We did it!

You guys… we did it!  We busted our butts to make all the updates to our house that our CW said we needed to make and we are signed up and ready to start the May 16th classes!

I can’t believe it.

So to refresh your memories, first we had to get our town building inspector to sign off that our above ground pool and pool deck met code.  Well the pool is fine but our deck was not.  We have a really large regular deck off of our house (50×15) and then there is a pool deck connected to it.  There is a railing that separates the pool deck from the regular deck, as well as a gate.  But they are just wood 2×4’s with lattice.  Looked very pretty but certainly not meeting any safety standards.  So the hubs had to replace the lattice with a tighter weave so that a little foot could not fit in the holes and climb.  Then it needed to be 48 inches tall (it was about 30 before).  Then the gate needed to be a self closing gate with a latch/lock that was 54in high.

Thank goodness I married a handy guy.  It’s not winning any home and garden awards but it passed for code and that’s what matters right now.  Eventually the entire deck/pool deck will need to be replaced (hopefully not anytime soon) and at that point it will be updated properly to code and look a little more aesthetically pleasing.  Not that it looks bad, it just doesn’t look as good as it did before.  But that’s not the point or what’s important at this time.  We also needed to buy a pool alarm which is something that floats in our pool and will sound a very loud alarm if anything makes waves (like someone falling into the pool).

So – done and done.

I next needed to get a letter from my therapist saying that she recommended me/us to be foster to adopt parents for birth to 5.  She started to write the letter while I was still in my session, she is just so excited for us.  She sent me a copy of the final letter she sent over and it was really very touching. 

So – done.

The last (and biggest) thing we needed to do was fix the chipped paint on the outside of our house.  You know, because a baby could start gnawing on our siding.  We had wood shakes that needed to be repainted.  Hubs and I have been talking about this for a few years.  Do we (when I say we I mean, him) repaint the house or just get it resided?  We decided to reside it with vinyl siding and had plans to do it this year anyway so this just made us speed up the process a little (like warp speed it up).  We were doing the siding, might as well do the roof too, right?  And, hey, while we are on a roll we need a new garage door as well. 

Ch-ching!

The siding and roof are done but we still need to do the garage door and hubs will paint the foundation once school is out (in like a month).  The only issue had been the siding so the other things are just gravy.  When we bought the house 6 years ago I loved the yellow but I was way over it now.  We did a darkish grey, with black shutters and white trim.  It looks really good (will look even better once the yellow foundation is painted – which, btw, is KILLING me but I’m working on having patience).  I have a white wicker chair that I’ll freshen up with some white spray paint (oh ok, hubs will do it but only because he loves all this Mr. Fit It crap) and put it on the front stoop with a nice bright red outdoor pillow.

So – done.

When I emailed our caseworker and told him were done he was pretty impressed.  I mean, really, in a month and half we got all these things completed.  The contractors had a 3 mos waiting list on starting the job but when we explained what it was for they moved projects around and bumped us up to the front of the line.  Turns out the owner and his wife fostered kids for over 10 years and totally understood the time frame we had.

So hre we are – one more week and we will start the classes.  We got the syllabus in the mail (and by email) and the classes look really good.  They are once, and sometimes 2x, a week from 530-9 until the 1st week in August.  I am really looking forward to finally getting some solid information about how all this works.  Of course I’ve read books/ blogs and listened to podcasts but it seems like a lot of states do different things and I haven’t found anything that discusses our state.  I really hope these are good classes and they don’t just phone it in.  After waiting 6 months (has it seriously been 6 mos??) since we went to the Open House we are more than ready to get this party started.

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An Honest Review of Once A Month Meals (OAMM)

I will do another post soon on updates as to where we are on our F2A journey… I’m just waiting for confirmation of something so that I can give all the details!  🙂  In the meantime, I tried OAMM so I thought I would blog about what I honestly think about it.  Let me get this out of the way – I have not been compensated in any way for my opinion but I will disclose that I did get a free trial but that is something that anyone can get – I’ll explain more below.

Anyway, I don’t know about anyone else but at least 3 (ok maybe 4) times a week I would be on my way to work and think, “Crap!!  I forgot to take something out for dinner!”  or  “Crap!  What the heck are we going to do for dinner?!?”  Or there would be an afternoon email exchange between the hubs and I where we would try and talk the other into making the plan for dinner.

Since we are starting this journey into Foster to Adopt, I decided to give some meal planning services a try because if the hubs and I are having trouble figuring out dinner now…it’s only going to get more complicated once there is a child (or two?) in our home. 

First I tried Blue Apron.  The food and the menus were good, it just didn’t work out for us for a number of reasons.  If anyone is interested, I’ll do a post about that at another time.

Two weeks ago I was getting ready to break up with BA and I was trying to be a little proactive and figure out what, per usual, we were going to do for dinner that week.  On my quest for some ideas for “easy and quick” weeknight recipes, I stumbled upon a post on Pinterest (my happy place) for Once A Month Meals.  I had never heard of OAMM so of course I immediately texted my BIFF to see if she had heard anything either.  Nope.  So I said I would investigate and report back. 

The site was pretty easy to navigate and there was a ton of information but I wanted to talk to someone because I had some more questions (of course).  One of the reasons why Blue Apron did not work for us is that I am gluten free and they did not have much of a selection for me.  Before I signed up for something else, I wanted to make sure there would be plenty of options for us in the GF category.  I also recently got an Instant Pot (never heard of it?  I suggest you look it up – I am obsessed!) and wanted to be able to use that as well for making dinner.  They have a chat function so I clicked on it and almost immediately was connected to Olivia.  There was a profile picture and she looked like a nice enough person but I’m no fool, I know that sometimes when you talk to someone on chat it’s not always who they say they are.  For all I know I was talking to a guy named Lou who was sitting somewhere in his home office in his underwear.  I will say that after talking with Olivia for a little while I did come to the conclusion that she could, in fact be, a really nice and super helpful woman named Olivia.  So ok, maybe she is a real women just like me who has conquered the never ending struggle of WTH is for dinner.  I will also say that a few days later I was on Facebook in a closed group I am apart of for my Instant Pot (LOL) and I saw Olivia posted a question!  It was the same profile picture as what was on OAMM so I knew it was my new pal and I clicked on her name (don’t tell me you would not have done the same) and it linked to a real profile.  So yes – the women behind OAMM are real people and the person that you are chatting with is a real person and not someone with a fake work personna. 

So score one for OAMM  because their customer service is legit!  I chatted with Olivia about my two main concerns: making sure there were enough gluten free options and being able to use my Instant Pot.  Olivia understood my IP love (and then I later saw on FB that was all true) and shared a link with me where I was able to see that yes, OAMM did in fact have IP recipes.   Not only that, but gluten free IP recipes (as well as slow cooker, grill, oven you name it).  They also cater to a really wide array of dietary needs.  GF (obviously), Paleo, Dairy Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Diet (they have complete nutritional values as well as WW points) and also have a toddler/child friendly selection that I didn’t explore but I thought that was pretty neat.  Olivia then offered me a free trial to be able to use their service for a 8 days so I could go in their site as a member (so much more is available with membership) to be able to explore their menus and build my own menu for the month.  I was not expecting her to offer this so I was really impressed (another check in the pro column)!

Lets get down to the next question I know you have (at least it was mine).  How much does this cost?  Well it is $10 a month or $16 a month with the premium membership (which lets you customize your menu more but if you didn’t have any strict dietary needs the regular membership would totally work out).  Ok another pro here because, as I will now explain, that membership fee is completely worth it.

So what makes OAMM worth it?  I mean really – BIFF and I were talking about it (I did report back) and she said, well couldn’t we go on Pinterest and find recipes we like and just plan our own menus?  Yes of course but it’s what happens after you choose your menu where I think OAMM really has it going on.  Once you chose the menu you want for the month (don’t get overwhelmed here, you are not literally choosing 30 meals, more to come on that) it then generates a shopping list, a prep list, recipe cards and a list for defrost day which include what you will need for when you cook your meals. 

Mind.  Blown.

The shopping list in itself is amaze-balls.  It takes all the ingredients for every recipe and puts it together in an itemized list by department (produce, meats, dairy, etc.).  Meaning I actually had on my list 44 eggs (oh FYI – this is not just dinner here folks, you also can choose to have breakfast and lunch options on your menu too if you would like).  You also customize your menus to the number of people in your household and how many servings.  I chose meals for 2 people but with 4 servings because I wanted left overs for my lunches (K prefers to have a sandwich).  So yes, you have a giant list that you need to then take shopping (a pro but also a con if you are not a fan of big shopping trips).  This was a little overwhelming to me at first but I was really into this and wanted to try it out so I put on my big girl pants and kept going.

But now I had to figure out when in life I was going to be able to actually go on this big shopping trip (I was planning on hitting 2 stores) and then be able to have a day to do all the prep work.  Yes you pretty much need to be able to clear a day, at least a large chunk of it, to be able to put all of this together.  That could be a con depending on what your life is like.  For me, it’s just me and the hubs and yes we seem to always have something going on during the weekends but someone like my BIFF with TWIN babies at home… that might take some planning.  But then again, I think having any children in your home means you need to do some planning and then those kids expect to be fed… oh and you and your spouse too…

But then I thought about the amount of time I actually spend going grocery shopping in a month.  Lets be real here – I do my once a week grocery shopping trip but then I inevitably end up having to go back once or twice during the week when I am figuring out dinner.  If I’m able to really get the bulk of what is needed for the month in one trip and be able to save all this time… minus of course the weekly trip for things like bread, milk, fruit, veggies and deli meat/cheese for lunches. 

I mean, Olivia did give me a free 8 day trial and if I am going to really try this… then I needed to do this.  Besides… then what else is my plan for dinner??

So I take my big list on Friday after work and hit store #1.  I went to BJ’s figuring since I was buying in bulk, this would be a good place to start.  Hour and half later and I’m on my way to Stop and Shop (down the street).  A hour and a half later, I’m now on my way home.  So 3 hours, all things considered, is not that bad.  I also didn’t spend as much as I thought I would, certainly a lot less than what our monthly grocery bill usually is.  But that would be a con if you did not have the cash up front to be able to do a large shopping trip.  I didn’t have any coupons either – totally forgot about that.  Oh, I also had my shopping list on a clipboard with a pen because the print out is a few pages.

I’m going to make a list at the end of the pros, cons and then what my tips would be for next time so that you can all learn from what I thought of to do after the fact, haha.

So on to prep day.  I was doing it the following morning so I pretty much left everything (except the perishables) on the counter – what was the point of putting it all away if I was going to be dragging it out the next day?  Also my own rules for when I am going to be doing any big cook day (like for holidays or family gatherings) is to start with a clean kitchen (clear counters), empty sink and empty dishwasher.  Also clean up as you go.  It’s the WORST when you have to clean up a disaster at the end.  This is just what I have found to work for me.

I mentioned the prep list that OAMM provides because now that I have all this food… I have to do something with it.  This list is another fantastic tool.  It was, again, multiple pages so I just started with page 1 and taped that to my cupboard so that it was at eye level.  I took out every bowl, measuring cups/spoons I had and got to work.  The list breaks it down so that the 1st thing is to, say, dice 3lbs of chicken (a kitchen scale is really helpful here) and then it lists which recipes you’ll be using the chicken in.  I found myself going to the next set of lists, the recipe lists, to see what I was doing with what I was prepping for each recipe.  It says to dice the peppers but how big?  1 inch cubes?  Bite size?  If I’m putting peppers into mini egg omelet (made in a muffin tin) then I would want my peppers and onions chopped smaller than what I would use in another recipe.  That’s just personal preference though I think.

I got into a really good rhythm and had the prep work done in a few hours.  Yes hours.  Remember, you are putting together items for a months worth of recipes and having it all prepped like that made the work of then putting the meals together really easy.  I made a few trips out to our compost (hello 44 eggs left me with a ton of egg shells) and had a few bags of recycling for the Mr to take out. 

They mentioned in one of the things I read on Pinterest about how some people get together with a friend or 2 and make a big prep day together.  I can see how that would be really helpful and fun.  Another thing for the “next time” list is that I really should have looked at the recipes ahead of time  because it would have been a lot easier to buy a bag of shredded carrots instead of shredding 3 cups of carrots.  Would also be a time saver to get bags of frozen chopped veggies like onions and peppers.

So the prep is done and now I need to assemble all this into actual meals.  I was a little bold in my 1st OAMM experience and had 4 breakfasts and 11 dinners in my menu.  I decided to forgo lunches because like I said hubs prefers to just have a good ole sandwich for lunch and I can bring leftovers from the night before’s meal.  I was putting together 15 meals for 2 but each meal had 4 servings.  Also, each recipe made 2 (and a few 4) meals.  BAM.  Month covered. 

I took each recipe and taped it to the cabinet one at a time.  Since the prep work was all covered it was now just assembling them into freezer bags.  There was a little bit of cooking, like sauteing veggies or browning meat but it was mostly assembling.  Except for the breakfast meals which were entire make ahead (at least the ones that I chose).  Another con though… you now need to have the room in your freezer to put away all these freezer meals.  We happen to have an extra fridge in our basement and I used every inch of that freezer.  But you also don’t need to go crazy and make 15 meals like I did at once.  In hind site, next time I’m going to slow my roll here and not choose so many.  We’ll see how many we eat in a month and I’ll have to base my next menu on that.  But it was my first experience with this so I was still figuring out what was going to work.

I’m going to be honest that this pretty much took me most of the day.  I really enjoyed it though – I put on Pandora and rocked out.  I also listed to a few podcasts.  I get very easily overwhelmed – to the point where when it was time for me to pick out bridesmaids dresses I just had them all meet me at the store, told them the color, and let them grab the dresses they each liked and we had a fashion show.  Too many choices and too many things to do at once make me go def-com five overwhelmed.  The Once A Month Meals site and plan made it so easy for me to get organized and make it happen.  I just took it one item at a time.  Chopped one thing at a time, put together one meal at a time.  Let me tell you how awesome it’s been the past few nights to be able to come home from work and have the defrosted meal right there and all I needed to do was put it in the oven (or on the stove) and then make a side salad or something.  We do have to remember to take something out the night before but OAMM also gives you a defrost list which lists each meal you made, how you should defrost it (fridge, microwave or prepare frozen) and how it will need to be cooked (oven, grill, Instant Pot, slow cooker).  I have that list on the fridge and we take turns picking which meal we are going to have the next day.  So far I have really enjoyed everything except the mini omelets but that’s because I realized I don’t like reheated eggs but Mr loves them.

So after a VERY long post (whoops sorry about that – lol) am I going to sign up for another month?  Yes!  The pros, for me, outweigh the cons.  I had been so seriously stressed about the whole meal planning thing.  I wanted us to be able to have good and healthy meals each night and not just make something quick and convenient because we were both just too tired to full on cook.  I think once we (finally) have a child in our home this will make things a lot smoother. 

PROS:                                                                                                                                                             
excellent customer service                                                                                                                            
huge menu selection with a wide array of dietary needs covered                                                           
price point                                                                                                                                                         
itemized shopping list                                                                                                                                     
detailed prep day list
having an actual delicious meal to eat on a week night that’s 95% put together

CONS:
doing a big shop for the entire month
time needed to shop & prep
large grocery bill at once
room in the freezer for all of the meals

TIPS:
coupons
frozen / fresh chopped veggies
sharp knives
lots of cutting boards since you’ll be cutting both meat and veggies (just say no to salmonella)
empty sink / empty dishwasher
start with a clean kitchen
clean as you go
tape prep list /recipe to cupboard so that it’s eye level and easy to see

365 Days Later

It’s been 365 days since we first held you in our arms.  It seems like a lifetime ago and yet yesterday at the same time.  Saying ‘hello’ and then ‘goodbye’ at the same instant was the hardest thing we ever had to do.  When we left the hospital without you, that broke me in a way that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to heal from.  They wanted me to stay another night but I just wanted to be home – I couldn’t think past what would happen when we got home but I could not stand to be in that hospital bed, in that room in the far corner of the maternity ward with the discreet picture of angel wings on the door to signal to anyone who entered that there were grieving parents inside.

I know that you have been with us every step of the way over this past year.  I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to come back from losing you.  All I ever wanted was to be a mom and when I met your dad I knew that we would be amazing parents together and be able to give our children a rich life full of so many things.  The journey to you was a long tough road but hearing those words, “you’re really really pregnant” and then seeing you and your sibling on the ultrasound screen made every moment of those those years worth it. 

We will never know why it all happened the way it did… it took me some time to come to terms with it and really try to figure it out.  What was the reason for all this?  Why?  What was the reason for this journey?  Your nana (or would you have called her grammy?) she always told me that everything happens for a reason.  I spent many sleepless nights and many hours on the the therapy couch really trying to put a spin on this.  Your life has to have meant something.  You came into our lives and then left the way it happened for a reason.  Is it so that we would venture down this road to Fostering to Adopt? 

After a lot of soul searching, I think so.  I do not think we would not have come to this decision if you had survived.  Once we made the choice – it was like a switch was flipped.  Yes, this is the right decision.  I feel it with every ounce of my soul that this is what that journey was pointing us towards.  It sounds horrible to say, but F2A was never on our radar.  But we needed to go down the path of infertility and explore every option we could to try and get pregnant and have a baby.  We would not have given up if it all didn’t lead to such a heartbreaking conclusion.  We have given up on that part, on the part of me getting pregnant and giving birth to a healthy baby.  But we have not given up on the part of being parents. 

I didn’t think I was going to be able to survive losing you.  I started going to therapy months before we started IVF#4 because I wanted to be in a safe place if the IVF didn’t work.  Then it did.  Then everything happened.  Maybe something deep inside was trying to protect me and that’s why I randomly made the decision to start seeing Dr. G when I did.   What ever the reason why I walked through her door… she is a huge part of how I survived.  I felt like I was shattered into a million pieces from the moment we were told you were sick.  After we left the hospital I went into a deep dark hole.  I was angry, I was hurt.  There were only a few people who I would talk to.  A few people who I would even see.  I didn’t want to leave the house and your daddy made me go outside into the sunshine, made me get in the car, made me go with him to breakfast… to the store… somewhere.  He was/is my rock.  I have no idea what I would do without him.

I know you are with us.  I miss you with every ounce of my being but I know that you are watching over us.  I know that you are guiding us through this process and giving us strength and patience, which I know we will need.  I was not sure how I would feel when this day came, the anniversary of you coming into this world.  I have been both dreading it and almost looking forward to it.  Dreading it for the obvious reasons but looking forward to it because that means we made it.  We survived something so horrible that I honestly wasn’t sure we would.  We made it through this year and when I think about all the work that we did to get through, to get out of bed, to put one foot in front of the other and to just breathe I can’t believe it.  But we did it.

We survived.

Awake.

Has this ever happened to you… you get into bed at night ready for a good night’s sleep after a long day… then 2 hours later…

Awake.

This is my current situation.

It isn’t a new thing, this being awake when the rest of the world is sleeping, kind of something that started to happen when I hit 30 and then when I started on the IF journey + all of the IF meds my body and hormones were so screwed up and it happened to me a lot.  I’m at the point where I can tell when I wake up after initially falling asleep that, “yeah – this is it for the night.”

Then I try and pretend that that thought never entered my mind and of course I am going to fall right back to sleep because, duh, I’m so tired and I have to get up for work tomorrow.

Then I toss and turn.

Then I try and count backwards by 3’s from 100 – this is a trick that my BIFF from the blog WTFLining told me about.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Next is the countdown and trying to reason with myself:

“If I fall asleep right now I’ll get 5 hours of sleep for the night and that’s totally doable for the next day.”

“If I fall asleep right now I’ll get like, almost 3 hours and 45 minutes of sleep total and ok, that might make the work day a little tough but I’ll get a venti Starbucks with an espresso shot on the way in and then I’ll be GOOD.”

“If I fall asleep right now I’ll kind of get 3ish hours of sleep…”

“If I fall asleep right now… I’m screwed.”

So here I am.  WIDE-THE-HECK-AWAKE.  Tonight was a special kind of night where no matter what I did, or what I tried to talk myself into I knew I was not sleeping for the rest of the night.

Also, there is nothing more annoying to a person who cannot sleep than sharing your bed with a person who could sleep through the 4th of July fireworks show.  I’m laying there trying to count sheep, count backwards, count ANYTHING and all I can hear is the sound of his rhythmic breathing.  ONCE I was able to use the power of his “super R.E.M. sleep” breathing to lull myself back to sleep.  But most times it’s beyond annoying because all I want to do is sleep and my husband can fall asleep anywhere.  I know he’s going to be that grandpa that falls asleep at the dinner table and his grandkids string lights around his sleeping form at the holidays.

To add insult to injury, the dog is also sound asleep and I hear his breathing as well.  Then the dog rolls over and kicks me, always when I’m just about to be completely relaxed and maybe fall back to sleep.

Yes yes the dog sleeps on our bed, don’t judge us.

Anyway, now is the stage when I accept it.  I give in and say, “FINE insomnia, you WIN you D-BAG” and get out of bed with a dramatic huff and throw back the covers.  I grab the important stuff (glasses, phone, tablet, water bottle and if I’m currently reading a book not on my tablet or if I’m working on something else) and tip toe downstairs.  I tip toe because the last thing I want to do right now is wake the dog because I do not want to take him outside.  Sometimes if he does wake up I’ll quietly slide into the bathroom with the light off and wait.  The one thing that hubs does wake up for is that he has a weird 6th sense when the dog has to go outside in the middle of the night.  A lot of times he doesn’t even really wake up, or at least he doesn’t remember it the next day, and stumbles outside with the dog, stumbles back in and the two of them are back to sleep before his head even hits the pillow.

Makes me want to smother him with said pillow.

However, if he sees the light on downstairs he will just roll over because by then the dog is on his way down the stairs and the sucker who can’t sleep will take him out.

But, see, I’m already bitter that I can’t sleep and he’s blissfully in dreamland AND can fall back to sleep like a champ so screw him, he can take the dog out.

Again, don’t judge.

Somebody stop me…

You know those Facebook online tag sales that they have for your town and surrounding towns… well I just discovered them and I think I’m obsessed.  I can’t stop myself.  I have never looked on them before until a friend from college posted that she had a “like new toddler bed” for sale on her FB page.  I messaged her about it and she said that she also had it posted on a few tag sale pages… then the conversation got away from me and before I knew it was a member of 4 private tag sale pages and I was watching all these “gently used” items pop up for great deals.

I do, however, have my own rules for purchasing baby/kid items at these online tag sales.  #1- I have to see the item in person before I commit to buying.  #2- I will not purchase something that comes with a cloth covering or something like that because you never know – what about bedbugs and lice?  Unless I know the person in real life and I know that they are not bed bug/ lice ridden.  Or I have to be able to remove whatever is cloth covered and wash it in my washing machine (in hot water)… although I don’t know if that kills all the creepy crawly microscopic things that could be on there… I’ll have to look into that.

Oh… so what have I purchased in the span of a few hours?

The “like new toddler bed” from the girl I know from college for $40.  It is a super cute wooden toddler bed that her daughter never used because she wanted to sleep in a twin bed instead… so it was pretty much a doll bed for the past 2 years.  It kind of looks like the wooden twin beds we had in our dorm rooms, only a mini toddler size.

Second purchase, a crib that converts into a toddler bed and also comes with the rails to make it into a full sized bed.  Why another toddler bed if I just got one?  Well we said that we would take a sibling group of two… what if one is an infant and one a toddler?  Anyway – the crib is cherry wood, originally from JCP that they had paid $300 for.  She really liked it it was just that the full size bed wouldn’t fit in her kid’s room.  It has a few nicks and scratches but I mean, for $50… that’s a deal!

Then the final purchase… a Little Tykes red and white large toy chest for $50.  It is in perfect condition.  After looking it up online I saw that they sell new for $75-$100.  So maybe it isn’t the deal of the century and I learned my lesson to do better research next time.  But I’m happy with it.

So when I came home with the Jeep filled with stuff the hubs was like, “WTF are you doing?  We aren’t even “officially” signed up for the class yet and you’re already furnishing a room?”   But, knowing him as well as I do, I know that he is nervous.  We waited for so many years trying to have a child on our own then with medical help – he was always waiting for the other shoe to drop… because it always did.  So he is nervous to make too many plans into the future until we have a better idea.  I used to follow that reasoning too.  But now I am buying items, second hand so not breaking the bank, and putting them in the extra room we have upstairs because I am inviting the universe to smile down on us.  I didn’t want to put them in the basement where K wanted them to go.  Granted I am not setting up the crib, it’s still in pieces, but it’s in the room.  Ready for a little one to come either for a little while for safety and love while their family heals or forever.

I have no idea how this works..

I went out to dinner with my BIFF (Best Infertility Friend Forever) last night – some of you know her from her blog, WTFLining  http://wtflining.wordpress.com.  We have been friends since college and were always friends but we became inseparable when her and her husband, unfortunately, started on their own journey of infertility.  Those of you who have walked that road know what it’s like to try and relate to others who have not had to go on this journey… having a good friend on the same path and who understands what you’re going through it invaluable.  Check out her blog – she’s a riot and seriously has been the best of friends to me. 

Anyway – we were out to dinner and we were excitedly talking about all the happenings with the F2A (foster to adopt- I’m not sure if that’s a thing, the acronym, but I like it) and I realized I actually have no idea how it starts, meaning, what happens when we get “the call” and a child is going to be placed with us?

I mean, so we finish the 13wks of classes and we are certified… does that mean we could potentially get a child right away?  I am apart of a few F2A (it’s catchy, you have to admit) groups on FB and quite a few people have said that they got “the call” the same day or within 48 hours from getting certified.  Like, “hey we have a child in need, come and get them now.”  So then my BIFF was like, “does that mean you could get an infant?  Do you have to have a car seat all ready?” 

Oh man. DO we need to have a car seat all ready?

Then that got me thinking… do we need to have a car seat for an infant, toddler and then what ever kind of car seat comes next?  What about diapers?  Do we keep a stash of all different sizes on had at all times?  Also, ointment and wipes?  CRAP formula!!  Kid has to eat and clearly I won’t be lactating, so should that also be another staple we have on hand?  Bottles?  Pacifiers?  I have this vision in my head that we get “the call” and K and I run to the nearest store and are frantically running down the baby aisle doing an arm sweep and pushing it all into our cart.

Do we now put the call out to all of our friends who have little ones and ask them to save all the stuff their kid(s) out grow?  I am sure someone we know has a pack and play they don’t need so a child could sleep in there for the time being… then BIFF said that we could have their co-sleeper when they get it back from their friends.  So phew at least the tiny ones would be covered.

Do I starting looking on ebay or craigslist for dressers, changing table, cribs, strollers, bouncy things and all other sort of infant/baby items?  Then do I really want to buy those items from people we don’t know… not knowing what kind of home it comes from?  Have they had bed bugs?  Flea infestation?  Do they have cats who have peed on them?  Will it smell like wet dog?

Ladies and gentlemen, this is me FREAKING OUT.

I try and remind myself that they must got over all of this kind of stuff during the classes.  I really have no idea what to expect from the classes, but I imagine situations like this will be covered?  I have thought of posting this question on one of those FB groups but then don’t want to look like a total newb. 

I could also Google it I suppose…

HOLLLLAAAAAAARRRR!

We had gone to the Open House at DCF on November 4th and were told it would take 45 days for our background checks to come back… 4 MONTHS LATER… they came back.  I know that the state moves at its own pace (apparently it’s a snail’s pace) so I tried to have patience and not be that crazy person who was emailing every other day to touch base on the status of our background checks.  I was very proud of myself and was able to wait until 2 days after the 45 day mark to start to email.  Anyone who has gone through infertility treatments knows that nothing about that process is quick so I think I learned a little bit about restraint during that part of our journey.

Anyway – LAST WEEK we finally heard from our caseworker (at least I think he’s our caseworker).  He came to our house on Wednesday to meet with K and I, interview us and tour our home.  It went really well!!  He was so nice and he kept saying, “we need more people like you guys,” which made us feel pretty good.  He said that we would need to take a 13 wk class – once a week for 2.5 hours in order to be certified.  He said that he thinks that the class starting in May might be full but there is a class starting in August or Sept/ October. 

AUGUST OR SEPTEMBER OR OCTOBER!?! 
October, like the month before November…November being the month we went to the Open House… so close to (it practically is) A YEAR FROM WHEN WE STARTED THE PROCESS WE WOULD BE JUST STARTING THE CLASSES??

What in the ever living hell…

So yeah I know I was just praising my powers of restraint but seriously this guy has Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me. 

Seriously, I will lose my sanity (what little I have left) if I have to wait that long.  Here is it folks, the real me – I did my best to hide it as long as I could but I am a little cray and go from zero to howler monkey in 10 seconds.  K balances me out and most of the time talks me off the ledge (thank goodness).  So we left the interview with him saying he was going to see about the May class and get back to us.

OF COURSE I wanted to say, “will you get back to us tomorrow?”  But I bit my tongue.  Again, a proud moment (phew, I redeemed myself).

So HE DID email the next day (yesterday)!!  What WHAT!!  He said that he talked to his supervisor first thing in the morning (a good sign!) and that he is recommending us to be in the May class.  The only things that he mentioned we needed to do were that we need to send him a copy of the permits from the town for the pool (which we were unsure of because the above ground pool was there when we bought the house) and we need to fix the chipping paint on our wood shakes on our siding – this all needs to be done or in the works before we can officially sign up for the class.  The plan for this spring was to get all new vinyl siding anyway so we just upped the date for that.  We had been talking about it for a while with K going back and forth between, “yeah I’ll just paint the house,” to “if I paint this house I am not going to do it again for another 10 years because this is going to be a PITA.”  (I mean, I can’t blame him – I certainly wasn’t volunteering for the job). 

So I put it out on ye ole Facebook that we needed some recommendations for some good siding peeps… and BLAMMO!  So I gave the info to K (he’s not on “the book”) and K has a list of 5 names of contractors to call tonight to start getting quotes.  Meanwhile, I have already been in contact with the town building inspector and… no.  There are no permits on file for the pool.  Only one for an electrical pump… from 1978.  Uh eek.  I’m trying to make an appointment for him to come out to the house and inspect it next week (with today being Friday).  We are at the point where we are willing to take the pool down if Clarence (the inspector) deems it so.  I mean, it’ll suck because it’s a lifesaver in the summer but we’re not going to let a silly thing like that stand in our way and, uh hello, we can always put another one in with Clarence’s specifications.

So yeah – you tell me and the Mr that we need to get all this sh*t done by May… after all these years of wanting to expand our family… you better bet your sweet Aunt Ethel’s patooty that it’ll be done by the end of March. 

I hope.

I’m ok with never being pregnant again.

I am totally ok with not being pregnant again.  No… seriously, for real.  I didn’t think I’d ever say that.  When we were going through the infertility treatments and I would read stories about people who ‘gave up’ I was like, “Whaaaaaaaaaat? Why?!?!  I am NEVER giving up!” 

But guess what?  Hearing: “you’re not pregnant” or “I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat” or “there’s nothing that can be done to save this pregnancy” gets a little old and wears down the soul.  After losing our daughter I never thought I would get out of that black hole of depression I crawled into.  We had thought that all of our prayers had been answered, we finally had our miracle and we were, phew, past the 1st trimester so we’re in the clear.  Hearing the doctor tell us that day that something was wrong with our daughter and she was going to die… I will never for as long as I live forget the sound that my husband made.  It was a cry of such complete and utter anguish and heartbreak.  He told me later that all through the 1st trimester he kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I had had a lot of bleeding in weeks 5-7 but after that all was ok.  Then when we were in the 2nd tri – he breathed a sigh of relief.  Then the rug was pulled out from under us and the worst part of our lives was about to begin.

But guess what?  We made it through.  Hallelujah.  I am not going to say that I do not have my bad days – oh hell yes I do.  I have her picture by my bed and sometimes I just stare at it.  It has taken a lot of therapy and self-reflection to be able to get to where I am today.  Being ok… ish. 

I now know it’s not “giving up.”  It’s making a choice to finally see what my body cannot and will not be able to do.  Then being ok with it.  Once we made the decision to really go forward with the foster to adopt it felt like we had hope again.  Yesterday when our CW asked us why we wanted to foster to adopt, part of the answer that we both gave was, “well, we can’t have children.”  That was huge for us and I don’t think we had ever said it out loud before.

Now there’s hope and a chance that we will have our family… and I won’t have to stick myself with 5 needles a day in order to get it.

So…how did we get here?

Well I guess since you’re going to be following me on this journey I should tell you a little about how we got to this place…how my husband and I decided to navigate through the world of DCF and become foster parents with the hopes to adopt.  I wish I could say that it has been our life long dream to help children in need…but I need to be honest here, right?

OK…I’ll try and make this quick-ish.

We met in 2007 and married in 2010.  Started trying to conceive in January 2011.  I was that crazy person who had the body Basel thermometer, recorded my temps and charted my cycle…I was like, “OK honey let’s do this- according to the chart I am ovulating and its the best time…” Romantic.

Fast forward to September 2011.  I made an appointment with my long time OBGYN and marched into her office with my folder of charts and notes…and sobbed my eyes out.  Why wasn’t this working?  I’ve read all the books, I’ve stuck this damn thermometer in my nether regions every morning for 9 months to chart my cycle (oh yeah, I was hardcore- go big or go home right?).  All I learned was that I had stupidly long and inconsistent cycles (36-42 days).  So we did the gammet of tests on both me and my husband (who will now be known as K) and good news!!!  There doesn’t seem to be a reason why you aren’t getting pregnant!

So, wait… what?

Right.  If anyone has gotten the diagnosis of unexplained infertility you know how frustrating it can be.  If there was a reason then we could deal with it.  But to just have the doctors shug their shoulders and be like, “you got me!” was beyond frustrating.  OK so maybe I’m being a little dramatic with the shoulder shrug but you know what I mean.

OK so I said quick-ish, right?

Fast forward through 3 months of clomid with my OBGYN and a recommendation to a fertility specialist.  Then more tests… “your husband has superstar sperm!”

Awwwwwesome.  So it’s me?  “oh we don’t know that…”

It’s all a blur of medications, injections, blood work, ultrasounds (I swear more people were up in my biz with that ultrasound wand than I ever imagined there would be people down in my lady bits).

We did 3 IUI’s (interuterine insemination).  Then we moved onto the big guns..IVF (in vitro fertilization)

Anyhoo.  So we thought…This. Is. It!  I mean they are literally implanting a fertilized embryo or 2 in my uterus and presto change-o you’re knocked up!!

Hahahahaaaa oh our naive 2012 selves…no magic fo’ you!

I am not going to get into the whole long story because honestly that is not what I wanted this blog to be about.  But I want you all to understand how K and I got to this place where we have decided to foster to adopt.

So where was I?

IVF #1 – no.  IVF #2 let’s change up the meds… yes…no.  Early miscarriage.  We took a long needed break where we talked and thought – let’s take the recommendation of the doctor and try donor sperm.  (I also ended up getting pregnant on our own during this break but it ended again in an early miscarriage).  It could be that K’s superstar sperm were not liking my average ueterus and my maybe-they-could-be-an-issue eggs.  Plus at this point it was all out of pocket and donor sperm is waaaaay less expensive than donor egg.  So let’s do it.

Again I won’t go through the explanation of how the donor sperm (and then IVF#4) donor egg process works.  This is not what I wanted my blog to be about but if anyone has questions I am more than happy to answer them in the comments below!

I might be sounding cold and detached talking about the years we spent going through fertility treatments and that’s not my intention.  It’s so very far from how we were feeling going through that time.  Anyone who knows us can attest to how heartbreaking and gut wrentching this time was.  You do not cross into the world of infertility treatments lightly.  It’s a commitment of daily multiple injections, blood work every other day, ultrasounds every third day…plus I was doing acupuncture 2x a week, seeing a chiropractor, getting monthly Thai massages (ok so that wasn’t such a hardship, lol).  I was at our fertility doctors so much and for so many years I probably should have had a parking space and invited him to Thanksgiving.

But where was I?  I promise, we are almost done.

We did, hallelujah, get pregnant with IVF#4 November/December 2014.  Twins!  We lost Twin B at 8wks but Twin A was strong and was sticking.  It was a girl and we gave her a name, planned her room, and announced to friends and family (not on FB) and told our co-workers because I was totally showing.  Then at my 18wk ultrasound we found out that she was very sick.  Neural tube defects along with many other things.  We saw 2 specialists at the 2 top hospitals in our state.  If it was one of the issues she might be OK.  But with the combination of issues she was not going to make it to term and was already failing.  To say we were heartbroken is a huge understatement. We had a tough decision to make but then it was made for us because she passed away.  On April 6, 2015 I was 20wks pregnant and I was induced.  On April 8, 2015 at 7:27am our beautiful baby girl was born.  Stillborn but Still Born.  Our moms came to the hospital to hold their granddaughter (my mom was with us for the birth).  Then we spent some time with her before we had to say goodbye.  She was small, just 7 inches, but she was beautiful and she was ours.  It was clear there were issues when looking at her and she probably would have had a very difficult life if she had made it.  But God had other plans for our sweet angel.

The next 16 wks were a combination of a lot of therapy, depression, a lot of healing and a lot of soul searching.  We had always talked about maybe adopting or foster to adopt our second / third child but now this was the only option left for us to start a family (I could not go through anymore years of fertility treatments- my body and soul just could not go through all that again).

I went back to work on July 20th (can I just say I work for an amazing company that was completely supportive of everything?  We definitely know we are blessed there).  On November 4th we went to our 1st Open House at DCF and then yesterday, March 2nd, after a long wait we had our home visit and interview with our caseworker.  It went really well.  Now we are praying that there is room in the May training classes so we can officially start this journey.

And so it begins…