Mt Whitney

Dear Abby,

I am writing you this letter as I head back home from my summit of Mt. Whitney… the highest peak in all the lower 48 states… 14,508 ft in elevation. I started this journey in the hopes of pushing myself physically and mentally. And while that did happen… God had other plans. During our stay at Horseshoe Meadows acclimating I couldn’t help but think about the amount of preparation it took for me to make it through this hike. All the countless early morning practice hikes.  All the used gear sales at REI to secure the equipment I needed for the trip.  All this to just step on top of a big rock?!?  It all just pales in comparison to the trip we are planning together… parenthood.

I know that we are preparing everything in the manner that God wants us to. Practicing natural family planning with napro technology, our everyday use of SPICE, and prayer with the blessed sacrament. I am now reading this book called “True Devotion to Mary” by Saint Louis-Marie Grignon De Montfort. I have only finished the first chapter, but I can already tell that this guide will prepare us for our summit. If JPII and a number of other popes held this book in high regard… then I figure it is worth our time.

Here’s to reaching our summit… Mt. Family.

See you in a 30 minutes (depending on the traffic on the 405)…

Love your husband ,
Mark Anthony

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Dr. Hilgers and Catholic Answers

Hi All its been a little while since I’ve posted and thats mainly cause I have so many things I would like to say… just can’t finish anything.  But I do have something that requires little to no effort on my part!

Recently Dr. HIlgers, the creator of naprotechnology appeared on Catholic Answers Live… an awesome radio show that Abby and I listen to via podcast.  Anywho… I just wanted to share the link of his interview.  He explains the whole subject 1000x better than I ever could…. well enjoy!

http://www.catholic.com/radio/shows/overcoming-infertility-7342

Belief vs Fact

In today’s homily the priest here at Fallbrook talked about Doubting Thomas.  But he said something that I hadn’t really thought about.  What if the “doubting” didn’t refer to Thomas, but instead to the other disciples.  Yes they saw Jesus in the flesh… but did they really believe it? If they truly believed that their Lord had risen… would they not
have spoken with enough conviction that would have convinced Thomas? The other 10 disciples also doubted.

With that said… Abby and I Do Not believe that we will have kids… but we DO believe that God with has the right plan for us… the perfect plan. image

Thy will be done

Well the Easter Triduum has come and gone… I was hoping to get this post up before then, unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to be.

For those of you that don’t know what the Easter Triduum is… its kind of like the Catholic Super Bowl (I stole that from Mark Hart – The Bible Geek).  It marks three of the most important days in the Catholic Christian faith…

1. Holy Thursday – a celebration of the Jewish Tradition of Passover… you know, when the Israelites were in the bondage of slavery and ate a sacrificed lamb as the angel of death passed over them and killed all first born males, unless their doortops were painted with the blood of the lamb… yeah… that day. Well this is also the day that Christ instituted the Eucharist during the Last Supper and gave himself up to the roman soldiers.

2. Good Friday – this is the day in which our Christ was crucified on the cross.  Little did everyone know… Jesus was defeating death… with DEATH.

3. Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday – when we celebrate the resurrection of the Son of God (not the son of man… that’s Tarzan).  This day usually results in really long lines for communion… some may find this annoying, but it really is a Joy to see non Sunday Catholics joining in the celebration of mass.

I was blessed enough to start my Easter Triduum with Holy Thursday Mass and Adoration.  Abby and I left Adoration early to attend to some personal matters, but I managed to sneak back at 11:00pm to spend one more hour with Jesus.  It was like I was at the garden of Gethsemane and Jesus asked me to just stay awake with him a little longer.  Our Parish Hall was still packed with the faithful… This gave me the moments I needed to put away my phone, computer, xbox, etc… and allow me to reflect on the journey Abby and I have been on for the past two years.  Two years of learning, understanding, accepting, sacrificing… “Not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

Thy will be done.

April 2010… we had our first meeting with Marianne and curiosity sprang. It had been over a year into our marriage and Abby and I were lost.  We wanted to have a child, but it just wasn’t happening. Could this be the answer we were looking for? We had no idea that ours lives were about to be transformed. The different pills Abby would have to take… The shots I would have to give to her… The amount of emotional and spiritual strength it would take to get one step closer to achieving pregnancy.

Thy will be done.

May 2011… Abby took our next big step… Surgery or more specifically…a Laparoscopy, a Hysteroscopy, and a Hysterosalpingogram (I’ll explain this in a future post)… During our two hour drive down to our doctor, I remember receiving a call from Steve and Alma (Abby’s sister and brother in-law) and several text messages from friends and family saying that they were praying for us.  Abby and I nearly cried all the way to Fallbrook. We were so blessed to know that our family and friends were supporting us.

Thy will be done.

January 2012… “Your Estrogen and Progesterone Levels look great! and so does your chart!” said our doctor.  Abby was starting to have normal estrogen and progesterone levels and a normal looking cycle.  Our chart from when we first started this whole journey was nothing like the way it looks now.  It was like comparing night and day.  The proof was right in front of our eyes.  No, we weren’t pregnant, but just knowing and seeing the progress we’ve made brought us even more hope.  It was amazing!  It makes me smile right now just thinking about it.

Thy will be done.

April 2012… we are taking another step… and we are continuing to pray that God’s will is aligned with our hopes.

Thy will be done.
Thy will be done.
Thy will be done.

This was what I said throughout Adoration on Holy Thursday… it was all I could say. Abby and I are doing all things humanly possible to ensure the optimal chances that we will have kids of our own.  It is up to the Divine to do the rest.

hello world… part 2

Update: fixed some small typos and reworded a few things per my wife’s suggestion 🙂
Just got back from vacation and I wish I could go back to the Grand Canyon already.  Being there was like sitting front row to witness one of God’s Greatest Creations… it truly was a blessing to be able to hike half way down the canyon.  I really thank God everyday for having a wife that is willing to make herself uncomfortable to do things that I love to do (hiking, nintendo, programming, etc…)

Side story: One time I was working late on a project and Abby asked if
she could help.  I asked her to write some unit tests... she said sure
and proceeded to bang on my keyboard with all 10 fingers saying "bah!
bah! bah!" She made me smile... just one small example of how she puts
in extra effort to help me enjoy my job more... :)

 

So does anyone know why this post and my first post are title “hello world”?  If you know me (or enjoy programming) than you should know the answer!

Well, here is part 2 of 3 of my hello world post… my goal for this post is so others can gain a small understanding of what NaPro Technology is and what types of things are expected.

What is NaPro?
If you go to the website on NaPro Technology (www.naprotechnology.com) you will find:

NaProTECHNOLOGY (Natural Procreative Technology) is a new
women's health science that monitors and maintains a woman's
reproductive and gynecological health. It provides medical and
surgical treatments that cooperate completely with the
reproductive system. Thirty years of scientific research in
the study of the normal and abnormal states of the menstrual
and fertility cycles have unraveled their mysteries.
But I do not feel that definition helps any of us really understand what it is. Dr. Thomas Hilgers, along with a group of others, developed the Creighton Model FertilityCare System.  It is a system that seeks to find the cause of infertility and the various pregnancy related complications and address them.  That is what really got my interest. Rather than just slapping a band-aid on the issue (infertility)… it actually seeks to find the cause and fix it.
This is the first women's health science to network family
planning with reproductive health monitoring and maintenance.
It is a fertility-care based medical approach rather than a
fertility-control approach to family planning and gynecological
health.  NaProTECHNOLOGY uses the Creighton Model
FertilityCare™ System biomarkers to monitor easily and
objectively the occurrence of various hormonal events during
the menstrual cycle. NaProtracking provides valid information
that can be interpreted by a woman and by physicians who are
specifically trained in this system. Unlike common suppressive
or destructive approaches, NaProTECHNOLOGY works cooperatively
with the procreative and gynecologic systems. When these systems
function abnormally, NaProTECHNOLOGY identifies the problems and
cooperates with the menstrual and fertility cycles that correct
the condition, maintain the human ecology, and sustain the
procreative potential.

In other words… it works with the body to help promote what it is and should be doing naturally.

The Creighton Model utilizes the method of observation of the cervical mucus… WAH!?!?! Using the following steps: Sensation, Observation, Finger Test (aka SOFT) the female (and male) can tell if the woman is fertile or infertile on any given day.  It took Abby and me a while to get used to this, but now…. we are experts (well not experts, but we are much better).

But measurements and science are not the only components of the Creighton Model.  Another very important component is SPICE.  SPICE does not refer to the SPICE Girls… instead it identifies the different levels of intimacy between a married couple… Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative, and Emotional.  After all marriage isn’t just about having babies, its about developing and growing the relationship between husband, wife, and of course God.

Here are examples of how we practice each…
Spiritual:  Abby and I are blessed enough to run our Youth Ministry together, thus giving us plenty of opportunities to pray together… after all… a family that prays together… stays together.
Physical: Abby doesn’t like it when I hug her a night… she said I suffocate her.  Which is probably true.  But she does enjoy a good squeeze, especially when she or I are feeling down.
Intellectual:  I may be the bread winner in this family… but I am the first to admit that Abby is WAY smarter than me.  She got a 5 on the AP Calculus exam… I barely got a 4.  Why do I say this?  I dunno… but we practice this level of intimacy through…. JEOPARDY! Where i get my @$$ kicked all the time… unless the category is computers or sports.  Actually we are also spending our time reading different books and learning more about ourselves and our purpose. (Theology of the Body for Beginners – by Christopher West, and Good to Great – Jim Collins)
Creative: Another category where Abby is way better than me.  Which sounds better… “Hey check out this algorithm I just made! Its super efficient and has a time of O(1)!” or “look at this super cool card I made… its my version of Mickey Mouse!”  We practice this level of intimacy by Abby designing and making cards… she lets me fold them.  Or maybe a better example is that when we go on vacation one person plans a big part of the trip so that there are surprises waiting for the other one… for example Abby had no real clue or expectation of the hike we were going to do at the Grand Canyon 🙂
Emotional
:  Another example of how the Youth Ministry has blessed us.  Abby and I have constant communication with God, which allows us to communicate our Emotions with each other.  Whether its a talk that hits home or a worship that struck our heart… we both always look forward to our drive home together to talk about what just happened.  I really wish I could record those moments. (maybe i’ll just get a gopro and record our drives home :))

Abby and I actually practiced these different Levels of Intimacy before our we started NaPro… but now that we have connected it with our mission of becoming parents… it has brought a whole new meaning to the things that we do.  NaPro Technology using the Creighton Model isn’t just about having family… it is about inviting God into your lives as a couple/family in order to restore the true meaning of a Christ Centered Family and the value of life.  It is changing the world… one family at a time.

You only need an Open Heart and Mind, Patience, Communication, Prayer, Love, and Trust… if you bring those components… NaPro and God will provide the Hope and Promise.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own
insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight 
your paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6

 

hello world… part 1

Who am I
My name is Mark Anthony.  I am 30 years old. I am a Sr. Software Engineer and Lead at a Major US Financial Institution. I am the Youth Minister at my Parish. I am a life long Laker Fan.  I am a Nintendo fanboy.  I am a happy husband.  But I am also a husband struggling to have kids.

Why did I start this?
Abby and I were having a conversation on our drive home from our last appointment with Dr. Stigen and it occurred to me… she (Abby) really needs to understand me more.  I mean I know that this has been tough for her (taking several pills, receiving injections from me, and undergoing laparoscopic surgery), but at the same time I know she wants to know what is going on in my crazy mixed up head.  This journey has been a roller coaster of emotions and experiences for us, something I do not want to forget.  Then I got to thinking that I want more people to understand our situation and why we chose to start using the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and NaProTechnology. So I figured that a blog would be the best avenue to help others better understand us (so instead of people saying… “So when you going to have kids,” they will say “I am praying for you and Abby”) and that there are more options than the heavily promoted (and incredibly expensive) in vitro fertilization (IVF).  Needless to say, I feel that men need to know about this and how this type of experience can help turn a marriage (regardless of what shape it is in) into a closer and more intimate one… in which the inclination to understand outweighs that of judgment and presumptions.  In short… I think FertilityCare and NaPro are good … strike that…GREAT for a marriage. Whether you are struggling to have children or think you have too many (some of my friends say they are in this category… though I beg to differ)… NaPro has something to offer you and your wife.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert.. nor do I claim to be an expert on NaProTechnology.  I am merely sharing what I have learned from this experience… however I do hope in the near future to educate myself even more (whether that’s studying Theology of the Body, regular Biology, or becoming a Creighton Model Practitioner).  Oh yeah.. and my wife has no idea that I am doing this, though I will share this with her soon.

Why NaPro?
ProLife & Catholic Approved!  Actually when Abby and I got married in Feb 2009, we could not wait to have kids, but after a year of “trying”… we suspected something might be wrong.  We really didn’t know what to do.  A friend of ours, Marianne, was giving a talk on the Creighton Model for a Women’s Health seminar sponsored by the Young Adult Ministry at Holy Family.  One of the functions of Creighton Model is to achieve or avoid pregnancy according to the woman’s fertility cycle – known as natural family planning (NFP).  We really did want to attend, but we had our yearly Youth Ministry Retreat that same weekend.  But a few months later… April 4, 2010 to be exact… we setup a meeting with her to talk about this NFP stuff.  Now you may ask… “Hey didn’t you learn about NFP at your Engagement Encounter Retreat?”  Well the answer is yes and no… the only thing I knew about NFP is that it involved planning.  So I guess you can say it’s more No than Yes.

It took us a while to work up the courage to even email her because I think we were scared to find out that something would be wrong.  I mean, who wants to know that you aren’t exactly RIGHT and that something was WRONG with you?  I really did not want to find out that the woman I married and loved could not bear children.  I mean… I was the only son in my family…. I HAD to carry out the family name.  How was I ever going to run around with Mark Anthony Jr?   I think this is something all men can relate to.  It was something that ate me up inside, until we met with Marianne.  And if I could use one word to describe Marianne, it would be Hope… and Trust… ok that’s two words… but she’s definitely worth it 🙂

But actually to understand why we chose NaPro… you have to understand it.  So hopefully I do it justice.

………………

Thus ends my first post.  I have several posts planned… and I hope to share it with everyone because I believe I am not the only one in this boat.