Wednesday, December 19, 2012

fashion in mini-form

My friend Leah brought Baby V her first Christmas present while in utero.  It is the cutest and I can't wait to dress her in it.  Having a little girl is going to get me in a lot of trouble :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

i'm thankful for ...

Early baby gifts (thank you Carrie!) -- Baby V's got an early start on her library

Discovering good, old-school Mexican food in Burbank

A Thanksgiving play (with cats!) put on by my nieces

Quiet, sweet moments

My baby bump

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

fancy makeup

I love buying makeup.  When I was in high school, one of my favorite things was going to the cosmetic counter (then Merle Norman (oh yes) and Clinique) with my mom and having the lady select the perfect blush, eye shadow, or foundation.  I guess then it somehow made me feel grown up.  I remember opening the box and pulling out the lipstick and just looking at it. Then, I'd put it back in the pretty little box, as it just felt too decadent to throw away.  This went on for a few days until I finally accepted reality and threw the container away and put the lipstick in my purse.

Through the years, I've definitely experimented with all different lines and price points, and absolutely mix in match between expensive and bargain cosmetics, but one of my favorites to splurge on is Laura Mercier.  Now that I'm prego and not buying clothes (and not fitting into my old clothes), I decided a way to add some style is with a little color on my face.  Last weekend I went to Nordstrom's and bought this Laura Mercier kit, which comes with three eye shadows, eye liner, lip gloss, bronzer AND blush. I've been wearing it everyday this week and feeling a little sassier. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

chocolate break

Today was one of the first days that I have felt good in months.  Obviously, it goes without saying how thrilled I am to be pregnant, but up until today I have been nauseated more hours of the day than not.

I took advantage of this moment and headed out for a little retail therapy, which ended up being more involved than I originally planned.  My favorite moment of the day was popping into the Godiva shop and treating myself to a couple delicious truffles.  It is the little things ...

Monday, November 5, 2012

peppermint mochas

yesterday, i got my first peppermint mocha of the season and despite the 80 + degree weather, it did indeed feel like the holidays!

Friday, November 2, 2012

spilling the beans

I realize that I have been offline for way too long, but I promise I have a good reason!
Besides the fact that work got insanely busy, I spent the last several months focusing on having a baby and if you are reproductively challenged, that can mean a lot of work.

Last July, Jeff and I embarked upon our journey of IVF.  I was so moved by the outpouring of love and support I received after sharing my infertility struggles, that it only feels right to share this part, too.  I know some of you are going through similar situations and I thought about how a lot of people don't talk about IVF once they do it.  I thought it might be helpful to give the details on what to  expect throughout the process. Being that it is such an in-depth process, this is going to be a long post, so bear with me.

To my surprise, the way to making a baby started with two weeks of being on birth control (I know it seems counterintuitive) to stabilize my ovaries and get my reproductive system nice and calm.  I think this was one of the more challenging parts for me, as the birth control pill has always turned me into a mad woman.

The next step was starting my personal cocktail of drugs. I remember going into the pharmacy and walking out overwhelmed, and quite honestly frightened, with two grocery bags full of pharmaceuticals to last me a couple of months.  There's so much that you have to take and at my dr's office they just give you everything up front, so you don't have to keep coming back.  What's involved?  Several different types of shots that stimulate your ovaries to produce more than just one egg, progesterone supplements, estrogen, claritin, baby aspirin ... and the list goes on.

At first I started out with two injections a day (which we chose to mix into one, so I'd only have to take one shot daily), but by the time day five or six rolled around I was taking three shots a night.  It was exceptionally tricky because I was not one of those women who could give them to herself.  Jeff became a master at it, but he had to be away for a week, so my girlfriends stepped in to help -- and in some cases, their husbands -- thank you ladies (and gentleman) so much!

I really wasn't that freaked out by the shots, as we had done them before with IUI.  But by the second week of injections I was really exhausted, as I was spending two hours in the car, daily, driving back and forth for blood work and ultrasounds.  Once you are on the injections, they monitor your estrogen and progesterone levels via blood work and the size of your growing follicles via ultrasound. Although the pelvic ultrasounds were not a highlight of my day, I did love my time with Helen, the lady who administered them.  We always laughed, as she'd give me a note pad, making a joke or two as she called out how many follicles I had on my right ovary and how many on my left.  I'd get excited as I wrote the numbers down, circling the largest ones, hoping they'd turn into good eggs. I'd call Jeff right after "we have three 17's, two 15's, three 13's and one 19!" Getting good quantity and quality follicles made me feel like an A+ student. It was progress and when you are going through this process, you always look at the ways you're moving towards your goal.

It goes without saying that during this stage I also had several meltdowns.  I'm so thankful for my acupuncturist Mu, whose treatments kept me calm during this tricky time.  My doctor was adamant about not overstimulating my ovaries, so my drug protocol was not too out of control, but by day nine I had had enough and it just so miraculously happened that I got the call that day that "it was time!"

I took this picture just outside of my dr's office on the day we took our trigger shot

That night we took our final shot and 36 hours later I went in for the egg retrieval.   This was the part that frightened me the most.  I don't like going under anesthesia and I had no idea of how my body would react to getting poked and prodded, as I had heard horror stories about women who got hyperstimulated.  Not to mention, that when you wake up you have all of this anxiety about how many eggs they retrieved. I remember them wheeling me into the operating room and moving me over to the table.  They couldn't knock me out before that, because for legal reasons, the embryologist had to come in and ask me my name before they could start.  I looked up at the lights and then slowly started to take in the surgical room and the bravery I mustered up as I left Jeff was starting to wear off.  My dr put his hand on my leg and said "everything is going to be great!" I took a deep breath and I was out.

I have to interject here and say that I honestly would not have been able to go through this entire process without Jeff.  It's times like these that make you realize what your marriage is made of - it's the ugly parts, the scary parts - and Jeff was who he always is - incredible.  He held my hand, brought me milkshakes, and told me everything would be okay and it was.

When I woke up, I started crying and telling Jeff how much I loved him and how lucky I was to have him.  The drugs always make me super happy and therefore incredibly mushy, which is pure entertainment for Jeff.  My dr came by and told us we had "a dozen eggs minus one."  I nervously asked my dr "is that good?" and he said "Absolutely.  It's what we wanted. It's about quality, not quantity."  I knew other girlfriends of mine had double the amount, so I was worried.  "Would this be enough?  Would I have to do it all over again?"  So, I took a breath and reminded myself that I really needed to be positive.  My dr could not have emphasized that more.  He told me that was a key part of this process.  My friend Marcia gave me a mantra to say and it was what got me through the next couple of weeks.  She said "you have exactly what you need."  And I said that to myself every single day.  I even put in on my cork board at work.

So then, we went home and waited.  Ugh, the wait.  Doing IVF was a true testament to patience, for I had to wait every single step of the way.  Waiting to see how many follicles I had. Waiting to see how many eggs I got and  how many of those fertilized.  How many made it to day five.  If you're not familiar with the process, you hope that your fertilized eggs make it to a blastocyst phase, which is five days of maturing in the lab.  This gives you a better chance of having a successful implantation, because they watch the embryos to make sure they are developing properly - survival of the fittest.  So for those five days, I waited.  I tried to stay off the message boards, but in a weak moment (or five or twenty) I succumbed. I'd search "single embryo transfer" "bfp" (which is fertility code for big fat postive - there is a whole 'nother lingo out there for fertility) - I would get reassured by some, then others talked about miscarriage and round three of IVF, and I had to stop.  It wasn't helping.

On day five, we went in and did the transfer and I have to say it was by far the easiest part of the process.  It was super quick and painless and they gave me a valium, so I just felt good.  It's kind of strange, because I got to see the pictures of our embryos and even though the dr said "this one looks really great," I wasn't sure. What did a great embryo really look like, anyway?  It was sort of like staring up into the sky and seeing the clouds, and having them slowly morph into people or familiar objects.  I've never said this before, but I thought our embryo kind of looked like a character from Phineas & Ferb (the valium was clearly kicking in here), but he said it looked good, so it was good.  We luckily had several to chose from, but decided to only put one embryo back, which I felt a lot of pressure about. Everyone kept saying "you're going to put two back, right?" I understand why women do more, but for us one felt right and my dr leans on the conservative side if you are 36 or younger. The next thing we knew, this lucite box arrived with our embryo floating in a catheter that was suspended in mid-air.  It was super fancy, which is I guess why they referred to the box as the limo.  Needless to say, Jeff was super impressed with the science of it all.

luckily I had the boys around to keep my company
Then we went home, and I was on bed rest for two days, watching the first two seasons of "The Killing" (I strongly recommend by the way).  While I was at home, my ever-so-thoughtful sister-in-law stopped by with my nieces, bringing me a milkshake and a card. The girls didn't quite get what was happening, but had gotten me a get well card that said "good luck with the baby."  It made me want this to work even more, so I did as my friend Jo told me and rubbed my tummy and talked to my tummy and waited ... and waited for ten days until we could take a blood test.

The saving grace of this was a visit from my sister to keep my mind busy for a big part of the week.

it just so happened my brother was in town for work, too
The morning of the blood test was hands down, the worst part of the entire process.  I went in bright and early and they said they'd call later that day with the results.  I drove to work, sat in meetings trying to appear like today was just another day, but I was so nervous.

There was nothing left to do, I had no more say. They were either going to call and tell me I was or wasn't.  Then around 3 pm my dr called and said those words I'll never forget "You're pregnant!"  I immediately asked "can you please say that again?"  He laughed and humored me with the repeated line.  I was ecstatic. I called Jeff and was crying and probably freaked him out, but I was just so filled with happiness and so, so grateful, that I couldn't stop crying.

I had to go back two days later, so they could make sure my hcg (pregnancy hormones) levels were rising - and they were.  Then I went back the following week to check again.  Every step was a step closer.  But, I have to say I had spent all of this time just focusing on getting pregnant, that I never thought about how vulnerable everything is in the first trimester.  You have to get to a certain point before you can really go there emotionally.  The following week we went in for our first ultrasound and saw the heartbeat.  There just aren't any words for that.  It quickly dawned on me that pregnancy, just like IVF - and I'm assuming parenthood - is just a series of waiting.  Waiting to make sure they are healthy, that they are breathing, that they are safe. 

We had one more ultrasound two weeks later, then my dr. announced "it's graduation time and time to move on to your o.b."  It was so bittersweet, as this had been my home for the past 15 months.  I knew everyone in that office by name.  I felt like some of the nurses knew me better than my girlfriends did. We had a history.  We had done this together.  They had become my family and now I was leaving? 

Luckily, I had an amazing o.b. lined up and she has already made me feel at home in the several weeks I've been with her.  We went in a couple of weeks ago for our 12 week ultrasound and saw our beautiful little baby kicking away.  And even though it feels scary to announce it to the world, we can actually start talking about - gasp - being pregnant! 

This has been such a journey and I want to thank everyone who has supported us.  We are blessed, for we have exactly what we need.

Friday, July 27, 2012

i miss you


the past two weeks were just super intense at work, but i promise to be back next week!

Friday, July 20, 2012

this week was a brutal little bitch, but i'm still thankful for ...

monk-e-mails from adorable friends who know exactly how to make me laugh. if you don't know what a monk-e-mail is, then click on the picture and thank me later for your new addiction. this made my day, april!

surprise visits from my brother who lives in arkansas

team lunches - we'll miss you amanda

my sweet, sweet hubster who has cooked, cleaned and done all the laundry this week

Thursday, July 19, 2012

motivational speakers that come in tiny forms

i had one of the worst days yesterday. let's be honest, i've had the worst week.  sometimes trying to get pregnant just takes a toll on you.  my co-worker susana showed me this and i fell in love.  whenever i need a laugh, i watch this little guy and i just "feel happy of myself." click on the picture for some sweet motivation

Friday, July 13, 2012

i'm thankful for ...

lunches with baby violet -- thank you theresa for knowing exactly what i needed and for being such a great role model for motherhood. sometimes after trying so hard to have a baby, it's nice to be reminded of exactly why you want one

sushi dinners with girlfriends, where you can speak openly about everything -- my all time favorite leah line was when i told her that iui didn't work (again!)  and she said "f*** iui."  couldn' t have said it better myself!

salmon caviar - simply delicious

fertility bracelets -- my very good friend marcia gave me one of the most thoughtful gifts - stones that support and promote fertility.  she designed it based on certain gems (jade and agate) that rebalance and harmonize the body, while representing life & growth.  these are excellent gift ideas. check out lychee grove on etsy

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

good pizza (which is nearly impossible to find in l.a.)

i have to admit that i am a complete pizza snob.  it's not that i'm above all chain restaurants in the universe, but the idea of domino's or pizza hut -- well, i just can't eat it.  it just tastes too sweet, too doughy.

when i moved to los angeles ten years ago, finding a good slice of pizza was high on my list and i managed to find it within the very first month.  at the time, i was babysitting for this family and they insisted that i must go to village pizzeria in larchmont for a real pizza pie.  since then, i've almost always been disappointed with any other slices in the city.  i do think that vito's is also excellent, and tomato pie is another winner, but my heart will always belong to village.

first of all, i love that it's this small, lively worn-in restaurant in larchmont.  but more than that, i love that they have true thin crust slices with cheese that just bubbles ever-so-slightly over the tangy tomato sauce -- and it's the perfect ratio of cheese to sauce.   i go pretty old school in my order, usually just a slice of pepperoni. that's all i want a simple, delicious slice of pie.  there's just nothing like it when you've had a bad day and you want to curl up on the couch with a movie and a couple of slices.

tell me, what are your go-to pizza places?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

tuesday fashion - anthropologie sales are the best

several months ago, i was shopping with my friend leah and when she tried on this top, i knew i was going to have to single white female her for sure.  i just loved how flowy it was, the detail of the roped neckline, and those two elements paired with my favorite color sent me over the edge.  she somehow decided not to get it and since i wasn't shopping for myself that day, i didn't feel like being so obvious about copying her in that moment so i walked away, too.

however, several months later as i was scouring the sale racks at anthropologie, there it was staring at me with a reduced price tag of $19.99.  umm...done!  you know the best part about getting a new shirt, is when you always want to wear it.  i have found myself thinking "has this person seen me in it this week?" before i slip it on.  i love the look of the flowy top paired with my structured vintage old navy blazer.

Monday, July 9, 2012

savages & kate mantilini

last saturday night we went to a screening of savages with our friends jorge and jenny.  i can't say that i'd recommend the movie, as it spent half of the time showing blake lively making out and the other half with what felt like gratuitous violence.  it was as if the film didn't know what it wanted to be:  one minute they were showing you a video of the drug cartel cutting people's heads off via machete and the next blake lively was narrating the drug story, choosing words like "wargasm" that made it feel more like "sisterhood of the traveling pants" than an oliver stone thriller.  i was also disappointed with salma hayek's character. if you are going to have a female be a drug lord, make her a bad ass.  instead, elena sanchez resembled more of a neurotic mother than a cut throat killer.  the shining star in the movie was of course, benicio del toro.  in one brief moment he could arouse fear by knowing just what was going to happen when he and his "gardeners" arrived at your door, and then the next he would have you laughing while he's offering up genuinely funny lines while chewing on a ham sandwich.  all in all, the general consensus seemed to be that it gets a 6 out of 10.  we saw it for free, but if you are headed to the movies, i'd probably say pass on this one.

the best part about the evening was that we ended up walking over to kate mantilini for a very late dinner where i had a mac and cheese that put all others to shame.  apparently, that is a classic dish to order at the 25-year old restaurant, which was started by harry and marilyn lewis, the original hamburger hamlet owners.  our waiter said the secret to their award-winning mac & cheese was the addition of tabasco sauce.  it pulls it all together, offering just enough heat for the melted cheddar to saturate the noodles and topping it off with breadcrumbs is simply perfection.  jeff got the chicken pot pie, which was as delicious - buttery, crispy crust with chicken and veggies simmering in a nice bechamel sauce.  jorge got my favorite dish for the name alone "the little hollywood." it was a petite filet served on a crispy garlic bun with battered fries.  jenny went with a pear & stilton salad, but spiced things up with their "those potatoes" which are essentially crispy hash brown goodness layered with warm sour cream and spring onion.  delish!

Friday, July 6, 2012

i'm thankful for ...

my new lemon suede flats that i bought on sale at j crew for $49.99

late afternoon drives in the datsun

ben harper at the hollywood bowl

neighborhood peacocks who just come up in your yard

cherries that arrive at your door from a local farm

sunday brunch at mike & anne's in south pasadena

green tea and rose buds from my acupuncturist

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

making new friends

one of the things i admire most about my friend tita, is her ability to talk to anyone, anywhere.  when we were single it made being out at the bars a lot more bearable (and productive).  now that we are both coupled off, it offers spontaneous moments of laughter. 

last night we were at the grove/farmer's market and we walked by these two grandpas.  she saw they had a stack of crossword puzzles and immediately said "ooh, i love crosswords!"  one of the men said "oh, great, honey.  you can help.  i do the new york times every week and i've been working on this one for three weeks!" 

we proceeded to stand their with our pinkberry yogurts melting while tita shouted out "x games, rolex, one pm." 

as we walked off we were both wondering "were they homeless or just old?"  i like to think that the man's stack of puzzles he "found" and plastic bag wrapped in tape meant that he was just frugal.  either way, our little encounter made my day.

happy 4th of july!

*photo via 20x200*

we'll be lounging by the pool and grilling out!  what are you doing?