Category Archives: Our Journey

2017-2018

December 14, 2017

I’m literally stopping myself dead in my tracks to sit down and write this. Amidst the chaos of the season, there’s toys to be wrapped, gifts a mile long still to buy, decorations still left to be hung. And then there’s life-clothes to be folded, closets to be cleaned, dishes to be put away. The list goes on and on all the time, but especially this time of year. How often are we reminded to make sure to stop and take care of ourselves?

Well let’s just say me stopping to write this is me doing something for myself. It’s been almost three months since I last wrote something on the blog. And my excuses are just the same as yours and everyone else’s. Aside from those, the blog’s purpose was to launch a local support group and I can proudly say that has been going strong since March. Our little group has come so far and been through so much in almost 9 months (I write that and can’t help but to correlate it to pregnancy). There have been many friendships made, advice exchanged, tears shed, and recently an adundance of {overdue} successes. 🙌🏼🙏🏼💞👶🏻. So, to some extent, I haven’t felt the need to blog since so much of my focus has shifted to the support group.

It also doesn’t help that three months later since I last wrote, I’m still in the same spot in terms of our journey to baby #2. I felt some momentum as I posted our RE-initial consult and updated SHG in early fall, but it quickly came back to a screeching halt. I feel as though I haven’t written because there really isn’t any update. Contrastly, that’s precisely why I should have been writing and am now taking a time out to do so.

This blog wasn’t in exsistence when infertility and I first met in 2012. Time and time again I’ve said I wish I had this blog and this community the first time around. And here I am doing the same thing I did the first time around. I’m in baby limbo and that’s when infertility hurts me the most.  I am in an infertility rut and not using this blog and community in the way I need to for me.

Fast Forward ⏭

January 1, 2018

I am literally starting where I abruptly left off writing this post {3} weeks ago (thanks to a premature nap wake-up).  While the hustle and bustle and pure magic have helped relieve the constant infertility thoughts in the back of my head, they’re now back full force.  And that is why I’ve come here to write.

To say we enjoyed the holidays is an understatement.  A three -year-old at Christmas fell nothing short of what I have imagined for so many years as I yearned to have a child to share in these joys and traditions with. BUT…(my husband squirms at this) it’s still there.  I’m finding myself right back in this infertility rut that I cannot shake.

I began writing this post because I always said I wished I had this outlet the first time around and here I am now, almost 4 years later from the time of our first IVF cycle, and I find myself doing precisely the same thing I did before-trying to keep it all together on my own.  I feel as though I’m drowning, which in turn makes me take more on to busy myself from my own thoughts, only to make me fall deeper underwater, grasping for air.  It’s not what I would qualify as depression, just more of this thing that takes up space in my life.   It’s something that’s always in the back of my mind, taking up brain power, taking up free time, taking up memory.  It’s almost subconscious.  It’s not debilitating; nor does it seemingly interfere with my daily happenings, but it’s there.  It’s always there.  The more time passes, the more it surfaces.

To catch you up to speed, my husband has now been on his med protocol for over a year.  However it’s really been touch and go.  There were lots of issues with one medication in particular so he’s been on the full protocol much less than that time.  I’ve lost hours upon hours trying to deal with the vicious cycle that is doctor’s office ➡️ medication ➡️ insurance ➡️pharmacy.  There’s been more cancelled appointments than there have been attended ones because of all the issues and now the impending  date is set for late January.  Will there be any change?  Has it been long enough?  Will he be where he was at this stage in the game when we were trying for baby #1?  Are his levels affected differently now that we’re 4 years older?  Will we get the green light for TESE surgery? When are we looking to be at the point of an IVF cycle? 2 months? 6 months?  Longer 😰?

You can see how my mind can’t stop.  I’ve been dealing with this for sometime.  Initially when my son was about a year and a half I was ready, not to be pregnant, but to start the process (which for us is well over a year) so that I wouldn’t get to THIS POINT.  My husband wasn’t there yet, which I get.  I pryed him to re-enter this dark place last fall and really feel as though we’re not as far along as I had hoped over a year later.  That, coupled with the challenge of keeping my longing to grow our family at bay, has snowballed into this infertility rut that I’m currently in.

I am disappointed that we’re stuck in the same spot over a year later.  I’m mad at myself that I didn’t push the subject harder-that I didn’t make him go sooner for my own sanity.  I’m frusturated that it can’t just be me so that I could just do it all my own.  I’m resentful that I take this all on myself-that the thoughts don’t weigh on my husband day in and day out like they do me-that I’m doing all the work.  I’m sad that the time between my son and a potential sibling is only getting longer.  I’m guilty for wanting more.  I’m embarrassed that I haven’t been more accountable here-I preach to use this as a coping mechanism, but have abandoned it in some ways.  I’m anxious now that I know so much more about the possible outcomes and the reality of the statistics.  I’m stressed as this is our only shot at having baby #2 biologically and feeling the overwhelming pressure of that dead-end.  I’m feeling defeated from the countless pregnancy announcements, specifically of baby #2, that have flooded my social media feeds the last 48-hours.  And I’m feeling so cliche but honest in saying it’s not that I’m not happy for you, I’m just sad for me.  I’m dealing with infertility and it’s a lot to handle at this moment.

Contrastly, I am still hopeful.  I am still positive and optimistic.  I am still excited for what 2018 has in store.  I’m still happy when you see me smiling.  I’m still living my best life.  I’m still blessed more than ever.

I’m not one to outwardly make goals or resolutions for the New Year.  I just think, in an effort to take time for myself, you’ll see me more here 📍.

It Takes A Village

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They say it takes a village to raise a child and while that is true, in the realm of infertility it also takes a village to get you that child. Lately, I have been receiving more and more local outreach, which I am so extremely pleased by. Afterall, providing local support was why I created this blog in the first place. So I thought I’d share our “village” with you since word of mouth is the best advertisement.

1.  Women’s Health Associates, LLC New Haven & North Branford, CT 👉🏻 http://www.wha-newhaven.com/home.php (FYI: website is under construction, but you can at least find their contact information)

In prior posts, I’ve discussed how phenomenal this midwife group is.  They’re just that good that I can’t help but reiterate it time and time again.  My OBGYN group consists of four fabulous midwives, one of whom, Debbie Cibelli, actually delivered me almost 32 years ago!  Given that she basically watched me grow up, she was very familiar with my case history and therefore was proactive in determining the cause of my irregular menstural cycles.  Not only did I appreciate that and all the time saved, but she was also quick to refer us to a fertility specialist.

Some of you may be thinking midwife group~sounds a little earth crunchy and must mean no drugs.  While they do specialize in natural deliveries, I loved their openness to whatever option was most comfortable for each individual patient.  I ended up going completely drug-free but went in with a flexible mindset (AKA whatever I need to get this baby out of me!!!).  They’re ability to naturally make the pain bearable was what helped me through.   They also have great success rates in VBAC’s (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) if that’s something you’re interested in.

Throughout my trying-to-conceive (TTC) journey, pregnancy, birth, post-partum and everywhere in between, these ladies were amazing; not just the midwives, too.  The administrative assistants and nurses go above and beyond as well.  While TTC and during my pregnancy, I had the pleasure of being seen by all four midwives and have nothing but positive things to say.

Of course, Laura Sundstrum, holds a special place in my heart because she delivered my miracle baby boy.  Please, please, please take the time to read Mikie’s birth story if you haven’t yet. 💞  http://onprayersandneedles.org/2016/03/the-birth-story-of-miracle-mikie/

Just like love stories, every birth story is beautiful, but yours is my favorite, Mikie! Plus, you always hear the horror stories so it’s nice to hear a positive one once in awhile!

If that doesn’t convince you, then this will…Not too long ago I was talking to a labor and delivery nurse from Yale.  I was saying how my husband and I were in awe of the labor/delivery and maternity floor nurses and staff after our experience.  She asked who my OBGYN is and when I said Women’s Health Associates, she immediately said, “When the time comes for me to have a baby, I am definitely going to them.”  If that’s not saying they’re the best at what they do, than I don’t know what is!

2.  Yale Urology Center New Haven, CT 👉🏻 http://medicine.yale.edu/urology/

If you take nothing else away from this blog, know that a urologist specializing in male factor infertility IS your Fertility God if the issue is with your husband/boyfriend/fiancé.  Which also leads me to something I’d like to emphasize:  infertility is not always a female “problem”.  In fact, male factor infertility makes up approximately 30% of all infertility cases.

I digress and get back to our Fertility God, Dr. Stanton Honig 👉🏻   http://medicine.yale.edu/urology/doctors/stanton_honig.profile Check him out!  Literally his accreditation and accolades are never- ending.  I remember, when we first received our diagnosis from my OBGYN, no matter what I googled along the lines of top doctor for azoospermia in CT, Dr. Honig kept popping up.

What I personally liked best about Dr. Honig was that he was always positive about the outcome, but realistic about how we would get there.  He set out a timeline and stuck to it almost meticulously.  He was direct, but sensitive to the situation, professional, but humorous in a way that made everything seem less awkward.  The moment I realized how vested he is in his profession, was after my husband’s TESE surgery, maybe 5 minutes into the car ride, he called with the unbelievable news that he had found some viable sperm.  You could tell by his tone of voice that he was genuinely ecstatic for us.

If you’re dealing with male factor infertility and are in CT, you MUST heed my advice and schedule an appointment.  Note, he is in high demand and appointments book pretty far out.

3.  New England Fertility Stamford, Danbury, and Hamden, CT 👉🏻👉🏻👉🏻 http://www.nefertility.com/  

My previous post titled Name or Number http://onprayersandneedles.org/2016/04/name-or-number/ goes into detail about the professionalism and compassion of Dr. Gad Lavy and his staff.   Aside from being able to build a personal relationship with the nurses, I loved how Dr. Lavy explained our infertility scenario.  He really broke it down, usually with some type of drawing or diagram.  I’m a visual learner so I found that to be uber helpful.

In addition, they offer a patient portal  so that your results are literally at your fingertips day or night.   Even though, Dr. Lavy, nurses Jen and Susan, and the rest of the staff see countless couples struggling with infertility, they were not at all de-sensitized to the situation (which I find can often be the case).  Being able to rely on them really relieved some of the stress.  We would always leave our appointments feeling more upbeat than when we had come in,

If you are concerned that you may have infertility issues, New England Fertility often holds free fertility testing and seminars.  Check them out on Facebook to get more information, if this is something you’re interested in.

I believe, wholeheartedly, that had we chosen another fertility group we may have not gotten the results we did the first time around or at all.  Another pro for all of my Male Infertility Warriors, Dr. Lavy and Dr. Honig are buddies so they make a great team.

4.  Craig Kelly & Jackie Kos of Kos Chiropractic North Branford, CT No website available, but you can like and follow them on Facebook  to get more information 👉🏻 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kos-Chiropractic/183543721708117?fref=ts

I’m actually embarrassed to say that I never got the chance to go and thank Jackie and Craig for all they did to make my IVF cycle a success…the first time!  So hopefully, at least in part, this can be a way to say thank you!

My work wife at the time, who also happens to be a close friend, was literally my therapist throughout my infertility struggle.  She was always a big fan of acupuncture.  Literally, if you told her you needed to quit eating donuts, she’d say, “Why don’t you try acupuncture?”  So after the millionth time of her saying, “I really think you should try acupuncture…I have a great guy,”  I made an appointment.

Both Craig and Jackie were experienced in infertility treatments.  They were very informed and the practice was welcoming.  The waiting room was always jam packed, too, which is always a good sign.  You can read my post, My IVF Tips http://onprayersandneedles.org/2016/04/my-ivf-tips/  Let’s just say, next time we go for an IVF cycle, I will definitely be there.  In fact, maybe I should start now to have some relaxing me-time,

The next two are recommendations for during pregnancy.  I know you’re not there yet and may very well feel like you’ll never get there.  But you will and when you do, I can’t recommend them enough.  They were part of our “village” in a way, too ,so I couldn’t not include them on the list.

5.  Raven’s Wing Yoga Branford, CT  👉🏻👉🏻👉🏻                                                                     http://ravenswingyoga.com/ 

Again, a little on the earth-crunchy side (which of course there is nothing wrong with) but may not appeal to the masses.  Let me tell you though, infertility or not, every pregnant woman should at least give prenatal yoga a shot.

In the beginning, I, like most I’d presume, felt clumsy and foolish trying to hit some of those poses with an ever-growing belly.  However, when it came to strategies for relieving the aches and pains associated with pregnancy, these stretches and techniques were spot-on; more like miracle cures.

I looked forward to my weekly hour of relaxation on Wednesday nights.  After leaving class, I always felt lighter and re-energized.  The real testament to what I learned in prenatal yoga was my natural childbirth.  The knowledgable and experienced instructors taught me how to breathe into the pain and I used these breathing techniques during labor.  They actually worked wonders. Prenatal yoga at Raven’s Wing is a pregnancy must-do as far as I am concerned.

6.  Childbirth and Parenting Education of Greater New Haven 👉🏻 East Haven, CT http://www.childbirtheducationgnh.org/

Again, this does not only pertain to the couple who has overcome infertility.  This is a call to ALL EXPECTANT COUPLES reading and please share.  Even if you’re not in the New Haven area, you really should look into attending.  Honestly, if you’re literally within a 50 mile radius and you don’t take advantage of this course, it would be your first parenting mistake-I swear!

First off, Louise Ward, RNC, MSN, who is part of the Labor and Birth Team at Yale-New Haven Hospital is as hilarious as she is skilled.  My husband says that if she was his teacher in school, he’d be a molecular engineer; I’ve “diagnosed” him with ADD, so the fact that he was able to sit and attend to the two and a half hour sessions once weekly for five-weeks speaks volumes.  We learned more in this course than I could’ve ever imagined, even if I had read 100 books.  Classes were entertaining, informative, and interactive.

Louise was one of my greatest tools during my actual labor and delivery.  She wasn’t there physically, but literally, I could hear her voice playing over in my head.  She provided me with so much valuable instruction that I knew what to expect as I entered active labor, then transitioned.  Her guidance was also another key factor in my ability to endure childbirth sans medication.

Aside from learning all there is that you need to know about childbirth, we took away a lot of other valuable information about the benefits of baby-wearing, dealing with “baby blues”, and infant care.  We opted for the five-week childbirth classes (which also included a tour at Yale-New Haven Hospital) and the Infant CPR class.  They also offer a variety of other classes, such as breastfeeding  and car seat safety.

If you are in the local CT area and have been following, please share with others, especially on social media.  Also, this is just my “village”.  If you had your own “village” that you’d refer someone to, please comment below~I’d love to hear your recommendations!  Most importantly, please if you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, please contact me so I can become part of your “village” to making a baby.

You can contact me on Facebook & Instagram @OnPrayersandNeedles or via e-mail @ onprayersandneedles@gmail.com

DISCLAIMER:  This is in no way, shape, or form a sponsored post and all opinions are 100% mine!

A Mini “Ode to My Husband”

 

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{Photo Credit: Maler Photography}

I am so humbled by all of the gracious and thoughtful comments, texts, and overall support I’ve received since the launch of the blog. Yet, by now, I hope it’s as evident to you as it is to me that the real hero in all of this is my husband. I’m so blessed to be married to someone who would put his own feelings aside so that I could do something I promised myself I would do. Not only was he the one who endured the most physically during our infertility journey, but he was my rock. So many of you have reached out and commended my strength as a woman, but the truth of the matter is my strength came from him. Infertility can test even the strongest marriages {Look for a future post titled Make or Break Your Bank & Love Tank} but his positivity, his perseverance, his selflessness were unwavering.

By now, you’ve also probably realized that I’m a talker, on the cusp of being an over-sharer. So you can only imagine how difficult it was for me to have to keep this all to myself. However, my husband wasn’t ready to share our diagnosis, and understandably so. Had we not finally gotten our biological child, he may never have wanted to share. It’s taken upwards of three years for this full disclosure of what we actually went through. So many of you have reached out and said had you known then, you would’ve offered your support. We know and appreciate that, but at the point of diagnosis, and sometime thereafter, not even our families really knew what was going on.

At this point, my husband is not reading any of the posts. He’s amazingly supportive and trusts my judgement in what I write, but he isn’t ready to go back to that dark place, especially since we’re in the midst of enjoying our little boy. Honestly, it’s been very hard for me to get back to this place myself and even harder to imagine going back there again someday to try for another.

So, Mike, if you ever do read this, this is my ode to you…

“To My Husband,

Just as our wedding song so eloquently states, “You’re my Inspiration”. Thank you for supporting me in this endeavor and allowing me to expose our struggles. Then and always, you’ve been my best friend, my soulmate, my better half. If more guys in this world were half the man you are, the world would be a better place. I couldn’t have imagined having traveled this path with anyone else and I know it shaped you into the daddy you are today. I’m so lucky to call you my husband and even luckier to call you the father of our child.”

Love, Morgan

And to the girl laying in bed reading this…

“To My Fellow Fertility Friend,

My husband let me share our experience so that I could reach you and give you some faith. I know you’re sobbing quietly so that your other half can’t hear you at the other end of the bed. I know as you’re laying there unable to fall asleep, you’re wondering if you’ll ever be kept up by the cries of a newborn baby, rather than from the despair of infertility. I’m here to tell you, somehow, someway you’ll get there. I want to give you a success story to hang onto when you’re ready to give up. I want to reassure you that in the end, all of the countless doctor appointments, blood work, needles, and prayers will be worth it. I want you to contact me so I can support you in any way possible and pay forward all that I’ve been blessed with.”

Baby Dust, Morgan

Our D-Day

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It was finally Monday, what I refer to as our D-Day~October 14, 2012. Yes, it is a day that will live in infamy for us. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious to get the results, but I had no inclination of what was to come. I figured, if anything, there’d be a simple fix and we’d be on our way to parenthood. I vividly remember giving my principal a heads up, as we walked into a staff meeting, that I was expecting an important call and may need to step out. I sat clenching my cell phone in my hand for what seemed to be an eternity, but made it all the way down the stairwell and just outside my car when the phone finally rang.

I don’t even remember a “Hello-how are you?” All I can remember hearing is “Are you somewhere you can talk?” This can’t be good, I thought to myself. Nothing good ever comes out of “Are you somewhere you can talk?” My OB preceded with, “We’ve gotten your husband’s results back and he has something called Azoospermia.” What? “Zero Sperm.” The next few minutes of conversation were basically just a blur. She asked some questions, like “Do you know if he ever had a hernia? Undescended testicle?” She attempted to reassure with some information about another patient with a similar diagnosis. I was barely hearing what she was saying. There were all these terms I was frantically writing down: ICSI, natural vasectomy, IVF.  I just kept thinking to myself, I know nothing of this, but zero sperm can only equate to zero chance of having a biological child. Not low sperm, not immotile sperm, no sperm. I even mustered up enough courage to ask a couple questions like, “Was there anything he did that caused this?” {I knew that was going to be the first question he asked me when I told him.} She replied, “Absolutely not.” I then asked about next steps, and she discussed my options of choosing our local hospital fertility department or opting for private. She said to discuss with my husband and call her in a few days when we had decided.  When we went to hang up, she said “Stay positive, but also be realistic…there’s a lot of factors involved-time, money, putting your body through a lot and there’s other options.”

“Ok, I will,” I muttered trying to mask the tears, but she knew what was happening on the other end.  Even now, writing this, I have that same lump in the back of my throat. I have that same empty pit in my stomach that I had as a I pulled out of my work parking lot that day, fighting back tears, as they streamed down my face. In that two-mile car ride, everything about myself and a baby subsided and my only concern became my husband. My poor husband. How was I supposed to tell him this? How was I supposed to reassure him that it wasn’t his fault? How was I supposed to hide my own sadness and disappointment to ensure he didn’t feel like I was upset at him? I didn’t know how in that moment, but I did know it couldn’t be now. We were heading to a wake in less than an hour and I couldn’t let him see that I had been crying because then he’d know. So instead of going in my house, I ran into my sister-in-law’s who lives across the street. She’s more than my sister-in-law and neighbor-she’s my sister, my best friend {I’m lucky enough to say both of my sister-in-laws are.}. I just collapsed to the hallway floor, her holding me in her arms. She could barely understand what I was saying as I tried to explain it through the shortness of breath that only the deepest of sobbing can ensue. She just listened. She tried to tell me it would be alright, but I could see it in her face-she didn’t know if it would be. I knew I had to get it together before the wake, so after some time she helped me to my feet and I high-tailed it into our shower before my husband could see my face.

We got in the car with my in-laws and it took every iota of my being to not break-down. I tried to carry on the small talk, but even that just seemed too much. I blankly stared out the car window, my mind racing a thousand miles per second, biting my bottom lip as to not let the tears fall out. We waited in line, gave our condolences and I tried to put it in perspective. After all, nothing is worse than death, right? That’s when the guilt first started. It could always be worse. But could it? I’d rather die than imagine myself childless, but was that selfish of me? The gamete of emotions that swept through my head that day were actually the same ones that I felt throughout different phases of our infertility journey. {Look for a future post titled, 50 Shades of Infertiilty, for more on this topic.}

Then, as we returned home, it was time.  “Turn off the TV,”  I said.  Another line that means it’s serious.  He knew in that instant that something was terribly wrong.  I’ll never forget his worried little baby face, his eyes filling up.  I explained it just the way the OB told me-it’s not his fault, it’s nothing he did.  I encouraged him to be positive, each of us folding in one another’s arms and he just repeatedly kept apologizing.  But I didn’t want him to feel the need to apologize.  I love him and I’d marry him all over again, even if I knew there was a great chance that we’d never be able to have our own biological baby.

Our own biological baby-I hope this phrase that I keep using doesn’t offend anyone.  I’ve gone back and erased it half a dozen times.  But the truth is, if I’m going to be honest and raw here, then it must be said…I wanted our biological child: 50% him, 50% me.  We had been together since we were 16 and 18 years old.  We have had our children named since high school.  We have had all those discussions: parochial vs. private, spanking vs. time out.  We had even discussed what attributes we’d want our son or daughter to have from each of us: his selflessness, my drive, his eyes, my metabolism.  I mean we thought we had it all figured out.  But in the realm of infertility, maybe even outside of it, there is some unspoken guilt in desiring your own biological child.  Had we then, and if we ever, adopt, would I love that child just the same?  Of course.  I’m quite certain of it.  Yet, I felt a shame in yearning for our own biological child and in some ways still do.

The only way I could move forward from our D-Day and all the days that followed was having a plan and knowing our next step.  Having a next step of contacting a fertility doctor and setting up an appointment is what gave me maybe three hours of sleep that night.  Which, in turn, caused me to wake up fifteen minutes late, unable to get contacts in my swollen eyes.  I thought to myself, should I go to work?  How will I get through the day?  The year?  My life-if  we can’t have a baby?  What do other women do when they get this kind of news?  As I sat in the bathroom, and caught the ovulation prediction kit sticks out of the corner of my eye, I began sobbing. I just wanted to go back to sleep and wake up having had this all as a bad dream.

Instead, I came to my senses, called my boss and explained that I needed the day off and may need more in the future as I was having issues getting pregnant.  She offered encouraging words and inspired me to crawl out of bed.  My focus was on the next step.  In order to get there though, I needed to know everything there was to know about Azoospermia and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)~or as Google defines it, a fancy way of saying inject sperm into egg!  But I needed more than the internet and studies that I didn’t understand or came out with confounding findings.

I decided to go to the closest Barnes & Noble and after pacing back and forth aimlessly, I finally gained the strength to ask an associate, “Do you have any books on infertility?”  She directed me quickly (but why would there be any books on male factor infertility?!), ran a search and handed me a list of books with that look of sympathy-if you’re new to this world of infertility, you’ll soon become very familiar with that look.   I got back in the car and thought I might as well go to Toys “R” Us to pick up a few gifts for my niece’s birthday. Huuugggggeeee mistake-consider yourself forewarned.  When I saw the “Parking for Expectant Moms” sign I lost it.  Would I ever be expecting?  Could I ever park there?  What would a childless life be like?  I foolishly went in and of course perused the baby section (after all, I had been doing that for months).  Finally, I sat back in the car, looked at myself in the mirror, and wiped the blotches of smudged mascara from beneath my eyes.   I refocused myself.  I called another Barnes and Noble with the same results.  I decided to make the trek out to a small bookstore on the shoreline-still no luck.

Then, other than a close friend’s house, I went to the only other place I knew to get some sort of solace-my parish.  I sat in the pew, kneeling and sobbing all alone in a cold, barren church.  My sniffles seemed to echo and while no answers came to me, I was at least able to go home and resume the motions of life~dinner, dishes, laundry, a little TV, and of course some google searching.  In that moment, I thought to myself how will I be able to go on?  Yet, unbeknownst to me,  my journey was still another 500 plus days ahead.