28 February 2011

from Epiphany epiphany to Valentine's heartbreak

I was really hoping to share some good news with you all a few weeks back.

Don't congratulate me yet.  Keep reading.
On January 6, I took my first-ever pregnancy test, and it came out positive!  I started mentally rearranging furniture, calculating the due date (Sep. 10), and figuring out when I'd have to start changing my workout routines.

We hadn't told anyone, not even our parents, about the pregnancy, and were just waiting on that first ultrasound to confirm our our good news.  But then that good news turned into "might be bad" news, so I waited.  And on Valentine's Day, it officially turned into bad news.

The first ultrasound on Monday, Feb. 7.  I was 9 weeks along, a number I was almost sure of because I do actually track these things.  I remember the hope I had going into that appointment with B by my side.  When the little blob came up on the screen, I even started talking to it.  However, the doctors were perplexed because our little "fetal pole" was only measuring at 6 weeks.  And it wasn't flashing, which would indicate a heartbeat.  They sent me down to the radiology department because they have the best equipment, and I got another ultrasound.  B wasn't allowed in the room with me, and the screen was turned away so I couldn't see it.  The ultrasound tech obviously wasn't allowed to answer any of my questions (does it look good?  is there a heartbeat?), simply responding, "I can't tell you; the doctor has to analyze it."  She did tell me that she took at least 100 pictures.

We went back up to my family practice doctor and waited on the results.  We'd been at the hospital all morning by this point, B in uniform and me feeling guilty for keeping him away from work all morning.  The doctor finally called us in, and he was empty-handed.  He told us the other ultrasound still measured at 6 weeks, and that no cardiac activity could be detected.  Basically, he prepared us for a miscarriage.  After answering a few more questions, he left us to cry it out for a bit.  I can't even explain to you the sadness in my heart at that moment.

A nurse came in to get a blood sample so they could get a quantitative number on my hCG (hormone level).  If that number didn't go up in the course of a week, that meant definite miscarriage.  That Friday, I pretty much got my answer as my body was starting the process. It looked like a period.  B came home to find me in tears because I just knew.

My blood test confirmed the miscarriage on Valentine's Day, as my hCG number had dropped.  I asked the doctor if I could just let my body take care of this since it had already started.  He told us the signs to look for and the issues that would require an ER visit.  At that point, I was actually feeling good in the physical sense.  Two days later, however, was one of the most painful days of my life.  I was out and about doing things and knew something was off and I was hurting, so I took some pain meds (worthless at this point).  I went into a CVS, only to find an 'out of order' sign on the bathroom.  I was in so much pain I could hardly walk, but I got back to my car and drove across the street to a Walgreen's.  B was at work, nobody knew where I was, and nobody in the vicinity cared as I spent thirty excruciating minutes stuck in the handicapped stall at the drug store.

Remember this outfit picture?  It was taken only a few hours before the 'main event.'  I definitely didn't look as happy that night.  (And I changed into lounge pants.)

I finally mustered enough strength to leave the store, still clutching my stomach.  Any other time, I would have been grazing over the discount Valentine's candy trying to find a bargain, but not today.  I called B to tell him what was happening, and then I got my streets mixed up on my way home because the pain was clouding my thinking (and I've only lived here 6 months).  I was so thankful to come home so I could lie down and just be miserable.  That whole afternoon and night is a blur, but I do remember calling my mother to tell her the news, and then almost immediately after hanging up, I had another big round of cramps/contractions and that's when I think I passed my "fetal pole."  Physically, I immediately felt my body relax and the cramps subsided to more of a dull pain.  That night, I slept better than I had in almost a week.  Emotionally, it was up and down and will probably continue to be for a while.

The very same week all this was going on, four (yes, 4!) of my friends announced their pregnancies.  And I found myself genuinely happy for them.  Not jealous, not mad at God, just happy.  I know that one day it will work out for us, but this one just was not meant to be.  So many women miscarry (15-20% of detected pregnancies end in a first trimester miscarriage), and we just never hear about it--until it happens to you, then you find out that you're in good company with your aunt or friend or cousin or whomever.  Maybe because it's messy, maybe because it's emotional, I'm  not quite sure.  But I'm not ashamed to talk about it.  I don't feel any blame, guilt, or embarrassment, and I have absolutely no fears about being able to carry to term in the future.

If you've been paying attention, you'll realize that we had a weekend trip planned during the time this was happening.  We did go to New Orleans during the tail-end of the miscarriage, and all was mostly fine and we enjoyed ourselves.  The doctor told me not to drink though, as to not "cloud the issue" (and my stomach was cramping still), so I'm pretty sure I was the only sober one on Bourbon Street that Saturday night.  I've now decided that the Mardi Gras parade we watched would have only made sense if we had started drinking at 9am like everyone else.

I'll leave you today with a few pictures from our New Orleans trip and a wonderful verse from the book of Job that has really spoken to me lately.
"The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!"
In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.   Job 1:21-22 
Beignets and hot cocoa at Cafe Du Monde; B and I overlooking the Cathedral; the fun and historic French Quarter

21 February 2011

music monday: presidents day edition

Oh yes, people, I'm going there.  Funny how I didn't post love songs for the holiday last week, but this week I'm on board!

How about a little ditty about James K. Polk from They Might Be Giants?  It's not the catchiest or their best nerd-rock song or anything, but thanks to this number, I've always remember Polk is the 11th president.  And something about Manifest Destiny.

And it just wouldn't be right to not listen to this Animaniacs song today!  It obviously needs to be updated with the most recent two, but it's got most of them.

Happy Presidents Day!

18 February 2011

millie fillie on my way to NOLA

Yep, that's right, folks! B and I are headed to New Orleans this weekend. We'll be taking in a Mardi Gras parade, going to a piano bar, and eating our weight in beignets at Café Du Monde.  He's never been, and it's been 8 years since my last visit, so I'm excited!

In the meantime, I leave you with the weekly Milspouse Friday Fill-In.

Linky at Wife of a Sailor

1.  What is your favorite MilSpouse blog (not including Wife of a Sailor who we all love, or your own)? submitted by Our Crazy Life   
You're asking me to pick a favorite?  This is really tough.  I feel like there's about 10 that I really "connect" with in a way where I feel like I know them personally.  I like Many Waters a lot because we have a similar story and both did our own thing out in the world (me: AmeriCorps; her: teaching in Asia) before we married into this crazy life.  And her cats are really cute. 

On this note, I've been looking for other bloggers in Pensacola and have yet to find any.  If you know any, please tell me.  I'd love to make some other friends here. 

2.  What are your favorite perks about your s/o being deployed (we all know there are perks)? submitted by Ramblings of a Marine Wife 
Setting my own schedule and traveling -- I love accompanying my mom's business trips.  I also can cook once and have it last a week.  And in a weird way, I liked the not-getting-email ("blackout") part of the sub deployments.  I wasn't constantly checking email hoping for it and then getting let down.  I also couldn't blame B for not sending me stuff!

3.  How long did you date your husband before getting engaged? Married? submitted by Utterly Chaotic 
We dated just over 2 years before getting engaged, and got married right around the 3 year mark.  The Catholic Church would approve.

4.  What do you think your husband would do if s/he wasn’t in the military? submitted by Adventures of M-Squared 
Well, this will be answered by the end of 2012 since he's separating!  He's already been contacted and started the process with a head-hunting/recruiter agency.  He has a degree in Electrical Engineering from a school people dream of going to as little kids, so he'll definitely be doing some type of engineering. 

5.  If you could talk to the Secretary of the Navy what is one suggestion you would like to bring to their attention in order to improve the lives of military families?  submitted by My Life as His (Air Force) Wife
I'm having a tough time answering this one, especially because any changes now won't really affect us personally.  Although--some may or may not agree with this--I think that your BAH should increase a bit based on how many dependents you have.  I find it a bit hard to reconcile that we get the same allowance for just the 2 of us as someone the same rank with 4 kids.  Granted, something like this would probably shoot us in the foot, as we bank a lot of BAH a month so they could just give us less.  Ah, well, by 2013 he'll have a job that doesn't allot for that, and we'll just have to figure out how much we should be paying on our own like most normal people do.

16 February 2011

all dressed up: the fabulous blue trench

Linking up once again with No Model Lady.
I get more compliments on my fabulous blue (teal?) trench coat than any other piece in my wardrobe.  Seriously, every time I wear it, someone says something.  And I wear it a lot, as it's the perfect weather for it here in north Florida right now--it's "spring" already!  60 degrees and sunny, no humidity yet.  (And to think that just last week, it was "winter.")

Top: Forever 21 (I miss that place!  There aren't any around here.)
Pants: Old Navy
Shoes: Jellypop at Shoe Carnival
Watch: Fossil from the NEX
Necklace: Body Central
Jacket: XOXO from TJMaxx(?)

Also, here's a close-up of the fun detailing on the trench.  I love this coat!  (And I'm pretty sure it loves me back.)

14 February 2011

music monday: currently on the radio

One of my favorite songs currently on the radio is "Grenade" by Bruno Mars.

I love the fact that he can actually SING (something that seems to missing on the radio these days), and I love the build-up of the refrain that culminates in the heart-wrenching resolution of "but you won't do the same." So beautiful, so tragic. I can't help but sing along.

And Bruno, you're not alone.  As Charlie Brown once put it, "Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love."

(EDIT: I wrote this post earlier in the weekend, before I even realized the Grammy's were airing on Sunday night.  Did you see Bruno Mars perform this song last night in the style of an old Motown group?  I mean, he changed up the melody, but he proved he could sing--for the most part--and I just loved the idea of the performance.  I guess I'm just lovin' me some throwback stuff lately.  Well, me and everyone else, it seems!)

Switching gears here, let's talk about one of the more ridiculous songs on the radio:

"Black and Yellow" by Wiz Khalifa.  I had to get B to explain it to me that he was talking about his car.  So then, of course, I had to make fun of B's grandpa car (Buick Century).  If there were a song about his car, it would go, "Beige.  Beige.  Beige."  Now every time this song comes on, I sing that to B.  Haha.

I really hate songs about conspicuous consumption.  And that's pretty much all that horrid song is.  C'mon, people, there are other things to write about.  Like, uh, the following.  Here are two song lyrics currently on the radio that make me laugh every time I hear them:
  • "The square root of 69 is 8-somethin', right?" - "What's My Name?" by Rihanna featuring Drake.  The first time I heard this, I was in the car with B and we both just burst out laughing.  In case you're wondering, the square root of 69 is technically 8.3066.  At least Drake was close.
  • "Baby you the whole package, plus you pay your taxes." - "Nothin' On You" by B.O.B.  Hey, I'm no stranger to making sure a partner is fiscally responsible at the onset of a relationship, but I never thought about writing it into a song!
What's your favorite song on the radio right now?  And for you Grammy-watchers, what was your favorite performance last night?  I think I'll stick with Bruno Mars on this one, with Cee Lo Green/Gwyneth as runner-up for sheer memorability's sake.  (If you didn't watch, just trust me and google it.)

10 February 2011

menu planning, W-style

Something I've worked hard at since getting married was learning how to menu plan. There must be  something about ensuring the health of another human being that made me want to take it a bit seriously.  Plus, I hate eating fast food (although I crave it often!), and I also hate breaking the budget with dinners out or even those frozen meals.  (The cheap ones ain't healthy, that's for sure.)  My sister keeps telling me that once I have kids, it'll be different and we'll live off of fast food.  (B and I only eat fast food when we're traveling, honestly.)  And my sis also claims that since I don't work, I have time to menu plan.  But I think that now that I've gotten the ball rolling, I should be able to stick with this, come kids or career.  I like keeping our Sundays low-key anyway, and that seems like a pretty good time to block off a half an hour or so to do it.

In addition to being a cheapskate, I hate going to the store (especially the dreaded co-misery commissary).  So the more I plan, the less I have to go.  (And I'm SURE I'll especially hate going to the store once I have to tote along a few little sticky-fingered brats munchkins.)  Luckily for me, B eats almost anything, including leftovers.  That means that I can plan out for 10 meals and it can easily stretch us 20-25 days.  I cook about 3 meals a week, each of which we eat for at least 2 days, and then we go out to eat about once a week and often bring home leftovers.  (In the interest of full disclosure, B's monthly work trip does help stretch the plan out further since I go back to pretending to eat like a single girl again during those few days.)  I went on my big grocery trip on Jan. 4 and didn't go back for a big one again until Jan. 30.  I'm not kidding!  We basically just replenish our milk and banana supply once a week and that's it.

On each meal plan, I always mix it with a few favorites and a few new recipes.  One thing I'm glad that I've done is make a "recipe repertoire."  This handy list frees up space in my brain for more important things, like the quadratic formula (x=‐b/2a ± √(b²-4ac)/2a) or the gestation period of an elephant (22 months).  At the front of my cookbook from friends and family given to me at my bridal shower, I added a page that just lists every meal that I know I'm comfortable making, including the basics.  It's less than 40 right now because I didn't learn to cook until adulthood, but when I really nail something new, I add it.  It's also just a list of guide points, if you want to think of it that way (one entry just says "spaghetti/pasta" -- heaven knows where I can go from there). 

So I use my favorite cookbooks (always my shower one with the repertoire and my Betty Crocker) and scour the index or just see what catches my eye.  I also give consideration to the ones I've saved online, and then just start writing down the ones I want to do.  I read a really good tip on one blog that said only to pull out 2-3 cookbooks so you don't get overwhelmed.  I think the hardest part is balancing out our meals, since I pretty much love anything and everything with ground beef and tomatoes in it.  But I don't want to eat that every day for a month, so I have to stretch a bit.  Lately, I've been making sure to add at least one or two crock pot recipes to my meal plan.  Also, when I realized how everything I know how to make contains meat, I've decided to do at least one vegetarian night per plan.

I think the best thing about my menu plans is that they aren't attached to hard-and-fast dates.  I basically just put the list up on our white board, shop for all of them at once and freeze most of it, and then cross off the meals as I make them.  Yes, this requires deciding the day before the meal which meat to move from the freezer to the fridge for thawing, but it sure as heck beats the daily "What should we have for dinner?" conversation I've heard both my mother and MIL have numerous times.  Sometimes meals on the list never actually happen, but that's alright.  I'm not a gourmet chef (and I'm not even trying to pretend I'm anywhere close), so there's probably a good reason we skipped it.  Maybe next time.  Or maybe never.

This plan got us all the way through January, but I never did make the stew or the desserts!
I know once our family size does grow, I'll be shopping more often, but I definitely don't want it to be a daily thing!  I also better learn how to make big batches of dinner, so I can stretch those leftovers.  I don't like cooking enough to make it a daily chore activity.

And if you're really at a loss and in a time-crunch, try this awesome website called Supercook.com.  I actually had thought of this idea a few years back, and I'm so glad someone who knew what they were doing made it happen.  You can just enter what you already have in your pantry, and it will give you recipes to make using those.  Voilà, no trip to the store for you!  (You always spend more money than you planned on anyway, right?) 

Do you menu plan?  And how long does each plan last?

09 February 2011

dressy casual: north Florida winter version

I don't get dressy much these days except for church-goin', so I love it when I actually look good and feel pretty!  And when my hair decides to have a god day.

Link up at No Model Lady

Sweater and jeans: Old Navy
Shoes: American Eagle at Payless
Necklace:  Blue Lagoon at Navy Exchange 

Now I just need to work on my modeling poses . . .

04 February 2011

millie fillie once again

1. Since most of the country has had nasty weather, what has your weather been like this week?
I'm a re-adapted Florida weather wimp, so I've been COLD!  It got down into the 30's when I came home from choir practice last night, and it's been raining.  I actually busted out my heaviest coat (only one with a hood), which I thought I had only reserved for trips.  Well, at least we don't have any snow.  The day I learn how to shovel snow will probably be the worst day of my life!

2. What is/are your best money saving tip(s)?
Planning, planning, planning.  Plan your meals out (I'll be posting my method for this next week), shop with a list, and don't buy anything else.  Also, avoid credit card debt--it's the worst kind!  If you don't pay off your card in full every month, that $50 sweater is gonna end up costing you WAY more than it was ever worth.  And the bottom line: live beneath your means.  Just because you got it doesn't mean you gotta spend it.

3. What was your favorite vehicle you’ve ever owned??
Well, I've only owned one car, Ginny my 2008 Corolla.  She's fab.  My runner-up is my old bicycle that I used to get around Jax when I lived there.  I hope the jackass who stole it off the porch is treating it well.

4. What is a question you’d like to see asked in a future fill-in? (Your question & blog just may appear one week!)
If you were a breakfast cereal, which one would you be?

5. Fill in the blank: You might be a MilSpouse if….
(I will be including some of your answers in a future post (with a link to your blog, of course!)

You might be a MilSpouse if… when you hear a civilian gal whining about her husband being gone on a business trip for a few days and babbling on about how she misses him so terribly even though he texts her throughout the day and calls her every night, your eyes get kinda squinty and you look away and keep your mouth shut because your mama told you that if you can't say something nice, don't say it.  But you're really thinking to yourself, "ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?!?!?!"

02 February 2011

wordless wednesday: views from the top

I had the great blessing a few weeks back to accompany my husband on his once-a-month trip to our nation's capital. Because I went during a non-touristy time, I was able to easily get a ticket to the top of the Washington Monument and take in the splendor that is the District of Columbia.

Got my ticket for "WAMO" and now waiting for 9am in the freezing wind!

Looking west to the reflecting pool, Lincoln Memorial, and other monuments
(If the pic looks blurry, click on it.  I just got a new camera, so if anything, it's Blogger's fault!)

looking north to the Ellipse and the White House (backside of smaller circle)

super-duper close-up of the White House.  my new camera rocks!

shadow from 500 feet up