October 31, 2013

I hold you in my heart

I recently learned that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Not long after I learned this I was cleaning out my pictures - my hard drive is at risk of overflowing with pictures of Alice - and found myself caught up in pictures I took last October, like the one above and the one below. I went for long meandering walks last year, walks that led me all over the city. I thought about a lot on those walks, but mostly I thought about babies - the one we had lost and the one we were hoping to have. I had had a miscarriage at 10 weeks the February before, which was gut wrenching and awful, and by October I was lost somewhere in the Trying-to-Get-Pregnant Ocean. (If you're not familiar with that particular ocean, it is a vast and dark ocean, a grizzly expanse of insurmountable waves and unreachable horizons.)

It was a difficult year. In the midst of it I gained strength from the fact that I was struggling, because this - this crappy thing that had happened to me, to us, and the journey to get pregnant again - will be one of the harder things I will have to endure. Somehow owning the struggle made it easier to keep on trudging knee deep through ovulation sticks.

The year was tough, but last October was really tough. I had gone to my doctor at the beginning of the month to check my ovaries and the size of the eggs within. She was optimistic. There was one egg that was larger than the rest. It looked good. I went back a week later. The eggs were all the same size, there was no dominant egg. She didn't think I would ovulate. I shrank into the exam table. We talked about the next steps and she set up an appointment with a fertility specialist for the end of November.

Amidst the tears I came upon this soaring sculpture, her arms outstretched in hopeful surrender. I never went to the fertility specialist. I didn't need to. This is one of those better late than never stories; one of those eggs, perhaps it was the early leader or maybe a late follower, got it's act together and made it's way out of my ovary almost two weeks after that last appointment and I got pregnant. The cycle in which I conceived Alice was not a textbook 28 day cycle, far from it, but it was a cycle nonetheless. For my type-A personality it was a good lesson - things don't always have to go as planned to turn out perfectly.

Now that Alice is here it is easier for me to reflect on the last two years. I'm not a religious person, but I firmly believe that this is the way it was meant to be. Our other baby was just setting the stage for Alice, that s/he was never meant to be here on the outside with us, and those months of trying were just Alice's little egg getting ready to shine on through. Now, looking back, I am grateful for those months, because without them this little girl, who squints her eyes and pulls her hands up to her mouth when she's happy, wouldn't be here.

I have thought about this post a lot over the last two years and hemmed and hawed about whether or not to say anything here. I mulled it over a lot the past few days after learning that October is pregnancy loss awareness month and here's what I decided: not enough people talk about pregnancy loss, and I found that talking to friends who had also had miscarriages to be one of most helpful and hopeful things during my moments of sadness; their stories quieted the "I'll never have a healthy baby" voice that sat like a dark cloud over all my other thoughts. If I can quiet that voice for someone else, just one person, then talking about my miscarriage here on the blog is worth the risk of putting something more private out there in the internet.

But as I write about this here I am all too aware of the women who have struggled longer and harder than I have. My heart leaps out of my chest for them. Maybe you are one of those women and in that case I hold you in my heart, and as the Quakers say, in the light.

Since I'm posting this on Halloween, I couldn't help but share a photo of our little Swiss Miss in the Swiss Alps dressed as an alpine flower. It's amazing how much can change in a year, truly amazing, I am beyond grateful.

October 27, 2013

quick and easy

Fast food has become a necessity around here. It probably seems obvious considering babies don't really give off a homemade orecchiette vibe (dumplings - yes!), but that doesn't mean I don't want to eat hand crimped pasta with chunky bolognese sauce, because I do. And after three months of omelet eating I can tell you that omelets do not make a good stand in for homemade pasta goodness, not even when they are stuffed with parmesan cheese. I should have spent the months leading up to Alice's arrival expanding my fast food repertoire instead of making pound cake.

Squint and you might think the curry is fall foliage. No, but really, it's perfect for this fall weather, bright, but also hearty and flavorful. It's so well suited to the season that Zach and I are going to have it again tonight. That makes it three times in one week. You'd think that on a Sunday we would have found a little bit more time to meal plan, but we didn't and although we debated carbonara, another easy meal, this curry is easier because there's less active hands on time. You just wrap it up, stick it in the oven and come back in 17-20minutes...

....just finished said curry and it was delish. I'm glad I got my butt in gear to post this recipe because I think everyone needs it on their fast-food recipe list.

Speaking of fast, I eat so fast these days. Argh. I just never know if Alice is going to whimper and cry so I tend to hoover while I have a chance. It's not a good habit and I desperately need to break it and sloooow the heck down.  

curried chicken, peppers and peas en papillote
Dorie Greenspan Around My French Table
* the recipe in it's original form with my adjustments in parenthesis

2 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
12 thin slices red onion halved (I used 1 large shallot)
1/2 red pepper cored seeded and diced (I used an entire red pepper)
1 cup peas, frozen or fresh
(I added 1/2 a diced zucchini)
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder (I used 1 tablespoon, probably depends on your curry powder)
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400ºF/200ºC

Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper each about 15 inches long.

Slice the chicken into stripes lengthwise and then crosswise in half. Put the chicken in a bowl along with the vegetables, curry powder, olive oil, salt and pepper and stir to coat.

Spoon equal amounts of the chicken-veggie mixture on to each piece of parchment paper and fold over and crimp the edges so that no steam can escape. (if you are unfamiliar with the technique you can follow the instructions on Bon Appetit.)

Put the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 17-20minutes.

Zurich is putting on an amazing fall this year. Last year, not so much, but this year has been beautiful and warm and all around lovely. Alice hasn't been taking great naps in her crib so I've taken to wrapping her up in the Moby, where she sleeps soundly, and heading out on long walks.

Also since I'm in a Dorie place of mind I wanted to tell you about an absolutely out of this world cake. It might be my favorite cake. It's a mocha-vanilla-walnut marble cake and it will blow your socks off with it's moist deliciousness. Eat it for breakfast. Eat it for a snack. Eat it for dessert. It doesn't matter when you eat it as long as you eat it.  

And here's a photo of Alice from this afternoon, our little tumblebug, about to show of her newest skill - the roll.  Love her so much I could eat her. Nom nom nommmmm.