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Clover Joy

Boy, it’s been a while. Almost half a year. About enough time to break the silence, I suppose.

When I wrote my last blog post, we had already done an IUI and I was on all sorts of fertility drugs to help ensure and maintain a pregnancy.  I’d been seeing a chiropractor for months and was doing acupuncture.

And of course I repeated the pineapple trick to help soften up my lining for optimal implantation if there was a baby.

Toward the end of our endless two-week-wait to find out if the IUI was successful, I ran across this photo in my Facebook memories and shared it for Saint Patrick’s day.

I found these beautiful four-leaf clovers when I was newly pregnant with Joshua, after a lifetime of searching for them, and trying to conceive him. I mentioned on my share and that I was waiting again to find out if I was pregnant, and a friend said I should go see if I could find another. So I did, and my heart was beating wildly the entire time. Like this was the pregnancy test or something, LOL! And I did find one. The awe and joy I felt, you would have really thought I was looking at a positive pregnancy test.

I was astounded and overjoyed when I got my first positive test soon after finding that little clover. So excited! I tested early on a dollar store cheapie test, and the line was so light I practically sprained my eyes trying to see it, but it was there, and a line is a line!

I dressed Joshua up and took pictures and made cards to tell Dennis and our close families about the baby. I surprised him the next day with this card on the fridge, with a darker positive test inside.  He was just as astounded as I was. Because while we were taking actions to achieve this pregnancy, having been disappointed so many times, it’s hard to really believe it’s true when it actually works.

I was in bliss for about a week. Until the day before Easter, and I started cramping and spotting just a teeny tiny bit.  But a bit is still blood and it was scary.  I didn’t feel well.  We were travelling for the holiday and I was so upset, thinking that I might miscarry while we were at my in-law’s home. I was scared but still hopeful, as I remembered cramping a lot with Joshua in the first weeks of pregnancy.

When I woke up the next day, I felt much better, I wasn’t cramping any more and while spotting a little more, it was really very little. Like a dime-size amount at the end of the day. Not enough to spell disaster, or so I hoped.  We had a very nice Easter with Den’s family.  We came back home that evening and the next morning, I went in to get my second beta to see if my numbers were doubling properly. My first beta number was a lot lower than with Joshua so I had already been scared before the cramping and spotting.  I was on pins and needles to know what was going on.

Before we left, Joshua touched my stomach and said “baby.” We hadn’t breathed a word to him about the pregnancy and it caught me by surprise. I now feel like it was a special moment between siblings, where he recognized the child at the end of its life. He hasn’t mentioned a baby since.

After my beta, then the more than just spotting happened. I bled more than a normal period, but since there was hardly any cramping, I still managed to hold out hope that all was well.  I got a call with the beta results, and the number had increased, but had not quite doubled.  Depending on the standard being followed, it still fell into a normal range, but they wanted to see it completely doubled. So I had to return in two days.

I was in complete denial at this point and was convinced that the bleeding did not mean a miscarriage, and that our baby was still hanging on for dear life.  I couldn’t imagine or accept that the thing we’d wanted so much and had done everything we could to get, could be gone after only having it a few weeks.  But it was.  At my next beta, my HCG had dropped from 234 to 40. And that’s when I knew, I really had lost the baby on Monday. And I still had to go back to get another beta because they monitor the number back to zero.  Going in just to watch the number go back to zero, the number I’ve been at most of my life, was really hard.

Losing that baby, despite only being just shy of 6 weeks pregnant, was really hard.  It wasn’t only losing something I really loved and wanted, that was hard enough. It was also losing something that we put SO much into. Our hopes, dreams, energy, prayers, and money.  Money that we’d worked months to raise, along with a lot of our own money.  We weren’t the only ones invested in this dream, our friends and family now knew so much about our journey and our struggle, and they were following the journey, praying for us, and had donated money to help us.

It was also knowing it was our last shot that made it difficult. Saying goodbye to the only chance we had for a sibling for our son.  We put so much extra into this single attempt, things like a $500 prescription for Crinone that I barely touched, that by the end, we had nothing left for another try.  While my brain frantically raced to figure out a way to try just one more time, feeling that I could bury the pain of loss with another pregnancy, we both knew we were done pouring money into the attempt, that we had to stop.

In the depths of my grief, I cried to Dennis, “I wish we’d never tried.  Why did we have to go through all this just to lose a baby?  If we hadn’t tried, this never would have happened, and we could have done something practical with the money, like get new carpet. ”

Dennis replied, “But if we had given up years ago, we never would have had Joshua.”

So true.  So true.

We decided to name the baby, as friends who’ve suffered miscarriages advised that it helped the healing process.  Of course, we can’t know the sex of our baby, but we felt it was a girl. I’ve wanted a girl since I was a little girl myself, and losing this chance makes the loss all the more difficult.  I lost my dream.  The one I’ve had almost my entire life. Gone.  I’m fairly dogged about achieving my dreams, so this is possibly the hardest part of losing our daughter.  That we were so close, and I was grasping the dream, until it turned into smoke in my hands and disappeared.

While we probably wouldn’t have given the name to a living child, the name Clover Joy came to mind immediately.  For the tiny little tattered four-leaf clover I found that felt like a whisper from God, before I even knew I was pregnant. And Joy for for Dennis’s Grandma, and also because of the Joy she brought us for a short time.

A group of dear friends pooled their money together and bought me this necklace, which rests against my chest while I type now. It’s so special to me to have this reminder of the baby that I never got to meet. To have this necklace close to my heart, when I can’t have her. A physical thing that says she existed. And she mattered.

Our beloved church family gave us a pink rose bush to remember her by which is just as special to me. I don’t know that many would even consider losing a baby at five weeks a real loss, but they never questioned my grief. They empathized and validated my feelings, and I’m thankful for that.  To have this rose bush grow year after year when I can’t watch my daughter grow, it’s a comfort.  It’s not a replacement, but it’s a comfort. Validating her life is a huge comfort as well. She was real, and she mattered.

My sweet mother-in-law, who I can’t say enough good things about, brought me these wind chimes to remember our angel baby by.

I don’t know why we got to have her only to lose her so quickly. I don’t know why. But her brief existence has helped me find a peace with having an only child that I couldn’t find before.  Her life brought a sense of finality to our journey.  Without her, I would have felt unbearable unrest for the rest of my life. I would have always wondered, “what if?” if we hadn’t tried. And felt uneasy that we didn’t give it our all. But we did. I wish down to my down marrow that I could have kept her and held her and watched her grow up, but her life was not in vain. And she will not be forgotten.


Thomas the Cupcake Train!

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Oh boy, time has really gotten away from me. I can’t believe my last post was in September!  I wanted to post our professional photos we had done for Christmas, then realized I hadn’t even shared about Joshua’s birthday so I better do that first. He turned two on November 23rd!

This little guy is very into trains. I can’t even tell you the number of times I hear “choo choo!” a day, either because he hears a train, sees a train track, is playing with trains, or sees Thomas on his socks & pajamas, or on TV. He finds trains everywhere, like on a Christmas tree figurine I never even noticed a train was at the base of, or in the background of pictures in books. You never know how surrounded you are by trains until you have a toddler signaling their presence once every few minutes. Needless to say, we went with a Thomas the Train theme for his birthday this year.

This was his Halloween costume, and the photos worked nicely for his birthday invitations.

I saw a really cool cupcake train idea on A Britt Without Boys (see her post for a much better train, and tutorial), and was really excited to make it. It was very simple to put together and while mine didn’t look as great as Brittney’s, everyone loved it and it was a hit!

Basically you need a large engine to start the train off with, if you want to go with Thomas I’d look into the “My First Thomas” set you can get at Target for around $20. I went with a projector toy I found on eBay that was a bit too small, and I’m not sure the My First Thomas is bigger but it seemed to be in the online pictures. Then you need cupcakes, the number is up to you. You need half as many graham crackers as cupcakes, and 4 large marshmallows and Oreo’s per graham cracker.

“Glue” marshmallows with melted chocolate (I used a disposable piping bag that I melted white chocolate chips in the microwave) onto the bottom of the graham crackers where you want the tires to be. Place them marshmallow side down and then glue Oreo’s over the outside of each marshmallow to make them look more like train wheels.  To set up the train, arrange two cupcakes per graham cracker and set up in a line behind the engine. Add candles and you’re done! I got the “Happy Birthday” candle set for $1 at Dollar Tree.

He started out dressed in his train engineer costume but HAD to put on the Thomas jammies from Auntie Joan as soon as they were out of the gift bag! 

I didn’t get too crazy with the decorations, just cheap stuff in basic colors that went with the Thomas theme, but I did put some creativity into the favor bags.  I got blue paper bags 3/$1 at Walmart, then designed my own labels for them and stuck them on with double sided tape. I include a wooden train whistle ($1 at Dollar Tree), Train Smoke (Vanilla Snow Cotton Candy, $1 from Dollar Tree, filled 6 bags), bubbles (8-pack of wedding bubbles $1 at Dollar Tree, printed out my own Thomas’s and taped them on), and a few fun-size candy bars that I got half price after Halloween. What can I say, I’m thrifty!

And this was the front of the thank-you cards I designed and mailed to those who gave him a gift. I print my “cards” at Walmart as 4×6 photos for about a quarter each with tax (for 1 hour, only 9 cents if you can wait for home delivery). If it’s just a card front like this, I cut out some card stock to size, fold it, and tape the picture to the front, then write a message inside. Can’t beat a personalized card for a quarter!

Oh and one more cute thing from the party, my Mother-in-Law, with the help of her artistic sister, made this Thomas veggie train with a cardboard Thomas they made “from scratch” and long baskets (I’ve seen these at Dollar Tree, like MIL, like DIL!) filled with veggies. It looked much cooler spread out until I pushed it aside to make way for my big crock pot full of Easy White Chicken Chili, but you get the idea.

I didn’t do any games but had a coloring table set up just in case there were slow points and children got bored, but it actually ended up being filled with all adults! My sisters joined after I took this picture. I printed this Thomas Birthday Express coloring sheet and they went to town while they waited for everyone to finish eating and the presents to begin.

I purposely kept the decorating and prep to a minimum to avoid stress and it was a really enjoyable party!  I wonder how many more years I’ll be able to continue my cake strike before this little boy starts working on me and convinces me to make a dragon cake like his cousin did once upon a time. For now, I’m enjoying cupcaking it up! hehe.


Toddler Tuesday: the sleeve-sniffer & some videos

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Joshua has been a pajama sleeve-sniffer ever since he rejected his pacifier at about six months old.  He replaced the suckling comfort of the paci with the feel of pajama sleeves against his nose, and still does a suckling motion with his mouth, like he’s sucking on his tongue, and he breathes heavy while doing it.  It’s so weird, and cute.  If he can find any jammies in the laundry before naptime, he will dig them out and carry them around by the sleeve, sniffing on them.  I finally caught it on camera. Enjoy. :)

I also have a few recent (within the last couple weeks) videos I had to share too, for those with a few extra minutes to kill. None are very long, all about 30 seconds.

Remember him lovin’ on his Daddy back in February? That’s not going to end any time soon. Here he is still doing it, 7 months later. :)

Here he is groovin’ to Bon Jovi while we were at Five Guys.

Another one from Five Guys, cleaning up the mess he made. This was totally his idea. And don’t worry, his hands got washed after this. :)

Toddler Tuesday: the observer

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Nothing epic going on in toddler world, so here are some photos I took of Joshua last Friday in his “big boy shorts” (i.e. shorts that are a little too big) that he LOVES.  He’s such an observer, and every time we go to Exploration Place, he watches the other kids (or teenagers, in this case) for quite a while before he joins in the activity/playing. His contribution to the water maze, later on, was taking the floating balls off their course and throwing them back, but I was too busy trying to keep him from drinking the chlorine water to take photos of that.

People are fascinating, doncha know.

Toddler Tuesday: Mom confessions

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A friend of mine recently did a post called, “Confessions of a Toddler Mom” and I just loved it so much, I’m totally stealing her idea for today.  I’ll be he first to admit I’m far from a perfect mother…

I don’t always (OK, hardly ever) use the safety strap on shopping carts. Or changing tables. And not always on the stroller, either.

Meet one of my son’s milk cups.

Speaking of beverage containers, I use my “cleansing bottle” I came home with from the hospital as his water bottle. Moms who’ve given birth the “traditional way” know what I’m talking about.

I make people uncomfortable by taking my son to watch them work outside at close range, just standing there and staring. Because he loves it.

I let our dog do the first rinse on his hands after a meal.

I also never wash the windows.

I let him make loud sounds at Petsmart and in public restrooms so he can hear his voice echo. I may even make the same sounds back at him sometimes. (All the time.)

I get annoyed when his nap doesn’t last at least an hour.

But when it lasts longer, I get anxious waiting to see his face again and catch myself continuously glancing at the clock.

When I need a break, I send him outside to play with Jessie.  If he’s content for more than five minutes, I generally find him smeared in poop or covered in dirt, but it’s totally worth it.

I have plotted evil things against the ice cream man, tree trimmers, neighbors, and relatives, for making noise during nap time.

I have done the following to get him to eat: let him run around free with it (i.e. food smears & crumbs everywhere), bribed him with sweets to get him to try something new, and shoved food into his mouth while he was screaming and crying.

On hard days I count down the minutes…and seconds…until bed time.

I’ve attempted to use the TV as a babysitter.  And really wished it had worked.

I let him jump on the bed, climb, explore, and destroy far more than I planned to.

I don’t feed him organic very often, and I use don’t eschew sugar.

I still hold him like a baby before nap and bedtime, and give him a sippy cup of milk just like I used to do with his bottle. I can’t. stop.

And sometimes (a lot of times), I just embrace the mess.

Toddler Tuesday: Our July 4th

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Patriotic cousins.

This was the first ever 4th of July we’ve spent with Dennis’ family, and it was the best Independence day of my life! We are kind of sticks in the mud and usually don’t do a single thing for the holiday, not even a single firecracker or grilled piece of meat.  So this was a nice change of pace.  I’m thinking we’ll need to make this a tradition.

We got there Friday night and Grandma and Grandpa Miller had a surprise for Joshua, a Radio Flyer trike! It was in new condition, and Phyllis found it for only $1 at a garage sale. Joshua has been trying to play with the bikes in neighbor’s yards, and he’s is sooooo happy to have his very own trike now!

This is Joshua’s shy smile, he will look to the side and smile at you out of the corner of his eye. He did this while walking down the “runway,” along with running to and fro until Daddy reigned him in. 

We went to the park on July 4th, where they were having a big celebration with a Baby Beauty contest, frog races, turtle races, bouncy houses, free hot dogs, swimming, etc.  It was so hot we only stayed to do the Baby Beauty contest and the frog race, and Joshua bounced a little on the step going into a bouncy house, which was perfectly fine with him. Joshua didn’t place in the beauty contest, Dennis says because they didn’t have any “Grand Champion” ribbons, and his little frog didn’t win either, but of course neither bothered him. He was just having fun.

Auntie Joan introducing him to the frog he was entering into the race, courtesy of Uncle Richard catching it on their property.

There were horses all along the fence as we were leaving.  Being obsessed with horses, Joshua kept pointing and making noises indicating he wanted to get closer.  We stopped to watch a little girl bridling a horse and her Dad asked if Joshua wanted to sit on him. Oh yes, he did!  I didn’t catch his smile, but he was so excited.  First the bike, now the horse, all his lifelong dreams were coming true. lol

After his nap, Joshua cooled off in the redneck Miller swimming pool, the old sheep trough. Gotta love country living!

Jessie enjoyed the trough too.

Auntie Joan had gotten Joshua a flag tank top to match his cousins’ shirts so we had to get a photo of them together. She’s also responsible for her boys’ awesome socks. Would you just look at these handsome boys?

This photo was Grandma Phyllis’ brilliant idea, she wanted to get the “Biker Cousins” in a pic together.  Is this too much, or is this too much?

Too. much.

We had the most amazing grilled burgers (my contribution was CW’s Strawberry Shortcake), but I didn’t get a picture of them. Instead, I give you Joshua, who swiped Grandpa’s corn cob off his plate. He loves corn on the cob!

Auntie Joan took him on a trip on his fire engine (another of Grandma’s garage sale finds).

And we got down to business, cracking poppers, doing smoke bombs and snakes. Joshua loved it all!

Cracking Poppers with Uncle Richard.

This is the “Pooping Dog” – a snake comes out his butt lol.

A friend showed up on his motorcycle and Grandpa took Joshua to check it out. This kid is even more obsessed with motorcycles (and trucks and anything that goes vroom) than horses. Here he is working on his James Dean look.

And I’ll close with the last picture I took, of Joshua and his Grandpa watching the motorcycle leave. <3

See you next week for another, hopefully much less photo heavy, Toddler Tuesday.

Oh, hi there!

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It has been nearly two months since I last posted a recipe! Time flies when you’re having fun. :)

Today, I thought I’d share some pictures of the little guy that I like to blame for my lack of blogging.  We had some professional photos back in March and I thought it was about time I showed off my handsome little man in his suit he got from his Nana D!

This little guy constantly amazes me how much he seems to learn every day!  I think I still expect him to be an immobile, uncomprehending infant, and can’t stop marveling that he now understands and responds to nearly everything I say.

He’s not talking much, though he does repeat things in his own language.  The things he can say that are recognizable are Dada, Mama, Yaya (Jessie), ah dah (all done), yeah, duck (although he says duck duck, never just duck), that that (he does this while pointing, indicating excitement, as with big trucks, or because he wants to know what something is), mo (more).  The only animal sound he will make is a dog panting and barking. Dogs are the only animal worthy of imitation, obviously.

His favorite foods are cheddar cheese (has been since he first had some), corn, tomatoes, fried eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches , my potato and onion hash, and all fruit, especially berries and watermelon.  He gets a kick out of making slurpy sounds while eating watermelon.

He loves to help.  He recently helped me make a loaf of banana bread, sifting the dry ingredients, cracking eggs (with Mom’s help) and stirring…and licking the spatula.  I think licking is his favorite way to help, especially when we make brownies.  He also loves to help clean, and loves to put ice in my cup (our cup) for me.  I’m working on letting him help in more ways.

He got his first burn by touching the mower’s muffler after Dennis mowed, before it had cooled.  He burnt his other hand the next week on my flat iron, and then got his first cut after breaking a porcelain decoration in the kitchen (did I mention the climbing yet? He was climbing on the kitchen chairs and pulled something down off the table) and trying to help clean up the mess.  And the climbing!!!  Oohhhh the climbing. I hope he survives the climbing.

People often ask me if he’s always so happy.  Pretty much!  He is such a good-natured little guy, although he has his daily fits as well, not gonna lie.  Things that set him off are taking something away that he really wants (like Jessie’s leash, he loves walking her), or not opening the door when he wants to go outside (outside is his favorite) or the door to the car (pretending to drive is also his favorite). OR DIAPER CHANGES.  Diaper change = war, in this house.

We joined a new church and we love that there are lots of kids there.  The photo below wasn’t taken at church, but at a fish fry with all our church friends, and it’s so nice to see Joshua playing with other kids.  We will not be able to give him a sibling unless God gives us another huge miracle, so it does my heart good to see him playing with other little kids.

And if you can only have one kid, it’s hard to complain when you get such a stellar one. To this day I still look at Dennis and say, “Can you even believe we have him?”  I think I will die with that amazement still in my heart.  Thank you, God.

Be sure to check back Monday, I do have a recipe ready to share, and it’s a doozy!

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