Thursday, June 26, 2014

unexplained infertility

Thanks to taking time off from work to recover from my surgery, I've had more than usual time to think about and process the surgery. And the phrase I keep coming back to is this one: "unexplained infertility."

More specifically, what I'm thinking about is this: after the surgery, Dr. S told my dh that we're basically at the end of napro options, given what we've done so far and given that no test has shown anything abnormal. We're going to meet with her on Tuesday, so maybe she'll elaborate more, but I get what she's saying. From reading other people's blogs, I'm aware that napro has more to offer than what we've done, but that "more" seems to be drugs that help conditions I don't have or tests to explore abnormalities detectable by symptoms I don't have. (Of course, I'm all ears if someone has a suggestion based on our medical history.)

Dr. S summed it up like this: either we're perfectly healthy and just quite unlucky (quite!), or there's something wrong with us that can't yet be detected by the current state of reproductive science. Neither of those premises is very comforting.

In other words, unexplained infertility.

I think Timothy O'Malley put it best in his beautiful essay "Waiting for Gabriel: Learning to Pray Through Infertility":

"Month one passed.   Month two passed.  Month three passed.  Six months later, our home became the anti-Nazareth, as we awaited an annunciation that never came.  The hope-filled decision to conceive a child became a bitter task of disheartened waiting.  After a year, we began to see a barrage of infertility specialists, who based upon test results, concluded that we should be able to have a child.  No low sperm counts.  No problem with reproductive systems.  All in working order.  The verdict:  inexplicable infertility.
"Unexplained infertility is a surprisingly miserable diagnosis.   Something about my psyche was prepared for a scientific explanation.  One in which the very fine doctors with advanced degrees from Ivy League institutions acknowledged that unless an act of God intervened, no human life would emerge from intercourse between Kara and me.   Indeed, a fair number of tears would have been shed on both of our parts.  But with the diagnosis of unexplained infertility, conception is scientifically possible.  With every slight change in Kara’s monthly cycle, a glimmer of hope rises in our hearts, only to be dashed with the arrival of menstruation.  Kind-hearted family, friends, and colleagues, who learn about our infertility, share stories about a mother or sister, who finally became pregnant.  They recommend “doctors”, who have a proven track record of curing infertility.  But unfortunate for us, we have no way of knowing if we will one day join the ranks of the middle-aged first-time parent.  And every trip to a doctor is a risk, because once again, we start to hope.  Aware now, of course, that hope alone does not fill one’s home with children."
"A surprisingly miserable diagnosis" pretty much hits in on the head. Surprising, because nothing is wrong with you. Miserable, because of course something is. It is not normal to make love to your husband for three years - on the "right" days, I might add - and never even need to take a pregnancy test because AF always arrives right on time. It is not normal to go even 6 months of "fertility-focused intercourse" and still be un-pregnant. "Not normal" usually means in the health context a disease. But no disease has been found. "All in working order."
I would add to O'Malley's description that unexplained infertility is enough to drive you batty.
Something must be wrong. But it's undetectable, like a parasite or something horribly icky that steals your life without you even being aware of its presence. 
If nothing is wrong with our bodies, then what? Is it diet? Is our timing just less-than-perfect enough to "miss" every month? Do we not exercise enough? (I know the answer to that one!) Are we "doing it" wrong? The huge non-answer of unexplained infertility opens up like a black hole of a million other non-answers, unanswerable questions that are enough to keep me up at night (literally).
At the end of the day, it comes down to control. (Doesn't everything?) I want to have a problem with my body that can be fixed. Not an unfixable problem, mind you. That's a whole 'nother kettle of fish and I can't claim one second to know what that would feel like. Just a nice manageable textbook problem that doctors can fix right up so we're good as gold. Living in what feels like a perpetual state of uncertainty and the unknown makes me anxious, makes me feel somewhat ashamed (I can't get pregnant and I don't even know why? double whammy), and most of all makes me feel completely out of control. I can't find or even start to guess what the perfect pill, potion, food, diet, fad, activity, would even be. I feel stuck in the dark.
That's enough for now. Sorry for the wet blanket. I'm going to go rejoin my husband and watch the World Cup and try for the millionth trillionth time to give it to God.
St. Anne, pray for us. St. Jude, pray for us.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

surgery recap & results

I wanted to write about my surgery yesterday while it's still fresh in my mind.

I didn't sleep well Thursday night because my nose was so stuffed up. Yuck. Friday morning I took a nice long shower and we collected what we needed for the hospital: ID and insurance card, books, cell phones, and a pillow for the car ride home (to put between the seatbelt and my belly). We said some prayers together and left at 8:30.

We arrived at the hospital by 9:15 and checked in. We were supposed to arrive at 10, so I was surprised that they took me back to get prepped almost immediately. I got my vitals checked, then changed into my hospital gown, which was surprisingly modest!

I waited in the room for a while, feeling stuffed up and nervous. An RN came in and asked me a lot of questions about my health, what supplements do I take, earlier surgeries, and on and on. She was very kind and motherly - she told me her son had the same time as my husband and we chatted about our families, which put me at ease.

I got my IV in, and shortly after that Mr. M came back, along with a good friend of ours who works at the hospital. The three of us chatted and prayed together. My nurse friend was really reassuring and also told Mr. M where the chapel was so he could go and pray as soon as they took me back.

Then waiting, waiting, waiting. Dr. S (my doctor) finally arrived, a quarter to noon. She explained again what was going to happen: pelviscopy (a laparoscopy focused on the pelvic area), hysteroscopy, and selective HSG. She offered to pray with us too, which we were very happy about!

The anesthesiologist was running late and didn't arrive until 12:30. He was very kind and went over some medical history with me too. I told him about my cold and he checked my lungs with a stethoscope and said to our great relief that the cold shouldn't matter. Actually, they put an antibiotic in my IV, so today my cold is pretty much gone! That was pretty nifty =)

A few more introductions, to the surgical nurse, nurse anesthetist, and student nurse anesthetist, and then we were ready to roll. They put the calming drug in my IV and I started to feel very relaxed. I said goodbye to Mr. M and was rolled down the hall. They positioned me onto the operating table and things were getting very dreamy. I remember Dr. S holding my hand and getting the oxygen mask over my head. There was lots of activity around me, and then I was gone.

When I woke up, I felt a good amount of pain in my abdomen: I said a 6 out of 10, so they increased my pain meds. I was cold and somewhat uncomfortable but overall really happy and grateful that it was over! I felt really, really thirsty and was given some ice chips to chew on. I can't say how long I lay there in recovery: I know they said they let the lap patients rest for a longer time to try to get some of the gas out. I dozed off and on, pretty oblivious to everything around me.

Eventually I asked the nurse for my glasses and she asked if I was ready to sit up, and I said yes. Someone else came over and helped me into a gown, then helped me move my legs off the bed and sit up. I felt mostly weak and a little dizzy, but not nauseous at all. The nurse helped me walk to the bathroom, then helped me sit down in a big comfy recliner. She got me some graham crackers and water and soon I was happy to see my husband walk in smiling! A sight for sore eyes =)

At this point I was feeling not half bad: not in pain, warm enough, and so happy to get something to eat and drink. As we waited to be released, Mr. M told me my surgery results, which Dr. S had explained to him: it turns out that I do not have endometriosis. None. Nada. Zilch. Dr. S was actually really surprised by this, because the vast majority (80%) of couples with "unexplained infertility" who have done the other tests we've done have endo. But I don't. No scarring either, which was good to hear since I've already had a hysteroscopy and polyp removal. My tubes were open, no adhesions were found, basically everything looked as healthy as can be.

It will take some time to process this news, I think. Basically everything we've tested (hormones, semen, ovulation, tubes, and now uterus and pelvic organs) has been fine and yet we haven't conceived after trying for three years. On the one hand, I guess this means that there's no reason we couldn't conceive! On the other hand, HUH?!?!

(Or, my mom's theory: everyone's prayers healed the endo before the surgery. No way to prove that, but a nice thought!)

Back to surgery day: we were discharged just before 6 p.m. and I was wheeled out front by another very kind nurse while Mr. M got the car. An uneventful ride home, and great feelings of relief at everything being over! The strong pain meds lasted all evening and I felt drowsy but not in pain.

Today I'm in a decent amount of pain and stiffness, but nothing too awful. Mr. M has been taking stellar care of me: he's baking lemon bars at my request right now! I feel a bit icky not being able to shower until tomorrow afternoon, oh well, and I'm definitely bloated from the gas. But overall I'm feeling great at being on the other side of the surgery and I'm looking forward to being pampered for a week =)

Thank you so much for your prayers for us!!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

feelings the day before surgery

At this time tomorrow, I'll be out cold, completely oblivious to anything, while my husband waits and prays in the waiting room. Strange to think about.

How I'm feeling:

nervous: I've had several surgeries before with general anesthesia (wisdom teeth, heart, hysteroscopy) but I'm still pretty nervous. It's such a vulnerable thing to be on the operating table, trusting your doctor + people you've never met before that they'll be gentle and keep you safe! The more I think about it, the more nervous I get, so moving on...

surrounded by love, care, and prayers: our friends and family have been so wonderful to us! I already feel pampered. We have friends bringing us meals from Saturday to Thursday, and other friends who are going to come visit. My mom is bringing down homemade comfort food: chocolate chip cookies, cherry pie, plus my childhood favorites: vanilla wafers (the layered rectangle ones, not the round ones) and sugary peach rings. So many people have offered us prayers and remembered us at mass. I received the annointing of the sick yesterday and one friend even called a 90-year-old priest in another state who has a healing ministry and asked him to pray for us! All of this love and prayers makes me feel more relaxed and at peace.

a little sick: I've had an itchy throat since Tuesday afternoon (horrible timing!!!). It's mostly better now but I'm also blowing my nose more than usual. I took off today to rest and try not to get any worse. I'm a little nervous that this could affect the surgery, maybe even cancel it, but I'm reassured after talking to my brother (a doctor) and a friend who's a nurse. They both said a little cold or allergies shouldn't be a problem.

as prepared as possible: THANK YOU Stephanie for your amazing guide to laparoscopy!! We printed it out, highlighted key sections, and used it as a shopping list. So, sooo helpful! In addition to everything Stephanie recommends, we also bought 1) a sippy cup with swirly straw so I can drink my juice while not sitting up, and 2) a box of freezer pops to have something icey to soothe my throat afterwards. I also have my outfit ready for tomorrow and picked out some books and DVDs at the library yesterday.

curious: I have no idea what this surgery is going to show. I don't have any noticeable signs of endometriosis, but I know that it's often asymptomatic. I'm praying that the results give us something - anything! - that can translate into healing my body and - please God - help us conceive.

I'm grateful for YOUR prayers and will be praying for you too and especially for others recovering from or preparing for surgery!


Saturday, June 14, 2014

moving + pre-op

Lots has been happening in our little world!

Most exciting - and unexpected - is that we're moving!

If you recall the backstory, our current apartment, which we love, is not suitable for adoption because there are no windows in the two bedrooms. Finding that out was a big bummer, to say the least. Plus our housing market (DC) is so, sooooo expensive that it's a big challenge to find an apartment that's safe, affordable, and adoption approvable.

So I'm still shaking my head at how this all came together! Trust me: this is the condensed, not-as-convoluted version as what really happened =) the cliff notes: on Mother's Day, friends of ours (couple #1) said that they're looking for another couple to share a house with them starting this summer, because their current housemates were moving out. Our ears perked up and we said maybe we'd be interested.

Well, opening the possibility of moving made us think about other friends who were moving out of their house because of the husband's work. It would be too big (too expensive) for us on our own, but what if couple #1 would agree to move into this new place with us? (the advantage being that house #2 was more suitable for two couples - it has separate wings so more privacy)

Long story short: couple #1 decided to stay where they're at, but connected us with friends of theirs (who we also know), couple #2, who were looking for a new place to live, and after much deliberation on all our parts (read: many phone calls, prayers, asking others for advice, more prayers) couple #2 said they're interested - hooray!

(I should note that I checked with the adoption agency I'd been in contact with and that said that it's completely doable to do a home study while sharing a home with unrelated adults; the adults would have to get a background check and physical, which we of course cleared with our friends.)

Conclusion: we're moving at the beginning of August into our friend's house, with couple #2 and their dog. The location is great (closer to work, close to our parish), the rent is affordable, and most importantly there are windows in the bedrooms!

It will be a different experience, for sure! Both Mr. M and I spent years living in community houses before we got married, but we've never shared a home with other people as a married couple. I'm sure there will be ups and downs like anything in life, and we've already spent a good amount of time discussing expectations and needs with our new housemates. We're also really sad to leave our current apartment! And moving...not the most fun thing in the world. But honestly, my overriding emotions are joy and gratitude. We're not going to start an adoption process right away - we want to give some time after my surgery to see if it "worked" - but just to be in a place where it would be possible to adopt....! That is going to be huge, psychologically. So huge that I'm ready to drag our belongings down the road to our new place by my fingernails if necessary! =)

The other "happening" is that I'm getting ready for my surgery on June 20. I had my pre-op appointment with my family doctor, in which she offered a referral to a fertility clinic after my surgery and I said thanks but no thanks, I'm happy with napro, which she had never heard of before (!! I guess I shouldn't be surprised but still am? !!) and anyway, all my vitals and whatever checked out so I guess I'm approved for the big day!

Mr. M is taking very seriously his job of taking care of me post-surgery, and I love him so much for it!! Also, a few of our friends will be bringing meals to us, which makes me really happy, not the least because (maybe it's silly) getting meals brought to you has been the exclusive domain of women who have babies, but now I get to experience it too! The point is, I feel loved.

So that's that. After the surgery and recovery, time to move. Yay!


Monday, June 9, 2014

Epilogue - How does your Husband Support You through Infertility?

I just finished a lengthy series on "Seven Ways a Husband Can Support a Wife During Infertility." Eventually, I will put them together into one document for others and put it up on our "inspiration page." But before I do that it is time to learn from you all. So I ask you dear friends for some wisdom and guidance.

How does your husband support you through this difficult time?

Please leave some advice in the comment section below! I would love to learn from you all. Feel free to get your husbands to comment too! I would be so grateful because there is precious little from a Catholic/Christian standpoint that I can find out there on the internet.

- Mr. M.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Seven Ways a Husband Can Support a Wife During Infertility #7 - The Last One!

For part one click here. For part two click here. For part three click here. For part four click here. For part five click here. For part six click here

Disclaimer: This post deals with a lot of issues regarding s*xual intimacy as this topic is especially important to men struggling with infertility. So I talk openly about it. However, it may be TMI for some people. Every attempt was made to keep the discussion very respectful and tasteful. I have also replaced the "e" with a star in words referring to intimate relationships in order to avoid internet spam in the comments. 

7.) Be a man of hundredfold love – Love should be our overarching goal throughout the entire struggle of infertility. In particular, a great sacrificial love toward your wife that is total. Hold nothing back. Find out what ways your wife loves to be loved throughout all of this difficult mess and keep nurturing your relationship to epic proportions. This may be as simple as a kind gesture, like making dinner after she had a hard day's work, or giving her some words of appreciation every day. Second only to the faith, the greatest gift you, as a married couple, have to give to the world, to your spouse, to others, and even to any future children is your love together in your marriage. This love together is irreplaceable. Resolve then to be a great lover! Don't let your marriage or your love grow stagnant or worse to fall only into sadness and constant bickering.

As one of my spiritual directors said to me, “You are either growing or dying as a couple.” Sometimes this “dying” isn't obvious and it is more of a slow “drifting”. So where are you as a couple – growing, drifting, or dying – or in what areas are you growing, drifting, or dying? Take this time to reflect upon that and to really cultivate a great love. Iron out those aspects of the relationship that aren't perfect and replace it with a deeper love. Given that we don't have children yet, make a weekly commitment to go on a date to kindle love and once a month to talk about how you can grow in your marriage. My wife and I set aside about 1-2 hours a month to discuss goals for our marriage in the next month and honestly ask “How can I love you better?” Then we make one concrete goal for increasing a virtue related to our marriage for the next month and discuss how we did from last month. This marital virtue is in addition to the one individual virtue you are also trying to develop as discussed in step three. These marital goals can be the same from month to month if it is a really difficult virtue for you. For example, last month I chose to work on the virtue of politeness for our marriage by including consciously the words “thank you,” “please,” “your welcome,” and “I'm sorry” into my dialogue with my wife. Now, I still have a long way to go especially on the word “please” so I have chosen it again for my virtue this month. This is an example of a small goal of marital virtue that eventually can form a great love.

Also, as a part of your great love, make sure to continue to nurture a healthy s*xual relationship. Even though love goes far beyond s*xual intimacy, I will nonetheless spend some time on this topic because it is a frequent challenge to men in an infertile relationship. As men, the advice to continue to nurture a s*xual life is a 'no brainer'. You men were probably even wondering when I was going to bring this topic up in this series! Yes, we men love s*x and it is one of our greatest emotional needs whereas for women it isn't necessarily. We are different, after all! Also and more to the point, I am highlighting and writing a lot about this aspect of love because as an infertile couple sexual intercourse can become difficult as it is now a place of great suffering. That is, as an infertile couple, you recognize that your sexual intercourse may not in all likelihood be fruitful, and this fact makes you tremendously sad since one of the two purposes of sex and love is to be fruitful. The place where a couple is supposed to be the closest in love has now become a place of suffering. Given this suffering, the natural tendency can be to run away from s*xual intercourse, but we must as a couple continue to nurture this intimacy, which is why I am emphasizing it here under the much greater virtue of love. This indeed is a great suffering, but not an insurmountable one.

The beauty about s*x is that is just as much for babies as it is for building up your marital unity. These are inseparably united as ends of the marital act. This is why the Church teaches about the joint ends of marital unity and procreation in a sexual act. By the way, when I say “procreation” here I don't mean the actual existence of a child but rather being open to life, which can occur in every s*xual act regardless of whether or not a particular child comes, provided that a couple cooperates with nature. So with this teaching of the Church in mind, a spouse should approach s*x with the mindset of “come what may from this act, I am going to love my spouse.” This is the right attitude to have in order to overcome the temptation to reduce your spouse to only pleasure or an occasion for just creating a baby.

Admittedly, this perspective is a lot easier for men. Recall here especially the difference between women and men in regard to suffering through infertility. Women have taken upon themselves the greater burden of the physical and emotional suffering due to their greater involvement with fertility, so they will undoubtedly find s*xual intercourse more difficult when struggling with infertility. Their bodies are just simply more attuned with the physical suffering related to fertility. Now, this fact shouldn't keep men and women away from having s*x and having s*x frequently because again s*xual intercourse is one of the greatest acts that builds up the bond in marriage. But as men who have a deeper need for s*xual intimacy than women, we need to especially keep this fact of unequal physical suffering in mind if our spouses are having difficulty with the s*xual relationship. I believe if we recall this fact we will be much more sympathetic, sensitive, and patient in working through any s*xual difficulty. You will slowly realize that it's not you who they are rejecting or crying about, but the suffering. Yes, you have to work through it for a healthy relationship, but I believe this compassionate approach will open up our spouses and make s*x easier for women. However, there is more you can do as well.

As a way to increase the marital unity in s*x, make sure “the oneness” of the marriage is felt beyond the bedroom in regard to a common spiritual life, sharing emotions surrounding infertility, shared activities or hobbies, dates, sharing in common work, building a peaceful and joyful home, etc. As men, we can too often fixate only on what happens in the bedroom whereas we need to see it as always connected to the entire marriage. If we are having problems in the bedroom, then we should ask “How is the oneness of our marriage elsewhere? Is there some area(s) we are lacking in?”

Also, to make s*x great we should also focus on the entire sensual experience and not just pleasurable touch as is commonly done (although that is important). So as a way to increase physical intimacy both spouses should try to really engage all five senses. Some of these suggestions are basic, but they can be forgotten over time in a relationship. So, I will list some important questions here in line with the five senses. Sight – What are you wearing? Is it something your spouse will like? Is the room romantic? Did you take time to get ready in the way your spouse likes? Smell – Are there candles? Did you remember deodorant? Have you considered a lotion your spouse likes if you are a woman? Taste - How is your breath? Have you considered experimenting with flavored lipstick if you are a woman? Hearing – Do you try to foster loving and playful dialogue? Is there music you both like that could add to the environment? Do you ever play the song you danced to at your wedding? Touch – Am I touching my spouse in a way he or she likes provided that it is in a moral way that she is comfortable with? For other great practical tips on s*xual intimacy from a Catholic perspective I recommend the book Holy S*x! by the Dr. Popcak.

Moreover, to approach sex in the right way we need to not only focus on the overall sensual experience, but also approach it as a prayer to God. If you are a Catholic, then s*xual intimacy is part of the liturgical Sacrament;  it is the physical gesture that is a visible sign of both your spoken wedding vows and invisible grace! Not just on your wedding day, but every time you come together for the rest of your life provided you are receptive to this dimension of faith. If you are not Catholic, then it should still be approached as something sacred and similar advice applies. However, I am definitely aware that this meaning of s*x must be nurtured and cultivated by men because it is either unknown, quickly forgotten, or rejected, especially the more you get to know your wife and the more ordinary s*x becomes over the relationship. We must not romanticize s*x with false expectations or ideals. To make s*x a prayer requires work on our part as a couple.

As Catholics, one way to be receptive of this aspect of the s*xual act is simply to approach it reverently, not haphazardly, with the recognition that your spouse is a living tabernacle of God, who through grace has been made indissolubly one with you. Another way is to have sacramentals in your bedroom (i.e. religions paintings, crucifix, wedding day photos, a canopy over the bed as representative of a baldachin in a church, etc - be creative!). But most importantly, if s*x is to be the prayer it was on our wedding day, then it must flow out of our spousal prayer/faith life at other times during our relationship. S*x "as a prayer" cannot happen in a vacuum. You don't just wake up one day with the right thoughts in mind and then boom it is this mystical experience. No, you must have a robust prayer life at other times in the relationship in order to make this physical act into a prayer that may or may not have great feelings attached to it. The opposite is true too. Also, yes sometimes s*x can be mundane and that's okay! It is no less a prayer or an act of love because you don't feel emotional consolations. Prayer will help you to appreciate even this mundaneness and this ordinary beauty.

Further, I really believe that if you work on the steps outlined here in this series, in particular, then difficulties in regard to physical intimacy will slowly work themselves out into the loving prayer of indissoluble oneness s*x is meant to be. I have already shown the interconnections of prayer and s*x here. But the deeper reason why, which I have alluded to, is because all of these steps build up your “oneness” in other areas of your marriage that will then bubble over into the bedroom, like a great flood! Your “oneness” will be so much that you can't imagine not having that physical oneness too on a consistently happy basis. For men, the key is to stop thinking of our "oneness" primarily only in regard to physical s*x and to see how this s*xual relationship is interconnected to so much more that we often need to work on.

Now, back to our broader and more important topic of love, we need to find out how we can cultivate joy and adventure as part of our love in a marital relationship too. In regard to joy, there are many ways to build it up. Find out what makes you both laugh and do that! It can be a silly show, silly conversations, silly activities, or whatever. Start listing off things you are grateful for in your prayer life together too. Start a gratitude journal in relation to your daily events. Share life with other people and families who make you joyful. Let the Sacraments and especially Eucharistic adoration give you joy. There are so many ways to discover joy, find what that is for you as a couple in order to increase your love. 

In regard to adventure, you don't have children yet so use this time to explore and to do things that would be harder or impossible when you have children. I don't mean just exploring new cities, new foods, new hobbies, etc (although that certainly could be a part of it within moderation!). But also consider using this time to better your financial life in order to help you adopt or simply to take away one of the main areas of stress in relationships - finances - by eliminating debt and saving money and by doing so you will be building up your "oneness" in the relationship. Or consider other opportunities in regard to education. Or consider new charitable experiences together, like helping out at a homeless shelter, serving a local charity, visiting the elderly, helping the disabled, seeing who needs concrete help at your parish, helping those who feel aloof to be more integrated at your parish, serve parish ministries such as youth ministry or marriage preparation, etc. Perhaps you are called to an even more radical adventure as a missionary couple? I know we have thought about this calling on a few occasions. Don't rule out the possibilities and remember that the greatest adventure, St. Augustine tells us, is to follow and to love God. Let God tell you where your adventure of love as a couple should be during these years! Hold nothing of your love back! Give and all will be given back . . . a hundredfold. "Amen I say to you, there is no one who has given up [insert the most precious things/needs in your life]. . . for my sake and for the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age" (Mark 10: 31). Do we believe this promise? I pray your love becomes the hundredfold love of the Gospel. Pray for us to embody this same type of hundredfold love.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Little Happies: vacation recap

We were on vacation last week, hence the lack of posting! (Besides the scheduled posts that Mr. M wrote.)

Going on vacation is a BIG happy, but I thought I'd share some little happies from our trip to the Midwest!


We were blessed to encounter several beautiful churches on our trip. (I know, such a Catholic nerd thing to be excited about!) 

Cathedral of St. Cecilia, Omaha
Inside St. Cecilia's. We light a candle for our goddaughter, whose middle name is Cecilia.
Holy Family Chapel, between Omaha and Lincoln. 

Honestly, we thought this chapel was a barn when we saw it from a distance. But it turned out to be really beautiful and really symbolic! The little stream led from the visitors' center (designed as a tomb) to the chapel, symbolizing baptism, which brings us from death to life. And the wood of the chapel is meant to symbolize wheat in the field, which is meaningful both for Nebraska and of course for the Eucharist. 

Etched glass of the Holy Family behind the altar
We had an interesting discussion about church architecture and decided that even though the chapel looked "modern" (i.e. it was made out of non-traditional building materials, especially all the glass) it was very classic because everything had meaning, right down to the light fixtures that symbolized Christ outstretched on the cross! As opposed to a "modern" church where all the meaning has been drained out and there's very little symbolism or beauty.

Okay, off my soap box =)

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Kansas City

saints we saw

Continuing the Catholic nerd's always nice to see friends while you're traveling!

St. Ann, in the Omaha Cathedral

St. Cecilia - I bet you didn't know she played folk guitar! Also in Omaha.
St. Gerard, in Kansas City. I said a prayer for everyone hoping for a baby + expectant moms!

beautiful flowers

Another thing we enjoy seeing while travelling.

Irises in a memorial garden near Lincoln
Rose from a rose garden in Kansas City

Such a delight to stroll around here!

So many varieties

Yes, we did stop to smell the roses =)

our bed & breakfast

I love staying at bed & breakfasts! This is a once-a-year treat for us and we take full advantage of it! We stayed at this lovely Victorian inn in Kansas City:

out of a dream...
I was amused that our room had a nautical theme, seeing how we were in the smack dab middle of the country...!

The dots on the walls are actually all sea shells

This is where the sherry was kept, which we enjoyed heartily 

There were wine and hor d'ourves in the afternoon:

...and a fresh-baked cookie at night! It crossed my mind whether anyone has ever tried to live forever at a bed & breakfast. The thought is very tempting...!

Our own little patio


We joked during the trip that all we ever did was eat!! A pretty perfect way to spend a vacation, I think =)

French toast stuffed with swiss cheese and ham

BBQ meat + baked beans + cheesy corn
Frittata with feta and goodness

Pork BBQ sandwich and fries. Classic.

I also had a strawberry ale that tasted like an alcoholic strawberry smoothie - amazing.

Oh, and ice cream on several occasions.

Good thing we walked so much too!!

fountains & statutes

Apparently Kansas City has the second most fountains in the world after Rome! Who knew?! There were a lot of statues too, mostly sweet or quirky. Penguins, mermaids, warthogs, etc. 

Diana in the parking garage

Italian dude and his monkey

Neptune coming atcha!

And our personal favorite...

Little boy being happily squirted on by a frog (?)


Of course there were so many other happies on our trip that are not as possible to photograph! Time away, time with Mr. M, time with friends at the wedding we attended in Lincoln, time to sleep in and read a book and swing on the porch swing and wander around without worrying about what time it was and basking in the sunshine and enjoying not being at work. Et cetera.

Happiness was had by all =)