I'm supposed to be...

... rocking my baby to sleep.  Instead I have empty arms.  It's almost been an entire year since Mike and I have started trying to have another baby.  I've had three miscarriages since then.  If I didn't miscarry our first pregnancy, we would have a newborn due next week.  It's amazing how fast nine months goes by.  I got through the first miscarriage by telling myself that I would definitely be pregnant again by this time... that I wouldn't have to go through this due date without the comfort of having a baby growing inside of me. Since then I've lost two more... which adds two more due dates to get through. I tell everyone that I'm OK, and I even believe it myself, until days like today hit me like a mack truck. I have a great life... I should be happy with that... and I am, but I still want more.  I still want another baby. October is infant and pregnancy loss awareness month.  How fitting, right? For me, though, it's only serving to bring that buried pain to the surface and remind me of what I don't have. I'm starting to feel like we'll never have another baby. I'm not ready to give up hope and adjust my thinking along those lines yet, but it's only a matter of time. The fertility meds and procedures make me crazy, literally, and I (and my husband, who has to deal with me) can only handle so much. So if you're the praying kind, pray for peace in my heart today... and if you're not, send me some positive thoughts. <3


Making Sun-catchers

So Abby and I have a new favorite craft... making sun-catchers by melting translucent pony beads into neat designs and patterns.  I saw a few different people making them on Pinterest, and they looked simple enough, so we tried and we loved it!

All you need are translucent pony beads (or any plastic bead, so I've read) and metal baking tins and/or cookie cutters.  I pulled out my old and cruddy tins... and since I'm not sure if any chemical residue is left behind in the tins, I will only use them for craft projects from now on.

 It helps to have a bag of mixed colors and an entire bag of clear... you'll probably use a lot of clear as filler.

 Start by planning out your design and laying it out in a single layer in your pan of choice.

Abby chose a pan on the smaller side, which worked out well for her attention span.

 Intricate patterns/designs in large pans do take a significant amount of time... but it turned out cute.
After your designs are complete, put them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

These things WILL smell up your house (with possibly toxic fumes?) so make sure to have windows open and maybe play outside while they are cooking.  The smell goes away quickly as soon as they start to cool.

If we stick with this craft I may have to buy new tins to use exclusively for these projects because, as you can see, it picked up all of the scratches from the pan.  Still looks nice though!

We have done this a couple times now and stick them to our windows with double sided tape.  You can also drill holes in them and hang them with fishing wire, or I've even considered placing a single metal bead at the top to see if that holds it shape after heating.  Yes... they do look MUCH better when actual SUNSHINE is coming through the windows, but we're lacking in that area right now.
My next goal is to make something elaborate using an entire cookie sheet.


Fertility Specialist (TMI for those not interested in this kind of thing) **UPDATED**

After our miscarriage in February we figured it was a fluke.  A blighted ovum, as my OB said, rarely occurs more than once and 99% of women go on to have a normal pregnancy right after... so when we got another positive test in June we were excited! We were due on Valentines Day 2013 and I started dreaming about the future.  A few short weeks later we miscarried again.  I spoke to my OB and they referred us to a reproductive specialist to see what was wrong.  We had our first consultation on 7/19/12 and spent an hour or so going through a very detailed medical history with the doctor, having some blood-work done (OK a LOT of blood-work) a full physical and an internal ultrasound to check out my uterus and ovaries.  All looked healthy enough and I had a large follicle on my left ovary, indicating I would be ovulating on that side this month.  I went back on 7/23/12 for another ultrasound and blood-work to keep monitoring.  The results were that my follicle was "beautiful" and my "estrogen was rising nicely" meaning that we were close to ovulation. The Dr wanted a further detailed look inside my uterus to make sure that there was no scarring left from my miscarriages, so we scheduled a hysteroscopy (a minor outpatient procedure done at their KOP surgical center) for the next day.  The results of the hysteroscopy were that I have "the cleanest uterus I've ever seen".  (Thanks, I try. ha ha.) We were going to use a trigger shot of Ovidrel to force ovulation (a theory is that my follicle is holding onto the egg for too long and when it finally releases it, it's already "old" and needs to be released sooner) but we are still waiting for some blood-work to come back about auto-immune disorders that may be causing my body to attack the pregnancies (Lupus specifically) and I naturally ovulated in the mean time... meaning we've missed our window of opportunity for this month.  As long as my blood-work comes back clean of Lupus, we're going to do some more ultrasounds and blood-work to track things next month and adding Clomid to that cycle was mentioned.  So please, keep us in your thoughts and prayers for this next cycle. We are eager and excited to hopefully add to our family in the near future.

UPDATE 9/14/12:

Well we ended up having an IUI done after using clomid and a self injection of ovidrel... I started using progesterone suppositories to help maintain a pregnancy if one should happen.  The IUI worked and we conceived... but I'm going to lose this pregnancy at the EXACT same time that I lost the last two.  It's ectopic (the fertilized egg implanted in my fallopian tube instead of my uterus) and my hcg count is already falling.  I have more appointments for next week to make sure I don't need surgery to remove the pregnancy before it ruptures my tube, and then I'm going to insist on more testing before we TTC again. Please keep us in your prayers. 


Hate Begets Hate

The internet is a wonderful thing.  It (social networking and blogging specifically) has given EVERYONE a voice, let us all be heard (which in turn, can also mean that nobody is heard over the sheer volume of information being thrown at us) but I have been seeing so much hypocrisy and righteous indignation lately that I feel the need to add my voice to the crowd and "get it all out" (with maybe a side of my own righteous indignation thrown in for good measure).

I understand that people are passionate about their beliefs, and certain issues;  homosexuality, religion, politics and animal rights (among others) are always hot button issues. I get that. I'm a passionate person myself and know how strong feelings can influence your thinking.

However, I don't see how people don't understand that hate begets hate.  Every time.  EVERY time. It takes so much away from your cause when you shun a certain group because one of their members did wrong. Or when you casually make a "joke" at the expense of others.  Or when you are so judgmental and close minded that you can't even hear another opinion, even if it is well researched and thought out.

If you're wanting equality (and rightly so) then your loudest argument can't be that you deserve equal rights because of how much better you are than the oppressors. This has been an awful trend that I've noticed appearing on a lot of LGBT equality sites. Supporters of homosexual marriage have my support until they start attacking heterosexual marriage, spouting off divorce rates, infidelity rates, and examples of failed marriage. I could be more passionate about this issue if I, as a married Christian woman, wasn't feeling attacked on message boards and support pages by the countless "anti-bible" messages out there.  There are a huge number of Christians who believe in the bible and also support homosexual marriage rights. You'll lose us by constantly belittling us because other Christians cite the bible as their reasoning behind discrimination. HUMAN BEINGS are flawed... not just certain human beings.  You deserve equal rights, but you deserve them because you are EQUAL, not better.

I'm a Christian who supports homosexual marriage, so if you haven't deduced it yet, I lean towards the left politically.  This in itself makes some peoples heads spin, as they assume that Christian=Republican.  To be honest, all Christian values can't be found in either political party. I have found that those who spread hate and intolerance in Jesus' name the loudest are the ones who live the least like Him and are only using Him to promote their own agendas.  Yet those of us who don't hate... those of us who believe in and try to practice Grace... we are lumped in with the extremists simply because their voices are louder than ours. 

I saw a friend post something on Facebook today about a vicious act done to a kitten by members of a religious group in order to intimidate an ex-member into keeping quiet.  She opened her post with a blanket statement insinuating that religion was foolish.  Now instead of being appropriately outraged by what some crazy people did to a poor defenseless animal, some of my emotions (and brain power) went to being mildly annoyed at her pointless statement. Religion did not make these people behave that way... altered brain chemistry did.  It could have been a motorcycle club that committed this heinous act, or even a girl scout troop, but it wouldn't have been a shared love for bikes or cookies that drove them to it. 

When you're passionate about something, by definition you believe strongly in it.  If you believe strongly in something, you naturally will want to sway others to your side. All I'm saying is that you'll bring the biggest amount of support to your cause if you embrace all open minds and listening ears without throwing stones (purposefully or not) at people who could be great allies for your cause, simply because they are different.


Struggling and brutal honesty

I wrote this on March 28th, 2012 and then left it as a draft, as I wasn't sure I wanted to publish it... 

First, I want to acknowledge the fact that I've been ignoring this blog for a long time. When I started writing, it was important to me to keep and share memories and to have an outlet for what I'm feeling.  Second, I want to say that I hesitated to write this post and share this part of my life, but it's something I've been struggling with and lately this stress has been consuming me.  I'm feeling very up and down and it's getting to the point of causing a lot of anxiety.

My husband and I have been actively trying to conceive a second child since early November 2011.  We had one successful pregnancy but I miscarried at 6 weeks from a blighted ovum that had stopped developing at 3 weeks. Before that we had been using Natural Family Planning (NFP) for birth control for a few months and I got the hang of tracking my fertility down to being able to tell the exact day of ovulation.  I thought that this would enable us to get pregnant quickly and the thought that we might have difficulty didn't even cross my mind. It's now the end of March 2012 and every month that passes without success depresses me more and more.  During the two weeks after ovulation I obsess over test results and imaginary symptoms to the point of my heart racing every time I use the bathroom waiting to see if two lines will appear on that little stick. I feel bitterness and jealousy whenever anyone else announces that they are pregnant (and right now it seems as though EVERYONE is pregnant... seriously, EVERYONE!!!) to the point of feeling physically ill. (I want to add a disclaimer here that my best friend in the world just told me that she's expecting and I'm OVER THE MOON excited for her... really and truly) I'm terrified of secondary infertility. My daughter wants a sibling so badly.  She knew about our last pregnancy and that we have to wait for God to decide to give us another baby.  She prays for "our baby" and talks about "our baby" often.  Last night she brought me a bracelet that she made from beads and pipe cleaners and said "This is so little. It won't fit on me, it's small for a baby."  I tried to put in on her wrist and said "Oh it fits you just fine!"  She immediately took it off and said "No! This bracelet is for our baby that will be back soon I hope." She melted and broke my heart at the same time.

Another issue weighing on my heart has been the fact that I truly feel called to be a stay at home mother to my children.  Unfortunately, that dream doesn't seem to be able to become a reality. We aren't in a position to be able to live on a single income and pay off any debt without accruing more. This leaves me not being able to parent 100% the way that I want to and feeling a lack of control over things I should be able to control because of inconsistency. I'm so grateful for the help that we do get.  I just need to keep reminding myself of something that a very wise friend told me.  This is just a short season in life and soon the children will all be in school and daycare won't matter and I'll be so happy that I have the family that I want and need and am meant to have.  For now I'll just do whatever it takes to get there and do my best to make every moment that I do have with my children count for something. 

Since deciding to add to our family I had to stop a lot of medications I was taking for my health problems.  I dropped from 11 daily medications down to 2 that were safe for pregnancy and added in a slew of vitamins to supplement.  Things are mostly going well, but lately my Fibromyalgia has been acting up.  I've always dealt with pain off and on, but it's becoming frequent and the other symptoms that are sneaking back in make me nervous.  The brain fog, insomnia, dizziness and extreme sensitivity to smell and sound.  These things also conveniently tend to pop up whenever I'm "imagining" pregnancy symptoms, making the anxiety worsen. 

When you add all of this to the other issues and people in my life that cause me NORMAL stress, it's just getting to be a lot to handle.  

Getting to be a lot to handle? I had no clue what I was in store for in a few short days... 

 Sunday, April 1st, started like any other day. We had breakfast, played outside a bit, and then went to a friends birthday party.  That night I started to feel a bit sick.  I called out of work the next day thinking that I was starting a little virus. Over the next two weeks I was the sickest that I have ever been.  Pneumonia is no joke. Between the full body tremors, high fevers (think 103 range), intense muscle aches, sweating while freezing with chattering teeth, coughing, labored breathing, occasional vomiting, and being so weak that I needed help to get off the couch... I was SICK. It took weeks after "recovering" for me to have any energy or strength. While treating my Pneumonia with an antibiotic and steroid pack, I discovered I was very allergic to the antibiotic and broke out in a red itchy rash all over my entire body. It felt like I was on fire for a few days. In order to calm the rash my Dr prescribed me ANOTHER steroid dose pack. (This will come into play shortly... steroids KILL your immune system if overused) After the rash cleared up, I lost my voice from Laryngitis for another two weeks. As the Laryngitis started to clear up, I acquired a nasty case of Oral Thrush.  The thrush triggered some tests and those tests diagnosed me with Systemic Yeast Syndrome.  Essentially yeast has gone wild and overtaken my entire body... sinuses, digestive system, etc. Odds are that I've had this problem for years (and it would explain my sinus and stomach issues) but that the steroids set off a particularly bad "flare" and I am now on temporary medication and an elimination diet to cut out everything that the yeast might feed off of (sugars, carbs, etc) and have to eat nothing but a short list of approved vegetables and approved meats for the next two weeks (to two months, depending on the effectiveness), then slowly (through four phases) add back in some other foods, while having to avoid sugars and overdoing the carbs for the rest of my life.  This posed a minor problem for me, as in February I became a vegetarian. I'm taking a break from that for a while and eating meat for my own sanity and health.  

So that's where I am right now. Day 4 of my elimination diet.  The thrush is 99% cleared up, my voice is 85% back to normal, the Fibro is still bothering me daily... but I'm surviving! I just keep telling myself that I'm being tested and eventually I'll climb out of this hole and be better for it. 

So friends and family that might be reading this... if you remember, say a little prayer for my health today? I would REALLY appreciate it.  


Abby's 3rd Birthday Party

We celebrated Abigail turning 3 with a big party at Bouncing Off the Walls!

Cousins Tori and Abby exploring the play area

We had a fun spread of soft pretzel rods, Chick-Fil-A nuggets, veggies, fruit, crackers and cheese, drinks and popcorn. Yum!

The boys having some fun...

Air Hockey fun!

This place is a blast!

Taking a break for some re-hydration.

Aiden, Abby and Hayley goofing around

All of Abby's family and friends were in attendance. <3

Grandmom and cousin Shawn playing with balloons.

Getting ready to lead the birthday parade!

Blowing out her candles

Abby and her girlfriends... Maddy, Dionna and Hayley.

The "boys table" for cake

Abby's cake... she was IN LOVE with it!

Birthday girl with her parents and grandparents. <3

Abby had a blast at her birthday party and talked about it for days. She is one blessed little girl. <3


Abby turns 3!

I cannot believe that my little itty bitty baby girl turned THREE years old this year! She is so much more than I ever dared to hope and wish for... she's smart, beautiful, sassy, confident, and kindhearted.  I'm beyond proud to be her mama. 


After jumping out of bed full of excitement, the birthday girl wanted to start her special day with a trip to IHOP!

A quick stop at the eyeglass store for daddy resulted in a stop next door for a balloon and lollipop for the birthday girl!

Then it was off to Toys R Us to pick out her own special gift! After wandering around for what seemed like hours, she ended up with a Minnie Mouse shirt, new book, and a pack of Barbie Squinkees!

We can never pass up a little ride on the way out!

Quick stop at Dunkin Donuts for a snack and drink.

Playing with her new squinkees!

Time to bake the birthday cake!

Make a wish and blow out the candles!

Oh yum!

Ending the day by relaxing on the couch and watching her movie of choice... Despicable Me.

The Christmas Holiday 2011

Abby and Santa 2011
 December really flew by for us!  We had a ton of fun preparing for the holiday and did all kinds of crafts, singing, cooking, and  going on light rides. We have some truly amazing light displays in our area and we took advantage of them a few times this year. We also had a new friend come and stay with us all through the holiday season.... the "Elf on a Shelf"! He arrived the day after Thanksgiving and spent every day watching over Abby and reporting back to Santa every night.  The extra fun part was that when he came back in the morning, he was in a new spot every day! He was a tricky one... showing up hanging from the tv, riding in the barbie car, leaving little gifts, coloring pictures.  The Elf was LOVED and we were all a little sad when on Christmas Eve he rode back to the north pole with Santa. We can't wait to see him next year!

So proud of her gingerbread masterpiece.
 We worked together to create a very cool gingerbread house! Abby had a blast and did a fantastic job decorating. It only took a few days for the house to mysteriously start "losing" pieces.

This is the picture that we used on our Christmas card this year.
Abby with her doll in their matching dresses made by my friend Ann.   


Opening gifts at my grandparents house

It cracks me up when these two pose for pictures together... they ALWAYS make the same face!

My beautiful mama cooking the crabs and spaghetti for our traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner. Yum!!!

My handsome hubby enjoying the festivities

Spaghetti and a banana? Sure, why not. :)
Me and the munchkin, waiting for hubby to read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" like he does every year.

Santa was very generous...

Santa's helper hard at work building a special gift for a special little girl.

Santa was very good to this little cutie!

Barbie house!

Christmas Day is a special day for another little cutie... we celebrated our niece Lucy's first birthday!