Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Weekend {bonfires, painted nails & theatre}

I had a pretty great weekend.

On Friday after work, we headed to a bonfire. Y'all. I don't know what it is, but i have been REALLY wanting to go to a bonfire lately. The subject always comes up on New Year's Eve, because I always say that when we have a house we are going to host the New Year's Eve parties every year, complete with a big bonfire. Haha. But lately I've really been dying to go to one, for whatever reason! I haven't been to one since 2007! In fact, i had to ask Brad if he likes marshmallows. I didn't even know if my own husband likes marshmallows! (He doesn't, by the way. Not even roasted.) 

So last Sunday, my friend's mom, Stacy, who goes to my church, invited everyone over Friday night for a bonfire at their new house. I was super excited & I am so glad we went! It was the perfect Friday evening. PERFECT.



We had so much fun. Lots of friends & family came, mostly from our church. TONS of delicious food...hot dogs, chili, all kinds of chips and dips and desserts and drinks. And of course, stuff to make s'mores. Definitely not a healthy night! But a great time was had by all. There were plenty of lawn chairs and the weather was chilly but not TOO chilly!! There was the sweetest dog there, a lab mix, that i loved. He was so friendly & sweet! The bonfire was HUGE!!! At one point we ditched the lawn chairs for a quilt i brought from home. Our pastor's son, Alex, played the guitar and we all just chatted and sang and looked at the stars by the bonfire.

 me, brad & my dad 

The bonfire!

The light from the fire lighting up the whole place! Gorgeous! 

 Me & one of my besties, Amanda. The bonfire was at her mom's house. 

 Me & my mom. Of course the normal pic of me came out blurry!

Yes, i did have roasted marshmallows! It's the only way i like them & it's been years!

I debated bringing my good camera, & decided against it. I knew i wouldn't be taking many pics & didn't want to lug my big camera. But this pic is so cute... i could've at least used the flash on my phone! Anyway, here are some ladies from my church that i love so dearly. Left to right is our pastor's wife, Mary Ann, Teddie, Sandra, Jackie & Nita. Awesome women of God right here!

GREAT NIGHT. Loved it.

On Saturday, after some cleaning & errands, my friend Mandy came over! LOVE HER! I gave her a few tips for editing photos & she painted my nails. :) YAY!


2 weeks since i have bitten my nails!! I can't even tell you the last time i had color on my nails!! Makes me happy, happy! :)

Side note: Did you notice i have the same shirt on Friday & Saturday, just in different colors? I can't help it! Loved the shirt so much i bought it in two colors... and apparently wear them both on the same weekend! Oopsie!

After she left, i caught up on my shows & also watched the movie Blue Jasmine, which i had picked up at RedBox at Wal-Mart. Really good, except they don't tie everything up in a neat little bow. They definitely leave things as they are. Very true-to-life but sometimes we want everything to be resolved in a movie. I don't feel like i'm giving anything away by telling you that, honestly i would want to know something like that going into it! Anyway... that didn't make me hate the movie, probably because Cate Blanchett is an AMAZING actress. I kept pausing it to go on and on to Brad about how brilliant she is. Ha!

Sunday was church, which was great. We had a missionary in as our guest speaker. His three sons sang a song & y'all. It was SO SWEET. They are 7, 13 & 15. The oldest played the guitar & the younger two sang. But they were precious. I cried because i just wanted to take their youngest home with me. (I'm not really kidding. Haha. They were so cute and innocent and singing to the Lord... I just couldn't take it!)

I came home, watched a movie (A Little Bit of Heaven on Netflix...can't believe I had never seen it!) & took a nice nap! And then tonight i headed to the theatre. I agreed to stage manage a play called Frost/Nixon. I was asked to do it after i found out i was pregnant and i declined, of course. But this past Wednesday, they still didn't have anyone. They've been rehearsing without an SM, which can make things really difficult! After making a pro/con list (seriously!), talking to Brad & talking to my good friend Ronald who is in the play, I decided to do it. It will only occupy my time for two and a half weeks & will keep me focused on something besides the fact that I had a miscarriage. I mean... sometimes keeping busy is good. And i don't think by doing that I'm not allowing myself to grieve, because I certainly am. But too much down time isn't so good. Too much time to think about everything. It's on my mind all the time anyway, but too much down time causes me to dwell ONLY on that, and that's just not good. So...2 weeks of theatre could be a nice break for me.

So I went last night & everything went well. I wasn't sure about it, because i only know 2 of the actors in it, i didn't know the director, and i had never read the script! But i enjoyed it, the actors seem nice & the director seems like a cool guy. So yeah... I'll be super busy for the next two weeks and then things will calm back down a bit! :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls | a paleo recipe

Been awhile since i shared a recipe here. Maybe more to come?! Let's hope. I am so excited to share with you this DELICIOUS meal. AND... bonus... it's paleo!!

(Don't let that term scare you. It just means it's made with meat & veggies & some spices... not a single bad for you ingredient!!)

I first got this recipe from Stupid Easy Paleo, and it's actually for STUFFED cabbage rolls. But when i got to the part of stuffing the cabbage, well. Things fell apart. And i just gave up & tore up the cabbage & added it to the stuffing part that was simmering on the stove. And guess what? IT WAS PERFECT!

So i have made it two or three times since then, and now i do it that way on purpose. Because it's easier & just as delicious. In my humble opinion. But if you prefer to stuff your cabbage, by all means. :) Check out the original recipe here.  The recipe below is my version.

Paleo (unstuffed) Cabbage Rolls
Adapted from Stupid Easy Paleo

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 head of green cabbage
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cups riced/grated cauliflower
kosher salt
black pepper 
garlic powder
coconut oil 


Notice the tomato stuff is NOT on my ingredient list. That's because when i was writing my grocery list, i forgot that i don't use them in my version. In the original version, she puts this mix under the cabbage rolls & over the cabbage rolls once they're in the pan. You don't need them if you do it the way i do. I'm kind of glad because i failed to read the ingredients before purchasing & discovered that the tomato sauce has high fructose corn syrup... a no-no if you're paleo. (It's bad stuff, y'all.) The other can is good, but i don't need it.

All of that being said, i feel like the tomatoes could be included in my unstuffed version... but we just didn't wanna mess with a good thing. Ha! Maybe next time i'll be a bit more adventurous & throw some of that in, too! 

MOVING ON!

1.) Put your ground beef in a pot, get it cooking! Add your salt, pepper & garlic powder, I just kind of tossed it in there, but if you need specific measurements, check that original recipe.

I browned it in a little coconut oil. I didn't start using this stuff til my whole30. I LOVE IT. It's wonderful. Check out its benefits here!

Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. Either one will do. (Although TJ's is most likely cheaper!) 

Don't let the word coconut freak you out. I know several people that hate coconut but like coconut oil. :) Of course you can use extra virgin olive oil if you prefer.

2.) While your meat is browning, rice your cauliflower. You do this by putting it in your food processor & pressing "GO" (or whatever that button says). IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A FOOD PROCESSOR, STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING IMMEDIATELY & GO BUY ONE!!! They are HUGE time saving devices. I AM IN LOVE with mine. Both of them. (I have a mini, too.)

Anyway. Ricing your cauliflower looks like this:



3.) Add riced cauliflower to your pot. It will cook with the meat.

4.) Chop your onions (i use my food processor for this also. Saves SO MUCH TIME.) Add onions to the pot as well. Like so.


5.) Mix it all up real good & let it continue to cook.


6.) Wash your cabbage. (Your cauliflower should be washed first too. Feeling like this should be a given?) Anyway. Chop up the cabbage & throw it in the pot. This doesn't have to be perfect. Doesn't need to be diced small like the onion. I chop it pretty haphazardly. I use these little scissor things that we got for a wedding gift. I LOVE THIS THING. 

I used the ENTIRE head of cabbage, but you can use less (or more) if you want to. 


7.) Mix cabbage in with the rest of the meat. Cover. Turn temp to low or medium-low & let it simmer until the cabbage softens to your liking.


8.) EAT! :)


So GOOD!!! :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

random things & how i'm feeling

This past weekend consisted of LAZY. And i am okay with that. I fully believe in embracing lazy weekends, since so many other weekends are full of activity! Might as well grab it when you can, right? RIGHT! So... my weekend consisted of four non-lazy things (grocery shopping, kitchen cleaning, laundry, church), and LOTS of lazy things (catching up on my shows, reading, social networking). I did some meal planning, too, though. Um, i think that's about it.... YEP. :)


On Sunday night, my dad called me and said that my friend Ashlee (whose parents live in my parent's neighborhood) dropped off a gift for me. He said he was bored & would bring it out to me. Mom came, too. It was nice having a quick little visit from my parents! The gift was this... and this picture really doesn't do it justice.


Words cannot express how i felt when i saw this for the first time. How thoughtful. How beautiful. I love it. Thank you, Ashlee.

Awesome things happened last week, too, which I apparently forgot to blog about!

For example, on Wednesday, after my doctor's appointment (bloodwork never ends after a miscarriage, it seems), I decided to stop at Starbucks & use a gift card given to me for my birthday. Well, my friend Zac works there & before i knew what was happening, my drink was ready - on the house! :) Love him.
 

Thursday night, me & my hubby had a quick dinner at Five Guys. OMG. Love that place. (Remember, i started back paleo THIS week - not last week!) After that, we went to see Young Frankenstein at Theatre Baton Rouge. It was SO SO SO GOOD! We cracked up laughing the entire time. (Zac, the guy who gave me free iced white chocolate mocha, plays the lead. He did great!)

Anyway... back to this week! I mentioned getting shellac on my very short nails weekend before last? Well, as of about a half hour ago, i have peeled every bit of it off. It's not my fault... it was coming up at the edges on several fingers, and my type of OCD must have it perfect or not at all! It's like a piece of wallpaper is coming up & you just want to rip it off!! Which would be much worse to do to a whole wall - unless that is the goal. ANYWAY. Now i am scared i'm going to start biting again because they aren't covered with beautiful polish. (No... i don't paint my own nails. It's not a good idea. It gets EVERYWHERE but the actual NAIL!) I am going to have to go back at some point for a do-over. BUT my nails have grown! And i can't stop looking at them. :)

I haven't done photography in FOREVER. This is sad. I enjoyed the little break after the crazy busy season that was October-December, but um... I've only done 2 sessions in 2014, and both were in January! I am ready to take some pictures! i also am really wanting to get a website & a logo & figure out contracts and pricing and all that (not)fun stuff. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!

*  *  *  *  *  *  * 


I feel like I should have a million other things to say, but i don't. Some have asked how i am doing. Honestly, I am doing okay. Better than okay. I am doing a lot better than i expected. I don't cry over my miscarriage very often, and it's not because I'm in denial or i refuse to allow myself to grieve. It's just that i really & truly USUALLY feel fine. I often feel at peace & loved & supported. Most of the time.

But there are moments, daily moments, that are really hard. Something will happen to remind me that i WAS pregnant, and now I'm not. And it sucks. It hurts. To realize that I'm not having a baby in October after all. To realize that last Christmas was (probably) not my last Christmas without kids after all. To understand that there will only be 2 people in yet another Christmas Card (maybe). One really hard thing for me is realizing i'm actually NOT pregnant at the same time as or having babies the same year as certain friends. That really bothers me. That was part of this huge answer to prayer, and now it's gone. It sucks. My heart hurts.

However, I am still incredibly thankful for all God is doing through this. He is doing a great work... in my heart and in other people. He is really turning this situation for good & for His glory & i know that is what matters most. But i do want children. And there is a lot of fear taking place. Fear that i will miscarry again, yes. But also fear that it will take forever to get me pregnant again. And fear that we won't do the right thing. I don't know what our next step is. There are finances to look at. Conversations to have (with each other, with my doctor). There are a couple of things we are considering, and I need wisdom. We need wisdom. And whichever way we go, I need a PEACE covering us, so i am certain we have made the right decisions. All of that said, please please pray for us if/when we cross your mind!

Thanks, y'all.

XOXO

Friday, March 14, 2014

Back to it, y'all.

Many of you will remember, I did whole30 back in October. BEST DECISION EVER.

I proceeded to go RIGHT BACK to eating the way i ate before whole30. ACTUALLY, worse than that. I went absolutely insane. This is not whole30's fault. It's my fault. Whole30 is meant to be a 30-day restart. It's meant to get all the sugar & things out of your system. And when you are done, yes, you can have a little ice cream or something, but most people adopt a paleo lifestyle after they finish.

Not me. Oh, no! I have to completely sabotage my efforts! SIGH. I don't have a "little" ice cream or "a few" cookies. I have too much of all the bad stuff. And very little of the nutritious stuff. Ridiculous. I mean, I went back to drinking COKES! A habit i had quit BEFORE whole30! Seriously. It was OUT. OF. CONTROL!

And now i say, enough is enough!
 

The problem is, this: How do you change when you have lost the motivation?

I know, i know. You're thinking, "You just have to do it!" I don't know if that's true for me. I have never been able to FORCE myself to do something! I mean... other than get out of bed, when i feel like sleeping in, because i don't want to get fired. But i have always been highly unmotivated. (This is a terrible thing to admit. I have no shame.) Case in point? In school. I had a test the next day. I KNEW i had to study. If i don't study i am going to fail. If i fail i am going to have to repeat the class. I really should study. I really really need to NOW.

I wouldn't do it. I couldn't make myself do it. I would fail the test and eventually fail the class. Nothing i did could convince me to DO WHAT I HAD TO DO to get the results i needed.

I am the same way with food. But it's time to turn that around.

The reason I have been SO OFF the paleo-eating wagon for so many months now is because there is ZERO want-to. ZERO desire. No care or concern or anything. TOTAL APATHY.

I lost 16 pounds on whole30 last time, bringing me down to my lowest weight in many years. (Which is double what most of you weigh. Still, an accomplishment for me.) Since then i have PUT ON... i can't even tell you. I am SO ASHAMED. Let's just say i have put back on a LOT MORE THAN 16. Let's just say that i am just a few pounds shy of getting back to my highest weight ever... gulp.



Again... please do not blame this on the diet. It's not intended to be a diet! It's intended to be a lifestyle. This isn't a diet where you pay money for any kind of program, and you eventually have to quit. (Not knocking programs,  by the way. You have to do what works for you.) But this is something a person can do for life, and should! And i know it can be done. My husband was a TERRIBLE eater before we did whole30. Like, the worst! But whole30 changed him. He may not eat perfectly all of the time. But he traded his daily breakfast cereal for eggs. He traded his often NIGHTLY cereal for veggies or (more) eggs. He has maintained many good habits he learned while on whole30. I have other friends who have gone total paleo & have not gone back to old ways. Even if they had a little cheat meal or snack, they predominately eat the paleo way. It can be done! The program is flawless, in my opinion. I have tried EVERYTHING & have never lost so much weight & have never felt SO GOOD & satisfied, either. No, this was me. All my fault. I have no self control. I eat what i want to eat.


I was able to do whole30 because i was TOTALLY motivated to do it. This motivation HIT ME, full force & i was READY. But then it was gone & as soon as you go back to sugar it is so hard to get off of it again. That's because it is truly an addiction.

I have been saying for a few weeks now that i have to get back on it. I know some things set me back, emotional things. Infertility drains you, and the miscarriage was devastating. That's not an excuse. It is the truth. It is hard to give a crap when your world is turning upside down in every other aspect anyway. I mean, I didn't sit around gorging on bad foods, but i definitely made wrong choices when it was time to eat. Without a doubt.


All of this to say. It's time. I am done with eating crap. I MISS how good i felt on Whole30. I miss it a lot. I felt AWESOME! Both physically & mentally! Today at work I did some meal planning. After work, I stopped at the produce stand and then at Trader Joe's. I stocked up!! I am ready. I am actually feeling some motivation again!

Side Note: I know what some of you are thinking, so i am just going to go ahead and address it. :) Please do not comment that this will help me to be more fertile. Please don't. I know that already. I do. What i would like you to know though is... just because someone changes how they eat & just because eating well increases your chance of getting pregnant... that does not mean you WILL get pregnant IF ONLY you would eat right! We have issues on both sides... mine and his. And what is interesting to note is that my first IUI was mid-whole30. My second IUI was after the holidays but i hadn't gone very far off the wagon yet, and had just lost 16 pounds. My last IUI, the one that WORKED... was mid-eating JUNK & after gaining a lot of weight back. Not to mention the fact that we started trying to conceive almost 3 years ago & I have had many months of very healthy eating & weightloss throughout that time.

I am NOT saying that i do not think going paleo again and sticking with it WON'T help me! I know people who had infertility issues and then lost weight & got pregnant! It definitely could help, and it certainly won't hurt! I'm just saying that there are more factors involved in infertility than just how you eat. It's like telling someone with cancer that they can heal their cancer naturally if they only eat healthy! People DO tell people with cancer that & it is absurd. To me, that's as bad as a christian telling a person with cancer that if only they believed, they would be healed. Y'all. I get it: FOOD IS MEDICINE! Not only do i get it, but i BELIEVE IT! But that doesn't mean that it is ALWAYS going to heal a person! So please...know that. Understand that.

I want to do this to help my PCOS, to reduce insulin resistance, & to increase my chances of becoming pregnant. Of course I do. But there are many other reasons why. I want to live a long healthy life. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. I want to not get winded doing things that shouldn't cause me to get winded! Haha. I want to have a healthy pregnancy. SO MANY REASONS. There are many reasons i'm doing this, including infertility. But to think that IF ONLY i would just follow a clean eating lifestyle then all my infertility troubles would melt away - well, that is just not true.

Whew! Sorry for that little rant. I just needed to get that off my chest. :)

Here is what i will be making next week.

Paleo Chicken & Tomato Soup 
Paleo Cabbage Rolls
Grilled chicken, sweet potato & roasted broccoli

That's what i am planning to make for supper, and we will have leftovers the other nights. No, i'm not cooking every night. I don't know how you people do that!! I also will make a batch of Basil Avocado Chicken Salad to have some days for lunch, with a side of fruit! :)

As far as breakfast goes, I will have to go back to eggs, but lately the smell makes me sick! I also have the stuff for smoothies. (Some frown upon smoothies during whole30 or paleo but i do not understand the problem as long as i only put whole30 approved things in that blender! So i am okay with that.)

For the record, I am not doing whole30, per se. I am just going back to paleo as a lifestyle. I told brad, "I'm not doing whole30. I'm doing paleo365." HA! Maybe i should start small... and say i'm doing paleo60? ANYWAY. Whole30 & paleo are basically the same. Whole30 doesn't allow some things that paleo does (ie, honey, paleofied desserts). I am not going to have any paleo desserts, but i am okay with small amounts of honey or stevia.


I guess that's it for now. Prayers about this are appreciated. I'm serious!! I need motivation... i need to get through the first week of NO SUGAR. :) I officially start Monday. I'm not going to TRY to eat bad foods this weekend or anything,  but Monday is the day i will really kick it into high gear. ;)

Thanks for reading! :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Weekend {a mani/pedi, a wedding, & other fun}

This weekend was a pretty good one... in spite of the thought that "last weekend i was pregnant...this weekend I'm not". Yeahhhh... that thought keeps popping into my head, unfortunately. But usually just as quickly, the peace that i tried to describe in my last post comes rushing in. Thank you, God.

{Friday} I came straight home from work & just relaxed. I caught up on my shows, Law & Order SVU & Parenthood. (I can no longer catch Grey's online, at least not for free. That is NOT COOL, ABC.com!)

I do not miss the days of HAVING TO HAVE something to do on a Friday night. I would much prefer to come home and CHILL! Haha! I must be in my thirties. ;)

{Saturday} I FINALLY got that MUCH LONGED FOR pedicure & eyebrow wax. (And, okay, i'll just say it. I get my lip waxed too. I get much too much hair on my lip & I hate it! Typical PCOS!)

But what is CRAZY is that i let them talk me into getting a manicure! It's shellac & I LOVE IT! I had it done once before, for my sister's wedding. I normally don't do my nails because they are SO SHORT. I bite them. I kept saying i would quit biting them & then get them done... but i never could stop biting! So they did my nails & they are just too pretty to bite! Still super short though! Ha!

It was awesome. I was the first one at the salon & had someone working on my hands & someone else doing my toes! Usually i read a book or play on my phone but since my hands were occupied, i just closed my eyes & relaxed, for the most part! Ahhhhh. MUCH NEEDED. And it was birthday money, so. Yeah. :)

After my mani/pedi, I went to Las Palmas & had lunch with my dear friend, Amanda!!

No pics of any of the above... sad!!

When i came home, i had a box at our doorstep! A care package from my dear friend Laura! Tell me this is not the most PERFECT care package for someone going through a miscarriage?! Or a lot of other things. Thank you SO MUCH, Laura. You are a treasured friend!

 That would be a novel, a journal, a coffee mug, chocolate & kleenex! SO thoughtful!

I went home & relaxed for awhile... and then we got ready to go to Brad's cousin Matt's wedding! It was in Springfield, LA, not too far from here... we rode with Brad's family. It was a pretty fun night! Lynde, the girl Matt was marrying, has been a favorite in our family since they first started dating! She is SO sweet and down to earth... we all just love her. The wedding was beautiful. I accidentally brought the WRONG LENS, so i didn't take too many pictures! But i did get a few. :)

I was so glad the ceremony was outside because it was the PERFECT day. Couldn't have been more beautiful. I would say it was about 68 degrees with no humidity! :) Matt was so cute... he started crying before the bride even came out! I was like, dude! You are in trouble if you are already crying! Haha!

The little girl on the left, Breelyn, is Lynde's daughter, & the two young men on the right, Hayden & Zach, are Matt's sons. I love these two families coming together! 



It was really fun seeing my good friend Ashley & her husband Dan there! I totally forgot they know Brad's cousin Matt until she texted me to see if i was going to the wedding. So fun hanging out with them for much of the night! :)

I really hope they don't hate me... because for part of the night i was a bit grouchy... oops. I got over it, though. Probably because of the music. That wedding reception had the BEST music! 



The over cheeriness in this next pic is basically Brad & Dan making fun of me & Ashley... it's kind of an awesome pic, though!


The "real" pic of me & Brad was blurry, but i kind of love this one anyway. ;)

 

Brad's cousin Chris' girlfriend (got all that?!) took a few & emailed them to us. So glad because i didn't take near enough pictures! A few that she sent us are below.

 My sister-in-law Jaimie & cousin Chris! Love this pic! :) 

Brad's cousins Chris & Amy

I don't know what is going on with my hair?! But i love my in-laws!!

MOVING ON! :) 

{Sunday} Sunday was church. I was nervous, y'all. I knew that now pretty much everyone knew about our miscarriage, and even about our infertility. But everyone was super sweet. I underestimated them! I love my church family & am so thankful for their love & support. I had a few ladies come up & talk to me before service, letting me know they are praying for me & that God loves me & all that good stuff. Nobody said one of those things that you should NEVER say to someone struggling with infertility/miscarriage. No one! Thank the Lord! Haha. I was also given this gem from a lady that was Brad's youth director back in the day. Hahaha. Oh, man. HILARIOUS. 


Also, my friend Mandy (pictured with me below) gave me another little charm for my Origami Owl necklace. It's just a simple clear stone & it's to represent the baby we lost. Y'all. Seriously. Wow. She also gave me a Starbucks giftcard for my birthday gift. So sweet! 

That being said!!! Hubby & I went to Starbucks between worship practice & church service. I had tasted Mandy's iced white chocolate mocha before we went & HAD TO HAVE ONE. Basically these mini-dates mean we are skipping sunday school class. I am okay with that, for now. :) 


I decided not to sing back-up. I just wanted to worship from my seat, just me & the Lord, without everyone's eyes on me. I'm glad i did that. It was nice. 

After service, our worship leader, Billy, & his wife (one of my bestest friends) took me, Brad, Josh & his girlfriend Rebecca to dinner as a thank you for us helping lead worship while they were out of town. It was delish! :)


And then i spent the entire afternoon watching The Voice (my new favorite! GOODBYE, American Idol!) with this dog at my feet. Hahaha. Tell me he is not completely at home!


I guess that's it. Great weekend, overall. Ready for another one! :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Infertility, Miscarriage, & the peace of God


My mind is so full right now. And my heart. You know when you finally go to bed at night, and suddenly you can't sleep because your mind just won't STOP? So many thoughts inside your head reminding you of what you have to do tomorrow or someone you forgot to call or something you meant to pick up at the store? Well, my mind is whirling like that, except I'm sleeping just fine. It's during the day... and it's thoughts about God. And his goodness. And His peace. And the love and support I have received lately. And my miscarriage. And infertility. And back to Jesus. And THIS PEACE. And how He is able to do exceeding abundantly above and beyond all i could ask or think! (Ephesians 3:20-21).

The other day I said to Brad, "This is not a person who just had a miscarriage!" I mean, it doesn't make any sense. But y'all. I have never felt God's peace so strongly before. Never. Never ever ever. I am not saying He hasn't been good to me, because He has. I am saying that I thought there was NO WAY i could survive a miscarriage, and not only am i surviving but I am experiencing peace and even some joy in a way i never thought possible.

(Side note: If you are like, 'What?! Melissa had a miscarriage?!", you should probably read my last post before this one!) 

I didn't feel this kind of peace through three years of infertility. Not at all. I thought a miscarriage would literally tear me apart. I said as recently as last Saturday that I didn't know what I would do if I lost this baby. I said it wouldn't be good. I said i would probably go in my room & start crying & never stop. I said I would probably be mad at God forever. I said this out loud to people & I'm sure it worried them. I wonder what God was thinking when i said those things. I think it may have been something like this: Daughter, I know you're walking a tough road... and it's not over... but I promise you, I am always with you. i will never leave you. I am going to hold you up when you don't think you can stand. I am going to flood your heart and mind with a peace like you have never known. And I'm going to use everything you're going through for my glory. I don't know if that's what He was thinking... but that's what He's doing.

Please don't misunderstand me. I still can't believe this happened. I still can't believe miscarriage will be a part of my story. I still think it sucks. And I still need your prayers. Miscarriage is no easy thing, and I'm not making light of it. That's why this is such a big deal that i feel such peace! Because only our God could do that! Only He could! There is no way i would have made it through this without Him. There's just no way.

And while I am feeling His touch, His love, His peace... I also know I'm still going to grieve. I know hard days are still ahead. I would imagine that Mother's Day & my due date won't be easy days for me. And when i think about the fact that I'm actually NOT going to have a baby this October... that my infertility journey is not over after all... that it could be a long time before i conceive again... Well. My heart stops... and I feel a certain heaviness.

But something is happening to me. And it's a good thing.

I have said that I don't like when people write off miscarriage as being "God's plan". I don't believe that he is the author of miscarriage. I believe His heart breaks just like mine does. I believe His hurts with mine. I believe that He is always the giver of LIFE, not death. Yes, I know He allows things to happen... but i don't think that is the same thing as it being God's plan. One thing I do know, and one thing I am okay with you reminding me every once in awhile, is this:

For I know that ALL things work together for GOOD to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) 

Yes! And i think that is what some people mean when they say it was His plan. Maybe it wasn't his plan, per se... but maybe He is going to use it for my good. For His glory.

I really don't know what else to say right now. I feel like I want to talk about this peace that He has given me so freely. I feel like i want to talk about the times i have been angry at God. I feel like I want to share with you this passion that is stirring inside of me. I feel like I want to talk about infertility & miscarriage more, to educate others & to minister to others going through the same thing. I want to share what I learned reading the book God is Able. But i don't know when to share what, and i don't know what to say. My friend told me i will know what to express here when it is time to express it. So stay tuned! ;) 

And please don't take this post to mean you should stop praying for me! Haha. I feel like one reason I have felt okay this past week is because of your prayers. I have received SO MANY emails & texts EVERY SINGLE DAY since i told everyone what we are going through. I've received a care package in the mail, cards in the mail, flowers, meals - it's been ridiculous! Last night I got nervous about going to a wedding because, well... it was my first event to go to after broadcasting our news to the world (I posted the link to my last post on Facebook, something i never do.). I was afraid people would be weird or would say something hurtful. But they were perfect.

And then today, at church, i was nervous again. But several of the ladies came to talk to me & hug me & let me know they are praying for me. And my good friend Mandy gave me a charm for my origami owl necklace that represents the baby we lost. I teared up with that one! It's beautiful. Oh yeah. The people in my life have shown me a crazy amount of love & concern. It's amazing & I will never forget it!

I don't know what is next for us. But I know that God is here, and He's working it all out.

For those who have asked how you can specifically pray for me, here you go:

-Please pray that we conceive again, quickly, and that we do not have another miscarriage.
-Please pray that God gives us wisdom & direction on when/if we should seek further treatment.
-Please pray that He will provide financially for further treatment if it is necessary (which it is, outside of a miracle. But i know that our God is more than capable of miracles!). :)
-Please pray that God would clarify in my mind & heart what He is showing me & what He wants me to say in this blog.
-Please pray that His peace & joy would continue to fill me during this time.

Thank you all. We love you! :) 

P.S. Just wanted to mention two things. First of all, if you comment on one of my posts, I usually respond to your comment through email. Therefore, if your email address is not attached to your blogger account, or if you don't leave your email address as part of your comment, I won't be able to respond. Unless i remember to come back to the blog to respond, which i probably won't (& you probably wouldn't think to come check anyway). Most of the comments on my last post had no email, but please know every single comment lifted my spirits! :)

You can also just email me instead of commenting on the post. There is a little envelope under my picture (right sidebar) & if you click that it will bring up an email box.

Secondly, if you want to continue to read my posts, but don't have a blogger account, if you scroll down the sidebar to the right, there is a spot that says "updates by email". If you put your email address there & click submit, you will get an email every time i write a new post! (Although I can't promise they'll always be super personal or super serious. Ha!) And if you read a lot of blogs, you should probably just get a Bloglovin' account.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The post I didn't want to write.

The post I didn't want to write.

The post I never thought I would have to write.

I don't know why I didn't think i would have to write it. I don't know why i thought that if i could just get pregnant, everything would be okay. I seriously didn't think miscarriage would touch me. I don't know why. I just didn't.

Isn't infertility enough?! Without adding miscarriage to the list?

So, yeah. On January 30th, we had our third IUI. Maybe the third times the charm, I thought! And it was! It worked! I was thrilled. Ecstatic. Absolutely overjoyed.

On February 15th, I took a pregnancy test. I never take them at home. After so long of only getting BFNs (big fat negative, in infertility-speak), i vowed never to take another one. I would just let my period tell me i wasn't pregnant. But i was supposed to start my period on Valentine's Day, and i didn't. And my cycle is like clockwork (thanks to Metformin. Before being diagnosed with Insulin Resistance & PCOS, it was all over the place). But i got a BFN again. I was sad. The next day, February 16th, I took another one. Another BFN. I was pretty upset. It hit me hard. Harder than other ones, because this would be our last fertility treatment for awhile. We were out of money to keep paying for them. We would have to wait & save enough money before we did another one. (Fun fact: Most insurance companies do not cover infertility treatments. At all. Mine is one of them.)

Monday, February 17th was the 35th day of my cycle. I went in for a blood test. Part of me thought it would be positive, since i am never late. But part of me thought it wouldn't be, because for the last three years, it's ALWAYS been no. I couldn't imagine that answer changing.

But it did. It was positive. I was pregnant.

We told our families that same day & it was so much fun! February 17th - February 27th. Ten days of complete total joy. Ten days of excitement, of happiness, of knowing you are FINALLY having that baby. I kept saying, "I can't believe it! I can't believe we are pregnant! We are going to have a baby before CHRISTMAS!!" (Which is a big deal, because every Christmas, I say, "maybe NEXT year we will have our baby!") My due date would be October 23rd. THIS YEAR. I would have a baby in 2014! I would have a baby before our next anniversary, before Thanksgiving, before Christmas! So. Much. Joy.

 
I quickly downloaded the pregnancy apps to my phone (yes, more than one) & started reading "My Pregnancy: Week by Week". I immediately told some of my closest friends who have been praying for me throughout my infertility journey. I started planning how we would announce it to the world. Everything was exciting. I returned two more times for a blood test. My HCG level kept going up, just as it should. To say we were thrilled is a complete understatement.

And that infertility walk I went to, where we did the balloon release? People wrote inspirational quotes or "in memory of" babies they lost, or "thankful for" babies they had after suffering with infertility. I could not BELIEVE what i was able to write on mine. Could not believe it.

The fact is, finally, after almost 3 years of trying to conceive, just weeks before my 36th birthday, I found out i was pregnant. I wasn't even scared/sad about turning 36 like I was when i turned 35, because what did it matter!? I was finally pregnant!!!

But on Thursday, February 27th, I went in for my first ultrasound. And everything was not okay. The day before I had another blood test, my HCG level was still rising. I had no fears or doubts. I KNEW everything was going to be fine & we would have our baby in October. But on Thursday, things became a little uncertain.

I was surprised they did an ultrasound at 6 weeks. I expected them to start those at 7 or 8 weeks. I hear most obgyns don't start them that early. I am thinking my fertility specialist does to make sure everything looks good. When i had that ultrasound, he couldn't find anything on it. No baby. Nothing. (He does the ultrasounds in his office.) He sent me to the main hospital to have another ultrasound done there. (I am not sure if this is because they have better equipment or because they have radiologists.) The tech looked for what seemed like forever. She was very sweet, but didn't tell me anything (i know this is the norm). I have NEVER felt the way i felt on Thursday. The worst feeling I have been through. I was trembling like i was cold, but i wasn't cold at all. Fear or shock? I don't know.

The radiologist came in & looked herself. She said they could see the sac & something very tiny in the uterus. Could be the baby, but it was really too early to tell. They also saw something on my ovary that could mean an ectopic pregnancy (for those who don't know, ectopic is when the embryo plants somewhere OTHER than the uterus where it should be. Usually it's in the tube, but it can also happen in the ovary. If left untreated too long, it can rupture & cause internal  bleeding. It is very serious.). She said both were too small to tell what they were, and i just needed to wait & come back in a week.

We went back to my doctor's office & sat in a consult room while he read the report from the radiologist. He came in & said that i was on "ectopic watch" over the weekend. That if i felt ANY pain or had any bleeding to call & have them paged immediately. This scared me half to death! I have never had surgery & to think i could have to have emergency surgery was terrifying! Miscarriage has crossed my mind in the past (i would often say i hoped i would never have to go through one), but i never dreamed i would be facing ectopic pregnancy!

They told me if i didn't feel any pain or anything to come back on Monday for another ultrasound. It could be ectopic or it could be that I implanted late & wasn't as far along as we thought.

I prayed & prayed the latter was true. After crying all day that day, i began to research a little bit, and saw that MANY women that go in for an ultrasound at 6 weeks didn't see the baby! MANY! And when they went back a few days or a week or two weeks later, everything was FINE! A doctor my sister works for and one of the radiologists where i work said the same thing. They both said that 6 weeks was too early to be talking ectopic, and that it wasn't at all unusual to see a sac & no baby at 6 weeks. I held on to this. I thought that my doctor was maybe jumping the gun a bit (even though i love him!). After all, they didn't actually see anything in my tube, and ectopics in the ovary are EXTREMELY rare! So that just couldn't be right.

I had my weekend mostly as planned, celebrating my birthday with friends & family. I truly believed all was well. I felt no pain & i was only 6 weeks! I prayed & truly believed that on Monday that baby would be on that ultrasound, alive & well.

But after going to bed Sunday night... in the early morning hours on Monday, i woke up with very bad cramping & bleeding. The cramping & some spotting actually started before bed but it wasn't too bad, and i have friends who actually did have cramping & bleeding while pregnant. But when i woke up in the night, the cramping was pretty severe. I had them page my doctor. Based on my description of the pain, he said it sounded more like a miscarriage than ectopic. He said to come in first thing in the morning (I already had an appointment but we moved it up to 7:30.)

So that's what we were doing yesterday morning. Having ultrasound #2. And i guess i still hoped that maybe everything would be okay. This time my doctor could see that something (the baby he assumed but still too small to know for sure) was in my uterus but I was still not as far along as they thought i should be. My doctor said i am showing the signs of miscarriage. He said we would take another blood test to confirm it.

And by the way, they still see something on that ovary, and they still think it could potentially be an embryo! It would be very rare to have one in BOTH my uterus and my ovary, but not impossible. So if i feel any pain on my left side, they want me to call immediately. But so far my only pain is from miscarrying (cramping). I go back tomorrow so they can check out whatever is on the ovary again, and do another blood test. 

After we left i was still fine. I honestly still had hope! But then the nurse called me with my HCG results. The numbers are dropping, indicating miscarriage. I began to cry right there on the phone. And the grieving hasn't stopped. Although today has been easier than yesterday.

I didn't think i would be able to share this so soon, but i am finding myself wanting to share it. Not for pity, but just to talk about it. Nobody talks about infertility & miscarriage. I mean, they do in blog world but rarely do you hear it outside of that. And i'm tired of being quiet about it. I have never posted any links from here about infertility to my Facebook page. Blogging about it is therapeutic for me, and most of the people who read my blog don't know me in real life. My attitude has always been that if someone who knows me in real life finds my blog & finds out about our battle with infertility, then so be it. But i've never purposefully shared links to here on Facebook. I just feel like i get more understanding people through my blog. Too many people say the first thing that comes to their head on Facebook. And many times it is the WRONG thing to say!

But i feel the urge to share what is going on with us today. (Brad is okay with me sharing all of this, by the way.) I guess i am ready to share my story. It will allow me to talk more about infertility, something that i am tired of being quiet about. Maybe i will help someone. Or maybe someone will help me. (Just please do me a favor & google "what not to say to someone dealing with infertility or miscarriage" before you comment, if you aren't sure! Because saying nothing is better than saying something hurtful. Think about the words you say before you say them. You would not BELIEVE the things that have been said to me about infertility, and i am bracing myself for the stupid miscarriage comments.)  (Hint: I don't believe miscarriage is God's plan. And yes, i'm glad to know i can get pregnant, but i wanted THIS ONE! I know you all mean well. Just think before you speak. That's all i ask.)

I will say that i have never felt as loved as i have felt these past two days. So many people that know about our situation have called or texted to check on me, two flower deliveries (Thanks, Amanda & Laura!), meal offerings, very understanding coworkers & boss, etc. It's been so crazy & so sweet of people to send me an encouraging word or just a 'how are you today?'. It truly means so much during this time.

I guess this is long enough. If you are still here, God bless you! Thank you for reading. I am sure there will be more later.

Until then,

Monday, March 3, 2014

Birthday Weekend.

I had a pretty great weekend. It was my birthday weekend, and we celebrated ALL WEEKEND LONG.

(Since weather is pretty much everyone's favorite topic this year, i will share. It was a GORGEOUS 70-something day on Saturday & Sunday for my birthday! Absolutely perfect weather. But today it is in the 30's! I will never understand this year's weather! And it seems to be insane no matter where you live!)

On Thursday I found an ALMOST expired FREE date night coupon thingie my mother-in-law gave us. I'm all about free dinner, so we used it as a date night Friday night after work. I consider this Birthday Dinner #1. I didn't take a picture, but dinner was at Isabella's Pizzeria, which is a semi-new pizza place here in Baton Rouge. It was REALLY good. Delicious. Yay!

On Saturday morning, I met up with two of my besties for breakfast at La Madeline's. I really didn't consider this part of my birthday until they insisted on paying for my meal. They wouldn't take no for an answer exclaiming, "it's your birthday tomorrow!!!". So, there you have it. Birthday Meal #2.


I finally got to meet Becca's little man. Isn't he precious?

 He liked me, i promise. ;)

Love the dimples.

I took Judah, Amanda's son, for a little ride on my shoulders. 

And then you have my favorite picture of the entire weekend. Judah is actually pulling my hair but it didn't hurt (years of your mother untangling your long thick hair will make you hard-headed!) Anyway... this is my favorite picture in a long time. :)


After breakfast, we went to a few stores together, and then went our separate ways. I went home & cleaned a little, surfed the net a little, took a nap, i think... & then headed out again for Birthday #3 of my weekend! Dinner with two other besties, Sarah & Shana.


We went to Bistro Byronz. Which is my favorite. Had a good time. These girls were both in my wedding & I was in theirs. I've been friends with them forEVER! There is always great conversation with these two!

And then, Sunday. It was pretty great having a birthday on a Sunday. I had to lead worship since our worship leader was on a cruise... it went really well. I honestly love leading worship. Even though i get so stinking nervous!

After service, we headed downtown for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Baton Rouge. Capital City Grill. Birthday #4!

I recognized this guy walking around... he ended up stopping to chat, reminding me that he used to work at their other location & i came in all the time. He remembered my NAME & my ORDER!!! This is from when i worked at Aveda, which was 2012 (I left there in early 2013). How crazy is that! He knew it was my birthday & sent a free appetizer to my table. So nice!

Our waiter was AMAZING. How he handled our table of 8, as crazy as we may be, with all our requests & such. He was really the best waiter i may have EVER had. I'm only going on & on about this, because, well, sometimes service SUCKS. And usually i do have good service in restaurants. But he went above & beyond.

My mom had asked what kind of cake i wanted & I said, "The chocolate cake from Zoe's." I don't know if you have a ZOE's in your area, but they sell chocolate cake by the slice & it's really the BEST chocolate cake. My mom brought it & it was DIVINE! We offered our waiter a piece & he was like, "Well, i'm not going to say no!" Haha. He took his piece to the back & came back thanking us over & over again for giving him a piece! Haha! Oh, and then when we were leaving & thanking him for being so awesome, he said "Oh, and happy 21st birthday!" to me. :)

(You know you are TRULY getting old when people start saying stuff like that to you. He was a college kid who recognizes that i am old enough to need jokes like that! Still... he is my favorite just for saying it.)

I was showered with gift cards & money... i'm okay with that!! I got 2 gift cards to Macy's, one to Starbucks, & one to Coyote Blues (my favorite mexican restaurant). Got money from my parents & Brad. Yes!  

It was my parents, Brad's parents and his sister, and her friend, Donna. I actually requested Donna's presence. Remember the "hot mama" story? This is that Donna. I love her. So i told Jaimie to bring her to my birthday dinner. Ha! She doesn't love being in pictures, so she took this one for us.

 
After lunch, we went home & just hung out the rest of the day. I watched about half of the Oscars but got bored with it & went to bed. It was a wonderful birthday weekend, though!

And usually i have one birthday dinner with ALL the people i love. Or one with friends & one with family. But i liked having several small birthday dates this year. :) Really enjoyed my time with family & friends.

Happy 36 to me. Hoping this year has good things ahead. :)