Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Journey Part 2

By nothing short of a miracle, we decided in November of 2013 to get ourselves to The Women's Therapy Center. New York or BUST!

But let's back up:

I excitedly told my husband about this place on a rainy November  afternoon. I had heard about it a few years before but for whatever reason I just didn't think I needed it. I thought the dilators would work. I thought if I could just get through my annual exams that things would progress and I would just "get over it". I thought if we just. kept. trying. we could push our way through and that would be that! I had all the knowledge in my head of what needed to happen. I thought I had a high pain tolerance and it shouldn't be an issue anymore! I was always yelling/pep talking myself and then not being able to fix it myself. I was the definition of insanity and denial! Anyways,  I had spent most of the afternoon (it was a Sunday) watching success story videos in bed on the WTC website while Ted was watching sports downstairs. I ventured onto the site because I was even more down and mopey than usual after a weird situation had happened over the course of September/October. Basically, someone we knew, knew someone who was pregnant was going to need to give up her baby for adoption. The person had already had several children who had been taken at birth and put in the foster care system. This mother (through counsel) thought maybe she wanted this child to go to an a family through adoption instead of through foster care. The contact thought of us. I told myself not to get my hopes up. Unfortunately and against my will they did. Of course, as these things tend to do, everything went sideways and FAST. We did not get that child. Lots of drama. Not even on our part but I guess other couples were already in the mix and duking it out over this baby who would be battling through withdrawal the minute she was born. The mother went totally off the grid, she probably felt so much pressure (and I can't say I blame her!)  When the dust settled the baby did end up with a different married couple.  I was feeling even more down and confused than ever about our situation. I just felt so betrayed. We hadn't been seeking this out! We hadn't been trying to force our hand at becoming parents before this Vaginismus thing was settled! I had been praying that God would make us parents when He thought the time was right. I thought God was smiling on us, answering my prayers in a way I hadn't seen coming, and sending us some encouragement at a time when we felt very very bleak. I was mad because I wasn't even looking to get my hopes up on the parenting front. I was getting ready to turn 30 in a few weeks. I was DOWN. So,  as per usual, I took to the inter webs for moral support and ideas on how to get cured. Looking for stories of people who had conquered this demon and HOW EXACTLY HOW THEY DID IT.  I was getting zero traction with the dilators. I was feeling so low about my ability to ever get over this hurdle. I couldn't even bring myself to go back to my OB/GYN without a good report on the dilators. I was keeping myself AND my husband from moving forward in life. It was all. my. fault. !!!!!!!!!!!

I stumbled onto the The Women's Therapy Center website and this time it clicked. So many happy smiling faces with MY EXACT STORY. But theirs had a happy ending. And now, FINALLY, maybe mine could too.

  It was so strange, to feel that tiny twinge of hope growing in my chest. It was weird and new because for years it had been calloused over and over by scar tissue. Self defense I guess.  Especially after that random adoption maybe baby debacle. I was so scared to feel hope and scared we would NEVER be a be able to afford it. Talking it over, Ted seemed skeptical. I think he thought it was an ashram or something. I totally understood that but then I had him watch the videos and read what others had written about getting cured.  He said "let's do it! I'll do whatever you want to. This seems legit!" And that was the beginning of the END of vaginismus.  I know that while I was upset with how things went down with the hope of adopting, it ultimately led us down this path.

More to come.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

One Year Out ---My Journey Part 1

Whoa, I really can't believe it's been a whole year since arriving at the Women's Therapy Center. This is such a hard topic for me to write about but I know so, so important. Not only to remind myself of where I have been and what God has done in my life but for those women out there who haven't reached their cure yet. I know, in my years of being in the thick of it I would have loved (and eventually did) to get my hands on a real life account of someone dealing with the very same issues I was. The same issues I thought were so strange and weird that no one EVER was like me and I was a strange, broken, and destined to always be "stuck" and never move forward.

  Before we went to the Center, I really couldn't imagine life afterwards. All I could visualize was getting there. It seemed like life would drop off a cliff...I literally couldn't imagine a life where I wasn't thinking about this situation any longer, a life without this struggle. I was really looking forward to it, but couldn't really imagine it (even though I have an imagination that runs wild most of the time)! The scenes I could visualize over and over were these: the first being of a mountain climber who had been climbing, alone, for a very long time, finally reaching the summit. Reaching the summit and looking around and finally, not only reaching the goal but gaining lots of perspective. Standing tall on top of the mountain and knowing that battle had been won. That feeling of peace and joy knowing there was hard work but it was now this moment could be enjoyed, fully. The second scene I could visualize was that of a person who had been held captive, or been lost in the wilderness. I would see that person being pulled into a rescue copter and just the sheer relief of watching that difficult time get smaller and smaller in the distance. That giddy, almost arrogant feeling of victory. (In your face, hard times! You can't keep me down!) Lots of yelling and fist shaking) I could see myself be so glad to leave that chapter of life behind.

I guess I have a flair for the dramatic? :)

Where to begin? I guess I'll begin somewhere in the middle. If you have already been diagnosed with Vaginismus then you are probably obsessively searching the internet daily for tales of cures and fixes. You're probably hoping and praying it will just "work itself out" and your body will learn to cooperate, as you try over and over and over and over and over to defeat it. You're hoping that those dilators your doctor had you order from the internet will help. You're probably dreading your next doctors appointment to have another failure on your hands (no, I couldn't get anywhere with the dilators. no, physical therapy exercises for my pelvic floor didn't help). Maybe you haven't gone to the doctor yet, but know what's going on. Maybe you have no idea what's going on but you know something is wrong and things are not working and you're really, really, really, frustrated. Or in denial. Or both! And also depressed. You feel like your body is  defective in a way that is so bizarre that it's not even included in the manual as things that could possibly go wrong. (i.e. my first doctor who said "geez, I've never seen anything like this. You MUST have been abused as a child" (No, I have never been abused, and A+++++ in bedside manner, Doctor McTheWorst).

 For awhile, even after I found out about Vaginismus I felt like I just couldn't be cured. My current doctor (who has been very gentle and non judgmental) recommended I used a dilator kit, which is a way to cure yourself. I felt so much guilt and self hatred that these did not work for me! The last straw that made me single minded to get cured was the idea that if I didn't handle this once and for all I would never be able to be a mom. Even looking into adoptions, Vaginismus wasn't really something they would accept as an infertility issue, and depending on what you're doing adoption-wise some countries will not give you a child if you are in "danger" of having your own biological children. I didn't want to explain Vaginismus over and over and over to anyone never mind someone who is deciding whether or not you are worthy of raising a child. (I was terrified they would think I had a mental disorder, and not consider Vaginismus a plausible thing). Even to have a child that wasn't mine biologically it seemed as though we would need to conquer this once and for all.

I stumbled onto this blog and read about this couples experience at The Center. Then I found the center's website. I watched video after video of couples with the exact same struggles who had been CURED by Doctor Ross and Doctor Ditza (and now Doctor Lauren). The patients seemed so free and jubilant. I finally felt like there was hope! THEN I read "A Private Pain" which I recommend to any OB/GYN office in the world to have as a resource so no doctor will ever EVER say again "I've never seen anything like this before". I recommend it to any person who either IS struggling with Vaginismus or who knows someone who is or has. If we educate people, women will not SUFFER IN SILENCE anymore and will know, they are normal and this happens, and it can be CURED! 

Stay tuned for more on my experience at the Women's Therapy Center this week in celebration of my year of being cured! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"Shine on, O Moon of Summer"

Good ol' Carl Sandburg.

I want time to screech to a halt, because I love summer, and if I'm not careful it will slip through my fingers while I squander it away in the air conditioning and on the internet.

Here are some pictures from the last month that just hold that June essence:

Our beautiful town mascot. So regal. So hungry. 


Blue Steel 

We have made friends with most of the town cats, which we realize, is obnoxious. This one we call "River" because she lives in a blue house right across from the river. She's friendly. 

We came home one evening and this dude was trucking across the yard. He looks evil! He was heading into the street so Ted picked him up..."Sheldon" laid one paw/claw on Ted's arm and he freaked out and DROPPED HIM. He landed on his back! I had Ted pick him up and put him in the shade, on his belly, haha. This is not our first found turtle. 

Another townie cat, which we call "Tigerlily" or "Tigerbilly" because we don't know if it's a boy or girl cat. I tend to think all cats are girls. 

Hi-ho, river! In the evenings we like to go down and just sit or walk around. It's very peaceful, unless the geese are honking. 

I was staring into this pond and thinking, when two large toads jumped in and scared me. I love nature but clearly and very jumpy in it. Hah, jumpy. 

mmmm. June. I love living in the country. 

And the river ducklings. I watched their gang and their mama head down the bank and into the river and it was the cutest thing in the world. 

And below the aforementioned geese, whom I refer to as "the Gossie's". 

"Shine on, O moon.
Shake out more and more silver changes."

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I know it's kinda silly to love a pop album so much. But yet, when I think of all the music I've purchased or been introduced to this year (2014-2015) I feel like Taylor Swift's 1989 has stuck with me the most. (I knowwwwwwwwwwww, I'm a dork with basic taste, deal with it!) I loved Taylor's music so much before 1989 dropped, and I was admittedly NOIVOUS  (Nervous, said with an accent) to see what this album held in store. Was she selling out? Was she gonna turn into just another pop star slinking around, lip synching and not having any talent besides being attractive enough for makeup and stylists to work with? Would her music not seem, her, anymore? Would it lack emotion and soul? Clearly, I'm very invested in her career that I was having all these anxious thoughts leading up to it' October release. (Then again I'll find a way to worry about anything! hah!)

The funny thing is, when I first heard "Shake it Off" I was like NO I HATE IT. And would switch the station when it came on. Somehow it earwigged its way into my life and a week later I was like OK I LIKE IT HOW DID THAT EVEN HAPPEN! (she's magic like that). Then "Out of the Woods" came and I was like "ok, I can get on board with this. I like the stadium-y sound".  Even though I love her country-pop sound I also loved the strictly pop songs on Red of course. (She did a good job of transitioning her style, for sure). Then the album came and I was very excited to see what was what. The Target advertising was on point (as per usual, dang I would LOVE to work for Target's creative team) using the song "Style" to promote the release. It was Taylor-ish, lots of words and story telling but with a catchy tune. But I loved the pop-i-ness of it.   Hearing that song TRULY made me excited for the things to come. And I love, (at least this seems to be the truth--you never truly can know someone else's mind) that Taylor is just as excited about her music as her fans are. The day I got the album I took it home to read the foreward on the jacket cover (I think physically having albums to hold dates me but I LIKE TO HAVE THEM physically and digitally, call me old fashioned). Let me show you some of what she wrote:

"These songs were once about my life.  They are now about yours.
I was born in Reading, Pennsylvania on December 13th, 1989.
In the world we live in, much is said about when when we are born
and when we die.......what can be said of all the moments in between our birth
and our death? The moments when we are reborn...
I know people can change because it happens to me little by little
every day. Every day I wake up as someone slightly new.
Isn't that wild and intriguing and beautiful to think that every day we are new?
....I've told you my stories for years now. Some have been about coming of age, some
have been about coming undone. This is a story about coming into your own, and as a result?
Coming alive....I hope you know you have given me the courage to change.

I love having the courage to change. Even if what you've been doing is good, great, good enough or whatever..It's ok to want to change and grow. Change is what keeps us moving, keeps us learning, keeps us fresh. So here's to fresh, here's to fun, and here's to having the courage to change! (And some pictures from the concert). :)

Friday, June 5, 2015

to recreate us

I know I've been avoiding the blog lately.  I have written a million mind posts, I promise. I guess it's time to get some out on "paper" today.

It's been almost a year since going to the Women's Therapy Center last June! I am still feeling thankful and victorious for that. I know God's hand was working and bringing me to the place I needed to be at the right time. I am planning this summer to blog more in-depth (I know, it takes me FOREVER to process things) about our experiences. The goal being, to have some real life person accounts for other women who are struggling with that demon to give them hope and some encouragement. To know they aren't alone, and if I can do it so can they. And it can be fun and memorable at the same time!

I've made some decisions in my life over the past few months that have been hard. I'll share them now with you, it helps me to process everything to get it in harsh black and white.

I have been teaching for the past 7 years (smatter in some extra nannying and tutoring on the side as well). When I first got married and moved here, I had no idea what I wanted to do professionally. There, I said it. I guess if you know me in person that's not really news. Sometimes I feel sensitive about that aspect of my life. I guess I want to appear to be confident and good at decision making instead of just going where the wind takes me. To be very driven and "making my mark" and ect and so on. (My degree is in English and I don't regret that for a minute, just to throw that in there). A kind lady at church knew I was job hunting and gave me an add in the newspaper about a preschool hiring. So I interviewed. That was 2008. And the rest is history! I've learned so many lessons there. In many ways I grew up there. I got more education and I got experience on my resume and more importantly experience on my life resume. (I really should write a life resume, I think that would help me see challenges more as "experiences" to use for the future, MENTAL NOTE). I know that this has been the place I was supposed to be for this time. I have been blessed to find my voice professionally as well as my confidence. I have had such a good boss who has helped me reach this point as well as many supportive teacher friends! Not to mention all the families whom I have gotten to know and truly love! Of course, things weren't always that easy (easy being a lose term of course). The beginning was hard. I'm lucky I was naive and didn't know much of negative things until they were close to being over.

God brought to me so many things (scholarships to pay for more schooling, my boss, my co-workers, even the right students) not to mention the job in and of itself. I had no idea where to start looking! He brought interesting learning opportunities such as observing in three different amazing schools (The Kelly O'Leary Center for Autism, The New School ((Montessori)), and a local public elementary school). I know my time there has been invaluable. The last several years  I had been wondering when to make the move to something different. I guess the feeling is/was  I've always thought of my life as containing many different chapters...what if comfort and familiarity kept me in a chapter for too long and it was stale?  One day a co-worker asked me if I would stay at our school till I retired (?!). The particular co-worker had been there about 15 years already. I told her honestly that I didn't see myself as teacher forever but could picture myself doing lots of different things although I enjoyed my current status. She seemed shocked. I was a little shocked too, not at my answer but at the expectation that so many people have that once you're doing something you are LOCKED in unless you have a really good reason not to be anymore. (moving, childbirth, illness, ect).

One of my main fears with vaginismus was to be forever "stuck" and never able to move on to the next chapter of life. I would have nightmares where I was sitting somewhere and waving and hollering out to my friends or family and they would walk past without hearing me. In the dreams I would become so sad and distressed. Everyone was laughing and happy and just going about their business but I was frozen. No matter what I couldn't move.  Going to the center last year taught me that we CAN learn new things and become new. We aren't set in stone and sometimes we can't wait for the winds of change to come blowing down our door. So I made the decision not to return to teaching this year. It was hard...mostly I hoped I would just easily get pregnant and that decision could be made for me.  Well, that hasn't happened (yet!) so I made some decisions on my own. If I can't learn something new NOW I might never. If I don't take charge of things NOW I might never.  Just because something is good and comfortable doesn't mean I can't chase other goals. I'm fearful that I won't find something else, I won't get pregnant, and I'll go crawling back. (Thankfully, I was blessed to leave or "hiatus" on great terms with the door open for me to come back!!!) I want to put other goals on the front burner: writing, having a family, getting out of my comfort zone and maybe hopefully utilizing some other talents/passions. Who knows. I fear I'll become Miss Havisham and be locked away in my rotting house dressing my cats as children. I fear I'll fall into a dark hole of not being disciplined enough to accomplish anything besides laundry and dishes and tv and wearing yoga pants. Maybe I'll end up working at the gas station down the road. I DON'T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ME.

But I do know it felt good to listen God and to follow even though I'm scared and overwhelmed. And to do it without a "really good reason", even though I know my reasons are good enough because they're mine.

A few lines from my favorite Sufjan Stevens song, Chicago:

"You came to take us
all things go, all things go
to recreate us
all things grow, all things grow
we had our mindset
all things know, all things know,
you had to find it,
all things go, all things go"

to survival (a weird kind of poem or something)

in the field, to survive a trauma a person must learn an imperative technique;

to be incredibly still,
to hold yourself very tightly,
and to concentrate a great deal.

to be still:
you need to be still to keep the pain at a tolerable amount. the more you move, the more the wound breaks open or risk infection. to be still will not attract anyone or thing to you while you are vulnerable and weak.

to hold yourself very tightly:
wrap your arms around your legs. lay in the fetal position. put your arms around your head. hold whatever part of your body feels as if it might fly away were it not held down. it will help stop the bleeding and keep the pain at a tolerable amount. open wounds need pressure, to help the blood clot and to stop from bleeding out.

to concentrate a great deal:
be honest with your brain about what is happening. tell yourself the facts over and over lest your mind runaway with itself. be rational to your un-rational overwrought animal self. tell yourself that even though this happened, things are ok and you will again stand tall. maybe even a little stronger. maybe with an ounce more wisdom.