Sunday, May 10, 2015

Chocolate Cupcakes!


I tried a new recipe this weekend for chocolate cupcakes (New Guy's favorites) and man am I pleased with myself. I started with the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" recipe and substituted the Special Dark for any regular unsweetened cocoa (in both the frosting and the batter). I'm not sure if you know this, but the health benefits of dark chocolate make these cupcakes almost as healthy as carrots*.



INGREDIENTS
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Special Dark Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Directions
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with paper baking cups.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water ("batter will be thin" said the original recipe, but seriously, this stuff is like liquid... it's okay, don't panic). Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. 
4. Bake 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely. 
About 30 cupcakes

I filled mine with a marshmallow cream filling (marshmallow fluff, shortening, powdered sugar, vanilla, water, pinch of salt) and topped them with a classic dark chocolate butter cream. Yum and yum. 

*This is not true. Please don't send me healthy hate mail.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Seat 21D

I'm sitting in the exit row of a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to St. Louis; extra leg room is a small perk of traveling so much that the fun is completely gone. Above me in the overhead bin is a mini cooler bag tucked into my carry on. It has two days worth of menopur vials, a follistim pen, and handful of syringes, and other really fun stuff.

Two rows behind me is a pregnant woman with a toddler already in tow. Across the aisle from her, a woman sits with a very unhappy newborn. I'm pretty sure I can smell baby from here. I can certainly hear them. And every few seconds someone in front of me turns around to give the mother of which ever one is currently crying an evil stare. I'm the only woman between these men and the babies, so they look at me first to determine if I'm the woman ruining their tin can rocket ride with my spawn.

Ugh.

I'm trapped in a flying metal tube less than 10 feet from an emotional trigger extravaganza and I want to scream, "it's not me assholes! I just LOOK like I've had a baby from stimming and eating my feelings!"

Thursday, April 30, 2015

After This, Pregnancy Should Be Breeze

I'm not pregnant. I've never been pregnant. I've not even had a chemical pregnancy. I've never created a life.

But I have had crazy hormonal mood swings. I've woken up at 3am soaked from night sweats. I've had hot flashes at random. My boobs have been so sore I hated the thought of putting a bra on. I have enjoyed the same breakfast twice thanks to morning sickness. I have gained weight that has stayed with me and been bloated to the point of looking fully pregnant from water weight that thankfully went away. I've had surgeries and procedures. I've had more vaginal ultrasounds than should be allowed.

Reality has fully set in.

I am no longer concerned with people looking at my vagina. Honestly, who even says that other than women with children or women with IF... or ladies of questionable employment.

So, universe, I'm ready.

Seriously.

All the things pregnant ladies complain about - I've been there... but without the payoff.

That's jacked up, universe. You're a bitch.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: A Father's Unsolicited Input on Infertility

It was Friday afternoon. I was working in my office, occasionally checking out the view from my office window. You may not know this, but I'm pretty baller. I have a phenomenal view of a parking garage AND a Springhill Suites. While fully engrossed in the finer points of strategic planning under health care reform, my phone buzzed...

THE UGLY:

"None of my business, but guys wearing boxers or no shorts have better fertility odds than those wearing other kinds of briefs. Love, dad"

Well.

Okay.

Sure, Dad.

THE BAD:

How does a daughter respond to a father who has implied that all her problems could have been solved if only her husband was wearing boxers... or going commando? How do I tell him that we know exactly how many sperm are in a sample and how well those little swim? How do I explain that we wouldn't have spent several thousand dollars injecting the little guys without first checking whether they were up to snuff? How do I tell him the issue is all me?

Father daughter relationships are a weird space to begin with, but in my family it's tense at best. My dad traveled throughout my childhood for work, being gone for weeks at a time. Our relationship does not involve open communication. It certainly doesn't involve reproductive talk.

He showed up at our house a few hours later and was waiting patiently for me to get home. I guess because I didn't respond and what's a two and half hour drive to a dad? I had no time to prepare for a face to face.

So feeling emotionally raw. I greeted him as though nothing had been said. As though I hadn't had all my insecurities triggered by his underwear text. We made small talk. We planned to haul some bamboo we removed from the yard to the dump. We talked about running shoes and high arches. Then he mentioned the underwear again.

"I don't know if you got my text. Sometimes us dads can't figure these things out. Haha. I read that men who wear boxers or other loose fitting shorts have better chances of having kids. There are some guys that heat up their testicles to avoid having babies. It's a real thing. Don't know if you've looked into it."

I hope whoever is reading this is laughing. But, I wasn't. Instead, I burst into tears. I told my dad that I felt like a bad wife. That I was a let down for my husband. That we had spent so much money and I was the problem. That no matter how much more we spent, we may never be successful.

THE GOOD:

It's all out there now. He didn't say much during my outburst and I wandered out of the room shortly after. Like I said, communication is not our thing.

But, when he left, he gave us enough money to pay for IVF (less medication). I told him it wasn't necessary because we really didn't know if it would work and it was a lot of money to hand someone. He said he was my dad and could do what he wanted.

It's hard to accept help, but in the few days since, I've felt a burden lift off. We still may or may not be successful, but to remove half the debt burden up front is... priceless.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Old Lady

I'm not old. I mean not really. Well... not old in the overarching sense of the word. But in three weeks, I'll be fertility old.

35.

My eggs will shrivel up and die the moment the clock strike 1:03am on my birthday. My uterus may actually fall right out of my body and scream in agony. It's like a bomb is about to go off.

But it's not. Those things certainly aren't going to happen AND infertility isn't suddenly going to get worse. So, why does this feel so awful?

Because society says it should. Because the internet wants me to believe that I missed the boat on motherhood. Because so many people think I've chosen to not have children and certainly, according to those people, I must be incredibly selfish. Because there are 100 articles about things to fear for every 1 article about having hope. Because we still live in a world where gender stereotypes make us feel like we aren't real women if we don't have children.

I won't let society get to me. Not now. It doesn't help. It might even hurt.

So hand in hand with my spouse, we will continue down the treatment road. We may or may not eventually conceive. We may or may not adopt in the future. And regardless, we will still be a complete family, because the truth is that two can be complete.

35 is going to be awesome.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

My Most Read TripAdvisor Review

In a matter of days my TripAdvisor review of the Hilton Garden Inn where I spent Thanksgiving skyrocketed to the top of my most viewed list.
Good Location for Avoiding Your In-Laws
Do your in-laws live in the area? Are they way less fun than you expected based on all the movies you watched growing up? Do you wish you could find something else to do instead of spending all of Black Friday playing Aggravation and Sorry on a tv tray? If you answered yes, this is the hotel for you! A quick drive to Kirby Lane on Thanksgiving evening gets you primed for all night shopping. You are close to all your Black Friday hubs (Target, WalMart, Best Buy, Old Navy, etc). Now that you're done shopping, come back to the hotel for a quick made to order breakfast before taking a morning nap. Still not ready for all the stares screaming a mother's disappointment in her son's terrible choice of wife? Take a dip in the pool! Watch a movie! Get a workout in at the fitness center! Maybe stop by the shop downstairs and grab yourself some pain killer before you head out. Sure, you're no Brady Bunch, but at the end of the day, you can count on a pile of fluffy pillows and black out curtains to help you recover from the effects of another family holiday. 
Strangely enough, the only person who seemed to find it helpful was the general manager of said hotel.
Our hotel is the perfect location for avoiding your in laws. Next time your in laws are in town just know that we always have your back. ;) Thanks for the positive review. Enjoy the rest of your Holiday season.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bracing for the Holidays

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Or perhaps it used to be and now I'm not so sure. Honestly, I can't say it's not my favorite, simply because I don't have another holiday to replace it with.

I used to love Thanksgiving because at our house, it meant family. Mom, dad, Nana, uncles, aunts, cousins, and siblings. Then we started to grow up and it was even more wonderful. All the cousins started bringing home their significant others and we multiplied! Shortly after that, there was a new round of babies... something our family hadn't seen since the early 80s. 

And then my mom died.

When you lose someone, people do their best to treat you with kid gloves for about 5 minutes. What they don't realize is that four years later, that pain is still there. It's boiling just under the surface. You have so many more good days than you did at the beginning, but it only takes a change in the wind to disrupt your thoughts and remind of just how empty you feel. 

In a world where it only takes the wind, infertility is like a tornado.

Fertility treatments do not, I repeat DO NOT, bring out the best in people. They are exhausting. The emotional and financial tolls are staggering. The disappointment over your inability to do something so basic to humanity, the betrayal of your body, and the fear that you will lose the person you love most because of your failures - all these are very real feelings. Not crazy person feelings... normal thoughts, had by normal women, on a very regular basis. The cost is always more than you expected - because if we're being honest, no one ever anticipates infertility when they are mentally planning their future. 

And while you are trying to beat your reproductive organs into submission, the medications and procedures continue to tax you in ways you hadn't imagined. Several times every cycle you have invasive imaging. You have hot flashes. There are epic mood swings. Heartburn and nausea ruin meals... but you're always hungry. Even when you try to watch what you eat, you're puffed up like balloon from bloating. Medications are taken orally, then through injectables, and then (brace yourself) vaginally. Some doctor or nurse is doing - under fluorescent lights - what you and your significant other should be doing in the privacy of your own home.

But I digress... Thanksgiving is the topic... and the holiday season in general. 

For someone trying desperately to have a baby, holidays are a minefield. Social media is always tough. There are always pregnancy announcements, photos of babies, updates on how blessed you are to have kids because they [fill in the blank]. At the holidays it multiplies exponentially and you can't hide from it by going off the social media grid. It's there, in your face, all the time. Seriously. 

All. The. Time. 

So, I'm bracing myself. I'm preparing to face my cousins, who now have 12 children between them. The cousins (and aunts and uncles and siblings and grandparents and friends and random strangers) who ask innocently when I am finally going to have kids. I'm preparing myself for the endless stream of commercials reminding me of the things I should be buying if I were lucky enough to have children. I'm preparing myself to be excluded from bringin a dish to the meal - I clearly don't know how to cook since I don't have a family (why exactly do people assume that my husband I don't eat?). I'm preparing for the onslaught of family themed Christmas cards - ones where every envelope is like a bomb that may or may not go off. I'm preparing myself for the family activities that are clearly not intended for families of two adults, but rather for families with children. I'm preparing myself to feel jealousy and loss and isolation. I'm preparing myself to be surrounded by people that don't realize my pain. I choose not to share it because I feel shame and embarrassment at my failure to conceive. 

Shame and embarrassment. For something that is not in my control. Something that I should be able to publicly discuss without wondering who is silently judging me for waiting until I was almost 34 to start trying to conceive. Something that can't be fixed by "relaxing" or going on vacation or just waiting until the universe decides it's our time. 

The holidays are difficult for many people. They are especially difficult for the families silently searching for solutions to their infertility.