J’s Tangled Birthday Party Part II: Party Time

TangledCollageAnother Throwback Thursday classic that I neglected to post in all my home renovation frenzy.  In my last post, I detailed all the behind the scenes work- invitations, decorations and activity prep.  Now, I’ll tell you how the day actually went.  I couldn’t have been more pleased!  I scaled down on the guest list a little after last year’s rare freezing temps forced our party inside, and I discovered just how chaotic a kid’s bday party can be.  Fortunately, we were blessed with beautiful weather and the perfect amount of guests.

As guests trickled in, I sat them in the dining room and allowed the kids to work on beautifying their Rapunzel hair or viking hats.  This activity was a hit with both the kids and parents. In fact, I had a hard time getting them to stop and actually eat lunch!

Speaking of eating. Party food is very important, and I wish I had better documented this part. If memory serves me correctly, on the Snuggling Duckly menu that day was:

  • Snuggly Duckling Snacks (fruit, cheese and crackers served in a frying pan, of course)
  • Spinach dip and pita crackers
  • Pascal’s pizza
  • Baked Ziti
  • Rapunzel’s Baked Braids
  • Magic Flower Punch (Lemonade)

For dessert, we had:

  • Rapunzel’s Licorice Braids
  • Mother Gothel’s Macarons
  • Rapunzel’s Favorite Hazlenut Pie
  • Cupcakes
  • Princess fruit snacks

But first, I allowed the kids to run off some steam.  This is essential to avoiding party meltdowns.  We started off inside by pinning the nose on Flynn Rider.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the movie, before Flynn meets Rapunzel, he is a petty thief and complains they never get his nose right in wanted posters.  I was able to snag this Flynn Rider Wanted poster from Amaye Clyne on Deviant Art. I then took it to Office Depot to have it made into an engineering print. (FYI- I took it to Fedex Kinkos first and they absolutely refused to print it for me because it is a Disney character. It’s a birthday party people!) I then printed a set of noses from everyonecandraw.net. Would you believe that one of the boys pinned the nose right in the center on the first try!

Next, we went outside and played “Catch the Chameleon.” I found multi-colored glow in the dark lizards at the dollar store and bought several packages. I scattered these all over the backyard and the kids had to collect as many lizards as they could. This was in reference to start of the Tangled movie where Rapunzel and Pascal play hide and seek together.

Our last activity was to get “Tangled Up” in Rapunzel’s hair.  I gave the kids several rolls of yellow streamer and watched in amusement as they wrapped each other up in it. Leave it to the boys to add a slight safety risk to this game.  I caught one of them wrapping it around a friend’s neck.  Thankfully, streamers are easy to rip off!

Finally, it was time for cake and the end of a long and exciting afternoon.


On the way out, we took pictures of all the kids in a cardboard cut-out Flynn Rider poster that my husband made using a second copy of the same engineering print.  I thought the pics would be great to print out with Thank You cards. Unfortunately, I never got around to printing them, but they were kinda silly. For favors, we sent  all our budding new artists home with watercolors. All in all, it was a great day!


Until the next party- Juliette’s Frozen 5th!

J’s Tangled Birthday Party Part I: Party Prep


After a six month absence, I make my return to blogging with this oldie but goodie just in time for Throwback Thursday. Like most four year old girls, my J is princess-obsessed.  For her 4th birthday, she requested a Rapunzel theme, and we had a lot of fun with it. If you have not seen the movie Tangled, you will now be enlightened…

First up was the invitations. As always, I found a lot of inspiration via the lovely ladies of Pinterest. Please check out my inspiration board here. I knew I wanted to make a Rapunzel tower invite with hair hanging down from the tower.  I searched for a template to make my job easier, but could not find one to suite my needs.  So I drew one and scanned it to my mobile phone with CamScanner. I uploaded it to Scribd so you can feel free to borrow it.

Next, I created my invitation text in Google Docs, cut and pasted it onto the template and scanned it again with CamScanner. I would have just photocopied it, but I was printing on heavy card stock, and it kept jamming the printer :) I used yellow embroidery floss to make Rapunzel’s hair and cut out glittery purple triangles for the tower roof. Here is my final product.  This went A LOT quicker than last year’s Dora Backpacks.


Next, I moved onto party favors.  There would be a mix of boys and girls in attendance: Princesses vs. Ruffians if you will. For the princesses, I made Rapunzel hair by braiding yellow yarn, attaching it to elastic headbands and adorning the headbands with flowers. The idea was to create an activity to allow the girls to decorate the hair with flowers like Rapunzel wears in the movie. The best tutorial I found for making the hair is found here, and this is the method I used. I placed the chairs at least 5 ft apart for a long braid to go on my front door, and moved them closer in to make hair for the girls (they are little after all). I had a bunch of braids to make, so it was quite a bit more time consuming than I had originally anticipated.


Once, I had all my braids completed, each had an end with a loop and a cut end representing the tail of the braid. I bought colorful elastic headbands at the dollar store and simply centered the headband below the loop, threaded the tail through the loop and this secured the braid to the headband. I then glued on felt flowers to the part of the headband that would be visible at the crown of each girl’s head. Here is my daughter showing off hers.


For my Ruffians, I made Viking hats. In Tangled, Flynn takes Rapunzel to a bar called The Ugly Duckling. Its occupants most closely resemble vikings.  I made my Viking hats out of cereal boxes and card stock using the tutorial here. I wish I had saved my template for you as it took a few tries to get it right.  The most time consuming part was wrapping the cardboard with duck tape. If I had silver spray paint on hand, I might have gone that route instead. Hind sight is always 20/20.


I was pretty exhausted after all this crafting, but had a few party decorations to get to. For table dressings, I used dollar store plastic table cloths in purple and yellow.  J’s party falls after her birthday, and her Grammy gave her a birthday card with a very large Rapunzel poster that we hung up.


I snagged this awesome free printable Tangled pendant at Paging SuperMom, but my laser printer was running low on ink, so I hit a roadblock. Not to be totally derailed, I cut my pendants out of purple card stock and printed a sheet of tangled suns on yellow card stock (sadly the link was taken down so I cannot share this free printable with you). After a little cutting and pasting, I was back in business. I had dollar store paper lanterns left over from J’s Ariel Pool Party (where they served as jellyfish), so I repurposed them as they were originally intended. Go figure.


Lanterns are a big part of the movie Tangled. Rapunzel’s entire journey from Mother Gothel’s tower is incited by her refusal to let Rapunzel go see the lights that twinkle in the sky each year on her birthday. I came across a lot of tutorials on DIY lanterns. In the end, I went the easy route. I purchased color changing LED lights from the dollar store and pasted Tangled Suns on them. I also have this cool candle light fixture above my dining room table.  It got some Tangled suns also.

Finally, we have a transom above our front door, and I wanted to make it appear that Rapuzel was throwing her hair down from that window. I made an extra long and thick braid to hang above the door and also created a royal purple pendant with the number 4 on it celebrating J’s 4th birthday.


I was prepped and ready for this party nearly a week ahead of time, and I owe that all to the fact that J is older now and very helpful when it comes to decorating and crafting.  I am sad to see her grow up so quickly but also so proud at how far she’s come in this world.  Until next time- J’s Tangled Birthday Party Part II: Party Time- where I’ll share all the details of her very special day.

J’s Ariel Pool Party Part II: An Ocean Themed Menu

As I just threw J a Tangled themed birthday party, I thought it was high time that I publish the second half of her Ariel pool party post. I wrote it ages ago, but had not inserted all the pics. My bad. Here it is…

An Ariel pool party would not be complete without an ocean-themed menu. This party was actually a pot luck, but I have great friends who are completely on board with my crazy ideas. I came up with the following:


  • Seaweed Dip (aka Spinach Dip)
  • Goldfish, Cheese Whales and Oyster Crackers

The spinach dip, brought by my friend Julia, was a huge hit. She had a lot of requests for her recipe, which involved walking into HEB and finding the spinach dip in the refrigerated section :) And all kids love fishes, especially when there are cheese, chocolate and pretzel flavored varieties.

Main Course:

  • “Sand”-wiches including “peanut butter and jellyfish”, “hummus and sea cucumber “and “submarine” sand-wiches
  • Shell Pasta Salad (made with shell pasta, of course)
  • Seaweed Salad  (aka Mixed Greens)
  • Whale Chicken Nuggets

The pasta salad was displayed in a sand bucket, as I had seen many Pinterest ladies do. I opted not to make my guests use a shovel to scoop out the pasta. Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. Making the sandwiches fish-shaped was harder than it looked. I had a total Pinterest fail. The boys (hubby and cousin) bailed me out, toasting the bread and using a cookie cutter to carefully make each fish shape before filling with PB or hummus. The cookie cutter I used can be found here.


  • The Deep Blue Sea
  • The Red Sea

We had both adult-friendly and kid-friendly beverages. The Deep Blue Sea was actually Simply Lemonade with a few drops of blue food coloring. Thanks to my HS friend Kristi M&M for throwing a baby shower and posting to Facebook her blue punch as an inspiration. The Red Sea was sangria. I firmly believe you cannot throw a summer party without serving sangria.


  • Blue and purple cupcakes adorned with candy seashells and Ariel’s friends
  • Oyster and Pearl Macarons
  • Gummy Penguins, Shark Gummy Fruit and Swedish Fish
  • Swiss Roll Sushi

Ariel and her friends adorned the cupcakes as well as seashell candies I made with a Wilton candy mold. The Ariel figurines were purchased from Amazon and were found at a great bargain price. The candy molds were also a Pinterest fail initially, but I eventually got the hang of it. The macarons are found in the frozen section of Trader Joe’s. I carefully inserted a small pearl candy in each. Cute and yummy! I originally had plans to make rice crispy sushi, but I ran out of time. The swiss roll sushi was a quick and easy substitute.

The buffet cards were a free printable courtesy of The Suburban Mom and can be edited in Pic Monkey to reflect your personal menu. Get the free download here.

All the kids had a great time splashing around the pool and blowing bubbles on the patio after dessert. My favorite little hostess had an especially good time and informed me that next she is having a Rapunzel birthday party. Better gear up for that one! She sure is bossy :)


J’s Ariel Pool Party Part I: Invitation and Party Prep

Just as it got down to crunch time for J’s Big Birthday Adventure, she became obsessed with Disney princesses.  Suddenly, she wanted to change her theme from Dora to Ariel of the Little Mermaid.  As I had painstakingly hand-painted twenty Dora Backpacks and Diego Rescue Packs, I was not about to abandon the theme.  No way kiddo! I appeased J by promising her she could have an Ariel pool party.  At the time, I had no intention of doing anything more than inviting her cousins over and calling it a pool party.  After all, what three year old throws a pool party? #3goingon13

Then, I made the mistake of creating a Pinterest page for an Ariel-themed party, and I was hooked!  Check it out here. I saw several good ideas for a seashell invitation. Mind you, I had no need for a printed invitation. The guest list was limited to a handful of friends and classmates. An Evite  or email would surely suffice.  But the idea was too cute to pass up, so before I knew it, I was drawing a seashell template, which I photographed with my iPhone and downloaded to my laptop using an app called CamScanner.  I then added my own text and an Ariel image.  Please see my blank template below and feel free to use it for your own party:


I printed the template on lilac and light blue card stock and embellished the front of the invite with puffy paint and ribbon.

DSC_0572 DSC_0570

Yup, I was pretty proud of the way it turned out. I was on a roll and could not be stopped, so I nearly swooned when I saw this idea for paper lantern jellyfish on PartyCity.com. See instructions here.


Off to the Dollar Store I went.  I came home with all kinds of goodies including lanterns, streamers, curling ribbon and plastic tablecloths. I could not bear to cut the lantern as suggested in the instructions as  I would surely find a use for it after the party had ended.  This meant my jellyfish did not quite have the right shape, but I think they are still distinguishable as jellyfish.

J and I worked hard on a dessert table display using a blue plastic tablecloth for the ocean, a fish net and green hula skirts for seaweed. We then decorated the seaweed with fish stickers and white barnacles (mini cupcake liners). J was such a tremendous help with this art project.  She may turn out to be crafty just like her Mom and Dad.


Also pictured is a fun Sebastian felt craft found on the Disney Family website.


Finally, I wanted to make a quick and easy wreath for the front door.  I found aqua burlap at WalMart and used it to wrap a green foam wreath form to which I glued seashells, starfish and an Ariel ribbon.


Now we just had  to prepare an ocean themed menu, and we were ready for the guests to arrive.  See Part II here.


This is the final installment (for now) in my infertility series.  I have delayed in posting it because the emotion is  still raw.  I do want to pause to give thanks for the number of personal notes I have received in response to my writings.  There have been words of encouragement, stories of hope and similar struggles and gratitude for having the courage to speak out.  Writing has always been an outlet for me, and I am glad to have a made a small impact on others, if only for a moment.

For DH and me, our miscarriage experience brought to light the fact that we were “trying.” They say ignorance is bliss, and we certainly found this to be true.  We were well aware that we were taking no precautions to prevent pregnancy, and at least 15 months had passed in this manner. We probably should have been concerned, but I think it helped that we were terrified by the notion of a second child for at least half that time period.  The fact that pregnancy #2 occurred without overthinking it was, well,  lovely.

Now we were determined more than ever to give J a baby brother or sister.  I, for one, was not looking forward to “trying,” but it ended up being less stressful than I anticipated.  DH was 100% on board, and it was like an unspoken agreement between us. I charted only once to make sure my cycle had not changed.  My periods were still like clockwork every 28 days with ovulation occurring around day 15. Seemingly perfect. Twelve months went by without success, and my OB-GYN urged me to go back to the reproductive endocrinologist. I was, after all, 35 and the clock was ticking.  Fifteen months went by, and this time it was DH who was dragging me to the RE’s office. What pushed me over the edge were the results of a blood test my OB-GYN ran. Anti-muellerian hormone, or AMH, is a substance produced by early ovarian follicles. It is thought to be an indicator of a woman’s remaining egg supply, her ovarian reserve. The normal range is 1.5-4. My result came back at 0.6. Time to see Dr. Magic.

The RE was not concerned with my AMH value quite yet. He said, it being a new test, there was a lot of potential for error if not performed by a reliable lab.  He sent me for a very thorough panel of bloodwork via ReproSource in Boston. All my values, including AMH, fell within the acceptable range, and my egg retrieval score was good, meaning average for my age. On my 36th birthday, I had a repeat HSG, and this was also normal. DH’s swimmers were deemed plentiful as well. We were so normal that we were given a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility.” Our recommended treatment plan was either continue on our own or try fertility drugs in an effort to speed up the clock.

We chose Clomid, which I took one time while trying to conceive J. As you may recall, I hated it.  I experienced all the listed side effects- hot flashes, night sweats, bloating, headaches, breast tenderness, extreme irritability. It was an evil little pill, and I was not excited to give it a second try.  I started my 5 days of pills and waited for the ugliness to begin. I waited. And waited. And waited. Still, I felt nothing. I told the doc as much when I saw him for my follow-up ultrasound.  My ovaries told a different story.  I had several mature follicles in each ovary. Sneaky Clomid!

The protocol is to have extra friendlies every other day while tracking luteinizing hormone with an ovulation predictor kit. Once the luteal surge is detected, ovulation is anticipated to occur the next day.  They gave me a lab slip to go for a pregnancy test 2 weeks after my surge. Not one for unnecessary bloodwork, I called the office the day the lab was due and told them I was going to skip it as I had taken several home pregnancy tests in anticipation and had yet to get a BFP. The secretary agreed but urged me to go if AF did not arrive within two days.  I decided to take one more HPT, and this time there was the faintest positive. When I looked back at the previous day’s test, there was also a very faint positive I had missed. Oh glorious Clomid!

I quickly snapped a pic of my test and made J pose for this adorable picture with her Cabbage Patch Doll (mine from my childhood). The shirt was handed down to us by her cousin, and I was saving it for a time when it rang true. I sent the pics off to DH and hopped in the car to get my bloodwork done.  DH was ecstatic. I was cautiously optimistic.  The projected due date was Oct 9, the day before DH’s bday and a week before our anniversary and my birthday. How could this fail?

A slight miscommunication between the hospital and lab resulted in a delay in receiving the results.  The blood test came back positive, although the HCG level was low. My progesterone, on the other hand, was through the roof, indicating that I had ovulated more than one egg.  My second blood test two days later revealed that the HCG had more than doubled so I was cleared to go one week before my next blood draw. I was feeling pretty confident at this point. My breasts were sore and enlarged. I was having minor cramping in my expanding uterus as I had with J. My belly was hard and swollen likely due to all the progesterone on board, but I preferred to think of it as a little baby belly.

And then it all fell apart.  I received a phone call after my third blood draw informing me that my HCG levels had remained low and had not come close to doubling as expected. The doctor was concerned I may be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy and wanted me to come in for an ultrasound the next day. DH was out of town on business, and I had to break the news to him on the phone. I also had to arrange for childcare for J so I could go to the ultrasound by myself. DH and I stayed up late talking on the phone and googling “HCG not doubling” and “ectopic.” We clung to hope from stories of other women with low HCG or suspected ectopic pregnancies who had gone on to birth healthy babies.

When I finally went for my ultrasound, all hopes were dashed. Although my HCG was rising just a tiny bit with each new set of bloodwork, the number was less than 500, grossly below what one would expect at nearly 6 wks pregnant. The words “not a viable pregnancy” passed from someone’s lips and attention turned to determining whether the pregnancy was in-utero or ectopic. They were unable to make that determination.  Two doctors and an assistant probed me. They debated it while I held my breath and pressed my lips together hoping to hold back the tears for a few minutes longer.  I was sent home with firm instructions to call the doc on his cell phone and report to the ER if I experienced any severe right sided cramping. I was to come back in two days.  The worry was that if the pregnancy was in the tube and continued to grow, it may rupture my fallopian tube and cause me to bleed internally. This is one of the leading causes of maternal death and not something I wanted to experience.  Also, as someone who has a hard time getting pregnant, I could not afford to lose my right tube. I did not go home with a picture of my suspected ectopic, but it looked similar to this.

Because my HCG number was still rising, I  felt a glimmer of hope. Maybe this baby was in my uterus and was a late bloomer? I didn’t want to feel pressured to terminate a pregnancy if there was still hope, so I turned to my OB-GYN for further guidance.  I found her to be more personal and sympathetic than the RE. She took the time to explain what the HCG numbers meant, why mine indicated a failing pregnancy and my options should it turn out to be ectopic. Talking to her was like a breath of fresh air.  I may have mentioned earlier that my RE is slightly cocky, and he has every right to be. He is very talented at what he does. However, as appreciative as I was for the close monitoring, I was not ready to herald him champion for saving my tubes just yet.  I simply wanted him to pause for a moment and acknowledge my loss. Was this too much to ask?

DH accompanied me to our next visit which fell on Valentine’s Day. Seriously! DH has long been boycotting VDay as a commercial holiday, so I was not expecting candy and flowers, but this was ridiculous! They were still unable to make the call,  and the HCG number continued to creep up, so it was getting urgent. The recommended protocol was a shot of methotrexate. This is a chemotherapy drug that would effectively terminate the pregnancy to stop it from growing. If it became too large, I would require surgery and risk losing a tube. Still, no one wanted to inject me with a chemo drug if this was a natural miscarriage waiting to happen. So I was send away again.  I was told not to panic over bleeding as this was sure to occur, but to call with significant right sided pain. I experienced both and ended up having to call my doctor at home on a Sunday evening. Fortunately, the pain was not severe enough to be emergency-worthy, but my next appointment was moved up to 7:45 am on Monday.

We had arranged for childcare for J, but she woke up with a fever. So the three of us piled into the car- my pursed loaded with children’s ibuprofen and tylenol- and drove in silence to the office.  My HCG numbers had fallen significantly over the weekend. What was troubling was the spot that was still clearly on my right fallopian tube as well as the right sided pain I was having. I opted for the methotrexate shot and spent much of the morning waiting around to see if my liver was healthy enough to allow this option. Finally, I received not one but two injections and was sent home to rest. Except that I had a sick child, so rest was not possible.  In fact, all three of us ended up getting sick, which was a welcome distraction from the nightmare of the previous week.

As before, time was relentless in its insistence to march on and on and on. I may or may not have thrown a tantrum over planting some peach trees, which I refer to as my miscarriage trees. I remember reading somewhere that it was therapeutic, and I was planning on planting some fruit trees anyway. J named them Ariel and Belle. Please remind me never to ask her opinion on baby names or, surely, she will end up with brother Kristoff or sister Rapunzel.


We are still trying, and I am not going to lie to you, it is the pits. Most days, I am ready to move on from this chapter in my life. Should God entrust us with another precious life, I will hold him or her to my bosom, breath in the heavenly scent of baby and cry tears of joy. And should we remain parents of one, I will look at my little J with pride and adoration, as I have for the last three and a half years, and know her love is big enough to sustain me.

* * *

Good news, my next post will be significantly more uplifting as I am going to write about J’s Ariel Pool Party (because every three year old needs a pool party).



(`blit-ed): used as an adjective to describe something that has a condition that makes it weak or unable to grow

There is an old saying, “New house, new baby.” A coworker reminded me of this when we moved into This Old House at the end of May 2012. At the time, I thought perhaps she was crazy or, at the very least, oblivious to the absolute chaos surrounding our move. For a reminder, click here, but I will quickly summarize. In 4-6 weeks time:

  • My parents came to visit, which prompted a lot of home projects as a precursor to their arrival.
  • During their visit, nanny had to be terminated after she confessed to repeatedly stealing- get ready for it- vodka from our bar in order to self medicate. She claims she did this after hours, but this is clearly every parent’s worst nightmare.
  • Impulsively purchased a new house and began the whirlwind of home inspections, appraisals and mortgage paperwork that followed during the ten day options period.
  • Frantically prepared our beloved home to put on the market. Sold in less than 2 weeks time.
  • Also frantically searched for a new nanny, a process which took over a month.
  • Packed up entire house, mainly during nap time and the wee hours of the night and, often times, by myself as hubby was out of town on business three times during the month of our move.
  • Moved into new house and promptly began pool/patio renovations. Oh, and it seemed like everything else started to unexpectedly fall apart!

At the end of all this, I collapsed into a heap and DH and I were lucky to still be on speaking terms. It was a VERY stressful time, and procreation was the furthest thing from my mind. That is until, at the end of July 2012, I began to wonder if I might actually be pregnant. I was spotting at the time and had been for several days before my expected period. This was not unusual for me. I have seen multiple doctors through the years for breakthrough bleeding. This spotting went on for five days without turning into a full-blown period and was accompanied by breast tenderness, extreme fatigue and a strange cramping in my uterus. In short, I felt exactly as I had when I was pregnant with J. I hunted through my medicine cabinets for a home pregnancy test, held my breath and peed on the stick. I was struck by the ridiculousness of it all and was about to shove it back in its wrapper when I noticed two pink lines indicating a BFP. At this point, I nearly fell off the toilet. I felt such a rush of emotions.

Oh yes, a baby!

Oh no, what terrible timing!

Oh no, I’m bleeding! I must be having an early miscarriage.

I picked up the phone, dialed the OB-GYN’s office, described my situation and they wanted to see me right away to draw blood for a quantitative HCG blood test. Meanwhile, I scrambled to draw a picture announcement for J to give to DH and cried as I delivered the good/terrifying news.


My blood work came back positive and my HCG doubled as expected in the first four weeks of pregnancy. However, my progesterone levels were lower than expected, and I was started on progesterone suppositories and scheduled for an ultrasound at week 8. In my case, the suppositories were inserted once daily at night. They were a bit messy and intensified pregnancy symptoms such as breast tenderness, nausea, bloating and night sweats. They did, however, stop the bleeding, and I began to feel more relaxed about this pregnancy. During this- the longest three weeks of my life- the pool/patio renovation continued, and I also flew to New England for my nephew’s first birthday party. I told very few people about my pregnancy due to the bleeding but broke the news to my sister ahead of time in case I needed to seek medical care while home. Unfortunately, the bleeding recurred during the plane ride over, and I spent several days on bed rest hoping for the best. My ultrasound was scheduled within a few days of arriving home, and I was realistic but hopeful.

I had a transvaginal ultrasound, and as soon as the results became visible on the screen, I knew the news was not good. My uterus looked like a big black abyss. There was no comforting heartbeat to be heard. My OB-Gyn politely searched my uterus while questioning me to see if I might be off on my dates. She knew I was not. There was a big black circle indicating a gestational sac, but no squirming bean inside. “I’m sorry,” she said, ” I don’t think it is going to work out this time. Looks like a blighted ovum.” She offered to recheck in a week and go over our other options once we had time to digest the news. I waited for her to leave the room and began to cry. Even though I knew this was wrong from the start, I could not stop the tears from falling.  I sat in the back seat of the car with J while DH called person after person telling them our sad news. I may have managed to croak out a few sentences to my Mom, but didn’t feel like speaking to anyone else.


A blighted ovum, or anembryonic pregnancy, is when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall but the embryo fails to develop. It’s kind of like a house with an open door and all the lights on. You keep ringing the doorbell, but no one is home.  I went off my progesterone supplements and immediately started bleeding. I wish I could say I waited out miscarriage. I usually prefer to do things the natural way. But somehow, waiting felt morbid and disruptive. I had a D&C one week later.  It was a relatively quick procedure. I had some minor pain for a few days, bloating that made me look at least 5 months pregnant and night sweats that forced me to sleep on a towel until my body rid itself of all the pregnancy hormones.  Life went on. I continued to go to work.  I chased after an active toddler.  The only real change I had to make was that I could not go in a swimming pool.  This may not seem very devastating except I spend 50% of my working hours as an aquatic therapist, was accompanying my daughter to water babies swim class 1x/wk, and we had just completed an 8 week pool-patio renovation.  Bah humbug! The day after my D&C, we had friends over  to swim (clearly DH’s idea), and I dipped my toes in the water while covering up my bloated belly the best I could.

I had two very sad days surrounding my miscarriage- the day of my ultrasound and the day of my surgery. I spent most of those two days sleeping. And then, to my surprise, time carried on. It did not have the decency to stand still for me and my tragedy. I was as busy as I ever was. And I coped a little too well.  I did not give myself a whole lot of time to mourn, reflect or relax.  I talked about it, of course, with a few trusted friends and family members, but the rest of the world was unaware of my pregnancy, and now did not seem the time to tell them about it and its demise. I discovered that the subject is awkward and people- including myself- are not sure how to react. There are those who know but choose not to say anything lest it upset you. There are others who check in too often – “How are you feeling?” “Do you need to talk?”- to the point that you want to remind them that you still have a life to live if only they would stop bothering you. Except you don’t because they are just showing concern the only way they know how.  And then there are those who have been through it before.  Those are the best kind of people. They need say no more than, “I know,” and give you a reassuring hug or glance. And you know that they do know and that is the most consoling of all.

Of course, I would be remiss if I forgot to mention the large category of people who say, “Well, at least you know you can get pregnant.” This includes just about everyone. And while extremely annoying and not the least bit comforting, it is the truth. I could get pregnant, and I began to want to try again…


I must admit, the decision to set forth and procreate made me a little uneasy. What if I wasn’t ready to be a Mom? What if I was no good at it? I’m a planner by nature and wanted all the details to be perfect. I needed a little push, and it went something like this:

DH (a little over a year into our marriage): Hey, when are we going to have kids?

Me: I don’t know. Do you think we are ready yet?

DH: I don’t think we’ll ever be ready. Might as well bite the bullet.

And so, in January of 2009 we began trying to conceive- abbreviated TTC from here on out. Also, in case you were wondering, DH refers to “Dear Husband.” I’ve discovered that one must quickly learn a new code language when TTC.  Not sure if its tantamount to being in a special club or if all the extra friendlies leave little time for anything else, including full pronunciation of vocabulary. Anyways, I promise to keep you up to speed.

DH and I went on a ski trip to France in February of 2009 and had romantic notions of conceiving while on vacation. After all, vacation extra friendlies are quite extraordinary, don’t you think? Sadly, when we returned to the States,  I joined the Bump and discovered this thing called an ovulation calculator. The calculator tends to assume that all women have set cycle lengths with ovulation occurring smack dab in the middle. This is not exactly true, but still a good tool  for beginners or those who don’t have too much trouble TTC. The ovulation calculator told me that my fertile window actually took place when we arrived back in the US and DH had the flu. It was only our first month of trying, but already,  I felt the pang of missed opportunity.

By the second and third month, I had the ovulation calculator down pat, and had somewhat customized it to my own cycle. I was able to feel ovulation pain, called mittelschmerz, so felt like my body was on the right track. My period, referred to in the TTC world as AF (Aunt Flo), came every 28 days like clockwork. I had read that it is best to have extra friendlies, a.k.a. BD (the Big Deed), every other day during your fertile days. Naturally, this was exactly what we did. In retrospect, I approached it like an important job- which it definitely was- while sacrificing the usual romance. This determination is not unique to me. I had other friends who were TTC, and we were all completely baffled as to why our respective DHs were not always on board with this schedule. Is this not every man’s dream? Or is it really the chase?

By the forth month, at DH’s suggestion, I resorted to peeing on ovulation detection tests. These track your LH surge. Luteinizing Hormone, or LH, is what triggers the ripening egg to mature and break through the follicle leading to ovulation. This surge is detected 24-36 hours prior to ovulation and helps pinpoint the two most important days on which to BD. We were sure this was going to work!

By month 5, I consulted with a coworker, who I knew had also been struggling to conceive, and she helped me to begin charting. I purchased a basal thermometer, which you stick in your mouth at the very moment of waking, all the while trying not to make too much movement so as to accurately capture your lowest daily body temperature (BBT). It is the most accurate way to detect ovulation, as the BBT will rise on the day following ovulation and then drop off when AF arrives. I charted for a total of 6 months. I will hold off on going into the craziness that this caused me. It is a topic for a whole other blog post. Given how type A I am, I can guarantee that my charts were perfect and full of encouraging pregnancy signs until my period inevitably arrived 28 days later.


By month 8, I visited my OB-GYN, who assured me that I would get pregnant, and it was too early to panic. I was feeling really discouraged at this point, and didn’t really have anyone to talk to about it. It is one of those things people don’t tend to discuss. Just the fact that you are TTC is TMI. DH was encouraging, but did not share my worry, and I was starting to feel very lonely in all this. By months 10-12, I slowly started to open up about it  and discovered a whole secret club of gals struggling to conceive. They did not simply tell me to relax and let it happen. They acknowledged my fears, shared with me their insight, and I was eternally grateful for the company. While, on the inside, I wept as friend after friend got pregnant with no problem, I really rallied for the girls in my club and rejoiced at their successes. It gave me hope.

On month 12, I revisited the OB-GYN who was no longer lighthearted about my lack of success. She ordered a hystersalpingogram (HSG),which is an X-ray in which they insert a catheter into your uterus and inject saline with dye in order to visualize your fallopian tubes. The radiology tech thought my uterus was locked down tighter than Fort Knox. After much trying and a lot of pain on my end, she was successful in inserting the catheter.   My fallopian tubes looked flawless.  With a negative HSG, I was started on a first round of Clomid on cycles day 5-9 and referred out to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE).  Clomid is a fertility drug which stimulates the ovaries in order to induce ovulation in those who don’t ovulate naturally or to enhance maturation of the follicles in those that do. There is a small chance of multiples, as it may encourage more than one egg to be released during a cycle. The Clomid gave me hot flashes and made me want to rip DH’s head off. I did not like it one bit, and it did not result in success, so I was a little bitter about the whole experience.

By month 14, I made it in to see the reproductive endocrinologist. He was charming and cocky and made fast friends with my DH. They talked baseball and business until I tapped my fingers on the desk and reminded them that the fate of my fertility lie in their hands. DH was sent for a semen analysis, and we both were put on an antibiotic Z-pack just in case.  As we were at least $1000 out of pocket at this point with no clear diagnosis, we held off on scheduling my follow-up with the RE until after my next AF.

Except, it never arrived! At month 15, I actually waited a whole five days until after it was due to discover that glorious + sign known as the BFP or Big Fat Positive.  My hands were trembling while I presented DH with a card and envelope containing the test. Except, I made the mistake of presenting it to him while he was working from home and had to wait an agonizing ten minutes before he opened it.

We held our breaths for nine weeks, suffered through two incidences of bleeding, and then finally saw our beautiful bean, beating heartbeat and all. At 37 wks, our perfect angel arrived, and all was forgotten. My unexplained infertility seemed a minute detail on the road to parenthood. Stress? First baby jitters? Who cares. I was a Mom and never happier.