Friday, January 30, 2009

The Best Bloggy Friends Ever

When I started blogging, I just wanted a record of my days with Evie. Chris' mom kept journals throughout her life, and it was so special to read them after she passed away.

But blogging has become so much more for me, and it's because of all of you. You've lifted my spirits, encouraged me, and sang my praises when I needed it most. You've made me a better friend and a better mother and a better writer. I've gained lots of wisdom and the courage to completely be myself. I've been so fortunate to stumble upon this community.

Before my doctor appointment today, I read your words and prayers. Thank you.

The procedure went well. It hurt a lot more than I expected, but I feel fine now. Everything is still on track in IVF-Land. I'm tired and emotionally spent, so I'm signing off tonight.

One thing before I go - tomorrow I plan to record Evie's first-ever interview and post it on my blog. What would you like me to ask her? I hope you help me come up with some fun questions!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I've Hit a Snag

Yesterday I had a routine ultrasound. You know, just to make sure things look okay so far.

They don't.

My doctor discovered a cyst on one of my ovaries. Normally, this isn't an issue. They're very common and usually disappear on their own. But in my case, this cyst could rob from the valuable blood supply to my egg follicles. And I'm going to need every one of those eggs in a couple weeks.

So tomorrow I have a procedure scheduled to remove the cyst. At first I was upset. I mean, really, another thing to do here? As if I don't have enough to go through already?

However, tonight I feel fine. Actually, I feel lucky. Even though this is just one more "unfair" thing about my infertility, my IVF cycle is not canceled. We're plowing ahead. I can do this! And what's more, I even feel a little hope that I might just get a baby out of this whole thing.

I told you I was a strong woman. Right now, I even believe it myself.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Snow Daze!

Can't get enough Wordless Wednesdays? Check out more here, here, and here!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Thanks to everyone for the sweet comments on my last post. You really helped me feel better, probably more than you'll know.

Speaking of warm, fuzzy feelings - I do not have them for our local weathermen. The 4-8 inches of snow they predicted has not appeared, just a disgusting slushy mess! I was looking forward to our first significant snowfall of the year. Imagine Evie out in that! I guess that fun will have to wait for another day...

But the weather is cold and frightful, and soup is perfect to warm your insides. This is a quick and flavorful one, and takes less than an hour from start to finish. I'm making it tonight with leftover turkey from dinner at my mom's this weekend. It's a soup I've made a million times, but I'm looking forward to having it again!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth
1 c frozen corn kernels
1 c chopped onion
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 c chunky salsa
8 oz tortilla chips
1/2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 c canned black beans, rinsed
sour cream for garnish

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the chicken in the oil for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and mix well. Then add the broth, corn, onion, chili powder, lemon juice, and salsa. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Remove chicken from pot and shred with two forks. Return chicken to pot, along with black beans. Simmer another 10 minutes.

Break up some tortilla chips into individual bowls and pour soup over chips. Top with Monterey Jack cheese and a little sour cream.


Lisa hosts Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays over at Blessed with Grace. Visit her for more yummy recipes!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

You'll Just Feel a Little Stick

I started my Lupron shots a few days ago. I wake up early, before Chris heads off to work, and he gives me the injection. He really should be a doctor, because I hardly feel a thing. Just a little sting followed by a little itching. Then I get a kiss from my dear husband, pop a steroid (really!) and a prenatal vitamin, and back to bed I go.

The best thing is that I get to snuggle up to Evie. During our first cycle, Chris gave me the shot and I headed off to work. But now, I slide into bed next to my darling girl. Her sweet face soothes my anxiety. One morning, she must have felt me come back to bed and she slid ever-so-close. Still sleeping, she tucked her head under my chin and curled into me. I fell into such a deep slumber after that.

Even though this cycle is much easier than the previous cycle, it's still so very hard. Mostly, I don't think I'll end up pregnant. I felt this way last time, and I was miraculously surprised when I ended up with Evie. Surprised, and grateful to God.

But I just don't know how we can be blessed again this second time. So I wake up a lot in the middle of the night, and I can't fall back asleep. I pray to God, plead, that He answers my heart's desire. Sometimes I know He is listening, and I beg for Him to bend to my wishes. For Him to give me another baby. I have to admit, there are nights when I'm not even sure He can hear me, though.

I'm crying as I write this. This is the hard part. Not the needles or the medicine chart or the endless blood draws and ultrasounds. It's the not knowing. It's the wanting something so badly, and not knowing if it will be yours. Most people don't have this struggle - they just have babies.

Someone once told me IVF was wrong in God's eyes because children deserve to be conceived in an act of love. I was startled. This process is as much an act of love as any intimate act with my husband. Although neither of us was even in the room when Evie was conceived, she was loved and wanted and prayed for.

And so that's what I'm doing again. Wanting and loving and praying for another miracle baby. I know God will give me what I need. I know there is a plan. Now it's simply a waiting game. I just hope it's a game I win.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Moment to Treasure in My Heart

This morning, Evie awoke and said a bright and cheerful "Hello, Mommy!" She scooted over and climbed onto my tummy. We cuddled awhile, her ear to my chest so she could hear my heart beating. Her angel face looked up at me and she planted a sweet kiss right on my mouth. And then, then she said "I love you, Mommy."

So simple, but a moment I'll never forget.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sweet Hearts

I have several million (okay, little exaggeration) candy canes left over from Christmas. Instead of throwing them out, I just keep moving them from room to room. They finally made their way upstairs into the kitchen and I've been moving them again - from the desk to the table to the counter to the candy box on top of the fridge. Which is just dumb, BECAUSE NO ONE IS GOING TO EAT THEM. Evie declares they are " Too scipy," or "spicy" in English. Me, I'd rather have chocolate.

So when I saw this on Make and Takes, it was the perfect solution to my candy cane problem. Cute, huh? Now I have Valentine decorations to hang in the front door and around Evie's room. All it took was ribbon, the oven, and my red and white striped friends.

Good thing I hung onto those candy canes. I knew they would come in handy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crafts 'n things

You probably don't know this, but I received a sewing machine for Christmas. You see, I love all things "crafty." Right now, my obsession is felt food. I am working on a teapot and cups, as well as a cake stand and cake slices. I wanted to be finished in time for Evie's birthday, but better late than never, right?

There's something about cold weather that brings out the Martha in me. I guess we're all hibernating indoors and we have more time for being creative. Plus, Rachel loves crafts, too. We could spend hours (um, actually we do spend hours) just talking about projects!

But sometimes I need a little help and inspiration. That's why I was excited to hear about Crafts 'n things free monthly newsletter. Not only does it give great ideas for home decor, gift giving, and gardening, but each subscriber has the opportunity to sign up for "Win It!" for a chance to win fantastic craft-related prizes. You can sign up for the newsletter here.

So what about you? What kind of crafts do you enjoy?

Wordless Wednesday - Cousins

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Twenty-Four Months

Sweet Evie,

Yesterday you turned two. Two Years Old. All day, I kept thinking about the day you were born. It was such a miracle for Daddy and me, and it was a day we will never forget.

A few days before you were born, we had an appointment with Dr. Jewell. At the end of our visit, he mentioned he would be on call on my due date and offered to induce labor if you hadn't been born yet. Daddy and I were both taken by surprise because we hadn't even considered that option. After lots of questions for Dr. Jewell and a night to sleep on it, we scheduled an induction for the evening of January 18th.

I just knew I was going to go into labor before that. But January 18th came, and you had not made your debut. Grandpa came in from Michigan late in the afternoon, and we all went to dinner. Then we settled in back at home and waited for a call from the hospital.

It's funny, I was so very calm. I wasn't worried, just anxious to meet you and see your face. Eventually, I went to bed and left Daddy to listen for the phone to ring.

At about 10:30 pm, the hospital called and said they were ready for us. It was finally time! We all loaded up and made our way there. When we arrived, we were shown into the birthing room and met our nurse and the resident obstetrician. Around midnight, the doctor gave me a sleeping pill and medicine to get my body ready for labor. She told me to get some rest, and that they'd start another medicine to give me contractions late in the morning.

After that, Grandpa came in the room to see how things were. We told him we were prepared - we had our favorite shows on the iPod, a deck of cards, music, lotion for a massage, sudoku books - the works. We were ready for a long labor!

But you had other things in mind, my sweet girl! While Grandpa was in the room, I felt a cramp. He left a few minutes later, and I began to feel even more cramps. Daddy and I talked to the nurse, who told us that was a normal side effect of the medicine. We knew I wasn't in labor because the cramps were low, not over my whole belly. And they got worse! Eventually, Daddy and I went for a walk around the hall. I just couldn't sit still! The monitor that was there to record my contractions was silent.

I began to worry. I was having this pain, and I wasn't even in labor yet! I had 12 more hours of this before I would get the medicine to start my labor! The pain wasn't bad, but it was constant, and I couldn't sleep. Less than an hour into the cramps, the house doctor checked, and I was dilated! Oh, then came the sweetest words "Would you like an epidural now?" I had been in labor and didn't even know it!

The epidural was the part I was dreading most. A big needle in the back can make anyone a little nervous. But I leaned over the side of the bed, and Daddy held my hands and reassured me. Just like that, it was over.

So we slept. I remember few things for the next couple of hours - the doctor broke my water, they gave me an oxygen mask because your levels had dropped a bit, I prayed little dreamy prayers that you would be safely delivered to me. At 7:00 am, the nurse came in and explained it was a shift change, and she was leaving. I was six centimeters dilated.

Then Dr. Jewell came in to wish us a good morning. He explained my contractions were irregular, so he planned on giving me medicine to make them stronger and more regular. It would be several hours though, and he said to plan on a late afternoon birth. Daddy and I called Grandpa and GaGa and told them to take it easy - have a cup of coffee and take a shower before they came to the hospital.

Our new nurse came in and introduced herself. She explained she wanted to get to know my body, and checked to see how far I was dilated. We were so surprised when she said I was fully dilated! She asked me to push, to determine if I needed to "labor down." Suddenly she was saying "Stop! I need to get Dr. Jewell in here right away."

I was comfortable - able to move my legs just a bit, but in absolutely no pain. So we waited a couple minutes and Dr. Jewell arrived. I pushed a few times and you made your way into the world! You, our precious angel, were born at 7:54 am. Dr. Jewell said you were one of the five easiest labors he's ever seen. For that, I thank you.

You looked just like Daddy when you were born. And you were so tiny. I hadn't imagined I was growing such a petite girl!

It all happened so fast! Maybe half an hour later, there was a knock at the door. Daddy peeked out and I heard "Dad, Sarah's nursing Evie. Can you give us a few minutes?" Then, I heard a very surprised Grandpa reply "She's here already?" In all the craziness, we forgot to tell everyone you had been born!

Even before you were conceived, I loved the idea of you. My own little baby. When I saw the very first picture of you as an embryo, I loved you. During each ultrasound, I loved you. When I found out you were a girl, I loved my daughter. I loved you when I heard your hearbeat. But the day I met you in person, I fell head over heels for you.

Oh, I loved you when you were born. But I really know you now. I know your sweet personality and your quirks. I've cuddled you in the middle of the night and whispered your name. I've kissed your forehead and nose and cheeks and ears and belly and toes and fingers and your perfect mouth. I've sung to you. I've read to you. We've had pretend tea parties and colored and painted and danced. We've held hands. We've run and jumped and gone swimming. And all this has made me love you more.

When I look back over the past few years, I am still in awe that you are here. You are such a blessing. You are my everything. I love you, Little One. Forever and ever.

Love, Mommy

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sweatin' to the Oldies

Why do I think working out has to be a chore?

When I was getting Evie dressed today, I sang the Hokey Pokey. When her pants went on, I sang "You put your right foot in..." For her shirt I sang "You put your left arm in..." Then we just bopped about a bit and danced around.

Of course, as soon as I stopped singing, my princess demanded "More!" So I went to YouTube and found the song. We danced and danced and danced. I was out of breath, and sick of the Hokey Pokey. We moved on to The Loco-motion. That song gave us at least 15 minutes of pure joy. We sang and danced and sweated. I started thinking this was more than just fun for Evie - this was a workout!

We kept dancing right through several rounds of The Twist. You know when you run too much, and get a pain in your side? I got one! I am telling you, this was the best exercise! I don't know why I think I have to go to the gym or spend grueling time on my elliptical machine. I have my very own, tiny and sweet, personal trainer! And this personal trainer isn't a pushover. You can beg "Evie, it's lunchtime. Let's stop now." She won't budge. She just orders "More dancing, Mommy!"

I love having this child. She allows me to see things with fresh eyes again. When we were at the park the other day, she filled her coat pockets with rocks. Finding those rocks again Monday gave her so much happiness. A candy lipstick can make her light up. A crayon will make her scream with glee. A new tube of toothpaste is enough to earn a smile. Even dancing with her mother is pure and simple bliss. For both of us.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I'm Her Favorite!

This morning I clipped Evie's fingernails. Since birth, this has been one of her least favorite activities. Being the good mommy that I am, I've discovered a way to distract her a bit and make things easier. As I clip, I name each finger and say "Clip, clip, clip." Her fingers are very originally named "Thumb, Pointer, Tall Man, Ring Man, and Pinkie."

As I was naming her precious little fingers today, she kept yelling "Tall Man!" Finally, I asked "Is Tall Man your favorite?" Evie said "No, Pablo!" "Oh," I said "Is Pablo your favorite?" And she replied "No, Mommy favorite!"

I'm her favorite. My heart is in a puddle on the floor.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I haven't been myself lately. Post-holiday blues and pre-IVF jitters do not make for a happy Sarah. It's not that I don't find joy each day - because I certainly do - but I've just felt "off." Less peppy and kind of dull.

But Friday dawned as a beautiful day here in St. Louis. It was bright and sunny, and best of all it was going to be over 50 degrees. Perfect park weather.

Rachel and I packed up Evie, a tricycle, a wagon, two blankets, and a picnic lunch. We met up with my mom and the kids and headed to the park. We had so much fun! Evie loves the swings, so we spent a lot of time there at first. She is such a brave girl! I pushed her as high as my heart could take, and still she begged "More push! More swinging!" I finally coaxed her from the swings by promising to go on a walk. We all strolled around the park's historic 1800's village, peeking in windows and laying claim to different homes. After our walk we sat down to a picnic, and then made our way back to the playground for "Slide! More sliding!"

I don't know if it was the sunshine or the company, but I felt lighter. The sun warmed my face. Seeing the kids play warmed my heart. Talking with my sister and my mom warmed my soul. My "I'm blessed" feeling came back - the feeling that I am so blessed to live this life. What's not to love, right? Sitting in the sun eating pita sandwiches and blackberries and chips. With my best girls. On a Friday afternoon in January. Blessed for sure.

And the feeling has lasted. I still have this big challenge in front of me. After all the work, will I be pregnant? Will I be okay if I'm not? I have realized (again) that I have enough, no matter what happens. Sure, I want more children. But Evie really, truly is enough. She is a miracle and her sweet face and happy spirit are plenty for me. My strong, kind, loving husband is enough. My mom and dad and sisters and brother are enough. My friends (in the bloggy world and beyond) are enough. My God, always here with me when times are hard, is enough.

Friday, I felt the sun in my soul. Mr. Weatherman, it was just what the doctor ordered.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Just Imagine

Evie's imagination has kicked into high gear lately, and it's so very fun to watch.

For instance, the other day she reached over and pointed, saying "Gum. Right there." I looked and there was no gum - at least no real gum. She plucked it up and chewed away. Then she handed it to me and said "Little bit, Mommy." See, she's getting better at sharing!

Evie was in the bathtub later and I noticed her cup some water in her hand and rub her fingers in it. She squinted up her eyes and proceeded to poke her finger repeatedly into her closed eyes. I asked her what she was doing and she explained "Contacts." Since Chris and I both have terrible vision, I knew this day was coming. I just didn't expect to have a two-year-old in contacts...

But the best was a few nights ago. Evie was sitting at the end of our bed, facing the footboard. She kept yelling "Boat! Boat!" and insisted that her little stuffed Pablo sit next to her. I finally asked her to get out of the boat since it was close to bedtime. She slid off the bed and said "Water!" I was confused for a second - was she looking for her sippy cup of water? So, exasperated, I asked "What water? Where?" Then she pointed at the floor and said "Right there!" Bells went off, and I understood she was pretending to be in water outside the boat. I encouraged her to "swim" into the kitchen, and she slithered all the way on her belly!

When she was playing "boat" again this morning, I called her "Captain." All day, any time I address her as Evie, she chimes in with "Captain." She may not be the captain of a real ship, but she is the captain of my heart.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

For Better or for Worse

When Chris and I married, we promised "To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse..." The "better" part is easy. But my beautiful husband excels during the "worse" times.

Like today.

I have such mixed feelings about IVF. I love it because it gave us Evie. I hate it because it's stressful and painful and humiliating. The main reason I've been putting off another cycle is the anxiety about having a hysteroscopy. When I had this test before, I was completely unprepared for how painful, and frankly how just plain gross, the procedure is. It was certainly the worst part of my entire IVF experience.

But so worth it for another baby. We met with Dr. Witten again a few days before Christmas. It was actually a nice visit. Dr. Witten is so very compassionate and understanding, and it was fun to see him interact with Evie. Plus, he said that my pregnancy had been without complication, so we probably wouldn't even have to do the hysteroscopy. Yippe!

Imagine what a letdown it was when a nurse called while we were in Atlanta and scheduled the damn test. I cried, of course, and Chris hugged me tight. Dr. Witten ordered anesthesia, so I would be asleep this time, but I was still sick about the whole thing. My first instinct is to sleep during stressful times, so I've been tired and emotional for the past week. But Chris didn't tire of me talking about how nervous I was. He listened patiently and gently encouraged me things would be okay. He joked with me. He reminded me of the payoff - hope for another perfect miracle baby.

The test was today, and I was on the verge of tears the entire morning. I knew at any moment I was going to lose it - I blinked back tears and tried to keep my voice from catching. And I was mean to Chris. Everthing he said was irritating. He never snapped back at me, not a single time.

We dropped Evie off with GaGa (who I was also mean to - sorry Mom,) and fought our way through terrible traffic to the doctor's office. Once I was there, I calmed down considerably. A nurse took me to change into a lovely and oh-so-modest gown and to start my IV. And then they sent Chris in to be with me. He was the sweetest sight.

Dr. Witten broke the rules and invited Chris in for the procedure. Although I fell asleep immediately, it helped to have my husband there. I love him so much for staying in the room, even though he was in the way and I'm sure he didn't want to see the whole thing.

And then I woke up. Chris was waiting by the bed, and laughed when I repeated the same questions because I was disoriented from the anesthesia. He's been so caring and gentle with me all day, getting me warm coffee and looking after Evie.

Chris' unconditional love is the greatest blessing in my life.

So now I'm through the very worst physical part. For those of you who want more information, here's a brief schedule:
> Jan 21st - start injections to make my body produce a lot of eggs.
>Week of Feb 9th - anesthesia again, when they remove the eggs and fertilize them. The embryos will grow in a quiet place for a few days, then they'll put them into my uterus.
>First week of March - hopefully an announcement that I'm pregnant!

Friday, January 2, 2009

My M&Ms

Oh, my bloggy friends, I have so much to tell you!

Christmas was great - Evie woke up without a fever and had a great time opening her gifts. We had a wonderful day with my family, then packed up and headed to Atlanta to spend time with Chris' family. We had a great visit, Evie played with her cousins, and we had an unexpected phone call that we made it into a February IVF cycle! More to come on all of this later...

But, I'm going to ease back into the bloggy world and tell you about the cute little candy you see.

A few weeks ago, the nice folks who make M&Ms offered to send me a few bags of My M&Ms. Basically, they allow you to make customized M&M candies. You can choose your own colors and messages and... wait for it... PICTURES to be printed on M&Ms. Since Evie's birthday is just around the corner, I jumped on this chance!

The ordering process was easy - I clicked on the colors I wanted, typed in three different messages, and uploaded a photo of Evie. I think these are going to make perfect favors for her party! You know Evie is my little Candy Girl, so imagine how excited she will be to see her own sweet face on candy! My mom saw them today, and loved them - what Grandma wouldn't?

Now I have to figure out how to package them as favors. Any ideas? We're having a tea party theme.