Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Path to Parenthood Continues & A Little Word of Encouragement

And so the preparation for sticky hands and a new chapter of life continues. I mentioned before that we were cleaning out closets, selling stuff at garage sales, etc. Well, the trend has continued. For the past two weeks now we've been wheeling and dealing stuff on craigslist like there's no tomorrow. I get the biggest thrill out of selling stuff on there. Raise your hand if you LOVE craigslist!!! I'm guessing it's got to be some sort of disorder similar to that of people who like hoarding stuff. However, it's opposite for me. Freeing up open space is so therapeutic!

We even sold some art that we absolutely loved.  I'll pay a brief homage here for anyone who appreciates good photography to the phenomenal Peter Lik, who created the pieces we sold. We no longer have a giant 90 inch tall cavern in our foyer or a beautiful peaceful tree above our dining room table, but we enjoyed them while they were in our lives...

"SHINE" by Peter Lik
"INNER PEACE" by Peter Lik

Yes, we were admittedly smitten with these materialistic objects. However, it's funny how your priorities and tastes change as you transition through life. When we sprang for art, kids certainly weren't on the brain. We were simply looking for an investment into home decor. Fast forward a few years, and we find ourselves discussing the more pressing need to start truly planning for retirement, paying off hubby's MBA, maybe building a pool for our family, and saving for our kid's college education...even though the child is not even here yet.  Somehow, having nice art just got knocked waaaay down on the totem pole. Do I miss it? Nope. Not really. I still appreciate the talent, but there are bigger fish to fry here in this thing called life.

Speaking of planning, I'm trying to be good about going through the month-by-month checklist given to us by our OB. Apparently, now is the time to register for childbirth/parenting classes and to choose a pediatrician. Wow, talk about a reality check! This parenting thing is really happening!

I've made an executive decision on our behalf as a couple to go totally rogue and NOT take childbirth classes. For one, the classes are sooooo long and at really inconvenient times clear on the other side of the city. We aren't lazy people of course. We'd put forth the effort if we felt it would really alter Preston's life. However, after talking to many women who've already given birth, it's quite clear that much of the information they teach goes in one ear and out the other.

It's also clear that no matter how much you think you know how to do Lamaze breathing or have your birth plan all spelled out, there is no telling what will go down in that delivery room. Feel free to talk me into it if you've taken childbirth classes and felt they were some sort of lifesaver, but my gut tells me we'll be perfectly fine just winging it.

As I've said before, I'm more concerned about learning how to best care for Preston once he arrives. Hubby and I are instead enrolled in a much shorter Baby Care Basics class that teaches newborn childcare, and we'll be taking the short Breastfeeding class, as well as hiring a lactation consultant to help give pointers on that. We will also be doing a tour of the maternity ward at our hospital. Outside of that, no plans for any other classes. Being selective is all part of the master plan to conserve energy and brain power for the things that matter most. Let's hope I don't kick myself later for being clueless on certain topics!

Happy to report that I met with Preston's pediatrician yesterday, and I LOVE HER! She came recommended through our neighborhood message board, and I can see why. She answered all of my questions and concerns about vaccines, newborn protocols, and gave me a calendar of appointments to expect for the first few years of life. Nowadays babies are typically given a Hepatitis B vaccine before even leaving the hospital, unless you elect otherwise.

I wanted to make an informed choice on vaccines BEFORE being faced with decisions in a hospital bed. As you may know, there's a lot of vacccine controversy hooplah. After speaking with the pediatrician though, any concerns I might have had are now alleviated. We will be doing ALL of the recommended vaccines, including the series of 3 Hep B shots beginning immediately after birth. The ped was a great listener, overwhelmingly sensitive and caring, and she even hugged me before I left and seemed genuinely excited to meet Preston soon. Um, that was a first to get hugged by a doctor, but I'll take it!

Yesterday was also another apt. with our perinatologist at 21w5d.  The u/s tech did a very thorough u/s checking size & function of all organs again too...pretty much another full anatomy scan really. Hearing things are on schedule or ahead is such music to our ears. It seems Preston is averaging more with each passing month. He's now measuring a full week ahead (@ 22w5d) and weighs about 2-3 oz. more than average (1.3 lbs currently).

I have a theory that Jason's Deli must be a contributing factor to this fabulous growth pattern. I cannot get enough of their spinach salads & chicken pot pie soup these days. The habit has now grown into one of take-out, after discovering you can pack roughly 2 lbs. of salad into one container. Ha! I just had it for lunch, and I want it again for dinner. Luckily, I've gained a normal amount of weight myself (15 lbs.) despite the trucker sized appetite.

Can't get enough Jason's Deli salad bar. I must be stopped!

Back to the apt...According to the doc, my "cervix is a mile long" (@40mm) which is good, because there are no signs of incompetent cervix, a cause of pre-term labor. With every positive report comes another sigh of relief and another rush of emotion and tears....tears of happiness.

And if seeing two doctors yesterday wasn't enough, I also ran into my RE for the first time since we first learned we were pregnant.  I was dropping off some old half-used meds to my IVF nurse to use for demos, and there he was. I looked at Dr. Vaughn, opened my sweater, pointed down at my 22 week tummy, and just smiled really big and started crying all at the same time. I was about to fall apart into a million pieces but thanked him as graciously as I could and just excused myself saying, "I've gotta get out of here before I break down like a crazy person!" Of course, he was totally put together and said how very happy he was for us. He is such a calming force I swear. I REALLY need to write him a letter, because Lord knows I can't keep it together in person.

I knew the moment we met this man that he was placed in our lives for a reason. I felt in my heart of hearts that he was THE ONE here on earth to help us. (Remember, he was the 2nd RE we sought help from.)  Maybe it was the figurine on his desk that read, "Babies are a gift from God." Maybe it was how well we just clicked from the first meeting and how well we communicated every step of the way. He didn't talk to me like a lay person and we understood each other without question. Yet he also just made everything so simplified in a way that both hubby and I really needed. It takes a special kind of doctor to be the perfect combination of technical yet simple.

I doubted if I was in the right place at times whenever a cycle failed or when I found myself butting heads with him on certain aspects of any given protocol; The never ending quest of the infertile woman for ANSWERS! Anytime I searched for answers elsewhere I would use the information to advocate for what I thought was worth exploring, but was always led back to him to help us implement it. I really felt in my heart that he was given a gift to help others and wasn't just some egotistical asshole in this profession for the money or because of some God complex. It's like there was an angel on my shoulder telling me to stay put and keep trying with his help, even admidst the doubts that crept in. It was a textbook "gut feeling." I trusted him. I respected him. I knew he had our best interests at heart.

And when it didn't work, we'd just try again....and again...and again. I really and truly believe that for MANY women out there trying to conceive with an extreme amount of difficulty, you want to give up the most right before you're about to actually succeed. I have been there. I know what that feels like.

I want to tell you that if you're still struggling to create a family, your life will not be ruled by infertility forever.
The journey will come to an end, and there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. It might be a longer journey than you would have wished, and it may take turns you didn't plan for, but you will survive and come out of this a stronger human being. This time last year, we'd just experienced our first IVF failure, and it wouldn't be the last.

To think... we began fertility treatments in 2011. It took Clomid, Femara, Chinese medicine, IUI's,  4 IVF cycles (3 FET's), 2 surgeries, and 4 pregnancy losses before finally reaching this point.....not to mention a ton of 'Come to Jesus' moments on my hands and knees. Yet here we are, in the unfathomable remarkable place of being 22 weeks along, signing up for parenting classes, and making way for a whole new life with a beautiful healthy baby. It's a daily reminder to never ever give up on something you want more than anything else in the world. I can safely say I've learned that lesson in a way I never expected to learn it.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Just the Two of Us @ 20 Weeks

Lately, I've been stopping to smell the roses as "just the two of us." There have been so many days when I am so utterly tired of being just two. The worst reminder has always been dining out..."Table for two please. Sure, place us right in the middle of 10 tables of families while you're at it!"

You'd think by now I would have mastered the art of cooking for two, but for some reason I never did. I am so stinking sick of leftovers. I know, starving kids in China, but you know what I mean. Countless times I've thought about how I'd love to have a "real family" instead of a refrigerator full of glass containers.

Don't even get me started on the stick figure families which adorn pretty much every vehicle in the continental US. There is simply no avoiding this abhorrent stamp of self-proclaimed procreative ability. Ok, maybe I'm being a tad dramatic on that one, but I seriously detest those stickers for the reminder of just two they provide at each traffic light.

Up until recently, being just two was something I've taken for granted at times. Now, I fully realize that some people are hoping and praying just to meet Mr. Right in much the same way we have been longing for a child. Believe me, I've ALWAYS been extremely grateful to have such an amazing spouse to spend my life with. It's just that in those times of struggle to create a family, it was easy to lose sight. This dark ominous cloud of what we still wanted but didn't have, seemed to creep in randomly to overshadow all the other sunshine.

However, Friday was a pretty meaningful day for us as we reached 20 weeks. This means we're half-way through this pregnancy, which brings a huge sense of relief, perhaps even more so than passing the 12 week mark or receiving a perfect anatomy scan result. I finally let the cat out of the bag on facebook, with what I hope was a tactful and humble post with a 20 week bump shot. Up until now I hadn't really said anything publicly in that type of forum.

It was like I had a Halftime Hallelujah that day! I could not stop crying, not only because of the amazing comments and support, but also because there are just so many deep thoughts & emotions swirling in my brain:

-Happiness for making it this far.
-Confidence that everything is going to be OK from here on out.

-Realization that although the journey suuuuucked to get here, the timing is good now and we'll be better parents for having gone through it. 
-Gratefulness that our prayers were finally answered.
-Sheer terror at the thought of raising another human being! ha!

Times are a changin. Shit's about to get very real. We probably won't be wading our feet in the pool leisurely at the Delano in South Beach for quite a while...

Ah, those were the days!

If I'm being frank, just two is now being embraced again in a way that it hadn't been for a very long time. I'm relishing walking up to a hostess stand requesting a table for two or squeezing into a spot at the bar for a quick slice of impromptu cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory. In fact, this is how we spent our Sunday, visiting the place where we had our first date...

Match made in Heaven: White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut &
Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake cheesecake. Oh YES we did!

How about the quiet solitude of moseying around Home Depot's nursery and finding a new plant to pot on a sunny day without interruption? The lovely croton made it's way onto our front driveway last week...

I'm enjoying the little things in life with a renewed spirit of just two. Not to say we'll never travel or go out for cheesecake on a whim or work in the yard of course. I'm just very aware that once this baby arrives things will never quite be the same. The sound level and volume of drool are about to increase exponentially in a few short months. I want to relish every last bit of freedom and time we have together NOW.

However, I'm also eager to open the door to a whole new set of life experiences with this little whipper snapper that will surely change our lives for the better. We had an OB apt. on Friday and were treated to an unexpected 3D ultrasound while we waited for the doc...

Still measuring ahead and weighs about 14 oz.
Heartbeat @ 160 bpm

Preston is such a mover and shaker that it's really hard to get any pics completely in focus, but you can see his basic facial structure here and the cute little set of cheekbones he's sporting. He was literally doing jiu jitsu moves with hands square at eye level. So funny!

I love that he's already so interesting and providing entertainment for everyone!  I'm feeling the kicks and jabs more and more each day and am even picking up on his habits at certain times of day and during certain activities. Again, another thing I'm enjoying now as they are still light kicks and not the super sharp into the ribcage type of kicks quite yet.

We've been doing a lot of organizing around here too.
Like any good parent, I went through any old blackmail worthy photos and shredded them to pieces. Aint nobody got time for that! hehe We've cleaned out closets to make room for baby stuff and the nursery-to-be is completely empty now. We had a garage sale this past weekend and liquidated anything collecting dust and donated things to charity. It totally kicked our butts, but we won't have time to do this stuff once baby is here, so chipping away at it while we can.

And now, I feel the fun is "allowed to begin" perhaps in ways that I wasn't prepared emotionally to let it before. I ordered the crib, crib bedding, and a wall decal today...a ritual I didn't take lightly and was saving for the 20 week mark. In the next couple of weeks, we may actually have a semblance of a nursery. Still so much more left to do, but we're taking it one very slow day at a time....just the two of us.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Breast Pump Epiphanies & Anatomy Scan

Forgive me if I continue to sound like a fish out of water with some of this pregnancy and motherhood stuff. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I'm starting from square 1.  Like many other women who traveled the road of fertility treatments prior, it's like once I became pregnant I was just totally BURNT OUT on learning anything. I've literally only read one book, The Complete Organic Pregnancy, which didn't talk much about birth but served more as a reminder that I should be walking around in a plastic bubble (a BPA free one of course) to protect me from the ravages of this toxic planet we live on.

It's highly unlike me to be so unmotivated to learn about such an important new life experience.There are other books I'd been saving for pregnancy, like Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, but still haven't made the effort.  However, I am honestly enjoying NOT being an expert about something for once. Furthermore, the girl who once thought she might have a completely natural birth (possibly not even at a hospital) has made a complete 180 and decided that I'm OK handing the reigns to my OB. I'm seeing a MFM specialist/perinatologist every month and my OB in between, so I have an apt. every 2 weeks right now to assess everything...really not much they can miss I'm guessing.

Plus, I've heard enough stories about well-intentioned birth plans that change according to circumstances last minute. I'm not going to say I do want an epidural, because what if I go into labor too quickly and there's not enough time? I'm not going to say I don't want an epidural, because I have no crystal ball on how bad the pain will be. I don't want to set all these expectations and then have my plan changed, because I am not good at dealing with defeat. All I know is I'd like to avoid a C section or induction unless it's medically necessary. Outside of that, I'm leaving it up to the people who went to school and have been delivering babies as long as I've been alive.

Still, after taking a loooong hiatus from the infertility forums on BBC, I decided it might benefit me to go back online and learn a thing or two about all the stuff I'm supposed to be doing.
Hearing about everyone else's nurseries in full force and all the things they already have ready-to-go motivated me to start thinking about a gift registry, which I quickly realized I knew nothing about either. Luckily, I got some good advice from several women with newborns and toddlers, and I discovered there are also some good examples of must have items on from other new parents.

The one thing I've become acutely aware of when reading comments on baby forums is that breastfeeding is definitely not the picture perfect experience of peacefulness and solitude we'd like to believe it is, especially in the beginning; More like a continuum of bloody cracked nipples, finding time to pump, and figuring out which bottles your baby will drink from to give yourself relief, all the while battling baby bouts of acid reflux and screaming at the top of their lungs. I can't say I wasn't warned, that's for sure.
Once again, I was taken back once I clicked on the plethora of pumping bras available to the modern woman. These are the images taken from one...

Yep, I'm sure that's exactly how I'll look and feel!
Look how thrilled she is to be pumping at work!
Why even try with the polka dots? Seriously, you can't make that thing cute.

Lord help my husband to still find me attractive once he sees this watermelon exiting my body and the year of oh so fashionable lingerie which will follow. I don't know if I can bring myself to buy one of these things. I might just cut a couple holes in my sports bras or just wear nursing tanks, which are way less scary in my opinion.

It will all be worth it in the end though for our little guy. This was taken at his anatomy scan yesterday, which he passed with flying colors thankfully!

Preston waving @ 17w5d. (Measuring 18w1d & heartbeat @ 147bpm)
Favorite part of the scan was seeing all the structures of the brain and the heart. They look at EVERY single part of the baby's body inside and out, even the arteries and chambers within the heart to see how they're functioning. Those pics are hard to get with him wiggling so much, but very fascinating stuff.

We received our third confirmation that he's definitely a boy...

WARNING BABY PORN: Under the booty shot

Think he might already have some running legs on him too...

Ironically, I felt him kicking for the first time yesterday morning before getting out of bed...a very surreal feeling indeed. Of course, now I'm laying in bed every morning at 4 am completely fixated on my abdomen, waiting for the sheer chance I'll get to feel him again. Hopefully it will become more frequent and pronounced over the next couple weeks.

In other good news, the hubby accepted a fantastic job offer from a software company that recruited him very aggressively.
He's now a Vice President of Sales, which is a step up in title for him from Director at his last position, even though he was doing the role of a VP all along really. It's just really nice to see him get so much interest from everyone he's interviewed with, because he's so outstanding at what he does. He deserves to finally have his talents celebrated and appreciated.

Best of all, we're not moving away from Austin, which was a very real possibility as other job opportunities were entertained the last few weeks. It's an interesting feeling to be almost half way through a pregnancy and living in limbo, not sure if/when you might need to pack up and move, praying that your COBRA healthcare will go through appropriately during the unemployment. We're just so thankful it's all a non-issue now, and Preston can begin his life right here in a safe home we already know and love. I am so proud of hubby, and I know Preston will be proud to call him his dad. Hopefully, I can get over all the scariness and newness of motherhood once it is really here, and I will be a mom everyone can be proud of too.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Taking the Plunge

There is no other way to describe the mind over matter that took place today as I finally braved the murky waters of the maternity sections at Target and Ross. I'd peeked over there briefly once before, but was instantly hit with an emotion I can only liken to walking in on your parents having sex when you're 5...and yes, that really happened to me as well! I guess if you want to keep it G rated, you can liken it to the first time you dove into the deep end of a pool. Either way, it was scary stuff!

Perhaps it's because I've never gone maternity shopping with anyone else. I'd seen the extremely strange pants before, but never had I actually tried them on myself. Talk about a weird experience. I am doubly cursed, because I have an abnormally large ass in comparison to my waist, so here I am faced with the saaaame conundrum I have faced my entire life; If I buy pants large enough to fit over my ass, the waist is still ridiculously large. Baby's got back, and clearly that has not changed with the presence of an actual baby. The only jeans and pants that have ever fit correctly are from Express or Michael Kors.

As with anything else though, I did not give up! I tried and tried until I found some things that actually worked for me in the form of dresses, maxi skirts and a boatload of comfy shirts. And drumroll please... I walked away with two whole bags of clothes (3 long sleeve tops, 4 short sleeves, 3 tank tops, 1 cami, 1 maxi dress, 1 maxi skirt, 1 tunic/dress thing, and a belly band) all for under $200! Think I set a record on that trip for deal stealing.

I'd like to add that whomever invented this belly band idea deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. You don't even have to be pregnant to use this thing. Apparently it is made for problem preggos just like me who need help with the transition into and out of maternity pants. However, it could just as easily be used for a fat day. You basically just leave your regular pants unbuttoned with the fly wide open and then scoot this wide spandex band over the top to hold the pants up and smooth out any visible buttons or lines...which hides the fact your pants are completely undone under your shirt. Genius!

Is it just me, or should someone create a line of these for plumbers? I feel like I've been living under a rock or something, but better to discover late than never. This little gem is seriously going to save us some coin, because now I can rock my regular pants and jeans a wee bit longer. Believe me, I'm not in total denial though. I know that eventually my ass is going to double in size and there will be no hope for a measly opening of the fly to save the day. For now, it's a life saver and I'm grateful for it!

Today's epiphany: No wonder I felt like I was sucking my stomach in for so long. Everything was too damn small. I feel like I can finally breathe now! The last thing I tried on reluctantly on a whim ended up being my favorite...

It's much cuter on too!

And speaking of taking the plunge, I also broke down and got highlights this week. After waiting it out the entire first trimester, and becoming so frumpy and downtrodden I didn't even want to leave my own house, I was given clearance along with the usual "You worry too much" nod of the head from my OB. Also, my justification for believing in the safety of highlights was that if billions of pregnant people have soaked their entire body and largest organ with billions of sponge-like pores (the skin) in chlorine filled swimming pools for hours on end without issue, then why should applying hair dye without even touching the scalp to dead hair affect anything? Yeah, I think I'm safe there.

Other rebellious and outlandish things I've done this week include eating Chik-Fil-A (with gluten-filled sandwich bun) for lunch today and eating 2.5 Boar's Head turkey & cheddar sandwiches for dinner last night. Those of you who know me know that I am normally a very healthy eater. Up until now, my cravings have just been for vegetables, fruits, and all things healthy...nothing new at all. Well, not this week!

Someone I have never met before has snatched my body and is craving deli meat, cheese, and bread. I never had any real cravings up until this point, but it's like I can't get enough cheddar cheese especially. I'm eating sandwiches like they're going out of style. Additionally, I may or may not have made 2 dozen homemade monster cookies as well....

Damn that Paula Deen and her tasty recipes! Does it count that these are gluten-free? No, still not healthy? Oh well, I am learning to let go a little and enjoy things when I want them. I have the whole rest of my life to be fit, and I can't help that I'm so damn hungry!  I did give away 18 of these ginormous cookies, because otherwise I would have eaten them all.

Not to worry, Preston is still being fed a mostly organic diet, and I'm eating healthy at least 70% of the time. I guess I should feel lucky I lasted until 16 weeks before the maternity clothes and cravings came into play. However, I'm just warning you ahead of time; There is a very good chance I may blow up to the size of a bounce house by the time summer arrives.  I guess I'm just becoming OK with embracing the adventures into maternity land, and by God, I'm going to indulge in a little dairy, gluten, and sugar here and there if I want to!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why God Made Little Boys

My mom gave birth to 3 girls total by the time she was 23 years old. Growing up, things were very much centered around girly things. My step-dad was clearly outnumbered, and his only hope of anything remotely masculine in our home was one sister playing softball for a few years. I will never forget circa 1985 at the ripe age of 5, having my two older sisters doing me up in full face make-up, complete with bright yellow and green eyeshadow, to then parade around the mall. The fact that no one took a picture of this is inexcusable now, but I remember it clear as day.

There was always an entire closet full of beauty products that were ripe for the picking and playing. My mom sold avon for a few years, so it was like a virtual smorgasboard of "Let's try this on Emily!" I can't even count the number of times we got brushes stuck in our hair trying crazy hairstyles, or how many times we fought over who borrowed some girly item from one another and didn't return it. Seriously, it was ALL GIRL in our house....complete with hair flips and attitudes.

We had this vintage Hallmark plaque that floated from room to room for years, and I had completely forgotten about it until today. I don't know where it even came from, or where it went, but I had it memorized I'd read it so many times. It looked like this...

It's amazing how things that were seemingly so insignificant as a child can pop into your mind 30 years later and affect you on a deep emotional level. Little things like this plaque remind me of how special we were to my mom. She wasn't a perfect mom and made many mistakes, but she cherished each of us for our own individual strengths and had a unique and slightly different bond with each of us. More than anything, she just LOVED that we were all girls!

At our OB apt. yesterday, I wasn't expecting to see the baby via another u/s, since they listened for the heartbeat by itself at the start....which was great at 157 bpm. However, when the doc said, "Let's take a look!" I was stoked. No idea how many of these u/s insurance will cover or how they're coding them to make them "medically necessary", but so far no bills in the mail. I know most (normal/low risk) people only have a couple u/s tops their whole pregnancy, and this made #6 for us at only 14w4d. Either way, we will not turn down the offer. Measuring at 14w6d...

We were given a guesstimate on gender at right around 12 weeks, and yet again, it became very apparent that our OB's first guess was spot on. Please meet Preston Alexander...

Best pic we could get. Our model was wiggling and kicking like karate kid.

I couldn't help but wonder if they made a plaque for Why God Made Little Boys, and it turns out they did...

"Why God Made Little Boys"

God made the world out of His dreams
Of magic mountains, oceans and streams,
Prairies and plans and wooded land,
Then paused and thought "I need someone to stand
On top of mountains, to conquer the seas,
Explore the plains and climb the trees.
Someone to start out small and to grow,
Sturdy, strong as a tree…" And so,
He created boys, full of spirit and fun,
To explore and conquer, to romp and run.
With dirty faces and banged up chins,
With courageous hearts and boyish grins.
When He had completed the task He'd begun
He surely said "A job well done".
Author: Unknown

The more we find out about our little one, the more I am falling head over heels in love with him. One thing that makes it extra special is that he is due one week before my hubby's birthday. I can't help but imagine shared bday parties for the two men in my life and how fun that might be. And while my former self might have felt slightly unequipped to do "boy stuff", now that we know we're having one, any lack of confidence has been replaced with a ridiculous amount of excitement to do all things boy. So there you have it. Looks like God wants me to be one of those crazy sports moms yelling from the sidelines! A boy is going to be so good for this family. No doubt this child will teach me more than I could ever teach him. :)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Gluten-Free Almond Berry Granola Bars

As much as we love Two Moms in the Raw granola bars, I don't think right now is the best time to be paying $8 for a pack of 4 granola bars. There has been an official moratorium placed on all Two Moms in the Raw purchases, and I'm getting creative with our snacks around here. It's so funny the things you realize were "splurges" when you are reduced to no income...fair to say it's been a bit of an eye opener. I mean, I realized those suckers were expensive, but they really are just that good people. Plus, healthy food is much more important to us than clothes or other extravagant purchases, and I will sacrifice pretty much anything to have our kitchen stocked with clean whole foods.

Previous to both hubby & I developing a crack-like addiction to Two Moms products, I'd been making my own granola bars for a few years with a recipe I invented. I just hadn't attempted to modify the recipe and make any since going gluten-free. I wanted to find a way though, since I can make 16 granola bars with my homemade recipe for less than $5. 16 Two Moms bars would cost $32, so yeah, pretty big difference, especially when we are each eating one per day. Our Two Mom's habit was becoming it's own monthly expense. Ha!

Enter Namaste gluten-free flour into my life! This stuff is pretty amazing...

You can buy a big ole bag at Costco for cheap, and the label touts that you can use it cup for cup in place of regular flour in any recipe. I've experimented with quite a few things thus far and am impressed. The brownie recipe listed on the bag is EXCELLENT, and now I can add another great use to the list...

Em's Gluten-Free Almond Berry Granola Bars

-2 cups old fashioned oats
-1 cup gluten-free flour (or regular...up to you)
-5 oz. bag sliced almonds
-5 oz. bag dried fruit (I use blueberry, cherry or regular Craisins)
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-3/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 cup canola oil
-1/2 cup agave nectar
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-2 egg whites

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large mixing bowl, add all dry ingredients, including dried fruit. Mix together with large spoon or baking spatula.

Step 2: Add oil, agave, vanilla, and egg whites. Mix well.

Step 3: Spray a 9 x 13 in. baking dish with non-stick cooking spray . Spread mixture firmly and evenly into dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. (Makes soft & chewy granola bars).

Step 4: Store in airtight container. Makes 16 large bars or 32 smaller choose how big you want them.

I used to use whole wheat flour as well as wheat germ in this recipe, so I just replaced the flour, removed the wheat germ and added more almonds to make up for the reduction in dry ingredients. Worked like a charm. Seriously, these are the bomb!

I know there are quite a few people looking for healthy snacks, as well as those trying to go gluten-free. These are completely idiot easy to make and super easy clean-up. Just made some cherry almond today, and they smell scrumptious!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Do I Really Belong Here? Why, Yes...I Do.

I can now attest, like many other infertile women who've crossed over before me, that the transition from infertility to maternity brings its fair share of unexpected emotional hurdles. Yesterday was our first OB appointment finally at 12w3d. We've been seeing a perinatologist for ultrasounds and doing bloodwork through our RE still, so this pregnancy has been extremely closely monitored. However, with all the icy weather as of late, we're just now getting in with an OB.

Hooray for passage through the elusive 12 week "safety zone." What I didn't expect was how out of place I'd feel sometimes being here in this wonderful new world. As soon as we sat down in the waiting room of the OB's office, a woman at least 7 months pregnant sat directly across from us with her 9 month old (I overheard her telling another nosy woman who asked the age). I turned to my husband and said, "How is that even possible?!" I got to sit there and listen to what a surprise it had been to find out she was pregnant so soon again (in her most unenthusiastic voice), as she replayed the story to another very pregnant mom who was toting a toddler. Apparently, the woman also had a third child in school.

One woman after the next walked in pregnant and holding the hand of a big brother/sister-to-be. I quickly realized I was almost the only first time mom there and the only one who didn't actually "look pregnant." I glanced down at my lack of belly bumpage and a wave of sinking emotion hit me.

                                                            Do I really belong here?

I have never felt so out of place. I wondered if someone was going to make me pee in a cup and prove I was pregnant, in order to stay in this VIP room of what seemed on the surface to be a bunch of women who could not fathom what it took for us to get to this point. Now, I know better than that of course. Chances are, there were women there who might have experienced similar struggles, and perhaps much longer and more difficult journeys.

I just wonder if it will always feel like I can't completely relate to other "normal" pregnant women or moms? I would really love to, but it's like I just can't, because it will always feel like they can't relate to me. How could anyone possibly relate to our experience with maternity if they haven't also experienced an infertility journey leading up to their own pregnancy? I don't think they possibly can, nor should they be expected to.

Yes, I will probably be that woman who worries about every little thing; The one eating organic, using natural products, and who doesn't jog. Heck, I haven't even been vacuuming my big ole house thanks to the hubs. Forget about air travel or sex for the moment....not even going there! I'm feeling more and more secure in this pregnancy with each and every good doctor's visit and blood test, but after losing 4 babies in 2.5 years, I think we've earned the right to retain an over-the-top careful quotient.

I had a momentary mini cry as soon as I sat on the exam table waiting for the doc. I told hubby how I just didn't feel like I belonged there. In a strange way, I felt so much more at home in the waiting room of the fertility clinic. It was just a lot to wrap my head around that we were actually seeing an OB and WHY we were actually there.

Thankfully, as soon as we met our new nurse and OB the anxiety lessened. I seriously was not sure if I'd picked the right place until we met them, and I am 100% sure now that we're in good hands. The OB did a full annual exam since I was overdue and also did an ultrasound on Baby A. He did it vaginally, which I felt gave a much better view than the abdominal ones we've been getting with our peri.

Once again everything looked perfect with baby, and for the first time we saw TONS of movement from the little bugger. We'd seen a hand wave or a little wiggling before, but this kid was practically somersaulting before our eyes! OB said healthy babies tend to move around more, so of course this is reassuring to hear. I'm sure they say that to everyone, but I still liked hearing it.

The icing on the cake was asking about the sex of the baby. We were not expecting to find out until the full anatomy scan with our peri at 18 weeks, but we were told with some degree of certainty the gender of our little one. As if I wasn't already attached to this child! My heart completely melted. We are waiting to reveal the gender to friends, family, and blog buddies at least until next u/s just to confirm once more. However, I can assure you I'm telling the truth when I say I don't care what gender Baby A is, just that he/she is healthy. So far, we've had every reason to believe that's the case.

Once the doctor left the room, I clung to hubby and just enjoyed the moment...a moment I was never sure we'd ever experience. God is so good. Science is so awesome. We have so much to be thankful for.

Seeing how excited I was and the stark contrast in my mood from when we'd arrived, hubby asked me, "So, now do you feel like you belong here?" God, I love this man! Tears welled up as I replied,    

                                                   "Yes, I do. I do belong here!"