Thursday, March 19, 2015

Freakin' Infertility!

Hello, world. I wrote this over a year ago, and chickened out when it came to publishing it. Now that I am nearly 17 weeks along in my pregnancy (with a little boy!), I wanted to share this instead of a big announcement. 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility, and it is just terrible. I am so thankful that we aggressively sought help with Dr. Hickman at Houston IVF (didn't even need IVF!) once moving back to Texas, after over 3 years of trying. If you are one of the unlucky people that deal with this overwhelming pit of despair (you think I am being dramatic, until you actually deal with it yourself) then get help- you might be surprised that some insurances will cover treatment. 

This is something that I have been contemplating writing about for awhile now. It is very personal, and something I don't like talking much about, but I am writing it in hopes that maybe it can encourage somebody today.

Here is a conversation I had with the adorable little (now 8 year old!) boy I nanny:

Him: If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?
Me: I like what I am doing right now, living in London, being with you, and getting to travel!
Him: No, it has to be something that you aren't doing right now. What is something you really want to do or have?

I just half smiled, shrugged my shoulders, and told him what I think he already knew the answer would be: have a baby.

Sometimes I think there has to be some sort of universal balance scale for each person with blessings on one side,  and trials on the other, and one side can't outweigh the other (although I will sill say that my blessings far exceed my trials). I feel like maybe, since I was lucky enough to find Daniel so young and live such a wonderful life together so far, the world would be out of sorts if we didn't have some sort of hardship, and having a baby seems to be one of those hardships.

But with that being said, I want a baby terribly.

I want the joy of finally seeing a positive symbol and getting to hug Daniel triumphantly, I want the excitement of telling friends and family, I want the feeling of oneness with a life growing inside of me, I want to be able to graze my hand expectantly over a baby bump, I want to be able to hold and smell and talk to a wrinkly little lump of love, I want to be able to read books with him before he goes to bed every night and sing "You are my sunshine" to her as I rock her to sleep.

Unexplainable infertility sucks even more, because there is literally nothing you can do to try and fix it (without paying thousands of dollars). Believe me, I've tried.

Eating more vegetables. Eating more fat. Eating less meat. Drinking less caffeine. Drinking less alcohol. Drinking more juice. Drinking more wine (because how many people tell you it happened once they just relaxed?!). Doing more yoga. Lifting less weight. Running more. Running less. Sleeping more. Resting more. Taking prenatal vitamins. Stressing out less. Not thinking about it. Thinking about it. Tracking it. Not tracking it. Going on vacation. Ovulation tests. Clomid. Blood tests. HSG tests. Testing him. And anyone else who has tried knows what I'm saying, when I say doing this until your legs are pale and bloodless:
With infertility, you go through many different emotions.

First, is hope. When you are really trying for a baby and tracking ovulation in order to time everything perfectly, you get REALLY excited during what is called the "Two week wait" (time between, well, trying for a baby at the right time and finding out if you are, indeed, pregnant). "I think I'm feeling sick? Maybe my breasts are sore? I just feel soooo tired all of the time. I should Google when I can take a pregnancy test. I should Google if having a cold might mean I'm pregnant." and near the end of that waiting period (no pun intended), you have begun spinning every single cough, soreness, and craving to mean you are pregnant. You begin planning how you are going to tell people. You begin looking up houses in the 'burbs online. You begin pinning nursery ideas.

And then, you realize that the symptoms that you THOUGHT might mean you are pregnant are REALLY just your uterus shedding it's lining. Because no, silly, why would you be pregnant this time?

And with that, hope leads to anger. You know what is fun to scream? F*cking infertility. That somehow makes the anger more bearable. Anger that something that was supposed to be so easy, actually isn't. It was really hard working at my first school, where unplanned pregnancy was rampant amongst the community. These people are eating all of the foods I avoid, lots of them smoke, they never exercise or take care of themselves... and here I am, eating my organic apple and I can't get knocked up for anything.

The anger, inevitably, leads to an empty, hopeless, black hole of despair. You feel it in the pit of your stomach- this intense pain, this lack of control, this realization that you cannot have what you want so, so badly. You begin to think that what you grew up practising for your whole life, all of those baby dolls you swaddled and pets you nurtured, will have been in vain. It is such a shock to think that a part of life as simple as being a mom might not ever even happen to you.

And if you try to be positive, hopefully the pain in the pit of your stomach can subside a bit and you can find ways to laugh about it. You know what's funny? The amount of money we spent on birth control. How I REALLY thought I would get pregnant if I accidentally took a pill at a different time. But really, you have to be able to laugh about it. When I'm feeling down, I just google "infertility humor" and find gems like this:

I guess, through the past few years of infertility, I have learned these two things:

1. You cannot plan your life around something that hasn't happened. We married young and thought we would become parents when we were 25 (Ha! Now I am grateful that we have gotten to experience things we wouldn't have if we would have had a child by now). I didn't quit a job that I no longer enjoyed because I thought I would hold out until I had a baby. When we were offered years ago to move to London or Paris, we didn't, because we knew we'd have a baby soon. There were countless times when we nearly moved out to the suburbs because we really thought we would have a family shortly after. Then, thank God, we figured out that we cannot just wait around and make choices for something that might not ever happen! I quit my job and went to a school that I loved working at, and then we made the bold decision to move here! It is a great feeling taking control of your happiness when you CAN'T control having a baby.

2. You cannot let your own challenges make you unhappy for others around you. Not going to lie- it is very, very hard when people close to you have no problem becoming pregnant. But you have to be happy for them. Some people are just blessed with getting pregnant with no troubles, just like I was blessed to find my husband at an early age, just like others are blessed with finding a job that they love, just like others are blessed with great health, etc etc. I have to daily be grateful for everything wonderful in my life, and that makes the whole infertility thing seem not that bad and allows for me to truly, honestly, be so happy for others who are pregnant!

So, to end this long post, let me tell you how the conversation ended with my little friend.

Him: Then you need to go to the doctor. You know, doctors can fix that and give you a baby.
Me: I know and I have and I will again, but it is very expensive (and lots of times doesn't work)!
Him: That doesn't matter. If having a baby is your dream, then it is worth it.

When people can't get pregnant on their own, "What to do next?" is a very tough question to ask. I know before we realized we had this problem, it seemed so easy to tell couples to "just adopt" or "just do IVF" or "you're young- just keep trying". But really, it is SUCH a personal decision and really, no body has any right to tell an infertile couple what they think they should do next and when they should do it. With that being said, our plan is to keep enjoying this season of travelling for as long as we can, and when we move back to Houston if it STILL hasn't happened yet (statics show you have a 2% chance of getting pregnant on your own after 2 years of trying), then we will pull out the big guns and seek the more expensive fertility treatments.

Okay, that was very cathartic and I thank you for reading my story. I hope, if you are experiencing this same monster, you now know that you are not alone and I would love to hear your experience, too. Also, let me just note that I recognize it could be worse. Some of you reading might have had miscarriages, might have endometriosis, might have complications making a pregnancy absolutely out of the question, and just know that I think that really sucks and I am very, very sorry. And please, if you were lucky enough to not have to go through this struggle, don't do this:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Austin Girl's Weekend

Oh my! It sure is hard to blog with a full time job :-P I have been trying to find the time to sit down and write about my last weekend spent in Austin, but between work and overbooking my week, I have barely had time to check Facebook, let alone blog!

Since going to Galveston last week, my life has been gogogo and I have definitely broken in my new car. Last Friday, I went straight from work to Lindsay's house right outside of Austin. She is near and dear to my heart. In the past year, she has moved from the Heights to Austin, gotten pregnant, and now has a 2 month old son named Jack!

 Baby Jack is just so "chill"and was such a good boy! He rarely cries and mostly just smiles, sleeps, and looks around the room with his big baby blues.

 I had found this beer at Specs that I LOVED in Amsterdam called Choffee. I brought some for Lindsay to try, and we ended up having her husband, Andrew, take dorky pictures of us consuming it. I really just wanted to spend time with Lindsay and not do anything too crazy, and that we did! A little poker, some good food, a swing on the hammock, walk to the pool, and of course copious amounts of wine made for an awesome 24 hours together.

I left Lindsay's around 2 to head off to one of my other BFF's, Anneke's house. We were going to be each other's date to our friend Lauren's wedding, because let's face it, we knew we would have more fun with each other than our husbands at a wedding!

 It was SO nice getting to see so many old faces at Lauren's wedding. Cannot believe that it has been  nearly 6 years since we graduated! It made my heart so full to see how great everyone seems to be doing and getting to catch up.

Anneke and I had talked about going out after the wedding, but I really just wanted to sit in her house and talk in our PJs! I really wasn't up for doing anything Austin-y while in Austin. I just wanted to talk to two friends I hadn't seen in a long time. You don't realize how important it is to have people that really, truly know you until you are an ocean away and don't really have that at your fingertips.

 Before heading back to Houston on Sunday, Anneke and I went to "Sandy's" aka Sandra Bullocks little bistro and had the BEST french toast in the history of all breakfasty foods. Then Anneke showed me her office- it is in the heart of Austin and has panoramic views of the whole city. Very Fancy. 

It was hard leaving Austin, but I am thankful that seeing some of my bffs is only a 3 hour car ride away! Love you girls! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Galveston Girls Gone Wild- Curry Edition

Everyone has a little town they grew up going to that brings them so much nostalgia. Mine is Galveston. We went to this little island an hour outside of Houston every single summer and often times spring growing up, and memories just come flooding in every time I go back. The same restaurants and shops I went to as a kid are still there. The people of Galveston are the same as people were from back when I can remember, with neon tank tops, tanned leather skin, Texas flags standing proudly in their yards. If you aren;t from Texas, you would probably go to Galveston and declare it a crap town. But people from Houston especially have a special fondness for this coastal town. 

My mom's sister Mary has a STUNNING, HGTV worthy bay house in Galveston and invited all of us gals over for a girl's trip. My mom is one of 5 sisters, and they were all there, plus the head of the roost, Gigi, and most of my girl cousins (although we really wished Hailey and Tiffany could be there). I was so excited because A. I hadn't seen them since Christmas! And B. I start work today and this was the perfect little fun getaway I needed before getting started. 
 We met at a cute little restaurant called Farley Girls on Tuesday, and then walked the strand for a bit before heading to Mary's house. We immediately put on our swim suits and became sunbathing beauties, before us younger chicks tried out the paddle board.

 Cousin Kayla was the first to give it a go and she made it look so easy! She was our coach, since she'd done this before.
 At first, it was a bit harder than I thought it would be keeping balance, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy peasy. You also have to get over any fears of falling in the water- it'll probably happen or almost happen a few times until you get the balance.


 I was more into trying to headstand on the board after seeing cool shot of this online. I fell my first try, but got it my second. Holy abs, they are still sore from trying this.
 My younger sister Madeline gave it a go, but wasn't quite ready to stand up yet. I'm proud of her for trying!

After our swim, Mary took us on a golf cart ride around her neighborhood. Are there any golf courses in this neck of the woods? No. But does everyone drive around in a golf cart? Absolutely. And Mary's golf cart is like none other- it fit almost all of us! 
 Keepin' it classy with my glass of Rose on the back of the golf cart.
We got home, Mary made some delicious crab cakes, and we talked and looked at old pictures until close to midnight. 

The next morning (I SOOOOO wish I took pictures) Kayla, Madeline, and I rode bikes. Madeline's had a baby seat on the back, mine had flat tires, and Kayla got the cool bike. We rode on the beach, which is easier said than done, and we ALL fell over into the sand a few times before Kayla declared "Ima Walker! I'mmmm a walker!"

We had some scrumptious pasta salad and shrimp thai salad courtesy of my mom and sister before heading out to a friend's pool. 
 At the pool, I realized I only had one pad in my bathing suit top (and it happened to be all wonky and folded over), so I discretely took it out and left it on the table. We kept hearing the rest of the time there "Who's pad is this? Is someone missing a pad?" When I admitted it was my pad, my family kept trying to find the other pad. We thought we saw it on the way home, but it was a false alarm. Oh well!
For some reason when we gals get together, we end up being about 500x hungrier than normal and eat snacks all day. I'm not complaining! 

 We found this HILARIOUS picture of me looking at Megan's booty. I wish we could go back in time the 24 years ago this picture was taken and figure out what the heck we were doing!

My trip had to end Wednesday night after dinner at the marina, since I work today! I'm sad I had to leave early, but thankful for the time we got to spend together. Too many laughs, good eats, and drinks. I love my Curry girls!
 My mom, sister and me :-)

 Cheers to a fantastic girls trip! Love you ladies!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Last week, I had my mom, Mimi, Aunt Lydia, and Aunt Dianne over for an easy lunch. Everyone brought something as a small hosting wine (gone), panties (my mom- don't ask), and strawberry pie (halfway gone).

 My Aunt Dianne, along with some beautiful handpicked flowers from her garden, also brought a bagful of herbs.

 The herbs were intended for everyone to share, but I somehow ended up with all of them! I didn't want them to go to waste, so I quickly went to cooking...and I think I came up with some pretty yummy concoctions!

Rosemary and Basil Chicken
Handful of basil
Handful of Rosemary
Squirt of mayo
Squirt of Mustard
Juice of a lemon
Couple of gurgles of olive oil
Chicken breasts
 This was literally me just throwing random stuff together. In a food processor, I pureed the herbs, mayo, mustard, lemon juice, and olive oil. I salted the chicken, put the paste on top, and cooked it at 400 for 40 minutes. Easy peasy!

Mint Chocolate Ice Cream- from David Lebovitz 
How I loveeeeee mint chocolate chip ice cream. It is my favorite! And side note- I do like it to be that pretty pastely green color. But, when making homemade mint ice cream with actual mint leaves, it is just an ever so slight green-yellow color. Not so pretty. But really good! 

Holy COW was this stuff worth all of the fuss. First I had to heat up the cream, sugar, and mint. Then I had to let it sit. Then I had to squeeze the mint to get all of the juices out. Then I had to mix it with egg yolks and heat it up. Then I had to refrigerate it. Then I had to churn it. Then I had to melt dark chocolate and scribble it into the ice cream. Whew! 
I opened the lid to take a picture, and my senses were immediately bombarded with minty chocolaty deliciousness. So I had to have a bite. Or seven.
Side note- ice cream made with actual mint leaves does taste different than store bought mint ice cream that is usually flavored with mint extract. It really does have an herbal, almost wood-like after taste. Think of eating an actual mint leaf, vs a peppermint. I loved it, Daniel was weirded out by it though. More for me! 

Basil Watermelon Popsicle 
Few sprigs of Basil
Watermelon (I used probably 1.5 cups)
Optional- Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka

I impulse bought some popsicle molds the other day at World Market- I blame it on all of these enticing popsicle recipes I keep pinning on Pinterest! I simply pureed the watermelon, basil, and about a cup of vodka. Poured it in the molds and froze for a few hours. This recipe is so could omit the basil or substitute mint instead. You could use any fruit you have on hand. Watermelon is so watery, that it doesn't actually need a liquid to be mixed with, but if you were using berries, I think hibiscus tea would be a good base. 

I love my husband. He usually raves about my kitchen creations, but when he doesn't like something, he really let's it be known, often in a hilarious way. After his first try, he told me it tasted like a salad popsicle. He wanted to give it another go, then proceeded to wash out his mouth and declare that it tasted like watermelon pasta. So, yes, this is interesting. I liked it, but it's not for everyone. I think next time I'll use less basil :-P 

All of this herb cooking has really made me want to start growing the herbs that I use nearly daily for my cooking- dill, chives, oregano, parsley. I've heard countless times that it is so easy. I'm starting with cilantro, and if that goes well, I'll buy some more seeds. If you have any pointers, feel free to give me some advice! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

White Linen Night

This past Saturday was the 8th annual White Linen Night in the Heights. It's described as a huge neighborhood block party...shops have their doors open late, restaurants close their parking lots and put extra tables outside, there are bands playing on the street corner. It has the potential to be great, but usually it is SO crowded (over 30,000 people!) and so hot that I yearly ask myself, "Why am I here?!?"

Before we even knew White Linen Night was scheduled for that weekend, we had bought tickets to see Ben Kweller at Fitzgeralds (our neighborhood music venue). I actually wasn't planning on attending WLN, but since we were going to one of the main streets anyway, we decided to partake in the festivities.

We were headed to White Oak (6th street) and live on 16th street, so decided to walk there. Coming from London where we walked everywhere, we figured 10 blocks wouldn't be too terrible. About 3 minutes in to the walk, we were complaining that we had barely made a dent in our walk (how can we only be at 14th street?!?! I totally felt like orphans in Annie walking the 45 blocks from the orphanage to Daddy Warbucks). And then Daniel got pooped on by a bird. It was more like a bird explosion. We blame it on him throwing away this maggot-infested baby bird that a street cat left in our flower bed to die, instead of giving the said bird a proper burial. We took that as a sign we were supposed to drive, turned around, changed clothes, and drove the mile like the lazy Houstonians we are.

I say this every year, and I'll say it again. I DON'T GET WHITE LINEN NIGHT! Maybe it's because the Heights is my home, but why go out on this one scalding, packed night when I can go to Onion Creek any other night and actually sit at a table? I do 19th street once a week...I am not going to even think of going into one of those shops when I am pretty sure 300 fire code violations are being broken. I'm going to sound like a Heights snob, but I kinda miss the days when we first moved here and people thought the Heights was a dangerous no man's land. I didn't need a reservation anywhere. Didn't have to wait at the 11th street light for 3 go's before getting to drive through the green. Didn't have young fratty neighbors playing the drums at midnight. With that being said, I am happy that the Heights is the place to be, with so many new shops and restaurants popping up because of the extra attention given to it.

We ended up eating at Taco Nut food truck because every other restaurant was either jam packed or not even serving food. Fitzgerald's was awesome. I hadn't listened to Ben Kweller in about 10 years, but he and Austin's Amy Cook put on a great show.

We ended our night going to 16th's street Alice's Tall Texan. It is a 40 year old hole in the wall, cash only, beer joint where they only serve Shiner or Lone Star in a frozen goblet for $2.50. We could actually sit at a table and I think we were the only English speakers there, let along the only people dressed in white linen. At least Alice's hasn't been touched by the fancy shmamcy (yet).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Prague with the Bro

Hello! Last vacay post....then I don't quite know what I will write about any more! 

My brother arrived in London while I was still in Santorini. Thankfully, Daniel was there to meet him at the train station and show him the ropes of London. I got home from Greece on a Tuesday night around midnight, and the next day at 11 am we were off to the airport for Prague! I could pretty much navigate the airport with my eyes closed at this point! 

 We got some yoga bunny detox drink (basically ginger ale...but the name had us sold) and were off without a hitch!

 Our flat in Old Town Square was odd but great! We each had our own bedroom and shared a bathroom...and only paid $40 a night! Prague was dirt cheap which made it all the better. But I say our flat was odd, because it kind of smelled like cats and we didn't have normal pillows- I had throw pillows, and Gregory had what I call bean bag pillows.
 We were a cartwheel away from the astronomical clock, so we knocked that out first thing. Every hour when it goes off, the little doors open and figures of the 12 apostles come out and circle around the clock. It was neat!

All of the churches in Prague were over the top. Most of them had nightly classical concerts and we went to one featuring a organist, violinist, and vocalist. It was an incredible experience listening to Beethoven and Mozart in a church older than the USA.

Probably our favorite thing about Prague was their Viennese coffee. It was delicious- half coffee, half whipped cream. We were only in Prague for two mornings, but you better believe that was the first thing we did once we woke up! 

 For our full day in Prague, we walked over the Charles Bridge to tour the castle. When you hear "Castle", you probably think palace. But actually, a castle includes much more than just that- we got to see the cathedral, the homes where workers used to live, old shops, and the actual palace.

 I believe the cathedral was around 1000 years old. I've seen more cathedrals than I can remember during our stint in Europe, but they are always impressive.

The castle is on a hill, so we had the best views of all of the red roofs. So pretty! I think I have to give Prague the title of being the most beautiful city I saw while in Europe. It was definitely the cleanest- not any graffiti or litter in sight! The buildings are all so colorful, too- you have a pink building next to a green next to a yellow next to a blue. It didn't even feel like a real city, it was so beautiful and clean. We kind of felt like we were walking around Disneyworld!

 For some reason, I didn't take any pics of the rest of the castle...but I do have a ton of pictures of the statue with a golden package. It was in front of the palace, and since being around your sibling makes you suddenly have the maturity of a 12 year old, we couldn't stop laughing at it!

 Gregory likes sneak attacking people with the camera when they aren't looking. I was caught being a tourist, trying to figure out where the infamous peeing fountain is located.

Found it! It is so much better in person. They are standing in a pool shaped like the Czech Republic. And their hips AND weewee moves while water comes out of it. Gosh, I feel dirty just typing that. And I have mentioned a man's nether regions way too many times in this post!
 When we weren't drinking Viennese coffee, we were drinking beer. It was cheap and good! You could get a beer for around $2 at most places.
 Marionettes are a big thing in Prague. Puppet shops are everywhere! They are all beautifully hand painted, but a bit creepy for my taste.

 We later took a river cruise. It was meh and I wouldn't recommend taking one, although it was nice sitting down for a bit.

There was also tons of music, which I can always appreciate. Not only would people play on the streets, there were also lots of jazz cafes. And if you go towards the end of the band's set, you don't have to pay a cover charge.

We absolutely loved Prague and I will  treasure the memories of my first vacation with just my brother. There wasn't tons to do there, but it was a great city to walk around in, enjoy a lazy lunch, and shop around.


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