Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eye Pillows & Nightlighting

When you hear "nightlighting," does this come to mind??

In the world of Fertility, it's a specific approach to regulating irregular cycles. My cycles were always irregular as a teen and young adult. At the time, I liked it because I got about half as many periods as my friends but when I was trying to get pregnant, that meant my chances for conceiving were cut in half. I only had about eight chances to get pregnant in a year (assuming my husband wasn't out of town when I was fertile, which happened quite a lot).

I read about nightlighting in the book Garden of Fertility

To try to boost my progesterone levels and shorten my cycles with my first pregnancy, we actually put up room darkening shades, turned off nightlights and covered our digital clocks....but what I didn't realize was that the element that helped the most was one I was already using: an eye pillow.

Eye pillows are typically made out of lavender buds and flax seeds and are used during yoga, to help ease migraines or to help you relax in preparation for sleep.

The weight on your eyes actually "forces" your eyes and face to relax. I use to be a person who sorted out my day (and my life) in the hour or so it took me to fall asleep at night. Using an eye pillow helped me relax, slow my thoughts and go to sleep more quickly.

There was an added bonus when it came time for "night lighting:" it blocked out excess light during the night. I relied so much on my pillow that I taught myself to readjust it when I changed positions at night.

The bottom line is, the night lighting concept affects your circadian rhythm, which affects hormone levels. Progesterone levels are very important for sustaining a healthy pregnancy and all I can say is that it did work at shortening my cycles, and I used it throughout my (100% perfect) first pregnancy.

If you need to shorten your cycles or just need to relax before going to sleep, I highly recommend looking into getting an eye pillow!

I found similar eye pillows to mine in Little Peeps Etsy shop.

I love this Eye Pillow Company web site, too (pictured below).

Here's some great information on Night Lighting {just scroll down about half way}

Let me know if you have any questions or if you try it!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

No turning back

It was early January and my husband and I were driving home from a weekend getaway with my family and the boys were asleep in the back of the van when we got to talking about fulfilling our purpose.

I said, "I kinda always thought I'd do a conference type of thing. Get women together, have a theme, tell my stories, talk about what we've been through. Eat breakfast, encourage each other. I'd love that."

My husband said, "You should just put it on the calendar and do it."

I said I'd think about it.

I could certainly have turned back then.

I had it in the back of my mind when our pastor started a sermon series on The Kingdom of God and challenged us to think about how WE could advance the kingdom with our own unique contribution. I kept feeling little jabs in my spirit {and occasionally from my husband during church}.

I thought back to when the miscarriage happened and I'd told God, "Whatever story You write in my life, I'll use it to encourage other woman on their journey." I didn't know that it would be the first of many, many times that I surrendered to God. He has done an amazing work in my life and, despite some real "lows" along the way, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I knew it was time to tell my story.

I'm on the teaching team at church but, as I'd described to my husband, I wanted to write my OWN curriculum and present it in more of a "conference setting," which would be...different. Despite being nervous about bringing it up to my pastor, I sat down with him and described my vision, hoping to get his approval for the event. To my surprise, he didn't just approve but actually got excited about it and said, "Go for it!" Within the two weeks following, we set a date and reserved a room on our church campus.

I could definitely have cancelled the event at that point.

About a month ago, right after our pastor finished the Kingdom series and started a Launch series, he invited me up front to "advertise" my event. I also started taking sign-ups for the event and handing out fliers.

I suppose I still could have postponed it or cancelled altogether.

Now it's two days away. There are fifteen ladies who RSVPd that they're coming. We ordered food, there's a guy coming to set up tables and I have a pile of awesome door prizes. I also e-mailed my participant's guide and survey to the church office to have copies made. My sister-in-law created a Power Point for me and I finally created a playlist on my ipod, just for the event. My mom is picking up flowers to use for centerpieces.

No doubt....there's no turning back now.

I even picked out the dress, jewelry and shoes I'm wearing. Talk about "official."

I've had many moments of wondering, "What was I thinking when I signed on for this!?!" If I think about it too much, it's somewhat terrifying. I've been up past midnight every night this week, making my final revisions. My boys have been baby-sat by the television for days on end, without leaving the house. My brain is on over-load, trying not to forget anything. I keep making changes to my outline. I wonder if any of this even matters and whether the women coming will get something out of it.

But there's no turning back now.

And everyone I've talked to has said, "We need this."

I know God orchestrated this event. Now I just have to lay down the baton and trust Him to lead.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Looking back

Mother's Day 2008: celebrated with my son (who was 2.5 at the time) while experiencing a miscarriage. I felt so blessed! You know I was hugging him extra-tight all day.

Mother's Day 2009: I was 40 weeks pregnant with my "redemption baby" and celebrating with my son (then 3.5 years old). I felt incredibly blessed and was very eager to meet Ethan! He was born the Tuesday after Mother's Day. {the henna belly tattoo was from my Blessingway}

Mother's Day 2010: "Had my hands full" with my two precious sons (ages 4.5 and 1 year). I felt more blessed than ever!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

When to tell your pregnancy news

Those two lines change EVERYthing. If you've seen several days worth of negative tests (or months or even years of negative tests!) prior to the positive test, you know that you can hardly believe your eyes. You wonder if you're seeing things. You probably even take another test (or two or six) just for confirmation.

So you're pregnant. Whether you "got it" on the first try or you've been trying for years, one of the first questions you have to grapple with is, "Who do I tell and when??"

I can't tell you what to do, it's part of the story God is knitting together in your life. I can tell you is what I did and why.

I've been pregnant three times.

Pregnancy #1: In March 2005, I got pregnant on about the third try and knew by 13 days post-ovulation. We told everyone as soon as we got a positive pregnancy test. I assumed everything would be perfectly fine with the pregnancy and it was. I went to almost 41 weeks and delivered a perfectly healthy baby boy.

Pregnancy #2: In the spring of 2008, we started "trying" for a second baby and got pregnant on the first try. We told everyone right away and assumed that everything would be perfectly fine but it wasn't. Just shy of seven weeks along, on Mother's Day weekend, I suffered a miscarriage. I had been due on December 28th and had already filled in my pregnancy journal. It was a crushing blow and was definitely one of the defining moments of my life thus far.

Pregnancy #3: In August of 2008, we started "trying" again and again, got pregnant on the first try. We found out on September 2 and told everyone as soon as we knew, having great faith that everything would be fine and it was. I again went to almost 41 weeks and delivered another perfectly healthy baby boy.

Two beautiful sons, perfect in every way, born three-and-a-half years apart, and right between the two, I had a miscarriage.

Do I wish I hadn't told anyone that time around? I think back and realize that

if I had said, "I don't want to tell anyone this early, 'just in case,'" I would have been saying that I didn't trust God with the outcome of my pregnancy.**

It would have also meant that no one would have known what I was going through. After it happened, other women who had experienced miscarriages came out of the woodwork and we got a chance to talk about it and encourage each other. Some women actually needed to tell ME their story. I have spoken openly about what I went through and it has given me the opportunity to minister to many, many women.

Now, almost three years later, I'm launching a new ministry (starting with a God Knits event at my church, details HERE) to help women who have experienced "bumps in the road on the journey of motherhood" and I honestly don't think I'd be at this point if I'd have kept my pregnancy and the subsequent miscarriage a secret. Talking about it from the very beginning actually helped me work through it faster.

Yes, it was hard to tell people we lost the baby. Mother's Day Sunday, a friend that hadn't heard approached me and said, "It's so sweet to be pregnant on Mother's Day!" She felt worse about it than I did. A month later, my sister-in-law's ex-boyfriend saw me at church and patted my belly and said, "You're glowing!" I wanted to smack him. I put that shirt way in the back of my closet when I got home.

One thing the miscarriage experience taught me, in fact, was how very delicate and miraculous those early days of pregnancy are, especially the two weeks or so before we know we're pregnant. I had taken it for granted with my first pregnancy. So after my cycles returned to normal following the miscarriage, we actually asked people to pray for us before we started "trying" again. Yes, it's a little awkward to say to people, "Pray that we make a healthy baby when we have sex this month, ok?" But why NOT have people praying for you and the baby, when it matters most? We call Ethan our "Redemption Baby" and I know those prayers made a difference.

**Now back to the trust in God's plan issue. "You assumed everything would be ok every time but one time, it wasn't ok." Yes, there were some dark moments as my story unfolded but my trust is in a God that cares and is ever-faithful.

When I depend on an all-knowing, all-seeing SOVEREIGN God who works ALL things together for good, nothing is ever amiss.

It took me a while to see it that way, of course, which is just a part of my journey. But if I'd have expressed by lack of trust by saying, "I don't want to get my hopes up, just in case something happens," or dwelled on all the "what ifs," it wouldn't have changed anything one way or the other. In fact, believing that God would ultimately lead me to something wonderful just meant I was on the look-out, ready and willing, for a miracle.

When I miscarried, God didn't disappoint me, He just took me on a detour. A detour that eventually led to this:

Ethan Ryan (his name means Strong King) came home from the hospital a year to the day after I miscarried. As says in Psalm 30:13, "And You turned my mourning into dancing...and clothed me in gladness!" He came home one year to the day that the miscarriage occured. That is redemption.

I can't question that.

And if and when we try for another baby, you can bet I'll have people praying for our baby before he or she is conceived and I'll be spreading my pregnancy news immediately. If anything, my faith in God and His plan for my life has only gotten stronger, which means that I will continue to trust that He will ultimately give me the miracle I need.