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Tag Archives: miscarriage

The Unexpected Side of Pie

28 Jan

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And she learned to make pie and lived happily ever after.  The end.

That’s is exactly how I expected this blog to go.  It was going to be about my year of pie, how I learned to make it and offer tips and tricks for others aspiring to become competent pie makers.

What I didn’t expect was my public confession that the blog was disguising a broken heart over a fourth miscarriage that exhausted my mind and extinguished my dreams of a third child. I didn’t expect that my blog would become an occasional outlet to express my thoughts about fertility and loss and that strangers would find me and leave comments or messages of support and gratitude for providing a positive, honest outlook on a very delicate topic.  The unexpected side of pie was that it provided healing not just for me, but countless others.

What I didn’t expect was that a wonderful woman from Sugarland Texas would send me the cookbook she made with her mother, entitled none other than Pie Eyed.  That a short email friendship with a fellow baking enthusiast would result in a gift that is so special and dear to me.  The unexpected side of pie was that it allowed two strangers in two different states the opportunity to bake the same recipes and share with each other a piece of their lives.

What I didn’t expect was that I would chat with a man in California about his lemon trees, that people from 61 different countries would read my blog, that more than 15,000 visits would be logged (14,000 of which I’m certain are my mother) and that I would reconnect with childhood teachers and friends.  I didn’t anticipate that pie would evolve into an offering of gratitude and create a bridge for me to cross into the lives of people such as Ednia Eason, homeless families and even the oil change guy. The unexpected side of pie was that it gave me a portal to the world from my small town Cleveland kitchen.

That’s exactly how I did NOT expect this blog to go.

And she learned to make pie and lived happily ever after knowing that the unexpected side of pie is in the story that unfolds after it comes out of the oven.  The end.

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Kid Cliffhanger

14 Aug

I have a kid cliffhanger.  Kind of like a kid hangover…but different.

My fourth miscarriage has felt markedly different from the others.  It has left me dangling off the edge of a cliff and feeling like I’m in a choose your own adventure story, not knowing what the ending is going to be.

A friend recently said that she sees me and my husband having another child.  When I broke it to her that he’s good and fixed, she asked if I regretted making such a swift decision to end our fertility future right after our last miscarriage.  I told her the honest truth – that fourth miscarriage was the best thing that could have happened to me and helped me create the change I desperately needed in my life.  But I went on to explain that, there is something that is still not resolved from that time two years ago.  I’m experiencing a kid cliffhanger.

My husband and I spent the better part of 2010 in endless conversations about if we wanted a third child or not.  We spun the conversation every way possible.  Was there someone missing from the dinner table?  What does Christmas look like 15 years from now?  How many grandchildren do we want?  Can we bank our future on just two boys or should we diversify the pool for success? What if one kid dies tragically and the other doesn’t have other siblings to fall back on?  I mean, we were getting REAL.  After nearly a year we decided with complete certainty that we did, in fact, have room in our hearts for another child.  Shortly after, we welcomed the positive pregnancy test and embraced the good news that a new baby was on the way.

Six weeks later we received the all too familiar bad news that the pregnancy was not looking good.  The doctor suggested I wait a week to see if things improved, but I knew deep down how it was going to end.  I had to go to St. Louis for work that week and ended up spending the time alone having a miscarriage and flushing our dreams of a third child away in a hotel bathroom.

The days and weeks following were a complete shock to me.  The emotions did not feel the same as my first three miscarriages.  Instead of the soul-crushing hopelessness that each previous loss had handed out, I felt a strange sense of relief after the initial sadness passed.  My coping mechanism was to shake everything up.  My husband marched straight to the urologist for a vasectomy.  Then I got a new job which gave me a totally new scene and a fresh cast of characters.  I started running again and I lost the weight I’d been trying to lose since my last baby.  Things were looking up.  I needed this change and the miscarriage helped me realize that.

It’s been exactly two years since that miscarriage.  So much has changed but the one thing that has remained constant is this unexplainable incomplete feeling.  It’s like my biological clock is on snooze, wondering when the alarm is going to go off again.  What men don’t understand about women who want children is that we can physically feel these fertility urges and desires.  It’s like there’s a sixth sense that lives inside of us and connects us to this energy for creating life.  I started creating life four times over and it was taken away before it could be realized in this world.  What does one do with that energy, that desire, that love for what could have been?  Create more life?  Channel that energy to enhance the lives of others?  Adopt?  The universe has been filled with my promises to have a third child, to have a family of five, to love and grow three children who will make this world a better place.  These wishes from two years ago are swirling out there and I’m struggling to fill in the blanks.

My friend asked me what I’m going to do.

I told her that she’ll have to wait and see…it’s a cliffhanger.

 

Pie it Forward Election Edition: The Woman Who Made Pie for the President

11 Nov

The story that follows is one that I wrote in my early months of learning to make pie about a visit with Mrs. Eason who made pie for President Obama.  In the months following that visit, I continued to stay in touch with Mrs. Eason.  Once, she called me and asked me to bring a pie to her upstairs neighbor, so I did.  During the holidays, I took her a tiny Christmas tree and we set it up on top of her TV next to her dancing trophies and decorated it with tiny bulbs from Drug Mart.  As time passed, she would call me for no reason.  Some nights I would answer my phone and just talk to her.  We would talk about the same thing – pie.  She would scold me for suggesting certain fillings would be tasty and tell me that her peach crisps were the best.  Pie, church, Mr. Eason, repeat for the next call.  We always ended with how Mr. Eason was doing, her husband who was in a nursing home.

As it always seems to happen, my good intentions to stay in touch with her were suffocated by work and kids and distance.  I thought about her all the time, but the phone calls became further apart and before I knew it a year had passed.  So had Mr. Eason.  I was heartbroken for her when I saw the obituary.  I made a mental note that I needed to get back in touch with her and print her the pictures we had taken when we went to see him.  And as it always seems to happen, my good intentions were once again drowned out by life.  Until it was too late and Mrs. Eason passed.

I was looking at her obituary tonight.  Survived only by a guardian.  I wish I had gone to her funeral.  I wish I understood that flying into someone’s life isn’t just a fun hobby.  That sometimes it’s interpreted as an offer of companionship and if I’m going to open that door, then I should follow through.  Offering kindness and gratitude is generally a good thing, but Mrs. Eason taught me that I should tend more closely to the relationships I cultivate if I want to stay on this path.

Out of respect for Mrs. Eason and her willingness to let me into her life, I invite you to hear her story.

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F-U, Fertility

15 Oct

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Heavy stuff. I’ve never heard of such a day, but I saw it on Facebook via a friend who was honoring three babies she had lost.

The subject of pregnancy and infant loss always strikes a chord with me. I’m never sure if I’m in the club or not. I feel like my four early miscarriages don’t give me true street credit to self-identify as someone who has suffered significant loss.

On the other side of the fertility spectrum, I was in a conversation today with a friend who is trying to have a baby. I have numerous friends right now who are facing down the fertility challenge a little later in life. Images of ovaries with padlocks on them, refusing to ovulate because you just blew out your 40th birthday candle flash through my mind as I hear the uncertainty in their voices.

Every time I have these conversations, I get a pit in my stomach because I know what a joke fertility can be. This obscure concept that is nothing short of a superpower can be cruel and misleading. One minute you’re ovulating, the next your ovaries have posted a sign saying closed for the season. One minute the stick is pink, and the next you are getting wheeled into the operating room for a D&C. It’s a joke. Every 14th day of a cycle holds the promise of getting knocked up that month. Every 28th day holds the promise of two lines on the stick. Every stick with two lines holds the promise of a baby in your arms in 9 months. Every ultrasound promises that your baby is ok… for today. And every package of prenatal vitamins holds the promise that someday, your pregnancy will last long enough to get through an entire bottle. Continue reading

Almost, maybe, could have been…

18 Sep

I have a life filled with almost-maybes. You know, those times in your life when you have stuck your toe into something and then right when the critical moment came to go full-in, you bailed and headed another direction.  That’s me.  And if memory serves me right, that’s always been me.  I could have been so many things in my life…

I almost played the violin.  I started playing when I was four years old.  I remember falling asleep every night to the Suzuki records, hearing the patterns and allowing the brainwashing melodies to lull me to sleep. I played in recitals with adults and I think I could have been good had I continued.  But I didn’t.  I got bored.

I was almost a gymnast.  I started when I was five and know the exact date of when I did my first round-off back tuck (no handed back flip).  It was 8-8-88 and I was 10.  I was fearless and loved tumbling.  I flipped in the back yard, in the living room, in random parking lots.  I could have been really good had I actually practiced.  But I didn’t.  I got distracted.

I was almost a piano player.  I spent my whole life playing the piano by ear, so by the time I was in high school, I signed up for real piano lessons.  Every lesson started with a piano exercise going up and down the scale in complicated patterns.   My teacher told me that she had never seen a student play the exercises so proficiently and so fast.  She even tape recorded me.  She handed me the Maple Leaf Rag, and I played it.  She handed me Clair de Lune and I played it.  What she didn’t know was that I barely practiced.  I always wonder what could have been had I applied myself.  But I didn’t.  I made out with my boyfriend instead. Continue reading

How I Learned to Love My Dog

26 Mar

 

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One would think I should be a dog lover seeing as though I have one, but it took me quite some time to learn to love my dog. I had not been able to completely warm up to her until an unexpected experience left us with more in common than I ever could have imagined.

It’s surprising that I am so luke warm about animals. Look, I don’t want to see them hurt, but I also don’t want them in my bed. As a child, I was a PETA advocate in the making. I have so many memories of a young me shedding buckets of tears over all things living. One of my earliest memories is of watching a pet mouse die a slow death from a tumor. I would stare at his cage sobbing until my dad finally put construction paper on the glass to block the view. Then there was the baby bat in the bushes who had a broken wing. I had grand plans to nurse it back to health, but those went out the window as I shrieked in horror watching my dad put it out of its misery with a shovel. I cried over a chicken that lived on the side porch that was sent to a farm, I cried over a rabbit that broke out of his cage and died in the yard, I cried over a parakeet who I found lying on the floor of his cage (to which I later found out my mom stopped feeding it because I would not take care of it). Hamsters, dogs, fish – you name it, it had tears shed over it.

I don’t know what happened to that passionate little girl who brought home stray kittens and would have snuggled up with a hermit crab. For years, I have tried to rekindle my passion for animals by reacquiring some, but I just haven’t crossed that boundary to LOVE.

Four years ago, we succumbed to the pleas of our two young boys and got our first family dog, Chloe. I would pat her on the head and throw her a ball, going through the motions of a good dog owner, but I remained emotionally distant from her. Part of our arrangement with the breeder was that we would let her have a litter of puppies (yes, the people who just kind of like dogs signed up for this situation). It seemed good in theory. She would get pregnant, and then go back to the breeder’s house a few days before she was due to have the puppies. No puppy business in our house and we would get a mini dog vacation. As planned, she got pregnant and as her little belly continued to grow, I found myself identifying with her more and more as she waddled around the house. When she went through a phase of not eating, I would look at her sympathetically as if to say, “I feel your pain, sister.”

To our surprise, she went into labor two weeks early. It was 3am and we ripped the boys out of bed, threw everyone into the minivan and set out on the 45 minute drive to the breeder’s house. I sat on the floor of the mini van next to Chloe praying that I would not have to deliver puppies on the highway. With every contraction, my panic intensified as I frantically yelled at my husband to drive faster. We made it in time, but because this was a rather abrupt arrival, my husband went home with the boys and I stayed behind to keep Chloe calm. I felt like her Lamaze partner.

Chloe was confused and scared, but she relaxed as I sat by her head. To our disappointment, the first seven puppies were dead and the next three passed soon after birth. She was miscarrying. Of course Chloe was unaware of what was happening, but in that moment I had such an unexpected wave of compassion for her. Tears sprang to my eyes as I chuckled at the irony that the only girls living in our household (me and her) struggle to have successful pregnancies. Sure, she’s a dog, but my heart went out to her after trying to grow ten healthy puppies. I know what it feels like to trust that your body knows what to do; and I also know all too well what it feels like for your body to totally let you down.

I’ve had four miscarriages. My husband and I experienced three losses before our oldest son was born. Those early days are a blur of blood draws, genetic testing and inaccurate diagnoses, all with an undercurrent of the fear and confusion that arrives when you learn that your fertility is not in your control. We went on to have a text book second son and the trauma of those years began to fade. But just when I thought I had control over my fertility again, I was reminded that I, in fact, have none when our attempt at a third child resulted in another miscarriage.

And so, sitting on the kitchen floor in a virtual stranger’s house at 4am, I began to let Chloe creep into my heart. We had a unique bond that only I was aware of, but it helped me begin to love her. As I stroked her head and smiled at her, I remembered how the first time I let her lay in my lap was when I was having my last miscarriage. One of the few times I cried over that miscarriage was when I let Chloe come near and lay by me while I wept over another lost pregnancy. She sat with me through my miscarriage and now here I was sitting with her.

And while we both might have lost our pregnancies, I can say with confidence that we both found comfort in a most unexpected friend.

But she still can’t sleep in my bed.

Pear Eggnog Winter Pie

5 Jan

It’s 2012 and the best thing to do for a new year is to come clean and start fresh.  Don’t get excited – there’s nothing juicy here like sordid affairs, slipping my kids Benadryl so they will sleep, or a problem with shop lifting.  My confessions are rather mundane, but they are mine and blogging about them makes me feel like I can bless and release them, then move on.

I don’t recycle if the item is upstairs, in the kids’ room, in the bathroom, or anywhere really but the kitchen. And this is a step towards a greener me.

I feel guilty that I don’t feel guilty for being a working Mom.  I’ve felt like this for a while and am waiting for some type of guilt to set in for working full time and liking it.  But I’m fine.  So instead, I feel guilty that I don’t feel guilty.

I did karaoke just before Christmas in a bar full of strangers.  On a Wednesday. Sober.  My husband and I also have our own personal library of karaoke songs – nearly 1,000.  And we do karaoke.  Sober.  On any day.

This blog didn’t start entirely because of pie and I didn’t tell you the whole story.  I was totally into pie, so that part is true. The rest of the truth is that this blog came into being because I needed a distraction from a miscarriage that I had over the summer.  My husband and I finally got the nerve to try for a third child, succeeded for a brief moment, and lost the pregnancy.  This was my fourth miscarriage (three before my first son) and I was looking for a way to distract myself from the disappointment.  While I think I cope with my miscarriages pretty darn well, I do tend to do something slightly drastic after each one.

#1 – adopted two cats.

#2 – Painted every room downstairs in one night

#3 – Moved to Portland, Oregon (for a minute – found out I was pregnant (again) three weeks after I got there, quit my job and moved back to Cleveland.  That was the now 5 year old.)

Having a fourth miscarriage in the midst of raising two boys, a dog, a cat (left over from the first miscarriage), and a harder job left me with slim pickings for drastic change.  So instead of moving across the country, I started baking even more pie and blogging about it.  In those first weeks, I was making pie three or four times a week.  Pie is about precision and paying attention – especially when you’re new at it.  I found that the process of making pie cleared my head and prevented my mind from wandering and over-analyzing the summer’s events.  The rolling, the shaping, the baking, the eating – pie raised up my let down spirits and provided comfort.  And since we’re confessing here, it also added a few more pounds.

I love making pie.  I love giving it to people.  I didn’t know it at the time, but this funny little hobby has given me so much more than just a distraction.  It’s given me some space in my life to practice the art of gratitude and acceptance.  And that’s what I never had before – I always had to react, to make sense of things, make a plan, move on, go, go, go.  Who knew pie would teach me how to just be still and enjoy the slice of life that is mine?

Pear Eggnog Winter Pie

Adapted from Vegetarian Times

My coworker sent me a recipe for a Pear Eggnog Pie from Vegetarian Times a couple of weeks ago.  One look at this pie and I knew it was my next suspect!  There were some things about it that I wanted to tweak, so I used the recipe as my base and developed what I think is a pretty awesome winter pie.

Ingredients

1 recipe of pie dough for a 9 inch crust

10 gingersnaps (pulsed into fine crumbs)

3 medium pears (peeled and sliced about 1/4 -1/2 inch thick)

1 Tablespoon crushed or minced fresh ginger (in the jar if you’re lazy like me)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 can evaporated milk

2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon rum

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

Ahead of time:

Make pie dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to two days.

Pre-bake the crust:

Preheat oven to 400.  Roll dough into a 12 inch circle and place into a 9 inch pie plate.  You will want to leave a one-inch over hang by cutting the dough to even it out.  Tuck edges under and sculpt an upstanding ridge if desired.  Place pie plate in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Make the filling:

Keep oven at 400.  Using a food processor or mini-chopper (or a ziploc bag and a rolling pin) turn the ginersnaps into fine crumbs.  You will line the crust with a thin layer of gingersnap crumbs when it’s time to assemble.

Peel and slice pears.  Toss together with lemon juice and ginger in a medium bowl.  Arrange the pears in rows, standing on edge along the bottom of the crust.  Place pie plate on a baking sheet.

Whisk the sugar and eggs together until well blended.  Add in the evaporated milk.  Continuing to whisk well, add the vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and rum.  Pour mixture over pears into the prepared pie shell.

Place pie on the center rack of the oven and cook for 15 minutes at 400.  Lower the temperature to 350 and cook for another 35-40 minutes until the middle is set.  Ovens will vary, so begin watching it after 30 minutes.  Enjoy with ice cream or fresh whipped cream!