A release of hope

Back from my mini-vacation. We stayed at a bed and breakfast in Lake George, then spent one afternoon an hour and a half north of that, in Lake Placid. N is doing a full Ironman there this summer, and he wanted to drive the bike route and see what kind of damage he was in for. 112 miles on a bike is no easy feat! Luckily, it wasn’t actually that bad.

The bed and breakfast was great. Beautiful, cozy, and their 5-course breakfasts were really amazing. Gosh, I feel like I’m doing a professional review. Anyway, if you are ever in that area and are looking for a great place to stay, check this place out:

Cornerstone Victorian

I did find out that, of the two food demons in my life currently, wheat has just moved to #1. I had a little wheat the past few days, including a low-sugar apple cinnamon muffin, and a bit of fresh bread at dinner. Just like a few weeks ago when I tried to reintroduce wheat into my diet, I had the worst stomach problems. It only put a damper on a half hour of my vacation, so no big deal in the long run, but seriously, it was very painful. I really can’t eat wheat anymore. It just can’t happen. As for sugar, I had just a little bit of that too, including two small ice creams, and really had next to no hives. I’m thinking that’s just a passing thing, and I really just got lucky for this trip, because as of two weeks ago sugar was my arch nemesis. Either way, I gain weight from these foods. Back to Paleo, for real this time, and I know I’ll lose weight at the very least. By the way – almond milk? Delicious. Unsweetened coconut milk – not so much.

As for my mental health – I’m okay. It’s an up and down thing, you guys know. We had a great time, and I was happy. But deep down, the truth of the matter is that nothing, really nothing could make me so completely happy that I would permanently push infertility aside. I can have moments where I’m not thinking about it, but the emotions that come with it are never really gone. I had a good of a time as any; as I could. We both did. I’m just saying that underneath it all I’m not truly happy, because the one thing I really want in life has been giving me problems, difficulties, and it seems so far away. For all I know, it could be very far away.

The issue here is my hope level. Say, on a scale from 1-10, when I first started TTC, it was at a 10. When I started Clomid, a 9. Last cycle, when I was so sure I was pregnant, an 8. But since that damaging cycle, I stopped obsessing about TTC. I mostly stopped temping, only once every few days now. POASing has just started back up, and I actually hate it. I don’t worry about our timing. But with the release of all these stressors comes the release of hope. Sure, it’s possible it could happen soon. I understand that. But I can no longer feel like it’s going to. I am hopeful, on a shallow level, but deep down, the optimism isn’t there. It is so far away. Actually getting a positive pregnancy test? Going for my first ultrasound? Hitting 20 weeks? So, so far away. And that just really, plainly sucks.

I’ve noticed my new try-not-to-think-about-it attitude manifesting itself in other ways, too. In the past month, I’ve rarely blogged. I have nothing much to say. I haven’t really commented on many blogs either. For once, I didn’t sign up for ICLW. I’m just in a place where I am so tired of the frustration and, really, the pain that goes with all this that I don’t want to talk about it much anymore. I don’t know if it’s showing, but IRL I feel quieter, more serious. I’ve never been good at faking anything, especially emotions.

It’s not all gloom and doom, and I don’t walk around with a scowl on my face. I’m happy, like I said, but not truly, deep-down happy. I have a great class this year, N and I have a lot of fun together and, thanks to him, we laugh constantly. You know, there are happy things. But I am missing out on something that makes any person the happiest on the planet.

I am going in for a blood test this morning, as it’s CD 15. I hope to hear, “Ovulation is on its way.” If I hear, “You didn’t respond to this double dose of Clomid, either,” I might scream. But I’m going to take the positive route and say yes, it’s happening, hopefully in the next few days. I still really want to do my first IUI.

Circle + Bloom and going “green”

All right, people. My brain is buzzing with excitement over my appointment with my new ND on Thursday. Through the ICLW, I’ve “met” a few new bloggers who have been nothing but helpful! I appreciate all of your comments, by the way, and a lot of you know so much more than I do, and I’m eager to come to you with questions.

Therefore, I have a few more.

1) Can someone kindly explain what Circle + Bloom is? I gather that it’s a series of audio tapes, but after that I’m lost. I have heard so many people rave about them, and again, I’m just beginning to embrace the idea of natural remedies for health and fertility issues, so I definitely need a bit of convincing. I’m guessing this costs a lot of money. But like I said, people rave about it. Given that stress runs decently highly in my life (especially in the form of health and wellness issues), I’m curious. Should I look into this further?

2) I have done it. I have signed up to follow the journey of a blogger who has a child. There are a few of you out there who have one child already but are struggling with the second, but this is the first blog I have followed where she predominantly writes about issues related to already having a baby. I suppose in doing this, I am subconsciously telling myself that I will be pregnant soon. Not necessarily this cycle, but soon. Soon enough that I am excited about reading posts related to raising a baby. I don’t intend to follow a lot of baby blogs, yet, because I suppose after a while I’ll find myself depressed. But this blogger is very cool. Check out Cotton Bottom Mama if you’re interested – she’s a very “green” mother, which is something I hope to be eventually. She does cloth diapering, for example. We plan to go that route as well someday (of course we’ve already discussed it), though N still needs a bit of convincing. The price for diapers is enough convincing for me! Anyway, she’s got a ton of info on that topic, as well as other “green” issues. Best of all, she also suffers from Hashimoto’s, and went gluten-free and sugar-free. There aren’t many people I know of who have this. She’s doing very well, as she met with her ND and got pregnant five months later. So here’s hoping.

Anyway, this all leads me to my second question. Do you follow any bloggers who have a big focus on health and wellness? What about food allergies and autoimmune issues? I would love to find more people like Cotton Bottom Mama. It’s so nice to have a support system.

I wasn’t going to post today, so I’ll keep it nice and short. I’m grateful for the activity on my blog. I’ve written almost 100 posts, I’ve had over 5,000 views, and I’m lucky enough to have almost 60 followers. So thank you. Blogging has taken, once again, a new turn in my life, as I find myself telling friends and family about you and your stories. You’ve suddenly become very real, though we’ve never met. Just another perk of blogging about infertility!

“Domestic” – Minestrone Soup Recipe

The March Photo Challenge continues.

I would not consider myself very domestic. I love being at home, and creating a “cozy” atmosphere (especially with Yankee Candles; thanks, Mom) and feeling domestic, but I’m really not domestic. If I stayed at home all the time, cleaned the house until it was spotless, maintained this cleaned house, and cooked a warm meal every night, maybe I’d re-think it. But none of that happens.

As I’ve said before, cooking is not one of my strong suits. I didn’t cook when I was younger, and neither of my parents were big into cooking, even though my mother cooked every night. I learned to cook out of necessity, and I do know the obvious basics, and could put together a simple meal. Then N came along (I’m going to start referring to my husband as N, fyi, easy to type), and he loves to cook. His parents worked late into the evening when he was younger, so if he wanted to eat dinner, he had to make it himself.

In the past couple years, he has really turned into a chef. He loves all the cooking shows, puts on his apron and tries out new recipes. He will spend five hours cooking a meal on a weekend, and I can be overheard saying, “Why not just boil boxed pasta instead of making it from scratch? So much faster…”

However, I do make one dish. N does too, if I’m busy, but I’m going to give myself a little credit on this one. I am usually the one who makes this. I got it from our best man’s wife, who is an excellent cook, and it is one of my favorite recipes.

Minestrone Soup. What I love about it is that it’s healthy, first of all. I don’t feel guilty having a big bowl of it. Also, you can throw in any vegetable you’d like. If you’ve got something lying around you want to get rid of, throw it in there! It’s definitely an “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink” soup. Here is the recipe:

1-2 zucchini/summer squash, sliced

1 shallot or onion, diced

A few cups of chopped carrots (I’ve also done celery)

A tablespoon of minced garlic

15 oz. can of green beans

15 oz. can of pinto beans

15 oz. can of lentils or black beans

1 package of fresh spinach, chopped

Small can of tomato paste

28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

One quart of chicken broth

15 oz. can-sized amount of water

Salt and pepper, to taste

Italian seasoning, to taste

Sauté the first four ingredients with olive oil, and add any other raw vegetable here if you’d like. Then, once it is soft enough for your liking, add in all of the cans of vegetables, beans, and broth, including the chicken broth. Add salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn it down to a simmer and add the fresh chopped spinach, as much as you’d like. Let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes and it’s done!

You can tailor this recipe for yourself. Feel free to change the types of vegetables and beans to something you’d prefer. The end result should taste the same. I also add Parmesan cheese to my soup, as I do most soups.

Finally, back when I was eating wheat, I liked to boil a little pasta (shells) and throw them in this soup, which makes it even more delicious. Then I went gluten-free, and that pasta doesn’t do very well in this soup, and after that I decided to be healthy and leave out the pasta. Either way, it is so delicious.

It takes about an hour from start to finish, so plan ahead. It’s worth it, though.

Pardon this crappy iPhone pic, but here it is, prior to the spinach step, in all its glory.

I give you…..domestic.

Let me know if you make this one at home; I’d love to know how it turns out!

 

Babies and pregnant teenagers – my favorite.

Okay, yesterday completely sucked. Like, really bad.

First, after my morning post, I wallowed in self-pity. I went to the gym, continued to sulk. Stopped at my mother’s, continued to sulk. Came home, cried in the shower. I mean, it was very unlike me. Other than yesterday and the day before, I do not remember the last time I had a cry like that. It’s been months, at least. Of course, the fact that my husband showered before me and used all the hot water, leaving me to ponder my infertile fate while freezing cold, didn’t help.

Then I ate lunch and felt a little better (hello, low blood sugar).

The afternoon was not horrible. We went grocery shopping, walked the dogs, nothing major. I felt better. Then, we went to my husband’s aunt’s house to celebrate the 21st and 18th birthdays of two of his cousins. Let me tell you a story about that.

I have read numerous posts by many of you, describing a situation that involved babies/pregnant people that you desperately wanted to get out of, and couldn’t. As in, you were trapped. While I always felt bad for you when I read your posts, I could never relate. Until last night. And now I totally understand.

There was a baby there. I knew she would be there, but I hadn’t given it too much thought. Leading up to this party, I was mostly thinking about how I couldn’t eat the pizza, cake, or ice cream, and was pondering how much my life really does suck when I’m forced to find some frozen gluten-free thing at the grocery store and show up with it at someone’s party. And to skip dessert – my old favorite thing.

Now, this baby. She’s the child of a 19-year old. The baby is a year old, so she had her when she was 18. The father is not around. This baby has been “raised” by this 19-year old and basically all of her friends, including my DH’s cousin. I haven’t particularly cared about this since watching teenagers with their own baby doesn’t make me jealous, just angry. Then I watched this baby melt the hearts of all my in-laws. It was seriously heartbreaking. I don’t know why, but watching my MIL hold and coo at this baby made me nauseous and upset. My DH’s aunt, whom I like a lot, was holding and singing to her. Even my DH was playing with her. She was the life of this party. As I sipped my water (I’m not drinking until there’s a baby in my arms, damnit) I thought about how the baby in my MIL’s arms should be mine. I don’t care if it goes another few months, but my DH is the oldest cousin (by a few years) and we need to have the first grandchild. I’m not concerned about my cousins yet, but you never know. So that sucked. This baby – I completely ignored her. At one point – causing utmost stress – she waddled over to me, arms outstretched. She wanted me to pick her up. Really?! I have always loved babies, loved picking them up, etc. Not last night – not with the baby everyone was cooing over. Not happening. Luckily, she turned away at the last minute, realizing she had no idea who I was, and turned toward someone nearby. Phew.

It gets better. A few hours into the party, and a couple shows up. I’ve seen them before, friends of another one of DH’s cousins. They are 21. “Mama!” my in-laws called her. “Congratulations!” Oh myyy goodness. Yes, she was pregnant. They aren’t engaged or anything, I know the father is still in college. She was four months along. As I listened to my in-laws ask how she was feeling and her describe her pregnant self, I seriously thought I was going to throw up right there on the table.

Of all days, the one day where I don’t ovulate and I’m supposed to, when Clomid doesn’t do it’s job and I’ve been waiting 24 days for this, a cute baby and a pregnant teenager are NOT what I need. I was trapped. Totally trapped. I kept thinking about how I couldn’t wait to tell you all this story! I know so many of you can relate.

To top it off, completely unrelated to babies, at the party I got a text from my father’s GF. My father had gallbladder surgery Friday. I had been told it went well. Then last night, this text says that it turns out his gallbladder was gangrenous, causing him to not wake up from the anesthesia right away. Well a whole entire day went by, and he had still not woken up. He is currently in the icu, and the GF is going to text me this morning and let me know what’s going on. I’m trying not to be overly concerned, but when toxins might have spread throughout your body and you’re not waking up from anesthesia two days later, that worries me.  I was pretty upset last night. Luckily, I didn’t hear from her overnight, so I’m taking no news as good news.

The DH and I are supposed to be having a date night, which I’m very much looking forward to. Hopefully, my father does okay and I don’t need to be making a hospital trip today. It’s a new day – no tears today. But I still don’t have a smiley face, on CD 25. And as a few of you said – we are going to keep trying. What the  heck. Until the nurse tells me it’s not happening and we’re starting over, I guess we’ll keep on keepin’ on.

 

Thankful Thursday, with a song

Okay. Yes, I am thankful. I will look at the glass half-full for the time being, ignore my crappy day, and focus on the positive. Here’s why.

1) I have not had angioedema in, oh, at least a week. Maybe a week and a half. You know why? I stopped eating sugar. As I’ve mentioned before, I do have it in my cereal in the morning, coffee creamer, and yogurt after school. Besides that, I gave it up. What a difference. I’ve put my body through a few tests, too. I got a container of this gluten-free, sugar-free ice cream:

Oh. My. Goodness. It’s delicious. I haven’t had ice cream in a very long time, and I miss it. This isn’t…exactly the same. But it is sooo good. I had that with no lip hives. I also put my body through one more major test:

I seriously can’t describe to you how delicious these are. They are gluten-free, sugar-free almond joy bars. Get the recipe here. My husband made them for the Superbowl, and I can’t believe how amazing they are. I took a picture of ours, but of course it didn’t look anything like this. Either way, the taste is amazing. Sugar-free doesn’t mean sweet-free. It has Stevia in it, which has never bothered me. The texture of the chocolate is like fudge…and with the sweet coconut on top, seriously. Best of all – no lip hives! I can’t believe it. So that’s really quite nice. Whip me up some sugar-free desserts, people. I can eat them with little guilt.

I’ll keep this post short, as I am doubling up today. I do have another reason to be thankful.

2) My husband and I have a song. We have had a few songs, over the years. The big “our song” has been Tim McGraw’s “My Best Friend”. My husband had that one picked out for us when we were teenagers, just dating, and he had introduced me to country music. It was our wedding song in 2009. It’s still my top pick, for sure. The other day, though, a song came on the radio and my husband said, “This is us, babe. This is our new song.” I thought – oh geez. He’s a prankster, who knows what it’s going to be. But here’s what it was, not so bad after all:

Lee Brice’s “A Woman Like You.” It’s a good song! And it was very sweet. I can’t help but think of it when I hear that song, my husband picked that one out. A song where he thinks of me. I’m very thankful for my husband!

Now off to trying for that baby…

 

Positive thinking, or completely crazy?

Clomid, Round 2, is over. I took my last pill yesterday, thank goodness. Luckily, I really do not have side effects from it, though over the course of a cycle I have some pretty negative days. Some say that Clomid can kind of put you down in the dumps, and I’ll blame it on that, even if it’s not the case.

Though I talk about fertility at length here on this blog, I actually don’t talk about the details of it in real life too much. Most of you probably do the same, though it’s surprising for me, because I’m kind of an open book. I don’t just offer the details of my personal life to anyone, but if it comes up, or they ask, I spill it all out. So, it’s odd that though I feel like I talk about fertility all the time, I don’t. In truth, I think about fertility all the time, and I’ve just mixed them up in my head. I’m talking to myself.

This might be part of the reason why I’m feeling just a little bit more confident this morning, after talking yesterday about fertility to someone I do not normally talk to about it. His wife is pregnant, and prior to her being so, we used to talk about her struggles. She didn’t have a period for a long time after BCP (months), and then it was on and off. She didn’t ovulate. A very similar situation to mine. Then she got Clomid. Interestingly enough, we go to the same gyno office (different actual Dr.), and her Dr. gave her the Clomid without a trip to an RE, and mine refused to do so. Oh well. She got pregnant on her very first round of Clomid 50mg, which is a miracle. I knew she was pregnant up until now, but I did not know that she took Clomid. It always is nice to hear that Clomid has worked for another person. That brings the list of people I know personally who got pregnant on Clomid to 3: My mother, my aunt, and now her.

In addition, the person I was talking to knew that we were TTC. Though he didn’t say anything that mind-blowing, and were things many other people have said, for whatever reason, it made me feel a little better. He simply said, “Don’t worry. It’s going to happen. It’s going to work. Try not to stress out about it (ugh, impossible). It will definitely happen.” I don’t know why that was so nice to hear, when I tell it to myself all the time, but it was! I think I just needed to hear that from someone else. And this was a guy, whose wife went through the same thing. So it was nice.

I went home and started thinking, “Yeah, this will work. Maybe not this round, but Clomid worked last time. It did what it was intended to do. It’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of when.” When I think about it that way, when I tell myself it’s going to happen in the next few cycles, it makes it easier to wait a little bit. So what if it doesn’t take on this cycle, it will on the next! I know that I might be setting myself up for disappointment by telling myself I will be getting pregnant in the next few cycles, but right now, it gets me through. Maybe I can wait patiently for this.

What makes me crazy in the head is when I start to doubt it (which is most of the time). I start quickly thinking things like, “No way, I might not even ovulate this cycle! Who knows when it could be. I can’t see it happening. It feels so far away.” Those are the thoughts typically in my brain, but to swap them out with “Yes, it’s going to work…soon” changes the perspective altogether.

I used to think that when people said, “Think positively” they meant to think things like, “Oooh, I really hope it works!” That wasn’t doing it for me. And it’s  not really positive. “It’s going to happen in the next few cycles” – that does work for me. Is that positive, or just completely crazy? It’s going to happen.

Now, I am a little nervous about the timing. Not nervous, but anxious. We can’t blow it! In my mind, there’s only a few cycles I will be getting Clomid. If we mess up the timing, then we didn’t do our part. Clomid won’t get me pregnant, but it won’t be the Clomid’s fault. I’ll have to move to IUI’s, when it was our timing that was the problem. That thought does make me a little nuts. However, I do not want to pressure the hubby. I think we both felt a lot of pressure last round, as it was our first, and that did NOT help. He told me that he doesn’t even want to know this cycle when it’s time, which I understand. I’m sure he’ll be able to tell though. I’ll do my best to make it fun and normal, even though in my head, I feel like a drill sergeant. I  know that it’s very important to keep the pressure and stress away. I will be trying my best to do that.

That said, I did not get any specific instructions from my RE nurse! When she left me a message last week, she said simply, “The Clomid’s been called in for you, you can pick it up today.” Okay…thanks for the message. She didn’t even tell me which days to take it! I obviously took it 5-9 as I did last time, when another nurse gave me the instructions. Last cycle, that other nurse told me not to worry too much about TTC, as they wanted to see if I would just ovulate. This cycle, I expected exact instructions on when to use the OPK’s, and how often to try. Nothing. I think I’m going to call on Monday, but because I’m curious, I’ll ask you: What have your Dr.’s said? I have heard so often every other day in the weeks leading up to it, but the person I talked to last night said they were told every single day from CD 11-21. And that was from a Dr. in the same office as my Dr. What do you think, every other or every day?

Well this post was far longer than I intended it to be. If you made it this far, thanks!

I want to mention (off the topic now) and state for the record that I, Megan, have a sugar problem. It is official. What was once a sugar addiction like you wouldn’t believe, is now a sugar “allergy”. Not really, it’s my autoimmune issues, but it acts like one. It gives me my arch nemesis – angioedema, or hives in my face and mouth that form under the skin, causing swelling that lasts for a LONG time. I have now gone mostly sugar-free for two weeks now. I can have a little in the mornings, I’ve found out, but not night. There is sugar in my cereal, my coffee creamer, and my yogurt at lunch. That’s all fine. But nothing after lunch. I’ve gone lip-hive free for those two weeks….up until yesterday. The night before, Thursday night, I had…wait for it….a marshmallow. Now, these are no ordinary marshmallows. Back when I was eating sugar, only a few months ago, my husband bought me gourmet, homemade marshmallows as a Christmas present. I got them last year too, and they are unbelievable. They come in different flavors, they’re huge, and the consistency…swoon. So you can see how I feel about them. Anyway, my father and sister were over eating dinner, and my father always brings dessert. He brought two things of ice cream, frozen berries, and angel food cake. He remembered that I told him I’ve gone sugar-free, so the angel food cake was sugar-free. He forgot that I am also gluten-free, haha. So anyway, I had one marshmellow. Chocolate chip. I should’ve taken a picture of it. I actually went to bed without any hives. Yesterday, at school mind you, right before lunch. About 11:00. My students were at a special. I felt it form above my top lip in my cheek. I could NOT believe it. It never happens in the daytime. I popped meds, but it was too late. The rest of the afternoon was awful. I know my kids were looking at me wondering what the hell had happened. When I closed my mouth, it looked like I had a stroke. The left side was hanging down. Anyway, it has been a LOT worse before. A lot. I still have that picture in my phone of how bad it can get, and I still am not ready to share that face with the world. My coworkers said they couldn’t “really” see it. But I could, and I could feel it. After a few hours it spreads more evenly throughout the face. This morning, 8:00, 3 hours away from 24 hours ago when it happened, and my cheeks and lips are still swollen. No more marshmallows. No more treats. No more sugar, with those few exceptions. It’s…just not worth it. I’m officially gluten- and sugar-free. Bleh.

Okay, that’s really the end. Have a good weekend!

Gluten-free granola cereal – yum!

Okay, I’m better now! My friends know this about me – one thing I do not ever care to be is needy. There are occasions when I do need others, of course, but the majority of the time, I want to be able to do things and feel emotions without needing other people to coach me through them. AKA – I want to be a positive person, or at least pretend to be. Growing up, I’d say I was optimistic 99% of the time. That has changed over the last year, but the core of that personality still exists.

I’ve noticed that too many of my posts are negative and whiny. I know that it’s my blog; I can say whatever’s on my mind, and I know you guys are super-supportive, which is wonderful. But for my own mental peace, I need to find the positives in my life, of which there are many. Tomorrow is my mind-dump, so I’ll save the little (happy) things I’ve been thinking about.

For today, I thought I’d post the recipe to the gluten-free granola I’ve made twice and made reference to. It’s delicious.

I got the recipe from here, but I’ll give it to you here as well. FYI – I doubled this recipe, and it made enough cereal for 2 weeks.

*1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
*1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
*1/3 cup raw sesame seeds (I didn’t do this)
*2 cups organic rolled oats ( I used gluten-free, by Bob’s Red Mill)
*1-2 teaspoons organic ground cinnamon
*3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
*3 tablespoons organic coconut oil, liquified in a pan of hot water, if necessary
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 cup organic raisins (Yuck, skipped this one)
*1/2 cup organic dried cranberries, unsulphured dried apricots, or other dried fruit (chopped, if necessary) (I love only a few specific kinds of dried fruit – dried pineapples, papayas, and banana chips..yum. That’s what I added.)
*1/4 cup raw cacao nibs- optional, but highly recommended (70% dark chocolate chips could be substituted, if desired)

I couldn’t reason with myself why something so close to chocolate should be in my breakfast, so I omitted it. That said, I also added some shredded coconut to this, and combined with the dried fruit, it’s very sweet. It’s also probably not the best for you. But it’s SO GOOD.

Here are the directions:

1. Preheat oven to 250°F.

2. Pour all ingredients except cacao nibs in a large bowl and stir well.

3. Spread the mixture evenly onto a baking sheet in a thin layer.

4. Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

5. Remove pan from oven, toss granola around, rotate the pan, and bake for another 15 minutes. Repeat until granola is completely dry and light golden brown (about 1 hour total).

6. Allow to cool and then stir in cacao nibs. Store in an air-tight container.

I’m not sure how many more times I will make this, because like I said, I don’t think it’s all that good for you, and it’s really sweet. I could eat bowls of it. But it is definitely worth you making at least once! I love how you can personalize it with whatever you’d like. It’s really up to you. Enjoy!