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 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, 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 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 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.  

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Results...

A few people have messaged me, so I figured I might as well get this update out:

The results of this past transfer, transfer #4, with our 5th embryo, were confirmed this afternoon by blood, to be:


Doctor's response via text: ugggghhhh...stop your meds and call me tomorrow am. 

I will update tomorrow...

:) except the only thing that is always certain is that God loves me. And He knows me, and He is working on my behalf. It may not be certain to me, but God has already seen every one of my days before they came to be <3:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Ruby Necklace

I know many of you are my #fellowinfertiles, but for those of you who aren't, you should know that while going through treatment, routines are acquired, traditions are made. 
When I was doing treatment while still living in the Bronx, I wouldn't get to work in time to drink my morning coffee, rather I'd stop at the Dunkin Donuts on the way to work and get my iced coffee.  Now that I don't eat before my appointments since I drive in so early in the morning, I go for lunch at my favorite Moss Cafe.  It is almost always a cause of anxiety if I can't stick to my routine.  
I haven't heard of many people who have routines for their regular appointments, but traditions become established at the culmination of the cycle: special transfer socks, a particular lunch afterwards, I always take my picture with Dr. B, and I recently heard of the traditional ruby necklace.

The even takuma (pronounced evan tah koo muh) is a raw ruby stone worn on silver necklace. I did not know about the silver part when I ordered! It is to touch the skin and it's believed to promote fertility and prevent miscarriage.  This is a kabbalistic belief, a segulah: something we do to promote the good of something, in this case, fertility and pregnancy. 

I searched for ruby necklaces on Etsy, and was thrilled when one of the stores, Annalis Jewelry, was located in Israel. I felt that made the connection even stronger.  

I know, of course, that this necklace does not hold the power to control the outcome of any treatment, or the success of a pregnancy.  However, it does give me something tangible, a constant reminder, of who is really in control of the situation.  

How dainty is that clasp?  

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I donned the necklace the morning of my transfer, in the parking lot of the office, right before walking in; I have yet to take it off.  I've gone to the gym in it, showered in it, slept in it, and not thought twice about how it looks with any given outfit.  

I often forget I'm wearing it, but then it will get a little tight on my neck and I have to readjust it.  And in that moment, I'm reminded just where my faith needs to be.  

Tomorrow is 10 days post transfer.  We pushed back the pregnancy test until Monday so we have a more clear picture, as oppose to what we went through with low hcg numbers and then ultimately a complete drop a few days later.  

Ironically, the two symptoms I've had in every other cycle: heartburn and exhaustion, have not been present. Ironically, I'm no longer looking for symptoms.  Ironically, as if a sign to remind me who is really in control-the night after starting progesterone, I had some bad heartburn, a common side effect, making it clear to me symptoms were not going to be an indication of the success of this cycle.  
One of my close friends, so lovingly confiscated my pregnancy tests so I wouldn't be tempted to check early and fall into the rabbit hole that is comparing lines on a positive test.  
So here I sit, 10 days later, with not a single idea of what tomorrow's at home pregnancy test will read.  

Because I do like to have some light material, I will share a funny maybe symptom related story from this morning. As it is Dr. Seuss' birthday, many schools celebrated.  The school I see kids in was making green eggs and ham. Now, having not been exposed to much ham and bacon growing up, I usually find the smell repulsive.  The first time I smelled it in 8th grade home economics class,  I almost had to leave the room to prevent from vomiting.  When I see people eating meat in the morning, I just don'  But today that ham smelled so good, I wish I could have sat in the room all day! 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday Munchies...

I'm so excited to share this jackpot of a recipe with you-bonus, it's Monday, so you have all week to gather what you need and make this for dinner!  My kids gobbled this down, and it's back on the menu rotation this week!  It's healthy, wholesome, filling and oh so yummy.  And did I mention easy???  I have a new found love for my crock pot-now a days the crock pot is something like an olden day contraption, since everyone uses the Instant Pot-but I'm slow to integrate new technology into my life.  So, for now, crock pot it is! 

This was so easy-just dump a couple ingredients into the crock put and then make your toppings dish

I opted for some avocado, tomato, shredded lettuce and I added a honey ginger dressing.  

2lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
1 packet taco seasoning mix 
16oz jar salsa 
1/3 cup chopped cilantro 
juice from 2 small limes 

Place chicken in the crock pot, and then add taco seasoning, salsa, cilantro and lime.  Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-7 hours.

Remove chicken, shred, and add liquid from the crock pot until chicken is moistened to your liking-about 1/2-3/4 cup of liquid.  

Serve using tacos or tortillas (we used soft tortillas) and your choice of toppings. 

It doesn't get much easier than this!  

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Frozen Embryo Transfer #4

Yesterday was the big day-transfer #4!!!

When I was told my transfer time was 9am, with an arrival of 8:30, I knew I had to get to NYC the night before.  What I didn't know was that I wasn't going to make it on the road until 9:30pm, get stuck in about 40 minutes worth of traffic going over the George Washington bridge, and that I wouldn't get to sleep before 2am!  Part way, I thought I should have just stayed at home and woken up at 4am! 

But, I had ulterior motives-the local hospital oatmeal

I know I know, it's weird-but it's just so delicious, I seriously dream about it! And I knew if I came in the night before, I could have the early morning to myself, and could go and eat a nice, quiet breakfast! Which is exactly what I did-if you follow me on Instagram, you probably caught me talking about it!  

I made it back to my car, in the drizzle without a coat no less, around 8:10, and headed on my way.  I made sure to start drinking my water on the way. My rule of thumb, is that I should have drunk a whole Camelbak water bottle by the time of my arrival to ensure a full bladder, but this time, it was a good thing I didn't finish that water bottle!  

When I arrived, I made my way downstairs, which is where the OR is, and I noticed no one was there! The doors were wide open, which means no one was in the middle of a transfer. So I walked upstairs and was told someone would be coming down-I was the only transfer yesterday! Yay for personal attention!!! 

The nurse came down, I got changed, and she got me checked in. 
And then I waited.
And waited.
And I waited for 25 minutes, with a full bladder, until Dr. B walked in, almost half an hour late to my transfer! Now, I'm not sure I've mentioned it here, but not only do you have to have a full bladder for the transfer, but you have to remain laying down after the transfer-for 30 minutes! That makes for an extra hour of a full bladder!!! I also realized in this moment that we can stop wondering where Dovy gets his angry face and disgruntled personality-it's from me.
Dr. B walks in and asked me if I was recording, to which I responded in a straight face, "it's your punishment." 
PUNISHMENT!!! He gasped. 
"You're 25 minutes late and I have to pee!" 

Mike came in and gave me the embryology report: it's perfect, and 8 remain in the freezer. 

We discussed a few details, like meds and dates for testing, and then he said, "let's go!" 

The transfer went off without a hitch!

Something I appreciate and one reason why I could never change clinics is because of the personal attention I get and camaraderie.  The day, and any day, is always full of jokes, laughter and well wishes. So it was fitting that the embryologist and Dr. B have a "line" for confirming the catheter is clear of the embryo. 
I had to have Mike say it three times before I actually caught it on video!

And then of course, the obligatory selfie 

I got on 2/27 for a blood test to check my estrogen and progesterone levels, and then I have my pregnancy test on 3/6, but I'll be testing before!  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Final FET #4 Update

I was originally supposed to have a monitoring appointment on Wednesday 2/15, but because I was planning on heading into NY on Friday for the weekend, we just arranged for monitoring to take place then.  Everything was good, my lining was great, and so was my blood.  I started antibiotics, steroids and progesterone that night.  

I had blood work on 2/20, my 30th birthday! 

I head to NY tonight for a 9am transfer #4 tomorrow morning! 
Follow along on Instagram and Facebook, as I'll be updating there tomorrow! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Life Hack: Snack Shelf

I'm so excited to share this life hack with you, but please be sure not to confuse life hack with Pinterest worthy.  
Not every aspect can be made into a Pinterest spectacle-and this catch all closet is one of them!
This closet houses appliances, cookie decorating items, the cleaning bin, the holiday decorating bin, and our main pantry.  

Snacks aren't provided in school for my kiddos, and for FIVE years now, we've gone through the daily morning struggle of packing snacks.  Packing snacks for one kid is manageable, packing snacks for two kids is stressful and tiresome, but packing snacks for three kids is more than one can handle!  I would budget in about 20 minutes in the evening or morning to pack their snacks, and it was just a major time suck.  

I came up with the idea to add a dedicated snack shelf into my closet.  It served two purposes: of course, I needed a place to store the snacks anyway, but my main goal was to use it as a tool to teach the kids how to pack their snacks themselves.  The snacks are organized into the following bins:  fruit, granola type snacks, crackers, cookies, chips, and dessert.  I used these bins to store all the items-I had these from before, so I wasn't going to invest in buying new containers just to fit my new space, but I do wish they were taller so they could hold more.  #nexttime 

When organizing with a desire to include the kiddos, you have to organize according to their level.  Moshe reads, but Dovy and Hannah do not-however they are able to recognize pictures.  Each bin has a picture so they can identify the contents of each bin.  This bin pictured, is obviously everyone's favorite bin.  At first, I was nervous to include this within everyone's reach, and I was asked several times if a brownie was an acceptable form of breakfast.  But, I really do believe everything is teachable to our kids, so I kept the dessert bin there.  It's rare now that the kids attempt to eat from that bin without being told it's allowed.  

Now, for a peak at my favorite snacks that fill those bins!

My kids go in phases, sometimes it's fruit cups, other times it's applesauce, and now we're back into the applesauce pouches.  

This bin includes our favorite Blueberry Belvitas , Trader Joe's cereal bars, graham crackers, granola pouches, and fig bars.  

In this bin I include crackers like Trader Joes wheat thins, Ritz crackers, pretzels, and anything cracker related.  

I do allow my kids to eat "junkier" items in moderation throughout the day, but that's a post for another day.  This bin houses junk like sweet snack items.  Some of what I'll include in this bin are vanilla wafers, letter cookies, butter cookies, mini chocolate chip cookies, these "pop tarts" and oh em gee I can't resist them when they're in there!  

I also have a bin that houses more of the chip snack items.  Some items we love are Terra chips , Trader Joes Rocket Cheese Crackers are so good, and sometimes I buy corn chips and party mix. 

The practicality of this shelf goes beyond saving me time in the morning.  It gives me a place to store the snacks, it allows my children a way to be independent and get snacks themselves-which is not only good for me, but it's also a necessary skill for them.  We can talk about responsibility and making good choices. It also has saved me so much time which also helps my kids: I have more time to focus on them in the morning and I'm not as rushed and stressed.  

Organizing the snack shelf is almost like a Sunday meal prep day-except I do it about bi-weekly, or once a month.  When a particular item is running low, I'll re-buy and then spend one evening bagging all the new snacks into sandwich size baggies.  I will admit I've felt badly about all the baggies we use, however Dr. Husband reminded me that our system is probably better than pre-packaged individual snacks because our kids don't eat a full serving anyway-and what's awesome is when snacks come back half eaten, or not eaten at all, I just drop them into their respective bins and they're good to use another day!  A single serving snack, once it's open it either goes into a baggie to stay fresh, or it gets thrown out half eaten.  Our snacks do last quite awhile and I can't stress enough how simple and easy it is to grab one back from each bin in the morning and just throw it into their bag.  

If you're struggling with your daily snack and lunch packing, try this out and let me know!

You can read about my fresh fruit and vegetable snack plan HERE   

Monday, February 13, 2017

Monday Munchies...

With all my traveling, and #commitment to tradition, I needed to find something new and exciting to bring to Dr. B's staff last week. 
Well, truth is, while I'm not currently sticking to any diet other than the see food eat food diet, I made what I was craving. 
The only problem with cheesecake, is that I have a serious phobia of my springform pan. I can never figure out how to close it properly, it drips out all over my oven, and that is just bad news bears.  
But, for those of you that either share my fears, or are just intimidated by cheesecake, mini cheesecakes, specifically these oreo mini cheesecakes that are made in a muffin tin, are your answer! 
These were to die for, and as it is, super easy, but there's a dupe that makes it even easier if you're in a rush and just want to impress.

1 1/2 cups crushed oreos made into crumbs 
4 tablespoons melted butter 

I placed about half a package of regular Oreos in a gallon zip lock bag and crushed with my hands. It was tedious and my crumbs were definitely not terribly crumb like, but it was easy.  In addition to a phobia of my springform, I also have a phobia of my food processor.  It would definitely be better to do this in a food processor, but if you're short on time, or don't have one, or just don't want to schlep it out, crushing by hand will do just fine! 

Melt the butter and combine with the crumbs and mix until combined. If you use a food processor your crumb and butter mixture will resemble coarse sand.  Then press 2 tablespoons into your lined cupcake tin.  I found that with larger crumbs, you don't need as much.  The original recipe calls for pressing the crumbs down with a 1/3 measuring cup, but mine is not round so I ended up just using my hands. 

Bake the crust for five minutes and allow to cool before filling.

Dupe: If you're pressed for time, or just a quick crowd pleaser, you can drop one Oreo in each muffin slot instead of making and baking a crust. I tried out both ways, and prefer taking the time to make a crust because it becomes crispier, has a richer taste because of the butter, but it also doesn't separate from the cheesecake when you bite into it!

Cheesecake filling:
16 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
2 eggs (add one at a time)
1/4 cup oreo crumbs plus some additional larger crushed oreos

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese for 2-3 minutes, then add the sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Beat the eggs in one at a time.  Turn off the mixer and add in the Oreo crumbs and larger pieces are Oreo and mix by hand until incorporated. 

Place 2-2.5 tablespoons of batter into each "cupcake" slot and add Oreo crumbs and a few large pieces of crushed Oreo if you please.  Bake for 15-17 minutes or until you notice edges start to brown and middle appears to be more solidified.  

I was pressed for time and took a risk by putting the cheesecakes straight into the fridge for a few overs (what was my overnight) and they were just fine!  The original recipe calls for cooling to room temperature before chilling, and then once refrigerated, cover loosely.  Like I said, I put mine straight into the fridge, but I did lay a piece of foil on top.  

These were such a huge hit! 
If you want to show off your skills, this is definitely the recipe to try! 
I'd also think this could be modified for any cookie desired-nutter butter, a mint oreo, maybe a chocolate chip cookie!!!  
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