Sunday, July 31, 2011

A little pregnancy math

***Disclaimer: I fully intend to talk about things like ovulation and cycle length, so if that's not your bag, or you're my father/father-in-law, it's time to turn away.

From the American Pregnancy Association:
Day 1: The first day of your menstrual flow is the beginning of your cycle.

Day 7: By day seven your egg is preparing to be fertilized by sperm.
Days 11-21: (based on 28-day cycle) Hormones in your body cause the egg to be released from the ovary around this time. This process is known as ovulation. The egg travels through the fallopian tube towards the uterus. If sperm penetrates the egg, the fertilized egg will attach to the lining of the uterus and begin to grow. If fertilization does not happen the egg breaks apart.
Day 28: Hormone levels drop around this day causing the lining of the uterus to be shed making up your menstrual flow.

It is important to realize that the first part of the menstrual cycle (before ovulation) is different in every woman and can even change from month to month. The variation usually occurs from 13 to 20 days long. The last half of the cycle is usually more similar for every women, because there are about 14 days from day of ovulation until the start of the next period. This is why women are encouraged to track their cycles and count back 14 days from their LMP to narrow down their most fertile time of the month.

Whew, glad we've all got that down.  This was your 9th grade health class-refresher course, in case you were wondering.

Two years ago, I was keeping track of my cycles in the hopes that we might start trying to get pregnant.  I discovered that my cycles are actually 25, not 28, days. 

In June 2009, my period started on June 1st.  Casey was out of town that year from around the 10th until somewhere between the 18th or the 20th.  It was during that trip that I finally convinced him to let us try twice to get pregnant, once in June and once in July.  After that conversation, I kicked myself, because - according to what we just read - no baby could possibly be conceived in that timeframe.  Remember: 14 days between ovulation and the start of the next period.  I had given myself roughly 6, maybe 8 days max. 

Of course, when he got back, we tried anyway.  That was the only time we tried. 

On July 3rd, I took a pregnancy test that was totally inconclusive - one line, but also not one line, meaning that on that particular day, my body was still registering the fact that I was pregnant.  Bear in mind, this would be on approximately the 32nd or 33rd day of my cycle.  In other words... waaaaaaay past when my period should have started.

Can somebody explain this to me?  Because according to everything I know about biology, we either had a milkman-conception situation while Casey was away, or my fertility and ovulation is allllllllll screwy.  (And, if you've spent any time looking at my daughter, she is clearly not a product of the milk man. Or Casey has a secret twin...)

I wasn't kidding when I called her my miracle baby!  I have no answer for how it is I came to be pregnant with her, except to say that she was always, always meant to be ours. 

It makes this time around that much more challenging.  How do you plan for something that doesn't seem to follow logic?

So this month, we're getting a little help:
Because, really, I can't figure out the math on our last successful conception. 

Keeping our fingers crossed that these little sticks will help us get those elusive two lines on that other little stick.  (Plus, you know... save $10 and all.  How could I resist?)  ;)

And so, round three begins!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Call the Fire Department!

Ding-aling-aling!  Call the fire department!

I have to admit, I didn't come up with this one.  This came directly from Allison at No Time for Flashcards.  She is a total genius when it comes to all things early childhood, and I have a huge bloggy-mom crush on her.  If you're a mom, you'll love her ideas too! 

This repurposed diaper box gave us hours of entertainment, and we coupled it with Curious George, because he accidentally calls the fire department while playing with the telephone. 

Not too shabby for a Monday, eh?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'll be your cheerleader

I like to consider myself an optimist. That glass right there?  It's half-full.

Which is why I felt weak and whiny about sharing my anxieties and frustration related to getting pregnant. 

The comments I have received over the past week, however, make me extremely glad I did.  Your e-mails and Facebook messages and comments amazed, encouraged and humbled me, and have had me in tears more than once. 

There are so many of you out there who have been through your share of struggles on the path to motherhood.  Often a silent and lonely struggle, where people tell you with almost patronizing enthusiasm just to give it time, or that it will happen when it's supposed to.  You've gone to baby showers and smiled with as much genuine happiness as you can muster.  You've watched friends "glow" and patted bellies and wondered why it was meant to be for someone else and not for you.

I don't claim to get it.  I haven't faced the fight the way many of you have.  But sharing my struggles revealed that many of you are suffering or have suffered varying degrees of similar emotions.

In other words, I'm not alone in thinking that not getting pregnant or not staying pregnant feels like crap.  Why did I think I was some weird freak?

Why is it that, as women who willingly bare our souls about so many different topics, we keep these struggles a secret?  I am asking because I don't have an answer, just a lot of kind and empathetic comments as evidence.

It takes big girl guts to admit to this stuff, and it's neither whiny nor weak to let it be known that some days, it hurts. 

So, while I don't ever, ever want to view that glass as half-empty, nor do I want to turn this blog into one gigantic catalogue of woe is me, I do want to renew my commitment to what's honest.  Keeping all of this to ourselves does no one any good.

And if you ever need a cheerleader, don't be afraid to share, here or in person (so-to-speak):  It's worth it to send each other some love and support.  And icecream.  You know, if you're close enough that it won't melt...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

In the still of the night

My hair is pulled back in a ponytail, little whisps tamed with a stretchy turquoise headband.

My skin smells of sunscreen and chlorinefrom a day at the pool, with a hint of the weed killer I've just finished spraying on the lawn.  

My hands are dry from having washed them sixteenbajillion times, but I dip them into the water anyway and swipe the sponge against another plate.  I glance around my kitchen and sigh, shifting my weight, and try not to think about the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I still have to make for our trip to the zoo tomorrow.

There is dog hair on the floor, even though I just vacuumed.  Today.

There are toys on the floor, too, even though I've already sentenced them to their baskets at least twice before. 

Phantom of the Opera is on cable, and I am reminded of New York and dinner at midnight and a life as far removed from the one I'm living as possible. 

But I like home.  I want to be home.  I want to make the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and read to the little and watch the expressions on her face as she learns another new word and feel her little head on my shoulder at nap time and gague how quickly sleep will come from the heaviness of her eyelids.  I even want to be here to vacuum the stupid floor (again). 

I pause to hear the tap - tap - tapping of my fingers against the keyboard, because this moment will soon be gone and my tired momma's brain will fail to remember so many things; little details that seem too divine to forget.  I want a penseive (yes, that's a Harry Potter reference.  Deal.) to extract every little nuance so that when they are gone I can come back and live in these anointed, ordinary moments.

And when it's done, I will put the clothes in the laundry and finish those dishes and know that I'll turn around in a few hours and do it all again.  It's a gift; an art to live the same actions within a new day.

And it is by far the best job I've ever had.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pre-gestational cyberbullying. It's a thing.

There is an interesting phenomenon going around Facebook.  I've termed it, "pre-gestational cyberbullying."

In other words, nosy people.  Nosy people who virtually butt-in to others' reproductive plans via Facebook.

It seems to be an epidemic, and I honestly don't understand it. 

For example, I have a girlfriend who is from a large Catholic family.  She and her husband have been experiencing some reproductive difficulties, but they want children desperately.  They've shared this info with close family and a few friends, but the majority of her family doesn't know - and they aren't afraid to tell her what they think about her childless situation.  Publically.  In writing.  Often.  

Another friend of mine has been married only 6 months.  She and her husband are not ready for kids, and yet her married-with-children friends keep encouraging her to get pregnant.  Each time she goes on vacation, they post: "What a great time to make a baby!"  If she's not drinking in a photo, they comment, "Does this mean you're pregnant?"

Even my sister - who is 22 and not married - has gotten posts saying, "You and [the fiance] would make beautiful babies!"

To all of this, I have to respond: WTF, Facebook commentators?  WTF?

While I'm sure inquiring minds want to know if and when it happens, the issue of making a human person is not one that should be subjected to peer pressure.  Perhaps high school has changed since I've been there, but I do not recall the cool kids passing out pregnancy tests and exclaiming, "C'mon, everyone's doing it!"  Granted, I lived in the pre-16-and-Pregnant era, but still...

This is a big, big deal!  Perhaps the most life-changing decision of all, not to mention one that can be touchy and painful. 

And, to quote pretty much every after-school special I've ever seen... No means no.  It doesn't mean pester some more until the answer changes.  It means you've been politely invited to mind your own business, so don't bring it up again, thankyouverymuch.  It may be uter-"us," but unless that us includes you, leave it alone.  For serious.

In general, though, I don't understand why people even ask.  Even before I became a baby-making obsessed mamma, I never asked anyone.  I knew that the contents of someone else's uterus was none of my business, and that asking someone if they were pregnant when they weren't was a quick way to make that person hate you.  Let alone trying to force their hand on Facebook. 

So really.  To the picture-commenting, uterus-watching, family-hounding Facebook friends: enough is enough.

Particularly if your subject is my 22 year old sister.  Just sayin'.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Blessings 101

One adjective no one has yet used to describe me is "easy-going." 

So it should come as no surprise that I was extremely anxious about taking our 16 month old - who is still a little wobbly on her feet, has no limit on the things she wants to explore and touch, and hasn't yet grown out of the "I'd like to figure this out by putting it in my mouth" stage - camping.

Thankfully, on the evening before our first comping trip, the weather lady was predicting thunder and lightning storms, flooding and mudslides.  It seems Mother Nature wanted me to have an excuse to call it off.  (Not being able to go due to inclement weather sounds much better than, Honey, Mommy chickened out and cancelled your first camping trip, which is also kinda true.)

Instead, we took a day trip to Manitou Springs, and it turned out to be a wonderful family outting.

We explored the city, which was absolutely adorable and very tourist-friendly.

Leah's favorite part of the day?  The Duck Store.  That girl was in heaven!


Is that a happy face, or what?!

We climbed 225 stairs to the top of Seven Falls.

The view from the top: Awesome!
We also took a short hike from the top of the falls, which was absolutely breathtaking. 
My attempt at being an "artsy" photographer.

By the time we finished with all of this, and made our way back down the many steps - a task that was a LOT easier for me going up than going down - it was well past someone's nap time. So we drove to a local park for a picnic lunch and a nap.

Leah absolutely loved picnicking in the park!

She even took a short nap!  By the time we got going again, most of the afternoon had passed us by, so we loaded up the car and  headed home, where we were all exhausted and slept like the dead.  At home in our beds, I might add, where we got to listen to the rain without being out in it.  

Camping?  Maybe next year...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pity Party? Check.

Alright, I'll admit: it wasn't my finest hour.

It's not that I'm not ridiculously excited for the no less than seven people in the last two weeks - including two just yesterday, hence my melt-down - who have shared that they are newly expecting.  Because I am.  Truly.

And also a little green.  Not the green that results from morning sickness, the green that results from the fact that I am not experiencing any morning sickness.  At all.  I'm perfectly healthy and vomit-free.  Whatever water cooler you all are drinking from, it hasn't been shared with me.

So I did what any sensible girl would do when she feels like the world just doesn't have her back: I ate a bunch of junk food, went to Dairy Queen and watched a Harry Potter marathon on tv.  (Like I said - not my finest hour).

Casey knowingly advised me that it's just my frame of reference.  It happened so easily before, this just seems like a challenge.  Of course, I never thought of a miscarriage and nearly a year of mourning/worrying that I can't get pregnant as easy, but I do understand what he was getting at.  The mechanics of it were easy both times.  Or so I told myself as I shoveled Blizzard into my mouth. 

And then I talked to my grandma, who is currently in Hawaii.  It sounds nice, except that she's there with much of the rest of my family to spread my aunt's ashes.  She passed away in February after battling cancer.  My grandmother is the picture of kindness and generosity, and she was absolutely broken hearted about the task she had ahead of her.  She relayed to me that she's not sure she can fly home and leave her baby on the beach.  At the age of 80, she still feels the loss of her child as pogniantly as any mother can. 

It helped me to have a bit of perspective I recognize I should have had all along.

Patience was never, ever my strong suit.  Nor is coming to terms with the fact that I simply don't have any control or influence over something that I deeply long for.  I can't just work harder or aim a little higher or believe a little more and affect the outcome. 

All I can do - what I should be doing instead of feeling defeated - is focus on what I do have, and that list isn't insubstantial.  My so-called problems aren't really problems at all; just a blip in an otherwise beautiful and serene road.  

So thanks for hanging with me through that episode.  I am afraid that it may not be the last time I freak out and forget all the wonderful blessings I have in my life, and just how very priviledged and undeserving I am of having them to begin with. 

And because you do deserve it: to my seven beautiful friends who are soon to become mommies, CONGRATULATIONS!  I honestly couldn't be happier for you and the sheer magic that is coming your way.   (Actually, there might be room for another 3% of happy if you'd send me some of that water, kay??)

Besides... this girl was so worth the wait.

Another little miracle is worth it, too.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oh me of little faith

Don't mind me.  I'm somewhere near the top today.

Remember when I said this?

Confession: When I wrote that, I was convinced that pretty much the next post I'd write would be to tell you that we're expecting.  Yes, I get that this sounds a bit cocky - no pun intended - but I've been pregnant twice before off of one-shot-wonders, neither of which should have ever actually happened. 

It's the getting pregnant part I'm good at, after all.  My success at carrying is only 50/50 - an F in academic terms - so it occurred to me to worry about the keeping the baby part, not the acquiring the baby part.

I'd really, really like to be that person, who writes about faith with confidence, patience and endurance. Who not only understands that God's timing is perfect, but also accepts it.

I have to admit that lately, I've been feeling a little faith-less.  Which, of course, only makes me more frustrated with myself.

I know that God already knows my baby - knows if it's a boy or a girl, the color of her eyes, the number of hairs on his head.  God knows its name and the exact moment that he or she will find its way into our lives. 

I can just see Him giving me that paternal pat on the head that says, "if you only knew the things I have in store for you!  I wish you wouldn't worry; just have a little faith, and you'll see."

I know that my baby is coming.  The baby that was always meant to have me as its mommy. 

I know too that my story doesn't hold a candle to some of the serious issues women face every day trying to get pregnant.  So really, the fact that I can't even stay positive for two months says something about me that I'd rather not analyze right now.

In a year or two, this little moment will seem so irrelevant.  Right now, it seems huge and daunting and eternal.

If faith can move mountains, my faith can't even move a grain of sand.  And that's just sad.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Vegetable inspiration from baby food. Prepare to be awed.

When Leah was a baby (now she's a toddler.  Try to keep up, people.), I used to make her a vegetable puree that she went ga-ga over. 

It was broccoli and cauliflower pureed with a cheese sauce, and it was yummy enough that even I liked to sneak a little. Somehow, it didn't actually taste like vegetables.  It tasted like... well, like junk food (is that even possible?).  Maybe it was the cheese sauce.

Today, I resurected some of that recipe - without the puree this time around - and it was awesome. 

What you will need:

Cauliflower, butter, flour, milk, shredded cheese and any desired seasonings.

You'll have to forgive me, because I didn't measure anything I did today, so instead I'll give you my best guesses. 

Original Cheese Sauce recipe:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/3 cup grated cheese

Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour to make a rue.  Gradually stir in the milk, bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes until thickened and smooth.  Stir in the grated cheese until melted.

I used half the bag of cauliflower, steaming it in the microwave for 6 minutes.  Fresh would be even better, but I don't keep it on-hand anymore... maybe I should.  I made about half the recipe for cheese sauce, adding a pinch of garlic salt and thyme.  And, since I didn't measure it out at all, probably a LOT more cheese than this recipe calls for.  It left me with a pretty hefty cheese-to-cauliflower ratio, but that might be part of what made it so delicious.

The result?  It's veggie mac-and-cheese, made to order.  Life as we know it may never be the same.

You're welcome.

Monday, July 11, 2011

There's a snake in our bush and other domestic occurrences

No, this is not some kind of sneaky, slightly-graphic euphemism for trying to get pregnant.

There really is a snake in our bush.  The one in the front yard.  The one that everyone has to walk by in order to reach the front door.  The one that's right by the garage door, prompting me to take the garage door opener on our daily walks... you know, just in case that tricky snake gets it into his ugly little head to slither into my garage.  God forbid.

No, seriously, I would die if that happened.  It's one of my nightmares.  You would see a very distinct Melissa-shaped hole in our garage door.  Hopefully I would remember to push the stroller along with me, but it's very possible that Leah might be on her own.  That's how much I hate snakes.  (Kidding... mostly.)

We had to buy snake repellent.  Didn't know there was such a thing, but it turns out, you sprinkle a bit of this strong smelling powder and all snakes will supposedly vacate the premises.  The snakes are Moses and our house is Egypt.

I'll let you know how that one turns out.

In happier news, I have a daughter who asks for kisses all the time.  It's bliss.

She is also beginning to string words together to create a single idea.  Mostly simple ideas like, "Hat." "On."  The intent of that one was pretty clear.

When we were at the zoo, she was absolutely in love with the peacock.  So she followed it around with her little arms outstretched repeating, "Peacock."  "Home." 

It took me a while to connect the two, but I'm pretty sure she wanted to take the peacock home. 

She has also made a pre-potty-training connection: she now announces each and every time she poops.  Yep.  There's a cute little squat-and-push-face that goes with it, which I have yet to catch on camera.  Then, she declares: "Poop!" which comes out sounding like "pup," with extra emphasis on the P.

Who knew that watching someone in the act of pooping would be so delightful?

So many things I'm trying desperately to etch into my forever memory.  So many things that bring my heart unspeakable joy.

The snake... notsomuch.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The one with all the rocks


That would be the noise my rear-end makes every time I take a step.  (Rear-ends make that noise, you ask?  Yes.  Today, that is the noise mine makes.)

Because yesterday, we road-tripped it down to Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods, which, if you haven't visited in a while, looks something like this:

Pretty awesome!  And free to visit, to boot!

Our day began with a little bit of hamming it up for the camera.  And even though it's not exactly time for her teddy bear photo, I couldn't help but smile when I saw this.

I was a bit apprehensive about the drive, since it's close to two hours from our house.  I knew that by the time we got there it would be nearly nap time.  Fortunately, Leah played it cool while in the car.
This is how Leah road-trips it.  Looking mightily like her daddy, I might add.

I packed lunch and took a nice big blanket, hoping that she would settle down and take a nap at a park after a nice picnic.  We accomplished a lot at that park:

...but unfortunately, none of it included napping.

Instead, she took a short nap in the car while daddy and I drove through at Dairy Queen.  So in the end, it worked out for everyone!

When we arrived at Garden of the Gods, I had anticipated hiking trails.  I thought we would be able to load Leah up in the backpack.
We learned an important lesson: our backpack hasn't grown since last summer.  Seems like a no-brainer, right?  Except that, Leah has grown since last summer... so much so that she barely fits into this thing any longer.  I think we'll probably get one more use out of it this year, and then it will have to be packed away in hopeful anticipation of a new little occupant one day. 

But, we did get some good hiking in.  That is, we took a quick hike around, mostly for the purposes of getting family pictures.  We tried...

And tried again...

And finally had to enlist the help of a passer by.

At this point, we decided to hike back to the car to get the stroller, largely because I was worried the backpack was cutting off the circulation in Leah's legs.  And that's where the fun began, what with off-roading and looking for trails, and pushing the stroller up some pretty steep hills in the dirt. 

Can I just mention: thank goodness our stroller can do all of those things!  It wins the award for durability after the tests we put it through yesterday. 

And, for pushing the stroller plus child through all of those adventures, Mommy wins the award for buns of steel. 


Thursday, July 7, 2011

The second fourth

I am glad to report that Leah's second fourth of July was so much better than her first!

A complete one-eighty from last year, we had a wonderful time celebrating America's birthday with great friends.

And the food.  Oh, the food.  De-lish.

Sadly, the only pictures I got of the food, I took before our guests arrived.  But rest assured, it was good.  Caprese and pasta salads, veggies and fruit and pita chips and dip and guacamole and corn on the cob and cupcakes and burgers... basically, everything you'd expect on the fourth of July. 

We only invited a small few - largely because that's about all our deck can hold while still allowing for comfortable firework viewing.

 Someday I'll be mellow about hosting holiday gatherings.  I won't obsess.  I won't run to 15 different stores at the last minute.  I won't overdecorate.  In otherwords, I'll fight all - and I do mean all - of my natural instincts.  But, all that will have to wait for another year. 

We enjoyed good food and good company until some of us found it a little too overwhelming (and much past our bed time!).

Leah had to bow out early, so she missed the fireworks for a second year in a row. 

Everyone else settled in to watch the many fireworks shows that dot the skyline and can be seen from our house.

Perhaps a little too comfortable for some...

It was a lovely evening.  We are lucky beyond words to be able to share these days with such wonderful people. 

As I sat there in the glow of a dozen fireworks shows with a full belly, surrounded by my husband and our friends and their children, it absolutely took my breath away. 

This is my life.  Wow.

Fortunately, I had the mess of cleaning up all that holiday fun to help bring me back down to reality. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What Daddy missed

Casey is coming home tonight (thank goodness!) after two weeks away.  Unfortunately travel is just a part of his job, but I thought I'd recap a few things he missed while he was gone.
Leah's playdate with her friends Ella and Ava at the Children's Museum.  We love to play dress up!
LeeLee and a sleeping baby James.  I heart those two!

My little cowgirl

A little more dress up.  I love this picture, partly because it reminds me of this and makes me laugh:

(Sidenote: is it wrong to compare my child to Jim Carey in a tutu?  I digress...)

Guess who learned the word COOKIE?

The little and her little (teddy, that is)

Playing in the water.  The best part?  I built it myself!  It was sunny when I started building this contraption, if that tells you anything.

And, to wrap things up, a video of our sweetpea.  We were eating lunch and naming body parts, and this was supposed to showcase how much she knows.  Except that when I turned the camera on her, she got a funny look on her face and clammed up.  So instead, it's just a cute video with a few randomly-named body parts mixed in.  I swear, she knows them.  Honest!

Yes, I am clearly an award-winning cinematographer.  I will await your fanmail complimenting me on my mad skills.  (Focus?  Which button is that, again?)

I changed my font at