Archive | May 2013

Grain Free Pasta in an Hour!

I’ve been grain free for about seven months now.  I can do without oatmeal, rice, cereal, and almost any other grain based product.  My weaknesses are bread, pasta, and cookies!  I cracked my grain free bread recipe a few months ago and life has been pretty good.  I’ve got a few cookie recipes that I like, so between those and ice cream, desserts are covered.  Pasta- macaroni as my mother would call it- is something I cannot live without!

I tried lots of flour blends. After lots of failures, including one on Holy Saturday when I tried to make grain free lasagna and got as far as dropping the dried noodles in the water and cried as I watched them disintegrate, I’ve got a recipe that is grain free but doesn’t taste like it.  That’s my kind of grain free!

Like anything else, making pasta is a skill and having cooked a meal, or made a dough before does not put you at an advantage.  The first time you make this recipe, you might want to have two sets of hands available, if not you can do it by yourself, it just takes more time and is a bit more awkward.

Here’s what you’ll need

1 ½ cups My grain free flour

2 eggs

1 teaspoon xanthum gum

3-6 tablespoons cold water

Directions:

Mix  first three ingredients in small mixing bowl.  Add water one tablespoon at a time until a dough forms.  IMG_0296[1]

Cut dough into quarters.  On a board floured with my flour mix, roll out each section until it is less than ½ inch thick.IMG_0293[1]

  One section at a time roll each section through your pasta machine on number one.

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Repeat with the number two and three settings.  After number three my sections are usually long enough where I have to cut them in half. When you cut your sections in half, it’s a good idea to re-dust them with flour.  Having enough flour on your pasta dough keeps it from sticking to the rollers.  Continue running each section through your machine until you have reached level 7.  Flour your sections again and run them through the pasta making attachment.  If you have a drying rack, hang up your pasta for a quick dry.  If not, you can lay out your pasta on trays and it will dry by the next morning.

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The quality of your pasta will be the same regardless of which drying method you use.  Once your pasta is dry, cook it in boiling water for about 8 minutes, add your favorite sauce and you’ll hardly be able to tell it’s grain free!

Mangia!

Some Information About Charting:

IMG_0393[1]NaPro Technology asks that a woman monitor her own health by charting her bio-markers.  If you’re considering NaPro Technology, then charting is something that you’ll be doing daily.  It’s not a lot of work.  It involves monitoring your health by interpreting the messages your body is sending you through your bio-markers.

Before I go any further, let me say that this post is for those who are truly interested in learning to chart using the Creighton Model Fertility Care System.  It’s going to contain some references to anatomy, fluids, and what to do with them.  If you’d rather not read on, I completely understand and encourage you to continue reading the next post in the series on NaProTechnology which will only reference bio-markers and not explain how to document them.

Thanks for continuing.  So charting… When you chart using  the Creighton Model, fertility is defined by the presence of cervical mucus.  The closer to ovulation you are, the more mucus there should be.  The better the quality of your mucus, the better your chances of getting pregnant that month.

The basics of charting:

  • Any day of bleeding (red, brown, pink, or black) is a red stamp
  • Dry days- days without lubricative mucus- get green stamps
  • Lubricative mucus days get white baby stamps
  • The last day of lubricative mucus is considered peak day.  Mark it with a P
  • The three days after your peak day get green baby stamps.
  • All days with white baby stamps plus the three days after peak are considered fertile.

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Determining the quality of your mucus:

Throughout the day, each time before you use the bathroom or shower, you’ll do a quick observation of your cervical mucus.  Observing mucus takes less than a minute, after a while it becomes something you do as a habit, though it does take some getting used to.  Before you go, you wipe from front to back across the perennial body (the space between your front and back door).  The perennial body is the only skin on your body that can tell the difference between the sensations smooth and lubricative.  I’ll talk more about that in a few lines.

Each time you wipe you’ll make decisions about the sensations you feel.  Is it dry? Is it smooth?  Both of these will get green stamps.  Is it lubricative? If so, it’s a white baby stamp.  Any bleeding gets a red stamp.

All mucus is not equal…

Before using the bathroom and showering, you’ll be checking for mucus.  After you decide the sensation, that is whether your mucus is dry, smooth, or lubricative, you’ll make an observation.  After you observe the mucus for color and shine.  You’ll try and grab some off the tissue using your fingers.  If you can get some off with your fingers, next you’ll see if it stretches.  The greater the amount of stretch there is, the better the quality of your mucus.

Recording on your chart:

Throughout each day, you’ll make observations about the quality of your mucus.  At the end of the day, you record your most fertile sign.  For example if you record smooth sensations 3 times, but lubricative 1 once, you mark the 1 lubricative sensation on your chart and use a white baby sticker.

Some Closing Remarks on Charting:

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t!  This was just a brief introduction to charting.  I’m not a NaPro teacher,  and for the record, they are way better at explaining charting than I am.  When you decide to go with NaPro you’ll meet with your teacher one on one and she’ll teach you to chart over several sessions.  She’ll check your chart and help you learn what to look for.  If you see abnormalities in your chart, she’ll help you get an appointment with a NaPro doctor and get on track towards better health and hopefully pregnancy.

If there is anything that I can help you with please do not hesitate to ask!  You can either reach me by commenting on this post or by messaging me privately through facebook.  I’ll do the best that I can to help you get started!

Best wishes to you on your Journey! Love, Catherine

An Introduction to NaPro Technology:

NaPro picMany of the ladies following my Facebook page have inquired about NaProTechnology.  What is it?  Is it expensive?  Where can you find a NaPro Doc?  What can NaPro do for you?  NaPro has done a great deal for me up to this point.  To read my personal story, check out these posts: A Friend Introduces me to NaPro Technology, First Experience with NaPro Technology, First Visit With My NaPro Technology Doctor, Surgery the Moment I’d been Waiting for, I Had My Laporoscopy Now What?, and Time to Try Again.

This post is not about me.  It’s about you.  In this series I’ll try to answer some of those questions as I educate myself and pass this info on to those who need it.  Whether or not NaPro is right for you is something you have to decide for yourself.  Whatever choice you make, you deserve to have all of the information available.  I’m happy to share some information about NaProTechnology with you.

What is NaProTechnology?

NaPro Technology was developed by Dr. Thomas Hilgers who founded the Pope Paul VI institute for the Study of Human Reproduction.  Whether you’re Roman Catholic or not; you’re probably aware that the Roman Catholic Church does not support the use of birth control.  This was first articulated in a document called Humanae Vitae, which was written by Pope Paul VI in 1978.  NaPro is a reproductive science that ethically observes, diagnoses, and treats a woman based on the unique messages her individual body is sending through cervical mucus.

NaProTechnology stands for Natural Procreation Technology.  If your Rhythm Method alarm is going off, please hear me out before you make your decision.  Like many other methods of tracking a woman’s cycle, NaPro Technology patients chart their cycles using bio-markers.  You start by charting your biomarkers (cervical mucus) using the Creighton Model Fertility Monitoring System.  The charting is color coded and helps you identify days of peak fertility and infertile days.  The system can be used to achieve or to avoid pregnancy.

chart sample

How Can NaProTechnology Help a Woman Living with Infertility Achieve Pregnancy?

Once you chart your biomarkers, you’re able to observe patterns in your cycle and compare them to the patterns which indicate good health.  If you’re like me, you have limited medical knowledge, and may not know what to do if you chart doesn’t follow a regular pattern.  That’s where NaPro Doctors come in.  It’s their job to read your chart and interpret the messages your body is sending.

Through charting, my NaPro Doc was able to diagnose endometriosis that other doctors had missed for 15 years.   I’m not saying that every woman living with infertility has endometriosis, that’s for the NaPro doctors to diagnose.  All I’m saying is that they’re good at what they do, really good.  By reading your individual chart they can identify what is happening inside your body.  Once they identify it, then they treat you as an individual based on what your chart and blood work tell them.

Want to Learn More About Charting? 

Time To try again:

NaPro chartAfter my surgery, I was almost relieved that my doctor made us wait two cycles before we began trying to conceive again.  I didn’t experience the two week wait.  I was actually happy to get my period.  It was exciting to watch the changes in my chart and compare pre-surgery abnormality to post surgery improvements in health.  I didn’t have any more bleeding mid cycle.  I had less brown bleeding before and after menstruation, my cycle length decreased from 37 to between 24 and 28 days.  All because of one surgery! I was in heaven.

Then it was time to try again.  Ug.  I know that without the anticipation and let downs, we’ll never have a chance of conceiving.  Still, trying again meant that we’d be let down month after month until we achieved.  Because we’re using NaPro technology, we’re not using the good old give it a try and see if it happens method.  NaPro isn’t artificial reproductive assistance, but it’s not your grandma’s wait and see eitther

D3I am taking various supplements to help my body ovulate and be an ideal environment for a baby to grow and develop in.  I take 8000IU of vitamin D every day, 500mg of B6, and 500mg of magnesium.  I get my blood drawn every other day before ovulation to check my estradiol levels, then a peak plus 7 blood draw to check my estradiol and progesterone levels.  Dr. C. had me on hormones before my surgery, but I’m not taking them anymore.  He thought that my body would be able to function normally after surgery.  Both my chart and the lab work confirm that he was right.

It’s pretty awesome knowing that my body is getting healthier.  I’m healthier than I’ve ever been in my life.  I have no fatigue, no pain, I should be grateful!  Truly, I am.  But no matter what, I know that I won’t experience that feeling of completion and fulfillment until I hear my own baby’s cry.

The Top Ten Reasons Infertility & Endometriosis Are Diseases I’m conquering, They Are Not Who I Am!

With Mothers’ Day Fast approaching, I’m trying to stay positive.  Thanks to all of you who have made me smile and cheered me on this journey.  Your support is awesome.  I decided to pause and count my blessings by creating my own “top ten list”  of reasons that infertility will not define who I am.  Feel free to comment and add your own reasons infertility will not defeat you this weekend.infertility meme

infertility does not define who I am

The Top Ten Reasons Infertility Will Not Stop Me!

10: I can Drink a toast to my pregnant friend while she looks on and salivates!

9: I strut around in my skinny jeans from 3 years ago and look pretty flipping awesome!  (I’ve lost 11 lbs to date)

8:  Eating ice cream for dinner doesn’t mean I’m setting a bad example.

7: Sleeping in till 10AM on a Saturday because I feel like it makes me healthier and gets me closer to pregnancy.

6: I don’t have to give up my crafting habit to pay for toys or baby expenses.

5:  I’ve gotten a minor in gynecology just by reading articles, blog posts, and web pages.

4: I’ve found a community of amazing women to support me on this journey.

3: I have made a lifelong friend who has forever changed my world! (Yeah, Jordan this is you!)

2: I am a healthier person who will be a better mother when this is all over.

1: I am blessed with the most amazing husband who loves me and supports me through everything life can possibly throw at me!

Mothers’ Day

Mothers’ day  approaches and so I pretend. Pretend I don’t feel the emptiness, that my dogs are enough to fill the empty hole which the gears of my GEARSbiological clock drill deeper each month. Perhaps this will be the last mothers’ day where I am a mother only to my sweet four legged kidos.

I scurry, choose mothers’ day gifts, prepare French toast, soup, sandwiches, eggs and sausage.  I keep thinking that if I make enough food, and whip myself into a tornado of chaos; somehow I won’t hear the deafening silence.  It works for a while.  I admire the tidiness of the house, and savor the aromas of the meal I have prepared.

With food heated, and the table set, they arrive.  They don’t know the full extent of our struggle, it’s not their burden and I can’t bring myself to discuss it with them.  Their judgment and opinions are something I can’t endure. We have an understanding, I’ll share what I’m comfortable sharing.  They don’t ask questions. This is something you can’t analyze from afar; it’s a calling that I hear in my heart.  Day in and day out my body reminds me what it was made for, every piece of me craves mother hood.

EMPTY CRIBWe chat about days gone by.  When my husband and I were small, and do I know that my mother sill has things from my childhood put aside for some day, if I ever…  Couldn’t have mothers’ day without that inevitable reminder. After an uncomfortable pause the conversation switches. There are gifts, laughter, and eventually, I cry.  If I’m lucky, I can wait until they leave to let loose and have my moment.  My moment when I dream about holding my own miracle next year, when I’ll be too busy and tired to do anything but fall asleep holding the miracle that God has given me.

Having an it’s not fair moment

A few weekends ago, I had one of those moments that just makes you scream: IT’S NOT FAIR!burger I’m normally pretty good at staying off the pity pot, but I just couldn’t avoid it.  There we were in the middle of a restaurant staring at the delicious items on their menu and all I could think about was that I could hardly eat any of them!  Nachos, corn chowder, mozzarella sticks, salad dressing loaded with corn syrup, breaded chicken, burgers made with bread crumbs.  It was enough to take the joy out of the evening.

Normally, when we go out, I go with a game plan.  I snack a bit before we leave that way I’m not starving, so if the restaurant doesn’t serve any grain free appetizers, I’ll be okay.  Sometimes I’m really organized and I bring my own bread so I can feel a bit more normal.   I skipped step one before we went out and by the time we were seated, I was ravenous.  Facing a dry salad, I opted not to have an appetizer.  This seemed like a good choice until my husband’s nachos came.   It’s not as if nachos were a favorite of mine before I went grain free, they were more of a take’em or leave’em kind of food.  But for some reason watching someone else enjoy foods that are forbidden just did me in.

steakSo you’d think that a juicy sirloin steak would have gotten me out of this funk no way.  When it’s a treat it’s delicious, when it’s your only option on the menu, it’s not so special.  After months of steaks being my only option all I could think of was a deliciously creamy bisque with white flour to make it so thick it coats the back of the spoon.   I wanted French fries deep fried in soy bean oil, or mozzarella sticks, or pie, anything but the grain free diet.

After we left the restaurant, my case of the “it’s not fairs” quickly subsided as quickly as it had come on.  Why don’t restaurants have menus that are more a la carte or at least considerate to dietary needs?  I know, I’m asking too much.   Every once in a while these things just get to me

It’s Our Day! Celebrating Infertility Survival Day!

I’ve been living with infertility for nearly two years now and I still feel like a newbie.  Every time I turn around, there’s infertility warriorsomething new to learn.  I never knew we had our own day!  Why shouldn’t we?  We deserve one!  I love that it’s called Infertility Survival Day and not something froo froo.  We are warriors combatting illnesses within our own bodies! These are illnesses that threaten our health, wellbeing, and our overall pursuit of happiness.  Shame on our doctors for not finding these before we show up at their doors inquiring as to why we are unable to conceive!  We are not accepting excuses, we will not accept anything other than real answers and treatment tailored to our individual health needs!  Heck yeah, we are surviving this!

So how did I celebrate today?  Okay, I didn’t.  I didn’t even know about it until about 1:00 when I checked Facebook after Church.   After which I went out into my garden and started clearing away leaves, and debris that had been deposited over the winter.  I’ve been working on this for the last few weekends and I’m about ¾ of the way done.

About half an hour into my work, I took a break and sat on our front porch with my husband, Frank.  He asked about my health, having observed an improvement in my mood and my ability to tackle projects around the house lately.  He was right.  I hadn’t thought of that.  I know that I’ve been feeling better, there’s no denying that.  But thinking back on how I used to feel before surgery reminded me that the same gardening I did today would have knocked me out only a year ago!  Something as simple as planting two flats of flowers would have rendered me useless for the rest of the day!

clearing leaves from the gardenBut today, I worked in my yard, and I still have energy to prep my meals during my grain free power hours this evening!  This is huge for me.  I am able to live and enjoy life again!  And, may I say, I hope the doctor who told me that my lack of energy was caused by depression is happy to learn that she was wrong when I tell her it was caused by endometriosis at my annual appointment over the summer!

Sorry for that little rant, but I can’t help but feel a bit of vindication in knowing that I will be able to share this with her face to face!  But; back to the garden.  I’m going somewhere with this…

It occurred to me that my work in the garden today is rather metaphorical.  While I was clearing away debris to allow for the growth of new life, I was caring for my garden in the same way that my NaPro surgeon and NaPro doctor are caring for me and my fertility.   Think about it… The endometriosis was growing in my abdominal cavity and was around my tubes, ovaries, intestines and colon, virtually strangling me from the inside.  Thanks to Dr. C and Dr. B. I’ve been freed from that strangulation and my body is now preparing to nurture new life.  It seems that I celebrated our day without even knowing it.

 

I had my laporoscopy, now what?

A laporoscopy is considered noninvasive surgery, and in truth it was noninvasive.  I was up and around and back to work in two weeks.  Yay for Dr. B!  He is the best NaPro Surgeon on the east coast—eh, I think he may be the only one.  Regardless, my recovery time was quick, my stitches healed within a week.  I was back to work within 2 weeks.  Standard recovery time with another surgeon is anywhere from four to six weeks.  So yeah you could say NaPro Technology wins with recovery time from surgery as well as results!

gianna center

You would think that all would be well to try again since I recovered so fast, but not so.  Dr. C. requested that we wait for two cycles after surgery to allow my body to heal.  This was difficult for us as a couple since I felt the best I had in literally years.

The only change after surgery was that I got tired faster than I ever had.  It took a while, but I was back to my normal energy levels about three weeks after getting back to work.  And by week four, I was less tired than before surgery.  I was able to get through the day without pain medication, my mood had improved and, I just felt like myself again!

I got lots of questions from friends and family.  They asked: “How could you have this for so long without knowing it? How did you recover from your laporoscopy so quickly?” And my favorite,  “How long before you can get pregnant?”  I wish I knew the answer to the first and the last questions, but I don’t.  I know it will take between nine and twelve months for my immune system to get back to normal, but I can feel my health improving day by day.

Recovering from the laparoscopy:

The laparoscopy was successful.  They removed endometriosis from my abdominal cavity and a polyp from inside my uterus.  Typically, the recovery period after a laparoscopy is between 6-8 weeks.  Thanks to Dr. C, I was connected with the Gianna Center and  my NaPro Technology surgeon, Dr. B, whose typical recovery time is much shorter.  And thanks to my friend, Jordan, who had experienced the same surgery before I had, I knew to expect that my recovery period would be much shorter, more like two weeks.

gianna center

I’m not good at sitting still, I’m much better at being active.  No matter what it is, I need to have a plan, a to do list with items to check off marking my progress.  For the first few days of my recovery, I kept busy by taking care of myself, making sure I took my advil on time to keep the stitches from pulling and itching.

That worked till we got back home.  I was in much better condition than we expected.  Because Frank would have to return to work immediately, I scheduled different friends and family members to come by during the day to help me let the dogs out and give me a hand with anything I might not be able to do for myself.  Turns out I didn’t need as much help as we thought I would.

My first day home I didn’t have energy to do much, I was grateful that I did have my friend coming by to help me with lunch and for some company.  Thanks to the company of good friends and the support of my husband, Frank; the first week of recovery passed quickly.  Although I had just had surgery, I felt fabulous, better than I had felt before surgery.  Other than the pulling from the stitches, the only side effect I experienced was fatigue, like napping in the middle of the day fatigue.  Since I wasn’t doing anything –other than feeding the dogs—I attributed this fatigue to my body’s need to repair itself after surgery.

My recovery went as smooth as we expected.  After a week, I was able to cook dinner and fold laundry, laundrythought I was forbidden from carrying the laundry basket upstairs.  Within two weeks I was back to work.  I no longer looked like a corpse, as I had on some days before surgery.

The medical report confirmed my health was good.  A friend of mine who is a nurse came by to hang with me on her day off and pronounced that in week one I looked at just about where one of her patients was in week four after a laparoscopy.

This might be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway, if you are going to have any type of procedure related to infertility, I highly recommend a NaPro technology.  If You don’t know where to find a NaPro doctor, I’d be happy to help.