Sunday, March 11, 2012

Unti It Happened To Me

I always thought I understood what it meant to experience a miscarriage-until it happened to me. I can honestly say now that unless you have personally gone through this yourself as a woman, you can never really understand the complexity, the mix of emotions, and the pain involved.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2 Crosses




Upon my wall hang 2 crosses with the words "In Loving Memory" on them. To those who know us these crosses need no explanation. They hang here on this wall to remind us of two very special people we will finally have the honor to meet one sweet day in Heaven. Their names are Jonah and Mary, and they are our Twin Children, whom we have only met in our dreams. We we have never had the opportunity to hold them, to hear them laugh, to see them smile, or to play with them. They were created by the Grace of God via IVF, on January 16, 2008 at the same time as our living 3-year old Twin Children Noah and Dovie. They were kept safe for us until this past July, when Joshua and I knew we were ready for them.

Having been through IVF before we knew what to expect, and just as last time, we left no room for doubt in our minds that we would become pregnant with our second set of Boy/Girl Twins. We followed each step of the IVF process exactly, we prayed, we believed, and we made plans. When I attended my 20 year high school reunion July 16 I was already pregnant, which I already knew, and would find out "officially" the following day. It was so exciting seeing my friends after so many years and having such wonderful and exciting news to share with them!

Finding out I was indeed pregnant with our second set of Twins was even more exciting this time because we had Noah and Dovie to share in our excitement. When we started our IVF protocol in May we began explaining to and conversing with Noah and Dovie about how "Mommy would be getting pregnant and having more babies." To our surprise and delight, at just under three years old they understood what was happening, and took great interest in being a part of this very special time in our lives. They watched me take my shots and helped me put the patches on my belly. They asked many questions, which we gladly answered. They would look at, rub, kiss, and even talk to my belly. Soon the waiting became too much for them-especially Dovie Grace, as she would say to me constantly, "Mommy I want to see my Baby Brother and Sister!" I just knew I was in for 9 months of this talk, and although she began to sound like a broken record, I was looking forward to hearing that record play every day for the remainder of my pregnancy. However, these days those are not the words I hear from her sweet little mouth. Instead, she says almost daily, "Mommy I miss my baby sister and brother." When the tears fill my eyes I take a deep breath, hold her in my arms and remind her that they now live in Heaven with Jesus.

Never before in my life have I experienced such a mix of emotions as I have over the last few months. I have been sad, shocked, in disbelief, dumbfounded, confused, in angst, heartbroken, numb, and angry. I have some peace because I know that our precious Jonah and Mary are being held in Jesus' arms, waiting for Mommy and Daddy to come join them one day. If it weren't for my faith and trust in God, I know I would not have made it through these difficult months. I thank God for giving me the strength to get through this. I also thank God for giving me my Husband Joshua, who has been my rock. As hard as this has been for me I know he has suffered equally as much with his grief, and yet he has always been my strong set of shoulders when I lose all my strength and completely break down. My family has been a strong source of support, as they always are for both Joshua and myself. Still, with all of the resources of support I have had, including some counseling, it is just so hard to believe that it's over. How could I be pregnant one day and then not pregnant the next? For Joshua and I, the possibility that this pregnancy would end without two healthy babies was simply unimaginable. We still do not, nor will we ever, at least in this life, understand WHY. There is no closure.

I have chosen to use the written word to communicate my experience, as it is difficult for me to verbally talk about our miscarriage. When I hear myself saying the words "I had a miscarriage," it hits me like a ton of bricks and I am flooded with a tsunami of emotions that suffocates me to the point I feel like I am drowning. It feels completely overwhelming. I thought that by now I would be over this. Ok, who am I kidding, I knew when it happened I would never completely heal, and I would live the rest of my life thinking about my children, wondering what would have been, and missing them. The place in my heart reserved for Jonah and Mary is now filled with emptiness. Still, each time Dovie or Noah ask me about their little sister and brother, I gather up all my strength and I sit with them and talk about what happened, and reassure them that one day we will get to be with them when we get to Heaven. For them, this is sufficient explanation. For me, is simply isn't enough. In 2008 when we had IVF the odds were stacked against us having a sucessful pregnancy, but we don't wager on odds, and Joshua and I both knew with all certainty that we WOULD become pregnant with a boy and a girl-we just knew this to be true.

When God answered our prayers he gave us hope for our future with two additional perfectly formed embryos. While I wanted all four implanted simultaneously, our IVF doc put in two and we chose to keep the others in what I like to call their "luxury hotel" for safe keeping. In the last 3.5 years I have thought about and prayed for them-Jonah and Mary, every sincgle day. When you know that at a certain time your life will be blessed with more children, you begin making plans, you prepare, you hope, and you look forward. Since our miscarriage I have felt like my world has stopped spinning in a sense. Noah and Dovie have kept me going, because there have been many days when after my Husband leaves for work I just want to crawl into bed and sleep the day away, but I must continue to be the best Mommy I can to Noah and Dovie, who deserve nothing less. I sometimes find myself wanting to sleep in order to dream about Jonah and Mary. Other times I find myself not wanting to go to sleep because my dreams about them are so real, that waking up from them feels like I am experiencing their deaths all over again, and the pain is almost unbearable. I'm afraid I have developed a pattern of insomnia because of this cycle.

Additionally, this experience has put some fear into my head concerning Noah and Dovie. I remember bringing them home from the hospital after they were born, and I was terrified of everything-the ride home with them in our car, walking down the stairs while holding them, even cutting the little hospital ID bracelet from their ankles scared me. It hit me like a ton of bricks how fragile their lives were, and how I was now responsible for them for at least the next 18 years! I am not sure how many parents-if any, feel this way or if I am alone in this, but it was really a scary time which took a lot of prayer to get through. I don't remember when it was that I finally stopped letting fear run me over like a truck, but I can tell you when it reappeared in my life, and that was when I had my miscarriage. It was then that I realized that just like Jonah and Mary, Noah and Dovie could be taken from us at any moment, and that thought both terrifies me and makes me hold steadfast to my faith and trust in God.

I believe that in life it is important for us to learn from experiences we have. If there is one thing I have learned from this, it is how to comfort someone who has suffered a miscarriage, and what NOT to say. I have heard so many words of "comfort" from people, and albeit I do believe they mean well, their words sting like bees. The comments I have heard are too numerous to post here, but some of the most memorable include, "It just wasn't meant to be," "Well at least you already have two children," "At least you weren't that far along," "You can always adopt," "Are you going to try again?" "You shouldn't spend time being sad because you have two beautiful children, and that should make you feel blessed because there are so many people in the world who can never have any children." "Oh well it just wasn't in God's plan I guess," "Well think of it as a blessing, I mean how would you have gotten anything done with FOUR kids?" Yes, they REALLY said those things, and yes they really said them to my face. Recently a friend of mind sent me this message via Facebook, and it meant so much to me I thought I would post it here, as an example of the kind of words that comfort, show sympathy, and also encourage.

"I am so very sorry about your miscarriage and the sadness that it brings. I can not even imagine what that is like to go through and my heart breaks for you. I know you have a wonderful husband and sweet little angels to drive you on those really sad days, but i hope you do find time to allow yourself time to go through your grieving and emotions. you deserve that. Big hug to you!"


This is the kind of response that helps because it is honest, caring, and a simple but important reminder that although it may feel like it at times, you are not alone in your pain. People who know you are hurting too. They feel the pain of your loss through you because they genuinely care about you. I don't want others to be in pain. I just want them to allow me time to grieve this loss, because that is exactly what this is-this is a tragic loss. I know our angels are living it up right now in Heaven with sweet Jesus. That, and only that knowledge, gives me peace.


Thank you for reading my most private thoughts, and thank you for your prayers.
Amanda








Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rasperry Waffle Sandwich

Good Morning All!

This morning's breakfast was a sweet surprise for Noah & Dovie, and I am excited to share the recipe with you! It is easy as pie, and tastes as good as pie too! It has a beautiful presentation, and it would make the perfect breakfast or even dessert for Valentine's Day.

Toast 2 Whole Grain Belgium Waffles, then cut each in half so you now have 4 pieces.

Spread Lemon Pudding** (you can use any kind-I made my own using real lemons) on the tops of 2 pieces.

Place fresh Raspberries on top of pudding, then cover each piece with other piece of toast, like a sandwich.

Spread pudding on top of each sandwich followed by raspberries.

Top with whip cream and 1 or 2 Raspberries.

**I added Jay Robb Whey Protein into the pudding.

While this looks lovely served on a plate, I served Noah & Dovie's in bowls, and cut them up making it easier to eat.








Thursday, February 9, 2012

Caramel Orange YUM YUM Delight!

I stumbled upon an easy recipe that I simply MUST share tonight because it is absolutely melt-in-your-mouth YUM YUM AMAZING!

Everyone has heard of and I'm sure eaten a caramel apple or two in their lifetime, and I certainly am no exception. However, until tonight I had never imagined the delight that would come from eating an orange drizzled in caramel. I think I have found my new best friend-HIPS BEWARE! It was so easy to make, and since there were NO leftovers, cleanup was a breeze.

Recipe:

I used 2 large oranges, which made 4 adult-sized very filling servings.
1/2 cup Caramel Ice Cream Topping
Brown Sugar


Use a zester to achieve finely shredded orange peel, 1-2 Tablespoons to your taste.
Peel oranges then slice crosswise, and arrange on dessert plates.
In a small saucepan, combine caramel topping & orange peel. Cook on low until heated.

Drizzle caramel over orange slices, then top with desired amount of brown sugar and serve.

Now then, ORANGE you glad you read my Blog tonight to get this fabulous recipe? Of course you are! NIGHT NIGHT!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mommies Sharing Meals!

I knew my Friend Kristie, whose link for her store here on my Blog, was creative in her posh princess designs. However, today I realize she is equally creative at serving up healthful FUN meals to her children!

Check out this photo she so sweetly gave me permission to share! Then, check out her beautiful and fancy creations on her web site for Bella's Bowtique! http://www.etsy.com/shop/bellasbowtique2008

What a fabulously FUN and HEALTHY idea!


Healthy Waffle Breakfast Sandwich

As any Mama of a Toddler would agree, planning meals can be a real challenge-especially when trying to satisfy the picky taste of one's children while at the same time making healthy choices-not to mention trying to do this while saving both money and time. Having 3-year old Twins has made me more health-conscious than ever before, and I am always in search of creative ways to introduce new foods into the mouths of my children. Today it was MISSION COMPLETE, as Noah and Dovie were quick to devour their breakfast and say to me in their tiny sweet voices, "YUMMY MOMMY, YUMMY!" **Please Note-my children are on a Dr. Ordered higher-fat diet. You will therefore see in my recipes butter, cheese, milk, and added natural fats. You may subsitute/omit to your discretion.

Here is the quick and easy recipe as I prepared it (this recipe is enough for 2 Toddlers to share, or for 1 older child or adult)

Waffle Sandwich:

Toast 2 Central Market Organic Whole Wheat Flax Waffles.
Spread natural peanut butter on 1 waffle, then drizzle with honey and add raisins.
Top with other waffle, then cut in half. (You may also serve whole or cut into quarters)

Egg Whites

I have started using Grapeseed Oil as a cooking additive and to lightly coat my pans. The high smoke point and delicate flavor is a plus, as its real value is the antioxidant Vitamin E. It tastes great, and I prefer it's flavor over my usual go-to olive oil.

So, I start by lightly coating my pan with Grapeseed Oil
Cook 4 Egg Whites in pan, add sea salt to taste. I added yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in smaller pieces, and a small amount of mild cheddar cheese.

Warm Brown Sugar Pineapple

Fresh Pineapple cut into bitesized pieces and topped with brown sugar and warmed in microwave or pan.

Try this recipe out and I'm sure it will become one of your Family's new favorites! GO MOMS GO!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's NOT LUCK and It IS Fair!

If I hear someone say to me or another Fit and Healthy Mama, "It's Not Fair how you look after having kids!" one more time I am seriously gonna blow a gasket!

What prompted this note today? A friend of mine (who has 3 young children and an AMAZING physique) mentioned in a recent post that she hears comments such as "Oh, it's just not fair that you are so skinny after 3 kids!" all the time. Or people tell her she is "lucky" to have such a fabulous figure. They do speak the truth about how fabulous she looks (and believe me she does look FAB-even better than she did in high school, (which in itself is amazing since she was a gorgeous and glamorous gal back then, and I should know because I went to high school with her!) However, as well intended as their compliments are, they are greatly misinformed about the nature of her statuesque shape. Sonja has spent 20 years as an avid runner, 10 years lifting weights, and she consistently engages in a variety of physically challenging exercises. She follows a healthy diet and leads a healthy lifestyle. THIS, my friends is exactly WHY she looks the way she does-luck has nothing to do with it, nor does "good genes." Sonja's HARD WORK is the reason this Mama of 3 young children has a beautifully sculpted body!

I myself have heard similar comments. I am not perfect, in fact I am far from my physique goal. I am however, PROUD of the fact that I lost 89 pounds after having Twins. I am proud of the fact that albeit I have a family history of obesity, I maintain a healthy body weight. Yes, I sell and take nutritional supplements including those that help burn fat and lose weight. However, I did NOT lose my 89 pounds by taking "magic pills." I lost 89 pounds by picking up tools made of iron called "weights," " barbells," and "dumbbells," curling them, lifting them, jerking them, pushing and pulling them, and doing all sorts of crazy moves with them before finally setting them back down "gently" with a huge sigh of relief. I lost my 89 pounds by busting my bootie for an entire summer during sweltering temperatures, pounding the pavement with an Ironman Running Stroller carrying my Twins, pushing a combined weight of around 80 pounds for miles and miles and miles. While my Twins enjoyed many nice long naps with the cool breeze of 2 mini fans blowing in their sweet faces, I enjoyed every minute of my pain and exhaustion by focusing on my GOAL-becoming The Fit Healthy Mom-a goal that, despite many doubts of naysayers, I knew I could and would achieve.

I knew when I was pregnant with my Twins that I would have a lot of weight to lose and that it would be a struggle. I'll never in my life forget being approached by an employee who said to me, "Once you have those babies your body will never be the same." What could have discouraged me added fuel to my fire. I do not understand what part of "Calories In versus Calories Out" and "Build More Muscle to Burn More Fat" or, in simple terms, "Burn (via exercise) More Calories than you Consume" that people don't believe, but IT IS TRUE! America is in a sad state today as evident by simply glancing around any eatery, shopping center, gas station-and sadder still-any PLAYGROUND. Where once being overweight was the minority, it has now become the norm. Now, when a shapely Mama with a child or children walks into a crowded room everyone stares. Used to be, when an overweight person walked into a room all eyes would be on them-not so much anymore because this is "just how it is" here in America. Sure, Fast Foods and Sugars and all the Artificial "this and thats" could be blamed, but I think there is a serious case of the "don't want to's" and the "I can'ts" in this country. I really don't think my employee was trying to be mean or discouraging, she genuinely believed that it is impossible to get back into one's pre-pregnancy state after popping out a couple of kids. I think many women believe this, and feel like "what's the point?" and just give up. How Unfortunate!

I appreciate when folks offer a compliment regarding my body or my weight loss, and I know they mean well, but frankly when they tell me how "lucky" I am, and especially when they say how "unfair" it is that I look a certain way, I am offended. Why? Because I WORKED for my results. Luck had nothing to do with it. I EARNED every bit of how I look because of my hard work, so yes, it is fair and it is just. I worked hard every day-sometimes twice a day even on some of Texas' hottest days in history. I followed a clean, healthful diet, dropped artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, sodas, diet sodas, fast food, and candy from my meal plans, and ate every 3-4 hours. I drank gallons and gallons of clean filtered water, and I took my Omega-3's and Multivitamins daily. I made a plan, I worked my plan, and I achieved results which I have maintained for 3 years.

While I am on my soapbox about how hard I have worked to EARN the way I look, let me also mention how, other than the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard, the only thing worse to hear than the aformenioned is "well, you are a stay-at-home-Mommy, so you HAVE TIME to work out." OH REALLY?!?! Ever have Boy/Girl Twins? You should try it sometime when you want a REAL WORKOUT!!! No, I do NOT "have time" to work out. I rarely have time to take a nice hot bubble bath any more. Several times throughout the day I find myself doing sprints to the bathroom because I have kept so busy I have forgotten that I HAVE TO PEE! I keep deoderant in my car because I sometimes stay so busy that I forget to apply it in the morning. I worked 10 years as the Corporate Sales Trainer at a huge national company where I was in charge of training 100 + employees, stood on my feet all day every day, and worked crazy long hours-albeit I had loads of fun and I loved my career, it was hard work, but NOTHING in comparison to what kind of work I have done for the last 3 years and I will do for the next 15. Ok, DEEEEEEEEEEP BREATH! So, now that you understand that I am a stay-at-home WORKING FULL TIME MOM (and wife-did I mention Wife? and Housekeeper, and Cook, and...) who does NOT have time to work out, let me break it down for ya: I have chosen to MAKE TIME to workout-I awake daily at 4:15am to make my 5:00am workouts. There-enouh said, right? (Because you know I can go on :)

So, more to the point of the whole "I make time to workout" subject, what is it with people using the excuse "I don't have time to workout?" Of course you don't have time to workout, but just like any other thing of importance in your life, if it is of value to you then certainly you will do whatever it takes-even if it means getting up at some crazy early or late hour, in order to make it happen for yourself, right? That may not be something you personally are willing to do for yourself, but for me it has become a RESPONSIBILITY like any other in my life, placed high on my list of priorities. Working out has become like breathing to me-it simply MUST be done, and I do it first and foremost to SURVIVE!

Finally, let me mention another friend of mine Susana, who is married, who has 2 children, who works, and who has just completed a Marathon. She works out every day like the Champion of Health and Fitness she is, In fact, now that I mention it, I know several STRONG ladies who have families, children, work either inside or outside of the home, all of whom wake up in the wee hours to work out in our 5 am FitCamp (Atmo's FitCamp Katy, TX)-I'm certain that they would agree with me that they are not "LUCKY" to look like they do, and I bet they would agree that it certainly "IS FAIR" that they are in such AMAZING shape!

So please, when you see a strong woman with an incredibly fit body-whether she has kids not-please, compliment her-she deserves it. Keep in mind however, that the best form of flattery you can pay her is to acknowledge her hard work!

Just Sayin'!