Wednesday, June 20, 2012


This isn't a happy post, unfortunately. Nor is it a sarcastic or a witty one, because that would have been a lot more enjoyable for me to write. Actually, this particular blog post is kind of an "in memorium". And it probably won't be important to anybody, but for some reason it is important to me.

I went through a miscarriage this month. Jeremy is the name that my husband and I picked out for our baby. We don't know for sure that it was a boy, but . . . that's just what we feel. And we've been calling it a him.

I got pregnant in April after about a year or so of me being off birth control. I'm not really surprised it had taken us so long, since my husband's job requires him to be away from home literally almost 90% of the time, and we actually had to make special arrangements for me to go with him so we could conceive. And I did.

I took a pregnancy test in May which confirmed I was pregnant, and my husband was absolutely thrilled. He couldn't stop smiling, he posted it immediately on Facebook, and told everyone in the family that he was going to be a daddy again.

About a week later went in for my first prenatal appointment. I was almost 9 weeks along, and despite me being so early in the pregnancy, my doctor did an ultrasound anyway. And there it was, just a tiny little shape tucked in there, and yet despite him being so young we still got to hear the heartbeat. And due, of all days, on Christmas Eve.

All this time, and over the next couple weeks, we made plans. I had the names all picked out if it was a boy or a girl, although we and most everyone else still thought it was a boy. We figured out where to put the crib in our cramped bedroom, got it figured out how to work around Pete's work schedule when it got time for the baby to be born, and even got it settled with my doctor that since I'd had problems with my last labor and delivery, this time we'd just schedule a c-section.

Long story short, I started spotting and then cramping about a week after my appointment. I called my doctor in a controlled panic when the spotting hadn't stopped after a couple days, and I was put on bed rest for the weekend. Unfortunately, at that point it was already too late. After a very long afternoon of tests and ultrasounds at my doctor's office, it was confirmed that I had miscarried. The baby was too small for me being 11 weeks along, and there was no heartbeat.

I had called my mom the day before to have her come and be with me for my appointment because Pete was at work. And I had bawled to her on the phone when I did, because I just had this horrible, sinking feeling that I had lost our baby. I sobbed about it, trying to be quiet so I didn't make Pete worry, but he caught me anyway and just told me over and over that it was ok, and I tried so hard to try and be hopeful for him.

Telling Pete that it was a miscarriage was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I didn't want to tell him. He'd been texting all day, asking how things were going, keeping up with what was going on, and for a few minutes I just didn't have the heart to tell him that we'd lost our little one. When I talked to him on the phone a little while later when I had some privacy, it was undoubtedly the worst phone call I've ever had. The sheer . . . grief in his voice made my heart break, even more than it already had broken.

I had let myself get excited for our baby. With our first child, it was easy to hold back a lot of the emotion and attachment, to wait until she was here until I let myself fall in love with her. I wanted to make sure we would actually get her before I loved her, just in case. So I wouldn't be so hurt if we lost her. But we got her, and I loved her, and she was perfect and healthy, and she still is. It was harder this time to keep emotion out of it. I had already had a baby, I knew what to expect and I had already gone through this before. So it was easier to love the little life I was growing inside me, the little piece of me and my husband that we were looking forward to.

So it was devastating for me to have lost him. It hasn't hit me as hard and as abruptly as it hit everyone else. Pete was still talking about it as if everything would be fine, even the night before my appointment. But I was very worried long before I got confirmation from my doctor that I had miscarried. I had an entire week to dwell over the possibilities, and due to my extremely rational, often pessimistic mindset, I had plenty of time to consider and even expect the worst. Even though I hoped, and prayed, that everything would be ok, I still tried to prepare myself. Just in case.

I was doing ok, and Pete was doing ok, until this week when my sister in law had her first baby, a little boy. Pete got to see and hold him yesterday morning before he went back to work, and I got to hold him yesterday evening. It didn't surprise me that both of us have suffered a sort of relapse. Pete mostly. I've been so overwhelmed from my body going through this and even being in the hospital because of it last week that I haven't had a lot of time to be able to just think about it. To just let myself feel the emotions I need to feel to be able to move on again.

I guess this post is a part of that. I tried to write it over a week ago, I tried to just get it all out, but I couldn't. I couldn't find a way to say what I wanted to. But last night, Pete and I were talking, and something he said made it easier for me. Both he and I have been independently struggling and wondering if, with how young the baby was, if he really was someone or if he was still just an empty body waiting for a spirit. He died shortly after my first appointment with my doctor, so that heartbeat that we heard in her office ended within days or even hours of us hearing it. And both times, he was very small, and only measured about 7 weeks. Is that long enough for a body to exist before they are a real person? Did we actually have a little child in there, a baby with an identity and a mind and a character all his own, or was it just an empty shell waiting until it was more mature before it got its soul?

We don't know. And that was what was tormenting my husband the most. So he asked me if we could name him. For me, it gives a little bit more of something, I don't know what, but something to my own grief and mourning, to be able to miss and feel the loss of a real person, not just the possibility of someone. Someone real, with a name, that I can wish I could have known and held and been able to watch grow up.

We named him Jeremy. I suggested two names to Pete, and we both liked Jeremy. I had actually thought of this name before, on the day of my appointment with my doctor, and had considered writing it on the ultrasound pictures we got during my first prenatal checkup. And now I can for certain.

We had a son. A little boy named Jeremy that we never got to actually see or hold or have as our child, but we was ours, and we miss him. And we loved him. We were looking forward to having our Christmas baby, and we would have given a whole lot to have been able to have him. I just wish he could have been able to know his daddy. To have that relationship with the most amazing man I know. That's the worst part of the whole thing, is that he is missing out on a family that would have loved him dearly.

We love you, Jeremy. And I'm so sorry.

The Evaporated Milk Miracle

I am going to share with you possibly the most life-changing cooking secret I have ever stumbled upon. And I wish I could say that it has been my new trick that has been keeping me away from my blog for so long, but sadly that would be a lie. I just haven't had anything to write, honestly. But I do now, yay me! And so . . . the secret.

Anyone who cooks regularly and is on a budget, like me, has a certain set of skills that are necessary for their kind of cooking. One of them is looking at a recipe, and depending on the list of ingredients or the number of steps it takes to get to a finished product, lots of recipes go on the "Psh, that's not happening" list. Another skill is being able to see the shortcuts or cheats in a recipe, or even the ability to look at the picture, the ingredients, and be able to kind of wing it on their own without needing a recipe. And then there's this skill: the inconvenient ingredient spotting.

You know what I'm talking about. Shallots, pecans, buttermilk, puff pastry, weird herbs, wonky mushrooms, phyllo, milk of camel, eye of newt, you get it. Those ingredients that, yeah, you could find at most grocery stores, but honestly, you don't keep them in your house. And you wanna know the number one reason? You don't use them a lot, and they don't keep.

If you're buying yourself a pint of buttermilk and only using one cup and two tablespoons of it, what the crap are you supposed to do with the other cup? It would be immensely convenient for me to have a complete recipe database where I could look up things like "Recipes that use buttermilk" and then I'd be ok because I'd end up being able to use all my buttermilk. But I don't have that, and frankly, the thought of making one gives me a headache despite how much I would love it.

So, you find a recipe you want to make that calls for one of these pain in the butt ingredients. Sometimes you're already planning a trip to the store with enough money, so getting this ingredient is no problem. But then there's those times that you either just went to the store and you're not wasting the gas to drive there again for one stupid ingredient.

Half and half or heavy cream is one of those ingredients for me. And for good reason. There is no practical use for cream on a daily basis, there just isn't. I don't drink coffee, and that's honestly the only thing I can think of that would justify me keeping cream on hand. Which means that unless I buy it specifically for a recipe, I do not have it in the house, because it will spoil before I get around to using it, even though I have several recipes that call for it. So I've been suffering without these particular recipes simply because I was missing that one dang ingredient.

Well, folks, just recently I discovered the magic secret that has changed my cooking life. And I didn't even find this intentionally, I literally stumbled across it in an article or blog or something that I was reading. And it is this: a substitute for half and half or heavy cream in a recipe is . . . evaporated milk.

*Heavenly glow of light* That's BRILLIANT!

I seriously had a complete *DING* of awe when I read that! It's so simple, yet so genius! I have evaporated milk in my pantry, I use it enough that it's on hand all the time! Because, this is the BEST PART, it's CANNED! Which means, it lasts for a long time! I can buy four cans at Walmart in April, and they're still good at Christmas!

I'm serious, I almost had an aneurysm over this. Ecstatic fit. And that very night, I made one of my new recipes that I'd found and discarded at first because it called for heavy cream. It was a peaches and cream overnight french toast, incredibly easy to make (once I found out I could use evaporated milk!), and it was DELICIOUS. I'm going to make it again, it was so yummy, and I had every single ingredient on hand in my pantry. *Boogie dance*

So, ladies and gentlemen, that was my wonderful discovery that I just had to share with the universe. The magical substitution that changed my life. So many avenues are now open to me, I can do whatever I want! Who knows, maybe someday soon I'll learn how to FLY! (Ok, maybe this has gone to my head a little).

Now . . . if only I could find a good substitution for cream cheese . . .