Oct 16, 2012

Grace in Small Things #74

1. Soon, we will have a specialist that can help us figure out our baby making issues.

2. Being laid off has given me time to do what I really love to do, which is making clothing and pendants!

Woot! Life is good!

I Made Crackers!

I love the show Iron Chef. A couple years ago I realized that many times, the chefs and their challengers would whip up crackers to go with their meals, and I thought that was neat-o. I wondered aloud countless times over the past couple years how they made their crackers...it looked so easy and tasty! The Iron Chefs never take more than a couple minutes to throw their crackers together, and I wanted to know how to do that.

I don't think about it often, but occasionally it has popped in my head and I remember that I am on a quest for a cracker recipe. Most of the recipes I have found are not easy, they take time and more than a couple ingredients. I love to cook, but if I wanted a complicated cracker, I'd have made one by now.

Last weekend, I made a delicious, from scratch spicy split pea soup, and wanted something starchy to go with it. We never buy soda crackers, and we rarely have bread or bread products in the house, so I either had to get out of my PJ's and go buy something, or make something at home. There wasn't time to bake bread, so I decided enough was enough, I was figuring out this whole cracker thing.

I ended up modifying a couple different recipes I found, and came up with a tasty, so easy my dog could do it cracker recipe. It went over so well, that I decided to whip up a few batches this afternoon so the husband and I had some snack foods on hand and weren't tempted to make any late night Shoppers Drug Mart runs for goodies. We're trying to save money for a trip to Saskatchewan and trim our waistlines, so being able to quench our cravings at home is a very good thing.

Here's the basic recipe:

2 cups of flour ( I have used all-purpose, whole wheat, rice and chickpea flour so far, all have worked very well!) 
1 cup of water
1/3 cup of olive oil

I added different Epicure Selections toppers and dip mixes to each batch I have made so far for flavour, as well as flax seeds and sesame seeds. I'm sure you could add anything your heart desires!

Rice flour w/flax seeds and Epicure's Garlicy Dill Topper and Chana flour with sesame seeds and Epicure's Curry Dip Mix.

 Put all the ingredients in the bowl and knead until you have a soft dough. Rice flour and chana flour are a bit different to work with, and you may need to use less water or more flour to keep it from getting too gooey. You do not want wet or gooey dough.

This jar is now designated as the "cracker rolling jar". Respect. 

Once the dough is ready, get out a large cookie sheet, and brush on a layer of olive oil to keep your crackers from sticking. Put your wad of dough in the middle of the cookie sheet. You are going to have to roll it very thin, to each corner and the sides. A traditional rolling pin is a pain in the ass for this job. I ended up using a small jam jar I had in the cupboard to roll the dough. It was much easier to roll the dough into the corners using the jar. Please Note: Rice flour can be frustrating to work with. It is very fragile. If you can't get it to roll, then just use your fingers to work the dough to the edges! 

Whole Wheat w/ flax seeds and Epicure's Chili Lime Sansel. 

Once you have your dough rolled onto the cookie sheet, you need to cut the dough into squares. Make sure to use a really sharp knife. I wrecked some of mine by trying to cut with a dull knife. 

All purpose flour w/ Epicure's Bacon Leek and Tomato Hot Dip Seasoning. Please excuse my disgusting oven. It's supposed to be self-cleaning, but its hygiene habits leave something to be desired. . 

Once they're all cut, pop those suckers in the oven at 375 degrees Celsius.  Go do something for awhile. I personally played Hanging With Friends on my phone while listening to The Ricki Lake Show while I waited, but really, that's up to you. Bake your crackers until they are either golden brown or "cracker" like. If they are still moist, keep on baking. You want these babies to be crispy.  The rice flour doesn't brown very well, so if you are using it, you will have to go by texture. Each dough is a bit different, so they can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes to be done. Do not try and speed up the process by using a higher temperature. You will burn them, and then you will be sad. Be patient! 

Rice flour w/ flax seeds and salt! 

Once finished, gently remove them from the cookie sheet and let them cool. If your husband or wife insists on eating them right out of the oven, let them. It's a good laugh.  Break them apart gently if any of them are still stuck together. This will be easy, because you have already pre-cut them. 

The finished product! 

When they're ready, make sure to store them in an airtight container, so they don't go stale, or just eat the whole thing while you watch an entire season of The Walking Dead on Netflix.

Bon Appetite!

*If you make any, please let me know how they turned out! :) 

Oct 1, 2012

Surviving Facebook After Multiple Miscarriages

The second I woke up, I just knew that the mild cramping from yesterday afternoon was more than just mild cramping from implantation. My boobs weren't hurting at all, and I knew if I went to the bathroom, I'd be spotting. To put off the inevitable, I rolled over and grabbed my iPhone off the night stand, and decided to lay there until I really HAD to get up and deal with this. Stupidly, I checked Facebook first. 

"Hi all, We have some AMAZING news, we are EXPECTING!!!!!!! 12 weeks!! I know I'm in shock too! I can't..." That's as far as I got. That particular person just had a second baby in January, the same week I was supposed to have my first baby. How was it fair that they were expecting a third child at the same time I was losing my third? I cried into my pillow and hugged my dogs, and forced myself to get up, tell my wonderful husband that we were losing yet another baby and get my ass to work. 

Awhile later during downtime at work, I checked Facebook again, making sure to avoid the person that had been announcing their pregnancy earlier that day, along with my usual avoidance of four friends who have just had a baby and seven friends and acquaintances who are expecting. (I've accepted the many friends who's babies are a few months old now, and have stopped blocking them.)  As I scrolled down through my news feed, I saw the same status again, and immediately it clicked that it was a "joke".

"Hi all, We have some AMAZING news, we are EXPECTING!!!!!!! 12 weeks!! I know I'm in shock too! I can't believe it myself! We weren't going to put it on facebook but wanted to make it official. :] I mean who would have guessed that we're expecting!! yup its official...we are expecting Santa in just 12 weeks!!! Re-post if you have any sense of humor!"

Ugh. I guess I don't have a sense of humour, because I find it completely inappropriate to be posting stuff like that. ( Spelling and grammar mistakes aside.) These sorts of status updates are right up there with homophobic hate speech and racism in my mind. If you think it's funny, consider yourself "un-friended". 

I don't expect the general public to be sensitive to women and men who have to go through what my husband and I have been going through the past year and a half. ( Five years if you count all the years of trying without any results). The vast majority of people I know personally, get pregnant without even trying, complain for nine months, and then have a healthy baby. Once the first one comes, they plan for the second, and so on, and everything goes off without a hitch. The thought of losing their child doesn't even cross their mind, and if it does, they keep it to themselves. Even though 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, nobody talks about it. Nobody wants to talk about it. It's uncomfortable and scary and whatever way you spin it, it's tragic. Hell, I never even THOUGHT about it until it happened to me. Now that I've graduated into the "recurrent" miscarriage club, it's all I seem to think about. 

Triggers for women who have suffered miscarriages, stillbirths and infant loss are everywhere, and we all have different triggers at that. The moment you experience loss, it seems that everyone around you becomes pregnant*, whether they be on TV, your best friends, co-workers, or strangers at the grocery store. Just the sight of a strangers huge pregnant belly has brought me to tears. Hell, I've even cried in line at the Shoppers Drug Mart after noticing that every single tabloid had a pregnant celebrity on it. Now, with Facebook being a huge part of our daily lives, it isn't just going into the community that can cause a woman, or her partner, to breakdown. Every single day we're flooded with status updates about sleepless nights, potty training, ultrasound pics, and birth announcements. We read all the complaints about pregnancy and parenting, and just wish that people realized how lucky they have it, and sometimes wonder if maybe we should offer to trade if they don't appreciate what they have or are going through. I personally have bitten my tongue on Facebook hundreds of times in the past year, and have chosen to block some people just so I could make it through the day, and stay friends with them. The positive updates are just as hard, because I would do anything to be in that same state of euphoria that they describe when talking about their "beans" and their births. 

In "real" life, I am now very open with people about my troubles with conceiving and with pregnancy loss. After our first loss, I wasn't sure if I should be. I had never heard anybody else talk about their losses, and I was very concerned about making my friends and family uncomfortable. In my mind, with the loss of our baby, they were grieving as well, and I didn't want to be a bother. As I tend to do, I kept to myself, and drove myself crazy in the process. When we experienced our second miscarriage, I promised myself I wasn't going to keep it to myself any more. I don't go ahead and announce it in a Facebook status, but if the subject comes up, I tell people why we don't have kids. I tell them that I'm in the middle of a miscarriage, or I tell them about the years of trying. I don't go out of my way but if somebody asks me why we don't have children, they are going to hear why and I'm not going to worry about making them uncomfortable, because they have already made me feel uncomfortable by judging me for being childless.

It is still taboo to discuss this subject on Facebook though, and I don't plan on starting to air my struggles for all of my 279 friends to see, for the same reason I don't complain about other things in my life on Facebook. IT'S ANNOYING to whine and complain, and I don't particularly want to annoy my friends. What I do want to do however, is make people aware and to teach them to stop and think before they post things like the above "joke" status, or breast cancer support status' that read something like "I'm 6 weeks and craving nachos!, or "I'm 14 weeks and craving pickles!". (That particular campaign sent me on a drinking binge, thank you very much). Some people are not as open as I am. They are silently grieving. They followed the "12 week rule" (which is bullshit, in my opinion) and didn't tell you they were expecting and they sure as hell aren't going to tell you they had a loss. There is nothing worse than losing a child who you've named and made a birth plan for, bought clothes for and told everybody about. The next time you want to "trick" the internet into thinking you're having a baby, think about how it would feel if you were in the position of someone who is suffering silently from a loss. If you think that you would still find it funny, then you are a stronger person than I ever will be, so go right ahead and click "post". 

Now, I'm not saying that people shouldn't have the right to post their baby news and photos and complaints of swollen ankles and hormonal wives on Facebook so please don't get all defensive on me. I'm sure that if I am ever blessed enough to have a baby live to full term I'll do the same to some degree. All I'm saying is, is that it's hard to deal with when you're part of the  miscarriage club. So,if you are someone who is going through the same thing as me and need some advice, here are a few tips that I have for you, that have helped me cope with on-line triggers.

Three Tips for Making Facebook Somewhat More Bearable After Miscarriage:

1. Block people if you have to, and unblock them whenever you're ready to do so, if ever. Don't feel bad about it, and don't tell them unless you feel you need to.  They might not like the idea of you not being happy for them or not wanting them in your news feed, but if they were put in your shoes they would most likely do the same. A true friend will understand and won't judge how you cope with your grief. 

2. Find an on-line support group. There are TONS of them out there, from every country, every city. Find one that fits your needs. The triggers I am talking about in this post are on-line, and you need to have somebody on-line to go to for support. If it wasn't for Unspoken Grief I don't think I would have made it through the past 14 months.  I visit the site, and the Facebook group daily. This past week, I have found the Recurrent Miscarriage/Multiple Miscarriage Support Group on Facebook to be extremely helpful. 

3. Don't feel like you have to "like" pictures of newborns or comment your congratulations on pregnancy or birth announcements if you feel uncomfortable doing so. Being jealous and angry is all part of the grieving process, and we don't have to pretend that we're happy for someone. Most likely, there will be so many "likes" and comments on such joyous news, that they won't even notice that you didn't do the same. I stick with my belief that true friends will understand your reasoning, and leave it alone. 

That being said, I'm going offline for the rest of the day to mentally prepare myself for another natural miscarriage, and celebrate what I do have with my furbabies, my loving husband, and a fresh cup of coffee, 'cause this one is disgustingly cold. 

*Although I'm not religious, I found this blog post explaining "The Phenomenon" to be my personal favourite on the subject: http://lifelossandotherthings.blogspot.ca/2011/03/miscarriage-and-infertility-phenomenon.html

If you have any tips for Surviving Facebook ( or other on-line communities )  after miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss I'd love to hear them and add them to the list!