The End

This is the last post on my previous blog:


I have come to a place, as everyone does, where it is time to close one chapter in order to be free to start others.

I have been considering this step for a very long time… and actually the decision is somewhat excruciating.  I have felt immobilized by my investment in this site, my concern for other women to find answers, and the opposing desire to be free to move on with my life.  It has come time to choose my own health, and also to realize the world doesn’t *actually* need me to keep this blog.

One year ago, we decided to rest.  We had been trying to conceive for five months, finally under the care and treatment of Dr. Braverman, a doctor who found immunological factors going against my pregnancies.  The irony was, it never took me more than three months to get pregnant; every single one of my previous seven pregnancies took less than three months to conceive.  After all the years of losses and all the months of looking for answers, five months of regimented therapies and subsequent failure to conceive had me completely at the end of my stamina.  I was exhausted – emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally.  It just wasn’t good for me or my family.

So we took a break.  And the longer the break went on, the less appealing this whole “thing” looked.  It laid there on the ground like a heavy, dirty log, and I studied it for a while, and I realized (SLOWLY) that I didn’t want to carry that thing on this journey anymore.  It was painful.  I loved that log, despite how heavy and dirty it had become.  It even felt like a part of me.  Like leaving it there on the ground meant I had somehow failed. It’s all I’ve wanted for so long – to grow our family and to defeat this terrible enemy named “Miscarriage” and finally gain the upper hand.  I was determined to WIN.  But I can’t.  It’s just not worth it.  The score will just have to be 5-2, miscarriage-to-Sara, until I get to heaven.  (Don’t even get me started on those stupid “the universe will give me what I want if I just believe it” ideas!  Gag.)

It’s been a hard year.

More recently, I’ve described this part of my life like a tooth hanging by a thread.  I guess a tooth is better than a log.  There are many reasons I now see that tell me it’s okay to “give up.”  I’ve been talking to my therapist again and it’s been really helpful.  (By the way ladies, don’t be afraid to go to therapy.  It’s really quite wonderful and having a professional to talk to is a great outlet.)  These are some of the positive outcomes of all my miscarriage trials:

1) It has made me more compassionate.

2) It has made me wiser.

3) It has made me more humble.  (I didn’t realize how proud I was in so many areas of my life!)

4) It has made me see how much I have to offer because of my life experiences.

5) It has helped me be more aware of my mental health and has led me into nutrition knowledge and natural health.

6) It has helped me be more grateful for what I have.

7) It has challenged my faith and yes I’ve been angry at God for leading me into this (forgive me) damned wilderness over and over, but by golly, if Christ didn’t die for sinners like me then my faith is in vain.  I could write for a very long time on GRACE.  I am more aware of grace.  And I think I can help others be more aware of grace.  I can love Christ more because I’ve seen the depths of my rebellion against Him and I know that I’ve got no right to stand before Him on my own merit.  Ever.

And so, I’m ready.  This decision has been so stressful to me, but even if I take my hand out of the pool of miscarriage and infertility blogs, there will be a hundred other molecules rushing in to fill the space.  It is arrogant for me to think I need to do this.  The world will go on whether I blog about miscarriage or not.

The domain for this blog will be expiring in just a few days.  I will move the content to a free wordpress site, which you can find at (it’s not completely up to par yet, but at least you’ll know where to go, if you ever want to.)

I’m still happy to hear from others.  You can email me at jmans_wife (at) yahoo (dot) com.  Write that down, too, if you want it.  🙂  This post will be self-destructing in T minus four days.

And lastly, THANK YOU for caring, for all of your support, for comments and encouragements and prayers.  I hope that the information here has been helpful to others on their fertility journeys.  I am not sure what is next, other than focusing on raising my kids and being the best person and wife I can be, and building my business, but I am happy.  And that is really all I could ask for.  I am finally coming to a place of peace.

So, I sign off.  Your friendly neighborhood “Repro-Renegade” has fulfilled her time here and I wish you well in all your life journeys.  Make them worth it.  Make sure they count for something that will last.  God bless you.

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. … The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.”  ~Psalm 145:13-14


Random tears, happiness and cataracts

I must say, I have been much happier in my life lately.  And by “lately,” I mean for about the past month, maybe two.  But this is a big step for me, because I have spent much of the past seven years feeling sad and angry, grieving for lost babies and all the baggage that brings into other parts of my life.

A few weeks ago, I was leaving an event where I was helping to teach people about using essential oils for natural medicine.  I love doing this.  While driving home, I realized that there was, like, real happiness welling up in my heart.  The group of people was positive and fun, I was doing something I love, and the people with whom I teach with are wonderful women.  I am not sure what made this epiphany strike, but maybe it was remembering all the times I have driven home on that road at night, deep in thought or deep in grief.  I wonder, how many of my days have passed in sorrow?  To become truly aware of my happiness at that moment made me thank God.  I felt free.

There have been other moments in recent weeks when I became aware that my soul is still in pain.  Leafing through a book on parenting small children, reading about the author’s five little ones coming into her kitchen to “help” her cook.  A lump forming in my throat as I think upon her five littles, making that huge mess.   Thinking how stressed I get about the messes my TWO children make.  Not really knowing what that means, if it means anything at all.  It definitely meant the book went back on the shelf.

Or last week, watching American Idol auditions in Detroit.  The editors spotlighted a cool, smiling, dred-locked man who has four young children and a beautiful wife.  They invited the whole family into the audition room and the three judges just came to life interacting with those four young children.  J-Lo gushed over the adorable baby.  The wife beamed and J-Lo told the husband, “You are a blessed man!”  The family was beautiful, and they had a great joy about them.  I wished I were in that room, too, playing with those kids!  (Funny how they conveniently left out all the parts where meltdowns must have hit while those kids spent all day in a hotel holding room!)  And as happy as I was to see a family man getting a ticket to Hollywood, I also teared up and fought back a wave of emotion.  Darn it, why is that so powerful?  I left the room so my inquisitive 4-year-old wouldn’t start asking questions.  J-Lo’s words kept running through my mind: “You are a blessed man.”  He IS a blessed man.  I am happy for them, with their four beautiful kids!  And in my happiness for them, I remember how I wanted a large family, too, but most of mine have died.  I have my two blessings and my wonderful husband.  And yet I still grieve, and sometimes have to fight back tears when I’m reminded of what I’ve lost.

I have a cloudy lens.  Over the years, loss has made it difficult for me to truly see the good things in my life.  I mean, I see them, but I don’t see them.  It’s like having cataracts… you see, but it’s all cloudy and you don’t really see.  My lens is clearer than it was three months ago, but I’m still working on seeing clearly … on being truly thankful.

I suppose it’s all part of healing.  It’s not like I haven’t walked the stages of grief before.  This time, though, I am mourning the laying down of something I always wanted.  It’s more like the death of a dream.  I think our pursuit for a larger family is over.  I flip-flop sometimes, imagining what it would be like to try to get pregnant again.  I remember all the “cons” of that pretty quickly, though, and I feel pretty maxed out with two kids anyway.

And so I work on cleaning up that lens of mine each time – reminding myself of all the reasons it’s good for me to be content with two.  Doing my best to give thanks for them.  Reflecting upon my happy marriage.  Trying to focus on what I’ve been given instead of what’s been taken away.  Trying to focus on being a good parent, to the best of my ability.  Focusing on healing and freedom in the Lord instead of continuing on a path that just brought more hardship to my life.  I AM free.  I believe I’ve made choices in the past six months that have led me to a place where I’m happier.  Those little choices are something I can control, and I am grateful to have a choice.

What about you?  Have you seen yourself making choices that surprise you?  Choices that have been difficult to make, but have set you free from pain or bitterness?  Share them with us.  I am sure many of us could learn from your experience!

May you have a happier, healthier 2014 – wherever your path may lead.  And if you tear up in random places, you are not alone!

Holistic Hump Day: a Remedy and a Recipe

I know, it’s Thursday, not Wednesday.  This is the problem with thinking I could ever stay on task as a blogger!  I have ideas of scheduling “holistic” topics on “hump day” but I can’t always get my hands to the computer when my brain wants things to come out of it.  But you know, it’s not a big deal to me at all… and I am guessing you don’t really care either 🙂

A Remedy

So yesterday morning, I woke up, stood up, and two seconds later …

(WARNING to any guys reading, this might be too much info) …

… I knew that I was ovulating.  I could feel the ache right down there in the ol’ uterus.  I know a lot of women can feel this discomfort at mid-cycle.  I am fortunate in that I don’t get severe cramps with menstruation, but I usually have one day, mid-cycle, during which I feel mildly to moderately uncomfortable.  I could probably Google it, but I think it has something to do with the fluid from the egg sac rupturing, combined with a change in the position of the cervix.

My remedy these days is something that might sound strange, but I’m telling you that it really works for me!  And it doesn’t take more than five seconds to use.  It’s this:


ClaryCalm Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil Blend from doTERRA

This is an essential oil blend of clary sage, lavender, bergamot, Roman chamomile, cedarwood, ylang ylang, geranium, fennel, carrot seed, palmarosa and vitex.  I roll it right on my abdomen – over the ovaries and the uterus – give it a quick rub in, and that’s it.  If I need a little more relief, I might heat up a compress and lay down with that over my abdomen for 10-20 minutes.  But most of the time I don’t need that.  I used this blend one time yesterday and didn’t need it again for the rest of the day.  You can even use it for hot flashes, nausea, cramps, and the emotional swings which are sometimes associated with regular hormone cycles in women.  (Please consult your health care provider before using this product if pregnant or trying to conceiveSee this webpage for more information on essential oil safety.)

If you’d be interested in purchasing a bottle of this oil from me, I am a doTERRA product consultant and you can purchase right through my website.  Or, if you’re interested in a sample, let me know!  I’d be happy to mail you a tiny (and very cute) bottle to try it out.

A Recipe

After Christmas, I was shopping at T.J. Maxx and found three cookbooks I had to add to my collection.  I must have been shopping hungry, because I don’t even know the last time I bought one cookbook – let alone three at one time.  (What IS it about T.J. Maxx??) Anyway, I made a Crock Pot chicken dinner out of this book last night and it was delicious!

 The Complete Slow Cooker: Packed with Recipes, Techniques, and Tips
by Sara Lewis

This cookbook is most definitely an upgrade to my old, canned-soup-on-every-page, filled-with-processed-ingredients slow cooker book.  The recipes are varied (zucchini & fava bean frittata, chicken korma, mackerel kedgeree, pumpkin & parmesan gnocchi, to name a few), use whole food ingredients, and each page has a beautifully styled, full-color picture.  Not like it’s my job to sell it to you, but if you’re looking for some new Crock Pot recipes, you might like this a lot!

So yesterday, I made Mustard Chicken & Bacon Casserole.  Not only did the house smell like bacon all day, but the family loved it and urged me to add it to the “Top Ten” list.  (We don’t really have a “Top Ten,” but that’s when you know you just have to remember to make it again, and probably on a regular basis.)  WIN-WIN.

Try it out soon.  You’ll be glad you did!

Mustard Chicken & Bacon Casserole (from The Complete Slow Cooker by Sara Lewis)

(with a few notes of my own tossed in!)

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. sunflower oil

4 chicken thighs & 4 chicken drumsticks (choose organic/antibiotic-free if possible)

4 slices bacon, diced (choose preservative-free, antibiotic-free if possible)

13 oz. leeks, thinly sliced; white and green parts kept separate

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (if gluten-free, can substitute a little arrowroot or corn starch)

2 1/2 cups chicken stock

3 tsp. grainy mustard

salt & pepper

mashed potatoes and vegetables, to serve (optional)


Wash chicken and dry with paper towels (will help with browning).  Heat butter and oil in a skillet, add the chicken, and fry over high heat until browned on all sides. (Do not use hotter than medium-high heat with non-stick skillets as this could release chemicals into your food.  Stainless steel cookware is ideal for high temps.)  Remove from pan with tongs and transfer to the slow cooker pot.

Add the bacon and white leek slices to the skillet and fry, stirring, for 5 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden.  Stir in the flour, then gradually mix in the stock, mustard, and a little salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Pour into the slow cooker pot, cover with lid, and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Add the green leek slices and stir into the sauce.  Replace the lid and cook on low for 15 minutes longer, until leeks are softened.  Serve over mashed potatoes, if desired.

Depression Depicted

Many of us women, unfortunately, experience varying degrees of emotional swinging with our monthly cycles.  Some of us may have already had problems with depression and anxiety, but not all of us did.  Any loss (or even just stress) can trigger depression/anxiety, and when we start having repeated pregnancy losses or failures to conceive, we find ourselves with quite a large set of problems.

I came across these websites today and thought I would share them.  Maybe they will make you say, “Exactly!” or give you something you can share with people who don’t understand your depression, or help you understand the suicide of a loved one.  The visuals make it really helpful!  And they’re kind of amusing, too, which is quite hard to accomplish when discussing such a sad subject.  For what it’s worth:

21 Comics That Capture the Frustrations of Depression


Depression, part two by Hyperbole and a Half

artwork copyright Allie Brosh

So many words, so few words

I have so much to say, and at the same time, so little to say!  A lot in my heart and in my mind, and a few unpublished blog posts sitting in my queue, and none of them good enough to print.  I am undeniably a writer, and I have never been able to make sense of my world without writing.  However, just because I write it, doesn’t mean others should read it!  And that is why I say I have so many words, and yet so few.

There is a short version of an update on my fertility struggles, and it goes something like this: my heart aches and throbs dully for this chapter of my life to just be over.  I want to just pack up and leave and take down the blog and move on, already.  We have not been trying to conceive since our first five failed attempts from February to June.  I am confused.  Tired.  I want to concentrate on things in life that do not bind me to a dream that has crashed and burned — things that are positive, healthy, and growing.  I don’t really want to think about death and barrenness anymore.

And then I meet women, like a new friend I met yesterday.  And the power of being able to connect with that woman right at the moment she mentions her fertility problems, in a way that not many other people can — THAT reminds me of why I built this website, and why I don’t have it in my heart to let it go!  I certainly don’t mean to say that I am needed.  Nobody “needs” me to walk them through their fertility problems.  No, I am pretty insignificant.  But I believe I have something to offer (sometimes).  We all have something to offer.  And every once in a while, despite the disappointment that has been 2013, I catch the vision again.

But, I still don’t know what to say! Ha!  I have learned so much, but what is my voice, among all the others?  I am into natural health, but there are a gazillion blogs out there about that.  Why would I want to just do over (and nowhere near as well as) what Donielle Baker has done on Natural Fertility and Wellness?  I’m also no doctor.  I can’t tell anyone what to do or what tests they need.  And what about the weeks that go by for me where I feel I have nothing left to give, after traveling this road for so long?  I am just one woman, I’ve been through a lot, and I’m pretty limited.  I never set out to have a professional blog.

But, I can tell you what I’ve learned.  I can, at no cost to you, provide a place to connect with someone who has been on a similar road.  I can direct you to medical resources that your own doctor probably doesn’t know exist.  I can share what I’ve learned about real food and gut health and chronic inflammation and how what we eat affects our overall health.  I can tell you about the pioneering field of Reproductive Immunology, which isn’t even recognized by the American College of OB-GYNs yet.  I just remember how hard it was to find answers when I was miscarrying mysteriously!  And when I searched all over for answers, I often dead-ended because it required money I didn’t know if I should spend, or emotional and mental energy I did not possess.  Maybe this blog is a place for the lost, confused, heartbroken and the desperate.  Maybe, even though I am just one tiny person, I have a role to play in your life, and can make a difference for good in the world.

I am thankful for meeting my new friend yesterday.  It helped me see my “why” again.  I want you to know that there is a person behind this blog who is real and often confused, but I still believe in the power of connecting with others and sharing our lives for good.  I hope to write more in the coming weeks and months.  And if I could, just ask you one favor, would you mind “liking” or “sharing” this blog on Facebook or other social media, especially if you think there might be someone else out there who could benefit from the information here?  And, if you’re up to it, leave a comment and let me know what kinds of things are missing or frustrating in your fertility journey.  What do you wish you had known from the beginning?  What do you still wish you knew?

Thanks for reading today.  Here’s hoping 2014 will be an amazing year for you and your dreams.

You can’t unscrew the inscrutable

Horsehead Nebula, photo courtesy of NASA

Horsehead Nebula, photo courtesy of NASA

A 1974 edition of National Geographic contained an article, “The Incredible Universe,” which attempted to explain the size of the universe by equating the distance to the sun to a sheet of paper.  This sheet of paper represents 93 million miles and takes eight minutes for light to travel.  To demonstrate how far it is to the nearest star, you would need a stack of paper 71 feet high.  The breadth of our own galaxy would be represented by a stack of paper 310 miles highAnd to show how far it is to the edge of the known universe, we’d need a stack of paper 31,000,000 miles high (one third of the way to the sun).  That was what we knew of the universe in 1974 – imagine how much more we know about the size of the universe now!

I read about that article a couple of weeks ago in Elisabeth Elliot’s book, Keep a Quiet Heart, which I mentioned the other day has been a source of comfort to me in my affliction.  (For those who are not familiar with Ms. Elliot, she is a Christian writer, speaker, former missionary, and author whose first husband, Jim Elliot, was killed during missionary work when their daughter was 10 months old.  She also lost her second husband, Addison Leitch, to whom I attribute the title of this post, “You can’t unscrew the Inscrutable.”  I respect her as a humble woman who has suffered much and kept following the Lord.  You can see her website here, if you are interested.)

Now, maybe you can relate, but when I am having a hard time with life, it’s very easy to become cynical and find that nothing really helps me feel better.  That’s why I think healing comes slowly and we just have to give ourselves a little room to experience all the fluctuations of grief.  If I start reading a blog or a book that causes me to feel even more cynical or angry, I just have to put it down and chalk it up to “not being on the same page” as that author.  After all, everyone processes grief differently.  I was so relieved that Elisabeth’s writing in this book did not rub me the wrong way or grate on my nerves (but there’s no guarantee that it won’t grate on yours).  See what you think of what she wrote concerning the 93-million-mile-sheet-of-paper comparison:

“Hardly a day goes by without my receiving a letter, a phone call, or a visit from someone in trouble.  Almost always the question comes, in one form or another, Why does God do this to me?

When I am tempted to ask the same question, it loses its power when I remember that this Lord, into whose strong hands I long ago committed my life, is engineering a universe of unimaginable proportions and complexity.  How could I possibly understand all that He must take into consideration as He deals with it and with me, a single individual!  He has given us countless assurances that we cannot get lost in the shuffle. …

Yet in our darkness we suppose He has overlooked us.  He hasn’t. …”

And in another chapter, writing about the Incarnation:

“A close and fretful inquiry into how spiritual things ‘work’ is an exercise in futility.  Even wondering how ‘natural’ things are going to work if you bring God into them … is sometimes an awful waste of energy.  God knows how.  Why should I bother my head about it if I’ve turned it over to Him?  If the Word of the Lord to us is that we are ‘predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with his purpose’ (Ephesians 1:11), we may apprehend this fact by faith alone.  By believing that God means just what He says, and by acting upon the word (faith always requires action), we apprehend it – we take hold of it, we make it our own.  We cannot make it our own by mere reason – ‘I don’t see how such-and-such an incident can possible have anything to do with any divine “plan.”‘

Why should we see how!  Is it not sufficient that we are told that it is so?  We need not see.  We need only believe and proceed on the basis of that assured fact.”   (emphasis mine)

As I type that out, I remember my first of many coffee dates with a woman who lost her husband a few years ago.  She, too, knows the pain of suffering so deeply that your life can never be the same.  She said something that day that struck me and will not leave me.  When I told her that I wrestle constantly with the Lord and want to know why this is all happening to me, she understood.  She said that for her, she has found it to be useless and unhelpful to approach God with “why” questions.  She didn’t say it in a superior, “Gosh, Sara, get your head on straight” sort of way.  She said it thoughtfully and conversationally and humbly.  It’s what works for her.  She admitted she didn’t know why it was easier for her to lay that down — maybe just God’s grace or the way she is wired.  Some people have a harder time laying down the questions.  She just found early on that staying near the Father’s love was the only way she would find the strength to go on with her life.  She doesn’t want anything to separate her from her Father’s love, and so dismisses those things that create a wedge, and focuses on what draws her near.


I thought about that for a long time.  It was a simple idea and letting it sink in was key.  Could I really let down my demands for answers and trust God again?

Well, comfort has come in answering “yes” to that question, little by little.  It’s not overnight, it’s not perfect, and it’s only in answer to prayer, by God’s grace.  Because if it’s up to me, I’m like this:

"This wasn't supposed to happen.  Not to me." - Lt. Dan

“This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not to me.” – Lt. Dan

But, like Lt. Dan, I’m working on making my peace with God (cut-scene to me jumping off a boat at sunset and swimming away on my back…with my legs).  So when I read Elisabeth Elliot’s closing words in today’s chapter, I feel more grateful to God, and nearer to my Father’s love.  I pray that you will find your peace with God, too.

“Do you understand what is going on in the invisible realm of your life with God?  Do you see how the visible things relate to the hidden Plan and Purpose?  Probably not.  As my second husband Addison Leitch used to say, ‘You can’t unscrew the Inscrutable.’  But you do see at least one thing, maybe a very little thing, that He wants you to do. ‘Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult [other translations say too hard, too wonderful] for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven….nor is it beyond the sea….no, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it’ (Deuteronomy 30:11-14, NIV).