December 12, 2017

Thoughts During This Christmas Season

I sat and stared at a blank page for hours trying to think of how to put my thoughts to into words. These thoughts are dark and not usually something I want to talk about outside of my support group, and sometimes I don't even talk about them then.

My moods have been so up and down this holiday season. Christmas is my favorite time of year, but now it's sort of been tainted. This time last year I was blissfully happy and pregnant with our son, Colby. We announced the pregnancy on Christmas day even. We had no idea what was in store for us, how could we know?

This year we should have had our son with us. This year we should be buying baby toys and clothes and wrapping them in sweet kid friendly wrapping paper. This year we should be getting ourselves ready for the first long road trip with our son to see my family in Georgia. This year we should be introducing our son to some of my family for the very first time. This year we will not be doing any of those things.

Instead we will be buying gifts for other people's children and traveling to Georgia on our own to show everyone our Colby Bear. This year I am also not pregnant again.

There are many sides to my grief and depression. It's mourning the loss of the life that could have been. It's the loss of possibilities and experiencing Christmas through his little eyes. It's battling infertility and PCOS. It's the loss of two grandparents. It's crying at the drop of a hat to certain songs or to random commercials. It's cringing in pain when I hear a baby cry in public. It's answering the question of "how many kids do you have?" with "one son in heaven." It's anxiety about being asked that question or other related questions.

This whole year is different than what I imagined it would be last year. So much has happened in the past 11 months... and then there is the one thing that has not happened. And while my good days are outnumbering the bad days, the bad days are still really bad and feel like they will go on forever. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but these feelings are a very real part of my life, and I strive to be honest and open about my life in this space.

I do want to take the time to thank everyone for your amazing support and prayers. It means so much to us to know that there are people out there that we've never even met in person that care so much about us and our journey. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

December 1, 2017

You Know You're An Adult When...

There are days when I feel like I shouldn't be allowed to adult, and there are days that I definitely feel like I got my shit together. On these good adulting days, these are the thoughts that take over my mind.

You know you're an adult when...

... you get excited about a new vacuum cleaner.

... you get upset that you're neighbors don't mow their lawn enough.

... you're the one being passed in the "slow lane."

... you can't get on board with the new lingo of the teens.

... watching an entire season on Netflix is a considerable accomplishment.

... staying out/up late does not seem appealing whatsoever.

... you can't begin your day without coffee or some sort of caffeine beverage.

... you need a day after your vacation to rest before going back to work.

... you ask for things you need for Christmas rather than things you want.

... you finally understand what you're parents meant by "you'll understand when you're older."

... you've told someone that they'll understand when they get older.

... wine is considered a food group.

... you begin to notice smiles lines and crows feet.

... you can no longer rely on your metabolism to stay a healthy weight.

... you don't have to call your mom every time you cook a real meal.

... you do your laundry before you run out of things to wear.

... you grocery shop before you run out of things to eat.

... you've thought to yourself "I'm too old for this shit" about anything.

How do you know you're an adult?

November 28, 2017

9 Things You Need to Have for Online Classes

Online classes are no joke! From experience, they require a lot more work than in-seat classes do. BUT! Don't let that deter you from taking them to finished a degree! It can be done, and I'm going to help you.

Besides your computer and text books, here's a list of stuff you need to have for online classes.

1. A good place to do your schoolwork.
This. Is. Essential.
Whether it's your home office, a coffee shop, or your bed, find a spot that will be the most conducive to you getting your shit done without too many distractions. This also includes ambiance. Turn on that classical music, light some aromatherapy candles, put on those jammies. Whatever it takes, dude. Whatever it takes.

2. Post-its
I LOVE POST-ITS. They have been my saving grace on finding references for discussion posts in my text books. I can write notes on them and color coordinate too.

3. Colored pens or pencils
Also the best. I write copious notes, and having the discussion question or essay question written at the top of my notebook page helps a lot. I use a colored pencil to write the questions so they stand out. You can color coordinate these with your post-its!

4. Dedication
Hubs actually suggested that this be on the list. And he was right. You've got to have the dedication to get those tasks done on time. Sometimes it's really hard to push yourself to do schoolwork when there is no set class time. Trust me, I know. But you can always set your own class time by scheduling it out for yourself.

5. A lap desk
Especially if you choose to work from your bed or couch. Depending on the kind you get, you can use it in the car and a coffee shop comfy chair too. Whether you put your computer on it, or use it to take notes from your text books, it can really come in handy.

6. Highlighters
Unless I rent my book or get the e-book, I highlight the crap out of them. It makes finding that info you need much easier, and paired with the post-its, discussion posts and essays will be a breeze.

7. Breaks
Don't forget to give yourself a break from time to time. Especially if you are like me and can get deep into a project or paper and all of a sudden 5 hours has passed. Set alarms on your phone or use your activity band (i.e. Fitbit, Apple Watch, Jawbone, etc.) to send you alerts to get up and move around every hour or two hours.

8. Coffee
No explanation needed.

9. Water and snacks
As with anything, you need to stay hydrated. Your brain just works better that way. And your body will thank you for that bag of goldfish.

Have you ever taken an online class? What would you add to this list?

November 24, 2017


It's Thanksgiving, well it was yesterday anyways, an on Thanksgiving you tell everyone what you are thankful for. So, that's what I'm going to do today.

+ Family who will drop everything they are doing to come and help in times of need.

+ Friends who have been with me through the good and the bad days without judgement.

+ Therapy that has helped me figure out who this new me is.

+ Medications that help my body do what it cannot do alone.

+ Hubs because he takes such good care of our little family.

+ Colby, because he has taught us how big our love can be.

+ Colby Bear because now we have something to cuddle when we are missing Colby more than normal.

Hubs' is thankful for:

+ A good job that keeps us comfortable.

+ Me :)

+ Pumpkin and Misty even though they can be buttheads.

+ Colby

+ That he is able to go back to school

What are you thankful for this year?

November 21, 2017

A Reintroduction

It's been a while since I've posted on the regular. The biggest reason is grief. It sort of takes over every part of your life, and you don't know how long it will stay and to what intensity you'll experience it from day to day. You see, on January 20, 2017 we lost our son, Colby, at 14 weeks and 2 days gestation. I'll tell that story another day, but it shook us right to our core. I am not the same person I was on January 19th. I will never be that person again. So here I am to introduce this new self to you.

My name is Amanda, mommy of an angel, wife to Philip, and student of psychology. I have been blogging on and off here since January of 2014 and I'm hoping to make a comeback here this holiday season. I've blogged about food, marriage, DIY projects, and silly stuff like this funny conversation with my husband. This year, when I've blogged I've talked about those fun things, but I've also decided to share more about mental health and grief, as well as what not to say to a bereaved parent. I don't want all of my posts to be sad and/or serious, but I do think these issues need to be addressed, and I will continue to talk about them, as well as my son. Losing him has really brought home the importance of raising awareness about mental health, grief, and pregnancy loss.

I've talked a little about this on Instagram already, but I wanted to talk about it more here. For a long time after January, my life was make up of more bad days than good. And by bad days, I mean days where my grief has been so overwhelming that just getting out of bed was a victory. Recently, it has reversed. I have more good days than bad ones, and I am so grateful for them. I'm learning to turn my bad days into good ones, by reminding myself that Colby would want me to be happy and to enjoy things again. Sometimes this works, and other times it doesn't. Therapy and medications help a lot, and I am not ashamed to admit that. You have to do what you have to do to get your body and mind balanced.

Hubs and I celebrated 3 years of marriage in April, so we're nearly to 4 years now, haha. We live in Missouri, but want to move as soon as we can. We have two cats, Pumpkin and Misty. A few of you will be wondering about Bear, our great pyrenees. Well, after nearly 6 months of tearful deliberation, we decided to re-home him. He has needs that we were unable to fill, no matter how hard we tried. We did find him an amazing home with a family of 3 who have a large fenced in yard, which is just what he needs. Our home is not the same without Bear, but this decision was about what is best for him, not what is best for me and Hubs. 

Let's end this on a good note! I am this close to being done with my BA in Psychology. Like we're talking just weeks away! I haven't yet decided what I'm going to do afterwards, a lot depends on if we get pregnant again. Yes, we are trying to get pregnant again, but we are still battling my PCOS and infertility. Hubs has returned to school and I am so incredibly proud of him. He's decided to finish is Bachelors and get a Management Information Systems degree, which is a mix of IT and Business Administration. 

This is the new me.

November 17, 2017

Currently... November 2017

This fall weather. It's finally getting into the cooler temps here in Missouri and it's lovely.

Reading: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Making my way through the Harry Potter series again. You can never have too much magic in your life.

Feeling: A mixture of things. Hope and frustration seem to be the strongest at the moment. Hope for our future family, and frustration that things aren't happening in MY timeline. I have to remind myself daily that HIS timeline is greater than mine.

Watching: Game Show Network! The vintage shows are the best.

Writing: A few blog posts. I need to get my creative juices flowing again.

Listening: to Christmas music! Two of the Sirius XM stations are playing it already.

Wanting: The new Illustrated Harry Potter Books! The first three are out in stores. They'll be on my Christmas list for sure.

Needing: New shoes. It's been a while.

Hoping: That God will bless us with another child. A living child.

Avoiding: Schoolwork...

Wishing: It was socially acceptable to put up Christmas decor.

Trying: To stay positive. It can be easy to let my depression take over and stay in that dark place, but it's not healthy. I'm working on making healthier choices for my body as well as my mind.

Missing: Colby.

Praying: For the sad state of our country.

Thinking: That i am so grateful to have our Colby Bear. Having something physical to cuddle has been a great comfort to us.

Considering: A total revamp of the blog. Name and all.

November 15, 2017

Colby Bear

I want to introduce you to our sweet little Colby Bear. He was made for us by a wonderful organization called MollyBears. They make custom teddy bears that represent angel babies. The give families the comfort of a cuddle. Like each baby, each bear is different. Some have symbols like butterflies or animals or initials, and some have accessories like blankets or bows or tutus. Each bear can also be weighted to the weight of your baby.

Colby Bear is two ounces. He has an elephant on his chest and initials on his foot. We have two symbols for Colby, elephants and feathers. When we opened the box and saw that Colby Bear had a winged elephant on it I cried. The MollyBear maker had no idea about the feathers, we just requested an elephant. What a wonderful little hello from our sweet boy.

I can't tell you what this bear means to our little family. I am so grateful to have him, to have something to cuddle when I'm having a bad day. It will be nice to have something to represent Colby in family photos as well. Colby Bear has brought such comfort and joy to us, and I hope to the rest of our family as well.

June 26, 2017

10 Things Not to Do or Say to a Bereaved Parent

After we lost Colby things got interesting in our familial and friend relationships. Some people were very sweet and supportive, while others ignored our loss altogether. I was shocked at some of the things people said and did (or didn't say and do), especially from my family.

So I've decided to make a little guide on what not to say to a bereaved parent.

1. "It wasn't even a baby yet."
This one hurt the most. It was a baby to me as soon as that second pink line showed up on the pregnancy test. This statement is the most grieved in the online support group I am a member of.

2. "It's probably for the best."
How is me not having my child in my arms "for the best?" Don't assume that there was something deathly wrong with the baby, because that is not always the case. Colby was perfect. He was developing on schedule, and all the tests came back normal. So, no, it was not "for the best."

3. "Just get over it already."
Losing a child is not something you "just get over" after a few days. A lot of healing, both physically and mentally, needs to happen. And I don't think any parent gets over not having their child.

4. "Sometimes these things happen."
Yes. We know. We are living it right now. You don't have to tell us.

5. Rushing the parent to "get over it" faster.
Rushing a person through the grieving process is not good for anyone, ever. Each person has their own needs and their own way of coping, so let them. What you may not help them, and vice versa.

6. Ignoring the loss altogether.
It was the ones who said and did nothing that hurt the most for me. I get it, it's an uncomfortable situation for everyone involved and you're not sure what to say. Well, saying nothing at all is worse than saying something that might come out wrong. Because your attempt means that you care.

5. "Are you STILL sad about that?"
Here we go again with the rushing. Guilting a bereaved parent because they aren't "over it" yet is a horrible thing to do.

6. "At least you know you can get pregnant."
For me, this one was ok. I was diagnosed infertile over 2 years ago, and it was a good sign that I can get pregnant. However, many women are hurt by this statement, especially if they have experienced multiple losses. So it's better to just steer clear of this statement unless you have the full story.

9. Not say the baby/child's name.
Many parents decide to name their baby whether they know the sex or not. It's not weird. Referring to their baby as "the baby" or "your baby" or "it" or "them" or any other non-name word can be hurtful. Saying the child's name makes them more real and more important to others and not just the parent.

10. Not acknowledging the baby is real and important.
Because they are. Very much.

If you have said or done any of these things, it's ok. Just keep these things in mind for the future. If the loss was recent, though, perhaps apologizing to the parent could be helpful. That is up to you though. This list might also help to explain why there may be an awkwardness between you and the parent(s) as well.

All of this poses the question of, "what should I say and do instead?" Well here's the bonus, I'm going to get you started on that too.

What you should say/do instead:

1. "I'm so sorry. We are thinking of you/praying for you."

2. "I'm really am here if you want to talk."

3. "It's ok to cry, take all the time you need."

4. Say the baby/child's name when referring to them (unless asked not to).

5. Validate their feelings and emotions.

6. If you are family, recognize the baby/child as your grandchild, niece/nephew, cousin, great-grandchild.

7. If there is a memorial service or a funeral, go if you can go. If you can't go, send flowers, a card, something to acknowledge the event.

8. Don't make the parent feel bad or guilty for honoring their baby/child in their own way, no matter how weird it may seem to you.

9. Reach out and check on the parent.

10. Wish them "Happy Mother's/Father's Day," even if they do not have any other children.

Has anyone said anything insensitive to you in the past?

June 19, 2017

DIY Flowery Front Door Wreath

The other day, our mail lady came to the door to give us our mail so she could ask about the wreath on our front door.

Ms. Sue: Do you make your own wreaths?
Me: Yes, I do.
Ms. Sue: Oh wow! It's so beautiful! You are so creative.
Me: Thank you!

So I was inspired to make a tutorial for this super cheap and super easy wreath.

Where to shop:
Dollar Tree
Craft Store (if needed)

What you need:
10-12 Fake Hawaiian leis in colors of your choice
Wire wreath frame (if the dollar tree doesn't have any, you can get one at any craft store)
**You can also use a skinny pool noodle cut to desired length and taped with duct tape.**
Floral wire
Wired Ribbon (I found this lovely pink burlap ribbon at the Dollar Tree!)

Wrap the leis around the wreath frame and secure with small lengths of floral wire. If you go the pool noodle route you'll want to glue the ends of the leis to the noodle. I recommend E-6000 as it is waterproof. Make a bow, and attach it to the wreath with the floral wire. Voila! beautiful wreath for spring and summer.

You could do blue and pink for a baby shower or white for a bridal shower! Make wreaths in wedding colors for a wedding or your own decor colors for a beautiful wall decor piece.

Do you make your own wreaths?

June 12, 2017

How to Cope with a Long Distance BFF

Many of you know my Llama, Melissa. She's been my best friend for eleven years now. We've been through some amazing times, and some really shitty times. But we were inseparable. Now that I'm living in Missouri, a mere 726.7 miles apart (yes i looked it up), it's not quite the same. However, I think we've become closer and have an even stronger friendship now than we ever dud. And that's really saying something.

Here are some things that we do to help us cope with being so far apart, that keep us close.

Fun Text Tones
You will text A LOT. So make it a tone that you absolutely love and/or associate with your bestie. This goes for ring tones too. You just need that fun and catchy tone to listen to a million times a day.

Give Autocorrect a Name
Ours is Judy. And she's a bitch. Our "smart" phones like to make us look stupid sometimes, or you're fingers just can't seem to hit the right keys. Whatever the reason, someone needs to be blamed, and that's Judy.

Surprise Snail Mail
Whether it'a a small gift or a little card, these keep things special. It's a physical reminder that you have a best friend who cares about you.

Just because you live in totally different places now, doesn't mean the gossip stops. Now, turn off your judgey face and admit that you gossip sometimes too, even though we aren't supposed to. And there are time a little Facebook stalking is in order to familiarize yourself with the gossip victim.

Watch Movies Together
You know you both own a copy of Mama Mia, so pop that sucker in and sync it up. Sing all the songs and text your BFF the whole time. Just because you've seen it a million times doesn't mean you are tired of it. It can actually be therapeutic.

Workout Together
Schedule gym session or walks at times that you both can do it. Call each other or start a step challenge to keep each other accountable when you can't just bust in on the other and snatch the Cheetos away.

Keep up with your Inside Jokes
Seriously. In 2006 "drive by wooting" was totally a thing for us (don't ask). And even now I randomly will send her a snap of this.

Be Honest
No matter what. It's a general friendship rule already, but I feel it's even more important when its and long distance friendship. You can't physically step in anymore, so sometimes brutal honesty is what's needed.

Send Photos, often.
Snapchat is amazing for this purpose. It keeps you connected on a visual level (get your minds out of the gutter). We send photos of ourselves, my pets, her kids, my husband, her boyfriend, e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. But mostly coffee.

Drink Coffee Together
This is the same as the movies. Just get a coffee and the same time and chat on the phone. It's almost like your normal trips to Starbucks.

Basically do all the things you used to do, only most of it through text and phone calls. haha

Do you have a long distance BFF? How do you stay close?

June 8, 2017

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Recipe

Here's a happier post for you. I've been making these muffins for Hubs as a grab-and-go breakfast before he goes to work. If I don't make him something quick and easy, the he won't eat breakfast at all, so this works perfectly.

What you need:
3-4 medium to large ripe bananas (no green)
1 box of Spice Cake Mix
2 eggs
1 bag of milk or dark chocolate chips
Flour baking spray
Muffin tins or loaf pans
Large bowl
Potato Masher or Fork
Mixing spoon

Preheat the over to 350*F.
Prepare your muffin tins (you'll need two), OR you can do two loaf pans, OR a combination of both! I spray mine with a flour baking spray.

First you'll want to mash the bananas up. You can use a potato masher or a fork to do this, and you'll want it to be a slightly chunky baby food texture (does that make sense??). Once that is done, add the eggs and mix well.
Add the cake mix and a little more than half the bag of chocolate chips, mix until evenly blended.
Spoon the mix into the muffin tins or pour into the loaf pans and sprinkle more chocolate chips on the top.
Bake for 25-30 mins, or until a toothpick comes out clean(ish).

Voila! Delicious chocolate chip banana bread muffins! You could also do the traditional nuts instead of the chocolate chips and it would be banana nut bread. Dried cranberries would be really good in this too. The options are endless!

This recipe is much easier than my great grandmother's recipe. No one can live up to her baked goods anyways, haha.

Have you every simplified a traditional recipe?

June 5, 2017

Grief and Mental Illness: End the Stigma

I almost started this post with an apology for being absent from this space for so long. Then I realized that I don't owe anyone an apology for taking time for myself and my own mental health while we grieve Colby. We are still grieving, and I have good days and bad days, but we must keep moving forward if we are to honor his little life and give him a little brother or sister.

I have lived with a mental illness for most of my life. Although I went undiagnosed and untreated for at least a decade, looking back, my depression began in my early teens. Nothing I did made it better, at least not in the long term. It wasn't until my early twenties that things escalated to the point it was affecting my relationships with the people in my life, but I didn't want to be "that crazy girl" who has to take medication to be "normal." But, in 2011 on a rainy afternoon I sat in my car crying to my mom on the phone in the Target parking lot, that I finally realized that I cannot do this on my own. I made an appointment with my family doctor, and was diagnosed with major depression and given a prescription for an antidepressant. Those were turbulent times. I wasn't always able to get my medication, and I spent many nights wishing to go to sleep and not wake up.

When I moved to Missouri in 2013, things got better (thanks to my wonderful husband). After we got married I was able to get back on my medication, and I started therapy. I wanted to be better, to be well. After a two medication changes with no improvement, I decided to have a formal psychological assessment done. December of 2016 I discovered what I've been fighting for the past 20 years. PTSD, depression, anxiety, and Bipolar II. So many emotions ranging from shock to relief flooded my mind and body. I immediately began to research these diagnoses and the medication that go along with them.

We found out we were pregnant in November, and at 14 weeks and 2 days gestation we lost our son, Colby, on January 20, 2017. It's been 19 weeks and 3 days (as of Monday) since that awful night and they have been the hardest days of my life. The most important thing I've learned from this is that the grieving process is so different for each person. There is NO set time that you have to "get over it" and "move on." Losing a child is extremely hard no matter what age, and that takes time to heal enough to start being ok again. I've learned to brush off the people who want me to get better at a faster pace, the ones who don't know that their words hurt, and the ones who don't offer any words at all. You really do find out who cares most when you experience a loss like this.

Grief on top of my existing depression and Bipolar II has made things difficult for not only me, but for those around me, most of all my husband. I'm learning to distinguish between grief emotions and reactions, and the "normal" ups and downs I experience with my Bipolar. And hubs is learning how to support and reassure me as we try to heal.I am now on new medications that are geared towards stabilizing my moods and am still in therapy. I also found a support group for miscarriage, pregnancy loss, and infant loss, and that has helped immensely.

I'm not telling you this to gain pity or sympathy, I don't want any of that, thanks. I am telling you this because this is me; this is my "normal." I am not ashamed of my mental illnesses, nor am I embarrassed that I need to take medication to balance the chemicals in my brain. I know my limits: what I can handle in a healthy way and what I cannot. Mental illness does not make me weak or less than, and I don't want to be treated as such. We need to break the negative stigma. It keeps many people from seeking the help they need, and encourages the rampant ignorance of psychological disorders in the general public.

I hope that by being open about my grief and mental illnesses I can shed some light on this side of the story. That I can help even just one person by letting them know they are not alone, and it's ok to get help. If you just need someone to listen, I'll be that person. If not me, reach out to a friend or family member. There are also support groups; find one in your area or even online.

February 8, 2017

Colby Christian Wood

Some of you may already know if we are friends on Facebook or you follow me on Instagram. But, on January 20, 2017 at 2:30am we lost our son, Colby Christian, at just over 14 weeks gestation.

I am not pregnant anymore.

I had a miscarriage.

We lost our son.

Those three statements have been the hardest thing to type, much less say out loud. I cannot express to you the level of emptiness and sadness I feel. I'm not sure I could even try to put it to words. If you've experienced a loss like this, you know what I mean. What's worse is we may never know why. The only thing that keeps me going is that it's not my fault and that Jesus will keep him safe until I can once again hold my precious boy.

I have had a wonderful support system around me, especially that first week afterwards. I'm not sure I'd be as "ok" as I am today if it weren't for my mom driving all the way up here from Georgia for that week. I don't think I could get through this at all without my amazing husband. And my closest friends have done their best to help me stay distracted when I need to be and be a shoulder to cry on when I need it.

I do want to thank everyone for your sweet words and prayers. It means a lot to me and Hubs. Especially those that call our son by his name. It makes him real and important to not just us. Even though you may not know what to say, there's not much anyone can say to make it better. But the simple "I'm so sorry" or "we are thinking about you" messages are perfectly enough for us right now.

A special thanks to all of those that lit a candle for Colby the day we brought him home from the funeral home that did his cremation. It was so amazing to see his light touch more than just our hearts.

Hope. That is what we have for the future. We have hope that we will be able to bring another light into this world that won't be extinguished so soon.


January 18, 2017

How Does Infertility Affect Marriage? A Research Project

Infertility takes a huge toll on a person. I've talked about my own infertility and what I've had to go through to get here. I've asked Hubs to write a little something about my infertility from the perspective of a husband:

Hello all, you all know me as the husband of Knock on Wood. Not too long ago my wife shared our story about the battle with infertility. I'm going to add my perspective on our troubles, and the toll it took on us and our marriage. First of all it was rough seeing all the negative tests. The depressed look on my wife's face cycle after cycle, and there was nothing I could say or do that would help. It made me feel helpless and useless. Our love life became monotonous because sometimes it was scheduled, and to be honest, there were times I didn't enjoy it at all. It was a very stressful time for us and I tried to just go with the flow. She just needed to feel sad, or be mad sometimes, so I let her. I listened and just tried to be there as much as she wanted me to.
Now that my wife is pregnant (YAY!!!!!!) Our relationship has been better, she's been more upbeat, and positive (even thought she's sick right now as I'm writing this). I have been learning how to feed a baby and change diapers with my new nephew around (I've never been around babies). I want to end on this note: despite this hard chapter we've gone through, I love my wife with all my heart, and I think we're going to be great parents.

And all of this leads to the question: How does infertility affect marriage/relationships?

Well, I'm taking a research class this session and I've decided to conduct my own little study. I know some of you, dear readers, have fought or are currently fighting your own war on infertility, so I am asking you to help me out. I've created a survey that is completely anonymous that will hopefully give me a better sense of a possible answer to this question. If you would complete the survey for me, I would greatly appreciate it. If you haven't experienced infertility, but know someone who has, feel free to pass it along those you know who would be interested in participating.

Have you ever participated in an study like this before? 

January 16, 2017

8 Things I Keep On Hand For Blog Photos

Blog Photos. You can buy them, get them from free sites, or take them yourselves (don't steal photos! That is rude). Over the past couple years I have been teaching myself new ways to take, edit, and stage photos for my blog and Instagram all with my iPhone. There are tons of tutorials for smartphone photography out there and you can get inspiration for staging from other peoples photos (especially on Instagram). I've been asked a few times what I keep on hand for my photos, so today I'm going to share my must haves with you!

1. White Foam Board
This is essential for flat lays if you don't already have a desirable surface that can be moved into the natural light. I get mine from the Dollar Tree, so when they start looking shabby, or the cats decide to claw it up, it's easily replaceable.

2. Trifold White Poster Board
Also from the Dollar Tree. These are good for using as a light reflector as well as a backdrop for smaller item photos.

3. Cute Office Supplies
Paperclips, pencils, pens, notepads, etc. I have a couple of different color sets that I got from the Target dollar section. They always have new stuff for each season. Dollar Tree also has some basics too, although they don't always the cute matching colors.

4. Calendar
For 2016 I got a clipboard calendar from Target. And this year I have a spiral one from the Dollar Tree. I use these (usually with seasonal items) for my first of the month photos on Instagram and have used them here on the blog as well for "currently" posts.

5. Fake Flowers/plants
Why spend money on real ones all the time? Especially if you have allergies or a super black thumb. For lots of my photos I have fake flowers and plants in them. The secret is to get ones that look more real than others. You know what I mean, some fake flowers actually look really fake, while others don't. What's great about them is you can store them and use them for several years. I get some from the Dollar Tree (you get lucky when they get in the new shipments) and some from Target, JoAnn's, or other craft supply stores.

6. Candles
Most of you probably have candles around the house already. Pull the ones you already have that match your color palette or season. Or you can get cheap ones at, you guessed it, the Dollar Tree. Walmart also has a nice selection that isn't terrible expensive either.

7. Mugs
We all have mugs because we all can't go without coffee or tea, amiright? These are a staple in blog and Instagram photos. They don't always have to be cute or have a nice saying on them. I have some plain white ones my mom gave me that I use a lot of the time. OR you can always save your Starbucks cup and use it for photos a few more times.

8. White or Light colored fuzzy blanket.
This is a new one for me, but I've been wanting one for a LONG time (I got one for Christmas). They are great for beauty product shots because the bottles won't roll away like they do on hard surfaces. I've seen them used a lot for those sitting-with-a-mug-and-computer/book shots. You know the ones. Check TJMaxx, Ross, and other discount stores for the fake fur rugs and blankets. Walmart and Target have the fleece blankets that have the cream/white fuzzy side like the one I have.

I like to grab little things I have around my house to use in photos as well. Like my elephants figurines, books, eye glasses, jewelry, tchotchkes, etc. Raid your house to find items that go with the theme of the photo you want. Did you buy apples at the grocery store this week? Put some in your photo! Have a giant bag of skittles (just me? ok... #pregnancycravings)? Pop them in a bowl and put it in your photo! Made popcorn for snack? Use it!

I also use my laptop and iPad in photos as well (and sometimes I use my iPhone and take the photo with my iPad). Use what you have already! You don't have to spend a fortune to get good photos.

I always try to use natural lighting when possible. It gives the clearest and brightest images and makes editing easier. And my favorite apps for editing on my phone are Afterlight (it's def worth the $.99) and a free app called Color Story. I use PicMonkey (they now have a phone app!) and Canva to make graphics for my blog. Both are free to use, but have paid upgrades you can purchase.

What do you keep on hand for photos?

January 6, 2017

5 Things I Am Missing During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is such a blessing, and I am so grateful to be finally having this experience. However, there is a long list of things you must not do for those nine months. A lot of those things, like eating sushi, I didn't do to begin with, but there are a few that I am missing particularly more than others.

1. Caffeine.
While we were trying to make this baby, I somehow got myself adjusted to Diet Caffeine Free Dr. Pepper. I have cut down on the amount of tea I drink, as a southern girl you must understand how hard it is to give up sweet tea. The biggest sacrifice has been my Starbucks habit. Granted, I only went on days I had class, which was normally 2 days a week. This session, however, I am going four days a week. The horrors. *insert dramatic faint here*

2. Wine
Oh man do I miss wine. I've taken to drinking juices out of a wine glass and pretending really really hard. But a relaxing bath just isn't the same without a glass of cool white wine to chug sip.

3. Energy
First trimester fatigue is very real. I have absolutely no energy or motivation to do things most days. At least its becoming more acceptable to wear yoga pants and leggings as pants these days, so I can just put on a decent shirt and shoes, throw my hair up in a messy bun and run errands or go to class with minimal effort. #pregnancywin

4. Clear Sinuses
I can't be the only one who has had a near constant overload of mucus stopping up my nostrils, preventing normal breathing. Not only am I limited to sleeping positions that keep me awake, now I have to fight to breathe at night. I saw a post about this the other day on one of the pregnancy groups I joined on Facebook and I don't feel so alone in this now. I think what sucks the most about this, is that you are limited on what medications you can take while pregnant, and you are encouraged to try not to take any at all.

5. Teeth Whitening
All those sodas, wine, and coffee we drink (or have give up for good reasons) can cause stains on your teeth, and we remedy this by whitening them. Before I got my two pink lines, I had partnered with Smile Brilliant to try out their at home whitening kit that features custom fitted whitening trays. Smile Brilliant sends you everything you need to get started. The molds for the custom trays were simple to make, and I got the finished trays fairly quickly after I sent the molds in. It was slow going at first due to my super sensitive teeth (I had no idea! I've never had problems before) even with the nifty desensitizing gel step included with the custom whitening tray kit. My consultant was amazing though, and helped me along with different tips and techniques. I was seeing some great results, even with the few treatments I was able to manage. Then I got my positive test, and had to stop the treatments all together, cutting my whitening experience off before I was done. Therefore I don't have adequate before and after photos (boo). But, you can check out some of the other reviews for Smile Brilliant and THIS video about how the custom whitening trays are made and how the two types of gels work.

Even though I can't whiten right now, doesn't mean you can't (as long as you aren't expecting as well!), so I'll be giving away a custom whitening tray kit. Just enter your information below. Can't wait two weeks for the giveaway results? You can use the code "knockonwoodblog" for $20 off your own set of trays during the duration of the giveaway. Happy Whitening!

What did you miss most during your pregnancy?

  Whitening Teeth At Home

January 3, 2017

Pregnancy After Infertility

Now that the secret is out, I'll probably be around a little more. Well I hope so anyways. I'm telling you what, it's hard not to talk about or reference a pregnancy that is happening to you. Especially one that has be much anticipated by not only my husband and I, but all of our friends and family as well. A lot of people have been following our baby journey, and I hope no one is offended that we didn't spill the beans after those two pink lines popped up (we did tell immediate family and very few close friends).

Why not shout it from the rooftops and toss positive pregnancy tests on social media? Fear. And it is very real. Two of my close friends have recently experienced miscarriages. All I could think about after the initial shock wore off was that I would wake up tomorrow and it would be just a dream, that it wasn't real. I took more tests every few days and analyzed every single sensation or symptom. We had a little scare that it might be ectopic, so an emergency ultrasound was ordered at about 5 weeks. Thank God JellyBean was nestled safe in my uterus, and the pains I was feeling were probably the small cysts on my ovaries bursting (thanks PCOS).

After that reassurance, the fear was still there. Symptoms would come and go, and I was googling statistics as each week. I spotted one day and was scared to death. I was counting the days to our first official appointment at the OB, those three weeks seemed to have lasted years to me. I was so excited and nervous and scared. I knew we should be able to see the heartbeat, but knew there was a possibility that we wouldn't be able to hear it yet.

You can only imagine how in awe I was when she found it. There it was, fluttering away on the screen and then she turned the sound on. I couldn't even take my eyes off the screen to look at Hubs to see his reaction. My baby, there on the screen, extremely real. We didn't even remember to take a video of it!

I felt better after that appointment, until we got home. Then the anxiety and fear came crashing back in. "I'm still not past the first trimester, yet. Anything can happen." I tried to stay positive. And I would get irrationally angry at anyone who said anything like "Well I hope nothing happens" or "Hope it's a sticky bean" or "you should probably wait a while to tell people/buy things, just in case."

I reached the 12 week milestone on New Year's Day. And our next appointment is next week. Another anxious weeks of waiting.

I haven't decided how much of this pregnancy I'm going to share publicly. But I do know that you'll probably never see a "bumpdate" in this space or on social media. I've also decided not to share the names we've picked out either. As far as sharing gender and other details... I just don't know yet. Some things should be kept as a surprise right?

When did you share? How much did you share?