Seismic Shift

In November my twin girls were born. They were both over 5 pounds and spent no time in NICU, a miracle. I managed to deliver them both vaginally, some people tend to say “naturally” because that v-word is apparently a little off putting, but natural child birth would be some true warrior woman stuff, a challenge I was not equal to and God bless the women out there who are!

I was induced at 37 weeks, because the end of my pregnancy got a little challenging. Two months before the girls arrived, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. (A mild case, I was able to avoid medication and control it with my diet and close monitoring of my blood sugar.) A month before the girls were born my husband was admitted to the hospital in congestive heart failure due to viral cardiomyopathy. Three weeks before they were born, I was walking the line between gestational hypertension and Preeclampsia. That last month, I was pretty miserable I could only sleep sitting up and my feet were so swollen that I was wearing glorified house slippers but even those hurt my feet. I made it through that last month by focusing on my daughters and how close we were to the place where the doctors felt that they would be healthy, I kept telling myself it was a month – I could do anything for a month.

Though I’ve been told I have an expansive vocabulary, I do not have the words to explain how these little girls have changed not just my life, but me as a person. My house is a disaster, I’ve never been more tired or had less time for myself, and I’ve never been happier. My parenting skills are nothing blog-worthy, Martha Stewart will not be singing my praises anytime soon, but I will not be on whatever the parenting equivalent of the people of Walmart is either. My daughters are happy and thriving, I couldn’t ask for more.

My girls are just past the six month mark and we are getting to a place where I’m starting to get a feel for what this new world will look like. I’m still trying to find ways to fit in the things that are important to me, mostly reading and writing. I admit, some days the only reading I get done is the reading I do with my daughters but I’m hopeful I can have it all not just for me, but so I can set a good example for my sweet girls.

Being one of the Lucky Ones

I’ve been remiss in sharing here and I have to be honest – it’s because I have been scared, terrified really…

I know I mentioned last year that at the end of 2016 my husband and I attempted IVF – well we made another attempt in early 2017 and this time, we got pregnant – with TWINS, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

At the end of January, I went back to the IVF doctor for a postmortem kind of visit. With my chart open in front of him, my doctor said he didn’t really know why things hadn’t worked because everything looked good – hormone levels, uterine lining, etc right up until the test came back negative. He really felt with a few minor changes to the protocol, we could be successful and so my husband and I turned it over, and over, and over, and decided we would try again. After all this time not only did our doctor have more data about what worked and what didn’t work, we had more experience with the process.

The first round, everything went great until the pregnancy test came back negative – the second round, everything was a challenge. For every one of my medication deliveries – my husband ended up at the FedEx terminal waiting for the truck to get back, or else the meds would’ve been locked up (in the case of the first shipment, over the weekend!) The doctor got much more aggressive with the meds on the front end – I had to give myself five shots a day, as opposed to the two a day in the previous attempt. This time I had ended up with bruises, my stomach looked like I was covered in cheetah spots. This time there was also more pain with the egg retrieval for sure and more discomfort in the embryo transfer.

Out of the process, we got four eggs which became three embryos and because of my “advanced” maternal age we transferred all three back in knowing we would be lucky if one of them took. Of course, I’ve already told you that we managed not only to beat the odds and get pregnant but to have twins on the way.

However, here’s the thing about “beating the odds” and being lucky that no one tells you – it’s terrifying. When people keep reminding you how lucky you are, you start to wonder if your luck isn’t going to eventually run out.

I always feel like I have some arbitrary milestone I am trying to reach that means that my babies will be safe, but truthfully every time I reach one – I see there’s another one in the distance, more like running hurdles than running a marathon. First it was hearing the heartbeat, then it was reaching the end of my first trimester, then it was the “anatomy scan” that would tell us that all the organs were developing as expected.

There are other fears with twins, I feel a good deal of movement but I don’t know which of the babies is moving so in between ultrasounds (As a High Risk patient I have them once a month.) I usually start to fret about if I have really been feeling two babies moving or if something has happened. It’s happening less often now, as they are bigger so not quite as close together as they were, but still.

I’m almost 28 weeks now and so my fears are less focused on unexpectedly losing one of the babies and more focused on “what happens if they come too early”? My Doctors would like for me to make it to 38 weeks, though they have been assuring me that plenty of babies come before that and are perfectly fine, healthy babies. However, I’ve had friends who have had beautiful tiny preemies and thinking about the pictures of those babies in incubators with all those tubes hooked up to them scares the heck out of me.

That’s why, I haven’t been around much lately, because the biggest news has been the hardest news to share. Not to mention that truthfully aside from preparing weeknight dinners – I haven’t been playing in the kitchen much nor have I done much writing so I don’t have much to share on those fronts either, but I’m still here, just slightly rounder than I was before!

Flavor Friday: London Fog Cupcakes

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One of my favorite annual traditions is the Tea Party I have every year with my nieces, we started it when they were two, this was the third year. Because my nieces are young and very sensitive to sugar, I tried making smaller cupcakes using my mini muffin pan.  I learned that my decorating technique for mini cupcakes needs some work!

Since it’s a tea party and my Dad (the only boy invited to attend) loves tea I went with London Fog Cupcakes, they have a subtle Earl Grey tea flavor that works perfectly with Vanilla, neither flavor overpowers the other they are the perfect compliment. They were a big hit with my family, the only problem we had was that the girls wanted more, thus defeating the purpose of making mini-cupcakes.

The mini cupcakes were a huge hit, I can’t wait to make this recipe again though next time I’ll go full sized!

http://www.alishaenid.com/2015/03/19/tea-time-london-fog-cupcakes/

 

Flavor Friday: Black Forrest Cupcakes

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In 2016, I worked on my cupcake baking skills and I decided that for Christmas I would surprise my family with some homemade cupcakes. I decided to try something I had already made before – Key Lime Pie Cupcakes (my husband’s favorite) and Black Forrest Cupcakes, because Black Forrest cake is my favorite – dark chocolate, cherries, and a whipped cream icing, what’s not to like?

I confess I didn’t follow the Black Forest Cupcake recipe attached as much as use it for my inspiration, I made some changes:

Rather than use boxed mix, I found a recipe online for Death by Chocolate Cupcakes and used it instead.

I didn’t bake cherries into the cupcakes, I cored them and added the Cherry Pie Filling instead. I felt like adding the cherries to the mix during baking would diffuse the flavor through the cupcake and I wanted to give it a cherry filling.

I didn’t get around to the chocolate shavings on top, in all fairness I had planned to but time got away from me.

I brought all of my cupcakes in the carrier and display stand I ordered when I fell into the grips of cupcake mania and I’m sharing a link because I love it. It’s collapsible, so it doesn’t take up alot of room when you don’t need it.

http://www.madetobeamomma.com/black-forest-cupcakes/

New New Year

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I confess, yesterday I opened up my New Year’s Post for 2016 and saw all the optimistic resolutions I had made and I got so disappointed in myself I closed down my blog to reflect on 2016 and where it all went wrong. The truth is that 2016 was a hard year for me, I’ve shared my shortcomings here with you already so it can’t really be much of a surprise that for most of my New Year’s targets for 2016 – I missed the mark.

The first resolution I am setting for 2017 is forgiveness, for myself. (This is something that has been much harder for me than it sounds.) I can recount all the ways I failed to meet the standards I set for myself in 2016, but instead I will just acknowledge, I am not where I had hoped to be at this time last year and the truth is – it’s okay. I have lost time and momentum and while I don’t have much patience for people who squander time, it’s past – I have to let it go and keep my eyes focused forward. I can’t move forward if I am busy torturing myself over past mistakes.

Acceptance is my next resolution. Work is going to be nuts, still – we don’t have a go live date for this wretched project that we embarked on in March 2015 but as I have no control over when the go live date is going to be, there’s nothing I can do but the best I can with the tools they’re giving me. My new job is not really “new” as much as it is trimming away some of the excess responsibilities I had and focusing on doing one thing really well. It also means letting go of a certain amount of control, I was the lord and ruler of my domain and I won’t be anymore and that’s okay.

I realize that these are sort of vague ideas I am striving for here with no way of measuring my success or failure in a way that I can meaningfully share with you, but I hope that I will be in a happier, more peaceful place in 2017 and the results of that will be evident.

While I work on that whole forgiveness thing, I’ll keep focusing on some other more tangible resolutions for the year to come.

Hope you are all set for a happy new year!!

I am Schrödinger’s Cat

One day in my 20’s I came home to a roommate who was a big weepy puddle on the sofa. It took a while to decipher what had brought about the water works but eventually I understood that she was upset because we were “at the ‘marrying age’ with no prospective husbands on the horizons”. I did not share my roommate’s sense of melancholy, I felt that I had a good,  full life and if one day I met the right person, I would get married, if not I just wouldn’t.

Fortunately, in my 30’s I did meet the right man and we got married and like many newlywed couples, we wanted some time to get settled into our new life before we contemplated starting a family. The thing is, when you get married in your 30’s, if you want a family, time is not on your side. However, we went about building a life and once we bought and remodeled a house, did a little traveling on our own, we set about trying to start a family.

At first, “trying” merely meant we “pulled the goalie” there was no real plan – if it happened, it happened. Then we lost my Father in Law and we were heartbroken that he would never get to know his grandchildren, so we got more serious in our efforts. We introduced apps, charts, early morning temperatures, and perhaps even an old home remedy or two to the equation… to no avail, we were trying but nothing was happening.

It became kind of a joke for us that for two weeks out of the month, I was Schrödinger’s Cat – I might or might not be pregnant. We didn’t tell our family and friends about our efforts because frankly, just telling my husband every month that we still weren’t pregnant was hard enough.

So this Spring, we began seeing fertility doctors, so many doctors, and having tests. The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong except that we are “old” (a label I am still struggling to accept as I’m not even middle aged yet). I can’t even find the words to express how painful it is to feel like your body is failing you, getting pregnant is something so many people do without any planning and it just wasn’t happening for us. We needed a little extra help so we decided to try IVF.

There are plenty of blogs that chronicle people’s experience with IVF, whatever this blog is, it isn’t that. I will just say that for the most part the stories are true, for almost three weeks I have been having all sorts of injections. It started with simple and small injections I gave myself and has progressed to larger injections, my husband has to give me. There are so many hormones, it’s a miracle when I can make it through a commercial break watching TV without crying. I had a week of daily blood tests and a phlebotomist with a mean streak so I looked like the victim of a violent crime.

For all the money, blood, and tears, in the end – I am Schrödinger’s Cat again. Last Wednesday, we transferred in two embryos in the hopes that at least one of them will decided to stick around and grow into something wonderful and next week I will find out if I am or I’m not pregnant.

8 days after this post, the pregnancy test came back negative.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now…

It turns out that not signing up to do NaNoWriMo was a smart move, but not for the reasons I thought…

That project I’ve grown so weary of, the one that was supposed to go live today – it has been postponed, no new go live date yet, though if I were a gambler I would wager it will somehow impact my trip to Disney World in April.

Today I am in a completely different department than the one I was in when I last wrote, after the layoff announcement I applied for a position in another department. This may be one of those cases of “everything happens for a reason” the new job is basically taking one aspect of my job and focusing on it full time so in a way – a big chunk of what I do now will go away but the upside is that I will have the opportunity to do what I do better. (I can elaborate on this but it’s alot to do with data analytics which I’m told can get frightfully boring in a quick hurry.)

The layoff is still hanging over my company like a dark, heavy rain cloud. People all over the company were affected, if not because they are losing their jobs because they know one of the people affected by the layoff, then certainly because they are waiting for the axe to fall on their department. My old department which has normally put up Christmas decorations to rival your average department store, is completely without a single decoration – it breaks my heart.

For a little extra twist of my pain, my boss who also happens to be my friend, is really hurting over all this. She really cared about all the employees in our department, watching it get dismantled is really hard. (Watching the new company we’ve been outsourced to talk about how incompetent we were is no picnic either.) Tomorrow is her last day as she’s going out on leave for the rest of the time in the layoff.

I’m glad that November is behind me and I hope all of you reached your NaNo dreams!

No NaNoWriMo

I am going to go ahead and make it official, I am not participating in NaNoWriMo this year.

Originally, I decided that I was not going to participate because of that HUGE work project that goes live on December 1st, I was expecting lots of long hours as we try desperately to cross the finish line with some modicum of success. For my mental health and well being, it did not seem like a good idea to add an extra level of stress to an already explosive situation.

And then things exploded!

Last Wednesday they called my Department into a room and told us that our Department was being outsourced, so I am telling people I am at my job on a K1 Visa, I have 90 days to get a job or leave the company. I’ve worked for this company for 11 years, and the problem I am wrestling with is that I once thought this was the company I would retire from, but my faith is shaken, now I don’t know how to feel secure there even if I find a job. The new outsourcing company is contractually obligated to open an office in our city and have pledged that they need as many of our employees as they can get, but I’m not sure I trust this arrangement either. Of course, I haven’t had quite a week to digest this and at this point I am going to have to leave the company so it’s all hypothetical.

So, it’s November 1st and I am sending out my warm fuzzies and best wishes to all of you participating in NaNoWriMo, I plan to hop on Social Media and cheer you all on every chance I get this year! I believe in you – you have a wonderful story inside of you just dying to get out!

Summer-Onset Seasonal Affective Disorder?

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It’s a long running “joke” among my friends and family that as Spring simmers on into Summer, there is one thing you can always count on – the higher the mercury climbs, the less likely you are to see me out of the house.

Every Spring I excitedly tout the return of the Farmer’s Market and I get there unreasonably early to stroll from vendor to vendor and people watch. I go hiking to check to see when the Blackberries are going to be ripe and then I pick them and make cobblers. I work out in the yard, pruning, trimming, putting things in the ground that will more than likely be left to fend for themselves in the sweltering months of summer.

If I’m being 100% honest, it’s not just outdoor activities, as the mercury climbs, I seem to decline. I guess it’s sort of evident when you look at my blog, I do less everywhere – I see friends less, cook less, do other things around the house less, exercise less, sleep less. There are some things I do MORE of… I eat more, which isn’t great considering the exercising less thing I mentioned earlier and I seem to do escapist kind of activities more, disappearing in books, movies, or television.

I wish I knew why, I think some of it is a byproduct of where I live, I love the Gulf Coast but our Summers are a sweltering sweat box. When I open the front door, the humid, sticky heat wraps itself around me and I feel just miserable before I’ve even stepped off the front porch. Seriously, I just want to turn around and go back inside. It’s made even worse by the fact I have asthma so breathing in the thick soupy air doesn’t help that horrible drained feeling.

This year has been especially awful as usually in July, we got to San Diego for a week and the cool California air and the fun of Comic Con recharge my battery some, not 100% but some, and this year – we didn’t go to Comic Con. (Work put the kibosh on it this year with our HUGE software implementation.) My husband and I did take a “staycation” but that just wasn’t the same as going somewhere where we could leave the house and still be out of the heat.

Fortunately for me, the heat has broken… the mercury is on its way back down and soon the Farmer’s Market will be starting back up for Fall and it will be safe to venture out past the front door again.

This is Not Emily Gilmore’s DAR

Kelly Bishop portraying Emily Gilmore

Kelly Bishop portraying Emily Gilmore

I am a Gilmore Girl’s fan, truthfully, a HUGE Gilmore Girls fan. I watched it when it was on the air, I still watch it when I am flipping through channels and come across it, and sometimes when I need a fix, I watch it on Netflix. Like so many other fans, I am in breathless anticipation of the new episodes coming this November. I want to be clear, I love the Gilmore Girls, but I am some times frustrated by their portrayal of the DAR, because while it was something I never thought I would talk about here – I am a member of the DAR.

It never really occurred to me how the Gilmore Girls portrayal of the DAR really affected public perception until I came across Lindset Kupfer’s article “Is the DAR Real? ‘Gilmore Girls’ Got the Daughters of the American Revolution Right,” and I was flabbergasted when I reached her final paragraph:

There have been tons of famous members involved with Daughters of The American Revolution, including Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Clare Bootth Luce, and Barbara Bush. Eight other first women have been members as well. What I am trying to say is, Gilmore Girls pretty much hit the nail on the head with the fancy meetings and the expensive charity dinners.

So, what IS the Daughters of the American Revolution?

It IS lineage based. To be a member you have to provide proof that you are to directly descended from a person involved in the United States’ struggle for independence. It’s a hard goal to achieve for many reasons, there were periods of our country’s history where official records were few and far between, even after that there are long periods were women’s names were little more than a footnote in those documents. It’s even more difficult for African American women who want to join, but there are advancements in science that are making those gaps in paperwork easier to cross every day.

It’s about Service. The DAR is a lineage-based service organization. We give back to our communities – in schools, libraries, veteran’s homes and hospitals, historical sites, and really that’s just the tip of the iceberg. My chapter has one meeting a month and outside of that, there’s generally at least 3-4 group volunteer opportunities every month. (That doesn’t include the time individual members volunteer independently.)

It’s not about the benjamins. My family tree is split, one branch stretches back into the humble beginnings of this country and the other is an immigrant story, and while both branches are rich in stories of adventure, love, and maybe a dash of crazy here and there, not one of those branches yielded much in the way of financial windfalls. I’m afraid there are no lumbar barons, oil tycoons, or fabulously wealthy family members back there, and that makes me no less eligible to be a member than Emily Gilmore.

It’s about girl power. It’s not in the motto, or in any of the printed materials, but I have never felt as uplifted as a woman as I do after a DAR meeting. We talk about the contribution of women in history and then plan what contributions we can make to our community, and then we go out and do it. Not only do our notable members include all the people that Kupfer mentioned but there are artists, activists, writers, attorneys, a Nobel prize winner, an astronaut, politicians, and celebrated academics.

It’s not about fancy meetings and the expensive charity dinners. Our Chapter meetings are in a church on a Saturday morning, there is food and fellowship provided by a few members and we drink our hot beverages from Styrofoam cups, not bone china. We have an annual charity event – it’s a Garden Party but while it is beautiful and elegant, it is not expensive.

The part of the Gilmore Girls portrayal of the DAR I always loved is that they depict DAR women as strong and elegant, and what’s not to like about that?

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