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The First Trimester (Part Deux)

When I was pregnant with Evelyn, I posted about each of my trimesters and figured I’d try to do the same this time around.

I broke all of my own TTC rules with this pregnancy.  I tested way too soon, I peed on a stick every day for at least a week to watch the lines get darker, I kept on taking my temperature, even after all the positive tests.  I wanted to be sure.

Pregnancy after a miscarriage is hard, but in some ways it’s also easier.  My first pregnancy, before I had ever miscarried, was pretty blissful.  Even though the unfortunate possibilities would occasionally swim around in the back of my head, I didn’t give in to them.  That won’t happen to me.  That only happens to other people.  At the same time, I had to push the negative thoughts out of my head because I had convinced myself that I would never be able to survive a loss.  The heartbreak would be too much for me to take after 6 long years of trying.

Now that I have experienced that loss, I have worried about every little thing and for some time I didn’t really allow myself to “believe” that I was actually pregnant.  At the same time, I know if I have another loss, I will survive it.  I made it through the last one and I can do it again, if that’s what I need to do.  The fear of the unknown is gone to a certain extent, so that’s what makes it just a tiny bit easier.  But still, every day that passes is another day for something to go wrong.

So, I was a little unnerved that I had virtually no pregnancy symptoms during the first trimester.  I kept waiting for the nausea to hit me.  I waited to be repulsed by certain smells and by even the thought of certain foods.  I wondered when I would be hit with crippling fatigue.  But, week 7 came, then week 8, then week 9…and still nothing.  I was worried.  I didn’t feel pregnant.  Maybe it was all wrong.  Maybe I was imagining it.

When I went in for my first doctor appointment, I expressed my concern over my lack of symptoms, so they arranged for me to have an ultrasound 2 days later.  As soon as the tech put the wand on my belly, I could see our little peanut moving around!  He told us right away that the baby was there and there was a heartbeat (178, I’m thinking girl!?) and I cried just a little as a huge surge of relief washed over me.

9 Weeks

Despite the fact that my pregnancy symptoms have been almost non-existent, that doesn’t mean that I have had it easy.  Once I had my ultrasound and was able to relax just a bit, then I got sick.  One morning, I woke up with a strange rash on my back that turned out to be shingles.  Fortunately, I got off pretty easy.  I stressed myself out a ton, reading about shingles online and expecting to be in bed and in pain for weeks.  But in the end, the rash didn’t really spread, and it only got a little itchy.  But, by the time that was clearing itself up, then I came down with the flu…and I’m not talking a little cold…I’m talking monster flu.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt so utterly sick and miserable.  I spent about 3 days on the couch, unable to do much except for cough, sneeze and gag.  I couldn’t even really sleep it was so bad.

I went in for my NT Scan around 12 weeks and was able to have another ultrasound.  The baby was being shy and the tech could not get the measurements he needed to be able to complete the screening, so they offered me a Panorama test, which is a blood test that will check for chromosomal abnormalities and I’ll also get to find out the gender!  The baby’s heart rate was 176, so I am still thinking girl. :)  They offered me a bunch of other tests as well, since I am considered to be high risk this time because of my age. *eye roll*  I probably won’t do any of them unless some concerns arise.  I also passed my first test for gestational diabetes, which was a big relief since I had to manage that with Evelyn.

13 Weeks

One thing that is really different this time around is that I have been completely ravenous all the time.  No food aversions for me…and my body wants carbs! Ugh…I’ve already gained more weight than I would like to mention and I’m a little worried that I am going to gain a lot more.  My belly is popping out a lot sooner this time.  At 13 weeks, I look like I did at 20 weeks with Evelyn!  I wish I could say it’s all baby.  Yikes!

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13 weeks

This pregnancy has been so different from my first in so many other ways.  It’s been a lot harder to sit and daydream about the little one since I am chasing after Evelyn all the time.  My symptoms have been a lot milder too, so in general, I just haven’t been “feeling” pregnant.  I found out that I was pregnant very early, so the time seems to be dragging on and on.  At the same time, the weeks are flying by.  I’m really looking forward to the second trimester, feeling movement, and beginning to prepare the nursery.  And I’m hoping things will begin to calm down, so that I can just try to enjoy it for a bit, since this will very likely be my last baby.  Having any more is at the top of my Murtaugh List.  I’m just too old for this sh*t.

It’s been awhile…

long winter

It’s been quite some time since I have posted here, and I don’t have any particular reason for staying away.  I guess I just needed a break.  A lot of changes over the past year have left me in a strange state.  I don’t know if it’s depression or exhaustion or just indifference.  You know all those big life changes that cause the most stress?  Even the good ones…getting married, moving, having a baby…can take a toll.  It seems I always experience big life changes in large lump sums.  Never one at a time.

This year, I left my job to become a stay at home mom.  It was strange at first, especially after 20 years of working.  20 years.  Is that even possible?  I still don’t feel like I have figured out how to be at home, but I can at least say that I have gotten used to it and it’s mostly been a great experience.  I am very grateful to be able to be home with Evelyn, but at times I wonder what on earth I am doing.  I sometimes feel like it was a frivolous, impulsive decision, even though we planned for it.  I guess for someone who has worked so hard and been in the workplace for so long, being at home feels almost irresponsible for me.  I am by no means saying that stay at home moms are frivolous or irresponsible.  Being at home is hard work and taking care of children and raising them to be decent human beings is a complicated and worthy undertaking.  It’s just still strange for me.  I often joke that I’m going through a mid-life crisis.  I probably am.

My miscarriage in October made the latter part of the year a bit of a blur.  This kind of loss is weird.  It’s not like a break-up, when you have someone at whom you can direct your anger and hurt.  It’s nobody’s fault, so you have to just sort of move on and get past it.  I don’t know how to grieve this way.

Then, only 6 weeks or so after my miscarriage, I got this…

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…and I wasn’t sure how to feel about it.  Of course I was happy, but also scared and worried and a bit in disbelief.  The holidays came and went, I announced the pregnancy to my family and a handful of friends, but I couldn’t help but think about the fact that if the first baby had stayed, we would have been finding out the gender by then.  I totally distracted myself with online shopping during the month before Christmas, buying gifts for Evelyn’s birthday and for Christmas itself.  I didn’t allow myself to become too attached to this new little being and I felt like this cloud was hanging over us.  I didn’t take pictures or videos, which is completely unheard of for me.  For the first time since Evelyn was born, I just didn’t feel excited about much of anything.  This is a pretty depressing pregnancy announcement, isn’t it?

I’m still trying to work my way out of that funk and it’s been hard because I have also been physically unwell.  I am planning to write soon about my first trimester, but to make a long story short, I have been in physical pain for months (back, sciatic) and have had multiple illnesses over the past few months (shingles, influenza).  It’s been a rough year so far, but I am trying to move forward.  I will be starting physical therapy sessions next week and I have slowly recovered from the other sickness that has had me down.

I am looking forward to Spring and to many happy occasions that my family will be celebrating this year…graduations, a wedding, our baby.  I’m working on my spiritual growth, which is something that I have neglected for far too long.  I hope to be posting here more often again and I am finally starting to feel attached to the new little alien in our lives.  Evelyn is insisting that it’s a girl and we should be able to find out for sure in a few weeks…and it’s nice to finally see a light at the end of this dark tunnel I have been walking through.

 

Saying Goodbye Too Soon

Photo Credit: Dominik Martin

Photo Credit: Dominik Martin

Most of the people in my life didn’t even know I was pregnant.  Even those closest to me had only just learned the news when our baby left us.

Over the past year, I had seen so many friends miscarry that I thought somehow that I could be “safe” if I just waited to tell everyone.  But, safe from what?  Safe from the loss?  Safe from having to deliver bad news?  Nobody wants to have to say those words, but healing doesn’t happen in secret.  It doesn’t happen in darkness.

We had just begun to tell our closest family the news when the bleeding started.  I spent the second half of that day with my family in a complete fog…that day that was supposed to be so happy…that day we had decided weeks before that we would share the great news of a new baby on the way.  I dragged myself home to lie down, but sleep didn’t come.  I tossed and turned and in between tears and fervent prayers, I squinted at the blue light of my phone, looking for hope and answers on the internet.  I found myself straddling a fine line between hope and surrender, not wanting to allow either one to completely overtake me.  Michael was at work and I was home alone and mainly I was scared that I would lose our baby all alone in the dark.

I spent another half a day in a fog of sadness, trying desperately to keep my daughter from seeing my tears and from feeling my despair.  When the baby finally left me, it came as a relief.  Though not the resolution I wanted, it was at least a release from the unknown and the fear.

I was ten weeks pregnant and had six glorious weeks of planning and dreaming about who this new little person might be.  I swooned at the idea of Evelyn becoming a big sister and couldn’t wait for her to be able to feel little baby kicks in my tummy.  It’s amazing how quickly a mama (and daddy) brain can wrap itself around the idea of new baby.  The connection is almost instantaneous.  The love hits you like ton of bricks.

I wasn’t prepared for this.  I was so certain about this baby right from the start.  I knew I was pregnant long before the test told me so.

In the days leading up to my miscarriage, we had just started to tell Evelyn about the baby in mommy’s belly and she was certain that it was a boy baby.  I like to think that maybe she knew something that the rest of us couldn’t have known.  She proudly sported her ‘Big Sister’ T-shirt and announced the news to my parents.  It feels so unfair that she won’t ever get to play with him and boss him around.

We had started to plan for the nursery and I bought a few teeny tiny cloth diapers from a friend.  We even had the names all ready to go.  This baby was real to us, even though we hadn’t yet seen him on a screen or heard a little heartbeat.

My thoughts and words here are starting to ramble as I try to make sense of something that can’t be explained away.  I know I am only at the beginning of the grieving process, and I can’t fully articulate everything that I am thinking and feeling.  But, I feel like talking about this loss is a way of remembering my baby.  As Michael and I stopped for food after our long ER visit, I noticed the the other diners happily chatting away, waitresses cleaning tables and everyone just going about their business as the reality of our loss weighed heavily on our weary hearts.  It was a great reminder to me that you really never know what other people are going through, what tragedy may have just fallen upon them.

While I have no regrets about waiting to tell people about my pregnancy, it scares me to think that I could just go about my business and most people would never even know what happened.  They wouldn’t ever know that my baby existed.  But, he did exist and he was loved and cherished and dreamed about and prayed for.  For a time, however brief, he was ours.

Complete Lack of Focus, aka, Running to Stand Still

Photo credit:  Amanda Sandlin

Photo credit: Amanda Sandlin

I swear at times I have ADD.  My thoughts swirl in all directions and I have trouble focusing on a single goal.  I start an activity and then as my mind begins to wander, I think of other things that I need or want to do and I switch tasks.  In the end nothing gets completely finished.  Or, my mind becomes so overwhelmed with the number of things I’d like to do (or should do), that I end up sitting on my couch, wasting hours on the internet, accomplishing nothing.  I’m a whirling, swirling, flurry of activity and I’m at a complete standstill.

This morning it occurred to me while I was wasting another hour of my life scrolling through Pinterest with no real goal in mind, that my problem right now is not that I have a lack of focus, but that my focus is on myself.  I’m trying too hard to figure out what to do with myself now that I am a stay-at-home mom.  But, it’s really not about me.  I quit my job 2 months ago so that I could be a mom.  Not so that I could be a blogger, or write a book, or makeover all the rooms of my house, or preserve all the food to get us through the winter, or embark on some new exercise program, or learn how to use my camera, or sew a million dresses for Evelyn.  Didn’t I just write a post about how we can’t have it all, all at the same time?  I’m in this place because I want to be the best mom that I can be.

Now, I am not saying that doing any of those things is bad or that a stay-at-home parent can’t be an amazing parent and do those other things at the same time.  I believe that we all need to have a way to exist outside of our roles as spouses and parents and I believe that I will get there eventually.  I just don’t know what that is for me yet.  When I was preparing to leave work, my mind was buzzing with all of the things I would love to accomplish that I couldn’t really do while working full time.  Now that I have extra time to do some of those things, I don’t even know where to start!

This blog has always been fun for me and for about the past year I have been thinking about ways to build my audience and possibly use it to make extra money for our family.  But, once again, I have become so overwhelmed at the crazy amount of work that entails, that I have come to an impasse.  I don’t want to stop contributing to this space, but I don’t want to make it my job, and most of all, I want to stay true to myself and to my family.

So, I think it’s best for me to start back at the beginning, back to basics, and focus my energy where it needs to be…my faith and my family.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.

Apothecary Extracts Tea Tree Oil Review

 

tea tree oil

It seems like essential oils are all the rage these days.  I’m seeing them all over Pinterest and on the blogs that I follow.  I haven’t really been inspired to run out and buy a huge assortment of oils for a few reasons.  1.) They can be expensive!  2.) I really lack the time and motivation to do a lot of research about it right now.  But, I’m always looking for ways to replace products that are filled with toxic chemicals with natural equivalents.

Though I haven’t really jumped onto the essential oils bandwagon (yet), there are a few oils that I have been using for years (way before all the cool kids) that have a variety of uses and tea tree oil is one of them.  Tea tree oil’s antibacterial properties make it ideal for a variety of health and beauty, medical, and household cleaning uses.  I’ve used it on everything from beauty treatments to washing my daughter’s cloth diapers.  I’ve been collecting a bunch of recipes that I wanted to try, so when my bottle of Apothecary Extracts came in the mail, I was excited to get started.  The best part was that the bottle came with a free recipe guide that is loaded with ideas for ways to use it.  It also provides a really informative section on the oil itself, where it comes from, how it is extracted, and some history about how it has been used in the past and how it can be used today.  This product is 100% pure, so you won’t have to worry about having a reaction to any additives.

So far, I’ve created a moisturizer by whipping some coconut oil with some tea tree oil and I made a relaxing bath soak.  The recipe for Super Soft Protein Deep conditioner that comes with the recipe guide is awesome.  I’ve also been reading a lot about tea tree oil being used to prevent head lice by adding a few drops to shampoo and conditioner, and with school back in session, it can’t hurt to try it!

If you’re thinking about getting started with essential oils or you’re just looking for a natural, chemical-free alternative for many health and beauty treatments, tea tree oil is a great place to start!  It will quickly become a staple in your household.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Keeping a Visual Food Diary

Food Diary

Can I just gush a little bit about how excited I am that I discovered the app Two Grand?  No, they aren’t paying me to endorse it!

When I first started following a primal/paleo diet about 4 years ago, one of the ways I kept myself on track was by blogging about everything I ate.  No, I didn’t publish lengthy blog posts on a daily basis, but I did keep a private blog as a sort of food diary. It helped. A ton. I lost about 12 pounds in a month, gained a ton of energy, got rid of debilitating headaches, and got pregnant after 6 years of infertility.  I was finally happy with my body and happy to finally be expecting.

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ll know that not much can stand in the way of certain cravings.  During my pregnancy, I maintained my healthier eating habits for the most part, but succumbed to occasional cheats, mostly in the form of ice cream and french fries.  I managed to gain only about 25 pounds and take it off rather quickly, weighing less after about 4 months post-partum than I did before I got preggo.

Unfortunately, I guess I’ve never been fully “on track” since those food diary days.  I am definitely an all-or-nothing type of person.  A small bite of cake at a party can quickly turn into a slippery slope of daily bad choices.  Over the years, I have gone through phases of strict adhesion to the Primal lifestyle mixed with days and sometimes weeks of reckless abandon (c’mon, I was on vacation!)  But lately, I have been really kicking myself in the butt for not having a little more self-discipline, especially at night when I usually sit down with a glass of wine and some kind of snack after my cherub falls asleep. Oh yeah, we’re trying to have another baby too, so that’s really my biggest motivation for wanting to get back on track and get my hormones in check.

Yesterday, I started searching for a food diary app so that I could record what I’m eating a little more conveniently without having to fire up the laptop or actually enter it into a blog post format.  Most of the apps out there involve calorie-counting and some sort of database where you can search for every manufactured food under the sun.  I don’t count calories.  Ugh.  I also cook a lot, so entering in the individual ingredients for every recipe and then trying to figure out a portion size is just way too much work.  I was about to give up and then I noticed Two Grand.

This is basically the Instagram of food diaries.  You just take a picture of everything you eat.  Put a caption on it if you want to, then share it with your followers.  That’s it.  You can also follow other members who have similar eating habits or similar weight loss goals or who are at the target goal you would like to reach.  This way you can get ideas for meals or snacks from people who are similar to you.  Once you’ve added some photos, you can see your entire day at once and you can record other data like your mood, health status, etc.  You can also track your water intake and exercise.  All without counting a single calorie.  Hallelujah.

I am really excited to get started with this and I hope it will be helpful.  Do you find it helpful to keep a food diary to meet your health goals?  Would you consider trying this app?  If you do, you can follow me @AScenicDetour

Sensory Fun with Ivory Soap

Evelyn loves sensory play.  I think that most kids her age do, unless they are averse to the new sensations.  Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to provide a sensory experience in your home for very little money.  I just purchased a plastic wash tub at Walmart for a few dollars and that’s where she plays with most of the materials I give to her.  In this instance, I happened to have several bars of Ivory soap around because I use it to make my own laundry detergent and I decided to try this fun activity using a bar of the classic soap.

First we put the bar of soap in the microwave (in a bowl) for about 2 minutes.  We watched as it grew and grew into a big, puffy cloud of soap.  After it cooled slightly, I put it on an old cookie tray and let Evelyn play with it for awhile.  I encouraged her to break it up.  I gave her some tools to use, but it took her a few minutes to get accustomed to the texture of it and to figure out how she could manipulate it.  Awesome discovery and problem solving opportunity! Ivory soap

The next day, we added some water to the soap pieces and I gave her a whisk  and some scoops.  This was definitely the coolest part!  After the soap had some time to dissolve, the mixture became slimy and soft and slippery and gloppy.  Evelyn described it by saying, “It looks like slobbery mayonnaise!”  Michael described it as “viscous” (gotta introduce those new vocabulary words!)

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We got about 3 days worth of play out of this.  We probably could have kept it around longer but it started to get bits of dirt and grass in it, so I just decided to get rid of it.

Have you tried any new activities with your little ones?

*Just a few words of warning about this activity:   At one point in the process after we microwaved the soap and before we added water, the cloud became very dusty and I was concerned about her breathing in the particles, so we stopped playing at  that point.  Also, we did play with the slimy, soapy mixture indoors and it made our linoleum floor very, very slippery.  Please use caution and place a towel down if you plan to play on a hard, smooth surface.*

These are the Good Old Days

good old days

I recently came upon a quote while I was perusing Pinterest and it made me stop and think.  Apparently, it was made by Andy of The Office, a show I’ve never really watched.  I know, I am probably one of the only humans on Earth who hasn’t.  Don’t judge me.  Anyway, it went something like this,

I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.

It made me a little sad to think that we sabotage so many moments of our lives by focusing on the negatives.  I’m guilty.  I’ve done it all my life and I still do it from time to time.  At least now that I am aware of it,  I can try to remind myself that one day I will laugh about today’s tragedy and look back on these times with fondness.

I suppose this is one of those lessons that one person can’t teach to another, so why should I write about it?  Argh.  It’s so frustrating to think that there are so many life lessons that can only be learned through experience, and even though I will try, I will never be able to pass what I have learned onto my daughter.  I will tell them to her and she will roll her eyes and she will never truly understand until she has lived it.  Just like you might be reading this now and thinking “Sure, sure.  My roommate sucks, my parents just don’t understand, I just failed an exam, I hate my job, these kids are driving me crazy, etc, etc”  Whatever you are going through right now might have you reeling or feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  But there is, and when you get to the end you will turn around and look back and see where you’ve been.

I remember my college days when I was working and busting my butt to pay the bills.  I had bosses and roommates who occasionally drove me crazy and the stress of trying to meet deadlines, complete my student teaching, staying up into the wee hours of the morning to finish lesson plans and papers.  I put on the next day’s outfit before bed (usually sweats) so that I could sleep in as long as possible before my morning commute.  It was HARD, but those were the good old days.

I think back to when my ex-husband first left and I laid on the couch for days while my brother fixed me things to eat and I couldn’t get through a day of work without crying.  Yes, I broke into a million pieces and it seemed like I would never feel “normal” again, but something in me died during that time and a new someone emerged, someone stronger than I ever imagined I could be.  And I actually miss those times now.  I get all nostalgic thinking about how I was forced to surrender everything I thought I knew and how close I felt to God in those moments.  Those were the good old days.

I think about the house that Michael and I lived in when we first got married.  It was small and didn’t have enough storage space and my kitchen window overlooked the neighbor’s yard, which was littered with a rusty old car and crappy lawn furniture that was haphazardly placed with no rhyme or reason, not to mention the hairy, sometimes shirtless man who lived there.  My patio there was half the size of the one I have now, but you know what?  I miss it.  It was our first house together, it was in that bathroom that I fell to my knees and thanked God when I discovered I was pregnant with Evelyn.  Those were the good old days.

Thinking back about the sleepless nights when Evelyn was a newborn sometimes makes me unsure if I want to have any more children, but I can easily fall into a trip down memory lane, remembering how I escaped to the bathroom when she was crying, only to return and see my hubby in his robe, rocking her and singing “Sweet Baby James” to get her to calm down and sleep.  I was exhausted, I was scared, I was in over my head, but those were the good old days.

Isn’t it weird how our minds tend to focus on the negatives in the moment, but when we look back, we tend to remember the positive things?  I guess the point I am trying to make here is that whatever you are doing right now, wherever you are, whoever you are with, stop for a moment and take it all in.

Breathe the air,

listen to the sounds,

look at the faces of the people around you.

Remember this, because these ARE the good old days.

 

Paleo Mug Cake

I have seen these recipes floating around the internet and I really had no interest in trying them.  Cake in a mug, cooked in the microwave.  It just didn’t sound appealing to me.  But, I got desperate to provide some semblance of a birthday cake for Michael’s big day and I didn’t want a huge cake sitting around my house to taunt and tempt me and since he’s not a big cake eater anyway, guess who would have consumed the lion’s share?  So, I decided to give this a whirl…

Paleo Mug Cake

…and I was pleasantly surprised.  These were super easy to put together and contain healthy ingredients, so it doesn’t really feel like a cheat at all.  I love that I can give my kid cake and it’s good for her!  I probably won’t be making these often, but they would be great for those cool evenings when you want a warm, comforting treat.

The best part is that you probably already have these items around your house.  To make this truly paleo, you would want to use almond butter or maybe cashew butter.  I only had peanut butter on hand, so that’s what I used.  I almost always have extra ripe bananas around too.  One of the local grocery stores sells huge bags of over-ripe bananas for 99 cents, so I buy bags and freeze them.  You could add a little sweetener of your choice to this recipe, but I usually just rely on the bananas for sweetness.  You could also mix in nuts or chocolate chips or top the warm cake with some vanilla ice cream if you wanted to be extra decadent.  I added a spoonful of the peanut butter to the top of Michael’s cake while it was still hot.

mug cake

I even stuck a few candles in there so we could have a proper birthday song.  Don’t repeat my rookie mistake though.  I put one candle in while the cake was still too hot and it melted!  Let your cakes cool before you add candles, folks.

mug cakes

The verdict was yes! We will make these again!

I found the original recipe at Wannabe Chef.

Paleo Mug Cakes

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tbsp natural nut butter of your choice
  • 2 rounded tbsp cocoa powder
  • (optional) 2 tsp sweetener of your choice

Mash up the banana with a fork until smooth.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix into a smooth batter.

Pour into a microwave-safe mug.  Make sure the mug is only about 2/3 full, because the batter will expand.

Cook in the microwave for about 2.5 minutes, carefully remove, allow to cool and enjoy!