Counting Down

2 weeks. 14 days. 336 hours. 

In the past, the 2 week wait was full of anticipation, excitement, Baby Boards on Pinterest, prayers, and sleepy baby name talk before bed. It was also peppered with doubt. Moments where I knew that I probably wasn’t pregnant, because I never was. 

This time, it’s different. 

14 days left. So far, the best chances we’ve had for success. 2 to 4 eggs ovulated after trigger shot, plenty of targets, timed intercourse. Some hope.

12 days left. Numb. Couple of thoughts of twins. Attempts to get excited through Pinterest boards on twin nursery. Still not feeling anything.

10 days left. Progesterone is making me irritable, crazy, but I’m still not hopeful or excited. I’m starting to realize I just don’t believe I’ll ever get pregnant. I can’t even imagine it anymore. I don’t know what 2 lines on a test would even look like. In the 1 year, 6 months, and 23 days we’ve been on this adventure I’ve not so much as even seen an indent line. It’s been 571 days, and 2 little lines are evading me like a dream you want to remember as you wake up, but when you try to tell someone about it later it’s gone. 

8 days left. I’ve altogether stopped symptom watching. This isn’t like me. 

Why is it when my chances are at their best so far, I can’t seem to find anticipation? 

5 days left. Maybe, just maybe, I should blog about this numb, not anything 2 week wait. Maybe I can get that excitement back. Maybe if I do this, I’ll be back to my old self, talking and getting excited with my husband. I’m tired of counting down the days to my negative test. I want to count down the days to my positive test. Can’t believe I’m saying this after all the heartache it caused in the past, but I miss the old 2 week wait. 

5 days left…

Easy Southwest Pasta Sauce

Sometimes, you don’t have any meals planned but you need dinner quick. I invented this Southwest Sauce about five years ago from some basic items in my pantry and its been a favorite in my home ever since. We’ve had it over pasta, spätzle, spaghetti squash, and zucchini noodles and each time it has been delicious! It also pairs well with grilled or blackened chicken. 

SOUTHWEST SAUCE

Ingredients:


  • 1 can of Rotel (I use original, but any variety works)
  • 1 jar of Alfredo sauce (again choose your favorite)
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 2 tsp. Chili powder
  • 1 tbs. garlic powder

Directions:

1. Lightly drain the Rotel. It is fine if some water remains.

2. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized pot. Cook on medium heat. When it begins to bubble, turn stove down to low and let simmer.


3. Let sauce simmer while you cook whatever noodles you are using.

4. Drain noodles. Pour sauce over noodles and enjoy!


Two Crabs

This one will probably be a little too personal, but oh well, it’s funny as hell and I know my TTC friends can always use a laugh. 

Hubby and I went to the beach Saturday after an ultrasound and some blood work. On the way there we get the call from the clinic saying, in essence, that systems are a go! Trigger shot Saturday followed by four nights of intercourse. We should have 2-4 eggs, depending on the growth of a couple after the trigger shot, so things are looking good. Plus, if we’re successful it’ll be a beach baby! Score. 

We have a great night out Saturday, everything was perfect. We sat out on the pier, ate amazing food, drank great beer, and talked all evening. I dreamed of the baby, or babies, we might have 9 months from now and smiled. 

Pier at Apalachicola, Florida. No need for filters or editing.

Sunday we head to the beach. Now I should say, we are both fairly pale people and we know it. We brought sunscreen and an umbrella for constant shade from the sun. I reapplied my sunscreen every 2 hours or so. It was 30 spf, and typically I’m a 75-100 kind of girl, but this sunscreen was on sale, I had a coupon, and an Ibotta rebate, so it’s what I got. Also, someone once told me sunscreen over 35 really isn’t any different from other sunscreens, so what was the harm?

Oh, there was a lot of harm.

We spent all day, under the umbrella, swimming occasionally, eating PB&J sandwiches, listening to music and sipping on corona, having no clue we were baking.

We left around 5 and when we got into the car we looked at each other and expletives began to pour out of our mouths. We had been so careful!!

Here we are, two crabs who are on a strict time table to make a baby! We can barely move out skin hurts so bad, but 2-4 eggs is not something we can let pass by.

So each night we look at each other and say “how can we do this without our burns touching?” And like crabs, red and scaly, we inch towards each other with side eyes and caution. We like to keep it romantic that way.

If you can’t laugh at yourself…

Sand, Storms, and Stories

When I was little, my grandparents would take my sister, cousin, and me to the beach over the summer. It was an annual tradition, one I looked forward to every year. 


We’d make sandcastles, the three of us, with very little know-how, grace, or artistry. And being young, we’d often forget our tools: inevitably there would be two shovels, two pails, and three girls. It didn’t stop us, no, we would find unique ways around this mathematical issue: dig a hole near the site that tide water can fill so we don’t have to go out to the ocean to get water, use our hands, make piles of sand, etc. 

Using your hands to carry dry sand was a particular challenge. You’d fill your hands up, watch as little tiny granules slipped through your hands and think: if I walk fast but carefully, I can make it back with most of this still in my hands. But with each granule of sand that slipped out, the rate of sand loses increased, and no amount of clenching of knuckles, steady-handed-ness, or speed could save the sand you so desperately wanted at your destination. You’d arrive back at the construction site with much less than you started with. Hopefully, it was enough to keep on trudging.

My dream of what our family will look like feels like that sand in my childish fingers and I’m not sure how much I’ll have left when I meet my destination. Every month, the image in my head of a child in my husband’s arms becomes fainter and fuzzier–it’s so hard to keep it in my hands.


The other day storms brushed past our house. It was twenty minutes of terrible winds and heavy rains, but instead of fear it brought me a little bit of sand. There was an image I used to have in my head when we began this TTC journey where Hubby and I would be lying in bed, half asleep, as a storm raged on outside. After a large thunderous clap, we would hear little footsteps running through the house yelling “Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!” We’d poke our heads out of the covers to see our son, about three or four years old, in his race car pjs and his face covered in fright. He’d crawl into bed with us, wrap his arms around me as another clap deafened the room and the power would go out. Hubby would get out of bed slowly and I’d say “what are you doing stay here with us”, to which he’d reply “I’m going to get —” (whatever our daughter’s name would be), and soon, a child some odd months old would be in our room in a playpen and all four of us would be together as the storm raged.

Weird little fantasy, right? But I loved that dream.

The short storm the other day reminded me of this fantasy, one that I thought had begun to slip through my fingers like sand. But there it was, clear as day as rain pounded the yard and house. 

This journey with infertility isn’t the story I had written in my mind, it’s not the plan I meticulously thought out, but perhaps it’s for the best. I may not have two pregnancies and two children years apart as I wanted, I may have one, I may have twins and never get pregnant again, I may not have any children, I may end up adopting. But a good story is never predictable, the best stories make you turn every page because you must know what comes next, because you must know the ending. Currently, despite the sadness and heartache, I keep turning the page. I’ve no intention of putting this story down, not now. I think most women struggling with infertility understand that. Even as the years drag on, the story isn’t over yet–we must keep reading. And in the moments where we can, let’s write in our own dreams into the story, let’s make the narrative uniquely ours.

“Company Ready”

Growing up, I abhorred the phrase “company ready.” It meant 2 or 3 days of cleaning to get the house acceptable for people to come over. I was not raised by clean freaks and our home often had a level of clutter that, while manageable and not hoard-ish, was always a hindrance to inviting people over. I never had last minute sleep-overs; any friends coming over required at least a days advance notice and a whole lot of hassle. As an adult, I try to keep my house at a level of clean where anyone can come over at any time and I’ll be comfortable with how my home looks. This is often harder than it sounds because cleaning isn’t a habit for Almost Domestic me. 

A few months ago after a birthday party for a friend’s son, my friend asked if the crowd could relocate to my house to enjoy the firepit after her 2 year old went to sleep. I of course said yes and then went home to clean as quickly as possible. Within 10 minutes, my house was “company ready.” I was so proud of my home at that moment. Sure the baseboards were dusty and the carpet unvacuumed, but otherwise, my house was good to go. 

Then this weekend, the Fourth of July weekend, it was decided on Thursday and Friday that hubby and I would host a cookout Monday. With many obligations this weekend, I couldn’t clean until the day of, something that would have sent me into a tizzy a year or so ago, especially since this was the Hubby’s family and not mine. I’m still trying to be impressive, you know? 

But this time, I leisurely swept, mopped and vacuumed. I found myself sitting for long periods of time scrolling my Facebook newsfeed, I was able to tame my curly mane into straight, I did my make-up. This for me is impressive.

Now mind you, I’m still not a clean freak. I still do not spend all my time making my house perfect and those habits I didn’t have growing up are still not habits. 

My secret: The 10 Minute Pick Up.

I’ve created a chore sheet for each month. On this sheet is a list of daily chores, weekly chores, monthly chores, and chores specific to that particular time of year, each with space to check off that the chore is done. Most months, I don’t even check off half of the items I should be doing. But the one that is almost always checked off is the daily chore known as The 10 Minute Pick Up.


Everyday I try to spend just 10 minutes picking things up. The coffee cups Hubby leaves around the house (is this an attempt at a daily scavenger hunt?), the shoes I take off as soon as I enter the house (girl needs her freedom!)  the mail on the table, etc. All the tiny things that clutter up a house regularly.

10 minutes. That’s it. I spend longer in the shower or finding a shirt that fits in the morning. Even when I was working and dogged tired from dealing with teenagers all day, I could give up 10 minutes of my day to pick things up. Sometimes I don’t even do it consecutively, just every time I pass through the living room I pick up a handful of clutter and move on.

The result: my house is typically “company ready.”

So many people are stressed out by all they must do: work, cook, clean, soccer games, meetings, social events, etc., that they don’t feel on top of anything. We stretch ourselves so thin that nothing is covered. But if everyone gave up 10 minutes a day, what a difference could that make? If a family of four all gave up 10 minutes from their phones and iPads to just straighten up for 10 minutes each, how much stress could they alleviate from their home? 

Those 10 minutes have allowed me to not fear inviting people over and have made us a little happier. When the house is cluttered, we seem to be more on edge and we tend to feel guilty. Neither are conducive to a happy life. 

10 Minutes. That’s all I need to maintain a little of my sanity. 

I now love “company ready.”

Last minute dinners don’t have to suck

Even though I’m officially a housewife now, I don’t always want to cook. Well, actually, what I don’t want is the whole cooking process which includes clean up and the ease of going out and having someone else do all that is far too appealing. But, now that we are losing my income, we need to be more frugal.

Years ago I began making freezer meals. It is hours of prep for peace of mind the next few weeks. Plus it basically forces us to eat in. All excuses of why we can’t cook for ourselves gone. 

Freezer meals are amazing. If you find that figuring out meals and cooking are endangering your sanity and the peace of your family, freezer meals are for you. 

Periodically, my sister and a friend of mine will get together and plan out a Freezer Meal Blitz. Everyone contributes and everyone leaves with a variety of food. Last week we undertook such a task, each spending approximately $60 and each leaving with 7-14 meals (smaller families like ours would have leftovers with just about every meal, thus doubling up the meals). The costs also included freezer safe disposable pans and freezer bags. It was wonderful. I’ll share later how to plan one of these, but today I just want to share how having meals already prepped can be a God Send (plus one recipe).

Yesterday, Hubby and I had a lot of errands to run and a hair appointment. When all was said and done, we finished everything at about 5:30pm, neither of us hungry yet, and not sure what to do about the dinner that we would inevitably need. I hadn’t planned on cooking because I knew we’d be in town most likely around dinner, I just didn’t plan on a late lunch spoiling our desire to eat. Had we not had meals prepped this would have blown up into one of those trivial fights couple have especially when one (read me) gets hangry easily. The fight would have gone something like this:

Me: should we eat now?

Hubby: I’m really not hungry right now.

Me: Yeah, I’m not hungry either, but I will be in two hours and there’s nothing at the house.

Hubby: ok so what do you want?

Me: I don’t know…

Hubby: Thai food?

Me: no.

Hubby: Mexican?

Me: no.

Hubby: well what?

Me: I don’t know what I want, I just know what I don’t want. You decide I’ll figure it out what to eat there. 

Hubby: nah we will just go home and figure it out. Neither of us are hungry.

Two hours later…

Hangry Me: there’s nothing in this house!!!!

Hubby: do you want to go out?

Hangry Me: ugh! Gosh! No I’m already in my pjs (whining may be involved).

Hubby: what do you want to do then?

Hangry Me: I told you I don’t know!!!! You never listen to me! 

And the fight would erupt right about then.

But not this time. 

No Hangry induced arguments, no “what do you want?” a millions times, no rummaging for an hour only to get more frustrated at ourselves. We were good.

Like I said, we weren’t hungry so I had time to defrost whatever I decided to make. I settled on hash brown casserole, a delicious hearty meal my sister made at the Blitz (recipe to follow). 

As I waited for it to defrost, I noticed I had eggs and berries, so we basically had brunch for dinner at about 7:30pm. 

And, because there were leftovers, breakfast the next morning was covered. Winning! 

Here’s the recipe for Hashbrown Casserole with freezing instructions:

HASHBROWN CASSEROLE


Ingredients:

  • 2lbs. frozen hashbrowns potatoes
  • 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2-3 Tbs. sour cream (to your liking)
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2-1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 6oz. chopped ham
  • 1 chopped jalapeño (optional)

Directions:

Let potatoes stand at room temperature just long enough so that they can easily be stirred but are still frozen (about 5-10 minutes).

In a large bowl, mix the cream of mushroom soup, sour cream, salt, pepper, ham and 1-1/2 cups of cheese until well blended (the remaining cup of cheese will be used when you cook the casserole). Add hashbrowns and stir until well coated. 

Pour into a freezer safe 9×13 casserole dish. You can also pour the casserole into a gallon sized freezer bag. Put the reserved cheese in a separate freezer bag and freeze the two together.

When you’re ready to cook the casserole, thaw the pan or the freezer bag the night before. If you used a freezer bag to store your meal, pour the thawed contents into a 9×13 baking dish. 

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Then sprinkle the remaining cheese and the chopped jalapeños on top of the casserole and bake another 10-15 minutes, until top layer of cheese is melted and the edges are hot and bubbling. 

For a crispier top, broil for an additional 3-5 minutes. 

Enjoy!

    What I Wish I Knew Before TTC

     

    I’m a planner. I like knowing what to expect at all times and how to proceed so that everyone is the happiest they can be. It was no different with trying to conceive (TTC for those of you unaware of the lingo). Hubby and I sat down in the early months of our marriage to plan our family. We knew we wanted to be married at least a year, we knew we wanted a good portion of our debt gone, and we wanted time to change our insurance policy. We settled on trying in December of 2014 and began cutting out debt.

    And the plan worked…for the most part.

    I mean, we stayed married for a year, changed insurance policies, and got rid of a lot of debt.

    August of 2014 I had my yearly exam with my doctor. I had been on birth control since I was 16 to help manage my poly-cystic ovaries (PCO) and knew I probably needed to get off of those first. So after that visit, no more birth control. I waited for my next period with anticipation. It never came. Finally around Thanksgiving my doctor prescribed Metformin to help induce a period and after 110 days of nothing, I finally had a visit from Aunt Flow. It was only then that I felt I could start TTC in December as planned.

    I researched conception, I read books like Taking Charge of Your Fertility, I joined forums and listened to other women. I knew it would probably take us some time. How long, I didn’t know.

    But then Aunt Flow stopped visiting again but never a pregnancy. Every. Damned. Cycle. I’d have to call my doctor, do a test, learn what I already knew, have my period medically induced, etc. It was terrible. Eventually, I was given Clomid.

    It was wonderful. I had normal cycles. I was finally really getting to TTC. But the big word there is trying. I was allowed to try. And that’s all I achieved

    Now, after a year and a half we are working with a fertility clinic in the area and are on our second cycle of injectible gonadtropins with at home intercourse. Hopefully this will work, otherwise we will be moving on to IUI (inuterine insemination) or IVF (in-vitro fertilization).

    Despite all my research and asking questions, there’s still so much I wish I knew before starting this very tumultuous journey. Here’s what I wish I knew:

    1. You will go crazy. It’s inevitable. The waking up at 5am to take your temperature EVERY day is just the start of it. Oh, you’ll analyze every chart those little 5am dots create, you’ll compare your stats, temps, and charts with women who got pregnant. The internet makes it so easy to do. It’ll be what you think about when you first wake up, it’ll be the last thing your think about when you fall asleep.

    But the thing that will make you even crazier than your obsession with your charts, the thing that will shake you to your core, will be the month’s roller coaster. You begin your cycle feeling like a total failure, dejected and guilty because you didn’t get pregnant last month. About 5 days into your new cycle, you’ll start analyzing that damn chart and attempting to plan the perfect intercourse schedule to get that baby. At about the tenth day of your cycle, hope will start growing, welling up in you. Could this be our month? Will it finally happen? Then, when you finally pinpoint ovulation, the waiting begins. Women in the TTC world call it the TWW, or the two week wait. And you’ll wait, analyzing every “symptom.” Some days, you’ll just know in your heart that your pregnant. Other days, you’ll just know in your gut you failed again. And this back and forth continues until finally Aunt Flow visits and you get to start the whole damned ride again.

    You will go crazy. You will cry at least 5 times every month. You will throw temper tantrums your husband doesn’t understand, that you don’t understand. You will go numb and stop doing anything only to become manically obsessive over TTC the next day.

    2. And no one can comfort you. Despite your pain, craziness, frustration, confusion, no one will be able to console you. They’ll try, those 3 or 4 people you’ve allowed to know your struggle outside of your marriage. Your husband will try, but he is battling his own pain, craziness, frustration, and confusion and ultimately, can’t. Your friends will say all the wrong things that in spite of their good intentions will only cut you down more. And what will really piss you off is that you can’t get mad at what they say. They’re trying.  Like really trying to help you through this time. So silently to yourself you declare that the next person that tells you “It’ll happen”, “God has a plan,” “Stop trying, it worked for us!”, or “Here have one of mine” as their son is throwing a temper tantrum, you’ll punch in the face. A declaration you never fulfill.

    3. Learn to fill your time with fun. I still struggle with this daily. It is so easy just to sit and day dream of my little one, to analyze my symptoms, to research in my spare time. But you’ve got to still live life. Go out with your husband, have brunch with the girls, plan trips, whatever you do, live life. Yes, you’re saving for fertility treatments, and yes, you’re watching what you eat because you want to increase your chances; but at the end of all of this, a happy mom is a better mom, and if motherhood never comes, a happy woman is a better woman. You owe it to yourself.

    4. Talk to people. Yes, I know I said they can’t help, but this is more about the therapeutic nature of talking about it. Your marriage is going to suffer from this journey, it’s inevitable, but burdening your marriage with this secret that only you two are dealing with just makes it worse. It’s unfair to your partner. So talk to others, let people know, get it off your chest so that your time at home isn’t so damned depressing. Just when you talk, don’t expect your friends to be a comfort.

    5. It’s going to be O. K. I think, at least I hope so. There’s a chance I won’t be a mother and this life-long hope won’t be fulfilled. But, it’s going to be O. K. You just have to keep reminding yourself of that.

     

    It’s going to be O. K.