Wednesday, March 4, 2015

the story of last week: in which i use the word "cervix" a lot

There are lots of reasons I haven't written in months. I co-ran a city-wide fundraiser in late September that nearly brought me to my knees. I got pregnant in November and spent almost the entire month of December in a horizontal position, weakly waving hello at any and all visiting family members. January I began to learn how to live again, but couldn't believe taking care of a toddler and keeping a house together was all my responsibility. "Really? This all comes down to me? This isn't fun at all!" February I made a little more effort to get out of the house despite the sub-zero temperatures (coldest February on record for PA, people!), and I made a major breakthrough when I put a chair in front of the sole window in our house that gets some afternoon sun. You will find me there every afternoon from 1:30-2 until the snow melts.

But I'm back, and we had the craziest, scariest few days last week.

For those of you who don't know, I had a lot of issues with Jaina's pregnancy. At my 20-week anatomy scan she just would not show her gender, so after trying to get a peek from every angle they brought out the vaginal ultrasound. The tech noticed right away that my cervix was pretty short for someone only halfway through their pregnancy and had a doctor check it out. Long story short, after a few weeks of monitoring, I needed a cervical cerclage - one stitch that goes around your cervix and cinches it shut. (I also had a low-lying cord and placenta which eventually dictated that I have an early c-section, but that's a whole other story.)

So this time around we scheduled a meeting with a maternal/fetal medicine doctor at 16 weeks to make a plan for how we might monitor my "incompetent cervix." (That is LITERALLY the medical term for it. Rude.) We talked about all the options for if/when it happened again, then we went to an ultrasound room to check things out. First she took a look at the baby, and we found out (a month before we expected) that we're having a girl! I was immediately ecstatic! The idea of Jaina having a sister was so exciting.

Then she took a look down below. I was already down to 2 cm of cervical tissue. Really?! Finding out her gender, which makes the baby that much more "real", but also that she wasn't perfectly safe was rough. But I don't want to live in fear, so I decided to be brave and started looking up baby names and nursery ideas anyway. We decided to try a week of progesterone (NOT taken orally, by the way) since that has been shown to help some women. We could only wait a week and find out how much it would help me.

So last Thursday was our appointment, and, thankfully, I decided to leave Jaina at a friend's house. We got all set up, the ultrasound technician brought up the picture, and I knew right away there wasn't as much left. She didn't even measure. It's kind of a blur, but I know she told the doctor there "couldn't be more than 6mm."

Half a centimeter between my tiny avacado-sized baby and the world she was nowhere near ready for.

Again, I was fuzzy, but instead of talking about when they would do the cerclage, there was some talk of "if". The doctor even did a visual internal check to make sure she couldn't see the amniotic sack.

They sent us to the hospital, and we had to stay in Labor and Delivery for an hour or two while they monitored me for possible contractions. Thankfully, there wasn't a peep from my uterus, so I could be moved to Antepartum on the much quieter and comfier Maternity floor.

Zach got Jaina situated with my parents and came back to spend the night with me. I watched about 10 episodes of Rehab Addict. I don't even like that show, she is so shrill. I didn't know quite where to put my brain. Should I be preparing myself to meet and say goodbye to my baby? Or should I be arming myself for battle in the OR tomorrow? There were tons of people praying for us, and the ladies in my mom's group sent me all these amazing messages of encouragement. I had to save them all for when I was pretty sure no doctors or nurses were coming since I completely lost it every time. I got a few little chunks of sleep, but not much.

In the morning they came to get me for another ultrasound. It was only a few doors down, and we walked on over. The picture came up, and it looked completely different from the day before. She took the measurement three times, and said she was confident my cervix measured at 1.3cm.

Double the day before.

That doesn't happen. Your body doesn't just regenerate like that. Not in a day.

I walked back to my room beaming. Sure 1.3cm is still teensy-tiny for a pregnant cervix, but it's something to work with. Zach and I hugged and cried and prayed for a while, then both furiously texted all the pertinent people with the good news. I felt so much more confident in the doctors and my body going into surgery now.

My team of doctors came in and congratulated me on the better measurements. Told me to "keep doing whatever I was doing", and that they were confident that they'd be able to get a good stitch in. I went in for the surgery at noon, legs were numb by 12:30, and the whole shebang was done by quarter-to-one. We got to go home that night, and now we'll do weekly checks.

Sit tight little baby. We don't need to meet you for a long time yet.

Thank you to everyone who helped us out and prayed for us. Thank you to everyone who's offered to watch Jaina during doctor's appointments cause I will be calling you. ; ) A big shout out to the nurses at York Hospital who mostly let me take care of myself and really treated me like "you got this, girl." I hope to not see any of you for at least four more months.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble. 
Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.
Psalm 46:1-2

Friday, October 31, 2014

halloween '14

Happy Halloween, everyone! Also, happy finally-breaking-down-and-letting-our-toddler-try-candy day! We got to go trick-or-treating twice this year. First on Hanover's random trick-or-treat night which is always "the Tuesday before the Halloween parade which is the Thursday before Halloween" (seriously). And then we got dressed up again tonight to get our $3 burritos at Chipotle and to trick-or-treat with our Spring Grove friends.

So here we are! Another Hallead Family Group Costume. Here's hoping we can keep this going for years to come. ; )

 Little Red Riding Hood, Grandma, and the Big Bad Wolf in the woods

Not sure about Daddy Wolf

(Spinning) "I Wed Wiying Hood, Mommy!"

I had planned to make Jaina a simple Red Riding Hood outfit with a hoodie and a simple skirt, but when I saw this gorgeous outfit at TJMaxx with the crushed velour cape and cute little dirndl I just went for it. For me to make that would take hours and more money than the costume cost. So maybe next year she'll be Gretel and I can make Zach Hansel. ; ) And she is gonna have soooo much fun running around the house in that cape.

Now I could have very easily gotten ahold of a lovely full-length flannel nightgown from the thrift store for me to wear as the Grandma, but I refused to walk around like that. So I opted for a cardigan, a shawl, my great-grandmother's apron, and a simple mob cap that I threw together quickly the day of. Oh, and you simply must wear your glasses at the end of your nose. 

I made Zach the Martha Stewart Big Bad Wolf Hoodie Costume with a $2 hoodie from the thrift store. M-Stew of course has printable templates and easy to follow instructions, so it was a breeze. I also added the faux fur on the sleeves and the backs of the ears.

Check out Fred, Wilma, and Pebbles from last year!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

toddler sponge painting

I must confess that although I love making things, I almost never do craft activities with Jaina. I don't know why, really. I guess the mess turns me off, and the fact that, yeah, I kinda like things done a certain way... maybe... a little bit. Plus crafting is my "me time", and I consider it relaxing. Toddlers and paint brushes - not relaxing.

But today's all-day rain shower was the perfect chance for me to just get over it and make something with my daughter. And it was super fun.

Look at this kid. I told her to say cheese and she made this face. There's no sun, and the flash wasn't on.

We pulled an old tshirt from the donate pile for a smock, and I found some dot-shaped foam stamps I apparently had.


Then I had the brilliant beyond brilliant idea to stick plastic wrap to the table instead of using newspaper which slides around.


We painted a quick trunk with a brush, then I let her use the sponge to make the leaves on the tree.

 Look at those little hands!

She would look intently at the sponge, touch it, then ask for her fingers to be cleaned off. 
Stuff on her hands really bugs her right now. 


 Checking out her work.


Looks like there will be some more painting in our future. What are your favorite kid-friendly craft projects?


Thursday, July 31, 2014

roasted cauliflower with curry and walnuts

So I've been wanting to write about this little dish I made up for a while now, but I never remember to take pictures until after I'm done making it. Dinnertime with a toddler does not easily lend itself to artfully posing ingredients and plates of food. It's mostly full of conversations like these:

"I eat food?"
"Not yet. We're waiting for Daddy."
"Daddy comin'?"
"He'll be here soon."
"... Daddy come soon...Somefin to eat?"
"We have to wait until dinner's ready. See Mommy cooking? See the fire? It's so hot. I'm cooking dinner. It's almost ready."
"... (blink, blink)... Somefin to EAT?!"

Aaaaanyway, I took Jaina's nap time the other day to make some cauliflower, take some pictures, and try to figure out the amount of each ingredient that I used. I think that means I wrote a recipe. Enjoy!

 Cauliflower, walnuts, curry powder, and olive oil (salt & pepper not pictured)

Chop one head of cauliflower into florets and place in a glass or ceramic baking dish. You can combine all of the ingredients in a bowl first, then transfer to the dish, but I like to keep the dishes I have to wash to a minimum. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.


Drizzle oil all over the cauliflower (I zig-zag about six times across, let's call it five tablespoons), and sprinkle with one heaping teaspoon of good curry powder. Add about 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts.


 Next, I get my hands in there and make sure every piece of cauliflower is coated in oil and curry. If you use a spoon to mix it up, the curry powder won't disperse evenly. Make sure the walnuts get tossed in the oil as well, so they don't burn. Add sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.


Bake for at least 20 minutes, stirring once during that time. Pierce with a fork after 20 minutes and see if the cauliflower is cooked to your liking. I like mine to still have some bite to it. 

My helper woke up from her nap just in time for an afternoon snack.

She wanted to wear her oven mitt too.


Mmmm, nothing says home to me like curry. I love that it's pretty much as easy as throwing a frozen pizza in the oven, and probably more satisfying. 


If I ever host Thanksgiving (which is unlikely, since I belong to a long line of Hostesses with a capital H - which is awesome), this is the kind of side dish I would serve. To be honest, though, I don't know if I've ever made this as an actual side dish. Usually I bust this out when I'm hungry at night and don't want to stuff my face with junk. It's an easy recipe to adapt to just a personal sized baker, like a brie dish. 

I hope this inspires you to try something new with cauliflower! Let me know how it goes if you try it out. (Recipe below)


Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Walnuts

1 head of cauliflower chopped into florets
1 tsp. of curry powder
4-6 T. of olive oil
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Add cauliflower, curry, oil, and walnuts to a 9x13 baking dish. Combine ingredients with tongs or hands, making sure to disperse curry powder. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Bake for 20 minutes or until fork tender, turning once.