Sunday, January 1, 2017

New year, new blog


I'd like to invite you all to my new website! (I do need to inform Bloglovin' of the change, but this site will remain open until March 1st to give you all time to move over.)

risakerslakewrites.com

You can find the link to my Welcome post over there by clicking here!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Who down my stork?


I guess we'll never find out. Because of course that was the whole reason for starting this blog. A quest in who was the jerk that came up to me, shook their finger in my face and scolded, "No stork for you!"

Well I have something I'd like to say to that person.

"Who's laughing now, jerk-face???? I haz a baby!"

I do have a baby.

And scars on my stomach from shots.

And old sharps containers of needles. 

And no money. 

Because I have a killer IVF loan.

And probably some equally killer infertility PTSD.

And a snarky attitude towards people who get pregnant without trying.

But I have a baby.

I'm still infertile, though.

And I'm freaking out worrying about how we will finance a trip back to Texas for an FET in 2018.

And I'm freaking out none of my three embryos will survive.

And that Olivia won't have a sibling.

These are the things that keep me up at night, people.

Before I had hundreds reading me everyday, I had no one except my mom and the occasional pervert searching, "vagina punch." I still wrote quite a bit though.

As 2016 comes to a close, as well as this space, I realized I've written 310 posts. Which over the course of three years, I admit, is less than I would have wanted. That averages out to be about 77 posts a year, which is about 6 posts a month. Granted, That's about what I'm averaging now lately.

I've written posts that have made me cry as I'm typing. And sometimes I would crack myself up at what I came up with. I've written posts that I worried were too personal, too "out there," posts that would offend someone. I've written posts that my mom would have been embarrassed at. I've written posts where I've wondered what Future Olivia would think. And maybe I'm too honest sometimes and it's going to come back and bite me. For the record, though, if didn't overshare and delve in deep and tell secrets to the Interwebs, my posts would have basically consisted of this:

May 26, 2013: IVF is hard. Too many shots.

October 10, 2014: IVF isn't working. Fuck everything.

April 2, 2015: Pregnancy is pretty cool, minus the barfing.

February 7, 2016: Olivia screamed for 45 minutes and couldn't be consoled. Why does she do this? Must Google it.

I wished I would have blogged more, especially going through the donor egg cycles, but I started writing for mom.me and was working 40+ hours a week and didn't have a clue how to get my life back under control. I wish I could have summoned the energy to blog more that first month of Olivia's life. But still, 310 posts isn't bad. And 2017 is a new year.

On January 1st, I will leave the link for my new site here. January 1st was the launch date because I'm OCD, there is really no other significance to it. And this site will remain up for a bit longer before I put it into private mode. I hope you join me over there. Many of you I have known for years, so I hope we can continue that friendship.

I just want to remind you all again, this blog itself may be going away, but the content will all move over. All my posts will still be there. My Facebook page will also change its title, to being my own name. You don't need to search for a new page. (Though this link won't work anymore after I change the name.)

You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest (though I'm not very active on Twitter. I still don't get it. And if you follow me on Pinterest, I pin a lot of recipes.)

Thanks for caring, for commenting, for sharing your own stories, for encouraging, for challenging me, and for making me feel like my stories here- all three hundred and ten of them- matter.

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year and I'll see you on the other side.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

That Christmas we wore matching pajamas


Last year, I thought I was having the best Christmas ever. (Apparently I was having so fun I totally forgot to even blog about it) I had a newborn, after so many years of waiting. I bought her presents, wrapped them and, well, opened them for her. It was incredible. How could it get better than this?

But this year. This year was so much better. And I've heard crazy talk that next year will be even better.

For starters, I bought us matching pajamas.

I made some attempts to get photos of her alone in her pajamas, but like most things I want in life, Olivia decided it wasn't important.


From the looks of things, she's either giving me a colossal fuck you in interpretive dance, or this is my glimpse into her teenage years. (I'm sorry, Mom.) So I gave up and decided to give you bloopers.

Chris prepared the dough for - brace yourselves - Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls for the next morning. Olivia thought it was fascinating.


I thought he was going to accidentally fold those cheeks into the batter, but luckily he caught himself in time.

I mean, it looks so easy! You just let this stand mixer do the work?


We got the dough rolled and wrapped so that all he had to do in the morning was cut them, proof them, and bake.

Christmas Eve morning, we woke up and Olivia waited impatiently for the cinnamon rolls to finish by deciding to try her hand again at the child-proof locks with her faithful sidekick keeping watch.

Bested again.



She seemed perfectly happy with her yogurt and strawberries, but did get a little piece of cinnamon roll. But that was it. Mama is a monster like that.


After breakfast, we went downstairs to open presents. Growing up, this was a tradition in our family: to open our gifts Christmas Eve morning. I think it was to spread out the holiday since our stockings from Santa would be Christmas morning.


She was very interested in her gifts. Namely opening them. The toys themselves were ok. I actually got almost all her toys secondhand to save money, but I guess it defeats the purpose when you buy too many. But she did get a tunnel (new) and a rocking horse for outside this summer and I got some crazy good deals on all of the toys.


When I found the Little Tykes school bus at a consignment sale I about DIED. I used to have this (actually I think it was my sister's) and we played with it all the time. It came with all nine of the little people and I can't WAIT to play with it!!!! (Olivia can join in too if she wants.) Chris and I didn't get each other gifts this year (with the ultimate gift of a baby and everything), but Toby got some new toys too. Little does he know I'm purging all his other disgusting toys.

By the time we were done with that, it was 11:00 and I was freaking out because we were planning on going to church at 1:00. But then she slept until 12:45 and then we ate lunch and I prepped the food for our family Christmas that evening and I knew she really needed a second nap that afternoon since I knew she'd be up later. So we missed the 3:00 service and I was pretty upset because, hello Christmas. It was definitely one of those moments of "parenting fail."

This was the only two pictures I took that evening since it's hard manning a camera with a baby who loves nothing more than to race around the house and dodge a variety of legs. But check out that adorable Christmas shirt!


She partied hard all night and passed out around 10:00. I wasn't sure how the night would go, but she ended up sleeping in all the way until 8:45. It was perfect because it gave Chris and I time to get ourselves ready. When she woke, I had a Very Serious conversation with her that she should really do that more often, nursed her, and then brought her downstairs to see what Santa brought her.


A sled!!! And pretty books (to be supervised with at all times. Girlfriend likes to chew). Toby's stocking was missing from the picture because Santa brought him a bone and he decided early that morning to tear through his stocking to get to it.


She loved pulling things out of her stocking even if her arms weren't quite long enough to get to the bottom. After that, she helped Mom and Dad open their stockings.


How did Santa know I wanted colorful pens for my new planner?? Olivia was trying to figure out what they were, while still trying to hold the Reese's candy cane and Mama's colored tabs. Multitasking. She's been practicing.


We then whisked over to my parents for brunch and more presents from her grandparents and aunties.


I mean, the picture doesn't do justice to how excited she was to open more presents. Especially when they are more babies and a new baby bed.


But really, she enjoyed herself. (How can I convince you she really did enjoy herself?)


We then went to my aunt's house on my mom's side for a ham dinner (which Olivia loved, until she didn't and threw it on the floor). She had a blast. The girl loves attention and knows how to work a crowd. Toddle around, act shy when someone approaches you, break out into huge smile and thrust whatever is in your arms at said person as peace offering (be it a doll or a piece of chewed cracker), then wave arms wildly, politely ask for object back and then toddle away. Bonus points if you turn around without falling to give one last smile. Loves attention, I tell you.


It even works when taking family photos. You just have to demand Grandmas's necklace and when Grandpa is acknowledging you, turn up your head to give him your world class cheesy smile and wait for him to crack up so Mama can take a hundred photos of it. Then turn back toward the camera like nothing ever happened.

So it was a good Christmas. An even better Christmas and it flew by and now it's over until next year. And for once, I'm sad to say goodbye to another passing year. 2016, while wrought with some pretty annoying things, was good to our little family. Watching her grow right before my eyes, those are the moments I wouldn't trade for the world. And while the holidays are hectic and stressful because our money is so tight, I hope she always knows how incredibly loved she is. I hope I always keep in mind that it's us she wants, our time and attention and the toys... they're fun to play with. But Christmas is so much more than that (though I failed miserably this year at it.) and I hope I can instill that in her. Good thing I have a few years to get it right before she starts having memories. :)

P.S. Sorry not sorry for the photo dump again.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Reader Survey results and gift card winner!



If I was on a white sandy beach, could afford expensive jeans that hugged my body just so, and a man, this would be me. Down on my knees. Thanking you.

You guys, when I decided to try out a reader survey, I wanted to be realistic and not set the bar too high being that it was my first one. I was shooting for 20. 40 would have been awesome.

I got 79 responses. 79. Though the OCD in me wishes it was 80, but hey, I'm not complaining.

Congrats to Sara for the iTunes gift card!! (She's been contacted and is probably even more excited than I am.)

I'm still working on analyzing it all, but I wanted to share some of the things I discovered.

Out of basically 80 people, (I should have made my mom take it):

~Half of you found my blog through another blog or site (I thought it would have been Facebook, but that was second.

~Only 20% of you are fellow bloggers.

~Half of you see my posts through Facebook (a scary thing for me, being that Facebook is always changing their algorithms).

~75% of you have been reading my blog for at least a few years (That made me all sorts of weepy).

~The #1 favorite type of posts you like to read about are updates on Olivia. Which oddly surprised me. A close second was infertility, and most of you like reading about my awkwardness... No surprise there. What also surprised me was the least favorite posts are ones that have nothing to do with infertility or Olivia. I had no idea. See? Here I thought you wanted to see something other than Olivia, but.. I mean, how could you not want to read about her??


~94% of you said you would read posts that talk about raising kids/motherhood (since I'm clearly an expert now). I've never been interested in becoming a "mom blog." I follow some mom blogs and they are wonderful. But there is a reason I follow those, and it's because I just... I don't know. It's probably the stigma attached to that. So. If I write those types of posts, I promise to throw in some vagina talk or other equally awkward subject, just to break it up a bit.

Those of you who took the time to give me some written feedback... Thank you. You have no idea how appreciative I am of that. I got some great insight and some great ideas for future blog posts.

I know it doesn't look like it, but it is HARD to come up with content. It was easier going through infertility. Talking about treatments, or sex, or the range of emotions surrounding it all... it was easier to write about. How do I stand out now, just being a mom with a baby?

As I said, I'm still working through the analytics part, but seriously. I'm so glad I did this. Thank you so much to those who took the time to take the survey. I'm blown away by how many of you participated. (I bet it was the gift card.)

Going forward, I may bring back these little surveys. Nothing this long though. Maybe just when I want some ideas for posts or when I want to collect some information for my own amusement. It's been fun.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

To The Mama Without Her Baby This Christmas


I was out shopping yesterday, buying some last minute Christmas gifts (because I always forget somebody. I will let you speculate on who) and was in a department store, in the baby section (ok, fine, I was looking for clothes for Olivia, sheesh). I was aimlessly walking about, picking up an outfit here, some footed pajamas there, when I saw her. A girl about my age, in the aisle across. We traded smiles and I returned to studying the dress in front of me. (Walk away, idiot, she doesn't need anymore dresses.) I took a peek over at the girl and saw she was fingering a tiny newborn sleeper, blue with little green swirls, pretty much as gender neutral as you can get. She had a look on her face, a small smile and sad eyes, barely visible to anyone who wasn't looking for it, before she dropped her arm and walked away, empty-handed.

I knew that look. I knew that exact look because that look was on my own face two years ago. I almost went after her. I almost approached her and almost said... what? What was I going to say? "Are you infertile? Because girl, me too! Can I give you a hug? Or invite you out for some wine and spinach dip?"

Maybe it was nothing. Maybe she was a girl, newly married, thinking about having that baby, because the weather is freezing and having sex sounds warm and fun and maybe we'll get pregnant! I'm shooting for a September baby! Why is it taking for-EVER? It's been like three months, zomg!

But I don't think so. I know that look. And suddenly, I felt a rush of emotion because two years ago I did the same thing. I walked the baby aisle of the department store, softly touching the little sleepers, holding the tiny shoes, and wanting to cry my eyes out right then and there because it was so fucking unfair and I didn't want to celebrate another Christmas without my baby.

I didn't want our tree to be filled with generic bulbs from Target. I didn't want our adult presents to take up all the space underneath it (though I did get really excited about that bean pot).

Me with a bean pot, circa 2014
No matter how much I loved my husband and my fur-baby, the truth was, there was a stocking missing and you guys, I couldn't deal with it. I couldn't deal that there were no baby presents under the tree or the fact that those handmade ornaments weren't hanging. Because they were supposed to be there.


Toby is still waiting for me to replace the stock dog photo from his stocking, so he thinks life is pretty unfair too.

Life is unfair, even though I have all these new toys.
So to those of you still waiting for your own miracle, to those of you who lost your precious baby, to those of you who are dreading this coming weekend... I see you. You are not forgotten.

To the women in the baby section, gently holding those little clothes and thinking it's just never going to happen for you: you think no one can see the pain on your face. I do. I promise I'm not just another mama out shopping for her child. I've been in your shoes. That same pain? I still have it and it hasn't quite faded.

This weekend when I set out Olivia's stocking Christmas Eve, when I help her open her gifts and take her photos and dress her in her Christmas outfit, I will think of you. I will think of you and where I was two years ago and how it's possible to have everything you ever dreamed of and yet still be hurting.

To the mamas without their baby this year, I know how much it hurts. I know the experience of losing a baby right before Christmas. I know how it feels to have your arms empty when they should be filled with lots of squishy baby. I know how hard this holiday can be.

I promise you're not alone.

Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 Stork Reader Survey (and giveaway!)

 
I'm *almost* in the single digits when I count down the days to launching my new website. Can I be real for a second? Ok, good. Here it goes: 

Sometimes I wonder if people (I'm talking to YOU) want more out of this blog. Are you totally cool with reading all about my life, or do you want something else? I don't know. I came across the idea of a reader survey and I thought I would try it out. If it's successful (read: Please take my survey), I may use it annually to get some feedback from you.   

So that being said, the survey (it will take you ten minutes or less!) will help me prepare for this new website. If you are a relatively regular reader of my blog, I would love if you could fill this out for me. If you wanted to be entered for a chance to win a $15.00 gift card to the Apple Store, be sure to leave your name and email within the survey at the bottom! 


When I originally started this blog, it was to 1) keep friends and family in the know about our infertility journey and 2) to build a community of support. And that's how it will continue. But the way I present that information (or what kind of topics I could expand on or introduce) will always be written with you in mind. This community has truly changed my life and I can't thank you enough for it. Blogging challenges me. I have periods of writer's block and complete un-motivation, but all in all, it's my Hatchimal: I need it. It's like crack. And I'm willing to pay well more than it's probably worth.

For those on mobile devices, click here to go to the survey, which will show up better for you. :)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

New site update: Two more weeks!


It's been while since I posted about how my new website is going. So I thought I would give a little update about what I've accomplished so far and what I still have left to do before the launch January 1st.

The short of it: 

*whispers* I think my website is trying to kill me.

The long of it: 

I didn't realize how good I had it with my free Blogger website until I started building my own. Well ok, to be fair, Chris is handling a lot of the back end stuff like the plug-ins and security. I give props to those of you who handle that stuff yourselves because I pretty much have the technical skills of an end table, or Olivia. To be fair, though, she has figured out how to turn on the smart TV options menu which I have no idea how she did and have no idea how to do myself. So I'm pretty sure she's surpassing me in that department.

Here's what I accomplished:

*Purchased the domain name. Easy to pick. I own it for the next three years. No more "blogspot.com" after my blog name anymore. It's all mine. Also bought a host provider.

*Created a new Gmail account specific for the site.

*Chose the title of my blog. Not so easy. I lamented and wavered and lost sleep over it for awhile. Then my designer made the logo and I changed my mind and made her scratch the whole thing. She totally worked with my crazy and went with it.

*Finalized a logo. Still working out the color scheme.

*Plug-ins and security. Chris did this. Blogger has always been nice because they take care of all the updates and security, but I was obviously limited in what I could do with everything. But hey, it worked for me for 4 years.

*Chose a theme. Not so easy. I had a certain theme in my head that I wanted, but none of the free themes offered through Wordpress or Boldgrid were doing it for me. Seriously, this was harder than choosing my egg donor. We finally chose a paid theme for $30 and it's much more customizable and true to what I want.

*Partially imported my blog. Remember how I told you Who Shot Down My Stork? was coming with me? We got it imported into the new site and I worked (while watching Breaking Bad on Netflix) in the evenings after the baby went to bed on adding new tags and sorting the posts into categories. I'm excited about this because it means all my posts on infertility are separated from everything else. We will import the rest right before launch so everything is up to date.

*Set up a comments plug-in.

*Set up a contact form. I'm excited about this. It will make emailing me so much easier.

*Save for a plug-in for my archives, I have the widgets mostly figured out.

*Bought a PO box (see below)

Here's what I have left to do:

*Write my About Me page. Harder than you would think. I never really had one for my current site, because I just geared it toward my infertility journey.

*Set up Mailchimp for newsletters. Funny story. Ok, funny now, but at the time it made me stabby. Being new to this whole website development thing, I knew I wanted to have something like Mailchimp to have the ability for email subscriptions. When Chris and I went to set it up, it wanted a physical address. But... that address would be going out to all the people that subscribe to my blog. So putting my home address on there was out of the question. And here's the kicker: If you falsify one, just for the sake of putting something, the Federal government can come after you and fine you $16,000... per email you sent. Yeah. Hence the reason for the PO box. We searched and searched around and found one in some small town (the building isn't staffed until 11:45 am, if that tells you something) for $36 a year, which included the key. All the other places were double or triple that. So now I officially rent a PO box. I should make people send me mail there just to make it worth it.

*Receive the final logo design. Squee!

*Figure out the colors for headings, links, post titles, etc.

*Change over all social media to match new website. (I'll be busy January 1st.)

*Finish planning for super awesome event in celebration of launch. Top secret.

*Anything else Chris tells me I forgot to do, causing me to panic.

Websites are hard, you guys. It's been fun working on the logo and all, but the reality is, it's been kind of the biggest headache I've had since my Lupron injections. I just can't wait until the stupid thing is done and it's live and I can just get back to writing and posting an obscene amount of pictures of mah baybee.

Speaking of which, you didn't think I'd really go without posting a photo of her, right?

I couldn't decide if I wanted to post this one to show off her eating my Breaded Pork Loin with Apple Slaw:


Or this one because Dat Smile:

No, that's not Toby about to bite her hand off. He was licking her and she thought it was hysterical.

Or this one because ZOMG! How cute is sheeeeee???


So I posted them all. You're welcome.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Olivia meets Santa and I do all the crafts

Right around Christmas last year, when Olivia was about a month old, I was asked by several people if we were going to take her to see Santa. I wasn't really feeling it, because 1) she was tiny and 2) I didn't want to stand in line waiting at the mall to see Santa. 

Chris's company had their family Christmas party December 3rd and they had a room set up with Santa and a photographer. For free. And no line. It was awesome. I didn't know exactly how Olivia was going to react. I thought she would either cry, or be completely indifferent. 

And in true Olivia fashion... 


She couldn't have BEEN more indifferent. Apparently, the photographer was much more interesting to stare at. She really only looks this intently at two things: food and my boobs. These are also the only two things Chris really stares intently at too. Lolz!!!!



I think this is about the time Santa and I were sharing a laugh at this girl's face. Because it really doesn't change.


So. No hysterical crying picture this year. Olivia just thought she was sitting on a comfy red chair. (I'm kind of sad these turned out so dark, but I guess free is free and no line makes for happy babies.)

Besides, Olivia had to stay in a good mood because Mama wanted to check out the make-your-own-crepes bar. And bacon. And cream puffs.


They went all out and had a couple conference rooms with activities for the kids. One room was a place to make a Christmas bulb ornament with our family's thumbprints-turned-REINDEER FACES!


Another room had a station where kids could make a good old-fashioned Popsicle stick tree ornament. Baby too small to glue down buttons without eating them? No problem. I'LL just plop myself down in a conference chair, two toddlers on each side, and make one myself. Never mind I'm the only parent in there crafting in lieu of my baby. I've been waiting YEARS, YEARS you guys, to be able to craft a Popsicle stick ornament and have it actually be from my daughter. (Full disclosure: I may have a sad Popsicle stick craft project I did awhile ago hidden in my underwear drawer.)


But hey, it was in doing these activities that surprised me that I cared so much about it. Christmas is obviously a huge trigger for those in the throes of infertility. (Believe me, I know) Making ornaments, even though it wasn't technically Olivia (ok let's be honest, it wasn't from her in the very least), it was representing that I had a child.


Olivia was dressed in her best albeit only sweater dress. (She's wearing this as her Christmas outfit too because IVF bills.) (I wonder how many infertility references I can make in this post...) The shoes? Totally came from her birthday outfit.

Girl don't care as long as there are people to watch and platforms to hang out by. Especially Olivia-sized platforms.


She thought the tree was pretty cool. Things in general become a lot cooler simply by pointing at them.


After we stopped at the hot cocoa bar, we made our way upstairs so Olivia I could decorate a gingerbread cookie to take home.


Once I saw the finished project, it totally became Olivia's cookie. She has to work on her sprinkle aim.

That Sunday we set up our Christmas tree (downstairs, because I thought that would be a bit easier to manage during the day with a busy baby) and Olivia was enamored with all the decorations.


She was fascinated with the tree.


Lights! Glittery objects! (That purple hummingbird in the tree? Infertility ornament exchange.)


So I pretty much can't wait for Christmas this year. And I know I said that last year. And last year was good. But this year? Better.

It just keeps getting better doesn't it?

Monday, December 12, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: I tell you a story about my trust issues

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

One of the things Olivia and I did whenever it was nice out during the day was go on walks. We're lucky that we live by so many parks, three within walking distance, and two of those only a block away. One of the parks, the prettiest and most serene, has a trail that disappears into the woods after the playground. 

On an afternoon in October, I had Olivia in the stroller and we had just turned off the main road into the park where the trail joined the street. I did a quick scan of the empty playground and didn't see anyone. 

I was walking alongside the park when I saw him.

He was sitting under the little pavilion between the woods and the playground. A nicely dressed man, maybe mid-forties. He had dark features, probably Middle-Eastern descent. He was looking at his phone, sitting down at the picnic table.

I was watching him out of the corner of my eye (luckily I had sunglasses on), suddenly wondering if I should keep going.

Then he looked at me. He watched me the entire time I walked past him. And then he stood up, glanced out toward the road-

-and stepped toward me.

I looked ahead and saw my normally serene walking trail into the woods quite differently at that point. I saw a secluded place, dark and even a little scary.


I didn't care how I looked. I stopped at the trash can, pretended to throw something away, turned the stroller around and started walking out to the road.

And he changed direction and turned around with me, walking alongside me, about 100 feet between us, him looking down at his phone while he walked and me staring straight ahead.

I turned the corner with the stroller, onto the sidewalk leading away from where I lived. As I walked down the sidewalk, I looked at my screen on my phone, at the reflection behind me. He had turned the same corner.

I reached the intersecting road, which was a little more populated and turned left, bringing myself further from home.

If he still is behind me when I reach the busy road (about quarter mile stretch) I'm calling the police. 

Halfway down the road, he turned off into another walking path.

Was I a complete nut job? Maybe.


It was quite possible that he was simply hanging out at a playground, maybe on a lunch break, and happened to notice the time: I better get home and get back to the grind. Maybe my appearance was entirely coincidental.

But that's not what my gut was telling me.

And to be honest (you know, since I was clearly out of any danger, real or imagined) it made me mad. Because if I was a man, I would have plowed down that trail without a second thought.

But I am a woman. With a baby. And that's such an eye roll, but it's reality.


I know I'm a very cautious person. My heart beats a little faster when I'm alone walking past a group of men. I don't allow strangers into my house (for repairs, deliveries, etc.) without Chris being there. And when I see a man alone in a park at the entrance to a secluded trail, I will turn around and walk right out.

Is it entirely unfair? Yes.


I've since been down the path again with Olivia, always checking the area and I haven't had any more issues. Luckily.

Are you like me? Are you the crazy awkward one turning tail from a perceived danger, or does it not bother you?

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts by clicking here.

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