Memory Lane {The Past Ten Years}

Last week, my AMAZING doctor at GRS contacted me asking if I’d be open to participating with her in a news segment for FOX 5 Atlanta about endometriosis. (I rarely talk about it here on the blog, but was diagnosed with endometriosis through laporoscopy about twelve years ago.)

Crazily enough, the segment ended up being filmed only a few hours after I found out about our low beta a thousand years ago… Oh, wait… That was only A WEEK AGO. The longest week ago of my life.  Anyway, given the circumstances, I was not my best self during filming, but managed to make it through with no tears, and lots of smiles. And it was really fun.

My doctor will be a part of our family forever, and I’m incredibly honored she asked me to join her for the news segment. It will air today at 7:30am, 9:30am, and possibly 5:00pm, Eastern time.

The interviewer asked me to provide him with some pictures of me, including a high-school picture, pictures of Bonnie’s birth, and other pictures of Bonnie. Choosing which pictures to send him brought back so many wonderful memories, and reminded me of the work God has done in me over the past ten years.

Here are some of the pictures I considered, although I didn’t send him all of these. He asked me only to send a few, and I sent a lot, so it will be interesting to see which ones he selects!

This picture was taken a few months after my high-school graduation in 2006, a couple years after being diagnosed with endometriosis:

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Wedding in 2010. We knew before we married that starting a family would be difficult for us, but there is no way we could have imagined what that would end up looking like in the longer-term:

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After 6 cycles of Clomid (4 of which were the highest dosage possible,) 3 cycles on Metformin, 3 failed IUIs, 1 IVF cycle that was cancelled after the egg retrieval due to severe ovarian hyper-stimulation, 17 embryos biopsied, and 2 embryos transferred through FET, I had a fantastic pregnancy. I contribute this to the grace of God, lots of long walks, and consistent chiropractic care. This picture was taken just days before Bonnie’s arrival.

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One of the best days of my life, June 15, 2014:

birth We have the best birth story:

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Bonnie at 1 week old:

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Bonnie at 3 months old:

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One of the last times she’d ever keep a headband on her head. Grrr….

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Bonnie at 10 months old:

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One of my favorite spots in the house. Bonnie and I have shared so many precious moments here. Reading, snuggling, nursing, singing, praying:

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This is one of the only pictures I could find of all three of us!

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My heart is breaking now, and the past week has been incredibly difficult. I went to sleep crying last night, and my heart actually, physically hurts. But my heart is also very full. Since being diagnosed with endometriosis over ten years ago, and then PCOS nearly ten years later, God has done so much in me and for me. He’s done things greater than I ever could have asked or imagined. That has been the anthem of this blog from the very beginning, because it’s been the testimony of my life. What a mighty, merciful, magnificent God we serve!

“Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we could ever ask or imagine, through the power at work in us.”

-Ephesians 3:20, The Voice translation

A reader emailed this prayer to me last night, and it is so fitting for this season that our family is walking through right now:

LORD, you are my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in you, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to you. Thank you for arming me with strength and making my way perfect. In the name of Jesus I can face challenges with wisdom, understanding, intelligence and supernatural ability because your Word dwells in me richly. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.  — Germaine Copeland

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15dp5dt: Mourning Our Loss

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Thank you all for your encouraging responses to my last post. I am so thankful for the wonderful, supportive women I’ve come in contact with over these past few years. You’ve all been such tremendous blessings in my life. For those of you who said you would be praying for us, Andrew and I both covet your prayers during this time. Words cannot express how difficult this has been. And as silly as I feel to ask, please pray for rest for me. I’ve not slept more than a couple hours a night for the past five or six nights, and am beyond exhausted.

After several strong positive pregnancy tests at the beginning of last week, I miscarried our babies. By the time of my first beta on Thursday of last week, my hCG levels were only 26. By Friday, I was getting only negative pregnancy tests, and after a miserably long weekend, I went in for my second beta Monday morning. I’d had days to prepare myself mentally for the “official” bad news, yet it still hit me like a ton of bricks.

I believed with everything in me that this FET was going to work, and I even believed we’d be having twins in the spring. I had not a doubt in my mind. So when it was obvious that my levels were dropping, and that we’d lost both babies, I was in denial at first, and then felt shell-shocked when it sank in. And then I felt utterly miserable. The past five days have been the hardest and longest of my life. They’ve felt like five years. Truly.

A couple of people have said things like, “Well at least you have Bonnie.” And I am so, so thankful to have her. But the loss of a life (or two lives) cannot be replaced with the life of another. Knowing that there was life there, and that it’s gone now is so hard.

And knowing that of the FIFTY eggs that were initially retrieved nearly two and a half years ago, we now have zero embryos remaining. That is really hard to accept.

But I know a few other things too:

1) Scientifically and medically speaking, our odds for success could not have been any better. Our embryos were biopsied and were as high-quality as they come, both our embryos hatched before transfer, my uterine lining was thicker than it had ever been in the past, my uterus and ovaries looked better than ever before, and overall, I am healthier than I’ve been in years. There is no logical reason I should not be carrying two babies right now. Our chances for success were greater this time around than they were when we had Bonnie.

2) God’s hand is in this. There is no medical explanation for why this was not able to be a healthy, viable pregnancy. The explanation is simply that God has something else in store for us. I have no idea what or why. And I haven’t asked Him, because I don’t need to know. His ways are higher than our own; I do not need to understand in order to trust.

I have cried out to Him over the past five days, but I’ve had no words to pray. Just tears and groans and silent listening. And even in my devastation, I know He is sovereign, and He’s granted me peace. And He’s even told me a few things.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” – Romans 8:26

He’s Told Me to Be Still- “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.”- Exodus 14:14

I’d thought that IVF was the hardest thing I’d ever done. But it turns out, NOT pursuing it again might be even harder. Even so, I sense the Holy Spirit directing me to cease pursuing fertility treatments, and my husband agrees. As much as I want to discuss our options with Dr. MK and dive right into the next thing (which I assume would be another IVF with embryo testing, and then FET,) I sense God telling me to do the thing that is harder, which is to stop trying to conceive, naturally or through treatments, and to have faith.

And I do have faith. I do not know whether, when, or how Andrew and I will have more children. But I know the character or God, because His character is presented to us all throughout Scripture. I have faith that God knows the desires of my heart far better than I know them myself. And only when I rest in that faith will I experience the fullness of joy and the fullness of life that come from living in His presence.

He’s Told Me to Be Present- “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”- Matthew 6:34

It is only when we live in the present that we are able to live in His presence. When I am able to live in the present, unfocused on what I think our family should look like in the future, that is when I will be most able to be completely grateful for the divine miracle God has already given us. When I live each moment as it comes, that is when I will be the best wife and mother possible. When I’m pining for something I may never have (more children) it takes away from the fullness of joy that Christ has made available to me now.

We know the genders of the embryos that were transferred: one boy and one girl. We’d chosen names. Those were tiny lives that we’d held in our hearts for over two years. We prayed for them every day that they were frozen in the lab. Though I carried them in my body for only a very short time, I carried them in my heart for much longer. The loss is huge.

But my God is BIGGER- “With man this is impossible, but with God, ALL things are possible.”- Matthew 19:26

My head is still spinning, and my heart is aching like it has never ached before. At first, I kept thinking of what we should have done differently: Maybe we should have transferred only one embryo, so that we’d still have another left. Or maybe we should have transferred none at all, but waited until a less stressful time instead. But finally, after days of turmoil, God has given me peace. I don’t know that the ache will ever completely go away. It is so raw right now that I’ve wondered if I might feel this way forever.

But my God is HEALER- “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”- Psalm 147:3

God has already begun healing my heart. The events of the past week have reminded me of what a miracle our precious daughter really is. I’ve cherished her more these past several days than ever before, and my love for her grows stronger by the day. It would be a shame for me to miss out on the joy of being her mother because I am constantly obsessed with the desire for more children.

I know there are women out there who can give 100% to their child/children while TTC, but that is not me. For me, even TTC naturally would require legalistic dietary restrictions, a boatload of supplements and powders and oils, hours of research, and time and mental energy that take away from the joy that this season of Bonnie’s life brings.

My heart’s desire now is to be the best mom I can be. I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember, and God has given me that. My purpose during this season is to spend time teaching her and showing her who Jesus is, teaching her how to obey and say “please,” introducing her to a potty, and making sure she doesn’t tumble down the staircase when I’m not looking, or eat dog food while I have my back turned. What an awesome job I have! It’s the job I’ve longed for my entire life, and it’s better than I could have possibly imagined. It’s also harder than I ever imagined. And it is time to immerse myself in motherhood rather than TTC.

When people ask me if we’re planning on having more children, until further notice, and unless God works a major change in my heart, the answer will be no. When people ask why, the answer will be because God has given us an absolute miracle in the daughter we do have, and we are busy cherishing and enjoying her.

 

 

 

 

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Beta Results Are In

And I don’t even know what to type, let alone what to feel. My doctor called me a few hours after the blood test. When I heard her voice at the other end of the line, my heart immediately dropped, because she doesn’t normally make post- blood work phone calls. That’s usually the nurse’s job.

I should preface by saying I expected 100% good news. I took a HPT on Monday, and another on Tuesday. Monday’s test gave a faint positive, and Tuesday’s was a bit darker. So when Dr. MK told me my hCG was 26, I wasn’t sure how to respond. She said she’s concerned at the low number. My first beta was a 60 with Bonnie.

I am going back for another beta on Monday, at which point I should be at least in the low 100s if this is a viable pregnancy. If the number stays the same or drops, we will know I’m experiencing an early miscarriage.

I feel devastated and hopeful, both at the same time. I can honestly say that, in all our years of trying and going through treatments, this is the strangest I’ve ever felt, because I truly don’t know how to feel. I’m just confused.

But I’m holding onto hope. A dear friend instructed me to do so until I have absolute, scientific proof otherwise. And that is what I’m doing.

It’s going to be a tough weekend, but I’m pregnant, at least for now, and I’m believing that I will stay pregnant for the next nine months!

“He is ever-present with me; at all times He goes before me. I will not live in fear or abandon my calling because He stands at my right hand.”

Psalm 16:8, The Voice translation 

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10dp5dt: Blood Test this Morning

No, I haven’t had my beta yet. Just checking in before heading to the clinic later this morning. I’m feeling great, and very hopeful. Physically I am not experiencing any pregnancy symptoms. I’m feeling a little bloated from the progesterone injections, and am still struggling with awful insomnia. I mentioned in my last update that I’d been experiencing lots of cramping, but that has since stopped.

I would be worried about my lack of physical symptoms, except that I barely had a single symptom after our last transfer, and hardly even felt pregnant until my second semester. So I’m really excited about this morning’s appointment! I’m also nervous, but I’m refusing to speak any negativity over these babies.

I’ve had some fantastic cheerleaders over these past few months, including so many of you, and I’m so thankful for your prayers and encouragement. Regardless of the news we get later today I am so grateful for our infertility journey. I’m thankful for what I’ve learned these past few years, for the people I’ve met, for the people Andrew and I are becoming, and for the daily reminders of God’s provision and grace.

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Fourteen Months with Bonnie

I don’t even know where to begin. Bonnie is doing so well. She is flourishing in every way. She knows more words than I can count, but if I had to guess, I’d guess about 30. She babbles, talks, and sings constantly. If she’s awake, her mouth is moving. I love this about her. Some of her newest words are: turtle, apple, banana, car, and go. She’s also started reaching her hands up above her head and saying yay. And she can hiss like a snake when asked, “What does a snake say?”

She still loves to read, and usually picks books and/or “babies” (stuffed animals) over her other toys. The baby doll in the picture below was my first doll. My mom brought this Melissa and Doug toy with her when she visited earlier this week, and Bonnie really enjoyed pushing the truck around, and pushing the zoo animals inside. She also enjoys her stacking ring toy if I sit on the floor and help her; however, we’re constantly losing the rings because she likes to wear them as bracelets around the house (and when we leave the house, and when she goes down for naps.) She likes bracelets, but not headbands or bows. For a few months I tried daily to sneak headbands on her head, but I’ve given up that battle, and am embracing her mullet.

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I mentioned in Bonnie’s last blog post that she would not eat cheese. The pendulum has swung the other way now though, and she enjoys cheese a lot! It’s usually the first thing she chooses to eat off her plate. I only offer her about one serving per day, and not even every day necessarily. Other good sources of protein and fat that she likes are hummus, almond butter, eggs, and grass-fed beef. Since we’ve been so conservative in giving her dairy products, we’ve not yet tried Greek yogurt, but I may offer that to her by and by. Her appetite increased tremendously when she started walking, and hasn’t subsided yet, so I am always trying to come up with wholesome snack and meal ideas for her.

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Bonnie has been down to one nap for nearly a month now. I actually prefer this to the two naps, because our days don’t constantly revolve around nap times! Here is what her schedule looks like. We rarely deviate from this day-to-day, and I’m always sure to be home at nap time, which isn’t hard since we’re home most of the time anyway. It’s hard to leave the house with three babies!

  • 7:00/7:15- Wake up
  • 7:30- Breakfast
  • 10:00- Snack
  • 11:00- Nap (usually lasts about an hour and a half)
  • 12:30/1:00- Lunch
  • 3:00- Snack
  • 5:30/6:00- Dinner
  • 6:30- Bath
  • 6:45- Read/rock/cuddle/sing
  • 7:00- Light out, sound machine on, in the crib

She is usually awake when I put her in the crib, and then soothes herself to sleep by either “singing” to herself, or playing with one of her babies. This could take anywhere from a couple minutes to twenty minutes, but she generally stays calm until she falls asleep. Occasionally she will fall asleep in my arms when we are rocking. I love when this happens, but it is rare. She seems to need a bit of space to get comfortable!

When she was taking two naps during the day I was pretty strict about when she woke up. If she didn’t wake on her own by 7:15 I would wake her up. That way we didn’t get off-schedule, and she didn’t miss a nap. But now that she is down to one nap, I’m liberal with what time she wakes up, and let her sleep as late as she likes. One time she slept until 8am, and I kept going in her room to make sure she was still breathing! That being said, she’s usually awake by 7:30. It’s 6:51am right now, and I hear her singing to herself, putting herself back to sleep. Sometimes Andrew will wake her when he’s getting ready in the morning, or one of the boys I keep (usually Finlay) will get here early, and the commotion will wake her.

Finlay has been here full-time this quarter; he and Bonnie seem to love one another. Luke hasn’t been here much at all this quarter though, so I can tell that when he is here, all three of them have to take a few moments to adjust to one another’s company. Having them here has been really good for Bonnie, but I cherish those couple of hours in the evenings when I get quiet time (or not so quiet time) with her alone. Those are the sweetest hours of the day, by far. And they are also the quickest hours of the day!

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Every month goes by so quickly, but this one seems like it passed the quickest of all. Bonnie is such a tremendous light in my life. I’m loving every stage more than the one before it, and I don’t know how it is possible, but I love her more deeply every day. She is more than I could have asked for or imagined, and my daily reminder of the mercy and provision of our Savior.

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5dp5dt: Signs, Symptoms, and Fears

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The past few days have been really hard. I know it’s my hormones, but I’ve been teary-eyed and emotional, irritable, tired, and not myself at all. 

Our transfer was on Monday. My mom was here Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so those three days passed quickly, and I took it very easy. Mom was a huge help with Bonnie, and since she was here I did not do any lifting or bending at all. But I did loads of bending, lifting, and carrying on Thursday and Friday, as I had all three babies by myself.

I was exhausted by the end of both days, probably because I’m not sleeping well at night. I’ve had a hard time falling asleep because I’m anxious/excited/nervous, and then once I do fall asleep I have such vivid dreams ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Thank you, progesterone in oil. 

The progesterone is also making me bloated, and slightly constipated. These are common symptoms, as are the vivid dreams. If you’re struggling with constipated after your FET, you may want to read this post.

As far as symptoms go, I’m having a lot more cramping this time than I remember having last time. I had constant cramps on Monday after the transfer, but they subsided by the time I went to bed Monday night, and I felt relatively normal Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday I have more cramping, along with what I hope was implantation bleeding. I also had cramping all day Friday, and almost a soreness in my pelvic area by the time I finally went to bed Friday night. I’m hoping I will be a bit more comfortable today, because the cramping is starting to worry me a bit.

I don’t recall any cramping at any point after our first F.E.T. I do remember my breasts being incredibly sore, but that hasn’t been the case at all this time around. I do remember struggling with insomnia after our first transfer, and being exhausted for maybe a week post-transfer, so I’ve not been surprised that insomnia has been an issue this time too.

I am exhausted again this morning, but relieved to have time with Bonnie this weekend, without other babies. I like having them Monday through Friday, but not having them Saturday and Sunday makes the weekends extra-special!

Although the constant cramping scares me a little, and the blood on Thursday makes me a bit apprehensive (I did not have implantation bleeding with Bonnie,) I am still more hopeful than anything. Well, I may not be as hopeful as I am tired, but I’m definitely more hopeful than fearful. For now, at least!

 

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3 Days Past Transfer {Plus, My Two Week Wait Meal Plan}

All’s well here. My mom arrived at our house the night before the transfer and stayed through yesterday, which made the first couple days post-transfer pass quickly. She was a huge help with Bonnie, but I also just love her company, so I was sad to say good-bye last night when she headed back to her neck of the woods. I’m counting the months until Andrew, Bonnie and I move home!

Our little embryos should be beginning the implantation process today. Here’s the timeline for a 5-day transfer.

1dpt….Blastocyst hatches out of shell (If you read Tuesday’s post, you know ours hatched prior to transfer.)
2dpt.. Blastocyst attaches to a site on the uterine lining
3dpt.. Implantation begins as the blastocyst begins to bury in the lining
4dpt.. Implantation process continues and morula buries deeper in the lining
5dpt.. Morula is completely inmplanted in the lining and has placenta cells & fetal cells
6dpt…Placenta cells begin to secret HCG in the blood
7dpt…More HCG is produced as fetus develops
8dpt…More HCG is produced as fetus develops
9dpt…HCG levels are now high enough to be immediately detected on HPT!!!

If you are doing a 3-day transfer, here is the timeline for your little ones:

1dpt .. Embryo is growing and developing
2dpt… Embryo is now a blastocyst
3dpt….Blastocyst hatches out of shell
4dpt.. Blastocyst attaches to a site on the uterine lining
5dpt.. Implantation begins,as the blastocyst begins to bury in the lining –> I’m prolly here today!
6dpt.. Implantation process continues and morula buries deeper in the lining
7dpt.. Morula is completely implanted in the lining and has placenta cells & fetal cells
8dpt…Placenta cells begin to secret HCG in the blood
9dpt…More HCG is produced as fetus develops
10dpt…More HCG is produced as fetus develops
11dpt…HCG levels are now high enough to be immediately detected on HPT

I mentioned earlier this week that I prepped for our transfer by meal planning and grocery shopping. I put a lot of emphasis on what I eat (and don’t eat) post-tranfser, during the two-week wait. Infertility has taught me A LOT. And one of the things it has taught me is that the foods we eat are so important. They can help, support, and even heal our bodies, when we choose the right ones.

About a year ago I shared a sample meal plan for the two-week wait. If you read that post, you’ll probably recognize a lot of that same information in today’s post.

{Disclaimer: I have no background or professional training in nutrition. I was just 100% determined to do everything I could to help my embryos implant and thrive!}

What I Am Eating:

I am focusing on eating lots of protein (eggs, fish and chicken, etc.), moderate amounts of healthy fats (olive oil, ghee, real butter [disregard if you are avoiding dairy], walnuts, and avocado,) and complex carbohydrates in moderation. I am focusing more on making sure I am eating plenty of protein and fat. Most of my carbs come from fruits and vegetables, rather than grains.

I am drinking lots and lots of water, and nothing else. If you need a break from only water, you should drink hot tea, but nothing caffeinated. I’m not drinking herbal teas either.

I am eating pineapple for 5 days after the transfer, beginning on the day of the transfer. For details on how and why to eat the pineapple, CLICK HERE.

Foods that you should definitely include in your meal plan, and that you will find in mine:

  • cayenne pepper (which increases blood flow faster than any other food)
  • avocado (studies have shown that IVFs done in people who eat avocado daily are 3 times more successful, probably due to the healthy fats that are present in avocado)
  • walnuts (which contain fatty acids called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are needed for implantation.
  • eggs (one of my favorite protein-laden foods)
  • decaf hot tea (warm beverages are best, as they help warm the uterus)
  • pineapple (implantation aid)

{Since imbalanced insulin levels can make it difficult for the embryos to attach to the uterus, it is important to really watch what you eat during this crucial time, especially if you have PCOS.}

I am not eating or drinking: 

  • Anything cold
  • Coffee or soda
  • Raw vegetables (because they take a lot of blood and energy to digest, and I did not want to take any blood away from my uterus.)
  • Grains (because they could cause inflammation that could prevent the embryo(s) from implanting.)

Two-week wait meal plan

This meal plan spans ten days, since there are ten days between a 5-day transfer and the first beta.

{Note: Nearly all my meals come from Danielle Walker’s cookbooks. I cannot recommend them highly enough. You can find Against All Grain and Meals Made Simple on Amazon. I love both books and use recipes from them several times per week. You will need both cookbooks if you plan to follow this meal plan exactly; however, if you don’t have the books, you can find similar recipes online!}

Monday

B: Grain-free toast topped with almond butter and homemade chia seed jam

L: Burrito bowl with black beans, cooked peppers, pickled jalapeños, grilled chicken, and guacamole (Similar to this recipe. But no lettuce, and no rice, and extra cayenne pepper)

D: Crock pot roast with carrots, 1 sliced avocado

S: pineapple, hard-boiled egg(s)

{For the roast, you can find lots of good recipes online. I used one that my sister gave me, and it’s the best I’ve ever tried. You’ll find the recipe at the bottom of this post.}

Tuesday

B: 1 hard-boiled egg, toast with almond butter and chia seed name

L: Roast leftovers

D: Mexican burgers with guacamole, roasted sweet potatoes

S: Larabar, pineapple, 1/2 avocado

Wednesday

B: scrambled egg, 1 avocado

L: Mexican burgers topped with sliced avocado, smokey roasted sweet potatoes (recipe for burgers and sweet potatoes found in this cookbook, but you can find a similar sweet potato recipe here. Just omit the brown sugar, or replace with coconut sugar. For the burgers, I used grass-fed beef seasoned with red onion, cayenne pepper, cilantro, garlic powered, sea salt, and pepper.)

D: Mexican chowder (found on p. 92 of this cookbook, which I cannot recommend highly enough.) Here is a similar recipe. Be sure to toss in some extra cayenne pepper though!

S: pineapple, walnuts

Thursday

B- scrambled egg, 1 avocado, both sprinkled with cayenne pepper and hot sauce (it’s an acquired taste!)

L- Mexican chowder leftovers (SO. GOOD.)

D- Spaghetti with zucchini noodles. (I’m using grass-fed beef, and organic spaghetti sauce from Aldi. Ideally, you could make your own spaghetti sauce.)

S- pineapple, walnuts

Friday 

B- scrambled egg, avocado

L- Spaghetti leftovers

D- Chicken satay with peanut sauce, vegetable curry (pages 68 & 216 of Against All GrainYou can find a similar recipe for the chicken here, and for the veggies here.)

S- pineapple, Larabar

Saturday

B- Paleo “instant oatmeal”

L- We have a luncheon to go to, so we won’t be having lunch at home. But you can find a couple great lunch recipes in this post.

D- Chicken satay and veggie leftovers

S- walnuts, avocado(s)

Sunday

B- Larabar, hard-boiled egg (Sunday mornings can be a bit rushed at our house.)

L- Zucchini crust pizza

D- Crock Pot paleo chicken soup with paleo biscuits

S- Larabar

Monday

B- Strawberry paleo muffins, scrambled egg

L- Soup and biscuit leftovers

D- Buffalo Chicken Casserole

S- avocado

Tuesday

B- Strawberry paleo muffins, scrambled egg

L- Buffalo chicken casserole leftovers

D- Vegetable curry (light dinner since our lunch was heavy)

S- avocado

Wednesday

B- Strawberry paleo muffins, scrambled egg

L- Buffalo chicken casserole leftovers

D- Paleo chicken soup leftovers

S- avocado, walnuts

Thursday

B- Larabar (on my way out the door for the beta)

L- Vegetable curry (This is a great, quick lunch, and I could eat it every day!)

D- OUT… To celebrate being pregnant!

S- Larabar, hard-boiled egg(s)

The meals above are just suggestions. The possibilities for your own meal plan are endless! My aim was ease, few ingredients, and recipes that taste good as leftovers. I based many meals on things I already have on hand, and/or usually have on hand. Fish would be a great addition to any 2ww meal plan. You won’t find any fish recipes on my meal plan, as I’ve not tolerated it well recently. It’s also noteworthy that we may not (and probably won’t) get around to all of these meals, since some of the recipes make such a lot of food, and could last us for a few days (especially the soup/chowder recipes.) It is better to be over-prepared during this crucial time though, so we have plenty of wholesome, warming foods and ingredients on hand and at the ready so we don’t eat things we shouldn’t.

We got a BFP after our last transfer, so I’m a believer in eating warming foods, and in eating pineapple for 5 days post-transfer. At least, none of it can hurt! That being said, you don’t want to overdo it on the pineapple, as eating too much pineapple could have a harmful effect.

A friend sent me this prayer, and it is so fitting for anyone in their two-week wait:

My Father,

I know I am impatient; so prone to worry, to give up, to lose hope.

Help me to rest in your promises today.

In this season of waiting, renew my joy in this moment so that I do not miss Your presence in this place.

Thank You for being with me and never giving up on me.

Thank you for always working for my good, and for Your glory, even when I cannot see.

Amen


I mentioned at the top of this post that I’d share my sister’s roast recipe with you, so here it is:

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 c. beef broth
  • 1/4 c. coconut sugar
  • 1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 c. liquid aminos
  • Small handful of crushed red pepper
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 roast (I used venison, because that’s what we had on hand.)

* I also added baby carrots.

Method:

Put the roast into the Crock Pot, and then add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

 

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1 Day Past 5 Day Transfer {Plus, What I Did to Prepare & What I’m Doing Now}

Yesterday’s transfer went as well as it possibly could have! We transferred our last two “normal” embryos. Both embryos hatched prior to transfer, which is a good thing. Meet embryos #13 and 35 (the numbers are out of 50, since we originally had 50 eggs retrieved.) They will, of course, have real names eventually!

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I had a lot more cramping after the transfer yesterday than I remember having last time, but by the time I went to bed last night it had eased up quite a bit. Immediately after the transfer I came home and had my first pineapple slice. 

To Prepare for Transfer this Time Around…

1) I bought my pineapple a few days before the transfer, but waited until the morning of to slice it, so that it would be as fresh as possible. I also bought loads of avocados. I remember reading somewhere before our last transfer that women who eat an avocado a day during the several days post-transfer have a higher IVF success rate than those who don’t. (No, I don’t remember the source, so I have no idea how reliable that stat is, but I figure it can’t hurt. Plus, I love avocados.)

2) I wrote down my meal plan for the two-week wait. I actually only planned for the first week, because I felt a little overwhelmed trying to plan for two weeks at the same time. I followed the same guidelines as last time, since they seemed to work, but changed up the actual meals.

3) I grocery shopped for the two-week wait.

4) I did some meal prep on Sunday, before my Monday morning transfer. Meal prep included baking a loaf of this grain-free bread, hard-boiling about 15 eggs, making homemade jam and ghee (my mom did both these things for me.) I also thawed a roast to throw into the crock pot on Monday morning.

5) I bought unscented soap and deodorant, and bathed with it the night before transfer, and the morning of. My husband did this as well.

6) I did our family’s laundry: washed, dried, folded, and put away. I did this because we can be bad about starting laundry but not finishing it (by “we” I mostly mean Andrew.) This is a big stressor for me, so I knew I wouldn’t fully be able to relax if we had undone or half-done laundry hanging around.

7) I cleaned the house, and paid special attention to the bathrooms. Dirty bathrooms are another thing that I just can’t stand, and I know now that we’ve had the transfer, I won’t do much heavy cleaning for several days.

8) I made sure we had chemical-free cleaning products made and ready to use! You can find recipes on Pinterest for just about any cleaning product you could imagine.

9) My socks have been out of sight, out of mind all summer long. A couple days before our transfer, I gathered my favorites together, washed them in unscented detergent, and put them in a little basket by the bed. This way they are on display to help me remember to wear them, even in the heat of summer!

10) The evening before our transfer I got a bag together for me to take to the clinic. Apart from the regular things you’d normally find in my purse, I added two books, a full-to-the-brim water bottle, unscented chap stick, and an envelope with a piece of paper inside. (I took the envelope so the embryologist could write down our babies’ genders for us to read later.) I packed my water bottle ahead of time because I knew I’d want my water at room temp, so there was no need to refrigerate it.

After our doctor’s assistant brought us back to the transfer wing of the clinic, the embryologist showed us our embryos’ picture, and then left us alone to pray over them. After this came the only sad moment of the process, when we were presented with a form to fill out authorizing the clinic to destroy our “abnormal” embryos. I knew we’d eventually have to do this, but it hit me harder than I thought it would.

Here is a timeline of what our embryos will be up to during these next many days after our five-day transfer. Because both our embryos hatched prior to transfer, this may not be exactly accurate for us, but it’s still really neat to know what is supposed to be happening when.

  • 1dpt….Blastocyst hatches out of shell
  • 2dpt.. Blastocyst attaches to a site on the uterine lining
  • 3dpt.. Implantation begins as the blastocyst begins to bury in the lining
  • 4dpt.. Implantation process continues and morula buries deeper in the lining
  • 5dpt.. Morula is completely inmplanted in the lining and has placenta cells & fetal cells
  • 6dpt…Placenta cells begin to secret HCG in the blood
  • 7dpt…More HCG is produced as fetus develops
  • 8dpt…More HCG is produced as fetus develops
  • 9dpt…HCG levels are now high enough to be immediately detected on HPT!!!

If you’re undergoing a three-day transfer, here is the timeline for your embryo(s):

  • 1dpt .. Embryo is growing and developing
  • 2dpt… Embryo is now a blastocyst
  • 3dpt….Blastocyst hatches out of shell
  • 4dpt.. Blastocyst attaches to a site on the uterine lining
  • 5dpt.. Implantation begins,as the blastocyst begins to bury in the lining –> I’m prolly here today!
  • 6dpt.. Implantation process continues and morula buries deeper in the lining
  • 7dpt.. Morula is completely implanted in the lining and has placenta cells & fetal cells
  • 8dpt…Placenta cells begin to secret HCG in the blood
  • 9dpt…More HCG is produced as fetus develops
  • 10dpt…More HCG is produced as fetus develops
  • 11dpt…HCG levels are now high enough to be immediately detected on HPT

Here’s What I’m Doing Now…

1) Remaining active- My doctor does not recommend bed rest, although other doctors may after FET.She explained to me that, although adequate rest is important, it is also important to remain active after a frozen embryo transfer. This helps prevent blood clots (which are a side-effect of many fertility meds) and promotes blood flow to the uterus.

2) Continuing meds- I’m still taking Metformin, baby aspirin, PIO (progesterone in oil,) and estrogen tablets (four by mouth each day, and one as a suppository.)

3) Keeping my feet warm- Warm feet = warm uterus

4) Eating loads of protein and good fat- Babies are made of protein and fat! I am also avoiding grains completely. Since imbalanced insulin levels can make it difficult for the embryos to attach to the uterus, I am really watching what I eat.

5) Eating only warm foods, and drinking beverages that are warm or at room temperature. Honestly, I am not drinking much other than water. I am not eating raw veggies, as they take a lot of blood and energy to digest. I do not want to take blood away from my uterus. I am eating only warming foods: cooked veggies, soups, etc.

6) Eating pineapple!

fet

 

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Always A Twist {A Guest Post and Two Recipes}

We had a whirlwind of a weekend! Nothing big, but lots of little things that added up (mine and Andrew’s 5 year wedding anniversary, a 2-day chiropractic seminar, grocery shopping, and meal prep for the week.) Our weekend to-do list distracted me from being nervous about our transfer. Today is the big day! The transfer is not until 11:30, but as many of you know, the clinic asks that we arrive an hour early. Factor in an hour-long drive to the clinic, and we’ve got quite the morning ahead of us!

As I’m trying to get myself out the door this morning, Shital, the cook behind AlwaysATwist.com, has agreed to not only a guest post, but also two incredible recipes. Either (or both) of these recipes would be great additions to your two-week wait meal plans. I’ll be sharing my meal plan with you all later this week.

But in the meantime, here is Shital!

Hi All! My name is Shital. I am a Scientist by day (Vaccine Sciences), but a true food lover from my core!

I stumbled upon Logan’s wonderful blog through a random Google.com search. I was actually trying to see if I could read about the ‘pineapple theory’ post IUI and during my search I happen to click on one of the search results which was withgreatexpectation.com. The rest is history! I went from reading the post “Plus, What’s the Deal with Pineapple?” to getting completely immersed in all the information on Logan’s blog. Her journey is amazing and her strength through actions and words have made me feel like I am not walking alone. I know there are millions of women out there who have TTC struggles; it is not an easy journey, but of course in the end the reward of all the efforts is absolute love and bliss with your baby.

I am writing today to introduce my blog! I had contacted Logan and written to her about how helpful her blog has been to me through my TTC experiences. I mentioned my website to her and she very graciously told me that I could be a guest blogger on her site! How cool!? I am super excited and hope you readers will come and visit my site: AlwaysATwist.com.

A little bit about me… I absolutely love cooking. I am vegetarian, but not by any means vegan. My recipes are healthy and delicious (if I do say so myself!) I use lots of greens, legumes, grains and spices! I see the kitchen as my creative canvas where I can be free and explore the world through food. The experience of combining flavors and ingredients together makes my heart beat stronger and stronger every day. Everyone has their own ways of unwinding from a long day… I find myself staring into the refrigerator trying to think of new, healthy and inventive ways to combine flavors. It’s exhilarating for me!

I generally post one recipe per week. I hope you find something on AlwaysATwist.com that will tantalize your taste buds. Below are two of my favorite recipes!

Lentil, Couscous and Kale Soup

Prep Time: (Including making the broth) = 20 minutes
Cook Time: = 40 minutes
Serves: 6

I have made this lentil and couscous vegetable soup quite a bit recently. It is really healthy and hearty and simply delicious. It is great for dinner and even better as left overs for lunch. As a vegetarian I really love incorporating lentils into my diet since they are a good source of protein.

There are two different base broth preparations that I have made the soup with. Broth #1 is what I had originally made the soup with; broth #2 doesn’t contain carrots. My Dad is a diabetic and his insulin spikes with too much carrot, so instead of carrots broth #2 has a good balance of cabbage and spinach. In the end, both soups really turned out equally delicious with either broth. So have fun and pick whichever one fancies you!

Broth Option #1 Ingredients
2 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove
4 cups water

Broth Option #2 Ingredients
2 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
1.5 cups cabbage, chopped
1.5 cups spinach
1 garlic clove
4 cups water

Other Soup Ingredients
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ white onion, chopped fine
1 cup French green lentils, washed and picked
3-4 fresh Thyme sprigs
Broth Option #1 or #2
½ cup pearled couscous (or ditalini)
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
1 cup kale, chopped
¼-½ tsp lemon pepper (depending on your liking)
If you used Broth #1 – ½ lemon juiced
If you used Broth #2 – ½ lime juiced
Salt and fresh pepper to taste

Broth Preparation – Two Options

Using a Vitamix:
Place all ingredients (for either option) into Vitamix. Blend on high for 6-7 minutes.

Using a regular blender:
Place all ingredients (for either option) into blender and puree until smooth. Transfer to a soup pot and bring to a simmer.

Soup Preparation – Step by Step

Heat olive oil in a deep soup pot and sauté onion for 3-4 minutes. Next, add in lentils and thyme sprigs and sauté (while mixing) for 2-3 minutes to slightly toast the lentils. Add in all the broth and bring everything to a light boil. Place a lid on your pot and allow lentils to cook in broth for 25 minutes stirring occasionally. Next, add in bell peppers, couscous and kale. Place lid back on pot and simmer for an additional 10 minutes (make sure you still have enough liquid broth – if not add 1 cup of water depending on the consistency of the soup you desire… remember the couscous will absorb some of the broth). Once your lentils and couscous are cooked through stir in the lemon pepper, salt and pepper along with either lemon or lime (depending on the broth you chose).

GuestPost

 

Red Wine Braised Lentils with Burrata

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/3 red onion, diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

2 celery sticks, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup French green lentils, washed

1 cup dry red wine (preferably a Cabernet Sauvignon)

1 cup mushroom broth (if you don’t have mushroom broth, you can use water or vegetable broth)

1/2 cup water

1 bay leaf

2 small dried red chilis

Salt/Pepper

Additional Ingredients (Serves 2)

1/2 roasted red pepper, diced
1 burrata ball, sliced
Torn basil leaves
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Sprinkle of sea salt

Preparation

In a medium sized soup pot saute onions, carrot and celery in olive oil on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add in garlic and saute for 3-4 more minutes. Next, add lentils, wine, broth, water, bay leaf and red chilis. Simmer with lid on for 40-45 minutes, stirring a couples times throughout the cooking. Depending on the texture you want for the lentils, you may need to add an additional 1/2 cup of water after about 35 minutes*(See Notes). Once lentils are fully cooked remove lid and discard bay leaf. Turn off stove and add salt and pepper to taste.

Plating
Place 1/3 cup of cooked lentils onto a plate. Add a few pieces of roasted red pepper and 2 slices of burrata. Top with basil, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt** (See Notes).

Notes

*I cooked the lentils for 45 minutes total and when there was roughly 10 minutes remaining, I added an additional 1/2 cup water.

**I served the lentils with grilled asparagus spears on the side. I sautéed 1 bunch of asparagus in 1 Tbsp butter (on a grill pan) and finished with fresh squeezed lemon juice and salt.

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