Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Beggin Strips Pet Parade

Every year, St. Louis puts on one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations outside of New Orleans. Part of the celebration, and one of my favorites, is the annual pet parade! We unfortunately had to leave Ollie, our standard poodle, at home because he is a bit of a jerk to other dogs. Last year we brought him with a muzzle, and he still managed to snap at other dogs!! So, this year we just brought Wembley, our Wheaten Terrier. My brother came with his dog, Schaddy, who is a rescued pit bull mix. Chris and his brother came too. Here are some (pretty crappy) photos we took while down there:

Here's our Wembley
Wembley with Chris, my brother and Schaddy, and Matt, my brother-in-law
Schaddy likes to jump
I wish this picture had turned out better, because this Scotty dog in a flower pot was so cute.
Mrs. Puddles, another Wheaten Terrier. Her owners graciously gave us some treats to share with Wembley and Schaddy, although that resulted in Schaddy and Wembley getting into a pretty serious fight (Schaddy is very territorial about food).
Dreadlock dog

David and Schaddy

Also, in the spirit of Mardi Gras, every year I make a King Cake. I wasn't going to let the fact that I couldn't go down to the Mardi Gras parade (due to my egg transfer) get in the way of tradition! Here is this year's king cake (one of them, the other I'm taking to work with me):

Recipe for King Cake:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  5. To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
  6. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

Happy Mardi Gras!!!

Go local, everyone else is doing it!

Ok, so I don't think I've blogged about this at all, and we've been doing it for several months now! We are part of a local CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) called Fair Shares. So, all of the items in our share are locally grown, made, or raised. Every Thursday we get to go pick up our share (we have a partial share) and see what fun surprises we have! Here is a sampling of various items we have gotten that are still in our fridge/freezer/pantry:

I had NO idea that they grew rice in Missouri, but they do!!!

Fresh pasta from Mangia Italiano on Cherokee.

I'm not sure where these dried noodles came from?

Because it's the winter, we don't get much, if any, produce. But, come Spring and Summer, this CSA share is going to be so awesome! I feel very lucky that we get to experience this. There is a waiting list of over 150 people wanting to get a share from the Fair Shares CSA!!

It has been fun trying to come up with way to use the items we get from our CSA! I got a jar of pumpkin puree a while back that turned into a FABULOUS soup! I just made up the recipe, and never would have done so if I hadn't received a jar of pumpkin puree that I had to find something to do with.

3, it's the magic number!

Well, today (last Thursday) was the day . . . we transfered two embryos into my cozy uterus. One of the embryos was a seven cell, and the other was an eight cell. The doctor said they look for between 6 and 9 cells. And, here they are, for their internet debut:

It's so cool to know, that if these embryos turn into babies, we will have pictures of them before they were more than 8 cells!!!!

I put on quite the show. There were a lot of people in the egg transfer room today: the RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist), an intern to the RE, two nurses, the ultra sound nurse, the ultra sound nurse's intern, and Chris and me. After they got the catheter in, someone from the embryology lab brought in my two embryos to be inserted via catheter. They told us to watch for the flash of light on the ultra sound screen on the count of three, and sure enough, there was a big flash of light when the embryos were placed inside. It was so cool, like a big bang of life in my uterus. I don't know why I got so emotional, but I started crying. I was so happy to see actual embryos being placed in my uterus, I told them all it was the most pregnant I've ever been.

Then they wheeled me into the other room to lie down for 30 minutes before they discharged me. I get to go in for a blood pregnancy test (beta) in two weeks, February 25th. This will be a LONG two weeks! But, as I have seen others who are going through this journey write, "I am pregnant until proven otherwise!"

In a dish down the street . . .

there are 16 eggs fertilized and growing! I got my fertilization report today (I wrote this last Tuesday). We started out with 18 eggs, 1 of which was not mature enough. Of the 17 remaining, 16 fertilized!!!! Those are some good odds! They used ICSI (where they put the sperm into the egg with a microscopic needle) on 9 of the eggs, and let the remaining 8 fertilize naturally. Eight out of the 9 ICSI eggs fertilized, and 8 out of 8 fertilized naturally!

Now we wait for tomorrow to find out how they're progressing! We could either have a transfer on Thursday (2/11) or on Saturday (2/13). I'm hoping for Saturday so I don't have to miss anymore work!


You know what, I decided to recant that last statement about not blogging about my infertility struggles on this blog. That is part of my life right now, and I like blogging about it on this blog. So, as for the person who I didn't want peering into my life, I am doing this for myself, and I shouldn't worry about who else is reading it.

On that note, let me catch you up on the big events you have missed (pictures to follow):
So, we started our second IVF attempt after returning from the cruise. This time my ovaries responded quite well. I developed 30+ mature-ish follicles. But, my doctors were worried because my e2 (estradiol/estrogen) level was way too high (3700+) and I ran the risk (and still do) of developing OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome). But, miraculously, my doctors let me go through with egg retrieval. I went in last Monday morning at 6:45 am. The nurses and staff were very nice and tried their best to comfort me. I was crying because I was so scared. When they hooked me up to the heart rate monitor it sounded like a hummingbird's heartbeat. After some prepping and consultation, the anesthesiologist came in to start my IV. He was very nice, and gave me a numbing shot so that inserting the IV wouldn't hurt. Those anesthesiologists are the best! So then they wheeled me into the operating room. They gave me a nice, warmed blanket and put my feet up into the comfiest stirrups I've ever been placed in. They were ultra padded, plush stirrups. Why doesn't everyone have coushy stirrups?! Next thing I knew the room started to fade out and I was out like a light. I woke up in the recovery room to Chris and my mom standing over me. I felt pretty crampy when I woke up, so the nurse gave me some pain meds through my IV as well as a Tylenol. They brought me some apple juice and graham crackers, since I hadn't eaten or drank anything since 10pm the night before. They came back in to tell me that they retrieved 18 eggs!! I was so happy. Although, I dreamed that they would retrieve 22 eggs, so I was a little disappointed at my lack of being psychic. But, I couldn't complain!

Then the nurse gave Chris a lesson on how to give me my PIO (Progesterone In Oil) shots -- the ones with the 1 1/2 inch needle that had me shaking just thinking about it. But, surprisingly it didn't hurt. She circled with a permanent marker the spot that Chris needs to aim for when he does it. I have to take these shots once a day for eight weeks (if this results in a pregnancy).

After that we signed some discharge papers and I was free to go home. My dad came over to stay with me while Chris went to work. Really, I didn't need anybody after all, because I wasn't all that uncomfortable.

My brother-in-law stopped by in the afternoon to drop off flowers. That was so sweet and thoughtful. It was nice to know that they acknowledge the struggle we are going through.

Everything turned out better than expected -- and a lot less painful than expected. I would do it again, but hope, with all my heart, that I don't have to!!