On Knowing

For the longest time, I haven’t know what I wanted our family size to be.  I knew I was super happy to hit the 2 kid mark, and very happy to hit 3.  Not that I was less happy to hit 3, but because of all the infertility and loss between #1 and #2, it was just different.  After Jude was born, I was absolutely, positively certain that if I ever wound up pregnant again I’d want to go jump off the nearest tall cliff, but as time went on and he grew (and, quite honestly, as he cried less, although he still cries a lot), my views softened.  Maybe, I fantasized. Maybe 4 is a good number…

A few months ago, I said I was pretty sure we were moving in the direction of being done.  And then a funny thing happened.  So says I.  My husband might view it as less funny and more terrifying…

I’d been having strangeness with my cycle each month, so I set up a few appointments to investigate.  (Aside: no, this story is not going to end with a surprise pregnancy announcement.)  At one of those, a fancy ultrasound, I asked the tech if she’d mind just swinging by my ovaries to count how many antral follicles I had.

For the uninitiated, antral follicles are basically eggs in your ovaries that are resting for a few months before possibly being used.  In what is a gross oversimplification, resting antral follicles are eventually recruited to be developed to potentially ovulate, and of the eggs that are ready to potentially be ovulated, one is chosen as the winner.

Sort of like the Biblical story of Esther, except on a cellular level.


The long and short of it is that the more antral follicles you have, the more eggs your ovaries are likely to contain, and, therefore, the more fertile you probably are.  Declining antral follicle counts have been an excellent predictor of many fertility-related issues, including things such as poor response to ovarian stimulation medications and decreased likelihood of pregnancy.

When I did ivf, I had 14 antral follicles.  This was considered borderline, and I wasn’t eligible for cost-sharing opportunities because my antrals were on the low side.  After I miscarried, my antrals had dropped to 8 or 9, and they told me if I wanted to do ivf again with my own eggs, I needed to move on it asap, because my window for using my own eggs would probably be closed within about 6 months.

Of course, in 6 months, I actually defied the odds and got pregnant on my own, and when I had an ultrasound after Isla was born, my antrals were counted to be in the mid-20s.  This is completely and totally crazy; antrals don’t typically go up.  It was also one reason I felt good about trying for baby #3.  Somehow, my body had rebounded a bit, and I hoped everything would run smoothly one more time.  Thankfully, it did.  We got pregnant with Jude within about 6 months.

Back to the funny thing.

The sonographer, the same one who’d found my 20+ antrals after Isla was born, obliged and did a quick antral count.  There were 7 on the right, and I started panicking a little.  Seven? That’s not a ton.  Maybe the left will be better.  She headed over in that direction to a whopping 2.  Two antral follicles.  That was it.

So, apparently, I have a grand total of 9, which is a remarkably poor predictor for future fertility potential.  Of course, I got pregnant with Isla with this many so it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.  But it’s not as promising as it was after I had her and had so many.  It’s much less likely.

The funny thing?  How I reacted when I felt like the choice was being taken away from me due to apparent decreased fertility.  It was very much an anxious NOOOooo!  I wanted this to happen!  Honestly, it caught me off guard.  I mulled it over for several days, and realized that yes, in fact, I do want another baby.  Huh.  It’s nice to know what I really want.

However, even though it’s what I want, I still haven’t decided if it’s a risk worth taking.  Preeclampsia was no picnic, and with the increased risks to me and my health, I’m not sure it’s fair to the rest of my children to put myself in that position.  I have more thinking to do in light of those potential issues.  I spent a good deal of time talking to the doctor about them.

The good news is that if we were to decide to go for a #4 and successfully got pregnant, the doctor said I’d be eligible to attempt a vbac.  This is contrary to what I’d been told earlier, when a different doctor told me I wouldn’t even be eligible for a trial of labor.  I’m not opposed to either option, actually, but, again, I like having all my options open.  So that was a reassuring bit of information.

Project 365 Update

I started a Project 365 photography experiment at the beginning of this year.  Although I didn’t expect I’d be able to completely keep up with it, I’m in more of a lull right now than I’d anticipated.  So I thought a little update of a few of my favorite pictures thus far might reinspire me to continue.

Here are a few of my favorite images since my last update:


I know – I technically didn’t take this one.  But I arranged for it to be taken.  That counts, right? 😉


Covered bridge. I had no idea if this one was going to turn out. It’s hard to read the LCD screen in daylight.  But I was so happy once I saw it.  I want to bathe in that sort of light!


Isla had picked these flowers.  I was trying to take a picture of them, and the next thing I knew, this was happening.messyjude


Nutella FTW!


Spring is coming!


Gabe was reading Jude’s favorite book, Little Gorilla, to them.


Attempting a contemplative self-portrait


I love every single thing about this photo.  Except the tag.  Oh well!


Because a baby using an iphone is totally normal…


She looks like a teenager to me here!



Spring tulips


Can you tell which one of my children doesn’t like having pictures taken? 😉

And here’s my PSA for the day – pick up your camera! The pictures don’t have to be perfect or even lovely.  Some of my favorite images are technically a wreck.  You will not regret having them.  You may regret not having them.  Just start – or start again – where you are today.

(<ahem> note to self…)

Bits and Pieces

I think this one is the ellipses edition…



So this is, quite possibly, the latest I’ve ever waited to file my taxes.  Living on the edge!  It wasn’t exactly my plan.  I had them 85% done in January until I was informed that one of my tax forms contained an error.  It took from January until April 8 to get it straightened out and delivered to me.  I have no idea why.  It seemed like one simple error to me.  But apparently it was more of a 2 or 3 month error.  Then we went away over the weekend and I’d wanted to do it on Monday but I stayed up until 3:30 AM working on several other jobs I needed to complete and I needed a login to one of Tahd’s accounts to finish it and he’d already gone to bed on Tuesday night, and here we are on the 15th just before midnight…

Maybe next year I should wait even a little longer…11:47?  We’ll see…


Tahd’s away again.  I’d forgotten this trip was coming up.  I think I blocked it out because it’s a short one and I figured it’d be no biggie.  Heck, I should be well practiced after the March he had.  You know…the eight whole days he was actually at home.  (I’m totally have a great attitude about it…)  And yet…I wasn’t.  I totally cried while we said goodbye.  Like, ugly, face-scrunched-up, totally defeated crying.  I didn’t even know it was coming.  I was just suddenly in tears.  Which was decidedly unawesome because I’m pretty sure it made him feel like a heel, which I completely didn’t intend, and I hate sad goodbyes.


Movies I Want To See (please prevent me from wasting 2 hours of my life and tell me if they suck):


Big Eyes
100 Foot Journey
About Time (again…I’m sure this one is worth it!)
The Imitation Game
Into The Woods
Theory of Everything
Woman In Gold


Do you know how hard it is to go to your annual exam with 2 toddlers?  And have to strip down naked, wear a floppy, sloppy gown that doesn’t close and have to chase a 1 year old around the exam room?  And not sweat buckets and feel totally mortified?  I’d wanted to talk to the midwife about what sort of risks I’d be facing if we decided to have another child.  I’m pretty sure she left and laughed and/or shook her head.  Or both.  Because, hello!  Crazy naked woman with the busy babies who don’t stop screaming might want another child?  #coughbadplancough


Have I mentioned I’m obsessed with the Duggars?  It’s not a closet obsession, per se, but I do think it’s highly incongruous with all the other areas of my life.  Like the fact that I have three kids versus 19 and I use birth control and I wear pants and short hair and am moderately liberal.  But I do love their show, and I love the idea of their jurisdictions and I’m going to figure out how to do it with a smaller family.  Why am I the one doing all the cleaning while everyone else plays, hm??? I need some help! And my kids need to learn how to do these things!


I’m going to bed without putting supper away.  Again.  Living on the edge.

What I Learned in March

Okay – full disclosure.  I read some of these things in other months but haven’t gotten around to this post.  So it would be more aptly titled, “What I Learned in March-ish.”  Is that workable for you?  There were a few super interesting things, at least to me!


Some fascinating thoughts on adult sibling relationships – “The literature on sibling relationships shows that during middle age and old age, indicators of well-being — mood, health, morale, stress, depression, loneliness, life satisfaction — are tied to how you feel about your brothers and sisters.”

This is quite possibly one of the sweetest videos I think I’ve ever seen!


I learned so many things in this post about tulips.  Like, did you know the stem of tulips keeps growing in the vase?  I had no clue!


so loved this article on educating kids. Alfie Kohn is one of my favorites!  I really think the state of public education is in disarray.  I thought that when I taught school 12 years ago (gulp!  has it been that long), and I think that even moreso today as a parent of a child in public school.


Did you know Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes?  That are supplied by the government?

What did you learn in March? Anything interesting?

So Many Books, So Little Time

I don’t even have words.  I’ve been waiting all week to try to find some, even a few drafts sitting in my to-finish box, but oh, THE WORDS!!!!! are not coming.


Instead, let me tell you about a few books I’ve read recently.  I know.  Words.  How can I read all those words and have nothing to say?  Really, I think I have a lot to say, but my nerves are a bit shot from crazy children and a husband being out of the country.  And let’s not forget that independent of them, I carry around my own sack of issues that I tend to trot out at the least opportune times (i.e. this week, a most inopportune time).

In summary, we’re all crazy, and I read a lot of books.  Can we leave it at that?

Interestingly, it seems like nearly every book I’m reading lately is in some way about grace.  Coincidence?  Hm…


First up, I’ve talked about Breathing Room over here, but I’m mentioning it again over here.  Best book I’ve read all year.  On my short list of best books I’ve read ever.  Worth every penny.  Go.  Buy it.  Breathe deep.

1.  I picked up All Is Grace by Brennan Manning on a whim. Actually, I think Shauna Niequist mentioned it in a recent blog post, and that was the whim.  I read a chunk of it while I was catching a few quiet minutes at the bookstore, and my general rule of thumb is that if I can’t put a book down at the bookstore, it’s probably worthy of coming home with me.  This one was excellent.  I haven’t read anything else by Brennan Manning and think the story might have felt even richer if I had, but it was even fantastic as a stand-alone.

2.  Scary Close was another whim, but I’m so glad I read it.  It’s not technical or dry.  It’s just a story with several super accessible lessons woven in.  I asked Tahd to read this one so we could talk about it.  Enjoyed and would recommend!

3.  Fight Back With Joy was on my list after I streamed some of If:Gathering and heard Margaret Feinberg speak.  I wanted more, more, more of her story, and here it is!  I’m about halfway through it right now, and it’s what saved my tukhus from complete rage and despair Wednesday.  This is another good one!

4.  I can’t remember where I’d heard about Disease Proof, but it came recommended as a research-based method to getting and staying healthy.  Not skinny, but healthy.  I expected to find some innovative approaches to wellness, but I came away disappointed.  It could be because I used to teach health so nothing felt very novel?  Not sure, but the book was quite common-sense to me, and I’d already read about a lot of the research he used to support his action points.  A good choice if you are looking for some simple, practical steps to take to improve your health, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

5.  When Gabe checked out Hunger Games from the school library, we told him we didn’t want him to read it until we’d had a chance to read it first.  I asked loads of mom friends and got incredibly polarized feedback, but when I read it for myself I felt like it was okay for him.  That, and I really enjoyed it!  I may possibly be the last person to be exposed to that series.  I purposefully stayed away from the movies and any spoilers about it because I’d wanted to read it, but just hadn’t had time.  Glad I finally did.  It was an enjoyable fiction read (and much better written, in my opinion, than Divergent, for what it’s worth).

6.  I tried to read Found by Micha Boyett.  I really wanted to like it, but I didn’t relate early on to her struggle, so it was hard for me to get into it.  Basically, her world was rocked by the way her spiritual life changed when she became a mother.  She felt distance and chaos.  Personally, I’ve found motherhood to heal more parts of my faith than it has caused struggle.  I thought about sticking with the book because I’ve heard great things about it, but I have so many things I currently want to read that I decided not to push through one I wasn’t connecting with at the moment.

I’m currently in the middle of A Wrinkle In Time, Writing Down Your Soul, and Parenting Without Power Struggles.  I’m also listening to The Dance of Anger.  As well, am I the last person in the world to figure out how to hook up my local library account to apps on my phone?  Hooray for borrowing ebooks!  And hooray that they take them away when the borrowing period is over so I don’t accrue late fees!

Not sure I’ll finish all of those before I move on to new things, but up on my soon-to-read list are these titles:

Playing Big, Small Victories, Make It Happen, This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage, Simplify, The Best Yes, On Writing by Stephen King, Love Does, and Surprised By Motherhood.  I need to pick a fiction book or two, also.  Perhaps Wonder, since Gabe has that and I’ve been wanting to read it for a while?

Have you read anything good lately?

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