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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.

 

The auction is live today!

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The auction for my friends who need help with the cost of their fertility treatments is now live and open for bidding until midnight tonight. I have three of my signed cookbooks in the auction (and no future plans to sell more so get them while they’re hot!). There are also lots of other fun things like these beautiful signs (click any photo on this post to be taken to it in the silent auction):

This handmade aromatherapy bracelet, for use with essential oils:

Hand sewn receiving blankets and burp cloths:

Beautiful digital art, and gift certificates for it too:

And homemade gift baskets, along with so much more (hello gift cards)!

Stop by to check things out today! Clicking any of the photos above will take you to the auction. Thank you!

Cookbook!

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Would you be interested in a cookbook by yours truly with full color photographs? Well I don’t have one in production but I DO have a few copies of one I created on Shutterfly.com and they will be in the online auction I mentioned on Monday. UPDATE: that auction is closed but I’m offering another cookbook sampler pack in another online auction here

The books are 20 pages with 28 of my most favorite and prize-winning recipes, including the Blue & Purple Ribbon Loaded Carrot Cake that I never shared on my blog (purple means it was not only judged best carrot cake, but best of all the cakes).  If you have ordered my carrot cake cupcakes before, then you will also have one of my top secret cupcake recipes, because this is the very one I use for those cupcakes. The cookbook will be signed and inscribed as you wish.

Two of the books stand alone in the auction, but one lot (pictured above) includes a full-size loaf of my blue ribbon banana bread, and two dozen of my blue ribbon Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, along with a 2 ounce bottle of creme bouquet, my “secret ingredient” I add to most of my frostings to give them that high-end bakery taste (it is in both cake recipes in the cookbook), and an ounce of high quality cardamom, and ingredient called for in my banana bread.

For those who are local to Wichita and the surrounding area, I’m also offering a Cupcake of the Month Club subscription. Want a cookbook or cupcakes? Go check out the auction page, and be sure to “like” the page so you can follow and be notified when the auction starts! It will be March 31st, 12 AM to 11:59 pm. Thank you and good luck!

Online Auction for The Welkleys 3/31

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Now that I’m done with my own fundraising for fertility treatments, the tables have turned and I’m helping the very friend that started and managed our Gofundme page!  I’ll be doing an online auction this time, similar to the bake sale I did for Suzie, but this time taking donations of any items, not just food. Click here to view, like, and share the auction page!

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Holly & I met as a result of our shared experiences with infertility and were in a due date buddies group in an online forum – her son and mine were born within a couple months of each other. We have been buds ever since and although we’ve never met, I love her and her son dearly, and am greatly blessed to count her as a good friend. She worked so hard to help us raise the money we needed to try and give Joshua a sibling and I’m dedicated to helping her family meet their own fundraising goal!

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It is hard to understand just how difficult the struggle with infertility can be unless you’ve personally been through it.  Imagine a hope that renews every single month, only to be crushed. Over and over again. Imagine praying and praying, and not knowing if being barren month after month is a “no” from God or a “not yet.” The not knowing is the hardest part.

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The Welkley’s have been through a lot on their journey. They suffered the heartbreak of losing twins before they had their rainbow baby, Logan. Now they desparately wish to give him a sibling, something I understand so well, and they’ve done month after month of fertility treatments to no avail.  They have reached a place where, in order to proceed with the recommendation of their reproductive endocrinologist that gives them the best chance for conceiving, they will need to raise a little money to afford IVF.  They have most of the cost covered but need to raise another $2,400 to completely cover it. They are doing some fundraisers on their own and I’m hoping that I can help with up to half of their goal with this online auction, to be held March 31st.

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This will be just like before, where people donate baked goods/auction items by sending me a photo and shipping the item after it has been paid for by the high bidder post-auction. I will be doing this one on Facebook, so you will need to have an account in order to participate. This time you will bid in a comment beneath the photo of the item(s) you would like, and you can see the auction album here to get a sneak preview (there are more items to come, be sure to “like” the auction page to get updates!). When another comments with a higher bid, you decide whether to comment again with a higher bid. Most items have a starting bid of $15.

I plan to do another update on the auction before it starts, and, if you can believe it after all this time, I also have a killer cake recipe to share this week! *gasp* Stay tuned, it’s going to be so fun guys!

If you wish to make a direct donation to the Welkleys, you can donate here.

I’m still alive! :)

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Once upon a time I wrote posts 3-5 days out of the week and I felt like my readers were friends. I don’t know how many of you really even know me any more, it’s been so long since I’ve shared my heart (and recipes!) like I used to in the good ol’ days. Or even followed others’ blogs! I do miss that, but wouldn’t trade it for the time I now spend with my little homey. I wanted him my whole life, and blogging just isn’t as important to me right now. The days fly by and I know that soon this brief time in my life, raising the child I always wanted, will be over.  I’m just soaking them up!

But today my little guy is out of town for a sleepover with his grandparents, and I have some time all to myself, and I believe I’m way overdue for an update! Last time I blogged, I mentioned our fundraising efforts to afford the fertility treatments we need to give Joshua a sibling. I also mentioned professional photos and it’s about time I share those (which you can see two of them above) and update on the former!

Our fundraising went very well and we are gearing up for our first IUI of this year.  Several blog readers donated, some that were just stopping in for a random recipe and saw the fundraiser link, and I’m so grateful for this help, thank you. I have been going to a chiropractor since we started fundraising, and we’ve both done natural (herbal) things to help our fertility. A large percentage of the money raised, as well as money of our own, went to these natural treatments but it was money well spent.  Quite a bit went into consultations, blood tests, fertility drugs (non-herbal), and sonograms as well. I’ve even been doing acupuncture in hopes to give myself an extra fertility boost!

We got to a point where we were ready to move forward with an IUI and we needed one more fundraiser to meet our goal so we did a chili cook-off & silent auction.  This was our most successful fundraiser (I also did a cupcake sale, a garage sale, and a Mary Kay party) and was also the easiest!

The cookies were glued to the plate and he was pretty mad they weren’t real. He tried so hard to get them off! lol

So now we are excited and looking forward to the IUI, amazed how God has guided and blessed us through this journey, through family, friends, and even strangers.  Taking heart that this is the path we were meant to take, and hoping for a positive outcome, though we know that is not a guarantee. No one knows that more than us.  After thirteen years to get our son, and a failed IUI last year, we know.  I still can’t help but be very hopeful, as I’ve never been on this many drugs (for fertility) before, LOL!

So that’s the excitement going on for us right now.  Hopefully I will have some good news for you guys some time this year, as it’s the last year we will be trying. :) Prayers are much appreciated! <3

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.

 

Supporting your infertile friends & The Stork OTC giveaway *CLOSED*


*This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Laura (dandelionsarenotweeds6)!*

I know, you are waiting for my blue ribbon banana bread recipe (still happy dancing) I promised last week! Well it is still coming, I’ve gotta take pictures of the loaf I just baked, and in the mean time I have something very near and dear to my hear to talk to you about, and there is a giveaway involved so don’t be too hasty to close the window in a fit of banana bread frustration. ;)

Before the incredible gift of our son, I shared fairly often about my personal 13-year struggle with infertility, and the heartbreak.  There’s nothing quite like infertility to make you realize you’re really not in full control here. You can do everything within your power to improve your chances, from natural remedies to over-the-counter, to medical help…and you still may never get pregnant.  It’s hard to want something so badly, and not be able to accomplish it no matter the lengths you go to, or how hard you pray.

Which is why I agreed to join The Stork OTC with other bloggers to help raise awareness about how to support infertile couples and to introduce you to their nifty at-home conception device (with a chance to win one, and more, stay tuned!).  Even if you’ve never suffered from infertility, or known anyone else who did, chances are there is more than one couple you know that does, and has never revealed it.  Infertility is largely suffered with silent tears because it’s a very personal struggle that is awkward and embarrassing to share even with close loved ones.  (After fifteen years, I’m mostly past that, and it’s also easier to share to a larger semi-anonymous audience than it is one-on-one.)

Some things you should know:

Infertility doesn’t affect every person the same way, but in general these are some things that can be difficult for us (or even heartbreaking, depending on the day):

  • Pregnancy announcements. Personally these aren’t as hard for me as other infertiles I know, but at times, they have brought me to my knees.
  • Baby showers. Though I’m the odd infertile duck that really LOVES baby showers (part of it is the white cake, I just love it, LOL), I’m ashamed to admit that there have been times when I couldn’t force myself to go to them because my circumstances grieved me too much to join in the celebration.  I know it sounds terrible – jealous and selfish, and I was. Infertility can really put the ugly on beautiful things.
  • Mother’s Day, especially if at a place or function where mothers are singled out and honored in a way that shows them apart from the women they hope to be some day, and don’t know if they will ever be. This can be really shaming to infertile women, almost a pointing finger showing them unable to achieve what every other woman that wants to can.
  • Questions like, “When are you guys going to have a baby?” This truly isn’t an appropriate question to ask anyone, but especially if they’re infertile.  No matter who it is, this simply is not your business, and if the couple has been trying for an extended time without your knowledge, a question like that can really rip into their heart.
  • Hearing a pregnant woman or mother bitterly complaining about her pregnancy or child/children.  Having now been through pregnancy and mothering my own child, I know there are lots of hard times, but I make a point to only vent/complain to those who get it because I know how easy it is to hurt those who would give anything for the hard times by complaining.

This short list isn’t so much advice as information to help you understand your infertile friends and family a little better.  For a really wonderful series that is far more extensive with advice, you can start reading “Loving Your Friend Through Infertility.”  But if you’re looking for the short and sweet answer, it’s this: the best thing you can do is simply offer your love, prayers, and support.  And if possible, lots of hugs and a shoulder to cry on.

Now for the fun part, a giveaway!  If you are trying to conceive and it’s taking longer than you anticipated, using The Stork OTC is a nifty way to increase your odds if you want to try something at home before getting medical help.   Let’s talk shop for a minute, this thing is really fascinating, and forgive me but I’m going to do a little copying and pasting on their info so if it doesn’t sound like me, you know why:

The Stork OTC is an innovative, home-use device that helps with becoming pregnant. Whether you are just starting on your journey to parenthood or have been trying for longer, let The Stork OTC optimize your chances of conceiving. This NEW treatment option is FDA-cleared for home-use without a prescription. The Stork OTC offers a relaxed and private way of conceiving in your own home using new technology based on cervical cap insemination. This smart technique puts the sperm at the opening of the cervix as possible, optimizing your chances of conception.

• The Stork OTC is the only conception assistance device cleared by the FDA for over-the-counter sales to consumers, without a prescription.
o The Stork OTC could change the way couples approach challenges becoming pregnant.
• The Stork OTC is delivering hope to millions of Americans struggling to conceive a child.
o Can be used if you are diagnosed with infertility, have tried months without success, or simply want to get pregnant more quickly; also if you want to conceive without intercourse.
• With The Stork OTC, consumers finally have an easy-to-use, drug-free, economical conception aid they can use at home, without a prescription.
o A sensible first step before trying more costly, invasive procedures.
• The Stork OTC uses an established and effective conception technique—cervical cap insemination—which helps with many common fertility difficulties.
o Cervical cap insemination’s documented success rate is around 10-20% , similar to the success rate for IUI .
• The Stork OTC puts you in control; you can use it to optimize chances to conceive this month.
• It is available now, online and in select retailer stores, for where to buy visit http://www.storkotc.com/

The Stork OTC lets you take charge of your family planning, and act as a team while you do it. FDA-cleared applications for The Stork OTC include common fertility difficulties attributed to both men and women, including:

• Low Sperm Count
• Motility Issues
• Unfavorable Vaginal Environment (pH imbalance)
• Unexplained Infertility

Sounds pretty rad, right? If you’d like to enter to win one, simply comment below and mention you’d love to try it out. I will draw a name from the eligible entries on Thursday, September 24th and notify the winner by email. I will update this post with the winner’s name on Friday.

Finally, there will be a Stork Twitter chat tomorrow – please join me to exchange ideas on the best ways to support others during their struggle to conceive. You’ll also have a chance to win one of three $25 gift cards to CVS/pharmacy by answering some trivia questions during the chat!

When: Tuesday, September 22 at 1 p.m. ET

Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #TheStorkOTC hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Vite: http://vite.io/thestorkotc

Hashtag: #TheStorkOTC

Prizes: Three prizes will be awarded to randomly selected participants who answer the trivia questions correctly. Each prize includes a $25 CVS/pharmacy gift card

Hosts: @TheMotherhood, @TMChatHost, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

This content is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician.

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