Thursday, December 31, 2009

The last day of the year…

I can feel it in my bones – 2010 is going to be a GOOD year!!

I don’t know what it is, but as the year is drawing to a close, I am feeling better and better about the next year.  Positive, excited, hopeful, eager, at peace. 

Is anyone else feeling similar emotions and thoughts about 2010?

We are spending tonight’s celebration at our property in the country.  400 acres of wilderness!  I’m so excited about it!  It is a REALLY hot day here today and the property is terrible in the heat, so we are going up late afternoon in order to get there around sunset.  I have sparklers, glow in the dark necklaces and frisbees and all sorts of other things!  Out there in the pitch black they are going to look great!

One great exciting thing to start the year off is that our new Canon SLR camera arrived today!!  We are SO excited!  I am so looking forward to being able to take really good photos and displaying them on here as well as around our home etc.! 

Today is Day 31 of my cycle and we are waiting to see if there will be a Day 1.  [My last cycle was 31 days and the two before were 32.]  Which means we are also waiting to see whether I will be drinking alcohol tonight for New Year or still being alcohol free.  My preference of course is that I’m pregnant!  Of course!!

However, if my period comes tomorrow or the day after and I’ve missed out on New Years drinks then that will be disappointing as well!!  :) :)

For some reason, I haven’t wanted to do a pregnancy test.  We have family visiting and we still aren’t telling anyone about our pregnancy efforts.  So, it is a little awkward.  And I think a big part of me wants to be able to run around the house and yell out my excitement when the result is positive!!  But, the family are leaving on Tuesday, so if there is no change by then, then we will do a test!  And hopefully run around in excitement!!  fingerscrossed

In the meantime, I am feeling good about myself and us and our lives.  I am happy in the moment and content with the day.

I like that this is the predominant feeling I have, even though there are some other things going on that I am not happy about.  Within the challenges, there is a centre to my being.  A growing connection to my spirituality that has been dormant for a little while.  And I believe that it is my other blog – Creating Peaceful Thoughts – that is re-awakening this connection with my Spirit and very importantly, allowing me to feel more peaceful and stress-free in order to conceive and grow our child!

So, a peaceful waiting is in order for the next few days.  And whether tonight is alcohol free or not, I’m going to have a great time!!

Happy New Year, Everyone!!!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Dear little one,

To our dear little one to be,

Today has been the best Christmas morning I have had in years.  It is the third Christmas that your father and I have spent together, but it is the first one where we have woken up together in our own home, and celebrated with love and opening presents around the Christmas tree.

Grandma P is here also, visiting from Sydney, and it has made it feel like such a special family morning.  I am so grateful and happy.

I can’t even remember the last time that I woke up in my own home on Christmas morning and not been alone.  I lived alone for so many years before I met your Daddy.  I am so grateful and happy to have him in my life.  Today I am feeling truly blessed.

And I dream of you.  I wonder if you are here already, growing in my womb.  I feel such love and strong sense of protection for you.  I can’t even begin to imagine how I am going to feel when I know you are truly here, let alone when I hold you in my arms for the first time.  What a Christmas that will be, when we can celebrate with you as well.

Grandma and Dad have gone to mass this morning and I have some quiet time for a little while.  Soon we will head over to Grandma and Grandpa O and spend the rest of the day with them and the rest of our family.  Christmas as normal!

This year though, it is better.  There is your Dad, there are thoughts and hopes for you and there is so much more peace in my life.  I am grateful.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Well, no activity on the conception front.  We are in the last half of my cycle and just waiting to see what happens.

Naturopath and Acupuncturist are on holiday break, so no appointments.

It’s all very quiet!

So from one woman Down Under to those of you reading – Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukah or whatever greeting you prefer!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday break and a great day on Friday with your loved ones!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

A week of appointments

This week has been full of appointments – fertility clinic, two to my naturopath (one for massage and one for a naturo consult) and one to my acupuncturist.

My acupuncture appointment yesterday turned out to be a massage treatment.  I have put my neck out.  So annoying, but in the flow of my new resolve of creating peaceful thoughts, I am choosing to be grateful for the challenge that it has brought into my life.
The biggest challenge – I have to play for a wedding and pre-reception drinks today.  A bad neck and flute playing don’t really go together very well!  But I will manage as always!

Yesterday’s naturopath appointment was a good one!  Of course, they usually are!  I ended up at Gribbles pathology for yet another blood test.  This one was determine how much B12 and folic acid I personally need.  Everyone’s bodies need different amounts.  I have been taking both for a long time now, but as they are a critical part of developing a good healthy baby, QN sent me off for this specific test, so I can take the right amounts for me and bubby to be!

What was amazing, was that she had stamped urgent on the form and after they took my blood – they preceded to tell me that QN would have it in a couple of hours!!!!  Incredible!!  Their laboratory is right on site and they would do it straight away.  Hopefully QN will have time to look at it so I can pick up whatever herbs I need today.  She goes on 3 weeks break today and, while I know she will still call me and have me come in to pick them up next week, I don’t want her to have to.  It’s her holiday for goodness sake!!  We all deserve a break.

QN also looked at my blood and it was looking better than it has in some time.  All the red blood cells were floating freely, with no clumping!  But there were a few misshapen ones which are a sign of low magnesium, so we will add magnesium to the mix and I be good to go!

So once again this week, an appointment showing that things are looking good in my body.  All good news, giving me every reason to be optimistic that sometime soon we will have a little one to care for.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

A new blog

Hi all,

I have started a new secondary blog!  It’s called Creating Peaceful Thoughts.  Something aside from the journey toward conception.  Or something extra alongside!  Whichever way, I wanted to keep it seperate from this record of our pregnancy goals.

I would love to see you over there!

Fertility Clinic results

I had my second appointment with the GYN this week.   The results are all good. 

  • All my hormones were where they should be,
  • D’s results were good,
  • I have a high egg count for my age,
  • my scan was mostly good with some strange follicle/cyst behaviour that doesn’t concern her,
  • she says that I am ovulating.

Still no pregnancy!

My naturopath and acupuncturist are really pleased.  They believe that all that we have been doing for the last 5 months is working.  And I do too!  They believe that I have had/still have PCOS, but that the herbs and acupuncture are doing their job and the cysts are gradually staying away.  Queen Naturo also reminded me that a few months ago, my bloods showed that I wasn’t ovulating, so progress is being made!

At this stage, the GYN has no answer, but she does have action.  Over the next two months, I undergo:

  • a blood test each cycle to continue to monitor my ovulation.  She wants to look at whether I am regularly ovulating or not. 
    However she did say something really interesting about this.  That the fact that my cycles have regulated over the last few months, is a good sign that I am ovulating.  She said that regular cycles mean regular ovulation!  Once again, thanks to Queen Naturo and King Acupunt.  Because before them, my cycles were all over the place.  Probably why I still have lots of eggs left!!
  • And she has also scheduled me in for a HSG scan to look at my tubes.  Once again, it doesn’t sound like a pleasant experience!  But I am grateful to be able to find out whether my tubes are healthy or blocked in any way.

After that, if things are still looking good, then it becomes a diagnosis of unexplained infertility.  From there, we can choose to either continue to try on our own, or take the IVF path. 

If we are very fortunate, a pregnancy will ensue before that time comes!  However, we both agree that in two months, if we still aren’t pregnant, we will continue to work with the naturopath for a little while longer.  You gotta have faith in their 100% strike rate!

I am very grateful to know though, that the GYN will be happy to proceed with IVF.  Issues of my weight did come up, along with the complications it can cause, but it is not enough to not proceed with IVF.  She has simply encouraged me to continue to work on that area.  Like I haven’t been working on that issue every day of my life!

She was really good in this consultation.  You may remember I was unhappy with our last appointment, but it was really good this time.  She was very support and compassionate, gentle and reassuring with all the results.   And only 30 minutes late instead of 90!!  :)

So, I’ve come away reassured by all the test results.

  • I believe that, while there are still some cysts I am recovering from PCOS!
  • I am not yet convinced on the ovulation thing.  Maybe Baby is still showing nothing and I am not feeling anything myself either.  It is possible though, that Maybe Baby is just not working for me.  And their website also states that it isn’t right for everyone. 
    I am looking forward to finding out the results of continuing ovulation testing and of course, seeing whether or not, I begin a new cycle!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Beauty products.

Day 12.  No signs of ovulation yet.  With my 32 day cycle, I should begin getting signs on the Maybe Baby on Day 14.

Other than that – no news on the conception front.

I go to the fertility clinic next week for the results of all the tests and the first phase of treatment from them.

I have another acupuncture appointment today.

Yesterday was my birthday.  41 years old.

jurlique I had a wonderful day.  One of the things that made it so great was going out with my Mum for Jurlique facials together.  We booked it sometime ago and both had vouchers from presents over the year from my sister-in-law. 

Oh my God!  I haven’t had a facial like that in years!!  It was fantastic!  I am a new Jurlique fan.  I didn’t know about their products before.  They are in the high price range and I never looked.  I am in love.  Organically grown. All natural. No nanoparticles (now THAT is a whole other post.  if you are interested in learning about this dangerous product that is now in our cosmetics – google it)  It is just so darn expensive. 

Anyway, I have treated myself to a few products and am now researching other brands that don’t have nanoparticles, are still natural, but aren’t quite so expensive.  Fingers crossed I can find one.  Looks like I have some changes to make to my make up and beauty products cupboards.

bfb_farmI get some things from my naturopath.  She has someone working in the clinic who makes all natural moisturizers etc especially designed for your skin. And they are a good price. But my skin still feels fantastic today after yesterday using the Jurlique products.  The difference is huge.  A balance between the two maybe in order.

The most important thing is that I am not putting anything in or on my body that can cause any damage to me or our future child. 

Why is it that there are so many things brought into our daily lives by big companies that are actually harmful to us??  Money, of course.  But why?  I just don’t understand.  In my head, it would make more money, if it really was good for you.  I hope that more and more people insist on the right products so that eventually big companies are forced to make good choices for the health of the worldwide population.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

All okay!

Well, the ultrasound was fine.  No big deal at all.  Thank you everyone for your support and words of encouragement.  It was a relief to hear that I had nothing to worry about.

Now that a day has passed I’m not upset by the conclusions that the doctor came to.  Instead I am excited to have seen my womb and ovaries and grateful that, in his eyes, everything is normal.


While I know they do this everyday and know exactly what they are seeing and looking for, I felt that it was a rushed and cursory look at my insides.  He quickly looked at the first ovary and said that there were no cysts at all.  He then moved over to the other ovary and as he was looking caught a quick glance of some cysts on that ovary.

He looked all over this ovary and proclaimed that they were nothing and my ovary was normal.  Yet he took some time to show me the cysts that he did find, pointing them out specifically.  He said that he really had to look for them to find them and that they weren’t anything worth proclaiming over.

img_1249372897648_8641When I questioned him as to whether these cysts could cause a problem with ovulation, he was quite abrupt and said “your ovaries are normal”.

I find it strange that he saw cysts, pointed them out to me and yet diagnosed normal ovaries.  And I can’t help wonder how well he looked at my first ovary.

I have yet to speak to my naturopath about it, but I get a feeling I know what they both will say.  That any cysts are something that need to be dealt with and can be a factor in ovulation problems. [ I read that a cyst is a follicle that didn’t fully increase in size in order to release it’s egg.  And there were several of them.  This certainly explains not ovulating every month.]  And that the medical profession are quick to dismiss minor things as not important.  Yet, on a holistic scale, the smallest things can be a big influence and it makes the world of difference when they are treated.  I don’t like the idea at all that there are undeveloped follicles not able to do their job, resulting in another month of not being able to conceive.

I also had a lot of blood taken for many more blood tests.  All of which will assist the GYNs diagnosis, which is the one that counts.  There is much that needs to be taken into consideration.  I am eager to see what she says and chooses to do.

I am sure my weight will, unfortunately, be a factor in the next appointment as well as the last one.  Everywhere that you look up PCOS, obesity is a factor.  Yet, I believe that is more of a consequence than a cause.  Which just makes it all a vicious cycle!  Nevertheless, now that I am on holidays, I will have more time and more headspace in which to once again address this issue and hopefully make a difference in both our conception journey and my own personal happiness!

[PS.  Just found this quote from an article talking about how even a minor weight loss in PCOS sufferers results in increased blood flow to the womb, which can help assist the eggs release and help with embryo implantation.]

Women with PCOS, which is one of the most common causes of infertility, tend to put on weight because of their condition and struggle more than other women to lose it through diet and exercise.

img_1249372897648_8641I am excited to have seen my womb and ovaries!
I am very grateful that there weren’t a lot of cysts found.
I am extremely grateful that everything is “all normal”.
And I am highly grateful that I am already taking herbal medications to treat PCOS.

I am also excited by the follicle that the doctor showed me.  He said “see this black blob here.  That is a follicle starting growing in size.  It shows that you are getting ready to ovulate!”
I was SO EXCITED to hear him say that and to see it on the screen!!! 
Lets hope that this follicle continues to grow and develop and release its little egg rather than turning into a cyst.  It certainly was larger than the cysts he pointed out earlier on!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chilling out!

relaxed_kitten Peace and Quiet. 
Time for myself.
So many good things.

It’s 7 pm.
It’s still daylight!
I have one more day of teaching before I start summer holidays.
The mouse has left the house!  We can now get a good nights sleep!
D is at kickboxing and the house is so so so quiet.
The sound of birds chirping as the day winds to a close is beautiful.
There is a beautiful breeze floating around the house.
I’ve had dinner.
D’s dinner is ready for him when he comes home.
I am enjoying the one perk of getting my period and not being pregnant – a really nice glass of red wine! 
Ah, bliss.

redWineIt’s amazing how not drinking enhances the effects of alcohol when you do indulge!  Half a glass of wine and I am going wooooooo!!!  haha!
I feel so relaxed.  It’s heaven.
I’m looking forward to having one more glass to share with D when he returns.  We don’t get to drink together very often anymore.  And it was one of the things the we bonded with when we first met – our love of wine.
So while it is disappointing to be starting a new cycle, we get to share that love for one little night (maybe two nights!  :)  )



Monday, November 30, 2009


Cycle 7 of our journey to conception started today.  Which means that on Wednesday I go to the fertility clinic for my ultra sound.

I rang to make the appointment today and get all the details only to discover that its not the kind of ultra sound that I though it was going to be.  It is done vaginally.  Oh dear.  I know that if my cycles keep coming around there will be more to go through than just this, but I didn’t expect it and I am a bit taken aback.

The clinic described it as similiar to having a pap smear.  But I can’t imagine it being like that.  It must be more invasive than that if they are going to look around my insides.

I’m really quite worried and nervous and scared about it.

Is there anyone who has experienced this kind of ultra sound?


Since writing this last night, I did a bit of research on the net.  And discovered it doesn’t sound too bad after all.  Phewwwww!!!! My imaginings got the better of me for a little while!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Will it work?

On Wednesday, I go see my naturopath.  I have to pre-order any herbs etc I will need for the next two months because of the Christmas break.  I think it may end up costing us a lot because we will have to look at the “what if?” herbs as well.

What if I’m pregnant?  Then I have to go on different herbs than I am on now.  Herbs to help hold the pregnancy for starters.  Then I’m sure there will be different things that we haven’t talked about yet.

And what if I get my pregnant while they are on their 4 week break???  We need to be prepared.

My appointment is 4 days before my next cycle is due to begin.  The pregnancy test I have says you can test 4 days in advance, however it may not be as accurate as testing later.  In otherwords, if it says I am not pregnant, there is still a chance I may be.

I think I will still do the test, because if it does show I am pregnant, aside from the Waaahhhoooooooo!  hahahaha, then we can better prepared for the Christmas break.

I sure hope we don’t have to spend a lot of money on ‘what ifs?’ !


Friday, November 20, 2009

A minor trial!

Gosh, it was hard last night after the concert.  D took me out for dinner and I SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO wanted a glass of wine.

Instead a glass of lemonade, a beautiful meal and I came home to an icecream and a glass of de-alcoholised wine.  The craving was over!

I so enjoy and appreciate wine, and after a long week, it would have been the perfect way to relax and unwind.  But there is absolutely no way I am risking any chance of damage to a possible child of mine!

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is becoming more and more recognised.  And both our naturopath and acupuncturist are VERY passionate about it's reality and NO alcohol being drunk during pregnancy.  Fortunately this was a decision I had already come to before even seeing them for fertility.

I didn't realise the extent of it though, until they passed on the research they have about it.  After reading that, not even half a glass will pass through my lips.  Gosh, it will be a hard 9 months!!  :):) 

Thank goodness for de-alcoholised wine is all I can say!

It’s strange really, the research of this syndrome.  Because down through the ages, alcohol has been consumed by pregnant mothers with no effects.  And yet, other times, the effects have been disastrous.  It makes you wonder why things seemed to have changed so much.

But nevermind, better to be safe than sorry – especially being over 40!  There are enough risks at it is!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Going with the flow

Today sees me going with the flow.

I keep thinking to myself “I could be pregnant.  It is possible.  I could be!!” 

It will be a little while before I can find out.  So, in the meantime I need to go with the flow of life.  It is so important not to get so caught up in the possibilities that we become disheartened if the result isn’t what we wish.  There are also so many reasons why it would be good for us to have more time.  So, whatever happens is meant to be!


Monday, November 16, 2009

A surprise in the microscope

Yesterday morning I leaned over to do the daily saliva test.  10 minutes later, I am handing the mini microscope over to D in total surprise.  The reading was positive!  I was ovulating!  It had been five days since that first sign of ovulation with nothing since then.  There was joy and confusion from both of us!

This morning – once again, nothing on the test.  It is just so strange.

What normally happens with Maybe Baby is that you have two or three days of pre-ovulation readings, 1-2 days full ovulation readings and 2-3 days post-ovulation readings.  So this is all very strange.

Nevertheless, the two week wait now will test my patience.  While it is all a bit strange, yesterdays random reading puts the thought in our heads that it might just be possible this cycle for us to have conceived!  Maybe…  Maybe Baby!  :):)

While there is that joy of hopefulness, I am mostly  feeling disillusioned with it all at the moment.  I do acknowledge that other factors in my life are contributing to this feeling.  One of them is not feeling well at the moment, and another is a colleague announcing her pregnancy at our meeting last night.  Wonderful news for her!  :)  I just wish I was there as well.

The arthritis is giving me grief and I can feel it in my knuckles and ankles as well.  It’s as though, my body is saying “Now that I am diagnosed, feel it in all its glory!”

So, I need to work at riding through these feelings and overcoming the factors that are contributing to them.  I’ve got some work to do this morning, that will feel good to have completed and I have some difficult things to achieve at school that will hopefully, in time, begin to lift my spirits as well.

I put out to the Universe - positivity, hopefulness, patience, good health, perseverance and our dreams of a different life.

ah, the Universe is surprising.  After writing that last sentence I did a google image search for happiness.  It gave me this photo from… wait for it… an arthritis website!  Perhaps it is time to researching this as well – with joy that I finally have a diagnosis.

happiness - arthritis

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Time to blog!

I have no more conception news today.  I simply have the time to blog!  My goodness!  Where did that come from!  :)

I had the day off yesterday and apart from a couple of appointments decided to chill out.  No banking, no bookwork, no reports, no teaching, no flute, no errands!  And with the temperature sitting at around 38C(100F) for the last week and still into the future, what a day to do it!

So, today comes around and I am feeling relaxed, easygoing, with time on my hands.  Yes, all of the above things need to be done but I simply enjoyed the shopping and errands this morning and left the rest.  I deserve the break and I feel good about it!  Its so HOT here!!  Who wants to do anything!

Tomorrow I have a flute society AGM in the afternoon (the bbq lunch was cancelled due to the extreme weather!) and then we are off to see the Time Travellers Wife.  Can’t wait!

Maybe I will just do those reports now and get them out of the way…
…  mmm, no it seems it is time to go down to the beach for an evening walk.  Oh dear, what a shame!  :)…
… Oh, got the reports done, Yeea!  Now down to the beach!

Our trip to Sydney was wonderful!  We had a great trip and really enjoyed the four day (there and back) road trip together.  On the way home, we saw this amazing old train bridge and stopped to take photos.





































Friday, November 13, 2009

The Fertility Clinic

Wow, time is flying past me so quickly at the moment. The end of the school year is always a hectic time, but the Summer Holidays are almost here. Four weeks to go and then a seemingly endless 7 weeks break!

It was about three weeks ago when we went to our first fertility clinic appointment. I came away happy and disappointed all at the same time.

We waited an hour and a half past our appointment time before we finally got in to see her. 10 minutes later we were out of her room and passed on to someone else. We were told the appointment would be an hour, and I was expecting so much more. There were a few questions, a background history and then signing off on lots of tests. Blood tests, sperm tests, and an ultra sound.

After we had been passed on, another lady did our height and weight, organised the tests, told us where to go and then we were done. What the...?

There were two things the GYN said that upset me. She had a complete dismissal of all the naturopathic tests I had done and anything related to natural medicine. And she said that my weight was a problem in retaining a pregnancy. I understand now though that she was simply covering all bases. Anything that could a problem is looked at and tried to overcome. But in the short term time after the appointment, I was really upset. My doctor, naturopath and accupunturist all assured me this wasn't a problem, yet here is the GYN blunty saying it is.

However, the she covered all that I had questions about and all that I wanted to have done. She had a suspicion of PCOS before I even mentioned it and I was grateful when she signed off on the ultra sound tests.

I have had 3 progesterone tests at two day intervals in the second half of my cycle. And on day 3, I go in for my ultra sound. Then I see her again with all the results. Unfortunately, we were in Sydney for my last Day 3, so we have to wait till my next cycle to do this.

The lastest news is that this cycle we were excited to have some sign of ovulation from the Maybe Baby and my breasts became quite sore - a sign of ovulation. However, the Maybe Baby only had one day of positivity, not the 5 or 6 days it should have. After having some sign and then nothing the day after, we were so disappointed.

I saw the doctor this morning and she said that sore breasts are a sign of an increase in progesterone. And it is likely that my progesterone increased but not quite enough to produce an egg.

So, we are not there yet this cycle, but we have had our first sign of ovulation in 4 months, so it is a step closer!!

On another medical note, the reason for my doctors appointment today was to get the results of the x-rays on my knee. I finally have a diagnosis for the knee pain that I have had for over 12 years. Arthritis! Can you believe that?! I developed arthritis in my knees in my 20's. Ah the joys of netball. I played the game from the time I could hold a ball and now I have the knees to proof it!

I am grateful to have the diagnosis and now have some medication to help. I wonder how this will be affected during my pregnancy??!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Back on board and a trip away!

I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post.  The last couple of weeks have just been insanely busy getting ready for our trip away.  We leave tomorrow! 

This trip is occurring in Week 4 of Term 4.  One of the busiest times in the school year.  I’ve had to work my butt off around the clock to get all the work done so that I can go away for a week at this unheard of time.  Probably the first teacher ever to have a holiday in Term 4.  Insane!! 

st-marys-cathedral-sydney-aus239Not only that, but my group was hired to play at two weddings this weekend.  Bad timing!  I have organised fill-ins of course, but am losing out on income myself.  One of them also was a time consuming one for preparations with four arrangements to write.  It has taken me many evenings to get that done in time!

But nevermind, it is all for a good cause!!  One that I am really looking forward to.  D’s friend is getting married next weekend.  We are driving over and it will probably take about 17 hours to get there.  We are staying overnight at some of his relatives, which will be the first time I have met them! 

450px-SaintMarys_CathedralSydneyHe is getting married in THE cathedral in Sydney, the biggest and the best!  I have seen it from the outside but have never gone in.  I can’t wait!!  I have been out shopping the last couple of days and bought a new dress for the occasion as well as some other new clothes   for the days. 

Essentially this trip has motivated me to do my summer wardrobe shopping and I am pretty much set for the season now.  Not only that, but I got all the sales!  I did really well with everything!!

There is a bit of catching up to do on our pregnancy journey.  A first trip to the fertility clinic!  Which I will write all about in my next post. 

And the other news, is that I still haven’t ovulated.  But the new cycle has begun again and once again, I am hopeful and excited that this month will be the one!  At least for an ovulation if not a conception.  That would be wonderful progress!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The latest news

Kaitpo Forest trees and seatWith great joy, I set out on my walk yesterday. I guess it is too soon for my knee. 5 minutes later, I had to turn around and head back home.

I've made an appointment with the doctor though and will see her on Friday. D has a friend in the MRI department which may help us with the process.

I’ve also called Curves to sadly put a hold on my membership until this is sorted out. Sadness mixed with relief. Strange really.

Today’s picture is not of bubbies obviously! I wanted to put up a picture from one of the bushwalks that I’ve done. The idea being to activate that side of myself again. It is such a peaceful setting.

Something is shifting in me. I’m not really sure what yet, but my thoughts are changing. My body is changing. I feel the possibility that the treatment I am on for PCOS is setting things right. I am excited, shocked, unbelieving, grateful, amazed at the prospect!

After all these years of struggle, could it really have been PCOS that were causing all the symptoms? Could it be that our desire for a child, is also the instigator for the new season of my life to finally arrive? For the healing of my body - physically and mentally - and therefore spiritually and emotionally as well!

QN added one extra herb to my mix yesterday – THE herb – the herb she believes may have caused my migraine – also the herb that is the main one she wants me to take. I have some migraine signs and I’m being very caref ul. So far, so okay though.

The last two days have been very restful. And restful without feeling guilty. D is away for work and I have had no commitments or obligations. School goes back tomorrow and I have a crazy week. I hope my neck and knee hold up.

As for the rest of the day, it is time to potter around the house and get more things organised and clean and peaceful.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Exercise restrictions

One of the things that I LOVE to do is re-arranging and re-decorating our home. Ever since I was big enough to move things around, I have done this - starting with my childhood bedroom!

When D moved in, we combined two households of furniture into one. Despite culling and storing, as you can imagine, the house became VERY full!

So, my love of re-arranging has been restrained. Furniture is bigger and heavier, there is less space and the possibilities are very limited. However, finally this week, after several weeks of it building, I finally came up with a plan. The place looks great! It's more open and fresher. Cleaner and tidier.

But there was a hiccup! I believe I have torn the ligaments in my right knee. The difficulties arising from this and attempting to become pregnant are not good. It could take months to get into surgery to have it fixed and if I am then pregnant, it won't be possible. Which means going through my pregnancy with a bung knee.

And then of course, exercise is problematic which is a problem for my fitness level in coping with the pregnancy. I haven't really got into a good and regular routine and am desperate to do so. But my usual exercise - Walking and Curves - are not possible right now. However, water exercise could solve the problem. But I don't like going to the public pool! Guess I will just have to suck it up!

The funny thing is though, that I am not irritated or angry or upset at having done this to my knee. Aside from the above concerns, there are no negative emotions AT ALL. I find myself going with the flow and accepting of it all.

It seems a strange reaction, yet there is absolutely no other feelings but these. I am not upset about it. And while I really want to get my fitness back to its normal level, I find myself not worried at all about not being able to go to Curves.

I feel a sense of relief. A sense of destiny.

Now I can slowly, in my own pace, with no pressure of 3x a week getting to the gym, get back into my love of walking. I mean, I love Curves and want to continue with it later down the track, but for some reason, I feel as though I have let go of a burden.

Posted by Picasa

And then I came across this article from the Infertility-Fertility blog on stress and exercise. Here is a quote...

We saw that if you are stressed when you start exercise, your body reacts differently than if you are not chronically stressed and exercise. Not only does it appear that exercise was more stressful for already stressed women, but certainly exercise did not help them lower their stress hormones, which is of course one reason people take up exercising.
I do have a tendency to be stressed without even knowing it. When I think about it though, I know I am placing a lot of pressure on myself to be fit and healthy for bubby. And I am not being very successful, which is definitely causing me stress. Stress that is based on a life-time of stress over the same issues.

This article confirms for me that something is not right. I need to reassess. I need to do one of the most important things for me in this process - find the stress free me.

My knee injury is my sign. It is telling me to stop, to chill out. I am not upset by my knee for a reason. It is time I took a back step and relaxed with my life. I am allowed to let go of the pressure of immediate health and fitness. I am grateful for being forced to stop, for being given a reason to stop. I have been given permission to gradually find my love of walking and living a life of exercise once more.


This is a test.  I have just installed Windows Live Writer and wanted to check out its capacities.  It looks good on the surface.  Now to experiment…

This is a link to today’s regular post

This is inserting a photo album.  Cool!


Inserting a single photo.  So many cool features!!  I’m liking this program!




Inserting a table????!!!  How amazingly versatile!

wow, inserting
a table!!!


This is where I went to University….  as an aerial photo….

Map picture

and as a map…   Awesome!!

Map picture


Gosh, there is still more!!!  I think that will do for now.  Lets see how it publishes.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fertility Clinic

In my last trip to the doctor, she arranged a reference for me to a fertility clinic. With the consideration of my blood tests and age, she wanted to get me in as quickly as possible.

She estimates a wait of at least 6 weeks before I can get an appointment. I was glad for the time. Initially I thought more time would be better in order to give all the naturopathic stuff a chance. However since then, my acupunturist L has said that he wants me to get an ultrasound of all my 'bits' to ensure that there isn't a physical problem such as blocked or twisted fallopian tubes etc etc. I can get this done at the fertility clinic.

So, the sooner the better now. And once I am in the system, we can take it from there. Once in the system, there are choices. I can choose to go ahead with other treatments, or we can choose to wait longer before taking the traditional medical route.

I really hope we don't have to go there. But as Queen Naturo said, in the end, if you have to have your hormones chemically stimulated in order to have a baby, then that is what you do. And during that time, she and L will continue to support and take care of us in the natural way.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Last week I received the news from both my naturopath and acupunturist, that they believe that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. While I have not been medically tested for it through an ultra sound, all my symptoms point to this syndrome.

Obviously, I will get tested for it when I go to the fertility clinic (more on this in a post coming up soon), but the problem with the cysts is that they can come and go and therefore cannot always be seen on an ultra sound. Both doctors and naturopaths acknowledge that is a very difficult syndrome to conclusively diagnose.

Some of the symptoms for this hormone disorder are:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles - menstruation may be less frequent due to less frequent ovulation, and may be either heavier or lighter than average.
  • Amenorrhoea - some women with PCOS do not menstruate, in some cases for many years.
  • Obesity - the cause of this is unclear.
  • Excessive hair growth and/or facial hair - may be due to increased testosterone.
  • Acne - the cause is unclear.
  • Infertility - related to less frequent or absent ovulation.
  • Sugar cravings
  • Increased LH, lower FSH levels, progesterone is low, testosterone is high.

I have 6 of these symptoms, including the test results. And the three main ones for their diagnosis are the fact that I haven't ovulated for the last 2 months, irregular periods and my higher levels of testosterone along with my other hormone test results. While the lack of ovulation could be my age, when combined with other symptoms they are fairly certain of this diagnosis.

So, treatment has begun to help. Whether I truly have this syndrome doesn't matter in regards to treatment, because what I am being given is all good for helping us to conceive anyway.

One important thing for me to do is cut out sugars. Just like with candida, sugars and high GI foods feed the cysts. Normalizing insulin and blood sugar levels is an essential part of treatment and assists in stimulating ovulation.
I have also started to wonder if it is sugar that is giving me these headaches. I'm not sure yet, but I began to wonder about the link a couple of days ago and am keeping a close eye on it now. Any just maybe, with the cysts and my hormones being treated, any sugar is just freaking out my system.

Several supplements are essential to reduce excess androgens, improve insulin function and hormonal regulation by the ovaries. B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, chromium, Omega 3 oils, Dong Quai. Most of these I have been taking for some time now - especially B vits and Omega 3 oils.

In doing more research on this, I discovered the following definition...

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome is a condition characterized by an imbalance of hormones in women which can affect menstrual periods and ovulation. Women are often very embarrassed and upset by some of the symptoms associated with this condition such as excessive hair
growth, acne, obesity and the growth of small cysts on the ovaries. It is also one of the leading causes of infertility. Because of these distressing symptoms, women may also experience feelings of depression and anxiety.

It makes me wonder how long I have had this condition for. Irregular periods and weight control have been the bane of my life for a long time. And plucking hairs out of my chin and neck began many years ago. Nothing extreme, just a few here and there, but it makes me wonder...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tempermental Hormones!

I've been meaning to do a post documenting my test results - both the saliva testing through the naturopath and the blood tests through the doctor. However, my naturopath summed it up all too well yesterday. "Your hormones are all over the place!"

And the perfect example are my my E2's (oestradiol). In my saliva tests (Day 21 of my cycle) they were too low. A few weeks later (Day 18 of my next cycle), the blood tests showed them as being too high. No wonder I'm so screwed up!! :):) (other test figures at bottom of post)

She believes that is probably why I reacted with a migraine to the herbs that are trying to change my hormones to a better baby making balance. My usual hormone balance is simply too up and down to be able to cope. So, for the last week I have been on some hormone balancing herbs.

Today I begin taking a gentler version of the herb she believes caused the migraine. I am very scared to do so. I'm debating whether to wait until after our recital tomorrow. I have to be in tip top shape for that and with a cold coming on I want to take my cold mix. I'm nervous that the two together won't be good. And right now, the cold mix is more important.

Okay, what I will do is take the cold mix now, wait a couple of hours for it to sink in. And then take the hormone herbs. Decision made!!

It's interesting see all these crazy results and wondering how my hormones have been affecting my life up until this point. Who knows really??!!

Nevertheless, I am happy to still be grateful and at ease with the journey that we are on. No matter what bumps in the road, we are still living our lives. And while hopefully that will lead to a bump in my belly(!), I am fascinated and grateful for the experiences that we are having and the things that we are learning!



Blood tests -
FSH - within range
LH - too high
P4 - too low
E2 - too high

Saliva test -
E1 - withing range
E2 - too low
P4 - okay
P4:E2 - the balance between the two is ok.
Testoserone - way too high. Usually a result of insulin spikes. Need to eat low GI, low carb.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cycle 5 begins

I always speak about my cycles as cycles not in terms of months. I have always been so irregular, that months is most definitely not applicable! So, now that cycle 4 has ended, I say, "bring on cycle 5!" :)

Today is the start of my 5th cycle since we began trying to bring our little bubby into the world. My goal this cycle is simply to ovulate! That would be great!! :):)

This weeks acupuncture session was all about my ovaries, stimulating them to start working properly. As well as a needle point to keep me happy and help my thought processes!

I've started a modified herbal mix and with no migraines yet, it is looking good. I see Queen Naturo on Wednesday for my regular massage maintainence, and I suspect she will probably add one extra herb to the mix and see how that goes.

The general headache I have been experiencing since my migraine adventure is still there. It is not at any level that I need to take anything for it, but it does persist and I need to talk to QN about it.

Naturally D is concerned. We know that the migraine and headaches are no doubt related to my hormones being stimulated in different ways. But he is right in saying that it is not normal that this headache is persisting. I think though, that what we are doing with my hormones is not something that will settle for quite some time, there are still changes to be made. And inevitably those changes will have some side affects. A mild pain in my head I can deal with! Nevertheless, QN needs to know and may have some better answers.

And on a fun note...

After no alcohol for over two months, D and I are opening a special bottle tonight now that I have my period. A celebration of our journey and goals and a reward for our efforts.

I am going to really enjoy this brief breaking of my no alcohol adventure before getting back on it again.
I'm going to savour every sip.
I'm going to enjoy the sound of the bottle opening,
the smell of the wine while it is still in the bottle,
the sound of it being poured into the glass,
the colour of the wine, the swishing of it in the glass,
the first sniff,
the sound of the clinking of glasses,
the taste of that first sip...

Dental care - during and before pregnancy

After two years, I have finally been back to the dentist!

It wasn't intentional to wait that long, it just happened. A cancelled appointment due to sickness and then time ran away from me! We all know how that goes!

What got me there eventually was what I learnt about teeth problems during pregnancy.

Any pre-existing problems before you get pregnant can be enhanced during pregnancy. Gum disease is the main problem. And if its there already, it can get worse. And I have known for a little while, that I have had some mild gum disease because of occasional bleeding when I brushed.

The dentist explained things further. Increased blood flow due to pregnancy, can cause gums to swell and make them more susceptible to infection. And if you do experience severe gum problems during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of premature delivery. That certainly provides me with strong motivation to have healthy teeth and gums!!

She advised me to come back either in 6 months for a regular follow up or in the second trimester - whichever comes first. The reason for coming in the second trimester is mainly due to comfort. Any morning sickness will have passed and you will still be able to comfortably lay in the chair - unlike in the third trimester! However, I think it is also a sensible time to check up on those gums and make sure they are staying healthy before there is any chance of problems with bubby!

So, I have gone from detesting flossing to doing so every night. And three weeks after my dentists appointment, it has now become a habit!
I have gone from dreading the dentist to looking forward to my next check up to make sure everything is good.
I am still bleeding just a little from the gums - but only when I floss, not when I brush.
So, I am keen to see if the six months of regular flossing I will have achieved by then, has made a difference to my dental health.


Morning sickness and your teeth
To avoid damage to your teeth after vomiting or gastric reflux, avoid brushing your teeth for about an hour after vomiting.
To freshen your mouth, simply smear some fluoride toothpaste over your teeth and then rinse off with water. Not only will it help wash away the potentially damaging acid but it will also re-mineralise your teeth.
Gagging can occur while brushing your teeth. If brushing makes you feel sick try using a very small headed brush, such as a brush designed for children, and concentrate on your breathing as you clean your back teeth.
Brushing without toothpaste may help. Rinse with a fluoride toothpaste and water twice a day but return to brushing with fluoride toothpaste as soon as possible.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A quick catch up.

Gosh, I am so far behind in documenting this journey. Life has simply run away from me and the opportunity to sit down and blog hasn't presented itself! In fact, I should be working now!!

So, I thought I would do a quick catch up on whats been going on. (I apologise in advance for not being able to document where I got these photos from. I think it was from a local photographer who put her pictures up on Facebook. I will look into it and make the necessary acknowledgments)

According to the Maybe Baby, I still haven't ovulated this month. Two months in a row now. That is a concern, but it is early days still. Acupunturist L is sticking needles into all the right spots and also told me how the ovaries take turns in releasing the eggs, but not always alternate turns. One ovary could release for a few months in a row. So, it could be possible that one ovary isn't working as well as the other. And two months isn't enough to really tell.

The good thing is that I haven't felt like I have ovulated either and I always seem to know. So, it is a temporary glitch. The month before we started tracking, I know for sure that I did, so there is hope!! In the meantime, I keep going to get stuck with needles every week!

After getting the results of the saliva testing a couple of weeks ago, Queen Naturo gave me a new herb mix to boost my baby making ability. (I will go into this in more detail in another post). However, I had a reaction to the new herbs and experienced my first ever migraine. What fun - not! So, now we need to play around with the mix and found out what is causing the problem.

We are both eager for me to take the necessary herbs, but it might take some time to sort it all out.

I am doing everything right, except for the one area in my life that I have always struggled with. Eating well. It really is a struggle for me. I was hoping that the desire to have children would really help, but the old annoying voice in my head still manages to win the battle and overcome my healthy eating desires.

I am trying to not to get stressed about it. That will only make things worse, of course. I know how important it is to cut out the sugars and high GI food. All I can do is keep trying.

In the meantime, I still exercise regularly, take the right supplements, no alcohol, no deli meats, no soft cheese etc etc, all in preparation.

I get the results of the blood tests from the doctor on Friday. I'm excited and nervous all at the same time.

Well, thats it for today. I really should get back to work!!
I'm looking forward to catching up on everyone elses blogs soon!

Love and light

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Acupuncture and conception

I had my first acunpuncture appointment last week. Not my first ever, my first one to help us conceive. L is an amazing acupuncturist etc and always helps heal whatever symptoms we have.

He has worked with many women over 40 to help them become pregnant and has had success in all cases. He and S (Naturo Queen!) have a 100% success rate. He has had women come to him after up to 7 unsuccessful IVF sessions and within a few cycles, conception has been achieved after receiving acupuncture. Awesome!

He has suggested that D come and see him as well as he can help with both sides of the fertility angle and ensure that everything is working optimally.

I will be seeing him once a week for this cycle and then we will see where things are. With any luck that's all that we will need! :)

He needled me for a few things. One was to completely clean out my womb, so a whole new fresh lining can begin to form. As a result, my current period is now 7 days long! It's been very light these last couple of days though and I'm grateful knowing that the old is being completely released and cleansed ready for the new! It's amazing to see the affects of just one treatment.

He also did a point to help the egg travelling properly down the fallopian tube, a point to keep me happy and stress free, a point to help me eat well and I think another to assist a generally healthy reproductive cycle.

It's encouraging to be feeling the affects of it already and I am looking forward to my next treatment in 2 days time.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A new cycle begins!

I very much doubt that I have ever been so happy about starting my period! :) But today I am! It's the start of a new cycle and I am excited.

With no ovulation in my last cycle, I am eager to begin the new one. One of the disadvantages in not ovulating was that I didn't know when I would begin my period. And as my cycles are irregular, I was in a pattern of simply waiting to be able to start again. Now it is here! And sooner than I expected. An almost normal cycle.

I am so looking forward to seeing what this month brings. I am hopeful and have one of those good feelings about things going well. Yet, I am also not worried if our dreams aren't realised this month. Acceptance as well as hopefulness are all part of the game!

As I write this, a smile has emerged. Excitement, hopefulness, a good feeling of success. Such good emotions. I'm smiling!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Things to avoid before and during pregnancy

There have been a few minor changes in our household in regards to chores since we began on this road to pregnancy.

A couple of months ago, my parents came around and we began our usual together job of gardening. Halfway through poisoning the weeds, I suddenly realised - "hey, I shouldn't be doing this anymore! What if I'm pregnant?" As we are not telling anyone, including my folks at this stage, that we are trying, I finished the job and kept my fingers crossed. As it turned out, I wasn't pregnant.

It's hard with some things to change the routine. The gardening for example, is a difficult one for D to find time for around his schedule. We are not green thumbs by any means and the garden isn't our priority. But things like the weeding and mowing need to be done. The weeds are far too prolific in our garden at this stage, to find the time to always do them by hand. Yet, I can't handle the poisons anymore.

Fortunately I switched to Enjo products rather than using cleaning chemicals a long time ago, so there aren't strong cleaning supplies used in our home anyway. And I have read about particular types of paints that you can use that don't have the fumes. I can look at that in more detail when it comes to paint the baby room.

Another one I discovered is cleaning the kitty litter. There is a risk of disease with cat faeces and all pregnant or pre-pregnant woman are advised not to clean up after their cats. Some sources go as far as to say to give the cats to a friend or family during this time. THATS not going to happen!!! :):) Don't these people know that my cats are my babies too!!!! Geeeeez! :)

Anyway, D has taken over that job. It was strange at first. They are my cats and it has been part of my daily routine for the last 5 years, to clean their tray either before bed or first thing in the morning depending on when its needed. D has taken over the task quite happily though. He is such a good man!

I still find it weird to walk in there, see that it needs to be done and not just do it. However, D is more than happy for me to let him know that it needs doing. So, at least I can still act in some way towards getting the job done by telling him! Weird I know!!

My furry babies

I'm still completely alcohol free. I think its been a month now! It's not very often that I miss it anymore so that is good. Often it is more the idea of it now than anything else. A drink with dinner or over a movie. When it comes to socializing though, D has introduced me to de-alcoholised wine and thats has solved the problem of not wanting to tell anyone that we are trying as well as my desire to enjoy a casual drink with my friends!

Fortunately, I don't drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, or take drugs. So those ones are easy!

And I have already talked about reducing stress in my life. A constant working goal that one! And in changing the diet, I have reduced my sugar intake as well. This is an important one for me also.

There you go. The list of things I'm avoiding!

Next time I will do a post of the things that I am DOING now - with exercise and healthy eating being the most obvious!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Clutter clearing to reduce stress

One of my continuing goals is to reduce stress in my life and create a calm and happy environment within me with which to create, grow and raise our child. To that end, I've set about clutter clearing.

Goal 1 - the kitchen cupboards.

I haven't taken photos of these but they are so much better now. The pots and pans cupboard, the baking utensils cupboard (there is one now instead of things being scattered over several cupboards!)... There are three cupboards now in much better shape.

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be able to shut the door properly on the pots and pans cupboard! Wonderful! It is also much easier to access things and to KEEP it tidy! Woohoo!! Some more sanity!

Goal 2 - the linen press.

This is the biggie! Last time I did this was before D moved in. And of course, he came with all his linen and while there was some sorting and throwing out etc at the time, it had gotten chaotic.

Because I've been sick, it has taken me three days to do this. A little bit here, exhaustion, a little bit there, exhaustion! You get the idea. But I have persisted as I could and it is now done.

Here are the before photos.

What a mess it was!

And here are the after photos!

If you look closely, you can even see that I got the labeler out and labelled what was on each shelf. I remember the last time I did the linen cupboard, thinking that is was going overboard doing that. But not this time, no, this time it stays organised! :)

Ah, on my way to a calmer mind and body. And a happier baby to be!

I don't feel that way yet. But I know that I am on the way. And when I fully recover and get back into life, particularly into exercising, then it will begin to emerge more fully.

Goal 3 - the spare room

Oh dear... be cont.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Sickness = loss of motivation

I've come down sick the last couple of days. Had a few nights of not sleeping well and that was enough for the germies to find a way into my system.

My naturopath explained to me that it's when we are sleeping between the hours of 11 and 2, that our immune system repairs itself. I didn't really sleep between those hours at all for 3-4 nights in a row. So no wonder the bugs took over.

There are so many nasty bugs around at the moment. I thought I was doing so well staying healthy. And I was, until I couldn't sleep! I have had so many students turning up sick or having been sick. Even several who have been out with swine flu. D has been sick for a couple of weeks.

I hate losing a good flow. I've been so happy with the changes in my life the last couple of weeks. My work schedule has been so much better, and I've easily readopted my old exercise routine and healthy eating.

But now, it's stopped. I'm not at work, not exercising and not eating well!! Ah, the joys of being sick. So, I need to do the right thing and lay low. Get as much rest as I can. And stop doing things around the house!

Yesterday, I cleaned out kitchen cupboards and started on the linen press because I was going mad not doing anything.
Today though, I seem to be more weary, so it might be easier to read in bed and recuperate.

So, for now that is what I will do.
I'm looking forward to doing a post showing my clutter clearing endeavours. Hopefully that will be ready to go soon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So excited! - first doctors appointment

I knew that I had picked the right doctor!

There are two doctors that I have come to like at the surgery I go to. When it came time to think about which doctor I would like to see me through the journey of conception, pregrancy and bubbie it was a pretty easy choice really. And it was definitely the right choice!

She was great today. Pro-active right from the start! She said that normally she would wait a year before beginning hormone testing etc. but being 40 she wanted to get started quickly. She gave me a form to get hormone tested in my next cycle (as it is too late now in this cycle) and talked about the next steps once that is done. And if in 6 cycles we haven't conceived, then she will take things further.

Initially I was disappointed that it is too late in this cycle to do the blood tests, but on further thinking I am glad. It gives the naturopaths plan for us time to play out. More time on the natural fertility pills and then some time after the results of the tests come in. Depending on the results of the tests I sent off on Monday, QN (Queen Naturopath) will no doubt put me on something else. It will be good to allow that to settle in my system before I go have the blood tests from the doctor.

The doctor was pleased to have discovered that I have tracked my irregular cycles for many years and wants me to bring in the print out to my next appointment. She was also pleased that we are doing the Maybe Baby. She wasn't concerned that there had been no sign of ovulation this cycle. She said that it does happen at my age that you don't ovulate every month and she has automatically included ovulation testing in the blood test request.

And not once did she mention weight! That pleased me no end!!! After hearing other reports, I was so expecting that to be the first thing she mentioned. In the end, I brought it up. I said that I knew the most important thing was for me to be living healthily (which we had already talked about), but was it a disadvantage being overweight? And her answer - dadadadada...... NO! Woohooo!! I like this doctor! She said that it only makes a difference when woman are morbidly obese and as I am not.... then NO! Exactly the same as QN! She did say that it can help the process to lose some weight but this answer was still NO! As I have already changed my lifestyle back to a healthy one, I am covering that base as well.

Oh, and she also didn't roll her eyes at the word naturopath. Just nodded her head when I said that I see one regularly.

So, I am pleased. Very pleased. I have me a supportive, pro-active doctor who I trust to see us through this wonderful part of our life.