To the mother’s who didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day…

Disclaimer this blog post was emotionally heavy for me and could be a trigger if you’ve suffered a loss like mine but I feel like it’s a story that’s been haunting me because I haven’t shared much of it with others. I haven’t done my part well enough to break the stigma against pregnancy loss. Also please, do not comment on how I handled the situation at the time. I was in pain and didn’t understand what was happening to my body and why it was happening, no one prepared me for that night and I cannot rewind time and change my actions so please don’t make me feel any more guilty of them than I already do.

To the mother’s who didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day yesterday, know that I love you and support your motherhood journey. How did a mom get skipped over you ask? Well, her child is in heaven. She is a mother but her baby didn’t make it outside the womb. She is still very much a mother and I know [because I’m also a mother to an angel baby] that she has a deep love and remembrance for that child. A connection so strong that no one else can comprehend. She may not speak of that child but she thinks of him or her probably every single day. She holds back tears as people ask “When are you having kids? When are you having another kid?” For me it’s, “you have 5 kids how blessed you are or your hands must be full…”

My Ceci often wants to tell people there are 6 kids, she loves her sister in heaven. I say sister because Ceci is my rainbow baby and was the one to say “the baby before me was a girl named Jules.” When Ceci was born I felt a peace within me that I had never felt before. She had a huge birthmark on the back of her head and I used to think that my loved ones who went before me gave Ceci a kiss and that mark appeared as a sign to me saying “It’s ok Liz, this storm is over.” Spare me any of your other beliefs or scientific evidence against my theory please because sometimes even the scientific can’t exist without the mystic.

On this past Mother’s Day weekend as I write this and reflect on my life as a mother I think back on my regrets in life. Sophia asks me how I can live without regret and I tell her I only have two regrets in life really. One is that I wish I hired a better photographer for my wedding and that I had more pictures from that day but that’s a slightly silly regret and I know now that moving forward I’ll make sure all of my kids have amazing photographers when they get married or enter whatever vocation they choose in life. My second regret is one that haunts me on a regular basis. It was the night Baby Jules didn’t survive.

Jules was supposed to be born in early November of 2011. Instead, she arrived in mid-May. I had entered my second trimester with spotting. I had been told oh it’s ok that can be “normal” during pregnancy. The spotting got worse as the days went on. I was sent to ultrasound and told everything was ok but that her due date was off. The spotting continued and got heavier so I went into the ER. I was told there was nothing they could do. That everything would have to naturally take its course but that it appeared as if I was having a miscarriage [that’s not the term they used, I can’t use the terminology they used because it haunts me still]. I went home and the spotting continued. Then one night as I was on the toilet I felt like I had to poop. Except, I didn’t. My body expelled my baby into the toilet. I could see her teeny tiny little version of a body in the toilet and I cried and didn’t know what to do with her or myself. There was blood all over and after a while I was able to compose myself, clean myself up and flush. I went back into the ER and told them what had happened. There was nothing they could do. They left me completely alone, I waited at the ER for hours as my body continued to rid itself of any remains of that pregnancy. I had never felt so completely alone in my life. That was 8 years ago and I relive that night all too regularly. My biggest regret in life is not burying my child.

When I was pregnant with Audie I had severe antepartum depression. I was blessed to have an amazing counselor. During a hypnotherapy session one day she helped me to cope with my biggest regret in life. It’s one of my calls to the ocean now. When I go to the ocean I sense that my child is out there. Again, if you have any disagreement with me in this keep it to yourself please. Having that therapy session helped me to be able to live with what I had done. I know losing Jules wasn’t my fault and that I wouldn’t have my rainbow baby Ceci if that hadn’t happened but God I miss her and long for her daily. I know she watches over her mama.

I try so hard to not live with regret because it is something that brings me down too much. I can’t rewind time but I can move forward with the knowledge I have gained from the regrettable experience. For this one the knowledge is in support to others. To other mothers, I love you and support you and know that your motherhood pain is unique to you. Just please know you’re not alone. The knowledge is in sharing this story and helping to end the stigma surrounding not just pregnancy loss but also mental health. May is mental health awareness month. I am ever thankful for my therapist who after years of living in darkness with this regret helped to bring it into light for me. Again, know that you’re not alone and know that seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of in any circumstance and that it doesn’t matter how much time has gone by since your loss, seek assistance when needed to help you through those dark days. At the end of a storm, there is always a rainbow and I hope you find your rainbow. A storm may come again and again but always there will be light at the end. To the mother’s who didn’t celebrate Mother’s Day – I see you, I love you. ((Hugs))

Covert Vegan Cupcakes

Troy says I blew my cover with my first covert vegan recipe post. I’m still sticking with covert vegan though because I am not 100% vegan but this recipe is. It also can be adapted to be gluten free as well.

A lady in our neighborhood makes cupcakes and every single time I see her post I want one but I know my GI system can’t handle cupcakes anymore. Add on top of that the Fayetteville Running Club Cupcake Challenge that’s currently going on and the craving has crazy increased and I just had to do something about it!

After doing some recipe research I again realized that I hadn’t come across a recipe that would fit all my personal dietary needs so I made adjustments and came up with this one. Even if you aren’t vegan consider giving it a try! My kiddos unanimously approved of these cupcakes. Enjoy! [Not the best cupcake pic because we totally didn’t wait long enjoy to enjoy these and frost them properly -haha].

Note: to make the recipe below gluten free substitute the all purpose flour with Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour.

Also, for vegan butter I recommend using Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread.

Covert Vegan Banana Bread

Hi my name is Liz and I must admit that I’m a covert vegan [hubs gave me the name – I have vegan tendencies but am not a full on vegan]. You see, I have a fairly long list of foods that I have to avoid due to my autoimmune & gastrointestinal diseases. It’s hard! For the past 11 years living with this diagnosis I have had multiple ups and downs. Right now I’m trying to recover from a down. After this last down I’ve vowed to be more finicky about what I eat. I am thankful that there are many more options out on the market than ever before but there’s still room for improvement so it’s best for me to cook for myself right now.

Banana bread is a long time favorite of mine and I’ve done allergen free versions before but they tend to still have dairy in them. This new recipe is an adaption from Betty Crocker and has some options as well. I hope the word “vegan” doesn’t turn you off and that you give this recipe a shot. Let me know how you like it.

My one issue with most vegan recipes is that they still tend to contain some of my allergens. Many vegan recipes use soy based or nut based products and I am allergic to both so I used oat milk for this recipe [note – my recipe does contain coconut oil]. So far Planet Oat has been my favorite type of oat milk.

Since Planet Oat milk is also gluten free if you would like a gluten free option to this recipe I suggest using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour

Right now I am not allowed to have chocolate buuuuuuut I would still recommend trying this recipe with chocolate chips and the best vegan and allergen free ones on the market are by Enjoy Life. Another option for this bread is to add a crumble on top [don’t worry I’ve included those options on the recipe card].

Tip: LINE YOUR BAKING DISH WITH PARCHMENT PAPER! Trust me on this one, it makes removing it a gagillion times easier.

Ceci was my little helper. I love when my kiddos are curious about what Mama’s making and ask to help.

Ok so for the recipe…here it is on a print friendly card for ya. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

The Luckiest – 11 years [church wedding edition]

A letter to Troy:

I know I owe you a real letter but the thoughts are in my head now and with Audie sleeping on me it’s easier to blog on my phone than to grab a pen and paper – don’t worry I’ll still send you a letter later. For now, here’s this for you and everyone else to read because sometimes I think some people see we have a crazy beautiful life but our colorful life is splattered with struggle and it is because we continually make it through the struggles that our marriage is strong.

11 years ago we stood in front of God, our family and friends, and convalidated our marriage. During our vows I cried during the “in sickness and health” part and you gave me your goofy grin. I was crying because we were already living that and your smile validated to me how you think I’m a fool for thinking you’d ever walk away from me when the going got tough. Just weeks before our marriage we weren’t sure if I would be able to make it to the altar. I’ve never seen a dress maker so pissed that she had to make last minute alterations to a dress since I had lost so much weight in the last couple of weeks. The time leading up to our ceremony was terrible. We were hundreds of miles apart, I was up in Massachusetts sick and in the hospital or constantly at doctors offices once discharged. You had to be in Nashville still. I didn’t think you would come that weekend. You did though, you showed up and did everything I wanted and I know I pissed you off because I was still worried about the wedding ceremony and you didn’t care about that anymore all you cared about was that I was still here.

11 years later and I’m still sick and I still infuriate you. We live with my unpredicatable disease. We live an active duty army life where we are constantly separated and on opposite sides of the world. You still get mad at me because I still worry that you’ll back away from me and you still think I’m a fool for that. We love eachother so fiercely it hurts sometimes.

Every single one of those vows we have lived each side of [well maybe not the rich part] over the last 11 years. We have struggled, our path still has wrong turns, stumbles and falls. Yet I know that I am the luckiest through it all because you are with me on this journey of life. You are my home and my adventure all at once and I’m thankful that I know I have you till death do us part.

Mr. Troy, thank you for always loving me. Hopefully in November we will finally get our honeymoon when we go to Vegas.

Te amo,

The Luckiest,

Liz

Adventures with Autism – shoes

April is Autism Awareness month. This year I decided to make shoes for me and Tedy. I got canvas kicks [found at Ross and was super lucky that I found chucks in Tedy’s size there] and fabric friendly acrylic paints [from wallyworld] to complete this project.

Step 1: remove shoe laces

Step 2: sketch a puzzle piece pattern along the sides of the shoes starting at the mid-back of the shoe and working your way forward.

I did the first couple steps while sitting outside by the lake, enjoying the sounds of spring and reflecting on what it means to be an Autism mom.

This is not a life I imagined nor is it one I would wish upon anyone. It is exhausting and pushes you to limits you never knew existed then forces you to reevaluate and push even further. This life as a care giver burns you out of a visible wick leaving you burning the unknown. Creating these shoes was therapeutic for me.

Step 3: using one color at a time paint a pattern on the shoes.

Step 4: outline the puzzle pieces in black and complete any necessary touch ups.

Step 5: put laces back in. Wear & enjoy. [Find the joy in the journey]

Tips: if you can find white chuck shoes (on sale) I recommend getting them. They’re an easier canvas to work with. The shoes I got for myself were softer structured and an off white so it was a little more difficult to work with. Remember, don’t be hard on yourself – art is for enjoyment and therapy. Art is for a release and if you’re stressing about perfection you’re missing out on the point of this particular project. Autism is difficult and imperfect and the puzzle pieces may be bent and may not match up all the time. Autism is a spectrum, every person on it is unique and each pair of shoes painted will be unique as well.

In the metaphors of life, don’t try and walk in my shoes, they won’t fit you, they’re my shoes. Instead, put on your own shoes and journey with me through this adventure of life.

11 Year Sickiversary

While I’ve been enjoying the beauty of spring all around me I’ve been thinking of my own rebirth that happened 11 years ago.

As I’m out and about I enjoy pausing to stare at the wonder that is Gods creation. To imagine fairies painting these flowers.

I deeply breath in the scents of spring and thank God that I am here today to enjoy them. Even the birds; I love sitting and listening to their songs. When I’m at the beach I love watching the water and the waves crash to the shore.

I’ll often pause to take pictures of these things because I find them so soothing and enjoy looking back at them.

If you’re out and about with me be prepared for that moment of pause. For that moment when I slightly wander off and take a picture.

It’s been 11 years since this picture, the only picture from the night I was reborn and the only picture from that week I was hospitalized.

I wrote in a bit more detail about that night last year and I’m not going to reflect on it again this year. If you’re interested in knowing about that piece of my story you can read about it here.

The super duper short version of that story is: 11 years ago I threw up and woke up in Newton-Wellesley Hospital ER. I was admitted to the hospital and stayed there for a solid week undergoing numerous procedures that determined I had Strongyloidiasis, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis & Eosinophilic Gastritis. Once the strongyloidiasis was treated and under control I was released from the hospital.

As far as my eosinaphilia I’ve had to learn a new way of living and how to adjust after a flare. Currently the only known treatment is a heavy course of steroids and in my case it did not work well and caused other problems so for me right now there is no treatment and no cure for this disease. Staying active and being mindful of what I eat has helped me to thrive in this new life. My eosinaphilic diseases are rare and complex. Some days are great and other days are downright miserable. Since my disease is autoimmune I’ve developed other comorbid diseases and syndromes such as osteopenia, raynaud’s, and gilbert’s syndrome.

Living with a chronic illness has helped me to be empathic to others and realizing that they may have something more going on than we can see. Living with chronic illness has helped me to pause and enjoy the beauty of the world around me.

Yet lately I’ve been wondering more about the other people who lived through that week with me and their take on the story. Especially Troy’s since he couldn’t physically be there for me and it occurred just weeks before our church wedding. I’ve asked Troy to write about it for me so hopefully he will share something with me soon. If you were there that day or week please share as well. I am forever thankful to every single person who was involved that night; to the 911 call center, the EMTs, the ER staff, my GI doc who took a chance on me to search for something else, all the nurses, and especially all my friends and family who prayed for me. I recently had a chance to review my medical chart and was told something that I have been told numerous times, that I shouldn’t have lived. In my heart I believe that I survived because my mom interceded to Our Lady of Lourdes and called upon the Blessed Mother Mary to help me through.

My advice to others is to take those moments to pause and enjoy the beauty of the world around you.

Recipe for Lent – Vegetarian Potato Soup

It is Ash Wednesday and I confess in true world’s most mediocre Catholic fashion I did not get my ashes today. I try to get them but when the nearest services are about 30+ minute drives and it’s an early release day from school and you have a housing inspection well…it didn’t happen. I couldn’t make it to any of the services during the day and because of Tedy’s extreme meltdown this past Sunday when picking up the girls from Religious Education I wasn’t going to risk an unknown potential battle with a kid who hates going to church and I’m still recovering from being injured by him. Yes I say injured because well, here is what my arm currently looks like.

That’s just a few spots of what I could manage to get a halfway decent pic of with my camera phone. I just felt the need to share those images so when the judgemental folks step out to say something hopefully they’ll keep their opinions to themselves on this one because I don’t need anymore of it right now.

This post isn’t about our adventures with autism. I have talked about the incident with friends but am not ready to share on a larger platform just yet. This post is about Recipes for Lent. During Lent on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays we are supposed to abstain from eating meat.

Sophia recently reminded me that she loves my potato soup. I haven’t made potato soup in a couple of years (since I did for a soup supper on night during stations of the cross at Fort Sam Houston in Texas). So I decided to kick off this Lenten season by making a batch of it and switching things up from my usual crock pot to the instapot because honestly I rarely have time anymore to make sure I set out a crockpot meal at the right time of day. I’m going to try a little something different this Lent and regularly share my recipes with you and put them on a cute little card so that you can easily print it off. [Hopefully]

Feel free to season with salt & pepper if you like, I don’t think it needs it but I know some people like a little something more. Goes great with a nice bread too. Enjoy!