New Address

This will be the last post at this web address. I’m moving this blog over to LisaMarieNewton.com. I’ll continue to post personal updates as well as my thoughts on reading, blogging, and learning (3 passions of mine). Make sure you change your bookmarks, RSS feeds, or however you read blogs to the new address! Thanks!

April 2014 Highlights

April started off on a very low note.  On March 30th, we found out that our first cycle of IVF worked and I was pregnant.  We were ecstatic.  However, blood tests on April 1st revealed that the pregnancy was not progressing and that I would miscarry.  Talk about a cruel April Fool’s joke.  If you’re interested in the details, you can read more about it on my other blog.

I walked around in a daze for about a week after.  It was a nasty combination of emotion and synthetic hormone withdrawal that I hope I never have to repeat again.

We did manage to have a nice time with my family while my brother and his girlfriend were in town.  Here we are at my dad’s flower show.

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We met with our doctor to determine our next steps, and I’ve already started taking the medications to prepare for a frozen embryo transfer.

It had been a rough month, so we decided to treat ourselves to a quick getaway when we got a special email deal at a local hotel.  A friend works at the front desk and she upgraded us to a suite when we arrived.  I can easily say it was the nicest, largest hotel room I’d ever stayed in.

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We spent some time reading in the window seat.  I want one of these in my house!

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The windows overlooked the beautiful golf course

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Finally, we celebrated my birthday by going out to dinner with some friends and Tom’s parents and then lunch with my parents.  Forgot to take pictures!

We’re looking forward to seeing what May holds for us!

Your birthday present to me

NIAW 2014

Today is my 33rd birthday, and I’m asking you for a present.

You see, it’s also the last day of National Infertility Awareness Week.  And I’m hoping that I’m hoping that 33 of my friends will take two minutes to write their Senators and their Representative and ask them to support the Family Act.

Aside from purchasing our house, tackling infertility has been the biggest financial commitment we’ve ever made.  Many people don’t realize that only 15 states have laws requiring infertility coverage. Even the term “coverage” is misleading, because in some states (like California), insurance companies are required to offer coverage, but employers are not required to make it a part of their insurance package for their workers. In other words, companies aren’t required to accept infertility coverage for their employees, even though the insurance companies have to offer it.  

My own insurance covers nothing related to infertility diagnosis or treatment, so we’ve paid for everything out-of-pocket.  The federal tax code offers a medical deduction for expenses that go beyond 10% of your adjusted gross income, but that’s only for people whose expenses exceed 10% in a single calendar year. If you have a big bill in November and a big bill in February, you can’t deduct them both in the same tax year.

Last year The Family Act of 2013 was introduced in the Senate and the House.  This bill would provide a tax credit for out-of-pocket expenses for IVF and fertility preservation treatments starting with the first dollar spent.  It must pass by December 2014 to become a law.  

So, if you want to give me a gift for my birthday, please click on the links below to send a pre-written email to your two Senators and your State Representative.

Many couples facing infertility are forced to choose between their dream of parenthood and financial stability.  Consequently, parenthood after infertility is often only achieved by the wealthy.  

Odds are I’m not the only person you know who deals with infertility.  It affects 1 in 8 couples, but many people keep it a secret.  If you take the time to send an email today, you’ll most likely be helping several other friends or loved ones- not just me.  

So, happy birthday to me and thank you for the gifts!

My Gluten-Free Experiment

Over the last weekend of February I read Wheat Belly by William Davis. The basic premise of this book is that we consume way too much grain, and grain contributes to our health problems in ways we don’t even realize.

I decided I had nothing to lose by going gluten-free during my IVF cycle, and it may even help, so I dove in.

It was both easy and hard.

The hard part was eating out and social occasions. The first challenge came when we went to an Italian restaurant for my mom’s birthday. The menu was full of pastas and pizzas, and literally the only gluten-free item was eggplant. Luckily, it was drowned in cheese and pasta sauce so it was delicious! But it seriously limited my options.

I also had difficulties when we ate other people’s houses. For example, we went to Tom’s mother’s house for a family birthday celebration and everyone else was having pizza. Tom and I brought our own steaks and spinach to cook. Our meal was perfectly fine, but that pizza smelled so good!

It was easy in the sense that I found I really didn’t miss bread or other grains all that much. I was replacing them mostly with dairy (which some people don’t recommend, but full fat dairy is recommend for women trying to conceive), so I didn’t feel hungry.

Did it help with the IVF? I don’t know, but I do know felt a lot better physically! Despite the insane amount of drugs I was injecting myself with every day, I didn’t feel the same fatigue I usually did. Yes, I would get tired, but I no longer had that almost-overwhelming urge to take a nap after lunch. I didn’t feel like I was about to fall over from sleepiness like I normally would. That disappeared within 2 days of going gluten-free.

I lost about 5 pounds, which I wasn’t trying to do, but it showed me just how many calories I was getting from things like crackers, pasta, and bread.

Finally, I broke my gluten fast last weekend when I ordered grilled cheese for lunch at Chili’s. I was already feeling horrible due to the fact I had just gone off all my medications, cold turkey. I figured a little gluten couldn’t make it much worse.

I don’t know if it was the gluten, or the meds withdrawal, or a combination of both, but I basically spent the next 8 hours on the couch. I felt terrible the worst I had in a long time, both mentally and physically. While I don’t think I’ll be gluten-free, 100% of the time, forever (because it’s just not always practical or polite), I haven’t had anymore gluten since, and I’m planning on going gluten-free again during out next IVF cycle.

March 2014 Highlights and Best Reads

Highlights from March

  • We completed our first round of IVF.  If you’d like to read about this in more detail, hop on over to my other blog.  
  • We had multiple family dinners and get-togethers.
  • I enjoyed my week-long Spring Break.
  • I moved my other blog from a free Blogger account to self-hosted WordPress.

Favorite March Blog Posts

Mandatory Hemingway Photo

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February 2014 Highlights & Reads

Highlights from Last Month

  • Tom went to a football conference in Concord while I visited with San Jose friends
  • We celebrated the 3rd anniversary of our first kiss and the 2nd anniversary of closing on our house
  • We had an amazing dinner with some new friends from church who have also journeyed through infertility (and survived!)
  • Tom went to Fresno to attend the premiere of a friend’s movie

Books I Read in February

Favorite Podcast Episodes

Favorite Reads: Jan 2014

Here are my favorite reads from last month.  

I only read one book in its entirety during January, but it was a good one.

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MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche

After having the experience uprooting my life twice in the last 5 years and having to make a new circle of friends, I was intrigued by Bertsche’s goal to find new friends.

She spends a year going on at least one “friend date” a week, and her experience is hilarious and thought-provoking. As an introvert who can lean toward the quiet/shy side with new people, I found it comforting to know that I’m not the only grown woman who struggles to make friends in adulthood.

I also liked how she explored the idea of friendship. What makes a “good” friend? And when does an acquaintance turn into a friendship?

I’d definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a fun memoir that is also thought-provoking without being too heavy.

Blogs

These are the blog posts that kept me thinking long after I read them:

Cat

The best word to describe January 2014 in our household is cat.

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This month, we officially took custody of our neighbor’s cat Hemingway.  He began visiting us when we moved into our house two years ago, and when we discovered he was no longer being cared for by the neighbor, we offered to adopt him.

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It’s amazing how quickly we turned into full-fledged cat owners.  The first week he was with us, he had an abscess drained and we had to keep him indoors for 72 hours.  I stayed up two nights with him as he adjusted to staying in our house.

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Recovering from his surgery

He’s all better now and loves the cat door we installed for him.  Yes, we’re those people…

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He sleeps at the foot of the bed or on top of our clothes hamper, and is the most affectionate cat I’ve ever met.  My phone has quickly filled with videos and pictures, and my mother and mother-in-law have purchased numerous toys for him.  

I’m aware of the irony that the people who can’t have a kid have gone berserk over a cat, but oh well.  He really has brought us so much joy!

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Best Reads of 2013, Part 2

Last Saturday, I posted Part 1 of my Best Reads of 2013. Today I’m sharing Part 2.

Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God by Gary Thomas

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This is another book that takes personality types in account.  Thomas helps readers discover how they best connect with God and take steps to nurture time spent in worship.

Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

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This was the only piece of fiction I read this year (terrible, I know), and I’m so glad I did.  Stedman writes a haunting story about an infertile couple who find a baby and raise it as their own, only to be discovered years later.  It left me with many thoughts about the definition of parenthood and motherhood, and the story was on my mind days after I finished it.

How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories From Prominent Evangelicals, edited by Alan F. Johnson

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During the summer I read several books about women in leadership and ministry, and this was one of my favorite.  It contains several essays from well-known church leaders of the last few decades who uses to oppose giving women pastoral and leadership roles in the church, but have now changed their mind.  Fascinating read.

Inconceivable: A Woman’s Triumph Over Despair and Statistics by Julia Indichova

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Indichova is a prominent infertility advocate and I enjoyed reading the story about how she beat the biological odds and conceived a child.  There is a mystical element to the book that I could’ve done without, but it was inspiring to read about her self-case methods and positive outlook.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

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Having moved 3 times in 3 years and currently living in a 890-square foot house with no linen closets, no garage, and no storage I’ve recently been forced to downsize almost everything.  I’ve read several books and blogs over this time period that have helped me see that simplicity is good, but this book took it to the next level.  I appreciate how she was honest about her struggles to downsize and simplify and was inspired by the results she saw in her soul and family.

 I’d love to hear your take on any of these books or any others you read last year!

Best Reads of 2013, Part 1

At the start of each new year, I love looking back at what I read the previous year.  I picked my top ten reads to share with you.  Due to the length, I’ll publish it in two posts.  Here’s part one.

Going Public With Your Faith: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work by Bill Peel & Walt Larimore and Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well by Randy Newman

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Two great books that go beyond the cheesy suggestions you find in some evangelism books.  Peel and Newman really focus on developing honest relationships and creating opportunities for engaging conversations.

The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing by Jeff Goins

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Goins is a terrific writer and I really admire how he’s combined his writing and business skills to create a loyal following of fans.  This book is full of anecdotes from his life that illustrate the importance of finding meaning in the now.

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist

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I read this book slowly and savored each chapter.  Niequest eloquently reflects on some hard chapters in her recent life (job loss, recurrent miscarriage, marriage difficulties) without sounding whiny or self-indulgent and she beautifully brings each story back around to grace.

Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Everday by Todd Henry

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I’m a big fan of Henry’s Accidental Creative podcast and this book is just as good.  He has some insightful things to say about work, creativity, productivity, and personal fulfillment.

Evangelism for the Rest of Us: Sharing Christ Within Your Personality Style by Mike Bechtle

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I’ve always been fascinated by the study of personality, so I was eager to read this book.  Bechtle doesn’t have any new evangelism techniques, per se, but I feel like the book gave the reader “permission” to share Christ in a way that best suits them (without copping out of challenges situations).

I’d love to hear any book recommendations you have!