Thursday, August 29, 2019

Birth Story

We welcomed our little girl, Ella Jean, into this world on August 8, 2019.

August 7 was just another day to most people, but in our house it was induction day!  I was able to get some last minute grocery shopping in, and that very much needed manicure pedicure!  I mean, what's a girl to do without a mani/pedi on induction day?!? It seriously stressed me out-and if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I got kicked out the day before from a nail salon, so I definitely was stressing.  Thankfully, the W Nail Bar in German Village had an appointment slot for me for the next day, induction day, and if you're a Columbus local, I highly recommend you check them out!  

After the very important tasks, I came home, and worked on tackling the cooking ventures I had wanted to get into my freezer.  Again, if you follow me on instagram, you know that when a baby boy is born, that Friday night, there's a welcoming party so to speak.  So, since our community doesn't have much in ways of kosher bakeries/candy/all thing party, I made sure to order the decor and supplies from Amazon, and bake and buy as much as I could ahead of time.

But, I was also nervous about going into the hospital on a Wednesday night because that would mean a Friday afternoon discharge, and then arrive home and going straight into Shabbos-a period where we can't cook.  But not only that!!! That Saturday night began the very serious fast for the mourning period called Tish A'bav. I wasn't going to be fasting, but other people in the house were, and we waited until after to set up the meal train, so I knew meals weren't going to be provided for other of these necessary times.  So, I did what I do best-I make a list!  I got most of it done, and what I didn't get done, I was at least organized enough that my mom could pick up where I left off.  We also got some last minute cuddles in.

Wednesday afternoon flew by, and before I knew it, it was dinner time.  I learned from last time, although I should have learned from other times actually, that I throw up during labor. Because of that, I decided I wasn't going to eat dinner-I know it's recommended, and I knew I'd be hungry, but I wanted to save myself from that experience. I figured I'd be plenty hydrated.  I took a shower. I got dressed.  I put some makeup on. I packed my bag. I had DrH. take my bag down to the car.  I checked my phone-a missed call from the hospital.  I knew it meant only one thing...we don't have a bed for you right now.  You can come down and get registered and wait, or you can call us back in a few hours for an update.  The 5:30 am induction from this morning still hasn't been called in because we don't have room for her.  Besides for the incredible let down of having that rush all day, knowing you'd go to the hospital that night and finally, finally meet your baby, I knew I was not looking at an even later birth, which meant either getting discharged early to get home in time for Shabbos, or not being allowed to be discharged in time for Shabbos because you have to stay for a minimum of 24 hours, and the later on Thursday it gets, the later on Friday I'll have to stay-possibly preventing me from leaving in time.  Leaving me with very little food options for Shabbos, as well as the issue of people needing to stay with me, and come and get me-all while fasting for this 24+ hour fast.  It might seem trivial, but to me, it was a huge huge deal.  One that caused me a lot of stress and anxiety leading up to the birth, one that required a lot of logistical planning, and a hell of a lot of letting go.  There was some back and forth with the hospital-what did the situation actually look like: would I be called in later that night (Wednesday night)? Would I be called in the night? In the morning? Or would I sit around all day Thursday and actually get called in for a Thursday night induction-a whole day later than planned?  The nurses were really nice, and for those of you who are wondering-it made absolutely zero difference that my husband works in this hospital, which was quite a disappointment.  Anyway, they suspected that I would most likely get a bed Thursday morning.  We decided that should a bed open up at any point in the middle of the night, they should call me-especially since we had this time constraint.  Otherwise, I'd call them at 5am for an update.  My special special soul friend who was with me for delivery and stayed with me in the hospital was running late and arrived in the middle of the night, thankfully she didn't miss out on any action.  Another special friend who had just had her baby a few weeks prior could sense my frustration and disappointment at my pushed off induction, sent her husband over, quickly, with ice cream.  Once I got over myself, I headed downstairs for some pancakes and ice cream.  

I was in and out of sleep Wednesday night into Thursday morning.  I was half waiting for the phone call, half wanted to enjoy that last night of sleep (spoiler: ironically, I'm sleeping better now than I was during the end of my pregnancy).  I had set my alarm for 5am, but when the alarm went off, I hit snooze.  I had turned my ringer on in case they had a spot for me, so at 5:07, a phone call jolted me awake, Ms. Rubin, you can head on in, we have a bed for you.

I got up, took a shower, and got dressed.  I had attempted to wake DrH, but he was slow to get up that morning.  I have a very close friend, a soul sister, we'll call her SS.  She was with me during Simmy's birth, and was set to be with me this time as well.  She got a late start on her drive into Columbus and didn't arrive to my house well into the night-later than I was willing to stay up.  After I was dressed, relieved to find her sleeping in the room meant for her, I woke her up and told her we had to go, the hospital called. She sat up, got up, and looked at me and said, we're having a baby today!  SS takes quite the time to get ready, even in need to be quick, so DrH and I ended up getting some time to ourselves downstairs on the couch while we waited for her to get ready.  With all the hustle and bustle upstairs, Simmy ended up getting woken up, so I left her with my parents as I told them we were leaving.

We snapped one last belly picture...

We arrived to the hospital around 7am, grabbed a cart to take all the necessary induction bags.  Truthfully, I had one bag-SS had herself two bags, a box of things, and a pillow. DrH went to park the car while the two of us made our way to the elevator.  Now, I think that most people would look at us and assume we were heading up to Labor and Delivery-but you know what? In all the hustle and bustle of getting to work/shift changes, we were deep into a line to get on the elevator-good thing I wasn't actually in labor!  Eventually we made it onto a packed elevator, thankfully the first to get off, but we joked this would not be the time to get stuck in an elevator.  Thankfully that was not a premonition!

We made our way to the Labor and Delivery side of the floor; I remarked out loud, we were just here.  As I was getting registered, DrH arrived from parking the car.  We were showed our room, which was thankfully much more cozy than last time.  I wouldn't have to yell across an entire room to get someone to hear me!  I changed into my gown and met my nurse.  While I can't remember her name, I do remember that she was excellent!  I informed her of all the information she needed to know: we were doing cord blood and stem cell storage, we had a birth photographer (or so we thought), I was to receive a steroid via IV to help combat post-natal itching, and I get really sick from the epidural and take a long time to recover. I also found out that my OB was not in the hospital that day, which meant that I had the opportunity to really push for what I wanted from an induction: I wanted to receive an epidural first, then pitocin, and then break my water when it was time.  Initially, my OB had told me I'd get pitocin first, and then an epidural when it was time to break my water. I was hesitant to go this route mainly because I didn't find it necessary to go through labor with pitocin-to just get an epidural!  I also was afraid that if my water broke on it's own, no one would be available to give me the epidural then and I'd progress too quickly, and I really didn't want to go through that pain.  One of my fears is pain after the birth-if there's a complication, if there's tearing, post-birth contractions...I was dead set on an epidural as the first step in the induction. Thankfully, the OB on call was ok with my choice.  MFM came in and confirmed via ultrasound that the baby was head down, my nurse started my IV and took blood, the anesthesiologist came back and administered the best.epidural.I've.ever.had.  Seriously! It was fast, relatively painless, and was successful.  I've had four other experiences with epidurals, one of them being a spinal.  Based on this experience, I'm sure that I was dosed too high in my previous ones.  Within a matter of minutes typically, I get nauseous, the room spins,  I feel like I can't breathe, I'm dizzy, I'm cold, and I'm just overall really out of it.  This epidural still made gave me a lot of these symptoms, but they were less severe, and I was able to manage it.  I was nauseous, but spent the time sitting straight up instead of lying down, and managed to not throw up.  I was able to check my phone, but eventually got dizzy, overall I had more manageable symptoms.

IV, epidural and pitocin were complete around 10:30am.  When I felt the pressure of a contraction, which was sporadic, I would push the epidural button.  At 1pm they came in and checked me, I was 4cm, and they broke my water.  I messaged the photographer to let her know this update, and she said she would head to the area and to let her know when I was checked next.  The nurse brought me a birthing device called a peanut-which is like a birthing ball shaped like a peanut that you put between your legs and lay on your side. It's meant to open up the pelvic and help progress dilation.  At 2pm I was having pain on my left hip and shoulder from laying on that side. It was no small feat to get me onto my right side. Around 3pm I had what I thought was catheter pain.  I panicked and tried to ignore it.  I was also fearful of a baby just falling onto the bed and the photographer missing the birth.  When I had this realization the pain was ebbing and flowing I got panicky and had DrH call for the nurse.  When she came in, I explained that I had what I was assuming was catheter pain, to which she said, you don't have a catheter.  She checked me and announced I was 10cm.  Because I was having this pain, I began to cry because as I mentioned above, I did not want pain associated with the birth, or after, and I did not want the photographer to miss the birth.  All the OB was able to tell me was, if I pushed-I would definitely have a baby. If I waited, she might be busy when I did need her to deliver. The photographer messaged that she was 45 minutes away, and we decided that we were having this baby without her.  In all of this, the anesthesiologist came in and gave me a final dosing, which actually ended up being a mistake, but more about that later.  SS jumped into photographer mode and we do have great birth pictures which the photographer has offered to edit for us.

In 3 contractions, at 3:10 pm, Ella Jean was born, with a head of dark hair, screaming, weighing 6lbs 14 oz and almost 19 in at 37 weeks 1 day.

As soon as she was born, the last dose of the epidural hit me, and it was then that my typical epidural experience went down.  I threw up, I was unable to hold the baby, I had to keep my eyes closed to prevent the room from spinning, etc.  I regret that last dose because part of why I wanted it was to numb the pressure and to hold off to allow the photographer to make it in time.  But, I am glad I was out of it for the immediate post-birth.  It must be weird to be fully present while they clean, sew, check for blood loss, placenta-on one hand I'm happy to be out of it.

Ella continued to scream, whine and whimper even though she was swaddled and being held by DrH and SS.  I was too out of it to really hold her.  They called in the neonatologist who told us that due to her being 37 weeks and under developed, she needed skin to skin.  DrH immediately got in position and sure enough, she was soothed rather quickly.  We also made sure to keep her close to us those first days because she obviously needed it more than most newborns.

The hospital stay was fast.  The first night we had close family and friends visit. Then the next morning/early afternoon the kids came and met their new baby sister and this time, the photographer made it in time.  Then, because of the later than anticipated induction, staying the full two days would have cut into Shabbos, and with a lack of kosher food and the Saturday night 24+ hour fast day due to one of the biggest days of mourning in Jewish history, we opted for discharge at the 24 hour mark and were able to spend Shabbos together.

It was a beautiful start to our journey of a family of seven.

Most pictures are by Shayna Marie Lewis 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Final Thoughts...

It's almost 4pm.  My house is quiet, my husband has everyone out on a bike ride.  My ovens are on full blast baking chocolate chip cookies for Shabbos, and borekas for the pre-fast meal.  My furnace replacement is almost complete.  I have put away all the laundry, got my nails done, grocery shopped, hung Safety Day flyers, and am back home to complete the final preparations before heading to the hospital to deliver our fifth baby.  Most likely our final baby.  Final.

It's sunk in over the past few days these fleeting life moments we take for granted, or even if we don't take them for granted, we don't appreciate them.  Tomorrow, life will be outside, not inside; most likely never again inside.  The kicks, the rolls, the stretches, the hiccups.  Final.

19 months ago I never would have thought I'd be here-checking into the hospital to have baby #5. Talk of such things never crossed my lips, unless someone asked, although I desired it deep down.  Baby #5. Final.

Nervous and anxious for the next 12 hours, but definitely excited for newborn snuggles.  Final newborn snuggles. 

Newborn diapers, newborn onesies, swaddles, swings and bassinets.  Final baby gear. 

Maybe it won't be final, but I'm preparing as if it is.  Final baby.

Boy or girl, hair or no hair, light brown or dark brown.  Final reveal.

The day before Simmy was born

The day of this baby...

 Follow along on my instagram for updates on the impending arrival.  


Monday, August 5, 2019

Monday Munchies...

Hi everyone! With all this talk of a baby, I'm pretty darn hungry! Just kidding...but in all seriousness, because of the baby, my organization game has to be strong right now. A lot is riding on my shoulders, a lot of tasks are time sensitive, and a lot of things can't be delegated due to the nature of where we live.  Let me explain: Saturday night begins a serious fast (meaning no eating or drinking) for the Jewish people.  I will not be fasting, since I'll be post birth, but there will be people in my house who will be. I also live in a community with very few kosher takeout options. With my parents' primary job when they're here this trip being to watch my kids, and my husband and I occupied with a new baby, it only seemed appropriate that I would cook ahead and freeze.  So I figured since I'm probably a little ahead of the game, I'd come here and share with you all my pre and post meals for the upcoming fast of Tish A'bav.

Because the fast begins on the Sabbath, we're limited in how we can heat our food.  With that being said, you want to keep that in mind when choosing which foods to make.  I did some searching on line and found this menu.

An Easy Pre Tisha Bav Fast Menu

I will be making salmon, using the frozen fillets; we're only a few people so a larger fresh fillet wasn't worth it.  I recently used a recipe similar to this one, so I might consider it for this meal too. Although, if you need a non-dairy option, try this one 

Back to the original menu I found, I'm going to make brussel sprouts.  I prefer them just roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper.  If you prefer your sprouts sweeter, try this recipe.

Salmon and brussel sprouts are the two meal components, but I want more.  I would normally attempt to make some sort of carb side dish, but due to the circumstances with this week, I am going to buy pre-made hour devours of sorts, probably of the potato variety.

For dessert, she shares this banana bread recipe.   Who doesn't like banana bread?  Someone had actually suggested it be on my menu for a potential shalom zachor (a Friday night ritual after a baby boy is born) so I felt I had hit the jackpot considering I can just double the amount of banana bread and viola: one of the potential shin dig, and one for the pre-fast meal!  I don't know yet if I'll be making that recipe, or a tried and true one you can find here or here.


When we lived in the Bronx, we would break our fast with the Chabad on Campus family and let me tell you, there's a tradition when it comes to post-fast.  Now, I've altered it a bit, depending on who is with us and the circumstances.  For example, instead of lasagna, I make the famous baked spaghetti everyone loves.

 I am going to make zucchini soup-which I can't believe the recipe isn't on here-maybe next week, but definitely soon!  But the traditional break-fast soup is this red lentil soup.

And of course, dessert is cinnamon buns-also made from scratch.  But not this week! Thank heavens for Annie's cinnamon rolls in a can!  I bought 2 cans and I plan to make those right as the fast is ending and people begin eating the main course so they're fresh out of the oven when it's dessert time.

If you want to try your hand at homemade cinnamon rolls, you can try this recipe.

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Happy cooking/baking, easy and meaningful fast, and I can't wait to hear what you guys make!

Friday, August 2, 2019

36 Week & Final Bumpdate

Total Weight Gain: At my last appointment, I was up 28 lbs.  I had gained five pounds more at this point with Simmy, but I started out five pounds heavier this time.  I really believe in the theory that our bodies need to reach a threshold and no more, no less. I eat what I want, when I want.  

Maternity Clothes: I've managed to stick to the limited maternity wardrobe I bought myself.  I bought a few dresses, utilized my cardigans and bought a few new ones.  

Sleep: Sleep is a thing of the past these days.  My hips had been bothering me throughout this pregnancy, and by the time I came back from my summer travels, I could no longer sleep in my bed!  After a few nights in the guest room, I bought a mattress topper from Costco, but that was too thick and mushy, so I returned it and bought a thinner one from Bed and Bath. Thankfully, that has done the trick, as well as a lot of properly placed pillows!

Best moment this month: Last OB appointment, last non-stress test, final preparations!

Movement:  The baby has started slowing down.  I need to make sure I get a good kick count over the course of one hour each day, which usually when I try isn't a problem.  

Exercise: Also a thing of the past.   I am just in too much pain and generally uncomfortable that I can't even take a walk around the block!

Gender: No idea,  I think boy, but I want a girl this time-which is so weird because I really wanted a boy with Simmy, and you would think since she's a girl I'd want a boy. 

Labor Signs:  Yes!  It took me until my third pregnancy to have Braxton Hick contractions, and and I had those with Simmy, but I never had real contractions before labor.  I have had a few real contractions, a couple times I had to really stop, and take it easy.  

Belly Button in or out: Half  in half out, depends on how full I am. 

What  I miss:  nothing really...but I will enjoy not having all the aches and pains.  I feel so guilty to even complain, but the truth is, this has been a very hard pregnancy.  I'm not sure if it's the fact that this is my fifth, or that I'm 32, or because I deal with a toddler all day, or I'm running around and up and down stairs as oppose to my desk job with casual walking, but I am in a great deal of discomfort all the time.  I'm out of breath, my hips hurt, my legs feel heavy, I can't sleep, I am constantly going to the bathroom, I can't stand, I have horrible heartburn (until I started Nexium!!!) and in general just having a hard time moving!

What I'm looking forward to: All the baby stuff that has been purchased is starting to arrive, and I've started digging clothes and supplies out and cleaning everything-it's making this all very very real. 

Because of my cholestasis diagnosis, I am set to have a 37 week induction, which is this week.  The hospital is quite booked, so I'm not going in when they had initially hoped, and the date is scheduled to change, but this coming week, we will God willing have a new baby!  Follow me on Instagram to hear the news!  

Thursday, August 1, 2019

SPF at the Beach

While my summer is winding down, many of you are in the midst of all your summer adventures!  Don't worry, we made sure to get some traveling in before we needed to hunker down before the biggest adventure of the summer...if you know what I mean! This summer, we headed to Carolina Beach in North Carolina.  A great time was had by all, and I think that is partially due to no sunburns this time!

If you know me, you know that I'm extremely fair skinned, and truth be told-I've always embraced it.  When tanning beds were a thing, I never desired to step foot in one.  And I can honestly say I have no idea how tan I can get-because I don't enjoy the outdoors.  I seriously believe I'm allergic to the sun...too much of it and I break out in a rash!  And also consistent with my anxious personality, I am extremely cautious when it comes to sun exposure.  So it should be no surprise to you that finding the best sunscreen to wear while at the beach was definitely a priority. 

I've already shared with you my experiences with different "every day" sunscreens, you can find it HERE. But the goal while on the beach is different...I definitely required a higher SPF since I would be spending longer periods of time directly in the sunlight, and even though I wouldn't be wearing makeup, it had to sit nicely on my face-and stay feeling light and non-greasy.  And as always, ease of application as well as the ability to put on the proper amount of product are concerns too. 

These were the five SPF products I specifically packed with me for the beach!  All of them were either sent to me in one of two subscription boxes, or they were a free gift with purchase. 

If you don't know by now, I love Supergoop products.  It's true that not every product has been a winner, but I've been using some sort of SPF product of theirs on the daily for years now and have preferred it over any other sunscreen I've tried.  So I was mighty excited for free gift of this Lip & Cheek Treatment with SPF 40.  I wouldn't specifically look for an spf blush or lip product, but when I know I'll be sitting out in the sun, I definitely want that lip coverage!  I wish it was in a stick applicator though that way I wouldn't have to use my fingers. 

I received these two Coola products at separate times in my subscription boxes.  The Classic Sunscreen definitely fits it's name.  It has spf 50, with a reapplication time of 80 minutes, but it is not non-comedogenic, which means it doesn't specifically not clog pores.  It looks very thick and creamy, and has a nice cucumber-plant scent, but it doesn't apply like a thick cream, it was very runny so it took some time to be absorbed.  I wore this a few times at the beach without makeup, and I have to say it's "wearability" was disappointing.  It felt very oily and tacky and wet and therefore it was not a comfortable wear.  I was constantly touching my face, feeling the greasiness.  I also tried this Coola makeup setting spray. It only has SPF 30, which is on the lower end for when you need true day long SPF coverage and again, it is not non-comedogenic.  However, the ease of application is what makes this product worthwhile.  If you have an outdoor event and you're wearing a full face of makeup, this hands free application is golden, and it has a pleasant scent.  It did still have a slight typical "SPF feel" but it wasn't nearly as noticeable as the classic sunscreen.

The next SPF product I tried on the beach was this Eau Thermale Avene with SPF 50.  This product is actually non-comedogenic and needs reapplied every 80-120 minutes.  It has a thicker consistency so it sets quicker and easier.  And, the best part is, it didn't leave me feeling greasy or with a thick heaviness.  There seems to be a lot of products on their website, I can't wait to browse around!

The last sunscreen I tried while at the beach was this Elta MD SPF 46.  To be honest, I had tried their tinted version and this version awhile back, but didn't love the wear of it, so I returned it.  I got this as a sample with a Sephora purchase, and people are always raving about it, so I figured I'd give it another go.  The SPF is high enough, is non-comedogenic and is specifically formulated for problematic skin types like acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation.  It really fits the bill, but I didn't love the wear of it. It still had a slightly greasy feel to it-not as much as the Coola products, but more than the Eau Thermale Avene.  

All in all, I recommend the Eau Thermale Avene sunscreen.  It truly is the best purchase: It has high SPF, can be reapplied in longer stretches, is non-comedogenic so it won't clog your pores, it definitely does not leave a greasy feel to it, and the best part-of all the SPF options listed here, this one is considered a generic brand, can be found at your local stores, and is the cheapest in cost, so how could you go wrong?!? 

Skincare, specifically sun skin care is something I'm extremely passionate about.  I'm always looking for better performing products that give me the coverage I need but also keep me looking great.  I can't wait to continue my search and share it all with you!  

Monday, July 29, 2019

Monday Munchies...cereal chicken

Do you ever get in a rut with cooking?  I often times find that I am forever making the same week after week.  I want a change, but just don't have the energy to.  If this sounds familiar, I've found your new chicken recipe.  It's a twist on the classic schnitzle.  For those that don't know what schnitzle is, it's thinned and breaded chicken breast, but instead of using a bread crumb or just a plain flour and egg combination, you use cereal.  And not only did I use cereal, I used...frosted flakes!

Crispy Baked Cereal Chicken
4 cups crispy cereal, like Rice Chex (I used Frosted Flakes)
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk (I used Rice milk)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

For starters, have a I mentioned I used Frosted Flakes?  Ok good, I wasn't sure!  This adds that extra sweetness, and people love it! Just crush these up in a bag-and it doesn't have to be finely crushed either, and then add in the spices.  I used garlic powder and regular salt-I don't have so many different versions of salted spices. Pour this into a bowl of choice.  Next you combine the egg and milk in a bowl. I found there was way too much left over milk, so I'm not sure if next time I would do it with just an egg, or I have made a recipe where you just use water, but I didn't find that it helped the cereal stick to the chicken.

The original recipe calls for chicken breasts that you coat whole.  When I bread my chicken like this, I prefer it in strips. It goes much further in feeding a larger crowd, plus you never know if everyone will want such a big piece.  I first cut my chicken into strips-about three to four strips per breast.  Then you coat the chicken pieces in the milk/egg mixture and then roll it in the cereal mixture.  I already said that I didn't find this did such a good job getting the cereal to coat, and when I was done, I patted the leftover crushed cereal onto the strips of chicken which helped give the chicken additional cereal coverage. 

You then back these on a sprayed baking tray, with a pre-heated oven at 375.  Typically, the chicken is cooked in 40 minutes, but you're looking for nicely browned and crispy looking cereal.  My kids and DrH raved about how great this was-of course they tasted fresh out of the oven, but my Shabbos guests and my children devoured this up in one meal!  Your family and guests will definitely appreciate this recipe, and I will be making this again, probably for a Friday night when I get to eat it fresh!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Announcing a sibling...and my pregnancy background

Announcing a pregnancy to family and friends is so deeply personal.  Some people announce as soon as the pee dries, others want to push it off as long as possible, and some people never announce they just wait for people to notice!  My situation has varied over the pregnancies-I announced early with my IVF pregnancies since I had been public with my pregnancy attempt, so it just didn't feel right for me to then go silent.  In my spontaneous pregnancies I kept it mostly a secret, unless you happened to be privy to my reproductive happenings, I had let you in on the fact that I was going to be POAS (peeing on a stick) First trimesters are usually nerve wracking-especially after a pregnancy loss.  While there is certainly excitement from the good news, there is fear and anxiety throughout the remainder of the pregnancy. 

The background of my pregnancy is that we had chosen not to use birth control, since the chances of a spontaneous pregnancy were slim.  And if it did happen, we welcomed it.  When Simmy was six months old, I began getting my period monthly, without spotting in between, which is miraculous for me.  Because I was of the mindset of not trying but not preventing, I didn't want to delve into analyzing my cycle.  There were no ovulation strips, temping, timed intercourse.  It just was what it was.  In December I was due for my period, but it never came.  I figured it was just a little wonky, so a week or two off, definitely didn't mean I was pregnant.  We began our winter travels, and I packed all my necessary monthly visitor items.  A week in, I went and bought a pregnancy test-just in case I needed it. 

When I was going to test for a pregnancy during my cycle with Simmy, it was my fifth round of IVF, following two back to to back miscarriages and two straight negative results.  If you remember, I was in a new city, commuting 1-3 times a week to continue treatments in New York.  Over the course of those 10 months, I had become very close with a new friend, and I actually took my pregnancy test in her bathroom and she was with me when I found out the results.  She also was with me when Simmy was born, and I always joked I'd never be able to take another pregnancy test alone again!  So I waited until both of our travels landed us back at her place.  When I told her I was going to need to take a pregnancy test in the morning, her jaw hit the floor.  On one hand, I had actually taken a few pregnancy tests through the previous six months...the fact that I was so easily able to push off this test-with a period becoming later and later, it makes me wonder if I subconsciously knew I was pregnant?

That next morning, I actually didn't wake up and pee first thing. I drug my feet, kind of living in that blissful place of I might be-which was going to be so exciting, but also not yet knowing I wasn't, because then I had to face a semi-crushed dream.  Although I had been adamant that I felt one more baby was missing in our family, I knew fertility treatments were going to be a long time in the future-if ever, and our best chance at growing our family, was going to be to spontaneously get pregnant.  Once my friend realized I was supposed to be taking a pregnancy test, she threw me into the bathroom.  For all of you POASers, always pee in a cup, and then use the cup for the stick-never pee directly on the stick because if the test malfunctions, you're screwed!!! After I completed the test, I laid it face down on a paper towel, and walked out of the bathroom.  I went back upstairs where my friend was and we both acknowledged that I had to read that test-I had to find out the NOW.  I told her I was going to grab it, but because it was face down, I wouldn't see the result, so I'd bring it up so we could see it together. 

In those moments, I wanted to protect myself, so I told myself 'for sure it's negative, it's ok if it's negative.' But I couldn't bring myself to actually look at the test, so I gave it to my friend to look at and commented, "I'm sure it's negative," as I handed it to her.  I let her do the honors...she flipped it over, and just started screaming!  That's when I saw there were two dark lines-shock.  I think I said, "holy shit, what am I going to do? Five kids is a lot!" We called DrH, who just said, "wow, that's crazy," but of course we know he's super excited, although we're all still in denial we'll have a 5th baby sooner than later...I texted Dr. B who told me I needed an HCG and Progesterone test STAT. 

My first HCG draw came back around 35,000-so we knew I was further along than a "missed period." I ended up having my first ultrasound around what I thought/was hoping would indicate I was between 8-10 weeks, but I think I was actually 7-8 weeks based on what we saw.  I wasn't nervous because we didn't know dates 100%, and everything looked good.  I never had any spotting or any complications like I had with my IVF pregnancies. 

We decided to announce to the kids, I think it was just as the first trimester was ending because I was very self-conscience of what I looked like and they were starting to make comments on how I looked.  So, it wasn't worth it to "hide" anymore, we just told them.  Thankfully DrH is a radiologist, so for a few weeks, when we was on ultrasound, I would go have him scan me so I didn't have to go the dreaded four weeks between knowing if the baby was still alive or not.  At one of these extra scans, the ultrasound tech typed onto the screen "Hi..." with the name of each kid, and we took a picture of the screen.  I then printed the pictures at Costco and we presented each kid with their own envelope. 

Watch the video to see!   

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