FADING PINK LINES

“I think you’re pregnant”

How could I? No, there is no way. We haven’t really started trying and just last week I had the terrible four days of dreaded ‘aunt flo.’

In July I started to track my body. Since we were on a possible short time frame to get pregnant the doctors advised me to track my temperature and use ovulation predictors for a month to see how it is reacting after the baby. After forty-five days of a long, almost never-ending tracking, my cycle came and I got to start actively trying. In July, I did not ovulate until day 36. This time around, I started ovulating around day ten. Then another positive on day eleven and another on day twelve. I send this tidbit of information to my friend and she instantly sends back a text. “You’re pregnant, I know it. Take a test.”

I had an appointment that day with my doctor to check vitamin levels. I had been overly exhausted since Liam was born. I mention to her my cycle but neither of us seemed alarmed. After work I go home and take a test. Within moments it was positive. If I wasn’t already sitting down I would have fallen over. I took the test to prove to my friend and her knowledgable mother in law (Seriously, she’s an OB. Why must I challenge the knower of all things hormones?) and show them I was not pregnant. So now what?

I contacted my doctor in the morning and with the awesome new rules for TRICARE I wait. By the time the lovely nurse who obviously loves her job got on the phone, she did not want to give me a referral to urgent care. (Our insurance won’t pay for urgent care visits that aren’t approved.) She kept telling me this was not urgent. I finally asked her why on earth three separate medical professionals would have instructed me to seek medical attention due to my apparent ‘cycle’ a week before. She apparently did not read my synopsis in its entirety and did not know I had bleeding. Off to the ER I went.

I dreaded the ER. I just knew I was having a miscarriage and even if I wasn’t, I knew it was way too early to view anything. After five hours I was told my BETA number was 1128. This number wasn’t a strong number for my assumed weeks of pregnancy, but it wasn’t terrible. 48 hours later I would need to see an OB to receive another BETA assessment. The nurse then comes in to discharge me. He hands me the chart and begins to explain to me that I am miscarrying based on his opinion. Then, informs me what vitamins I should take to help prevent miscarriage. I politely told him that the doctor was not sure at this time if I was miscarrying and I will be cautiously hopeful until I receive results. Also, I have gone through fertility treatments and know which vitamins are needed. His response? “Oh, sometimes you may hear what you need to know, but don’t listen.“ I do believe if it weren’t for my husband in the room stopping me from screaming, I would have ripped him a new one.

So I wait. I go into my appointment on Friday morning and the midwife was optimistic, guardedly. I head to the hospital and the blood is drawn. I had planned to not go to work if the news was bad but after an hour of waiting I had to go into work. My anxiety was getting the best of me. Then the call came.

My numbers had doubled. More than doubled! They were doubling at the rate of every 32 hours! They were almost 2600! All signs showed positive and thriving. The bleeding must have been a fluke, it must have. There is no doubt in my mind that it was a mistake.

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Since I was positive, I was allowed to go to NC as planned. The moment I arrived I jumped out of the car and it happened. In that very moment I miscarried. My heart sank and I knew I had to go to the ER but first we had to take our son to the football game we promised.

That weekend I went to the ER twice. The first time it was inconclusive if I was miscarrying. My numbers dropped to 2300 but with the different labs it could mean a few things. But by Sunday I was in terrible pain and when they did the numbers again they dramatically dropped to 750. There was no doubt now that it was over.

In the last three weeks I have had my blood drawn 13 times with a total of 57 vials of blood. I just received the results from my blood draw on Monday that I will need one more draw. You must have results lower than five and they were an eight. EIGHT!

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The past three weeks have been a jumble of emotions and that will be for a different post. Today, I just wanted to update why I have been so distant. Between the miscarriage and back in school full-time, I have not had the urge to write. I’ve watched as the lines faded from dark to light until they eventually evaporated. And now we move forward with our chins up and high hopes and hopefully next time I speak of pregnancy tests I will have great news.

On another note: I’ve decided I will blog my journey just like I did with Liam. I assumed I would wait until week 14-16 to announce my pregnancy but figured why not. If something were to happen again, I’ll blog anyways so once family knows I’ll announce and begin another blogging journey towards our upcoming family of four.

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The Debbie Downer named Debt

Nothing bothers me more than every other Wednesday. That’s the day my deposit for work is usually pending and I can see how much I am getting paid on that Friday. I sit and crunch numbers. I’m a number person. I want everything to be zero. I want everything to equal out and I want everything to go flawless without a hitch.

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This is why we have three checking accounts. Yes, I said three. When we first got married we opened an account with Bank of America. Bank of America is everywhere they said. Get an account there and you’ll always be near a location they said.  “They” were wrong. Lee’s training base was in Mississippi where, you guessed it; there are no Bank of America’s. We then were stationed in England. On the bright side the overseas bank on base was a military institution ran by Bank of America so the ATMs were theirs. I never had to pay a fee so at least it came in handy there. Once we came back stateside we switched to USAA and haven’t been happier.  I also work for a credit union here in SC and have two checking accounts with them.

So why does a couple with two incomes need three accounts? Because I am exaggerated neurotic that’s why. The moment my paycheck hits I know where every single last penny goes. I place every bit needed for bills into my secondary checking account, pay on loans and if by chance there is any leftover then it’s my tiny bit of freedom money. I seriously work for sanity and to pay down debt.

If it weren’t for my overly cautious system I would forget bills, miss payments and end up with excessive fees. Not to mention my husband still has no idea how to sign on to our online banking. This way he can see our main account and nothing else. He knows before his paychecks hit on the first and fifteenth how much will be left over after bills. Thank goodness for amazing smart phone applications because without his USAA App allowing me to pre-program the information. He would never know the balance without it and probably spend until the cows come home or at least the creditors started calling.

It also seems that every paycheck I am trying to find ways to get ahead. I look and think this month we’ll put more here, bring this balance down, pay this off but in the end it never happens. Something comes up or we just end up splurging too much. It kills me, seriously. I feel like I die a little each month. This is what I do. This is part of my job and I’ve taken multiple classes on finance. I am minoring in finance for Pete’s sake and I can’t even get myself on a balanced budget. How can I do my job and help others if I don’t follow my OWN advice.  I love working in the finance industry and helping others become more aware of their financial needs but these moments I feel like a personal sham.

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Am I the only one who feels like a failure? What’s worse is I know I am a small percentage of debt in this world. On average in 2013, a household has a debt of $15K in credit cards. I don’t even come close to that but that is my fear to be a part of the statistic. Maybe it’s because I got in a rut at eighteen and hated when I finally had to tell my parents I was stuck in a financial rut. I never want to be back at that place.

As humans, we always fall and things come up. Today I began my beginning of the month stress at finalizing bills for this month. I looked it over and attempted to make yet another plan to get out of debt as soon as humanly possible. I question why I torture myself every month.

Tomorrow is Wednesday and I’ll be waiting to see the pending figure amount as usual. Crunching numbers, making sure it aligns with my plan and figuring it out to the last penny; when everything balances out to zero.

BULLY

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Dear online bully,

When you stand behind your computer screen you are so brave. You type away and use words that make your feelings and judgments superior. Just because you have your fancy laptop does not make your opinion greater than anyone else’s. You type your big words and opinion but not allowing others to share their own. You disable viewers response unless it has been emailed to you. Are you afraid of the remarks you may get?

Did you know that anyone who can navigate around a browser could Google simple words and find articles on the subject? Oh yes, so take the point of me Googling these simple teenie words to reveal a massive pile of rubbish.

Did you know that employers in this day now Google their employees or prospects? So if someone wanted to learn more about me they would easily learn about the past year of my life but now YOU have tarnished something so sacred to me?

Do I want the public to relate the degrading terms to my name? No. No one ever wants to feel degraded or filthy but you, you did. You made me feel like a tiny person who did a terrible thing. But don’t bask in your glee because that feeling washed over me within a few seconds. The next feeling was rage. How DARE you smear my name in the dirt, degrade my family and act as if Liam will be scarred for the rest of his life. How dare you not realize that Liam would not even be on this Earth if it wasn’t for my “beautiful hobby” that is deemed as an “orgy of maternal lust.”

Why yes, I always compared Surrogacy to an orgy. Yeah you hit the nail on the head.

But, I’m not you. I’m not tarnishing your name for the way you defiled me. I’m not linking the garbage that you have written with your first amendment right. I do not want to give you any more hold over me. I’m sure I have a following who would love to tell you how wrong you are. Which, on that point, I was not paid. If you or your readers would have read the article you would have seen the word uncompensated. I have linked the definition for you. I could go on for many different topics on your site, not just the one that is tarnishing my name.

So next time you want to compare surrogacy to glorified prostitution, learn your facts, do your research or maybe even speak to a surrogate. Remember, we’re real people not just the faces you saw in a NY Times article. We have spouses who supported us through our journey. We have children who are beautiful and will grow up to possibly Google their parent’s name. We have friends who sat with us while we cried, craved foods, or needed an outlet. We have jobs who may find these articles and possibly cost our careers or our spouses.

We have intended parents who can never put into words what we did for them. We have made parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles. We have made life and last I checked, you were just writing words.

Just remember we are actual people with lives.

Sincerely,

Kristen
Proud Public and Outspoken Gestational Carrier
something you will never take away from me.

Silent Breastfeeding

August 1st – 7th is World Breastfeeding Week. Oh the overwhelming photos of moms who are breastfeeding their children or reminiscing the precious days they shared. Some of their tiny newborns, others with their toddlers and some who are holding their child as they drink from a bottle of breast milk for one reason or another.

It’s not the photo itself that bothers me. I think breastfeeding is very beautiful and a personal decision. I will never care if a mother is feeding her child in a store or at dinner. Showing the photo on Facebook is no difference. The mothers are proud beaming women who are saying to the world that I did it, I am providing for my child in the way I deem is important. And you know what? Go you.

My son was not breastfed. Maybe it was the fact that I was twenty-one and delivered him in a foreign land without my mom to help me. Maybe it was my mental state which could not fathom feeding my child from my breast. Maybe it was the intense pain I endured the second, third, fourth, fifth time I tried to feed him and all I did was bleed. Or maybe it was the craptastic nurse I had at five am who just kept telling me I was doing everything wrong. Formula just seemed best. And it was.

My logical side told me breastfeeding was best for my young one. It is what my body was made to do and by golly I wanted to do what was best. I wanted to be the young mom doing it all and showing all the nay-sayers that I did it. But, I didn’t. I looked at my husband in the wee hours in the morning as my son was eighteen hours old and told him I give up.

I was okay with my decision to not breastfeed my child after the thirty-second cry fest when my husband told me It was okay. You would think the beauty in the photos I’ve seen and articles I’ve read so far would not affect me but they have. They are rooting into a deep nerve that just needed to be hit. It’s a nerve that is penetrating so deep into my mental and emotional state that questioned my entire love for my son. It’s a muted pain I’ve sheltered from the public but have battled with the help of my family and close friends.

Seventeen and a half weeks ago Liam was born. For just under a year I knew my contract had stated that if Jamie was unable to produce milk from induced lactation that I was contractually obligated to pump milk for six weeks. It wasn’t until the last weeks before he was born that I learned I would most likely need to supplement. I spoke with the lactation consultant that was assisting Jamie and she did everything possible to control my worries.

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The day after he was born we began our work. I pumped only every handful of hours the first few days hoping the milk flow would produce but it wasn’t until day four that it started. I pumped daily for almost six weeks. My milk was never enough to fully supply his thirst but it was enough in combination of Jamie’s milk and donated milk to keep him away from formula. This was Jamie’s wish and I was able to help provide.

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I did not mind pumping. It took a time away from my family but after a while I got the hang of it. I took fenugreek to help increase my supply but I think all it did was make me smell like a pancake drowned in syrup. I would have continued to pump if I did not go back to work or if my workplace had a more private place where I could pump for him. He needed my supply and I wanted to give him the best start in life.

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And that is exactly why it hurts. I did not think twice on my decision to not breastfeeding my own child that dark night three years ago. Actually, I still doubt whether or not I will breastfeed my second child in the upcoming year. But I gave the college try for someone else’s child. I would have continued for weeks even if it was only the measly 75-100 ounces I was producing. He was consuming much more than that and I knew I would only be a portion of what he needed. But he needed it and I was able to provide.

Seeing the triumphs from my wonderful friends has been a painful reminder. Seeing the articles of moms who have both succeeded and failed with breastfeeding has been a mirror image to my emotions. Although I pumped for a child that relied on breast milk, I do not feel like I am a breastfeeding mom. I have nothing to show for. No true memories. No bonding moments. No photos. Nothing. These three photos are the only physical reminders that I pumped for Liam. I’ve grown to not allow the emotional struggle weigh on my heart and I can honestly say I’ve overcome the guilt. Whether it was due to time or the hormones leaving my body we may never know but I’ve come to peace with it. My son is healthy and it does not matter how he was fed the first year of his life. Seeing all the stories so far compelled me to share mine. Sometimes there are women who are silent meals on heels.

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BLESS YOUR HEART

It stung just like it should. I’m southern by the grace of God and grew up hearing the three words from my elders you know it is rarely meant in its literal terms.

I write for a broad audience. I speak to surrogates, intended parents, infertile couples, military families, and of course my family and friends. It is such an expansive range of individuals who read that it’s hard for me to relate each topic to the next but it also allows me to meet some amazing people with different life stories.

My surrogacy journey is over and now I am embarking on my new journey on expanding my family. We joked this weekend that my husband currently has my womb under contract and no one else. At my six-week postpartum appointment after Liam the doctor gave me the go ahead as soon as my body responded. My body seemed to be back to normal immediately and beginning July I started to track my body to find out when I was ovulating as the doctor suggested.

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I peed on a stick twice a day. twice.a.day. I woke up at 7am almost every day to take my temperature and hope it stayed accurate. I attempted to go to bed at the same time to help every variable stay consistent. I wanted to make sure I did not miss my 12-24 hour window of ovulation. Today we’re on day 32 and not only has my cycle lasted much longer than normal but I never ovulated.

So here I am, expressing my anger of my body still not being on track to a woman who had her child through surrogacy. A woman who struggled more than I can ever imagine and the moment the words slipped out of my mouth, I regretted them. I never want to hurt someone who has climbed the mountain of infertility.

Luckily she gave me time to explain on why this was so upsetting to the twenty-four year old, barely four-month postpartum woman who has never struggled with any form of infertility in her life.

My husband can leave at any moment.

We put our family planning on hold for me to be a surrogate for Jamie. The timing wasn’t right for our family then but now we feel it is.

Being a military spouse, I don’t always get the luxury of planning out when we want to expand our family. Do we choose to wait it out to as close as possible to his possibly deployment to ensure he’ll be present for the birth? What if we don’t get pregnant the month or two before he leaves and then I must wait seven months until we can try again. What if his deployment is pushed forward and he lose our window due to the deployment? Or do we try immediately giving ourselves 5-8 months but know he will miss the birth of our second child?

We’ve chosen to try for our second child now and if I have to deliver alone then it will be okay. He’s already scheduled to possibly be gone for three to five weeks in the fall for training and he has a vacation for a week I’m assuming I’ll be ovulating. There are two chances already ruled out of the next five to eight months we have left until another possibly deployment.

I know, I’m young and we still have our fertility after he returns but I have plans, big plans. I want to be an egg donor but withdrew my application when we decided to have another child. Being an egg donor can take up to five months of your time with appointments, hormones and retrieval and I could not pursue being an egg donor at this time knowing we wanted another child. My goal is to now re-submit my application after we have our second child when I give my body a break. Then later down the line I hope to have another surrogacy.

I am slowly learning that everything will work the way it’s meant to be. I continue to be thankful for both the fact that I am fertile and my ability to help others become a family. I know in the end I am very blessed for the family I do have and when it is right for us to have another it will all work the way it’s meant to be but until then I’ll grab a glass of wine.. and relax!

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NO EDUCATION REQUIRED

The look on my bosses face said everything before she uttered the words I did not want to hear.  She told me she was sorry but at that point all I could question was why again.

This morning I learned my fate again. Four times applying for a marketing position, second time within the credit union I currently work for and the fourth time I have been told sorry but you’re not the one best fit for the position.

I have never felt so fit for a job, so sure this is where I want to be. When I started at my current employer in April 2011 I met the newest marketing team member. During our new employee orientation she talked with me about different marketing aspects. I was a month away from my associates in marketing and wanted to know whether to pursue a bachelor’s degree as well. After our chat I realized I wanted to go further with my marketing career.

 On March 11th 2011 at exactly midnight we received official orders to move to Sumter, SC. Later that day I went online to pursue any finance or marketing position I was qualified for near Shaw AFB.  I applied to four positions, two in marketing and two teller positions. The only response I ever received was with the position I received at the credit union. I was very thankful for my position offered when so many cannot find a job. I accepted my job four days after we moved to Sumter, SC and no one was more shocked than I was.

Six months into my employment a marketing position opened. At this point I had my degree and I felt qualified. I have been trying to debate on whether or not to get my bachelors in business administration or marketing. I needed to know which will help me receive a job on the outside and which would be my true passion. A month later I learned the position was filled and I was not even interviewed.  Third time submitting an application and third time I was denied. I told myself it was because there was something better for me and there was. I received a promotion when I took a full-time position in the administration building. All was okay with my world.

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But here I am receiving a denial for the fourth time. I’ve researched many bases we hope to go to someday. Tampa, Fort Walton Beach, Charleston, San Antonio, San Diego and Washington DC all have marketing positions listed however most need two to four years’ experience in marketing. Two to four years that I do not have. I’ve sat patiently waiting for a marketing position to open to work my way through the company.

I have to question what all did I do wrong? Would it be my experience, my reviews or my interview? I won’t know these answers until sometime next week but in the end the feeling of denial was there. But sadly deep down I question whether or not it was my work ethic or my personal ethic that truly cost me the job.

Is being open a bad thing? Has my blog now cost me a job that could help me in the future? I’ve been so open about my life and one of those open topics has been my husband and my desire for a second child hopefully in 2014. In my interview I mentioned my blog as they needed someone who could assist in helping with web design. I am so open about wanting another Broome baby in our house but I’ve also been very open with my job as well. I did not disclose this information in my interview but it was never a hidden topic.

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I am not a great stay at home mom and have always been very open about it. Find me a way to stay at home and work or a fantastic part-time position and I’m your girl. However at my current full-time position I could never place two kids in daycare but with the pay raise I would have received I could have easily done so. So although I am disappointed I lost the opportunity to gain further experience in Marketing, I also may have lost my last chance to be a working mom of two. I’ll continue to work until we can figure out what my next step will be. Maybe we can do two in daycare but maybe we cannot but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

I start school again in the fall. I’m thankful that I can spend the next two or three years in basic courses but soon I will need to know what type of bachelor’s degree I wish to pursue. Although I love so many aspects of marketing, the business administration just seems the smart thing to do. I don’t want to be one of the thousands of college graduates who are in limbo of using their degree. Being the one who is considered too educated for the entry-level position but under-qualified without experience for the mid-level position. Watching so many friends go through this constant struggle is one I do not wish to go through. I’m so young and have so many years of workforce in front of me. I don’t want to start over in a new city five years from now at age 29 with no true experience under my belt. I start again in a new location with jobs where the education requirement states no college education required.

But I guess this is just the life of a military wife who wishes for a career.

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INDEPENDENCE DAY

Independence Weekend is a large celebration in the Broome household. When asked what your favorite holiday is most will mention Thanksgiving, Christmas or something involving gifts. Although I enjoy most holidays equally, the fourth is hands down my favorite holiday. Growing up it was halfway through the summer, a marker to remind you to make the best of the last sweet weeks of summer time. Now that I am older it is another weekend for my family to get together for celebration but it is always one of the largest parties of the summer.

July 4th is my very first and very best friend’s birthday. He is right at three months younger than I am and since that day we have been inseparable. Summers meant spending time together since we grew up going to different schools. The fourth was a day of uninterrupted fun ending with watching the fireworks over the lake. We would have homemade ice cream, the most incredible and over the top cake and enough food to feed a small village. Today he turns 24 and not much has changed. We still celebrate the holiday to the fullest, indulge in amazing desserts and make enough food to last for days, just this time we have an adult drink in our hands instead of a juice box. He is a firefighter by profession and loves what he does. Donald Trump hosts a large firework show three miles from my home and he volunteers for the fire department so we’ll be celebrating tomorrow when he has less obligations. Even though it’s his birthday he still goes out and volunteers or works during one of the days of the holiday weekend. Many would request time off for their day but this is something he loves. It’s his passion and he will gladly give up a little of his freedom on this holiday for the freedom of others.

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Now that my husband is enlisted in the US Military, Independence Day continues to have more meaning for me. I’ve learned first-hand what freedom our men and women fight for and how easily their freedom can be taken from them. Living in England was nowhere near a third world country however there were amenities which American’s are accustom to which were not available. We all have had a complaint of a first world problem. Currently, I am so angry my fridge’s ice maker is broken. Yes, my first world problem is a terrible earth shattering one however living in England we used ice trays. How silly of me to forget how lucky I was to even have such a luxury in my home.

Our men and women fight for our freedom daily, both military and home front heroes. They do not have to be deployed to be fighting this never ending fight. Many units all over the world sit in standby mode, waiting for the call for duty. If anything were to happen in the world they are the first to go running to defend our freedom. The spouses, children and family members will be left in an instant and the freedom the military member has is gone. They have chosen to lose the little piece of personal time to fight for what Americans have grown accustom to, including fridges with ice makers. (which I am very thankful for)

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This weekend I will get to enjoy it with two men in my life who give up their lives daily for the benefit of others. My husband who proudly serves his country and my best friend who protects so many in our community. America is built by individuals who put the greater cause before their own needs. I am proud to know two of these individuals.

I hope everyone has a safe holiday and be thankful for all the ones who fight for our freedom that allows us to enjoy this day with our family and friends.

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