Recovering

I’ve been out of the hospital for just over a week now, and I’m slowly getting better.

Somewhat ironically, the best way to describe how I feel now would be to compare it to morning (mourning, now, more like it) sickness.

I can’t eat much. When I do eat, nothing sounds very appealing. After I eat, I occasionally regret it.

It’s not pain, so much as never-ending queasiness.

But I lied, because there’s also pain. One of my doctors explained it best, I think, when she compared pancreatitis to having your body fill up with leaking battery acid. My back aches most of the day, so I stay glued to a bottle of Advil and a heating pad, and there a small area along my abdomen that feels numb, tingly, and sort of dead.

And I haven’t figured out why, or how, but every night, between 4-6 a.m., I wake up totally nauseous and unable to fall back asleep.

It’s a real pretty picture, isn’t it?

I miss just feeling normal. Not even good — just normal. Just going to bed and waking up in the morning. Or grabbing any food and eating it without being terrified of how my body will react.

So, I’m nowhere near 100% yet, but I’m so much better than I was a week, and two weeks ago, it’s insane.

Emotionally, I’m a dumpster fire.

The initial relief of finding out I’m not allowed to do any more rounds of IVF has been replaced by heart wrenching grief that we’ll never have another child. And then I feel guilty, because I have Gus, and he’s perfect, and I shouldn’t be greedy. And then Gus wraps himself around me and tells me how much he loves me, and oh boy, here come the waterworks again.

And then people tell me they’d carry a baby for me, and I think ok yes! but also, how in the world can you ask someone to do such a huge favor? And I pepper my friends with adopted brothers and sisters with overly personal questions. And then I wonder if I can try again, without estrogen? Is that even a thing? And then I get exhausted, and cry some more, and can’t think about it anymore.

See? Dumpster fire.

Silver lining? Between my two hospitalizations in November, and the limited recovery diet/forced starvation treatment for pancreatitis, I’ve lost almost 25 pounds, and counting.

So it’s not all bad.

Back in the Saddle.

As we get ready to start another FET cycle, I’m trying to get as healthy as possible.

And along with that comes (or goes?) all the usual suspects.

Caffeine.
Sugar.
Artificial sweeteners.
Alcohol.
Refined Grains.
Good ole’ gluten.

Goodbye old friends. We had a good run, didn’t we?

And, unfortunately for me, since our last loss I have just been eating my feelings (they taste like pizza and ice cream!) for months. Then, that rolled into vacation eating.

And so all that had to stop.

And then I did something unthinkable.

I started going to the gym again. On purpose! Repeatedly! It’s not as often as I’d like, and I can’t work out as hard as I used to (who remembers when I was thin?!) but it’s better than never, ever going to the gym, which is what I’ve been doing for, ohhhhhhhh, six years?

And after all these years of infertility treatments, and pregnancies, and breastfeeding, and going dairy-free, and then eating ALL THE DAIRY, I honestly cannot tell you what my pre-pregnancy weight was.

The good news is, I’m not focused on being a certain weight, or a certain size. This body of mine will never be perfect, but it gave me Gus, and that’s a body worth celebrating as far as I’m concerned, even if it doesn’t look perfect in a bathing suit. But leggings and tunics seem like they’re here to stay awhile, so amen and hallelujah for stretchy pants!

My goal is to lose as much weight as I can (healthily) between now and our FET, while getting stronger and eating these things called “vegetables” I’ve been hearing so much about.

So far, so good.

New Year’s Resolutions

I’m the type of person who likes making lists, and always waits to start a diet on a Monday (so I can research, and shop, and weigh in the following weekend), so naturally I love New Years Resolutions.

Get ready for some cliche and obligatory goals, folks!

#1 (and everybody’s favorite!) – Lose Weight (…again)

Only this time, I’m going to try to do things a little differently. One of my biggest saboteurs is, kind of ironically, the scale.

Say I weigh myself on a Wednesday and I’ve lost 2.5 pounds. Then I weigh in again on Friday and gained a half-pound back. Instead of being excited about losing two pounds, I just dwell on the half-pound I regained, and then say, WTF let’s eat a whole pizza.

So, this time, no scale. At least not regularly. I’ll weigh myself to start, and probably take some measurements, but after that I’ll only step on the scale once a month.

I’m also going to try to take it easy on myself. I’ve got a toddler, and a life, and a house to sell (see #3) so every meal is not going to be perfect. In the past, one bad dinner on a Monday was enough to get me to throw in the towel for the rest of the week, but (hopefully) not anymore.

I’m also going to make a serious effort to avoid all artificial sweeteners, which means saying goodbye to my beloved Coke Zero. But it’s time. I’ve done it before, and will need to do it again (see #4) and there’s no better time than January 1st to get started.

I would also love to attempt a Whole30, but I’m just not ready yet. It’s a little intimidating to think about, but I’m hoping I’ll get there eventually.

And, obviously, I need to exercise more. Lifting and carrying a toddler counts for something (and my arms aren’t too shabby) but it’s not enough. I want to get out and walk with him, a few times a week, as long as it’s dry and not polar vortex-y.

#2 – Go On Adventures

Yes, Gus and I get out of the house a lot now (something I thought would never happen right after he was born) but it’s usually to do regular old boring things like buy groceries, or run errands.

We’re very lucky to have memberships to our local zoo and aquarium, thanks to my in-laws, so I’d like to spend more time at each, even if it’s just me and Gus on a weekday.

We went to the weekly story time at our local library a few times last year, but they usually coincided with Gus’ morning nap, so we haven’t been in months. Now that his schedule has shifted a bit, I’d like to go back once a week.

I eventually want to sign us up for a swim class, I’m just not sure where to go (Baltimore moms, any suggestions?)

#3 – Downsize, Declutter, Organize and Clean This House (then keep it that way)

We’re in the process of building a new house (yay!), which could be ready any time between May–July, so we have to get our house on the market in the next few weeks.

Of course, my house is a disaster. Toys are everywhere. Piles of (clean, mind you!) laundry are routinely abandoned and picked through. Christmas gifts are piled up around the tree I need to take down ASAP.

On-going baby-proofing as Gus gets taller, more mobile, and figures out he can climb up onto things means stuff is hastily moved higher and higher, or into other rooms where it doesn’t really belong.

So I need to get organized, get what we can live without packed up and donated or into storage. And I need to stay on top of things so we can show the house if we need to.

#4 – Get Back in the Stirrups for Baby #2

Part of the drive to get in shape, is so we can try to get pregnant again later this year. I’m already at a higher risk for gestational diabetes, and blood pressure issues since I developed both in my last pregnancy. Not to mention all the hoops I have to jump through to get/stay pregnant in the first place.

Last time it was a combination of going gluten free, minimal/organic dairy, cutting caffeine and artificial sweeteners, and you know, a team of highly trained scientists that did the trick, so I want to stack the deck in our favor this go-round too.

So, if I want to be pregnant in the fall, I have to get the ball rolling in the summer, but probably start with a bunch of tests and meet with all the doctors to come up with game plan in the spring, but they’re all so busy and important!, I should probably call for an appointment, uhhh, yesterday. #pregnancymath

Happy New Year!

Bye Bye, Fries.

Like a lot of women, I’ve struggled with my weight and body image, both before and after baby.

Yes, I was one of those magical creatures who got back to their pre-pregnancy size in record time, and without trying. But when your pre-pregnancy size is still 40 pounds north of where you want to be, obviously, you’re not finished yet.

Now, I’ve never been skinny, nor do I really want to be. I’m almost six feet tall. My legs are solid muscle (so that thigh gap ain’t happening). My shoulders are broad, which is good, because I need something to help hold up these giant boobs. I can eat, and eat, and eat, and my ass will stay the same size. I’m ok with all those things (particularly the tiny heinie).

But I’ve lost track of how much weight I’ve gained and lost, over and over and over again throughout the years. That part I’m not so ok with.

In the past, a heathy carb/fat routine worked wonders for me. However, giving up dairy for Gus’ sake has really thrown me for a loop with regard to weight loss. For the last nine months my number one priority has been avoiding (wonderful, delicious) dairy products so that 1) my baby isn’t sick, and 2) he doesn’t keep me up all night screaming. (Trust me. If someone came to your house every night and screamed at you at 1am and then 4am and again at 7am, you’d give up pizza and cookies, with a smile on your face.)

So that’s resulted in a lot of carbs. Noodles are safe. Rice is safe. Bagels are usually safe. Potatoes are safe. McDonalds is mostly safe. Factor in, they’re also easy to make, and oooooooh, boy, am I eating way too many damn carbs.

And while I do want to lose weight because, hello!, I’m incredibly vain, I’m really more interested in getting healthy, and running and playing with this baby I’m so fond of.

All that to say, I’m working with a nutritionist, to come up with easy and healthy dairy-free meals and snacks, so I can take advantage of all these extra breastfeeding-burning calories, instead of eating my weight in French fries.

She gave me a sample menu with a carb count for each meal and snack (it’s basically identical to what another nutritionist gave me to follow when I had gestational diabetes). Proteins and healthy fats are pretty much unlimited. I’m supposed to eat every two-three hours (just like a baby!).

Totally do-able.

Now I just have to do it.

Let’s Talk About Food, Baby

Yes, I’m still talking about food.

I officially want to eat everything. After almost four months of gagging at the idea of anything more substantial than water, I’ve finally reached the point in my pregnancy where I am a bottomless pit. Well, sort of — I still can’t eat very much, but at least now I actually want to eat things.

Oh, but damn you gestational diabetes! Damn you straight to hell! All the things I want to eat are off limits.

I’m told as soon as I have this baby, I’ll be back to normal. So, naturally my thought process is something like:

1) Have a baby!
2) Hold that baby!
3) Kiss my husband!
4) EAT EVERYTHING.

And because I like to daydream about food, and torture myself, here’s what I have planned for November:

photo (9)photo (11)photo (8)photo (7)photo (10)

(Not) Eating For Two

Normal ladies fantasize about getting pregnant, and just eating everything. Right? C’mon, I know I wasn’t the only one who had big plans to chow down.

Turns out though, I don’t get to do that.

I spent the first 15-16 weeks of my pregnancy eating as little as possible, because the very idea of food made me want to vomit. (Fun fact, the only thing that has repeatedly made me vomit is brushing my teeth, with is cruel and unusual, because then all you want to do is BRUSH YOUR FREAKING TEETH.) From February to May, I survived primarily on ice water with lemons, and dry rice chex. I’d periodically get a hankering for something really specific — like soft pretzels, or filet-o-fishes, or a stack of pancakes. I ate so little, I didn’t hesitate to eat whatever I wanted when the mood hit, because I knew Mr. Baby and I needed the calories. Let’s just say, there were a LOT of french fries involved.

I still lost like 15ish pounds.

Fast forward a few more weeks (third trimester is right around the corner, what?! how did that happen so quickly?! who wants to come paint a nursery?!) and I never really gained any of it back. I’m either holding steady week by week, or still losing the occasional pound or two. Mr. Baby on the other hand, is growing at a normal rate, and measuring on schedule. I somehow still ended up with bigger boobs and a sort of baby bump?

Pregnant ladies everywhere hate my guts. At this point I’m hoping to make it out with a healthy baby boy, and maybe a smaller pants size.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses. See, one of the main reasons I’m not really gaining any weight is I ended up with Gestational Diabetes.

I wasn’t super surprised. I’ve had PCOS forever, and with that usually comes along with insulin resistance. I’ve always been able to control it with diet and exercise though, so that pesky diabetes (or as it’s known in my social circle — the Wilford Brimlies and/or the Bret Michaels) has remained at bay.

But apparently the placenta is a real bitch, and makes whatever insulin a lady makes day-to-day totally worthless. So I got to meet with a dietician, and come up with a fancy meal-plan to help manage my blood sugar. But after two weeks, it wasn’t enough, and now I get to give myself three injections of insulin, every day.

For those of you keeping score at home — that’s four injections total (blood thinner and insulin) and four finger pricks (to check sugar after meals) every day. Eight needles. Eight.

To say I’m officially cured of my fear of needles is a tremendous understatement.

And so my dreams of eating for two have been dashed. Unless, of course, I want to eat broccoli or kale for two — which unfortunately I do not.

Am I complaining? No, I’m really not. I would do anything for a healthy happy baby, obviously. I stick to that diet like nobody’s business, and I do it with a smile on my face. Oh, you want me to take a bazillion more shots a day? Ain’t no thing, doc, sign me up.

But just because I’m not complaining, doesn’t mean I’m not compiling a list of things to eat and drink as soon as Mr. Baby gets here.

In no particular order — I want one, or three, of the following (preferably while still in the hospital):

An ice cold Coke Zero (I know diet soda makes you fatter, but I don’t care right now)
A pitcher of margaritas with salt, because — obviously.
Like, a whole plate of Rice-A-Roni
A whole cheese pizza, ala Kevin McCallister
Macaroni and Cheese!
18 Cheesesteaks!
A whole cream-cheese filled coffee cake, and the world’s largest coffee

Instead of flowers, please bring french fries and chicken nuggets.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Confession:  I used to despise spaghetti squash.

And then, one night four years ago, Mike & I went to a dinner party where it was on the menu, and I didn’t want to be rude, so I ate it — and it was delicious. The same thing happened last year, only that time it was brussel sprouts, which I also now love and make all the time.

The lesson? My mother was right. Your tastebuds DO change as you get older. Who knew?!

Anyway.

This has been a regular dinner in our house, ever since that fateful day four years ago. Calling it lasagna is a bit of a stretch. In fact, in our house — it’s called Rigamone — which is a totally made up Italian sounding word Mike created while making fun of Giada. Whatever you want to call it, just know it’s a delicious, cheesy, Italian dinner that just so happens to be low carb, gluten free (check your ingredients!) and full of fiber and vegetables (without tasting like it!)

Here’s what you need:

1 Spaghetti Squash
1 Jar of your Favorite Pasta Sauce
1 to 2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Italian Seasoning (Dried Basil, Garlic Powder, Oregano, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, etc.)
*Meat or Veggie Crumbles are optional, and a great addition if you want to add them*

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (Some squash will have a little sticker with cooking instructions — you can follow them if you want, but I find they usually need a little more time in the oven). Split your spaghetti squash in half, lenghwise, and remove all the seeds. I use a huge knife, and take my time. Be careful, if you’ve never done it before, they can be a little hard to crack, and they’re prone to rolling around.

Drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil onto each side, and spread it around with your fingers, or a paper towel, and then season pretty liberally with salt, pepper, and your Italian seasonings.

Flip them over onto a foil lined cookie sheet (saves cleanup time!) and make a joke about either boobs or buttcheeks. I always do.  Now pop them in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

The squash should separate from the rind pretty easily with a just a fork. You should be able to squeeze the sides with a pair of tongs. If it’s still a little tough around the edges put in back in the oven for a few more minutes. Leave the oven on, because you’re going to need it again.

Now — if you have a lot of time on your hands, you can squeeze the cooked squash (once it’s cooled, obvs) through some cheesecloth. It’s usually pretty wet. I’m lazy, and once everything is mixed together, I don’t even notice the added liquid.  Shred the squash and transfer all the strings to a large bowl. Add the pasta sauce (as much as you want, really) and stir everything together. It doesn’t look like much, but it’ll taste good, I promise.

Take half of the squash and spread it across the bottom of a casserole dish — 9×13 at the largest, I’d say.

Dollop half of your ricotta cheese around the top of that first layer of squash, and spread it around as best you can, and throw in a little of that mozzarella for good measure.  Top with another layer of squash, and then another layer of ricotta/mozzarella. I usually just do two layers, but you can adjust accordingly based on the size of your dish.  Top the final layer with the remaining mozzarella, and put the casserole dish back in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. Everything is already cooked, so you just want to give the cheese some time to melt. I like to finish mine under the broiler for a few minutes to get the top nice and crispy.

I used to add a bag of veggie crumbles to the sauce before I combined everything (we’re not vegetarians, we’re just lazy) — you could easily do the same with ground beef, or pork, whatever you want. I like to grill some Italian sausages while everything is back in the oven, and then just slice them and throw them on top of the casserole once it’s on the plate.