Slow to process and picture post

I keep starting posts and stopping them when the words don’t come out right.  There don’t seem to be the right words to be able to express what I’m feeling.  There is now this entirely separate person here and I’m responsible for their every care.

Bath time with our Blooming Bath :)

Its unbelievable and humbling.  Its more work than I ever thought I’d be able to joyfully do in a single day, compounded every day for the foreseeable future.  I’ve cried less than I thought I would and I’m amazed my postpartum hormones are so level and keeping me sane.  I never knew it was possible to not sleep more than 4 hours in a row for such an extended period of time (and I hear I’m lucky!).

“Daddy time” is his favorite part of the day

I’m amazed we were trusted with this task.  I’m amazed my body is helping to sustain this little guy.  I feel like I’ve been so slow to process this miracle, from the pregnancy to the birth to the day to day life with this little guy, and all my posts echo the same “I can’t believe this is real” feeling, but it really seems too incredible to have actually gone right for this to be our reality.

It sounds strange, but I didn’t recognize him when he came out.  This was my son?  I had dreamed about our child for so long but I had no idea who he’d be.  He was just an idea.  Except, now he’s not…he’s an actual breathing, burping, pooping, cooing, almost smiling entirely separate person that looks at me with this innocent eyes and says,

Here we go!  Our adventure is just beginning!  What will we do today?

Wow.  Just, wow!

Thankful for power!

I had brilliant things to say and write last week.  I promise I really did.  And then these crazy wind storms hit and we were without power for a week.  A WEEK PEOPLE.  I admit I am a spoiled, first world citizen, but I think that if you can see downtown Los Angeles from your backyard there is something drastically wrong if you don’t have power for seven nights :(  Found out from the radio today that we were part of the last 3,000 to have their power restored, out of the initial 340,000 that lost it last Wednesday.  So, we are the 1% :)  And I have to say, the best thing that ever happened to those occupiers is that they were miraculously removed from harm’s way the day before the storms hit last week.  That could have been so bad.

I even didn’t have work for two days, since they were out of power too.  Without internet or TV, you’d have thought that I would have gotten more done on that sweater, but it turns out its really hard to knit in the dark.  So we basically just stared at each other.  That part was nice.  The freezing part was not nice. Did you know it got down to 50 degrees in our house?  At least our ice chest didn’t melt for the entire week!  The hot, humid lovin’ Texas girl in me has all but been beat out.

Here’s a few pictures as evidence of the chaos, there are all just taken on my street.

 

House next door...and the reason our power was out right here.

Thought this was funny more than anything...poor cactus.

I wasn't lying when I said we can see downtown LA from our house! Although you might have to zoom in.

Another day, another perspective

I bought flowers for myself for the first time after the other day.

Can you see the pink water?  I think regular sunflowers would have been a little more cheery (these look a little bloody/Halloween-ish…) but at least I get bonus pink water to look at as well.

And I’ve cried more this week than I have in the last 8 months probably.  Good, hard cries that just needed to come out.  I’ve just been trying to ‘be ok’ with everything and I just really needed a honest moment with God.  And my husband.  Thankfully, both were in a listening mode.

Today I’m taking a solo beach day as my ‘last day of freedom’ before work starts on Monday (because we have other things to do this weekend, including a ‘blind date’ with some NFP teachers I found!).  Did I mention I got a job?  Well, I got a job.  Three months ago the idea of getting a job gave me such anxiety, like I was choosing to be a childless couple by getting a job.  Like I was proving I was an unfit mother and I was sealing my fate if I chose to work instead of diving 100% into making a baby and doing all I could, 24/7.  But who am I kidding, its not my choice and it never has been.  I’m just trying to play the hand I was given.  Sometimes you have to protect what sanity you have and I think know this will help me do so.

As time has gone on, I have been able to just focus on the positive of working.  Like, this will give us a chance to pay off student  loans faster and save up for adoption quicker.  It will give me something productive to do instead of sitting around, reading blogs and getting sad (As much as it helps me, sometimes I can get sucked in too much and out-stay my welcome).  And I’m using what I went to school for so long in at an amazing opportunity and company that has a position that seemed to be tailor made just for me.  Do I really not take it because of what might happen but still hasn’t happened for the last two years?  I feel like I’m choosing to press ‘play’.  Not the ‘play’ I imagined but still, a story is unfolding anyway and its ours.

I met a woman through this volunteer thing I’m doing that was also looking for work.  She had asked if I really needed a job and I was honest with her.  We didn’t need the job in the financial sense and I had been considering a myriad of other opportunities including doing NFP stuff more full time or going back to school (shh…).  That was probably a bratty thing to be honest about because it turns out she’d been out of work for 16 months and had two kids.  ‘Do you have any kids?’ No.  She still offered to help me since she knows an engineering head hunter.  She emailed this past week to get my resume and I had to tell her thanks, but I found a job.  I told her there had been many things we’ve been dealing with lately so this looks like a turn for the positive and that I hope she found work too.  She wrote me back with a really short email that said she was happy for me.  That was it.  I knew it was forced and she probably was thinking in her head, That girl didn’t even want a job and here I’ve been looking for over a year and I can’t find one.  That perspective is all too familiar to me.  How do these people get pregnant so easily when they don’t even want more kids?  So I realize I have something good here.  Its a good thing to have employment and its something a lot of people want/need.  I am grateful.  This is a good thing for us.  (Incidentally, apparently its also a good thing to have an engineering background, as those jobs seem to have less people qualified to take them).

I had more to say but I don’t feel coherent.  One thing I worry about is that I’ve been feeling so, so exhausted lately and really dizzy and lighted as well more frequently this week.  I don’t feel like myself.  I’ve been on my diet for 3 months now, so I really don’t think its a nutritional thing, but maybe related to the parlodel or T3 I’ve been taking this month?  Maybe I just keep standing up too fast.

Either way, beach day today and work on Monday.  I’m not letting comparison steal my joy!  (Thanks Faith!)

Accepting steadfast love

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul that seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

It is good for one to bear the yoke in youth,

to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it,

to put one’s mouth to the dust (there may yet be hope),

to gives one’s cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults.

For the Lord will not reject for ever.

Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;

for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.”

-Lamentations 3:21-33

I am thankful for these days of uncomplicated peace.  No trying to figure it out, no unsettled feeling, no fear of the future.  I am grateful I can enjoy these days and pray before I fall asleep, Thank you for today, Lord.  Today was a great gift, no matter what transpired and really, truly mean it.  A friend sent me this verse and it fits these days perfectly.  This may not be the happy ending I imagined but this clearing of grace is a beautiful, refreshing view along this journey.

Apricot fruit leathers

I overcame my silly fear of the food dehydrator this weekend and I thought I’d share what I learned and document what I did to remember it later.

First I got the ripe apricots from the tree (duh).

Note: It is hard to get to the ripe apricots before the parrots do..

Then I pureed the apricots in my blender by adding just a little water.  Since I didn’t really measure the puree, I then added a whole lemons worth of lemon juice and a third cup of honey (maybe? measuring honey wastes honey!) to a blender full of apricots and blended a little bit more.  Up next was positioning in the dehydrator.  I spread the goop evenly on the “fruit leather plastic trays” it came with and also used saran wrap since I read online that works too.

Trays

Plastic saran wrap

Each fruit leather used about a half cup.  I also learned that you shouldn’t cut the plastic wrap too big otherwise it might blow into your goop and prevent it from drying which = no fun (especially after waiting so long…).

Speaking of waiting, I had read online to not use temps over 100F but after 20 hrs of drying at that temp, the middle wasn’t dehydrated, so I increased the heat to around 130F and it was dry in a few more hours.  I think it would take no more than 10 hrs at 130F-ish.  So here’s the final product:

I know, really exciting huh?  It looks like a fruit roll up!  Yum yum.  Only thing is that I would recommend putting a tinsy bit more honey if your fruit is less ripe (like mine was).  And I’m also now experimenting with using real sugar and brown sugar as well, to see what makes the best.

The final most important thing I learned is that the fruit leather trays are bogus.  Waste of money (at least mine came with my dehydrator).  Maybe they’ll be good for something else, but for fruit leathers they are a waste of time.  They might work if you grease them, but saran wrap is easier and you don’t have to grease them, so you know what I’m using next!

Finally, anyone know what to do with figs?  I have a tree full of them and unfortunately, drying them didn’t turn out as nicely as the apricots…

Attempting the anti-inflammation diet

There’s been a lot of gluten/dairy free cooking going on in this kitchen these days.

If you have any recipes or can offer any advice/tips on doing this anti-inflammation diet, I’d really appreciate it.  I’m living off of spinach, chicken, and rice.  It has only been about 2 weeks and I’m already losing steam and would do just about anything for a biscuit.  As soon as we figure out our insurance situation (or maybe before) I’m planning on getting allergy tested so I’ll know exactly what it is that causes me problems, but until then I’m going with the usual culprits.

Brown rice pasta with sweet pepper sauce

Blueberry oatmeal "pancakes", eggs and bacon...I sure hope I get to keep the eggs....

Also, when life hands you a lemon (tree)…

make lemonade!

Oops, too slow on the picture...that lemonade was too delicious

 

Rule #1 of food photography: Use your own glass/plate so that the object doesn't get stolen mid shot!

 

Seriously though, any good gluten/dairy free recipes out there?

How to make yourself sick on “health food”

So far this year I had been making a concerted effort to eat less meat, bread, and low-fat dairy. As I’ve written about before, I’m a fan of doing things ‘naturally’ but equally not the biggest planner in the world.  And believe me, I was cursing myself for that recklessly dangerous combination while I lay on my bathroom floor at 3am the other week, removing the contents of my stomach in whatever my body decided was the quickest way possible.

Let me explain.

Like probably the majority of sub-fertile women and people just trying to be healthier all around, I’ve been trying to modify my diet this year.  This was brought on by reading choice materials such as The Fertility Diet and Omnivore’s Dilemma as well as countless other anecdotal stories of people “just removing gluten” from their diet and miraculously getting pregnant the next month.  I fancy that I eat pretty healthy anyway, as we don’t eat out a lot and prepare almost all our meals from scratch so I know exactly what’s in them, but I had never tried to remove things from my diet before.  My strategy was more: moderation is best.

However, in seeking to eat a more vegetarian diet I came across the delightful idea of eating sprouts.  Apparently, merely soaking beans for a day or two can turn a nutritious yet hard to cook food into an even better source of vitamins and enzymes by making them even more bio-available (just don’t talk to any supporters of the Paleolithic Diet).    And given the fact that I had now removed (or was at least trying to limit) almost every other major food group from my diet due to potential concern for my fertility,  I was going to need to figure out better ways of cooking and incorporating beans into my meals.

So, to cut to the chase, it turns out there’s a very real reason that no one beyond fringe groups have ever heard of sprouts.

In short, the sprouting process is perfect incubation for the proliferation of bacteria that will make you deathly ill and in a different time, has probably led to many an actual death.  But please, don’t take my word for it internet, do the research yourself!  That was my major fault.  I read some reports of it causing digestive issue but I mistakenly thought they just meant gas.  I can deal with gas!  Having to hug a toilet for 30 hrs is a little too much.

While it may seem that sprouting is a great way to return to the Earth and do things more naturally and healthily (and cheaper!), nothing is healthy about not being able to digest any of the nutrients that were made more bio-available and making yourself sick.  In fact, I found it rather hilarious that I had in turn created my own “omnivore’s dilemma” by trying to outsmart the omnivore’s dilemma.

I’ll stop there, before going into too many unnecessary details, but suffice it to say that if you’re planing on making any drastic dietary changes, research is a good idea! (And yes, I see the obvious irony to this story as I was so consumed with doing my own research in a different area of my life that I failed to do a thorough background study in an area of my life that could have really used it!  More proof that getting a PhD. isn’t because you’re innately talented, but just because you work hard for a long time!)

Although I couldn’t eat for a while after that, when I did eat, all I wanted was a fried chicken sandwich.  While it may not have been the healthiest thing for me, it sure wouldn’t make me sick!  I hope to one day revisit sprouting, as I already had dreams of getting my own glass jars and yada, yada, yada, but that won’t be happening anytime soon.  Hopefully in 2012, but  just talking about sprouts brings back horrific memories, so maybe that’s even pushing it.

Apparently there are communities of people that eat sprouts out there and live happily ever after (although I personally would like to see how much toilet paper they buy a month) and I’m not doubting that it can be done in a healthy manner, but it is important to note that it isn’t as easy as it looks folks!  Careful preparation is necessary lest you end up like me, terrified of the tiny bean.

Anyway, I hope this post helped some sub-fertile pondering ‘healthy’ dietary changes, some fertile mommy trying to lose the baby weight, or random male blog reading lurker (are any out there??) from an undesired self-induced food poisoning session based on the whimsical idea of returning to nature.  Do your research and follow good guidelines (not blog guidelines) before trying sprouts.

End sprout PSA.

*At the time, I was pretty bummed that I didn’t have my camera at home to take pictures of my creation.  Now, however, I’m ever thankful I have no physical reminders of that night :)

Piled Higher and Deeper

That’s me right now.  Trying to get the final results so I can graduate.

Its also the name of Jorge Cham’s PhD comic series.  He was a graduate student that basically found a lot of success writing comics about grad school life and eventually giving basically stand up routines using the comics.  He came to our university last year and gave a talk on the Power of Procrastination and seriously, it was awesome. The man has brilliantly motivated many a graduate student by helping us realize that this whole experience is just part of it all.  My favorite was during the Q&A after he gave the talk and one girl asked him “So, like seriously, what do you do with your PhD. now?” (He graduated from Stanford in Mechanical Engineering).

“Umm, this.”

His point?  Pay attention to what your procrastinate on.  He wrote comics in grad school and look what he’s doing now.  It helped me sort a lot of life questions out for myself (though I don’t claim to be done).  We also gave him a couple ideas for comics we’re still waiting to see on his site…ha!  If you know a graduate student, I highly recommend gifting them a book!  (If they haven’t procrastinated away on the website already…)

Anyway, here are a few comics that I’m finding particularly entertaining now:

And if you didn’t laugh at those…well…this is probably why!

How I interpret reserved maternity seats

Once when I was boarding a crowded bus in Mexico, I saw this sign above one row of seats:

Thinking that this was the seat that would make me pregnant (and they had left it open for me! they knew I was coming!) naturally I sat down in it.

But the more I sat there and stared at the picture, the more I decided that this seat might actually have an equal chance at giving me a larger-yet-saggier chest, a hunchback, and a huge ba-dunka dunk.  However, I thought the possible pros outweighed the cons, so I continued to sit.

(Un)Fortunately, to date I have not ended up with any of the above.

But then again, neither has my husband.

Oh well.

Improvement

So I’m following my own advice and writing about a happy moment that happened almost right after I wrote that post yesterday.

I didn’t cry.

Maybe that doesn’t sound happy, but it was a big victory for me.

I didn’t cry while telling friends from another lab about our sub-fertility.

This is improvement!  Or maybe proof that the hype up is worse than the actual event.  Or proof that the angst is in getting comments, which usually happens when you tell moms or other people that like to give advice on child-rearing.

Lunch with another married graduate student and another girl from his lab.

“We’re going to start trying after graduation” I knew this.  They have been telling everyone this plan for almost a year now.   We are always quiet and smile and nod when this comes up. But this time he followed up, “Do you want kids after graduation?”

Hesitation.

Umm, yes.  Its just not always that simple.

“Well, of course.  But I mean…”

The whole conversation took me by surprise so there was really no way to respond when the girl continued “Why the hesitation.  Wait, are you pregnant? Are you going to try to get pregnant?  Wait, are you trying now??!” with anything but the truth.  But it came out easily.  Matter of fact.

Yes, we are trying now.  We have been for quite a while.

“Oh.”

And I picked up and continued the conversation to drown out the expected silence.  I think it helped that I wasn’t looking for consolation from them, like I have from other people.  I think it helped that they didn’t have the experience of parenthood to make them feel like experts in the matter.  It felt more like it was an exercise in sub/infertility awareness. Hey, it doesn’t always happen like you plan it. While everyone is concerned with not getting pregnant, its not always as easy at it seems.

My husband says I’m evolving. Ha!

Anyways, it was a small victory.

 

I think my happy moments look different now.