numbers with us). Pretty cool coincidence I thought. So again, thank you all for the support. 
Second, some blog basics that I assumed everyone knew, but realize you probably don't.

*You can subscribe to our blog and receive email updates whenever we post something. As long as you're viewing this from a computer (or at least the web-version while on your phone/tablet), there's a button on the right-hand side somewhere (I'll try to make it more obvious and move it closer to the top) where you can simply enter your email address and you will automatically be linked to receive email notifications when new posts are up. 

It essentially looks like this!!...

I'm starting to realize through different family members and friends that we have a lot of followers out there (I am EXTREMELY GRATEFUL to you ALL!! Thank you so so so SOOO much for taking the time to read anything on here, even if it's been one post and that's it. It truly means a lot to me/us.). It shocks me and fills my heart each time I realize someone has read this. I guess I assumed no one was interested in what we had to say, and I'd just be blabbing to the world wide web. That's fine and dandy too because I started this as an interactive journal anyway, with the thought that my mom would be the only one reading every word... Although she does do just that (thanks, Ma!), I really can't express how much it means when I hear that different cousins, family friends, or old college/childhood friends have been following, and I had no idea! Thank you so much, and love you all! More importantly, thank you for not judging. This journey has been (and still is) very difficult for us, and we may be approaching it differently than you would, but that's ok. That's what makes us all different and unique. I understand and respect that many people would not choose to share everything with the public, but for us this has worked so far and has helped me on so many emotional levels. 

*You can leave comments on any post (I think!). When I re-designed the whole blog layout last week, I realized it was only previously open to those with Google/Blogger accounts to comment. Ooops! I changed it so now anyone can comment, no accounts or sign-ins required. If you have accounts with certain companies, it'll allow you to comment that way still... but for many of you that don't (a lot of my family), you can simply leave your comment at the end of any blog post. There's a link about comments that you can click on and leave a message. After typing said message, click on the drop-down box below the message box and choose "Name/URL". You only need to type in your name (first, full, nickname, whatever) and go from there. I tested it out once and had to enter one of those cryptic codes so they know it's a real person and not a robot or hacker, and it posted. My friend, Amy, tried it out last week as my guinea pig (Thanks, Am!), but it didn't work for her... We realized she tried from her phone/iPad, and I have had trouble commenting on other blogs from my phone, so thinking if you are on an actual computer, it should work out bc it did when I signed out and tried it... So hopefully that option is now working and someone will try and have luck.  (Sorry, I have to spell this out for my dad, who is not typically the most technologically advanced person... although he is lightyears ahead of where he was, because he can now locate the blog without my help!! haha, <3) 

*We love getting feedback on here, so please feel free to comment on things, email us, etc. ( I'm linking Scott in here without even asking... so maybe I am alone on this, who knows.) I'm not saying you have to comment on everything, or anything, it's fine not to. Just letting you all know about the options out there. Even if it's once in a while so I know I'm not just speaking to a black hole. It's nice to get feedback and reassurance. So thanks for supporting us.

~*Helping Others Build a Family*~

As I've mentioned on here before, I have been so blessed to have met so many amazing women on the social media app Instagram. So many amazing women who are on their own journeys through infertility. Some lucky enough to reach the other side with babies, some well on their way into healthy pregnancies, and many who are still trying. Many have miscarried, have struggled with failed IUI or IVF attempts,  and many are in the waiting stage to start treatments (like us). Still others can't even do anything because the costs are just so astronomical or unattainable. Others are on waiting lists for adoption. We're all different, we all have different experiences, we all have different paths, different diagnoses, we all live in different places... but we all want to be parents. So in that common bond, our journey is the same. 

One tricky part of infertility is the cost.... The ridiculous cost of everything. For most couples, insurance covers nothing. Only certain plans cover it all, but most people aren't lucky enough to be in that boat. But even if they were, it doesn't guarantee it'll take one cycle. Blood work, semen analyses, procedures, drugs, you name it- it's all really damn expensive. Some couples have started donation pages, done fundraiser events/web sites, etc to try and help cover the cost of what's to come. We've tossed around the idea but personally don't like asking for things like that. We currently have enough saved up to cover one round of IVF when the time comes (hopefully in a few months!... fingers crossed), and if it takes more than that maybe we will change our minds (or I may start something on the side to make a few extra bucks to save up), but that's not why I'm posting. I don't like asking people for money for us, but I do like supporting worthy causes for others....

That's what this section is all about. One of those wonderful women I met on Instagram has started a donation site to help out infertile couples. Because this is such a worthy cause in my eyes, I would love if I helped to spread awareness for others to help the Infertility Fairy grant the wish of deserving couples everywhere. I'm not asking it to go to us, I'm asking for it to go to them. We have the luxury of having saved for one round... but many are struggling to just get to that point. Especially with the holidays coming, this is a great way to donate to a charitable cause. The founder of Infertility Fairy is a fellow TTC sister, but she has such a huge heart that not a penny is going towards her own journey. Everything she collects is going towards the journeys of others. Amazing. I love the idea of this, just donated myself last night, and wanted to share. Even if just one of you donates, I've done my job in spreading the word and helping a bit more.

The Infertility Fairy (click here!!)

Click above to check it out and donate if you can. There's 2 ways to donate... Straight donations, or you can shop for Origami Owl jewelry (for yourself or as gifts!) and the proceeds from that go towards donations. The choice is yours.

~*Black Friday Chaos*~

The life of a retail wife.... mostly not fun, in my opinion. For the majority of the year, Scott and I work opposite schedules. Me being a teacher, I work M-F and I can be home by 4 if I needed to. Weekends and holidays off, as well as summers. His days off? Weekdays, when I'm back to work, of course... and not always predictable days off. Just when you think it'll be every Tues/Wed and try to make plans, the schedule has changed again, throwing it all off course again. All of those times off are ALL of Scott's busy times. How ironic. With the exception of summer, when I'm always home when he is, it sucks. It's tough. This has been our life for years, though. Scott started working for Best Buy in 2001, right out of HS, so you'd think I would be used to this by now. In a way I am, and sometimes it's nice that we each have our own down time so that time together is usually nicer and more appreciated, but yet somehow it doesn't get easier each year.

This year is no different... possibly worse, thanks to Black Friday and crazy customer demands. I've never understood the Black Friday hype. Just my opinion, don't jump me for it, but on the retail wife side, I just don't get it. I am all about saving a few bucks and finding amazing deals, that part I get. I am a big fan of online shopping, though, and would rather shop from my laptop, while on the couch in PJs with music playing and sipping hot chocolate. I know Black Friday is all about money and helping the economy, and helping pay our mortgage and bills, so I'm thankful for all of that, really. I'm just complaining about the fact that stores open earlier and earlier each year. Each hour that a store opens longer than it's "normal, non-holiday hours" is another hour my husband is away from me, during "the happiest time of the year". We both LOVE Christmas and the holidays... but each year with the chaos of the holidays, it's beginning to make us sadder and sadder because it only means more time apart from each other.

This year, Best Buy joined the hundreds of stores opening on Thanksgiving. We escaped it in the past, they held strong at sticking to regular Black Friday openings... but I knew that the inevitable was coming. Sure enough, they announced last week that they are opening at 6pm on Thanksgiving day. WTF. I get it from a business POV, I do. You have to beat your competitors and open sooner to get an edge on making more money. So in that sense, good for them and I hope it pays off. The company is finally in a turn-around stage and they're doing better than they were say a year ago I think... but I'm still grouchy. I know I shouldn't complain because I am thankful Scott has a job, thankful he's healthy, thankful he's not on a military leave in another country like so many out there, but I am complaining on the side of "What happened to Thanksgiving and family time?". Just because the store opens at 6pm, doesn't mean the workers can get there at 5:55.... oh no no no, they will be there around 3 or 4pm to help prep for that opening shift. They also will be there the night before until midnight or later, cleaning and prepping for the chaos that always comes with Black Friday (err...I guess it's Black Thursday now??) prep.

I haven't even gotten to the best part, Scott's shift. They got schedules figured out the other day, and originally he was told he would be working a 15-hour split shift, meaning 15 hours total, but probably split into a 7-hour and 8-hour shift, with a sleep break somewhere in the middle... I felt bad for him with that, but actually that would have been a better deal. I did the math and he'll be working 22 hours in a 29-hour period. That will be two 11-hour shifts. 4pm-3am on Thanksgiving, and then back to work 10am-9pm on Friday. That's assuming he'll actually leave at those hours, which doesn't typically happen. A 7-hour sleep break in between, which really means probably 5 hours. We live 30 mins from the store, and I don't want a zombie on the road at 3am, so Scott & Dave (his "work hubby" as I call him, or his work BFF), will probably split a hotel room down the road and sleep there instead, to maximize on the sleep time. He is going to be utterly exhausted, and that's with everything going smoothly and not counting in the factors of grouchy, rude, inconsiderate customers acting a fool just so they can save a few bucks on the latest electronics accessories. And those customers who come in all pissed off, demanding to speak to a manager or demanding a refund or an answer as to why the TV in the ad is no longer in stock.

The holiday hours start this week. The 6-day work weeks for Scott start this week. The added stress started last week. Time away from Scott, stress on us, grouchy/cranky/tired Scott has already appeared. It's not even Thanksgiving yet and I already miss my husband. I won't really get him back until January when the holidays are over and everyone is back to work/school after holiday breaks, and the stores have gone back to a quiet calm. See you in 2 months, hun. Bah-humbug.

I came across this blog this morning while Googling fellow rants from retail wives... I give her credit for not complaining, she's better than me, and I will try to start being more thankful than grouchy on this subject.

Retail Spouse's View

If you are one of those active deal-seekers for holiday shopping, more power to you. I cannot handle fighting over parking spaces, grouchy people, long lines, and the stress of holiday shopping... But if you are one of those people, please remember that those retail workers are missing time away from their families to help make your shopping experience a good one. Treat them with respect and kindness. A smile and an appreciative "Thank you" or "have a nice day" can go a long way sometimes. Just remember they are there countless hours, and all those hours are times away from their families. If your precious items are not in stock, don't throw a fit. Shop earlier next time, look online, or ask for help nicely. Have a backup plan. Don't cause a scene, curse out an employee, or be a jerk. It doesn't help anything, ever. A little kindness and patience goes a long way.

~*Possible Side Job?*~

As mentioned above, Origami Owl is a jewelry company. The Infertility Fairy has a link to her shop, but it's one of my favorite jewelry companies as well. It's pretty new still, and many people have never heard of it, but it's been around for a few years already, and I personally love the idea of it. You know how Pandora brought back the charm bracelet trend a few years back? In a sense, Origami Owl reminds me of that because it's customizable jewelry that you choose based off your interests and what you hold closest to your heart. Their most popular/signature items are their Living Lockets, and the charms you put inside tell your story. Some people tell story with words, Origami Owl is all about sharing your story with your charms and your jewelry choices. I was hooked from the moment I opened the catalog at a home party last year that Alli brought me to. I bought a silver locket and inside is a word plate that says "Believe", along with 2 charms~ a butterfly and a star. In a nutshell, that's me. I could have chosen 20 charms I loved (no surprise there, Little Miss Indecisive here!), but in the name of saving money, I chose my fav 2. Butterflies have always been a fav of mine, and I love their symbolism. I love stars as well, and everything they stand for. Shine on, shine bright from within, sparkle, and make wishes on. Believe is one of my favorite words and I always have things I keep believing in to keep me going.

I've worn my locket proudly for a year (alternating with a fav heart necklace from Scott, too), and it's a great accessory, a great reminder of holding onto hope, and it's a great conversation piece. It's unique and people often ask about it. I love the company and all their products. I ran into a local seller of OO at our town's Community Day, back in August, and booked a party with her recently. I figured it was a good excuse to have the girls from work, fam, and close friends over for some down time and shopping. It's such a fun company that I feel really sells itself, and I've been toying with the idea (for a few months now) of joining the team and selling. I'm so wishy-washy though and get super shy around people sometimes, that fear of not doing well and failing has stopped me from pursuing it. Ironically, an old childhood friend at the party expressed interest in selling, too, so we have been thinking of it and may start together. I won't dare compete with my friend on Infertility Fairy, I will let her take all the Instagram sisters because hers is totally non-profit and all proceeds she would have earned goes straight to helping others. I figured since I don't want to ask for people to donate directly to us, I could work at this as a side job and whatever I make will go towards the Team Ricci Baby fund, either saving for future fertility treatments or saving for when our child finally arrives. If I'm working for it, I won't feel badly about it. I can make my own hours, sell online, do parties for family, friends, moms at school (hint, hint to see if Kym is reading! lol), and just see where it goes... oh yea, and have a great excuse to wear and model adorable jewelry along the way. Did I mention that the OO signature color is Tiffany blue... that's one of my absolute fav colors, and was our wedding theme color. Added bonus! Don't ask me why it's called Origami Owl... I have no idea. No, the products are not made out of paper and do not resemble origami. I'll have to research it. There's a start-up fee involved with becoming a seller and getting product to display, but I think in the end it could be a fun distraction for me, give me time to bond/reconnect with my childhood friend, and give me an outlet for meeting new people, becoming more independent, and just doing something different with my time for now. I think I just may give it a go. So if you're interested in buying, don't do it off the main site yet, perhaps wait until I've started and have set up an account ....Or in the meantime, buy through Infertility Fairy so some money goes to a great cause!
Collage put together by me ;) See, I could totally design!

As always, thanks for reading and supporting us on this journey!

xoxo <3

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Guy's Perspective

I love how Stace is so good at writing and recently I started a couple projects of my own however I only get to the first page and somehow forget what I was doing a week later.  Be forewarned, although I like to write, my grammar is not the best, so be prepared for commas and run on sentences, I work for Best Buy, I just need to know how to talk.  I was talking to Stace the other night and said, "I should post something on there."  I was half joking and half serious and I forgot that Stace loves when I write, so the next day there was an invitation in my email allowing me to post on this here site.  I debated, questioned, and then finally gave in.  I don't think this is going to be a regular thing for me, however if it helps any one of the couples out there, than it might happen more often.  

A lot of infertility sites and support groups really just talk to the women in the groups.  They really do not lend a hand to the men that are out there trying to figure out why it doesn't work.  Stace bought me a book about a year ago maybe less called, "How to Make Love to a Plastic Cup."  This was before we found out the inevitable.  I read the first couple of chapters and put it down (like my other projects.)  The book to this day still sits under the laptop, within ease of reach, however I never have reached for it again due to the fact that every time I make love to a cup, it ends in the same way and the doctors tell me sorry.  I still remember the first time that I was told that there were not any swimmers.  I got the call on a night before I had a big district walk at work.  Like so many other men, I bottled it up and was not even able to process what I had been told.  I texted my friend Manny on my way to work, broke down a little in the car, quickly regained myself and went into work.  Now if you know me I am typically very good at a poker face and people try to break me but cannot.  This day was very different, every associate, manager and district support looked at me and saw something different.  Many of my managers looked at me and asked if I was okay and I told all of them as if it was a normal conversation.  All of them said well if this is the first time I am sure something could be done.  I was pretty negative at that time and said, no I don't think so.  I accepted that day that I was infertile.  I had an interview that same week for a hotel chain and afterwards I was going to stop by my brother's tattoo shop and hang out with him.  Stace was soo scared that I was going to get a tattoo that basically said "f infertility."  Instead I was talked into getting a tattoo of wedding rings and our wedding date.  Huge surprise for myself, Stace and all of our friends and I still show it off to this day and people say, you got a tattoo???  But yeah, f infertility.  

Stace recently posted about all the things that suck with infertility and I agree with a lot of them.  Infertility does suck, it hurts, it pains you, it makes you question yourself, it makes you dig deep, it makes you not want to go on(not with life but with the process), it makes you feel as if you're the only one that is dealing with it(especially as a guy).  For those that don't know me, I am known as the "baby whisperer" for those that do and you had a baby, you know that there are just sometimes you wish I was there to help.  I don't know why I am so good with babies but I am, and it hurts that I cannot have my own.  I have always loved taking care of babies.  I remember back when my Grandpa Fleming was in the hospital and all of my relatives would come and visit(we were the closest family so we were there pretty much every weekend.)  I remember that one week both my cousin Nicholas and my second cousin Kayla were around.  They both at the time were probably in the 1 year old age range, however I was helping watch them.  My uncles and aunts and cousins felt safe with me watching them.  I had fun watching them.  I was young at the time(sorry I do not have a good memory for when people are sick or when the pass away so I don't remember my age.)  I also remember when my friend Manny and I were hanging out at his house and this was before we became the brothers that we are today.  I said, Manny, Greysen is crying you want me to pick him up?  Manny said he does not like other guys that much he is a daddy's boy.  Challenge Accepted(in Barney's voice from How I Met Your Mother.)  I picked up Greysen and he stopped crying. From that moment on I was the alternate for his crying.  Our friend Alli had a baby and I wanted to be there for so much.  I loved having Caroline in my arms and I loved that she felt so comfortable that she would constantly fall asleep on me.  I remember when she was baptized and we all went to Alli's parents right after.  I remember being upset because I had to share her with everyone and that I would not get the one on one time that I was used to.  Then the call came, I was just about to get my second beer, you know hanging with the guys, but I stopped because Steve, Caroline's dad, was yelling Scott Ricci, Scott Ricci someone find Scott.  I came to the rescue like any superhero would and rescued her from crying.  There was another family at the party and they too had a baby boy to which I became good friends with.  This is really where the baby whisperer came to life because everyone that saw me that day with the babies just saw that babies are very comfortable with me.  And then it has just been a whirlwind of babies since then that people want to hand them over to me to see if I can win them over.  To this date I have only had one baby that has not just slept in my arms, but, we are on speaking terms now after so its all good.  

Well that's a little bit of the background...so why would I decide to do this?  Because it needs to be done.  I recently had a conversation with Stace regarding the donor part of this whole situation.  We stated from the beginning that we wanted to do donor because that way its definitely a part of us and we can go through everything together as best as possible.  Stace had also talked about the 10 things not to say to someone trying recently but they never think of the guy.  Guys are good for only a few things in life and making babies is one of them.  Lucky for me, I am better at accomplishing other things because otherwise our house would probably have many code violations that I would have to pay people to fix.  Just like having someone come over to fix the wiring because you made a mistake, we have the ability to do IVF to fix my issue.  Whenever you hear about someone doing IVF, they never tell you about the heartache that you go through before hand.  For 2 years we have been trying to have a kid.  They tell you not to go to specialist before the first year, and now it has been going to specialist and still nothing. Two years is a long time and when you are trying to have a baby it does not go fast.  So much money being spent on tests that I know in my head are going to produce the same result--no swimmers.  I am optimistic about having a baby, I am pessimistic that it is going to come from my swimmers.  Now that we are coming to the final stage where its mine or donor, it recently hit home.  I had a vision that I would have a problem caring and loving for a baby that was not "mine."  I know that right now it is just a thought however I am sure in my life it will be brought back up for me and I will feel lost.  I know I will not have a problem caring and loving for our babies in the future.  I have already taking many of my friends children and treated them as if they were mine.  But we are coming to that time and it does suck.  The good thing about the year to come is that whether or not I have any swimmers, Stace could be pregnant at this time next year!!!!  I cannot wait for us to find that out...until then I wait to have my own.  

So yeah, that's me in a nutshell.  Sorry its soo long but this is my first time and I needed to catch you all up on how I am feeling.  Instructions for after reading this, I don't need an extra hug, I don't need anyone to ask if I really am okay, I don't need anyone to worry about me.  I need for everyone to keep being there for Stace and I and helping us through these hard times.  I need my friends to keep having babies so that I can keep loving and caring for them.  I need life to go on.  Life does not stop since I cannot have my own right now, but I will tell you this when we do get that news of you are pregnant, my world might get paused for a few minutes.  Really funny as I finish this post Baby Don't Cry by Tupac is playing on the TV which is what I need from my friends, because don't worry I will keep my head up and I will not give up.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

High School Sweethearts... Lucky in Love

I keep finding really cute articles lately, so here's another share, this time about high school sweethearts. 

I know a lot of high school sweethearts. Sometimes it doesn't work out in the long run, but many times it does. Here's a cute article about why high school sweethearts rock... <3

10 Reasons Why Marrying Your High School Sweetheart Rocks

Spreading Awareness

The cover photo I chose for my ReadWave story
I came across a new social media outlet today. It's got a setup visually similar to Pinterest (huge fan of that, by the way!), but allows you to read and share 3 minute stories. It's called ReadWave and it's pretty unique. 

I'd say I happened across it by accident, but really it found me. I received an email a few weeks ago from Robert Tucker, one of the site's co-founders. The email said that he had enjoyed my blog and encouraged me to check out his site and submit a story. To be totally honest, I thought it was a complete scam and just ignored it, thinking every blog out there received this email and it wasn't even a real site. While I am sure millions of people received this same exact email, I did decide today to check out the site and it does seem pretty legit, and actually very interesting.

So, today I set up an account (for free) and submitted a story. You can write about anything but the catch is that it has to be 800 words or less. I love the concept of this because it forces you to be concise. (We all know I have major issues with that! haha!) It forces you to get to the point and keep it simple. Of course, I fit mine in at exactly 799. (wink, wink) This technically makes it a 4 minute story (it conveniently has a word counter for you, and the range of words determines how many minutes it is). Then it's posted to the site for public access. So, the most basic story of our journey is up there. I titled it "What Doesn't Kill You, Brings You Closer Together".

My Story

After submitting stories on ReadWave, you can tag keywords. As I was searching the "infertility" tag, I came across the story "To My Sisters Who Wait: A Letter About Infertility". It's got a beautiful message and is written by someone from the other side, someone who's been there and understands, and someone who is now a mom, but hasn't forgotten the journey that got her there. I suggest reading it; it speaks volumes to the TTC community especially. <3

To My Sisters Who Wait: A Letter About Infertility

Speaking of those lucky ones on the other side, someone close to us (and a loyal follower of this blog, I might add!!), is an infertility/IVF survivor. I'm not sure how public their journey is, so I won't mention names or clues to who they are, but this couple has been very supportive and helpful in this journey. They underwent this process a few years back, way before we started trying and way before we even knew what IVF was. I'm not even sure if we knew they were undergoing it. I give them an EXTREME amount of respect, because although I'm sure they had support from family and friends, I think it was harder then, and this was only a few years ago. I feel bad that we were so naive to the whole process and all of the emotions, but now we completely understand and we've formed a closer bond because of it. I can't imagine having to go through this journey without the outlets I've found in social media, this blog, and speaking out about it. I'm very thankful to this person's unconditional support. She sent me the following picture quote today... it's one of my favorites and I had recently forgotten how it went, then it showed up today. It fits us all very well. Thank you! <3 <3

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What Not to Say...

Let's face it, most people are guilty of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Sometimes it's meanness, but sometimes it's truly not intentional. Many people are naive to the fact that millions of couples cannot get pregnant easily, or naturally. 

All that aside, I stumbled upon the following article from The Bump. It's basically 13 top things NOT to say to someone trying to conceive. I can honestly say I have heard most of these from other people. The most popular are "Just relax." and "Stop trying so hard." While sometimes this was meant from a sincere heart, they certainly don't help. It's impossible to relax when baby-making is all that's on your mind, and you need to try in order for it to happen. In a weird twisted sense, I'm thankful the days of taking my temperature and checking for ovulation on a daily basis are behind me, because a full year of that was not fun in the least. Not needing the stupid basal thermometer or buying ovulation strips anymore is a pretty big relief (hey, it's the little things that count, right?!). 

Right, back on topic. Here's the article. It's more like a slideshow of 13 things not to say. It'll only take a few mins to click through....

The Bump~ What NOT to say

There, now you are in the know. You just never know when you might come across someone who's stressed out from trying, so try to keep this article in mind. I'm certainly not pointing fingers at anyone here, I'm sure I would be guilty of it as well if I was on the opposite side of the fence. All you want to do is offer advice, support, and hope, so some of these are attempts at that, and that's ok. But going through 2 years of it, finding out you can only have a shot at pregnancy with medical assistance, and hearing those things, just doesn't help. 

I honestly had a good laugh at most of these... gotta find sick humor in things sometimes. :) 

"Just relax and stop trying".... HA.... sadly, not until a Team Ricci baby is born and home from the hospital will I truly be able to relax 1000000%. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's Just Not Fair...

As daylight gets shorter (sunset around 4:30, really?! Not a fan!) and the temperatures drop, I become one cranky girl. Sunshine and warmth put me in a wonderful mood... cold, dark fall/winter days and nights make me miserable. So this isn't exactly going to be a happy post. A lot of people assume I'm all about happy things and everything in my life is always just peachy. Just because I often choose happiness and positivity over complaints and negativity, it doesn't mean that. But this post will be proof that even I have my fair share of dark moments. 

I just caught up on the blogs of two amazing and inspirational girls who are also trying to have a baby (and also who are both SUPER deserving... they all are, but these two have been in my top ten since I found that hidden community of Instagram almost a year ago). I'm mad that neither of them are parents yet and I'm bitter because I feel like they both are so wonderful to everyone else and deserve to be parents. I have no doubt they will make AMAZING mothers some day. So people who follow their blogs too, some of this may seem similar to their format of recent posts, but it's a style that has led me to make my own list of things on my mind. Here's links to their blogs for all interested in following their wonderful journeys... They are truly inspirations to me. 
Chelsea's Blog  
Rachel's Blog

Ok, so here we go. I have a lot to rant about, but then I'll wrap it up with something positive, followed by our most recent update. 

Infertility sucks. 

Infertility makes you cry... A LOT. 

Infertility makes you feel lonely and secluded. 

Infertility makes you feel different and pitied. It puts you in a different category from all the "normal" couples... couples who can make a baby for free, and easily, with no medical assistance. 

Infertility is extremely hard on a marriage. Sometimes you feel like it has brought you closer, other times you feel like it's tearing you apart. 

Infertility takes the fun out of certain things that should be fun when you're young, married, and childless.

Infertility makes you jealous of everyone with a baby. 

Infertility makes you wonder "what if" to a lot of things, and makes you doubt a lot within yourself, within your relationship, and what's to come in the future. 

I hate that it's very difficult for me to go down the baby aisle of a store. It makes me want to cry, so I avoid it at all costs whenever possible. 

I hate that it's been almost 2 years since we've been trying for a family.... if all were perfect, we'd have a 1-year old by now. 2 whole years, just gone. 

I hate that we moved into this house 3 years ago and still have an empty room upstairs just waiting to become a nursery. 

I hate that I once dreamed of ways to decorate a nursery.... and now I've just stopped. 

I hate that I don't even like looking at baby clothes now. It makes me want to cry. 

I hate that I don't want to go to baby showers or shop for baby shower gifts. I try to buy things online and something that won't bring up too much emotion, rather than the cutest gift out there. 

I hate that I may offend friends with babies or pregnant friends who might change how they act around me or not want to share their news. Please don't change. It's actually oddly easier for me to handle it from closer friends because my joy outshines my jealousy. A friend recently just told me she was pregnant (NOT giving a single hint about who!) and I swear I was honestly 100000% thrilled and so I feel bad and don't want her to think I'm targeting this at her. It's hard to explain but I think the ones closest to me only make me super excited, but acquaintances or strangers who are pregnant make me insanely jealous. 

I hate that I seem to see pregnant women everywhere... I mean EVERYWHERE. We had a pregnant bird out on the back deck this summer, and she would just perch outside on the rail. I mean really?! Show off. 

I hate that I put off doing things because "maybe I'll be pregnant by then"... nope, 2 years later and still nothing. 

I hate that we spent so much money on birth control for all those years, and that was money just flushed down the drain.

I hate that we waited so long to start trying. What if we had started this process sooner? 

I hate that I play the "What If?" game. It would still put us here on this path, whether we started sooner or not. 

I hate that it's Scott and not me. I hate that I can't console Scott. I don't know what it feels like personally. I say we are in it together and we are a team, but I don't think it helps. 

I hate that I have fear that this will tear us apart and drive a wedge between us someday. 

I hate that Christmas is coming and the holidays make it all tougher to handle.  Christmas will likely make me cry again this year. I went off birth control on Christmas Eve 2011.... so 2 years is quickly approaching. Talk about a great way to make your favorite holiday one of your least favs. 

I wish we weren't on this journey. 

I wish Scott wasn't infertile. 

I wish we didn't have this stress on our relationship. 

I wish we had all the money in the world to cover multiple rounds of IVF. We have enough set aside for one round, but I know it's likely to take more than that. I dread that. 

I wish insurance covered infertility. I now joke and measure large amounts of money in terms of how many kids (or rounds of IVF that will pay for).

I wish this weren't happening to us. 

I wish I knew WHY this is happening to us. 

I wish I knew what the outcome would be. 

I wish I knew if we will be okay in the end. 

I wish all my TTC friends success in becoming parents. 

I wish to see Scott as a daddy someday. I know he will be an AMAZING dad. 

I wish for success with IVF and happiness.

I wish this wasn't our reality. (Can't I pass a test and move on instead? I have certainly learned many lessons, so let's make a deal and call this a day. No? Well, it was worth a shot.)

Ok, so I promised a positive spin somewhere. This week's positive spin is my best friend, Alli (or Shmalli as I sometimes call her). Alli is a true gem. We've been friends since we met in freshman year of college, back in 2001 (....woa, starting to feel old).  So we've been friends for 11 years now. We only live 30 mins apart and we keep in touch constantly. Alli is such a wise person and she is so sweet, loving, supportive, and sincere. I just adore and admire her so SO much. One of her best qualities is her continuous support of us in everything, but especially our journey to a baby. Alli has been on top of every appointment we've had on this journey and has sent us text messages prior to all appointments with prayers, luck, and love. She's always with us in spirit and holding our hands every step of the way, and I couldn't ask for anything more. 

This week was no different. Last night was Scott's 6 month post-surgery checkup at the urologist. Sunday night, as we were just getting ready to watch the newest episode of The Amazing Race (which came on late due to football), Scott & I both received the following message: 

"Think of your journey as the amazing race. The prize at the end is a family. Each appointment you've had has only been a resting point on your trip where they tell you what to do next to reach your destination. The MOST important part is the love and faith that you have in each other and the strong bond you've created together. That will help your family grow no mater what it takes to get there. I am so excited for tomorrow because it means that I am one step closer to falling in love with a new Ricci. Love to you both. xoxo"

Wow.  That's how I felt after reading that... just WOW (along with lots of crying). Wow. 

The ironic part is that she doesn't even watch The Amazing Race, and certainly didn't know it was coming on late, so it truly was an incredible coincidence! We, of course, were so touched by this message. It made me cry, but happy tears. Like a cry of hope and reassurance that we will get through this and we are just moving along to different pit stops along the way. We won't give up and we will do whatever it takes to get there. We just can't give up and we have to stick together. We are a team. Team Ricci will come through in the end. 

As for the update: As mentioned, last night was Scott's 6-month post-surgery checkup. We will have official results in a few days, but the urologist's initial feeling is that nothing has changed and there are still no swimmers. Our options are to do a needle biopsy/sperm mapping to check for stubborn swimmers who may be hiding down below, or to move on to IVF with donor sperm. Although that is a real possibility for us in the near future, we want to explore all possibilities with Scott first, so we chose the mapping/biopsy. It's pretty much as awful as it sounds and I pray Scott won't have a lot of pain with this because it won't be fun. So we set this procedure for the 2nd week in December and this will be our last shot. This is the devastating part because I think a donor will be very hard, emotionally speaking, and will open up a new can of worms and "What ifs" that I'm really just not prepared to deal with yet without crying. 

So, we go all in as this is our last shot. There really isn't anything we can do over the next month to make chances of success higher, but I think hope, prayers, and positivity are helpful. If you're the praying kind, we would certainly appreciate prayers that they find something with the biopsy next month. We would love a decent amount, but it really only takes just 1. So I'm asking for prayers for at least just one healthy sperm. Dr. Werner told us a story back in April of a couple in our shoes who did the 4 month and 6 month check with no success, moved on to sperm mapping and they found/retrieved TWO... moved on to IVF and she was pregnant!! This is not usually reality, but you know what, it CAN happen, so it is possible. I am holding on to that tiny ounce of hope with all my might. Believing, hoping, praying, wishing, you name it. Please pray for us to have that chance as well. 

Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this post. 

Love, hugs, and gratitude,
Stace xoxo <3 <3 <3

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Shout Out, Answered Prayers, & Distractions

Two posts in one day... look at me go! I knew my update would end up being pretty long, so wanted to make this a separate entry and mesh a few things together. 

First, a shout out. Technically, more of a book review, but that doesn't sound as fun. So let's say it's a shout out to the author, Kristine Ireland Waits, for her book Every Drunken Cheerleader: Why Not Me? 

I found this book back in January, like the day we found out our infertility sentence. I remember being home by myself when the Doctor gave me the news that we had no swimmer count. Scott was working the late shift that night, so it was me, the devastating news, a box of tissues for my millions of tears, and the Dr. Google for quick solutions of support, research, understanding, and answers. I searched infertility books and this is one of the first I came up with. The first was actually Waiting For Daisy, by Peggy Orenstein, which is another good read. I ordered both and had them a few days later. 

With a title like Every Drunken Cheerleader: Why Not Me?, how can you not laugh or say "YUP, that sums it up." I mean, really. The title grabbed me instantly and I'm glad I found it. Kristine's writing is so personable and just flows, as if you were sitting in a room with her and hearing her tell her story. I was hooked from the first page, and after the intro and first chapter, I looked her up and emailed her. I know that sounds weird and stalker-like, but I have actually never done anything like this before. There was just something about her writing style, and her encouraging words, that made me want to reach out and thank her. Up to this point in the early stages of our relationship with infertility, I had only told a very small number of people, and most of them didn't really understand what exactly we were going through... but this author did. I was craving guidance from someone who had been in our shoes before. So I emailed her just to say thank you and to let her know that I truly enjoyed her book. From what I could tell, I had a feeling she would be very appreciative and would want some feedback from readers. 

Sure enough, she did, because I was surprised when Kristine wrote back that same day! She was very thankful and glad that I responded positively to her book, felt we both spoke the same language, and asked me to consider contributing to her next book. This book was all about her personal experiences, and she's currently working on one that is a compilation of other people's experiences with infertility. So kind of taking a different spin and publishing a collection of struggles, advice, ways to find support, success stories, etc. I immediately jumped on this because since everything was still so new and fresh, I had been meaning to journal about it all but hadn't had the push to yet. Her request was my push, so I did it and wrote about everything on my mind. I must have spent about 3 hours at the laptop just writing nonstop as it all poured out. I apologized profusely to her and said I didn't even care if she used none of it, but it was so therapeutic for me to get it all out there, so she could take it or leave it, but it was helpful for me to have written. I think the spark to start this blog came out of that, too. I've always tried to keep journals, but it usually ended up wishy washy. Plus it makes my hand hurt. This is a lot easier. So, now I have an author friend. We've emailed back and forth a few times over the last few months, most recently over the summer and she replied saying if we lived closer, she would bring over a kick board to help encourage our swimmers! Ha! She's working on her new book now and I can't wait to see how it turns out. I don't even mind if none of my material was useful (well, I would feel awful for her to have read through it all, but really no hard feelings other than that here), the fact that it helped me say what I needed to say to keep record of our journey for myself is what really counts. Anything more than that would just be kind of fun and neat. 

I truly recommend this book to anyone who wants a good read, whether you're trying to conceive (TTC) or are close to someone who is. It gives a great picture of all the emotions and other things you encounter on the journey. And needless to say, Kristine and her husband have endured many struggles but in the end have two beautiful children!! Gotta love stories with happy endings. <3

Check out these sites to learn more about Kristine and her books: 

Next, some cute prayer stories. 

My family is Catholic, we went to church a lot growing up, and I received many sacraments, but I'm not very active in the church anymore. I've honestly had a hard time believing in God at times, but I still consider myself a very spiritual person. I have total faith that things usually happen for a reason and to just stay positive and believe. I believe in a lot of things and have a lot of hope, but it's kind of been my own spiritual journey for a bit until the past year. I've started to pray on my own a lot more in the past year and I have many different tokens of fertility symbols and good luck charms on my dresser. Things from different friends. There's a picture of the triple goddess, which is supposed to be a powerful fertility symbol, a Kokopelli charm/necklace, a fertility bracelet, a prayer for motherhood, and a few other trinkets that I felt I would keep all in one spot when a friend suggested this last year. Can't hurt, I'll try just about anything if it will get us a step or two closer. Anyway, I've somewhat regained my sense of faith over the last year and have kind of found my own spirituality and what I believe in. 

Over the summer, I knew I was changing grade levels again to teach Kindergarten. I was pretty excited about it, but having only done it once before (2 years ago, so not consecutively), I was nervous to be the only teacher doing it this time. My partner was moving up to 2nd and I was really really nervous about teaching it on my own when I wasn't 100% comfortable with taking it over just yet. It was only set to be one section because the numbers just weren't there for 2 classes. (I teach in a VERY small school~ it's a K-8 district, all in one building, with only 1 or 2 sections of each grade, depending on size.) The K numbers in June were around 18, and we wouldn't typically split unless it was around 24/25. I was in and out a lot over the summer moving classrooms, and when I was in on July 30 before going to Florida for a few weeks, the principal updated me that many new families were moving in and wanted to register their children, and our numbers could be increasing. The potential numbers were enough to put it right on the fence of 24/25. 25 is average anywhere else in the country, but in our small little country town, 25 in one class is A LOT. On my way home that day, I started to panic and run through lots of thoughts. That many kids in one class at my school would be enough to set any of us on edge, but I was more anxious for a few reasons. Kindergarten can be a loose cannon; you don't know their academic needs or behaviors yet, so that's a lot for the lower grades where rules, routines, and other foundations are key. The bigger elephant in the room was that fact that I knew there was a good possibility I would be starting fertility treatments during this school year and would need to be out a lot of days for different doctor appointments. Not ideal in any situation, but worse in a Kinder class, and a class with so many families who just might not understand. So right there, on my drive home, I started to pray out loud. I tried to spin it and think positively. I knew I would only be given what I could handle... or at least I prayed to only be given what I can handle. If it ended up being so many kids, I would have to accept it and know that I would survive, somehow, one way or another. I asked to PLEASE keep in mind the fact that we'd potentially be missing days with RE appointments and treatments, on top of regular germs and sicknesses that any school year brings. If I was meant to go through all of that, a smaller number would be much easier to handle. Fast forward 2 weeks and the last full day of our vacation in Disney (just 2 weeks before school started) I got word that the administrators decided to split the class into 2 smaller classes. I was SO overjoyed and felt an immediate sense that things would start looking up soon and we can start down the path to a baby this school year. I now have 12 children (with 1 or 2 newbies potentially arriving in the next few weeks) and they are such a sweet, fun, and adorable class! I am loving each and every day and I'm very VERY hopeful for the school year ahead. I know I will need to use days for appointments at some point in the year, but having a smaller class makes it so much easier to be gone here and there, and I have to put my family first for once. I know they will be left in good hands and that it won't be chaotic for substitutes with a nice small number. I truly feel that things are starting to fall into place. :)

Thankfully ;)
And finally, some distractions...

Being a teacher married to a retail manager, our schedules are like night and day. Sometimes Scott and I are like two ships passing in the night. I am up at 6:30 and in bed around 10 every weekday, and home on the weekends. Scott works all weekend, every weekend, has 2 weekdays off, and works some mid shifts, some late shifts, and one opening shift. It's safe to say that we spend more time together asleep in the same bed than awake with each other. We can count on 2 dinners a week, maybe 3 together... the days that Scott is off from work (as long as I leave school at a decent time), and the day he opens (as long as he leaves on time). Other than a few hours together on those nights, we have a few hours combined on the weekend mornings too, before he goes to work. So it's never enough to go out and do anything other than run a few errands and maybe go out to eat. Otherwise we are on the couch, catching up, watching TV, and eating din together or having coffee together. 

We haven't had a common day off together since August 28th, and we probably wouldn't have one again until Thanksgiving... unless I take off from work. Luckily, my birthday is in October and we usually try to do something either on my birthday or on the weekend nearest. This year it's on a weekend and we're both taking 3 whole days together and going on a weekend getaway!! I'm so excited. It's the big 3-0 and I'm not super excited about that (Dad, I totally get why you always used to pretend you were still 29 every year... I don't want to turn 30!!). Scott asked if I wanted a party, but all I really wanted was a weekend with Scott, some wine, and to be somewhere new for the weekend. So we're headed to wine country, the Finger Lake region of New York. It's about 4 hours northwest of us, but we've been wanting to go for years, and what better reason than a big milestone birthday? Also, if we aren't starting any fertility treatments until December at the earliest, a wine weekend in the fall is perfect. I am so excited for this distraction. Distraction from school, from infertility, from social media, from everything except us. Just us. A Team Ricci getaway.  I love our vacations together because it really gives us quality time to reset and reconnect. Our work schedules tire us out so much that even though we have a few hours together on some days, we're like on autopilot and usually stressed, tired, or have something to work on or do. So this trip will be a fun and relaxing adventure to somewhere new. I'm really looking forward to it!! :) :) :)

 "Eat, drink, and be merry." <3