Tuesday, July 25, 2017

16 Week Check Up!

Here I am, solidly into the second trimester...thank God.  

I said I'd feel more relaxed...I don't.
I said I'd feel better...I don't.
I said I'd be more optimistic...I'm not.
I said I'd be more motivated...I'm not.
I said I'd stop worrying as much...I haven't.
I said I'd stop being convinced the baby had died...I haven't.

Anxiety is real...trauma is real...

I said all of these things, and they make complete sense!  Up until this point, I was still in that risky time.  Although I'm presently 16w2d, I hadn't seen the baby since 12w4d. So when people would excitedly remind me I was well into the second trimester, I just replied, "I don't know if the baby is in the second trimester!" That was to be confirmed today-and thank God it was! But this is how real and irrational anxiety and trauma are:  at almost halfway through this pregnancy, things are looking more and more positive. I should let myself breathe and think that maybe, just maybe, I'll bring home a baby in January.  I thought once I get there, I'll be ok. I'll stop worrying so much because I have every reason to be less worried! But anxiety tricks you-when you think you're comfortable, when you think you have a plan, it finds a new way to rob you of being comforted.  

Today it took some time to find the heartbeat again.  I got a sense the nurse was getting a little nervous, but eventually a heartbeat popped on the machine, "150 beats per minute," she proclaimed, and then just as quick as it was found, she turned the doppler off.  Relieved for half a second, I texted my husband:

It's alive, but I don't believe it. 

It took too long...
I only heard it for a second...
It was probably my own heartbeat...
How does she know...

I got to this place, this place I waited to be in for so long, this place that I thought would give me comfort, but I'm not comforted, now, not even a doppler can convince me all is well. 

You can follow my story this week at The Layers Project where I'm discussing my story and more about my anxiety and trauma resulting from the past 18 months...


Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday Munchies: Firecracker Chicken

Sounds like summer huh? 
I am not one to experiment with meats or poultry; probably because no matter, I never end up eating it.  But, I contributed to a Shabbos lunch meal this past weekend, and I said I'd make chicken.  I knew I needed to spice things up #nopunintended 

We don't own a grill, or a fryer, or any fancy shmancy meat contraption.  So I needed something simple. What I loved about this was although it took a few steps, nothing was too complicated or overly time consuming. What else was nice, is that by cooking it in the pan first, you greatly reduce the overall cooking time!

Baked Firecracker Chicken

1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar or honey (I used brown sugar)
1 tablespoon soy sauce 
1 tablespoon cider vinegar 
2 cloves grated garlic (I buy the pre-minced)
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper

Heat the hot sauce, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and chili flakes in a small sauce pan until sugar is melted and it looks like a sauce.  

Then, begin heating the oil in a skillet (the original recipe calls for using an oven safe skillet so you can brown it and then bake it in the same pan, but since I don't have an oven safe skillet, I just transferred the chicken to a tray.  

Salt and pepper the chicken, and when the oil is hot, brown it in the skillet; 3-5 minutes per side.  

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees, about 10-15 minutes. 

If you like spicy, this is the recipe for you! 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Home Tour: Entryway

I hope you'll join me over the next several weeks as I showcase our current apartment.  It's pretty bittersweet, as we'll be moving on in less than a month.  You may remember, we moved to Baltimore in July of last year, and in August we'll find our way to Columbus, Ohio.  I've always regretted not taking the time to showcase each of our current spaces-yes, each...there have been seven in almost ten years!  While I don't consider myself a decorator by any means, I've always fallen in love with the spaces I've created. We've only rented, so you have to make do with what you have, and part of that is budgeting too!  All things considered, I think I've done really well making it stylish, functional, and meaningful.  My "houses" (and currently apartment) have always been homes, and for that I'm so thankful.  

Without further ado...c'mon in

Entryway mats had always been a dilemma to me: function, yet stylish-only to dirty...it wasn't until I thought to find a doorway mat that was cheeky and just me...this makes me smile every time.  This was bought on Etsy, but you can find several on Amazon.  

And chances are, you can usually find me at home with donuts.  
Is it a real baby, or a donut baby? 

Since we're moving to Columbus, where there isn't a kosher Dunkin' Donuts, you will find me like this for the next few weeks...

A common theme you will notice throughout the apartment, is maximizing walls and corners.  That chalk board wall is really blocking a door into the kitchen. But, just to left of the bikes is the dining room with an entry into the kitchen as well.  Two entries into the kitchen within a matter of steps was just not necessary.  When we moved here, we lost our garage, so bikes and strollers now had to be stored inside the apartment, in addition to lacking space in general. So, we made this a little entryway nook.  It looks tight, but there is plenty of room, even with the bikes hanging on the wall.  And they aren't too terrible to get down and put back, I just try to avoid it.  

The board was painted with chalk board paint and again, to maximize space, it provides my kids another area to play.  

But it also provides me with another nook on the other side, plus I can use the other door for door storage, and hanging laundry space-to be showcased later!

This is about as good of a command center I pulled off this year, and it was really a life saver.  The bins on top were bought from Amazon. During the year, it stored papers that were necessary to be saved, or time sensitive items that needed to be taken to school.  Now, it stores their summer packets.  

The hooks are from Anthropologie, they were a little pricey, but it gives such charm to this space.  I love personalization, and I especially love this industrial look-it just ties in the bikes and the chalk board.  

I appreciate any way that clutter is organized and off the floor-so this was the perfect solution since we don't have a mudroom or adequate closet storage.  It also gave the kids the opportunity to be responsible with their bags-emptying and hanging.  

Thanks for joining, and welcome...next week I'll show you our living/family room.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

First Trimester Screen Blood Results

A week and a half ago I got the call that my blood work came back with good numbers-meaning the ultrasound combined with the blood work indicates a low possibility this baby has trisomy 18 or trisomy 21.  I am to repeat blood work between now and 21 weeks with results that are 90% accurate.  
I am presently 15 weeks 2 days.  I was supposed to be in New York this past weekend, and I managed to get squeezed into my OB that Friday for a check with the doppler.  However, Dovy and I got sick en route,  so we turned around and I was forced to forfeit the appointment.  I have been trying my best to think positive and just hang in until my regularly scheduled appointment which is in a week from now, Tuesday July 25th.  I have had a very hard time connecting to this pregnancy beyond the here and now-which is why there has yet to be a bumpdate.  It saddens me because I have 6 week belly pictures from every other pregnancy, and I just can't overcome my fear and get that done.  But, I will have to, because I'll regret it. And just to clarify, this has nothing to do with a "4th baby" or "too busy" none of that, "youngest child" syndrome-this is pure anxiety getting in my way, which I hope to address here soon!

Typically, I will feel daily movement, but it is still early that it's faint and can easily be confused with any other bodily function we commonly feel.  So, the movements are not always reassuring-because it's easy to question them, it provides me little relief.  I know that statistically, things are ok in there, and I am just trying to be reassured by that.  

Check back Thursday as I'll have a pretty cool, new to me, type of update on the blog!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Munchies...

Just popping in...again #inserteyeroll 
It's Monday Munchies!!!!! But once again, we have to go with a stock photo because this recipe was used during a fabulous Shabbos lunch! 

"Strawberry watermelon soup"   This soup makes a refreshing first course for a summertime meal.

This recipe got several compliments-it's light, tasty, not overly sweetened with sugar, contains no dairy, and is so refreshing! 

2-1/2 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed, drained, and hulled
1/3 cup sugar 2-1/2 cups seedless watermelon, cut into chunksJuice of 1 lemonJuice of 1 orangeSprigs of fresh mint or lemon thyme

Slice one pint of the berries into a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar. Set aside for 15 min. Transfer the sliced berries and their juice to the bowl of a food processor. Add the watermelon, the lemon juice, and the orange juice and process to a smooth purée. Transfer the purée to a bowl and refrigerate for 30 to 60 min., until cold.

When you are ready to serve the soup, evenly divide the “broth” among 4 dessert bowls; glass is nice. Slice the remaining strawberries thin, and add some slices to each bowl. Garnish with sprigs of mint or lemon thyme, and serve at once. 

4 servings

I tripled this recipe...you could definitely get away with cutting the sugar.  I would also recommend using orange juice if you're making such a large batch-and maybe even adding more than the recommended amount to make up for cut sugar, and/or changing the flavor a bit.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Monday Munchies...

Phew...so glad I get to welcome you back here! I have so many new summer recipes to share with you! 
A week and a half ago, my wonderful doctor husband finished his medical training-10 years in the making!  I felt like I had to do something to recognize this momentous occasion, but being in a new city for only 11 months, we don't have too many friends, and money and time were both limited! So, I decided to throw together a Shabbos afternoon kiddish (aka a light lunch).  But, I spent Monday and Thursday in New York, so prep was fast, and most of it required fresh fruit and veggies, and minimal heating-which are all fabulous requirements for being amazing summer recipes.  Everything got rave reviews, seriously, so just follow the links, you surely wont be disappointed!

Image result for fruit skewers
This is a stock picture, follow this link to see what I followed. Although they took some time, they look so pretty standing in a vase.  My advice is to prepare all the fruit so you can easily assemble. 

Cucumber Basil and Watermelon Salad | foodiecrush.com
This salad screams summer-if you're lacking time, just cube the watermelon.  It does not last because of the liquid from the watermelon.

Green Goddess Veggie Dip Cups --- a fun, healthy, portable appetizer --- keep them in the fridge for quick healthy snacks, too/
This was such a fabulous way to get veggies in without adding a boring salad.  This is especially kid friendly! I used two different pre-made salad dressings: a Caesar and a basil vinaigrette.  

A fresh and easy Greek Pasta Salad just in time for summer! This crowd-pleasing side dish is tasty with grilled meats and at all your backyard barbecues.
This was such a crowd pleaser I've made this two weekends in a row! It's so light and filling-and kalamata olives give it such an awesome kick, what could be better! I left out the cheese because both of these meals involved meat, but it was totally fabulous! Definitely try to get pitted olives-so you're salad isn't a choking hazard,but also so you don't have to slave away pitting the olives.

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle... A light and delicious trifle layered with strawberry sauce, angel food cake and whipped cream! This will be a hit wherever it is served!
This is like summer comfort food! My friend insisted I pass on some of the food obligations to her, so I gave her this.  It doesn't seem too hard to make, but I will say we needed more whipped cream and although the cake and strawberry amounts were fine, I definitely feel like I had to stretch it. So I would probably at least add another half of the recipe.

Dana's Crispy Coconut Chicken
I made this crispy coconut chicken in nugget form.  This was one of two hot meat dishes I made. I wanted simple, yummy, appetizers.  I put this out on a platter and it was delicious!

Barbecue Pineapple Meatballs - just 3 ingredients - barbecue sauce, frozen meatballs, and crushed pineapple and perfect as an appetizer recipe for parties and get togethers!
I was so intrigued by these meatballs-it's a twist on both typical versions: the regular meatball, and the sweet and sour.  I'm really all for cutting corners, but I was not able to find kosher pre-made meatballs, so I had to make my own.  I quadrupled the meat, and ended up using most of it with only doubled sauce.  It's a little overwhelming at first to deal with the uncooked meatballs in a sauce, but it all worked out.  I initially attempted to plate like this, but it just didn't work-they were too soft, and I was short on time, so we just served them from a bowl.  Not one single meatball was left!

If you're searching for a new summer recipe, I guarantee one of these will be perfect for you! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

First Trimester Screen

On Thursday I made my way back to NY for my last blood test at Dr. B's, and then my first trimester screening ultrasound and blood work.  I have heard that over the past few years there were new blood tests available as a screening tool, such as Harmony.  I did not receive that, rather I did the traditional blood tests, with some new ones as of four years ago-think 13 vials, and the nuchal translucency screening ultrasound.  

My ultrasound measurements looked great, but they aren't able to give a statistic until the combine the pictures with the blood results-which I should have later this week.  Then, they now recommend more blood work in the second trimester between 15-21 weeks where all of these results  combined, will give them a 90% likelihood of detection.  The more invasive option, but also more definite of an answer as oppose to a "prediction" is either the CVS testing or the Amnioentesis.  At this point, the blood work combined with ultrasound should be all I need G-d willing, but if the results come back concerning, we'll probably move forward with a test that can give us a more definitive answer.  

For now, things look good; baby movements are very reassuring, except for when I convince myself I'm making it up in my head, and then it's not reassuring!  I'm going to most likely schedule a quick heartbeat check for July 14 when I think I'll be in NY, and then about two weeks later I'll return for a routine OB appointment.   

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

First OB appointment

I drove into NY Monday-really for my first OB appointment, but since I was going, I also had my regular blood test by Dr. B first.  I took a goodbye cookie set, but I didn't say goodbye. I don't do goodbyes, and they all know I'll be back.  

Then I headed to my OB.  He's located in a new outdoor mall, so it's always fun to have an excuse to do some shopping.  It's known that afternoon appointments usually come with longer than normal wait times, and this was no exception.  I was particularly anxious because I'm not used to waiting so long into the day. I waited for about an hour and a half before they called me.  He joked I'd be in my third trimester before they saw me, but he had two emergencies earlier in the day!  We caught up, went over some records, and discussed my plan of care.  I am having my first trimester screening tomorrow (that was not without drama of course) and because of that, it wasn't necessary to do an ultrasound this appointment.  I did freak out that, "you're going to make sure it's alive today though, right?" Of course! We did my annual exam first, and then the nurse brought in the doppler.  When I went for my first appointment with Moshe, we couldn't hear the heartbeat via the doppler, so they rushed me for an ultrasound.  When it happened this time, the panic quickly set in.  The nurse just picked a random spot to start searching for the heartbeat, but it wasn't in the spot.  Thankfully, I feel the baby move, so I motioned for her to move to my left side, and right away we heart the heartbeat of 163.  "You know where that baby is!" she said.  

My ultrasound is tomorrow at 1:45 back in NY.  The ultrasound takes about 30-45 minutes, but they also told me to expect a wait since they're squeezing me in.  I will go in the morning for blood work, officially my last appointment with Dr. B, then run some errands, and then go to my appointment.  

I'm feeling consistent movement, plus having just heard the heartbeat I know this baby is alive.  However, this is a big appointment tomorrow-this is the first time we'll have the opportunity to look closely at the development and hopefully we'll have good results and all will be well.     

Taken last week at 11w0d

Sunday, June 25, 2017

3rd Ultrasound...

I'm sorry this post is so long overdue; the commute really tires me out, and because I miss an entire day of life, I often times don't have time to update the blog here as quickly as I'd like.  However, I do update Facebook and Instagram after each appointment, follow along there!  

For some reason I was much more nervous going into this ultrasound.  I would think the second ultrasound would be much more nerve wracking, but considering I had two really good ultrasounds-statistically, things were going to be good.  When Dr. B walked in, he congratulated me on this being my last ultrasound with him before releasing me to the OB, so of course, I muttered under my breath as I was leaning back, if it's alive.  And almost, without missing a beat, he responded with
Oh it's very much alive! 

Supposedly it was jumping, so much Dr. B and the tech gasped! But, as soon as he turned the screen to me-it stopped moving...

At the first ultrasound I measured four days behind, and then two weeks later I measured three days behind.  I was expecting to measure 10 weeks 3 days, but instead I actually measured 11 weeks! Tomorrow I go back to Dr. B for blood, and then at 11:45 I have my first OB appointment where I'm sure we'll nail down a proper measurement and a due date!  
If it's still alive...
Of course I know, having only been five days, it's most likely alive and well in there. In fact, I have started to feel it move-I thought I was crazy, but I knew for sure what it wasn't. And then when Dr. B saw all the movement, he confirmed I should definitely be feeling it! So I don't feel so crazy.  It's usually reassuring, but then at the same time the movements are so subtle now that I start thinking that I'm probably just making it up-which then makes me nervous because how do I know if I've felt it or not?
One thing's for sure, I'll definitely know more tomorrow!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday Munchies...

With the onset of summer, you will love this summer version of a common comfort food.  I made this recently for a Shabbos lunch, and it was perfect! It was light, tasty, and best of all-didn't require it to be piping hot.  Of course, it looked so yummy right out of the pot, but it got rave reviews at room temperature the next day (after having been refrigerated the night before of course).  

  •  I'm going to wimp out on you now and just tell you to follow that link. 
  • My pointers for this recipe:
  • 1) chop/prepare all ingredients before hand.  Having things on the flame/time sensitive makes it difficult to manage while also preparing the next step.
  • 2) my mini food processor did not accomplish chopping the pesto. I would use a knife next time and do it by hand.
  • 3) This definitely creates a sauce when hot, once it cools it does not have a sauce.
  • 4) I would even consider adding more ricotta to get more of a flavor.
  • 5) Be more on the generous side with the salt.

  • Enjoy! 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday Munchies...

When I travel back to NY, for those of you who've been around for awhile, you know that I like to bring in some goodies for the staff. Of course, only home made goodies are acceptable. But, I'm often left wondering what's something new and exciting, but won't take the whole night? As it is, I usually bake well into the night, surely I can't spend hours.  I have a Nestle Toll House Best Loved Recipes that I decided I would look through to find a new, tasty cookie.  Cookies are easy because the dough is made quickly, and bake time is much shorter than a cake and I can use disposable cookie sheets so all in all, I can get most of it done within an hour-an hour and a half. 

This recipe takes your classic chocolate chip cookie up a notch! It was so soft and chewy, and the coconut added just a hint of different flavor.  It was noticeable, but I think even someone who claims they aren't a coconut lover, would still love these.  

Island Cookies
1 2/3 cups flour 
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened (or margarine) 
3/4 cups packed brown sugar 
1/3 cup granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 large egg
1 3/4 Nestle Milk Chocolate Chips (I used semi-sweet non-dairy chips)
1 cup flaked coconut, toast if desired 
1 cup chopped walnuts (I omit nuts due to allergies)
Preheat the oven to 375.  

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  

In the mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla until creamy.  Beat in the egg.  Slowly add in the flour mixture.  

Stir in the chips, coconut and walnuts if desired.  

Drop by tablespoons onto ungreased baking  sheets.  

Bake for 8-11 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.  Start with 8 minutes because I had some burnt ones-even at the 11 minute mark, and you definitely don't want burnt cookies! 

Let cookies cool before moving to cool on a wire rack/second plate.  

Obviously, these can and will be eaten warm, at least some of them! 

Friday, June 9, 2017

2nd Ultrasound...

Meet Tweetie Pie, so affectionately named by Dr. B.
Heart rate of 178, measuring 8w4d.
One day at a time...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday Munchies...

Hi everyone! Just popping in for some Monday Munchies-Shavuous edition!  Maybe one day, my life will be calm enough that I can pre-cook, take beautiful pictures AND showcase them to you in time to help you create your menu! But in the meantime, you'll have to just take my word for my awesome food, and the stock photos, and try these recipes out for yourself-it doesn't have to be Shavuous, any time is a good time for yummy food! 

Cheesy Garlic Bread Stuffed Challah

This wasn't as cheesy and buttery as I thought it would be, but it was beautiful and still tasted good.  Regular challah would work just as well though.  I'm thinking some buttery cheesy topping would be good and more than just a sprinkling of cheese on the inside.  

These looks pretty,even in a cup! I think this is a hard one to make a crowd pleaser-not everyone is into cannolies and it's a rather expensive endeavor.  

This on the other hand, is always a crowd pleaser! Always...

And for those that love blintzes, you can't get easier than this, truly! 

Try them now, try them later, try them next year, I promise you won't be disappointed! 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

We have a heartbeat!

Sorry to have left you all hanging!  I spent the day, the fabulous day, with friends and I didn't get back until 1am!  What a difference waking up this morning was compared to yesterday! Knowing the day had only two outcomes...and I got the best outcome yesterday...a whole year later...all that work, and money, and effort, and pain, and tears, and praying...we have one heartbeat.  

I arrived to Dr. B around 10, but because the ultrasound tech wasn't there, he was responsible for doing the scanning and meeting with everyone-so I had to wait until almost 11:30 for my ultrasound.  Finally, he comes in and asks, "what brings you here today?" 
"I'm feeling mentally unstable." I think I got a smirk...he asked me if I was ready, and said, "yup," and I laid down.  I could not see the screen, and I chose to focus on the assistant's face rather than his because of the scary "scanning face." What seemed like eternity, but was probably only one or two seconds, the assistant made eye contact with me, smiled, and nodded.  I will never, in my life, forget her face.  
We have one heartbeat. 

The ultrasound took some time, as he did several different measurements, and I even got to hear the heartbeat from the internal ultrasound, thanks to his fancy new machine.

The baby is measuring four days behind-but with a strong heartbeat of 128, he wasn't worried and said it was probably because it was frozen, and they take time to catch up.  But what is so incredible, is that he said had I gone for the ultrasound last week-when he originally wanted me to, because it's behind, there probably wouldn't have been a heartbeat.  He acknowledged my instinct, and told me it was good I followed it, that I made the right decision.   

I have more blood work to monitor the estrogen and progesterone since I'm still supplementing those, and then on June 7th I go back for my follow up scan. 

As a funny aside, because we all love Dr. B stories-I was originally going to go on Wednesday, but in the end needed to change it to Thursday.  But, Monday afternoon I got an e-mail that he wouldn't be in the office then and I needed to reschedule. Fridays are difficult, and I was really looking forward to seeing friends, so I opted to go on Tuesday.  But, after the scan, he said that he thought Thursday was the upcoming holiday of Shavuous-which is why he told his staff he wouldn't be in, and he cancelled his patients!  But, once he realized he was off by a week, he started putting patients back on the schedule-but no one called me!  I had left it open ended with them when I would come!  So, we decided that G-d just really had mercy on me, and saw how much I was suffering and decided to provide me with information, knowledge, peace and clarity...I am so thankful.  

He was also able to see a small subchorionic hemorrhage-which most likely explains my bleeding.  He said that if I do see more bleeding, to ignore it-unless of course it's obvious it's dangerous, but minor bleeding is totally fine.  

I was given the clear to lift upper body weights. really really limit lower body weights, and to eat green leafy vegetables and limit my carbs...laughing out loud!  

People have been asking me how I feel about the news that it's only one and not two.  I really had no intuition on what the end result would be.  I acknowledged a couple weeks ago I would definitely be ok with one. As the last couple of weeks progressed, it became so obvious to me how traumatized I am, and how anxious I am, so I am relieved that this is not a challenge I have to faithfully face presently.  There's always next time ;) 

I told him he's probably ready to see me move on, and he said, "nah, you have frozen embryos, you'll be back!" 

Having been through the losses, and the struggles of the past 16 months-I have a different perspective on this pregnancy.  I'll talk about it more, and the truth is I don't know how much I have to say right now, as this is all brand new, but I'm definitely not as connected, I'm afraid to connect, but I am beyond grateful at the gift that is just today.  If this should end, to make it past the point of last year's trauma, I am forever grateful.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Blood Draw #6 and a change in plans

Today was probably the most aggravating of blood draw days. Typically, results are back within about three hours.  One time they were back in two, and one time they were back in four.  Today, it was about five and a half hours!  But not only that, progesterone and estrogen came back about half an hour before the hcg.  But in the midst of all this, I get an e-mail saying that my doctor won't be in for my scheduled appointment on Thursday, so I need to call and reschedule.  Let's just say that was enough to push me over the edge!  
Finally my hcg came back at 52,672-when it reaches such a high number, the doubling time slows down. I panicked when I realized even over four days it didn't totally double, and I texted my doctor asking if it was ok.  
His response: Absolutely ;) 
I called his office, and ultimately decided that my ultrasound will be tomorrow.  

I am so not ready for this. 
I wasn't expecting to have to sit down and compose my thoughts tonight-and of course I had to do some baking for the office tomorrow, but let me just put this out there: most people don't walk into their first ultrasound thinking there's a possibility they're not actually pregnant.  Who thinks they'll walk into an ultrasound, after several blood tests, to not see their baby?  To be told there's nothing there?  Well, I do.  Well, I don't-but because it's happened to me, I know that's a possibility.  It's also hitting me very hard that this is the exact same time period, to the week, that I had the first miscarriage.  To think that a year later, the exact same scenario could play out the exact same way is so upsetting.  I don't feel it's related to the miscarriage per say, but rather those moments of reflection catch me off guard.  I find myself going back and reading old blog posts from this exact time-not only calendar date, but also the same point in pregnancy-so it's a double whammy, thinking that I might relive this exact same nightmare again.  

But, the time has come.  
Tomorrow we'll know for certain. 

I'm not the type to ask for prayers, or well wishes, but today, I did, I am.
I'm not sure how I'm going to face tomorrow.
But I will.   

25 Quotes about Strength #Strength #Quotes                                                                                                                                                     More:

Friday, May 19, 2017

The 5th blood draw

And it just keeps on going folk...Monday will be blood draw #6, so stay tuned!
Thankfully this blood draw was standard protocol, so I wasn't nearly as nervous as the 4th blood draw.  But, that thought still creeps back in as it gets closer to the time I'll be finding out my results. Thankfully the numbers more than doubled, coming in at 27,150.  

The ultrasound was moved from Wednesday to Thursday, so six days left of waiting.  
I'll write more about it later, but I'll just say I am so not ready to face this, but I know I don't have a choice. 

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

It's finally Fri-YAY! What plans do you have this weekend?:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

An Emergency 4th Blood Draw

All is well that ends well...but I wasn't sure that would be the case.  
Over the weekend, I had a somewhat scary episode of bleeding.  
I was alone for almost the entire weekend-minus, oh about six hours of the weekend-no joke!  I know I have a lot of anxiety-some of it within reason, a lot of it not, but that's neither here nor there.  For some reason, Friday night, I just had a feeling something was going to happen, and I would be alone.  Sure enough, we were at new friends for lunch, when I felt something funny, and lo and behold, I was graced with bright red blood with clots.  #tmi #sorrynotsorry 

I took a deep breath and did a mental assessment of what I was feeling: no cramps.  
Put on a happy face, as best as I could, although I'm positive there was no way I was entirely convincing.  I went back to check on the bleeding-still there, not quite as bad: no cramps.  I really had a fear I was just going to start bleeding, miscarriage style, while wearing a pantie liner-on their upholstered chairs. #notwinning 
I felt terrible, but I quickly excused myself, and as I was trying to gather my kids, my host so graciously offered to keep my boys, who were enjoying the nice weather playing with friends.  I told her why I was rushing out, and she insisted I keep the boys with her.  Hannah and I made it home in about 15 minutes: no cramps. Bleeding had started to slow down, now it was pink, no more clots.  

I spent the rest of the day in bed or the couch.  Hannah and I did lots of cuddling.  By the time the evening rolled around, the bleeding was now a light pink: no cramps.  
By Sunday morning, it was just brown: no cramps.  

I was pretty sure it was ok-but who ever really knows.  So, instead of doing blood as planned on Tuesday, I went ahead and texted Dr. B that I had had some bleeding, was thoroughly freaked out, and would be doing blood on Monday.  When I text him, I don't expect him to call me back, it's just an efficient way for me to keep him in the loop, and this isn't my first rodeo-I'm not that needy that I need him to call and reassure me.  But bless his heart, he called me a few minutes later.  He asked me how much blood there was and told me it could be implantation, or placental development.  He reassured me that, "all bleeding in pregnancy is scary," and that with such good numbers from Thursday, I wouldn't start bleeding from a miscarriage two days later.  I felt pretty relieved that he didn't think it was so concerning.  

I've had bleeding in all of my IVF pregnancies, but never this early.  With Moshe I had bleeding at 16 weeks, which wasn't so concerning in the moment because I knew what I was seeing, at 16 weeks, wasn't a miscarriage. An ultrasound later revealed a subchorionic hemorrhage.  With Dovy, I had bleeding at 8 weeks, and while that was definitely scarier,I was far enough along to run to the OB for an emergency scan-after we demanded the NYPD move their cop car from blocking our car #smdh Anyway, the point is-there was nothing to do at this point but wait for blood on Monday.  I couldn't run to the ER for an emergency scan-there isn't much to see at 5w3d, and I'm sure it would take just as long to get my blood results back as if I just waited until Monday. 
So, Monday came and I went early for blood.  

My friend asked me what my intuition was, since I have pretty strong intuitions-and I told her I think it's fine, but one never knows, so I was of course, an anxious mess.  My husband is on an evening shift this week, so he wouldn't be at work until 5pm, and he had trouble recently logging onto the patient portal, so I wasn't sure I'd be getting my results back before 5pm!  Don't worry, I told him there was no way I was waiting that long and he would probably have to make a trip earlier in the day to check my labs.  So I was rather surprised that when I just randomly asked him to make sure the system was accessible from home, he texted back: beta hcg 13,321
Thank God.  
I don't know if I've ever known to be so thankful in a particular moment. 

Which leads me to another place of emotion-anger. I have never been so angry at my infertility, until this past weekend.  The bleeding is not specifically related to infertility, although there is a higher incidence of bleeding in IVF pregnancies, but it was the first time I got angry at God.  Why? Why did I have to have this bleeding?  Good or bad outcome-why? To test my faith? Two miscarriages wasn't enough? Five transfers wasn't enough? To test my gratitude?  After 16 months of fertility treatments, with miscarriages and failed cycles-I wasn't grateful? 
Give the bleeding to someone else, someone who didn't have to think twice about begging God for another baby, but don't give it to me. 
And then, my very special friend, said to me, this gives us the chance to pray, to be grateful. And I thought about that, and I realized she was right.  I hadn't been angry before- I was complacent with my hand; I was satisfied with the status quo, which meant I didn't have anything to talk to God about.  I was ok with what He deemed my journey.  
Until then...and I shut off my music and I prayed to God, for the first time in a long time...
Please let this be a healthy pregnancy.  Whatever Your will is, but I want a healthy pregnancy. 
Gentle reminders are always appreciated.  

Dr. B called me that afternoon, told me my numbers were fine, repeat blood on Thursday, and we scheduled my ultrasound for 5/24/17.  

All is well that ends well.      

Monday, May 15, 2017

Monday Munchies...

Today I'm sharing with you an easy, and awesome way to amp up your average brownie-from a box of course ;) 

An impromptu BBQ took place yesterday, and these brownies immediately popped into my mind.  They've been a staple for so long, I had to go find the magazine I oroginally found the recipe in-so you know they're a real winner! The recipe is called Chunky Path Brownies and was from the magazine Ultimate Cookies in 2009.  Of course, their brownie recipe calls for brownies made from scratch, but who doesn't love Duncan Hines?!?  You can make the brownies however you wish-cake like or fudge like, but I will say the fudge like brownies were extremely rich, so you have to like that! 

Chunky Path Brownies : simplified by me
1 box of Duncan Hines brownies and the recommended ingredients 
3 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1/2 cup whipping cream 
1/4 cup butter (I used margarine) 

Bake your brownies according to the instructions.  Once they come out of the oven, while still hot-cover with mini marshmallows.  You want the top to be completely covered in one layer.  

Over a low flame, melt the chocolate chips, whipped cream and butter (margarine) until smooth.  Drizzle over the brownie/marshmallow.  Let cool until chocolate is set.  
*This left me with a lot of left over chocolate, feel free to use as little or as much as you would like! It looks prettier if less is used to create the drizzle effect, but if you like chocolate like me-you might as well just cover the entire top in chocolate! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Third Blood Draw

Thankfully I had less nerves yesterday as I waited for my blood results, however it quickly waned as time went on.  I usually have my results back by 11:40.  When I had my second blood draw, they were inundated with patients and a new computer system, so I expected it to take longer.  But yesterday, I didn't find out my results until 2pm! 

To be honest, surviving a pregnancy takes a lot of strength.  For me, finding it within myself to just be in the moment and trust what's right in front of me, is not easy.  It was much easier to face a failure, or even the miscarriages-because although it lingers in it's own way, there's no lasting fear.  It's over.  Before hand there would be a peak, and I would come crashing down, hard, but then it stabilizes, life goes on.  Dealing with all my anxieties surrounding pregnancy, and I'm only five weeks into this, is much, much harder for me.  It's a constant series of peaks and dips, falls even, sometimes many over the course of a day even! When the results finally do come in, it's a relief and exhaustion washes over me.  
This is hard.  
Facing a pregnancy after loss is hard.

I am aware that my anxiety is extreme, and I know that it doesn't help.  I know that statistically and based on how things have progressed, things will be fine.  However, I want to remind anyone who thinks this might be an over reaction-to me, or if you have someone else in your life who has a similar issue.  This is not out of left field.  How can I possibly, naively, believe that my blood test results will be fine?  When one time, my blood tests weren't fine?!? I had to live through that phone call, where we discussed a dropped beta.  So even though I have strong numbers thus far, in the back of my mind, I think about the possibility of getting the news that my numbers didn't rise like they should.  

You know what else is looming on my mind?  The ultrasound.  My doctor likes to do first ultrasounds two weeks after the first positive blood test, which means my ultrasound should be May 18.  However, because I want to avoid a week of limbo-if that's what's deemed to happen, I want to push off the ultrasound to seven weeks.  My doctor agreed, and we are going to figure out a date the following week to do the ultrasound.  While I don't specifically have a fear of there not being a heartbeat like I did that time, it is something on my mind.  Good numbers now, don't mean the ultrasound will be good-I had great numbers last time, and I didn't get a happy ending.  

Yesterday's numbers were 3712-more than doubling in 3 days.  

Today, I'm still pregnant.    

Keep working through it.:

Monday, May 8, 2017

2nd Blood Draw

Today I had my second blood draw to check my hcg levels.  Hcg is the pregnancy hormone and in a healthy pregnancy, the hcg will double every 2-3 days.  It has been four days since the original blood draw of 230, so by Sunday, it had to have been 560.  I'm not sure how to account for that extra day since it wouldn't have had to double again, so we were aiming for somewhere reasonable above 560.  

It became obvious to me on my drive to the lab, how traumatic the past year has been for me.  Memories come flooding back to me when I least expect it.  My second miscarriage was a chemical pregnancy that wasn't expected to last from the first blood draw.  When I received a text from my husband with my results, "beta is 0 :(" it wasn't a surprise.  Sad, sure, but expected.  Previous to this, I had never had an issue with properly doubling betas. And given that 230 was incredibly solid, I really had no reason to suspect anything other than awesome numbers today.  But, surprisingly, memories of that text, the punch in the gut feeling, came flooding back and I found myself hysterically crying for most of the drive, as I pictured a repetition of that this afternoon.  It didn't help that I waited an hour, as the lab was switched to a new computer system that morning and they were inundated with patients, which meant my blood results would be back later than normal.  

Every 30 minutes, beginning around 11 I texted my husband asking him to check my chart.  
Not back yet
Last time it took three hours, it'll be after 1pm.

There was nothing I could do to shake that feeling that I was going to relive a nightmare.  I reminded myself, as surprising as it was to me, that this was a milestone I needed to get past in order to feel secure in this pregnancy.  My last pregnancy ended at this point, and I need to make it past this.  

At 1pm I met with my trainer-I debated back and forth about canceling, but decided to tell him to take it easy on me and continue with the session, so I knew when I got back to my phone at 2pm I'd have results.  

Your beta is 1511 the text read.  
A doubling time of less than two days.  
More than I could have ever hoped for. 
This was the first time I've ever gotten teary eyed from a moment of pure thanksgiving.  

Hcg is to be repeated on Thursday. 
Ultrasound pending.
Today, I am 5 weeks 0 day. 
Oh how I'll love Mondays. 

Quotes Of The Day – 10 Pics:  
and today was one of them. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Transfer #5

On Monday, transfer #5 was completed.

It was a transfer unlike one I've ever had before.  At some point the night before, my mood shifted suddenly.  A mood I wasn't able to shake.  A mood that stayed with me long into the night.  
Transfer day is always full of excitement, full of hope, anticipation, renewed joy and optimism.  But not this transfer day.  I brushed off the embryologist's remarks about how "perfect" the embryos were.  I brushed off my doctor when he commented on "two beauties." And when I was told, "it has to work sometime!" I responded with, it doesn't have to ever work.  

I drove home and laid in bed long into the night with what felt like an unwelcome guest.  No matter what I did or told myself, it was there.  Nagging at me, until I was finally able to answer some introspective questions about what exactly I was feeling.  Sadness was not it. Fear was not it.  Pessimism was not it.  

And then finally it clicked.  
The first ultrasound. 
Throughout the past 15 months, not much has scared me.  I've been sad, I've been angry, I've been upset, but I hadn't felt there was anything I couldn't handle.  Except, the first ultrasound.  That is the one thing throughout this whole time that has consistently upset me every time I think about it.  Immediate tears, paralyzing fears-I can feel it in the pit of my stomach.  And the only way I can rid myself of that feeling is to make the obvious connection: I'm not even pregnant to need that first ultrasound, so that fear was unwarranted in that moment. 
But for some reason, I was connecting this transfer to that first ultrasound.  Once I made that connection, that unwelcome guest left instantly.  I felt like I could breathe again. If this cycle works, I will, of course, have to face my fear of going through the first ultrasound.  The first cycle ended with no heartbeat at the initial ultrasound, the second cycle was a chemical pregnancy and I knew pretty quickly I wouldn't be needing an ultrasound.  I knew the third cycle was going to be my first negative, and I wasn't expecting the forth cycle to be successful.  So I never had connected a transfer to an ultrasound, until now.  Which really makes me hope, with all hope, that my intuition is right, again, and I get to have the opportunity, the blessing, to face my fears and have the need for an ultrasound.  

I've been continuing my gradual progesterone protocol, and estrogen every third night.  I add in progesterone in oil starting tomorrow night every other night.  I have my first post-transfer blood test tomorrow to check my progesterone and estrogen levels.    
I've also been wearing my transfer socks as a tangible reminder to stay in the moment, take things one step at a time, I'm not in control of the situation, and all will be ok.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Thoughts before transfer #5

Two days shy of the one year anniversary of the first transfer that started this roller coaster, I will have transfer #5.  
12 months...
While life has surely moved on, I just can't believe I have gone through such hardship over 12 short months.  While I do still think it's not so bad, and I do really believe that, no one can deny that it has been one hell of a year.  
365 days
Not one break, not one day off.  I'm not looking for praise-it is what it is, and I wouldn't change any of it.
No matter how hard you've fallen, hope always surfaces.  
Two embryos
Will restore my optimism that in 11 days I might see the rainbow through the storm.  

Hope Floats...

Friday, April 21, 2017

Final Monitoring...

We made a bit of a mini-vacation out of my last monitoring appointment, and I'm happy to say, that after having missed the first dose of my gradual progesterone protocol, all blood work revealed good hormone levels.  I plan to write a post specifically dedicated to what a gradual progesterone protocol is all about...in the meantime, transfer #5 is set for Monday at 9:30 am, just two days shy of the one year anniversary of the first embryo transfer that kicked off this wild year.  
Maybe the 5th time will be the charm...

Words to live by for all Design projects and Life in general, then...beauty happens!:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Monitoring Update

On Friday, I traveled back to New York for another monitoring appointment.  
My lining was 8 and trilaminar.  
Estrogen has been continuing every third night, and my last dose of Lupron is tonight.  
My transfer meds-steriod and antibiotic, begin tomorrow.  
I go back Thursday for bloodwork, and the transfer is Monday morning! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

1st Monitoring, Transfer #5

Yesterday, I traveled into NY for my first monitoring appointment for transfer #5. 
Always comical...my doctor tried to be funny by telling me a Woody Allen scene from a movie, "mon back," and he felt kind of defeated when, after the entire scene replay, I told him, it's just not funny. #sorrynotsorry 

Estrogen begins tonight, with a .05 dose.  I take estrogen shots because my insurance doesn't cover the patches, and I'm given them every three nights. Usually, my second dose increases to .1, but this cycle we're repeating .05 for the second dose on Friday night.  

We also discussed, again, transfering two embryos, and not using neupogen.  

I return Monday for blood and ultrasound.  

I'm blown away by faith. It's insane to me what believing in God does for us who love him. A mustard seed is the tiniest of seeds and Jesus said that's the size of the faith you need to move your mountain. Teeny tiny itsy bitsy faith and BAM! the mountain you're facing is moved. Buh bye. Gone. What's your mountain? Finances? Health problems? Relationship stuff? Listen up babe, place your confidence in the One who provides, the One who orchestrates love stories, the One who heals, restores, f...:

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Munchies...

Sorry for being MIA, but sometimes a blog break is good! 
I'm back with an easy, delicious, crowd pleasing recipe and I know plenty of you are trying to finish up things from your pantry in preparation for Passover.  This recipe calls for a cake mix, and I have plenty of cake mixes lying around!  

Oreo Ripple Coffee Cake (The Kosher Palette, Original) 
24 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup chocolate chips (mini semi-sweet are recommended)
1 16 oz package pound cake mix
3/4 cups water
2 large eggs 

1 cup powdered sugar 
4 teaspoons milk 

What's great about this recipe is you can swap some ingredients to make this cake whatever you want! I usually use a vanilla cake mix, but this time I used chocolate cake mix, and I'm sure this would be good with many other kids as well! Swap out the chocolate chips for any other flavor and the combinations are endless! Although this is called a coffee cake, it has the texture of a regular cake and I serve it for dessert.  I also swap the butter for margarine and still use Oreos, because how many of you have jumped on the Oreos are pareve bandwagon?!? #winning 

Prehead oven to 350 and grease a 9 or 10 inch tube pan (I have used bunt pans and 9x13 pans).  

Combine chopped cookies, flour and butter in a medium bowl.  Stir in chocolate chips.  

Prepare the cake mix according to the directions using the water and egg amount listed here.  

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle 2 cups of the cookie mixture on top.  Top with remaining batter and cookie mixture. Be sure to press the top cookie layer in slightly.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool before removing from the pan.  

Combine the powdered sugar and milk and drizzle over the cooled cake.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Moving Forward: The Plan

Yesterday, after a day filled with patients, I finally had my turn with Dr. B. I had hoped to get it done earlier in the day, sans kids, but he was busy. So of course, a few minutes into the conversation I touched Hannah's blankie and she throws an all out tantrum.  He chuckles, "oh, she's throwing a tantrum!" Yes, because I touched her blankie...
"so women are temperamental even at such a young age?" 

His initial "offer" and I say offer because the way it works in our relationship, is that we have an active discussion.  We each share our thoughts, ask each other questions and discuss expectations.  It is never a one sided conversation and decisions are made together.  I have never felt I was forced into any decisions and I always feel heard and understood. So his first offer was to change my protocol. While I don't know if that's the right answer, I don't know enough to weigh in at all, so if he thinks the protocol should change, I'm ok with that.  

He does not think there is anything structurally wrong which would impede implantation.  He said he would have seen something significant.  However, after asking around, and posting on a couple Facebook groups, I'm discovering that hysteroscopies  are done routinely either before the beginning of a new IVF (so not after each individual failure, but when you start back again for another baby), or after a loss, and eventually after enough failures, but more often then not-they're done routine before beginning an IVF.  I presented this as an option before moving forward.  He does not think it's necessary, and he doesn't think he'll find anything.  However, finding "nothing" isn't actually nothing-it eliminates one cause of a failure.  To me, the more information supporting that it's just a matter of time, the better! Otherwise, I'm constantly wondering what I'm missing that I should be looking into..as more and more of my embryos slip away.  

This is also why, I think, testing the embryos is ideal, especially since Dr. B keeps reminding me that 50% of my embryos are going to be bad, combined with whatever else that could have gone wrong that needed to have gone right in order to have implantation. I've heard people say they don't want to know a failure was with a normal embryo-because that makes the failure worse, thinking it must be abnormal saves you from acknowledging your personal dysfunction. I, personally, disagree.  However, I told a friend yesterday, testing my embryos wasn't financially possible.  I took a risk by entering treatment for this year, holding onto the belief that it wasn't worthwhile for my age.  That might not have been the right decision, but there's nothing I can do about it now.  I will continue to move forward. 

The choice to do the hysteroscopy is mine, he said.  It could be done two ways:
1) sedated-and that would have to be done in his next round of IVF, in about 1-2 weeks, because that's the only time of the month he has sedation available.  And, if I want to do an April transfer, it has to be in the March IVF. 
2) in-office-although painful, he believes it would be quick and less pain than someone who had never given birth. most of the pain comes from going through the cervix, but once someone has given birth, the cervix remains permanently open just a bit-enough that it eliminates the pain.  

He also wants to do an endometrial biopsy-if I do the hysteroscopy, it will be done at the same time.  If not, it will be done on it's own. I've had those done several times, and they're not a big deal, since going through the cervix is no longer an issue.  

For now, we move forward.  

Exactly how I feel about my weight loss journey. Im coming back a fighter and I wil be a KNOCK OUT!:

Transfer #5, here we come.  

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