Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The End of Our Two Week Wait... (IUI #1)

Today is the day... we finally get our results from our first IUI. My doctor prefers to schedule a blood test 14 days after an IUI. Technically today is only day 13, but because I am going out of town this afternoon for a conference and won't be back until Friday evening, I asked the nurse if we could try to do a blood test on day 13 instead. I really didn't want to have to wait until Monday. My appointment is at 11:45 a.m. and I should get the results by the end of the day. I'm going to have my doctor call Lee with the results, because by the end of the business day, I'm going to be in a car with three co-workers driving to the conference. Positive or Negative results, this is not the kind of news you want to get when riding in the car with co-workers that you don't know very well.

Our plan is for the Dr. to call Lee with the results, and tonight, once I get checked into the hotel, I will FaceTime Lee and he will tell me the news. I'm trying really hard to think positive, but I'm like 90% sure at this point that I'm not pregnant. I have taken 4 pregnancy tests over the last week (I know, I'm ridiculously impatient), and they have all been negative. The most recent one was this morning. As far as symptoms go, I have had cramps off and on the past two weeks, and as of now, I feel like I could start my period any minute. Last night I was really testy, and of course those symptoms could be fall under either category and be pregnancy or period related. The past two days I have been exhausted and have gone to bed at like 8:30, but that could either be pregnancy related, or me just recovering from not sleeping much this weekend. That's why I'm about 90% sure I'm not pregnant. Don't get me wrong, that 10% is still hoping and praying for a miracle, but I'm trying to prepare myself for a negative test result just in case.

I will do another blog post once we have gotten the results, and until then I'll be praying for good news!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cookies-N-Cream Cupcakes

Hello everyone!

If you're new to my blog, you'll learn pretty quickly that I absolutely LOVE being an aunt! I have 3 beautiful nieces, and 2 awesome nephews. Love love love those kiddos! My nephew Carson is celebrating his 8th birthday this weekend with a Lego themed party. I have taken up a hobby of making cupcakes these past couple of years, and have made cupcakes for several parties, and have even done one smaller wedding! I asked my nephew if I could make his birthday cupcakes and he obliged. When I asked him what flavor(s) he wanted, he said cookies-n-cream! Hmm... I've never made cookies-n-cream cupcakes before, but I'll give it a shot! Thursday  night I baked the cupcakes. I used a white cake mix and followed the instructions on the box, but I also added a box of Oreo pudding mix, and 4 finely chopped Oreos. Lee is always my taste tester, and he approved!  I sealed up the cupcakes in a Tupperware container, and Saturday morning before the party, I iced them. My sister-in-law and I made the icing, and we used a homemade cookies-n-cream icing recipe I found was delicious! We tweaked the recipe just a bit, so see my updated recipe below.

Shopping list 
For the cupcakes:
1 box yellow cake mix (and eggs, water, oil, etc. that the recipe calls for)
1 big box (4.2 oz) Oreo flavored Jell-O pudding mix
4 chopped Double Stuff Oreos

For the icing:
1 8oz. pkg softened cream cheese
1 pkg Dream Whip
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2.5 cups powdered sugar
6 Double Stuff Oreos, finely crushed
Makes 20-25 cupcakes.
To make your cupcakes, follow the mixing instructions on your boxed cake mix. Before you pour your batter into cupcake pans, add your box of Oreo pudding mix and the chopped Oreos. Stir these items in. Line your cupcake pan with cupcake papers, and spray with cooking spray. I like to fill my cupcake liners about 2/3 full with cake mix. Bake according to directions on cake mix box.
Once your cupcakes are baked and have cooled, now you can ice them. Soften your cream cheese and put it in a mixing bowl. Add the ingredients one at a time, in the order as listed above. Stir after adding each item. When you add the powdered sugar, add it about 1/2 cup at a time. You may need to add more or less powdered sugar, depending on what texture you want your icing to be. I wanted my kind of stiff, so I used about 2.5 cups of powdered sugar.
To ice my cupcakes, I like to use Wilton brand disposable candy bags, and a large round metal tip.
This is the kind of icing bags I use, and here is a side view of the metal tip
Top view of the metal tip

To start, put your metal tip in the bottom of your bag. Don't cut the tip of the bag open just yet. Place the bag inside a small water glass and fold the edges over the top of your glass. This will keep your bag open so you can put the icing in.

Once your bag is in the glass, now you can fill it with icing. Use a spoon or a butter knife and fill your bag about halfway to the top. You can fill it less if you prefer. Just make sure you have enough bag left at the top to hold. Once you have your icing in the bag, pull the sides of the bag up and twist them tight. Then cut the edge of the bag, so that the metal tip barely peeks out the bottom.

Now you can start icing your cupcakes! I usually take the bag and push the icing to the bottom (try to push out any air bubbles). Then push the icing out onto the cupcakes in a circular motion. Start on the outside and work your way in.

Once all of the cupakes are iced, top them with candies or sprinkles! I used Lego-shaped candies for Carson's Lego party, and they were a big hit!

If you read my post, leave a comment. I love reading feedback from my blog posts!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Two Week Wait...

Hi everyone! If you've read my previous infertility posts, then you know I'm currently in the two week wait between ovulation and either my period or a positive pregnancy test. The same day I had the IUI last week, we went ahead and scheduled blood work to test for pregnancy. I will have my blood work done next Wednesday and get the results that same day! I've been praying everyday for the IUI to work. I did something stupid today though.... After 13 months of trying to conceive you think I'd know better by now, but I did it anyways... I took a pregnancy test. Of course it was negative because it's only been 7 days since the IUI, but I'm just so nervous and excited to know the results! My heart dropped when I saw the "Not Pregnant" sign on the test, so of course I got online and started reading about IUI's (for the 498375849th time), and literally every website that I looked at said that 7 days is way too early to test. So that put me at ease a little knowing that there could still be a chance...but now I'm kicking myself for even taking the test because now I'm thinking about it even more than I was before...The good news is only a few more days until I'll get the real test results and I know the weekend will fly by. My hubby and I are going to spend some time with his family tomorrow night, and then get away for the rest of the weekend to celebrate my nephew and dad's birthdays. My sweet nephew is having a lego-themed birthday party! Check out my other blog post to see the lego chocolates and the cookies-n-cream cupcakes I made for his party!

About Lee and Sara

Hello there! Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm Sara, wife to Lee. Lee and I met in college while cheering on the same college cheer team. During my senior year of college, Lee proposed (see the video below... he planned the sweetest, most perfect proposal), and we got married in August of 2012. At the time of our marriage, we were living in Lawrence, KS, where Lee's job had relocated us to. About 7 months into our first year of marriage, his job brought us back home, and we were thrilled! We spent the next year buying a home, making it our own, catching up with friends and family, and traveling. In December of 2013, we decided we were ready to start our own family. We planned a big vacation, and decided it would be our last big trip as a family of 2, or so we thought.

Lee and Sara in college, 2008

Lee and Sara's Engagement, March 2011

Lee & Sara's Wedding, August 2012
We spent Christmas in Rome, strolled around Venice, explored castles in Munich, rang in the new year in Berlin, and partied in Paris. I stopped taking birth control the day we left for our trip, and I honestly thought I may come home from Europe pregnant. The trip came and went, and about 10 months later, we were still not pregnant and I was having really long cycles, so we decided to go to the doctor.
Lee & Sara visiting Rome, Italy in December 2013

We were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. This means that there is no obvious reason as to why we cannot get pregnant. Over the next 2 years we went on to do 6 Intra-Uterine Inseminations (IUI). We had more doctors appointments, tests, fertility drugs, ultrasounds, and blood work than I'd like to count. None of the fertility treatments were successful, and we decided after those 6 IUIs to take a break and try some more natural options.

During our fertility treatments, I really had a hard time telling the same sad story to friends and family over and over, hence the birth of this blog. Most of my family live in the next state over, so having a blog seemed to be an easy way to keep everyone posted on our baby-making status.

On this blog I also enjoy sharing my favorite recipes, travel stories, and connecting with new friends via social blog posts, which you can read by clicking the tabs above.

Sara and Lee visiting a winery near Louisville, KY March 2016
Lee and I took a break for over a year from fertility treatments, and in the fall of 2016, we planned to do IVF. After all kinds of schedule changes and bumps in the road, we finally did IVF in early 2017. Our egg retrieval was in January, which resulted in 2 embryos. We transfered both of them on Valentine's Day 2017, and in October 2017, our precious William "Liam" Andrew was born.

Although we're no longer seeking fertility treatments, I kept my blog name and description the same, because as I share our travel stories, recipes, daily life pics, etc. I want my blog to always reflect that First Comes Love... I'm not always successful, but I want to live and act like Jesus, and always demonstrate love in the things that I do, words that I say, and write, etc. I'm certainly no professional blogger or writer, but I love using this space as a way to scrapbook the life of my family. I hope you'll follow along as I continue blogging through this crazy thing called life.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Shrimp, Steak, & Bacon Quesadillas

Everyone has those nights where you really just don't feel like cooking, or you simply don't have time. Tonight, for me, was one of those nights. I have an assignment due for my online class on Saturday, and reading to do for my night class tomorrow. Thursday and Friday night I'm going to be busy making cupcakes for my nephew's birthday party this Saturday, so tonight I really need to get my assignment and reading done for my classes (Check out my page later this week to see my cookies n cream cupcakes). Since my night is already pretty busy, I decided to make a quick dinner: quesadillas.

I love making quesadillas because there are no rules! You can put almost anything in them and they'll be good. Last night I grilled steaks for Lee and I, but I couldn't finish all of mine. I also had a few shrimp thawed out that didn't get used from our Yummy Shrimp Tacos last week, and some corn left over from our steak dinner. These three things, along with some chopped bacon, onions, and mushrooms got put into our quesadillas. Here's how I made them:

2 tortilla shells
1/3 cup shredded cheese (I like Colby-Jack)
*left-over meat and veggies (I used steak and peppers, but chicken or shrimp would both good too!)
*1 chopped mushroom
*1/3 chopped onion
*2 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
*These ingredients are all optional! Use what you have in your fridge, and personalize this to what your family likes.

Each recipe makes 2 servings.

I had some bacon thawed out that needed to be cooked up, so I took two pieces of bacon, cut them in half, and cooked them in the skillet. Once they were cooked, I removed the bacon and set on a paper towel, and left my grease in the skillet. Once the bacon cools, cut it into smaller pieces and set aside with the other chopped meats. If you're wanting to eat healthier, skip the bacon all together and just heat some extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in your skillet.

Next, I chopped my onion and mushroom and threw them in the skillet with the bacon grease. Once the onions were nearly soft, I threw in my chopped steak, de-tailed shrimp, left-over corn, and chopped bacon pieces. I stirred all of them up over medium heat until they were all warm.

Then I plugged in our quesadilla maker and put a tortilla on the bottom. (If you don't have a quesadilla maker, you can use a Panini press, or simply a skillet on the stove.) Fill the tortilla with your heated food mixture and throw some cheese on top. I like lots of cheese, so I used about 1/3 cup, but you can go more or less depending on your preference. Slap another tortilla on top, close the quesadilla maker, and let it cook. Once the tortilla shell is browned, take it out a cut into triangles using a pizza cutter or kitchen scissors.

I like to serve my quesadillas with queso and salsa. I love this meal because dinner can be ready in about 20 minutes!

If you read my post, leave a comment. I love reading feedback from my blog posts!

Why Start a Blog?

Recently I started this blog, and am having so much fun personalizing it and writing the posts. Here are a few reasons I decided to start blogging:

1. Lee and I can use it as a way to document and remember our infertility experiences. Several years from now, when this is just one of many bumps in the road that our marriage has endured, we can look back and remember what we experienced and see how far we've come.

2. If we ever get pregnant, we can use this as a way to document and share our pregnancy. Dealing with infertility can be difficult, especially when every time you log onto social media, you are bombarded with pregnancy announcements, baby pictures, pregnancy pictures, etc. If I ever get pregnant, I will try to avoid doing that, and will share my experiences on here.

Note: I am NOT against other people sharing their special news and excitement on social media! I am so happy for all of my friends who have exciting news to share, and love that they have such a convenient way to do so. I personally just prefer to share my good news on here so that people are only seeing it if they intentionally come to my website and read it.

**Update on 1/24/18: 3 years after writing this post and having baby Liam, I realize now how unrealistic it is to not share photos and updates of my family on social media! I don't always have time to write a whole blog post, but can quickly share a pic or video to Facebook or Instagram. I have so many out of town family members and friends who want to see updates of Liam. Many of them get primarily posted on Instagram, but I do share some of them on Facebook as well. Infertility friends, I'm so sorry if these photos set you off! I will not be offended if you need to unfollow me on social media for the time being. 

3. Infertility and everything that goes along with it can be an overwhelming, heart wrenching, emotional, scary, and sometimes lonely experience. It has been comforting to read blogs and hear other couples' stories about infertility, and most importantly, reading women's blog posts about the actual treatments. Reading about other women's treatment experiences have allowed me to have an idea of what to expect each time we started a new part of the process. Maybe by me blogging about Lee's and my experience, I can help someone else in that same way.

4. During the last 14 months, my faith has certainly been tested, but each and every time, God finds a way to show himself, and remind me that this is His plan, not mine. Writing blog posts will allow me to share those truths with you, and maybe even allow for some of you to share some with me. God is good, and I know that if Lee and I are faithful, he will deliver.

5. I love Instagram! I am always taking pictures of recipes that I try and posting them on Instagram, and usually when I do that, someone is asking for the recipe. This will be an easy way for me to share recipes and more pictures of my food creations.

6.  Lastly, this is really just a great way for Lee and I  to share our news, recipes, life events, etc.  with those who love us and want to know what's happening in our world.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog, and for all of your prayers and support.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) Number 1

On my last post I filled you all in on how we started working with our fertility doctor and that he had suggested we combine Clomid with an Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) to try to get pregnant. This month, we did just that! On day 3 of my cycle I started taking 100 mg of Clomid and took it for 5 days. On day 9, I started using the home Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPK for short, which I will use for the rest of this post), and on day 10 I got a positive OPK, I called my doctor's office and they said I should come in that same day for an ultrasound. The ultrasound will show the size of the follicles on my ovaries, and if they are mature enough for ovulation. Follicles on the ovary are basically the eggs that could potentially be released during ovulation.

For anyone reading this blog who is struggling with infertility, and may use this same treatment method, be aware that this is not like the ultrasounds you see on TV. This is the third ultrasound I've had since we started all of this, and when I had the first ultrasound done, I was really thrown off. I thought I would go into the ultrasound room and they would squirt a bunch of junk around on my belly and roll the tool around and see what's going on....I was so wrong. It was a vaginal ultrasound... I didn't even realize that was a thing until all of this started. By this time in my cycle, I had 2 other ultrasounds previously, so I knew what to expect, but the very fist one caught me by surprise, and was very uncomfortable.

The ultrasound indicated that I had 1 mature follicle and 1 nearly mature follicle, which allows us to assume that I am likely to ovulate. This is great news!! The last time I took Clomid and had the ultrasound, I did not appear to be ovulating, so I was thrilled to get a positive this time. Since we knew I was ovulating, the nurse and I scheduled my IUI for the next day. Lee went in at 10:30 and did his thing, and I went in at 11:30 for the IUI. Thankfully, Lee waited around afterwards and came in the room with me during the IUI.

For the IUI, the sperm is inserted directly into the uterus through a catheter. For me, this part was painful and caused a large amount of cramping. Afterwards, I had to lay still for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes I was free to go and was allowed to resume normal activity. Because I didn't know what to expect with the IUI, I took the rest of the day off work, and I was sure glad I did. Afterwards I had some cramping and was kind of emotional, so I was glad to be able to go home and rest. 

After the IUI, I had to wait about two weeks before the clinic can do a pregnancy test. We scheduled my test for Wednesday, January 28th, and this is proving to be the longest two weeks I've had in a long time! I am writing this blog about 5 days after the IUI, and I have 8 days to go. I'm praying, hoping, and wishing everyday that this IUI results in pregnancy. Hopefully next week I will have good news!

You can read about the results from this IUI here.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sweet & Spicy Shrimp Tacos

I love cooking and trying new recipes. All kinds of recipes. Dinners, deserts, side dishes, drinks, you name it! Most recipes that I try are found on pinterest, but I always like to find a way to make them my own. Recently I found a shrimp recipe that was supposed to be similar to Bang Bang shrimp found at Bonefish Grill.
I made this recipe into tacos, and Lee and I both loved it!

Here is how you can make these tacos at home:
To start, Thaw and de-tail your shrimp. I just buy frozen, pre-cooked large shrimp. To thaw mine, I usually just put them in a bowl of cold water for about 30 min before I plan to cook, and the tails pull off pretty easy. You could cook them w the tails on if you wanted, but for tacos that could be tricky to eat. When I cooked Thursday night, I had about 15 large shrimp, but I had enough breading and sauce left that I could've probably made about 20.

Once the shrimp are thawed, plug in your deep fryer to start heating it up (we just have a small fry daddy that we use), and make your breading. Here is how I do mine:

Egg mixture:
½ cup milk
1 egg beaten
Mix these two items in a bowl.

Breading mixture:
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup panko breadcrumbs (I usually do use panko breadcrumbs, but Thursday I didn't have any, so I just used my chopper and ground up Ritz crackers until I had a 1/2 cup, and that worked just as well!)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon onion salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried basil
Mix all of these items together in a separate bowl.

Once your shrimp are all thawed and de-tailed, coat them in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture, then back to the flour mixture. Then leave them all in the flour mixture bowl and set aside for about 10 minutes so the breading can stick to the shrimp.

While the shrimp is aside in the breading mixture, make your sauce. The sauce is tricky because I don't have an exact recipe. I usually just add things together until it tastes right, but next time I'll keep track and let you know exactly what I do.

I start with these ingredients:
1/3 cup Mayonnaise
5 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce (below is the picture of the brand I use, and this sauce is also really good to dip Crab Rangoon in if you ever make that)
1 tablespoon of sriracha

From here, we added a good amount more of both the chili sauce and sriracha, and kept tasting until it tasted right. The chili sauce will make it sweeter, and the sriracha will make it spicy. We like ours sweet with a good hint of spicy. Make sure you mix your sauce in a Tupperware container with a lid, so that you can just keep it in that bowl and shake your shrimp up once they're cooked.

The taco shells were pretty tricky, and this is the first time I've used won tons for this purpose. Let me know if you happen to try this recipe and find a better method! I made the taco shells one at a time. I bought the small square wonton wrappers. Drop one wonton into your Fry Daddy grease and let it get a lightly golden brown. I just let mine lay flat in the grease because they float right on top, and flipped mine over halfway through so that both sides got lightly brown. I used metal tongs to handle the won tons. Once you take them out of the grease they are really stinkin' hot and kinda hard to handle. If I had a taco shell holder, I would've used it in this case, but I don't, so my engineer hubby helped me rig something up. haha! We took one of our oven racks out and set it on the counter with two Tupperware containers underneath (upside down) to make it sit up high. Put a paper towel underneath the rack too, so it can help catch grease. Once I took the wontons out of the grease, I tried to shape them around the metal wires of the oven rack so the would dry holding that shape. We tried both folding them in half and diagonal. Eating with the diagonal wontons was better for the tacos, but folding them in half was much easier to make. We also tried folding them before we put them in the grease, but that made them not hold very strong in the middle, so some of ours ended up breaking, but of course they still taste the same, so we weren't too worried about it. I made about 8 won ton taco shells and left them to cool while I cooked the shrimp.

Now that your shrimp are breaded and your sauce is ready, you can cook your shrimp! Just drop them into your deep fryer and cook them until they're golden brown. Take them out of the deep fryer and put them directly into the sauce. You want to sauce them while they are still hot, so they sauce sticks to the shrimp really good. Once I have all of the shrimp in the sauce, I just put the lid on the container and shake it up until the shrimp are all covered.

Then you can put them on your tacos, or if you don't have wonton shells, just eat them by themselves! We used about two large shrimp per wonton taco shell, and we lined our taco shells with chopped romaine lettuce and shredded carrots.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Trying To Conceive: How it all started...

In December 2013, Lee and I decided we were ready to start our own family. We planned a two week trip to Europe (read more about that here) and decided that we would have one last trip just for the two of us, and when we got home, we would start trying to get pregnant. We left for Europe on December 21, 2013. I honestly had my fingers crossed that we would conceive in Europe and I would come home pregnant, but it didn't happen for us that month, or the next month, or even the next 3 months. During that time we didn't put too much pressure on ourselves, and we weren't counting my cycle days or anything. We figured we would just see what happens.

By the end of May, we still hadn't conceived, so we decided to start using a home ovulation predictor kit (OPK for short). May, June, and July all went by, and we still weren't pregnant. August was a stressful month, and I was late... Normally being late would make me super excited, but I had zero pregnancy symptoms, and had even gotten a negative pregnancy test, I assumed the worst. After a long weekend trip, I called my doctor and let her know that this was day 40 of my cycle and that I still had no period, and several negative pregnancy tests. She said she would prescribe me a medication to make me start my period, but of course on our drive home from our weekend away, I ended up starting, so I didn't pick up the medication. My next 3 cycles were in the 38-42 day range, so after my period in October, Lee and I decided to see the doctor.

We met with my OBGYN and talked to her about our frustrations. She said that since my cycles were so long, there's a good chance that I'm either not ovulating on my own, or that I'm not ovulating at the optimal time during my cycle. To fix this issue, she prescribed me 50mg of Clomid. Clomid is a medication that can be taken to help a woman's body  prepare for ovulation. The doctor said she would also like to do some blood work to check my hormone levels, and the blood work and Clomid are both best when done on day 3 of my cycle. Luckily, the day we met with the Dr. was day 2! So the next day I went in for some blood work, and also started taking the Clomid which I continued once a day for the next 5 days. The plan was to take Clomid on days 3-7 of my cycle, and do an ultrasound on day 7 to see if the Clomid actually made me ovulate. We did this, and it turns out the Clomid did not work. I did not ovulate, and in addition to that, I had a cyst on one of my ovaries. As if 10 months of periods weren't disappointing enough, here was another let down. The doctor said we could try again on my next cycle, but in the mean time she recommended Lee complete a sperm analysis.

 Lee went that next week to the fertility clinic in town and completed a sperm analysis, and we got his results less than two weeks later. The results showed that his numbers were a little off, so the OBGYN recommended that he do another analysis to double check. The second analysis came back a little off again, and our OBGYN referred us to a fertility specialist. I was feeling so sad and frustrated after all of these let downs, but was excited about meeting with the fertility doctor and making a plan.

We met with our fertility doctor for the first time in early December. He recommended we have several tests done before we proceed with a treatment plan. We spent the month of December doing additional blood work to make sure we are not carriers for several genetic disorders, an ultrasound to take another look at my cyst, and an HSG test, which tests to make sure that my Fallopian tubes are not blocked. After our results from all of these were in, we met with our doctor again to go over the results. This time, we got great news! My Fallopian tubes are not blocked, my cyst was gone, and neither Lee nor I are carriers for the genetic disorders that we were tested for. Our game plan going forward was for me to call the doctor on the first day of my next period. Then I would take Clomid on days 3-7 of my next cycle, but this time we doubled the dose to 100 mg. Next I would need to monitor my ovulation using a home OPK, and once I got a positive test, call them that same day. The day of the positive OPK I went in for an ultrasound to see if the medicine is going to help me ovulate. If yes, then we will move forward with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) the next day. If the ultrasound says I am not ovulating, we will do more blood work to see if we can figure out when or if I will ovulate. For now, we are wishing, hoping, praying for a successful January, and patiently awaiting cycle day 1.