Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Magical Thinking

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
I battle with a desire to write about everything that's happening and keeping it close to my vest because my brain thinks if I'm quiet about it, everything will go well. It's magical thinking at its best folks! I also haven't been feeling that hot. My nausea has gotten a little worse, which I'm really excited about, but no actual tossing of cookies. I'm becoming a little more affected by smells. So...yay!

I decided, on a whim, this past weekend, that we should have a Christmas tree. We haven't had a Christmas tree in about two years because we've just been having some crappy years, emotionally. We had our first ever miscarriage around Christmas and then I had surgery around Christmas time last year. So, Christmas has not been my favorite holiday in a while. But this year I wanted to change that so I convinced EH to get us a tree. It's about my height at 5 ft tall so I already love it. I went to our local 99cent store and bought some gold and cream fixins for it. I'm most proud of my bootleg ribbon bow at the top of the tree. There probably won't be any presents under there because we're not so much into giving presents on Christmas. I just desperately needed something hopeful to look at.

Our Christmas tradition consists of going to church, donating money to a worthy charity--this year it's Team Rubicon, a Disaster Response Organization that's run by U.S. Veterans. We round out the day by seeing a movie double feature and having dinner with the in-laws.

Things are going pretty well in our little world :-) We reached 9 weeks today and had a visit with our new Perinatologist. The office was pretty small and professional. Just the way I like it! We met with the ultrasound tech first. The room was very fancy shmancy and we felt pretty important...lol. We got to see the baby, which I am officially calling Fish, move all around and measurements were taken. Fish's heartbeat was doing pretty well...i think it was up to 175 bpm. Fish got the nickname because of an amazing acrobatic feat performed while we were having the ultrasound done. We were staring at the big screen while the ultrasound tech was pushing on my stomach to get a good picture when, all of a sudden, our little 2cm grape did a sort of back flip to the other side of the uterus in a very annoyed manner. Hence...Fish.

We met with the Perinatologist briefly, who was very soft spoken and seemed to know his stuff. I told him that I wouldn't be stopping my Merformin and got no resistance from him so score for him. Next, we met with the genetic counselor, who they thought we might want to see based on our history of pregnancy loss. It was a pretty good meeting actually. She took an amazingly thorough medical history of both of our families and I learned that my red blood cells are smaller than usual. I've had a history of anemia but I always assumed it was because of my fibroid history. EH and I both got a hemoglobin test done to see what's what there. All in all the visit left us feeling at ease so it was a success. Now, we're just hoping and praying that we make it to 12 weeks! That's the goal for me. EH has already said that he won't celebrate until the baby is in his arms.

In other news, EH finally got the money from a grant he applied for eons ago so we're going to be getting an increase in finances in a little bit. Couldn't have come at a better time because we need to get rid of some debt! We truly, truly have been blessed to live comfortably in such a crappy economic climate, especially on only one income. We developed a snowball chart of all our outstanding debts and are going to be tackling them quickly, God willing. Speaking of EH, this week he surprised me with some early Christmas Ebay gifts! I got two pairs of sneakers, one for summer and one for running, both at about 20 buckaroos. I was very, very happy.

Go Ebay!

I'm feeling very blessed these days and I hope your family feels the same this holiday season!! Merry Christmas, Ya'll!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Randomness!


Ackee, codfish, bananas and dumpling-Javier Cabral
 
I don't know why I've been so silent lately. There's still a lot of things going on in my brain! So here are some random thoughts that are percolating up there:

1. I've been really tired and haven't had much energy. I don't think I'm sleeping that much because when I do sleep, mercifully, I'm getting up pretty much every hour to pee...whomp, whomp. Sometimes I wake up at 4 in the morning and can't go back to bed but that seems to be normal for me during pregnancies. I've taken to praying for peace and calm before bed because it now takes me forever to fall asleep.

2. I've got a hankering for carbs these days but not "American" carbs like chips, cake, bread, etc., as I like to call them. I want island food! yams and green bananas and dumplings with gobs of butter and salt. My grandfather was a banana farmer back in our country and I literally grew up on green bananas with butter and salt. If you wanna comfort me...that's the way to do it. Yummy!

3. I learned this week that EH has been following an infertility blog called Don't Count Your Eggs Before They Hatch....you could have blown me over with a feather. I can't believe he took it upon himself to do that. He's been nothing but supportive to me throughout this whole process but I guess I was just shocked that he wanted to know more. He's getting to be an infertility expert. He floated the idea of doing a guest post so that he could tell his side of the story and posting it on this blog...that remains to be seen. I asked him what he would write and he said, "This sucks. The End." Ha!

4. I've been dealing with a kind of low grade nausea this past week. It's a weird sensation because I always thought that the definition of morning sickness was tossing your cookies. No such luck. Instead I feel like I'm on the verge of it but I never quite get there. It feels sort of like an air pocket in my chest. It hits at around mid day and then lasts for the rest of the afternoon and evening. It's frustrating but I am so grateful to have the feeling because I've never had it before. I love me some sickness! Gimme some mo'! Yay!

5. I feel very fat but I haven't really gained any weight. shrugs shoulders

6. EH and I made plans to go see Anchorman 2 with some friends from our old church. I'm so excited to go out with another couple. We haven't done that in ages! I used to be a little social butterfly. Now I'm just tired. It's hard to go out with friends and not talk about the thing that is occupying your mind but it's such a downer that it never really comes up.

7. I've been feeling a little distant from EH lately....physically not emotionally. This is peak season for him at work and he's usually doing evening and weekend workshops with folks and gosh darn it I'm jealous! If he doesn't drive, he usually makes it home at around 9:30pm and he's out like a light by midnight. We usually make some time for each other on the weekends but the weather has been so yucky we haven't really been able to do anything outdoors. I hate being cooped up indoors, ergo, winter is not my favorite season. I'm an island girl!! I need sunshine and heat and salt water.

8. EH is determined that I'm going to start using Ebay. He buys most of his clothes from Ebay and recently got himself some pretty nice sneakers. I'm all for reusing instead of buying new so I'm up for it. The only problem is that I'm really uncoordinated when it comes to bidding on things. I get overwhelmed so I'm telling him what I want and letting him handle the bidding. I would love to get a pair of boots but I've got the dreaded wide calves (!!!) and I don't have much of a leg because I'm so short. Regular folks have foot---ankle---leg---calf. I've got foot---ankle--calf. Ha!! Hence, my dilemma.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

El Bebe Esta Bien!

I am half agony half hope.
pinterest.com
 EH and I went for our confirmatory visit at the Ob/Gyn yesterday and got some good news! Baby is doing well with a good heartbeat and measuring well :-) We're 7 weeks today.

I don't know if our doc was having an off day or what but she didn't have the greatest manner and that rubbed me the wrong way. I could totally be projecting here....but I don't think so. The ultrasound tech was much nicer to us but we were all business. I think they both were a little taken aback by how nonchalant EH and I were when they showed us the baby on the screen. There was nary a peep out of us; we just looked at the screen and nodded our heads. I looked at the baby's heartbeat and silently wished for it to keep beating. We were thisclose to refusing the ultrasound picture altogether but I kept it and haven't really looked at it since our appt.

The doc recommended that we see a Perinatologist so I have to make an appointment for that soon. We're going to our last appt with SuperDoc next week and maybe I'll be in a better head space by then.

Pray for us ya'll; We're suffering from some serious trauma. We honestly don't know how to react to good news anymore. I feel like I just came back from war and I'm trying to reorient myself. Maybe that's why I post it here. I'm hoping that soon I can look back on these posts and feel the joy that I'm supposed to be feeling.

On the way home EH reminded me that I didn't owe anybody anything in regards to my feelings and I'm hanging onto that. Part of the reason why I love this blog so much is that I get to be my true self, warts and all. It's hard to be where I'm at mentally. I still find myself absently cradling my stomach when I'm laying in bed at night so there must be a part of me that is identifying with this pregnancy in a hopeful way.

In other news, I would like some crab legs or lobster....

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Giving Thanks

hgtv.com
EH and I really aren't that into holidays. I was actually appalled that stores were opening on Thanksgiving so that folks could shop instead of spend quality time with their families. Thanksgiving is a sacred time for me. We never really celebrated it when I was growing up. Either my mother was working or we were too far away (i.e. too lazy) to visit extended family. I only really got into the holiday when I got married.

Usually we hustle on over to my in-laws house, sit around for a couple of hours watching football and the Godfather marathon and then stuff our faces. This year I was overcome with the desire to be with some of my family as well. So on Thanksgiving day I made a couple of pumpkin pies and we drove to Brooklyn to spend a little time with my brother and my dad.

I had never seen my dad's place until that day. We talk about once a month. He's been there for the most important days of my life....graduations, my wedding, my surgery....but our relationship is still a bit tenuous. We are clumsy with our affection and he's not exactly a talkative type so it's kind of a "take it where you can get it" kind of thing. His apartment was what you'd expect for a 50-something year old bachelor....sparse. Apparently he's into juicing so as soon as we stepped foot over the threshold he made all of us a fresh juice...in his juicer. We were all very, very impressed. It was delicious. He shows his love by juicing. That's cool.

We talked mostly about my brother, his job and his skinny jeans. He's 25-years old now; living with three roommates in a basement apartment in Astoria.  He's got a serious girlfriend and he peppers his Instagram account with pictures of he and his friends living the high life.

Ahhhhh....to be young and unbeaten by the world....

I probably sound totally cynical but I'm really proud of him. He was able to rise above the dysfunction of our immediate family. That is true success in my book.

My dad and my brother intended to drop in at another family event that night but EH and I needed to get on the road so we could get to my in-laws house for dinner. My brother reported that I didn't miss much so I don't feel too badly about missing that crowd.

Thanksgiving itself was, dare I say it, just aight. I didn't really enjoy the food this year because my stomach was doing flip flops. I've never thrown up while pregnant but I do have an all day kind of queasiness.

Saturday afternoon we met up with my brother in Astoria and went to see the Hunger Games movie, which was pretty cool. Our relationship has evolved so much over the years. I view him more as my brother and less like my child. I'm proud of myself that I've been able to make that shift. It's hard to look at him and not see a panorama of his young life flash before my eyes.

My youngest brother is 14 now and living with my mom. It's hard to get in touch with him and I found out this past weekend that he's being given ADHD medication by a psychiatrist. Even I know that's the last thing he needs, he's practically comatose already, and the medication has made him violent. I don't know what to do with that. EH and I are trying to figure out a way to get more involved in his life. He's been out of the country since he was about five years old and hardly knows me and that makes me sad.

EH and I vowed we were going to enjoy our holiday no matter what. We also vowed not to talk about the baby possibly residing in my uterus but that didn't work out so well. We couldn't seem to stop talking about it but our conversations were mostly about what we were going to do after.... Now we don't know for certain that we'll have a miscarriage but the waiting to find out whether it's leaving or staying is torturous. So, instead we make plans for after.

While sitting in the couch we discuss how we're going to take a break...after

On the way to the store we talk about starting IVF in the new year....after

Laying in bed we talk about looking into adoption....after

It's really pretty maddening. I sleep and get queasy and  develop weird rashes in odd places and completely ignore these sensations. My only refuge is Sunday mornings when we're in church and I can set my mind on someone else. I pour all my hope into my worship. I don't even want to think about the possibility of a baby. I'm sad about this too but it's my reality, our reality, right now.

We've got a lot to be thankful for around these parts, though. We've got a pretty good marriage. The bills get paid somehow. We have moments of true joy. We've got a roof over our heads and good income coming in. We know we're blessed in a lot of areas. Tomorrow we see our Ob/Gyn to see if something good and wonderful, or the opposite, is happening in there. I'm looking forward to it because at least I'll know for sure one way or the other.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Great Expectations


 Ain't that the truth 
Sooooo... I was expecting to write a very different post today. Our week started out a little rough with my first beta HCG level. It was higher than SuperDoc expected it to be at 1544, so that was good news. Then I went in again on Wednesday and the level came back at 2068, which is barely doubled, so that was not so much good news. I spent the day in rivers of tears, already mourning the life I thought I was losing.

EH decided to stay home with me on Thursday. We spent the day watching movies and stuffing our faces. Then he had the bright idea that we should go out and get some air. I revolted. I wanted to stay on the couch in my pre-grief state. He eventually got me to go out by allowing me to wear my sweats and my night shirt under my jacket. We finally get to Staples, to buy an ink cartridge for our printer, and I literally could not get out of the car. I felt like I shouldn't be outside and my body agreed with me. He opened the car door for me and I started wailing like a child throwing a major tantrum. Screaming my apologies for my behavior and telling him I just wanted it out! He finally got back in the car after a few minutes and we sat in there in the Staples parking lot while I wailed. Eventually we made it to Staples.

We got an email from SuperDoc that asked us to come in this morning so that she could make sure everything was OK and that we weren't having an ectopic pregnancy. When we got home from the Staples Meltdown I fell into a blissful sleep and woke up with a more positive outlook. We decided that if we lost this baby we would take a few months off and start IVF next year, which is amazing in itself, because we balked at the price and really believed we'd never be able to swing it. Now EH is talking about payment plans and wanting to know everything about IVF land.

It's hard to let a dream go, I guess.

That night, I went to bed early and I whispered, "Help" in the dark. I asked God to help me deal with the next day, whatever the outcome.

Today, I gave blood and then EH and I sat in the exam room in silence. We were both anxious to know what the deal was with this pregnancy. He told me his new motto is: "There's no use being positive." I told him that was pretty sad even for him but I recognize that that's how he protects himself.

So we saw the sac sitting there in my uterus, it's too early to see anything else at this point. We were relieved but we knew the true number that mattered was the HCG number. EH dropped me home. I made about 10 trips to the bathroom to pee which signaled to me that my symptoms were getting stronger. Between trips I was passed out asleep on the couch. Finally SuperDoc's office called and told us the number had doubled. It went up by about 5000 points to 7146.

HCG numbers are tricky things. They're subjective but what they signify is HUGE. A decreasing HCG almost always means trouble. A number that isn't increasing as it should is more ambiguous. But we've been here before.

We don't know where it's going to go from here but Faith, Faith, Faith....

Monday, November 18, 2013

DC Baby



Saturday morning at the Capitol.....my feet were toast at this point
We went on our second road trip in our car, Mr. Belvedere, this past weekend! We rolled into DC on Friday afternoon and left on Sunday morning and man was that trip needed. EH was feeling a little burned out on the job and I just love traveling so you know I was down to go.

We got turned around a bunch once we entered DC. We couldn't navigate Dupont Circle AT ALL...Kudos to folks who live in that area because it just seemed confusing to me. Our hotel was in nearby Virgina so we parked the car and hopped on the train to go see a few monuments at night.

Then we stopped by the famous Ben's Chili Bowl, I don't remember exactly what part of DC this was in, and it was bangin'. We both had chili dogs and shared a large vat of chili cheese fries...I was in love!!
The next day we hit up the Air & Space Museum where we geeked out royally...we even did flight simulators...it was geekdom personified...

 
I definitely don't meet the height or weight requirements for the stewardess job...lol

We had such a great time getting away from it all for a few days. To cap it all off we found out that we are PREGNANT again! We're cautiously optimistic as usual. It's weird because we sort of feel like we're waiting for the other shoe to drop so we really haven't gotten too excited  :-(

Trying to keep my FAITH intact and think somewhat positive thoughts...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Untitled


 

A few weeks ago I got a text message from my little brother asking me if I wanted to attend my mother's birthday party. Instinctively, I wanted to say no. Why would I go to a party for someone I haven't seen or spoken to in three years?? It didn't make sense on to me on the surface.

We had been watching the Iyanla marathon on OWN that day and the episode where Iyanla helps the two daughters heal their relationship with their mom tore me up inside. I was crying like crazy watching this episode because it hit so close to home. I never went hungry, like the daughters in the episode, but I did suffer emotional neglect and mental abuse from my mother for many years. It fueled my issues with self-esteem, anxiety and self-image. I'm still healing from all of it with God's grace.

EH and I have been growing by leaps and bounds in our faith so, instead of saying no, I decided to leave room for God to work. Every Sunday I had been silently asking God to work in this area during worship. It was never my ideal to not be in relationship with her but I also knew there was a real need to protect my own heart because being in relationship with my mother is not easy.

There is so much baggage between us; manipulation, deception, anger, bitterness, alcoholism and mental illness. There is so much that she's missed. So much that she never cared about when it came to my life.

When I told EH about the invitation he made it clear he was against it but he was willing to go for my sake. There's a part of me that, no matter what she's done, feels like I need to give it all I have in case this is God's way of bringing healing to the relationship. I can't decide if this is God working in my spirit or me reverting to that scared, people-pleasing person I struggle to let go of.

My stomach was in knots and my heart was racing as we walked to the lounge where the party was being held. The same way I used to feel when we lived under the same roof; anxious and scared, never knowing which "mother personality" I would get. When I arrived and saw her I knew absolutely nothing had changed. She was turning 49 but was dressed like someone at least 20 years younger and she was already intoxicated. She came over to EH and I exclaiming about what a surprise it was to see us even though she had invited us.  I can't even put into words how disappointed I was. I surely wasn't expecting to rehash old wounds at a birthday party but I was expecting her to be genuine and respectful of the fact that we hadn't seen or spoken to each other in years.

To add insult to injury, I felt forced to nod and smile as her work friends came up to me to tell me how much they felt like they knew me because "your mother talks about you all the time," "she brags about you all the time. She's so proud of you!"

I was shocked and taken aback. It was then that I realized that my mother had created an imaginary world for herself where we had the perfect relationship and were regularly in contact. None of these people knew that she would regularly get drunk and text me violent messages or that we hadn't seen each other in three years. In fact the last message I received from her was a drunken, screaming, incoherent tirade where she called me names that are too awful to write here.

I felt a burning anger building in me because nothing had changed. A few minutes later she sat down with EH and I and directed her attention mainly to him. She only ever met my gaze briefly. I'd like to think it was because she felt ashamed of her behavior and couldn't face me. I looked at her surrounded by people who didn't really know who she was, who were using her and probably didn't care about her and I felt sympathy. They were attracted to the persona she had created for herself and I wondered if she even knew who she was apart from their gaze. She didn't know how to fix our relationship because, in her mind, we were fine.

Eventually, EH had had enough and told me he was ready to go. It wasn't our scene and nothing constructive was coming out of being there because she barely paid attention to us. We gathered our belongings and left. I felt a peace come over me then. She wasn't ready to deal honestly with our relationship and she might never be. I felt blessed and grateful. I may not have many people in my life but the ones that I do let in know who I am and they accept me as I am. I don't have to build imaginary worlds for myself to cover my brokenness. I freely admit my brokenness to anyone who'll listen and I seek healing and restoration regularly.

I got a message from my mother this morning thanking us for coming to her party. I responded with "you're welcome" and left it there. I may never know the fears that drive her to be the way she is. There's so much of my life that she's already missed and probably more that she'll miss in the future. I'm learning to accept that, no matter how hard I try, she may never heal from the demons that consume her. I'm praying for God to continue working on both our hearts, minds and spirits.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Things I Want to Eat!!


 


Warning: I am feeling sorry for myself and want to eat the whole world!

We spent over $400 this month trying to get pregnant......FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!

:sigh:

5 intimate encounters with an ultrasound wand (hello....tall, white and handsome)
10 vials of blood for blood work(even on Halloween which was kind of funny)
Way too many intimate encounters with the husband (BTW, coconut oil is an EXCELLENT natural lubricant!)

I'm in the dreaded two week wait...again and I'm feeling blah and bloated. It's strange being here again and not feeling hopeful or happy. Instead I feel depressed and ambivalent. I feel like I've been down this road before; a road that was paved when I started walking it and then became muddy and filled with pot holes that I couldn't avoid.

I happen to be watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives right now, which is a dangerous show for people who love food, and have decided that I will make a list of things I want to stuff my face with:

1. Lobster Roll
2. Steamed or fried clams
3. Grilled cheese sandwich with tomato
4. Fried Egg and pastrami sandwich on rye with swiss cheese
5. Pizza from Pizza Hut...the greasier the better of course!
6. Plantains....yellow and green...fried and salted...all day
7. Steak sandwich on panini bread
8. Buffalo Shrimp (that's fried shrimp with buffalo sauce)
9. Beer, Beer, Beer!!
10. Fried Fish and Potato Salad
11. Fettucine Alfredo

Friday, November 1, 2013

Marriage Tune Up Week 3!



Surprise trip to see the Yankees!

We met with our marriage group this week and it was illuminating as always! This week we read chapter 2 of our book, I Promise: How Five Commitments Determine the Destiny of Your Marriage, which focused on Honor.

I won't ruin it in case you decide to read it someday but what stood out to me was taking the mindset that your marriage partner is a "treasure of unfathomable worth" that is "personally autographed by God" and that we can't begin to imagine all of the qualities that our partners have that are made just for us. I can relate. I've always thought it was interesting how alike EH and I are in the ways that matter (morals, worldview, etc.) and how different we are in such complementary ways. He's pessimistic while I'm positive. He's  a free-spirited, go with the flow kind of guy. I like order and details and plans. He's OK with being late. I'd rather be early than on time.

Over the years, we've rubbed off on each other so much that we've started to take on each others' characteristics. He can now recognize the benefit of being early and I can go with the flow from time to time. It seemed that everything I needed to work on was present in him.

Another key lesson was the idea of confirmation bias, which is the idea that people will favor information about their spouse that confirms what they already believe about them. I tend to believe that EH would rather sit on the couch than take care of household things and that he does this because he doesn't care about the upkeep of our home. So, when I have to tell him to take out the trash or help me clean a room, I lash out because it confirms what I already believe about him. How I view the situation definitely affects how I respond.

He finally had to tell me that he didn't think about the house much at all and that if I wanted him to do things with the house I would have to tell him about it. This pissed me off but at least he was honest about his limitations and as a result I can adjust the expectations I have for him. I had to look honestly at this issue. Just because something is important to me doesn't mean it's going to be as important to him. He may not be on top of household things but he's excellent with making me feel special and planning family activities, which is just as important to me.

The group talked about how their spouses have shown or not shown them honor during their relationship/ marriage. I shared that when EH and I moved in together, a year into our relationship, his parents had a sort of intervention with him about our relationship. They weren't sure I was the right person for their son at the time because we were so different. I think it was a combination of me being from a different culture and me taking away their first born son that made me not suitable in their eyes. EH basically told his parents they were gonna have to deal with me because I was the woman he was going to be with, whether they liked me or not. I think once his family realized I wasn't going anywhere they steadily began to accept me and our relationship. This was the first real instance when I felt honored by my husband but it wouldn't be the last.

Another woman in the group shared that she was having trouble relating to and gaining acceptance from her in-laws, who kept comparing her to her partners ex-girlfriend and dishonoring her to her partner and her stepchild. I really felt for her because I know how it feels to want acceptance from someone and not receive it. Her partner's reaction was to get angry at and separate from his family for a while which only made things worse for her. A perfect example of how important honoring your partner is, in private and in public.

We capped off the night with a communication activity. We were both given a piece of printer paper and told to communicate with each other about what to do with the sheet of paper. The aim was to end up with the same iteration of the paper by the end of the task BUT we had to do it with our backs to each other. Now, I have to be honest, I was sure we were gonna mess this up. No, actually, I was sure HE was gonna mess it up. I was full of confidence in myself and confirmation bias!

We took turns giving each other directions on what to do with the paper and lo and behold:

 

We got an exact match!! I was eating crow...internally of course. It felt affirming to be able to do something together successfully and the exercise showed me how I use confirmation bias in my relationship without even realizing it.

When have you used confirmation bias in your relationship and been proven wrong? How does your partner show you honor?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Reverence

Grandma and Grandpa
I've been thinking of my Grandma a lot these days. I don't even really know what brought it on but I find my mind drifting to the time we spent together when I was a little girl. I was walking down the street the other day and I swore I heard her talking to me.

I went to church with Grandma every Sunday starting from the age of nine. I would watch her get dressed to the nines in her peach, white or black skirt suits, pill box hat, wig and sensible heels; smelling vaguely of Vicks vapor rub, Jergens lotion and knock off perfume. That smell was like heaven to me.

We would walk solemnly into her large, mostly Caribbean, Anglican church. She with her shoulders back, head held high. Me ,fidgeting and antsy, dreading the two hour service and having to sit still in the pew. She would say hello to all her old lady friends. So proud to be in the company of her countrymen and women, worshiping the Lord.

When I think of those days I can see the freshly polished wood pews, shining in the glow of the church lights. Smell the sweet, smoky incense that lingered in the air when the altar boys swung the censer ahead of the priest. Hear my Grandma whispering with her eyes closed, "Yes, Lord." and "Thank You Jesus."

And the music! The choir would do that beautiful call and response to the tune of the organ...

Kyrie eleison (Lord, Have Mercy)

Christe eleison (Christ, Have Mercy)

No one could tell me the angels didn't sound exactly like that.

I would look over at my Grandma and she was just so happy. I didn't, couldn't, understand that kind of joy as a child. There was so much stress and drama going on at home for me then that I only ever felt like a normal little girl with my Grandparents. Away from it all.

When the collection came around Grandma would hand me a crinkled dollar bill to put in the plate...always. Inevitably, if I behaved myself, she would produce a sweet candy from her purse. She probably always carried them but it seemed to me at the time that she only ever had them on Sundays. After church we would retire to the rectory for tiny corn beef sandwiches and Kool Aid. Nothing tasted better to me....then or since.

At home in the evenings, I would watch her read her large Bible for what seemed like hours but was probably 15 minutes at most. Then, right before bed, she would place it face up under her pillow as if the words would seep into her brain by osmosis during the night. And maybe they did.

My Grandma has been gone a few years now but what she gave me was so priceless. She taught me about reverence. Reverence for God that I took with me, tucked somewhere in my soul. When a cab struck me at 12, it was God and Grandma that I cried out for. A few months before she died, I went to visit her in her home in Brooklyn. I was 22 years old, finishing up college and looking forward to whatever was next. I hadn't seen her in a while and she was noticeably weaker. My Grandfather had died of a brain aneurysm a few years before and she lived by herself.

She was just about to take a shower when I stopped by unannounced. I offered to help and she waved me off. A few minutes later I heard her calling for help and rushed to the bathroom. She needed me after all and she wasn't happy about it. I was determined to make the experience all business so she wouldn't feel bad. I got to soaping and washing, trying to make small talk.

Soon she was in tears, "Look how I used to wash you and now you're washing me."  I reassured her that I was happy to do it and that I didn't mind. Later, back in my own space, I reflected on the moment and let loose the tears that I held back in her presence. I know the time we spent together that day was a gift from God.

When I discovered God for myself I carried her lessons of faith with me. I'm familiar with that silent place she went to as she sat in the pew. I catch myself whispering, "Yes, Lord" and "Thank You Jesus." I'm pretty sure I'll be placing my Bible face up under my pillow someday soon.

What lessons have your parents/grandparents taught you that still stick with you today?

Friday, October 25, 2013

50 Interesting Things About Me


Here's my list of 50 Interesting Things...I think...maybe...Ha!


This is me in a really big chair...carry on

1. My struggle with infertility has revealed creativity and strength I never knew I possessed and I'm grateful for that gift.

2. I'm intimidated by large glasses of water or too much of a type of food on a plate.

3. I only have one best female friend.

4. I'm very outgoing but very few people know the real me.

5. I suffer from sleep paralysis when I don't get enough sleep or am under extreme stress. My brain is awake and active but I can't move my body or speak.

6. I have a sarcastic sense of humor.


7. I have an eclectic taste in music...I listen to EVERYTHING.

8. I'm a pop culture junkie.

9. Sometimes I walk down the street like I'm in a music video when I'm listening to music. I'm sure it looks very strange.


10. I love books that are a part of a series...Twilight, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, the Hunger Games.

11. In college I worked as a writing tutor and a library clerk.

12. I studied Italian as my language in college.


13. When I was a kid I had dreams of singing and dancing on Broadway. I took voice and dance lessons as a child.

14. I LOVE any movie/show that has dance in it...ballroom dancing, Step Up movies, So You Think You Can Dance. The only one I won't watch is Dancing with the Stars.

15. I took a solo trip to Rome, Florence and Venice when I was 26. I would love to visit Australia, New Zealand and Bali.

16. I've started and abandoned writing a few books and once had a book deal for a young adult novel that fell through. I need to get back on that!

17. I love action/disaster movies and romances.

18. I'm afraid of roller coasters.

19. I don't polish my nails because I hate the look of chipped nails.

20. One of my favorite TV shows is Supernatural.

21. I studied at Spelman College during an exchange program in college. One of the best esteem building experiences I've ever had.

22. I taught myself how to swim on vacation when I was 17.

23. My favorite sports in the summer Olympics are diving and gymnastics. In the winter Olympics, figure skating.

24. I was hit by a car when I was 12 and broke my right arm.

25. I'm seriously nearsighted and have astigmatism. I wear my glasses everyday, all day and wore contacts for the first time during the week of my wedding. I haven't worn contacts since my wedding day.

26. Only my husband knows about my blog.

27. When I met my husband I didn't know anything about where his family was from..the Dominican Republic. I was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica and emigrated when I was 4.

28. I was a Spanish scholar in high school but can barely communicate well in Spanish with my in-laws or my husband.

29. I started jogging/running to combat/control my depression.

30. I love decorating my house but don't have the motivation to follow fashion.

31. I majored in journalism in college and worked as a magazine writer for two years after college before switching to medical advertising and communications.

32. I'm a big believer in self-help and have seen four therapists in my life so far at different points.

33. I like eating more than I like cooking.

34. I love seafood, especially lobster and sushi.

35. I'm a news junkie. I watch CNN and Al Jazeera America all day.

36. I met my husband on MySpace.

37. I don't know how to drive.

38. I have a masters degree in social work.

39. I take the lead in home improvement projects. I love putting furniture together. I think I was a construction foreman in my past life.

40. I have a photographic memory.

41. I have a black thumb. I've never been able to keep a plant alive.

42. I'm only 5 feet tall.

43. I was bullied in middle school.

44. I was my high school valedictorian.

45. I won a borough-wide spelling bee in middle school.


46. I'm a Gemini.

47. I'd like to think that I do things on a whim but I'm really a planner.

48. I have trouble making decisions because I tend to overanalyze things.

49. I'm really, really, really bad at any kind of advanced math and rely on my husband to measure and calculate things. I didn't learn how to read an analog clock until I was 12 and dread playing any game that has to do with money, like Monopoly, which I haven't played since I was a child.

50. I love animals.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Batter Up!

I'm not a big fan of Baseball but I'm a big fan of Robinson Cano! yummers
We drove up to see SuperDoc this morning and we got some good news! Both EH and I had blood work done and I had my ultrasound, which showed no cysts and a good lining! So, ready, set, go.

I've got my Clomid prescription and I start tomorrow. I've already warned EH to look out for me over this next week but I also promised to try to leave the room if I feel like I'm about to lose it. My first experience with Clomid wasn't the greatest. I completely underestimated it because I was feeling fine on the first day but ,as the week went on, I could feel myself about to jump out of my skin with rage and/or cry uncontrollably. And I actually cry when I'm really angry normally...so not a pretty sight. Every woman I've talked to that takes this medication co-signs this so I know this isn't just in my head.

I had a chance to talk with SuperDoc about my test results and she and the specialist both agree that the miscarriages are most likely due to genetic abnormalities, which makes me really sad. We've already decided on IVF the next time around if we're not successful this round. Such a scary prospect. According to the specialist's report, and the stupid influence of PCOS, we've got a 25% chance of losing another baby....but that also means we have a 75% chance of a successful pregnancy...so I'm stepping out on FAITH!! I've been eating well, got my thyroid under control and been running my ass off so I'm hoping all of this gives me a boost.

They both felt that my numbers weren't high enough to suggest that I had a blood clotting disorder but I still asked if I could take low dose aspirin as a precaution and got the go ahead. We'll also be doing progesterone shots instead of suppositories so that the level can be measured in my blood.

Well, folks, we're covering ALL the bases....and hoping we hit a home run.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Marriage Workout!

 

 EH and I attended our second session of the marriage workshop at our church last night and the verdict is:

We love it!

We have at least ten couples in the group. A few who are living together and not married yet, one or two that are newly engaged and the rest are couples who have been married a range of years. All in all a good mix. Our group leaders are a married couple that clearly love and respect and are real with each other, which is so important. They keep the conversation going and really know how to engage everybody. I'm so happy that I strong-armed EH into going. I was surprised by how much he enjoys going.

Our marriage was by no means in trouble but I'm a preemptive kind of gal. I don't think it hurts to get a marriage tune-up every once a while, especially since we're dealing with the trauma of infertility. With all the stress, heartache and financial strain, many couples don't make it. By grace, so far, that hasn't been our reality. This challenge to our marriage has only made us stronger and more determined to enjoy each other.

In this second session, we sat apart and filled out an anonymous, short marriage questionnaire so the leaders could get an idea of what the group will need to touch on. We also had to list a challenge(s) we are facing in our marriage. EH and I debated whether or not to bring up our infertility and then decided not to. We may change our minds as the group goes on but we don't feel like we're in  a place right now where we're ready to share.

I'm struggling with this because I feel like it's a teachable moment for the other couples and  a venue for us to get the support and encouragement we need. But the reality is we don't really know anyone that well, and all of the couples, except one young engaged couple, have children. I've learned that sometimes I have to guard my heart against ignorant comments and empty platitudes when it comes to talking about our struggle. I may change my mind. I listed challenges dealing with finances, sex and housework instead. I'm very curious to know what EH wrote!

The group is reading this book:
 
The first chapter was a little dry but we're crossing our fingers that it gets better. Either way, the chapters have the potential to inspire great conversations.

What have you and your husband done to strengthen your marriage? How did it go? Was it helpful?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Day In the Life

 

7:15 am: Receive a text message from the pastor of my old church announcing the birth of their baby boy. I am crushed and bitter and angry. The news of the baby's arrival makes me yearn for my lost little ones. I pull the covers over me in bed and try to go back to bed. Too late; I'm awake and it's already shaping up to be one of my "bad" days.

7:30 am: Join EH in the living room as he gets ready for work. Watch television news and offer to make breakfast.

7:45 am: Fed EH scrambled eggs with fried plantains. Marvel at the fact that he gets to go to work. Wonder if I'll ever be able to contribute in the same way ever again. I'm beginning to miss working. He says," So,you got the text I see." I nod. "Did you respond?" he says. I did; right away like peeling off a band-aid. "I was gonna tell you not to. I would've done it for the both of us." I smile.

9:00 am: Eat breakfast. Remember that I forgot to take thyroid medication. :Forehead smack: Take pill. Goodbye kiss from EH and a last admonition "Don't stay in here all day!"

9:30-10:00 am: Sit on the couch and watch CNN, stare into space, figure out what I'm going to do for the day. Take Metformin, Vitamin D, Prenatals.

10:00 am: Decide to paint something for the wall above our bed. I need something, anything to distract me. Call RE's office and schedule preliminary ultrasound before Clomid cycle 2. I am anxious and it makes me short with the receptionist.

10:15 am: Call EH to make sure appt is OK with his schedule. Start painting while listening to CNN.

1:00 pm: Errand to CVS to pick up low dose aspirin, which I'm still contemplating taking, and maxi pads.

1:20 pm: Snack on gluten free crackers. Back to painting.

2:00 pm: Warm up some hot-pocket like food for lunch. Contemplate reading my Bible but don't. I'm angry  at Him today.

2:30 pm: Back to painting. Feel the blissful peace that comes with extreme focus on a task.

3:00 pm: Finish painting and hang above bed. Do a happy dance. Feel accomplished.

3:30 pm: I'm getting sleepy but refuse to take a nap; Nap taking is not allowed. Decide to sign on to Bloglovin and check blogs/twiiter/Facebook. More CNN. Shake my head at the stupidity of elected leaders.

4:00 pm: Contemplate going for a run but this is an off day. Stare into space. Get teary, try not to cry.

4:30 pm: Flip through saved shows on TiVo. Watch America's Next Top Model. Marvel at how easy life can be. Realize I hate this show. Why can't I stop watching this show??

5:00 pm: Should probably start making dinner. Season chicken.

6:00 pm: Read some blogs and discover that it's National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Sigh. Maybe that's why I feel so shitty. Cry. Light a candle.

7:00 pm: Start writing blog post while making chicken and rice.

9:00 pm: Eat dinner.

9:27 pm: EH finally comes home. Josh runs to his scratch post and scratches for at least 3 minutes. Realize I might need a scratch post.

9:30 pm: EH and I watch the latest episode of the Duggars. It's one of our favorite shows.

Something about a woman with a crap load of kids just appeals to me, for obvious reasons.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

On the Road Again....



Uggggghhhhhhh!

Soooooo, I finally got the call back from the Perinatologist. He basically said, "there's nothing wrong with you" and all the tests came back "normal."  Is it horrible that I don't believe him!!?? I mean I'm happy that all the tests came back normal but I'm more frustrated than ever. Nothing is wrong with me. Absolutely nothing.

FRUSTRATED!
I called SuperDoc's office and am scheduled to go in next week for a preliminary ultrasound to get the whole process going again. I'm going to have SuperDoc go over the results with me. I should be excited but I'm really scared. I don't want to take the pills or the progesterone suppositories or the shots. I don't want to go off on my husband for five days due to Clomid crazies. I don't want to go through yet another two week wait of hell. I don't want my hope to lead to despair.

Boohoo....I wish I could stuff my face with something amazing but unfortunately I have no appetite.

:: fights the air::

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Time

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.
The formatting may be a little screwy in this post and I can't seem to fix it. My apologies!

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I'm a recovering people pleaser. 

I started people-pleasing when I was just a girl. I wasn't one of those kids that complained when an adult asked me to do something. I relished it; a) because I was a very lonely child until my siblings came along and b) because pleasing folks gave me a sense of validation and acceptance that was sorely lacking in my home.

When I met EH, some of that tendency was curbed a bit because, ahem, I now had someone to please full-time. EH never really cared for these tendencies and most of the things I would consider as going above and beyond were largely ignored by him. He just wants to sit on the couch and doesn't understand why I would do more than I needed to.

I almost always took the lead in school projects. not because I thought I was the better person for the job but because I didn't trust anyone else and was terrified of placing my success in someone else's hands. Another vestige of a childhood where nothing was certain. 

At our old church, I volunteered to be secretary of the church board, was one of the leaders of our church choir, spearheaded, planned and hosted the church's fall festival fundraiser, planned the head pastor's wedding. Having just graduated from grad school with no job in sight, and none for an as yet undetermined future, I wasn't involved in anything else hence church was my only outlet for validation. Hindsight truly is 20/20 and I realize now that this flurry of activity was how I coped. I fooled myself into thinking that if I was doing something physically, I was mentally and emotionally OK. Nothing was further from the truth.
I was reeling from losing two babies and teaching pre-schoolers in Sunday School; was stressed to the hilt about our mounting medical bills and spending money for church events; feeling increasingly overwhelmed and depressed and smiling all the time. Soon all of these responsibilities began to chafe.
I woke up super early on Sunday mornings to get to choir rehearsal. We lived in a different part of the city so that involved getting out of bed and taking a 20 minute train ride into the city. When I got there, on time, it would just be me and the choir director. No one else bothered to be on time. Later, I would get up to sing, all the while feeling my anger bubbling up at my fellow choir members for not caring enough to rehearse and losing sight of why I was in church in the first place. Losing sight of God.
I attended three hour weekly board meetings hearing about church financial dysfunction and bad management and feeling anxious about the necessary decisions we were making to get the church back on its feet, which included letting people go.
I volunteered to be a part of a group of people who were assisting a church member who hoarded to clean her apartment knowing full well that that was the one clinical issue that I just couldn't handle. I had dealt with this type of issue in the past and knew that, unless serious therapy was undertaken, nothing was likely to change.
Naturally, I would complain to EH about everything I was doing and he would just shrug his shoulders and say, "Well stop doing it."

I would always reply with the worst kind of indignation, "Stop! How can I stop? What are they going to do without me??!"

It sounded so ridiculous to my ears but I continued doing everything for everybody until I was forced to stop in December 2012 when I had my myomectomy. I truly believe that the only reason I stopped was because I physically could not move around for about six weeks. But those six weeks were life-changing.

I was given the rare opportunity to really look at myself and analyze my actions. I was a grown woman but, inside, I was still a scared little girl looking for favor. I really believed that I needed to be the perfect daughter, the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect woman.

As much as I tried to make it so, Doing was not Being. Nothing I did could change who I was, what I was feeling or what I was going through. I refused to acknowledge that it was just too much for little 'ol me to handle. I was not the invincible, superwoman I believed myself to be. 

So I pared way back; I stopped doing the choir, I quit the Board, I stopped doing the Sunday school, I stopped raising my little hand to volunteer for things. I went to church three Sundays a month instead of four. Imagine my surprise when the world didn't end. In fact, everything went on just as before. These responsibilities didn't need me. I needed them.
All the time that I was giving away was time that I sorely needed. Time to reconnect with my husband and fortify my marriage, time to get our finances together by cutting down on our social outings, time to reconnect with my spirituality, time to grieve our losses, time to seek help, time to get healthy, time to BREATHE.

I know now that I have to guard my heart against overdoing. I worked with a volunteer organization last week which was refreshing. EH and I are only just now venturing back into somewhat of a social life and we are taking baby steps. We've joined a new church and while I still love to sing I'm not rushing to join the choir. I'm not rushing to teach Sunday School or volunteer for any projects. We've joined a time-limited marriage group just so we can get to know some other people because we've started to desire fellowship again. 

Nothing I do now is something I don't truly want to do. 

Do you suffer from overdoing? What changes would you make/have you made in your life to overcome this?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Into the Woods



The day before our memorial walk, EH and I decided that we should do something fun! So we jumped in the old car and went hiking at the Cranberry Lake Preserve. I'm not really sure when we caught the hiking bug but we've been doing it seriously since our first hiking trip on our honeymoon.

I'm smiling here because I'm going downhill
We hiked in the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. It was one of those hotel excursion trips, you know the ones in the cute brochures by the check-in desk, where the people at the hotel tell you it's "easy and fun" and then folks sign up for it thinking it'll be "easy and fun."  It totally wasn't easy but it WAS fun and HARD. We hiked down to the rainforest floor and then had to hike all the way back up. By the end of it I was pretty sure I was dead. But after that hike, a fire was lit. I think the endorphins from completing the hike lit the match. So from time to time we like to go hiking to challenge ourselves and enjoy the outdoors.


You see that beatific look on EH's face... He loves hiking! He kept telling me were going to be urban adventurers...
 
We took the blue trail that ran by the lake. I wasn't into their directional signs. They were small and easy to miss. We got turned around a few times. I couldn't even see the number on this tree because it was the same color as the tree!

I was so ready to carve our names in this tree but EH didn't want me "defacing nature."

The good news here is that I'm wearing my lucky number 7 shirt. The bad news is that I wore cut off shorts to go hiking, which is ALWAYS a bad idea. My legs were tore up when I got home.


We finally found the lake!! Yay!!


look at me! I'm so short, I'm standing on a tree..tee hee
This trail was pretty awesome so we'll probably go back and do a harder one. There were some hairy moments when we thought we would never find the nature lodge we started out from but there were also some beautiful sights...

The leaves are turning....end of summer...BOOOOO!!


There was a point in the trail when we had to crawl under a fallen tree. I had to get this shot of EH because he absolutely HATES getting dirty. A great day! Can't wait to go back!

Walk to Remember

 
We started out at about 10 in the morning on Sunday to our first Walk to Remember in Suffern, NY. I looked out our living room window and noted the dreary skies. The air was heavy, clouds brimming with rain. I commented on how fitting it was that we should have such sad weather on today of all days.We laughed and joked around to break the ice, listened to the Giants game on the radio on the way up. Neither one of us knew what to expect but we love car trips. We tried not to think about what we'd experience at the end of the route.

In the car, I scrolled through my twitter feed, reading out headlines that caught my eye. For most of the trip I stared out the window, lost in my thoughts. What if I don't feel anything when I get there? Is this a mistake? Is it going to make me more sad? EH kept asking if I was OK. I kept nodding my head yes and we traveled on.

Our first order of business was getting EH some much needed coffee and getting our memorial balloons. We wrote our nicknames for the babies on them. EH freaked out a little because he didn't know how to tie them up so they wouldn't float away. I tied them to his wrist and he walked around for most of the day with balloons hitting him in the face but he didn't mind.


 The group assembled in the parking lot to gather their balloons, sign a memorial banner and mingle with the other parents. It ended up being a lot more people than what's captured here. I loved the mountains in the background. That black van was playing country music and EH shook his head in disbelief as I sang along to a few songs. I couldn't believe how many people were carrying multiple balloons like us. Most of the parents present lost full term babies who were fine one day and gone the next or a stillbirth. There were also a few women with miscarriages. One thing that I noticed, however, is that they all had children. It gave me hope that maybe one day EH and I would too.

We picked up this memorial bird at the event. It was supposed to be hung on a memorial tree at the event but I didn't want to part with it so we ended up keeping it.We felt so silly writing their nicknames on it but we had no other way of identifying them. EH and I didn't want to know the sex of our babies.We wanted to be surprised so the nicknames helped us by being completely unisex.

We signed this beautiful memorial banner as well. Our little message lists our babies names and "loved and remembered by 'Mommy & Daddy.'"


Pretty soon it started to drizzle and luckily it never moved into a full blown rainstorm while we were there. EH snapped this pic before we started walking. It was about a mile walk to the state hospital where a tent was set up to house all of us for the memorial service. Many shared reflections of their children, their experience and how they were doing today. There were also a few musical selections. A 15-year-old girl wrote and performed a song for a brother she never knew. An older man played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on his trumpet. EH and I felt that it was like having a funeral for all of the babies who weren't with us anymore. For us that was a good thing since we never really got to properly memorialize any of our little ones. We held each others' hands tightly throughout the service, not speaking much. We listened as all the babies names were read aloud, including ours.


Soon it was time for the balloon release. Over 96 families stepped out from under the tent and gathered in a circle while a bagpiper played. Up until this time, EH and I had shed a few solitary tears but neither of us was prepared for the deluge of tears that occurred when we let go of our balloons. The sobs shook me as I watched our balloons go up and up and up into an overcast sky. EH stood next to me rubbing his eyes, furiously wiping away his own tears. And when I lost track of our balloons, I cried even harder. I wasn't ready to let them go.

We stood for a time staring at the sky and saying our silent goodbyes. We knew we'd never forget them but we were ready to face whatever came next. As we got back to the car, EH told me that he felt at peace. I realized that I felt the same. I felt that we'd given our babies a proper memorial,a proper goodbye, a proper acknowledgment that they did indeed exist to us and were loved. One that no doctor, or well-meaning friend or family member could trivialize or take away.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Randomness!

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

1. I went to a thrift store this week to see if I could find a large mirror for our dining room and came up empty handed. I likely won't be back because if I don't find something I like the first time I visit a thrift store, I probably won't go back EVER. :-( That's just how I roll. Maybe I'll try going to Manhattan instead. The BX is wack for popping tags.

http://i.mommyish.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/baby-shower-cake-awful.jpg
Photo: https://twitter.com/kayyyy_p This here would be my baby shower cake...HAHAHAHAHAHAH


2. EH and I went to that baby shower last weekend and we did not die and/or burst into flames. We are beyond happy that it wasn't that bad. We enjoyed seeing all our old friends and even though the whole place was FILLED with babies...I was able to keep it together. Afterward we went to the Palisades Mall, aka SuperMall, and saw the new Ron Howard racing movie, which I enjoyed immensely. I'm hoping I can get EH to go get a racing outfit for sexy time...wink. To top it all off, EH agreed to sushi after the movie! I love sushi...I mean I really love it. I could eat it everyday. I tried to get him to have some actual sushi but I was not successful and he ate a chicken terriyaki meal instead. Is there a food that you love and your husband just refuses to eat and it drives you crazy!?

3. Got my latest thyroid tests back and my level is at a 0.99!! Below 1! Which is awesome in terms of fertility. I am still awaiting the results from those 12 vials of blood I donated last month. I'm getting a little miffed at this doctor's office and will probably go with another perinatologist if we do end up needing specialty care. I've called three times this week and only got to speak with the nurse on the third try, who cheerily told me that the results were in but that the doctor didn't review them yet...what the heck is he waiting for??!

4. EH and I are supposed to be going to a marriage workshop at our church tonight and I'm excited about it. It's hard to get EH to do anything with other people. He doesn't like to feel obligated to do anything so getting him to commit to events with other people is like pulling teeth.

Perinatal Bereavement Program-Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center

5. I was surfing the internets last week, checking on some blogs I like to follow, and came across a post on an event called Walk to Remember. It's a remembrance walk for parents who have lost babies due to early or late term miscarriage or stillbirth. I really wanted to do something like this to honor our little ones, UPS, FedEx and Little P, but I wasn't sure EH would be into it.

Yes, you read that right we did name our first two angels after those popular delivery companies. EH started it because he thought of our angels as special deliveries and then we took to calling them by the names of the actual companies. Little P is the only angel that actually got a normal name.

Sigh....I miss them and I miss those moments of expectant joy that we had.

I was surprised when he looked over my shoulder and said, "That looks good. We should do that." So, this weekend we're off to our very first Walk to Remember in upstate NY. I'm looking forward to meeting with other couples who we, unfortunately, have something in common with.

6. Now I really want some SUSHI....darn it.

 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Faith in a New Season

newevolutiondesigns.com
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.-Hebrews11:1

This week, I found myself thumbing through my wedding album. I was viewing one of those TLC wedding shows at the time and I desperately wanted to relive and connect with how I felt that day. There was so much drama leading up to that day, so many things that, in my mind, should have happened but didn't. But at the end of that very long day I was laying in bed drinking champagne with my husband. It made it all worth it.

I was full of so much hope and faith in our future. I looked at those couples on the show, their hope for a life together shining in their eyes and their smiles and I sighed. I hope you never go through what so many couples go through, the thing that no one talks about in public, the secret shame of infertility.

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Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” -Matthew 17:20

I sat through a sermon at our church a few weeks ago called Borrowed Faith. I cried through most of it because I really thought God was talking to me. My faith is as small as that mustard seed. I feel as though I am leaning on a pillow instead of a rock and I am afraid I don't have the strength to hold myself up. I am living on borrowed faith right now, hoping to be healed on borrowed faith. I am going through my third or fourth reading of the Bible these days and am currently in Matthew. I read the words highlighted in red and I am full of hope. I put it down and I despair.

I wish I had the faith of the woman with the issue of blood, especially since I had the issue of blood myself for a few years. I see in her a kindred spirit. She ran after Him seeking her blessing. A blessing she knew he would bestow. I barely have the strength to lift my head some days much less reach for the hem of His garment. I pray in my spirit without words. The words will not come so I sit and hope my spirit can convey them.

I came across this post by Lisha Epperson, who waited 14 years before she was blessed with a child from her womb:
 Embedded image permalink
It was probably written while she was in the throes of her own struggle but it crystallized exactly how I had been feeling for the past few months or few years... I needed the validation that her words provided. I read it and thought of my lost faith, wondering if I would ever find it again.

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Jesus sees the greater need, not just the need you want addressed-Pastor George

EH and I tried to get out of going to a baby shower that takes place this weekend. It is the shower of our former pastor. EH and I helped to plan her wedding and acted as coordinator and assistant on her special day last year. We all grew close in the process. She was an older woman who had been praying for the Lord to send her a partner for many years and finally, finally, her prayers were answered. She had what I think of as BIG faith. They got pregnant very soon after the wedding and called us, excited about the news. We had just discovered we were pregnant with our third child, the child we thought would be our miracle. A few weeks later, our miracle passed away and we were devastated.

So, needless to say, we weren't really up to being surrounded by their friends and family and former church members AND having to field the inevitable question of when we would be having children. Having to smile, smile, smile. We tried to wiggle our way out of going only to find that they were having not one but two baby showers which we were more than welcome to attend. At that point, EH was trying to think of a way to wiggle out of the second one. I decided against it. I may come to regret it but I was so tired of letting this affliction change us, so tired of lying. So we will go to this shower because maybe God wants us to go; maybe there is a greater need being addressed that we can't see or understand. We have been shielding ourselves for so long. Maybe it's time to put down the armor.

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Develop your faith so it can be seen-Pastor George

I have been hiding my light under a bushel. I have felt inadequate in so many areas and I'm slowly coming out from under the rock I've been under. I've been making family albums on shutterfly.com. I am casting away the idea that we are not complete somehow. We are complete in each other for the moment and I want to celebrate that. Every picture I place is a remembrance of our fortitude, our strength as a family of two. 

I have a heart for service that has been stagnant for too long. This week I'll be participating in my first volunteer opportunity at a nursing home in my area and I am sooooo excited about the possibility of taking my attention away from myself for once. I am working to re-develop my faith in myself and in God. One mustard seed at a time.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Simple Living 101: Part 4-Simplicity in the Kitchen

Firstwefeast.com

Uggggghhhhh....chicken and waffles!!!!

More than anything, EH and I love stuffing our faces. I mean...we LOVE food! Who doesn't? Simplifying the food we eat and how we get our food has been a real challenge for me. I remember admitting in the beginning of this blog journey that being a homemaker doesn't come easy for me. I've been a stay-at-home wife for a little over a year now and I finally had to, reluctantly, take ownership of the role.

EH only knows how to make salmon cakes and some breakfast foods (pancakes, eggs, bacon, etc.). I have a slightly larger repertoire but not by much. I learned how to cook mostly by necessity and trial and error in my teens and got a little better in college (my first attempt at making rice and peas and failing miserably still haunts me). When EH and I started living together, we were mostly vegetarian so I didn't really have to push myself much. It was pretty hard to mess up imitation meat and vegetables!

Now that I'm in my 30s, I'm starting to enjoy making meals. I enjoy it so much that we're eating more than ever and spending more than we ever have on food. Here are some of the ways I've found to cut costs and some of the things we're still working on in this area.

Groceries




There aren't that many options for healthy food in our neighborhood so EH and I decided that we would get our groceries online through the grocery delivery service, Fresh Direct. Initially, like so many other people that we mentioned this to, I balked at the idea. Why in the world would we order food online when we can just go up the block and get it at the supermarket?? Turns out there were a couple of reasons why this was a better choice for us but there are pros and cons.

1. More choice in healthy, organic food. After I had my myomectomy to remove fibroids it became really important to me to eliminate chemicals/antibiotics/pesticides from as much of our food as possible. Ordering online gives us access to the organic foods (produce, dairy, meat, poultry, fruit, etc. ) that aren't present in our neighborhood.

2. Control over the budget. EH and I do our shopping every two weeks with a set budget of $150. We very rarely go over this amount and since it's a fixed amount it forces me to be smart about what we buy. There's something about seeing the total amount add up on the side of the page that keeps me on my best money behavior.

You know how all these healthy living guidelines suggest that you shop in the outer aisle of the supermarket to stay healthy? Well, the same goes for trying to save money. We mostly stay clear of the inner "aisles" which means not many boxed products. Most of our budget goes to buying enough organic/antibiotic free meat, poultry and fish to keep us stocked for two weeks. The rest goes to bags of beans, spaghetti, cans of tomato sauce, rice, milk, cereal, frozen vegetables and dairy.

The disadvantages of this kind of shopping is that we don't really get to take advantage of coupons like other money saving households. There are coupons on the web site but I found that they were usually for products we didn't buy anyway.

Other ways we save

1. Freeze it, baby! By far, the single most wonderful way I've found to save money on my groceries is by making use of my freezer. Because of my freezer I can now buy in bulk like never before. I now purchase two quarts of milk instead of one because I can store one in the freezer and thaw it when needed. At first I was afraid because I thought it wouldn't taste the same but if I take the milk down before the one we're using runs out it gives it ample time to melt. I give it a good shake and it's good to go.

I found this pin on pinterest about freezing everyday foods here and now I freeze things like shredded mozzarella cheese, beans, bread, soups and butter. More recently I discovered freezing avocados and it was life changing! Ok....maybe that's an exaggeration but I love making guacamole for a quick lunch and I would buy way too much only to have them spoil in my fridge. Now I can take advantage of an awesome avocado sale and freeze what I don't use.

2. Eating meat less. I've saved a bunch just by not eating meat/chicken everyday. Black bean burritos are now a staple in our house that we have at least once a week. I'd like to start making more vegetarian options as well, like vegetable pot pies, soups or spinach lasagna, but I'm still working on EH's belief that no meat = not a real dinner.

3. Order an appetizer. Not only are tons of food is wasted in this country everyday but portion sizes have gotten larger and larger. Have you seen what a small drink looks like at a fast food place lately? It's crazy. When EH and I go out for dinner, I'm always amazed at the plate when it comes to the table. Lately, when we do eat out I've been able to order from the appetizer menu and feel totally satisfied. Mostly, this is because my appetite hasn't been what it used to be since I started my PCOS medication but it's a great side effect for me because I tend to overeat.

4. Cook in bulk. Even though I've started to actually use my slow cooker I don't use it nearly enough. Truth is, I forget I have it when it comes time to make a meal. It really is a time saver and allows you to make so much. I've been mostly using my oven to make large pans of lasagna or soups on the stove top. I have a feeling I'll do more of this when children come along.

5. Give yourself a break. As much as we would like to be, humans aren't perfect. Cut yourself some slack if you swing by Mickey D's once a month or end up ordering a pizza, take-out Chinese or that delicious slice of cheesecake every once a while. We try to keep these bad treats to once every two months but if we falter we don't beat ourselves up. We get back on the horse. And you know what? Sometimes, I just really don't feel like cooking a thing and want to go out for chicken and waffles. That's OK too.

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We still have some room to grow in this area. I still think we eat out way too much. Most of that is my doing because I forget to take things down from the freezer to the fridge so that they can thaw and be ready to make the next day.  Our biggest issue in the past was running out of food in the middle of the week because I didn't buy enough food to last us.. (I know... bad wife demerit there). I'm happy to say we haven't had that issue in months.