Monday, January 26, 2015

One Breath at a Time

All I can say is... whoa. The response to my last post was overwhelming, mostly in a great way. I had so many people reach out to me to give their support, offer their condolences and help, and to share their stories with me. To all of you who have experienced the heart-wrenching loss of a miscarriage, you are not alone. That fact is not much comfort a lot of the time, but it is still important to remember.

Here in NJ, we are bracing for a blizzard. However, I am about to bundle up and head outdoors to clear off my car so I can go to my psychiatrist's office in Philadelphia. This last weekend was... rough, to say the least. I didn't eat for a day and a half, and the only reason I got out of bed was to go to acupuncture, to work at the library or because Ken cajoled me to shower. He also cleaned the house, did the laundry, and made me a grilled cheese sandwich, so clearly, I married the world's best man. I cried a lot. I didn't sleep well at night. I slept a lot during the day. I could barely focus on the terrible horror movies I was trying to watch on Netflix, let alone on my material for the next exam. It was bad.

However, I did at least have the wherewithal to move my appointment up with my doctor, because the last thing I need is to have my depression spiral out of control and land me in the hospital. I have not felt this bad in... a long time. I feel like things will never be okay ever again. And for whatever reason, my body has decided that now is the appropriate time for the major cramping and excessive bleeding, so every minute I'm being reminded of what's happening. It's painful in every way imaginable.

There is one, tiny, silver lining to all of this, and it's the fact that I have been shown over and over again how good people can be.

I'm thankful for my husband, without whom I would probably still be in bed, unshowered, unfed, and generally non-functional. He is keeping me afloat.

I am thankful for my doctor, Dr. T, for her kind bedside manner, her clinical expertise, and her empathy.  

I am thankful for my friends. They've texted, called and left messages, cried with me, and offered to come over or get me out of the house. They've understood when I don't want to talk, and that if I do want to talk, that I might just cry. They make me laugh, they are sensitive, they are kind. They remind me that I am not alone, and that even though they might not have been through this, they can help me through it now. 

I am thankful for my med school friends family. I may only have met them 5 months ago, but the way they have responded to this has been amazing.  Everyone is offering to help me study, even though they are all starting a new block and could be wrapped up in their own lives. 

I am thankful for my rheumatologist, who called to see how I was doing and to tell me that there are some tests that can be run to see if I have antibodies that can increase the risk of miscarriage. He said that he doesn't think it has anything to do with my connective tissue disease, but that if I want to have the testing done that it would be fine. He shared that his own wife has miscarried, and that it was intensely difficult. He told me that it is probably a lot harder on me right now than it is for my Ken, and to forgive him if he seems to not be as sad. He now has two beautiful daughters, and said that someday, I will have beautiful children, too. He was so kind and gentle with his words, and showed genuine concern even though my miscarriage has little to nothing to do with his treatment of  my autoimmune disease.

I am thankful for my brother, who took the time to talk to me while he was at his a capella reunion retreat, and for Ken's sister, who drove down from NY to spend the weekend with us. 

I am thankful for my therapist and my psychiatrist, who fit me into their schedule and who made themselves available by phone and email. 

I am thankful for the internet, for it has allowed me to "meet" so many women who have provided me with strength and support through this time. It has also allowed me to find articles (like this one, especially) and prayers that have brought me great comfort. To be connected is a wonderful thing, sometimes.

I will leave you with one of those prayers. As for me, I am operating on the "one breath at a time is an acceptable plan" idea.

"Seeing our days are determined, the number of our months are with You, You set limits that we cannot pass. "
– After Job 14:5
God, we are weary and grieved. We were anticipating the birth of a child, but the promise of life was ended too soon. Our arms yearned to cradle new life, our mouths to sing soft lullabies. Our hearts ache from the emptiness and the silence. We are saddened and we are angry. We weep and we mourn. Weep with us, God, Creator of Life, for the life that could not be.
Source of healing, help us to find healing among those who care for us and those for whom we care. Shelter us under wings of love and help us to stand up again for life even as we mourn our loss.
Barukh Attah Adonai, zokher y'tzurav l'chayim b'rachamim.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, whose compassion renews us unto life.
- Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasson

- A





Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Hardest Thing

This is not a post I should be writing. The post I should be writing would have happened in about 6 weeks. It would have been filled with joy and hope. Instead, I am writing this post because I feel like grief is seeping out of every one of my pores. From the minute I wake up and until the minute I fitfully fall asleep, I am consumed by it. It feels never-ending.

(Warning: Medical things ahead.)


Awhile back, I mentioned that Ken and I were trying to start a family. It felt a little insane, to try and do that while simultaneously in medical school, but it was what we were doing. The week before Christmas, we had our own little Christmas miracle: I was pregnant! We were over the moon. It was like we were walking on air. We talked about it every day, excited about what our new life was going to be like at the end of August. I worried about being pregnant through the entire summer, and we talked about how we'd manage med school, work, and a baby once he or she was here. We were convinced she was a girl. It was early, but we decided to tell our closest friends and family. Everyone was overjoyed for us; the happiness was palpable. Things were good.

Then, right after Christmas, a tiny bit of spotting. Light brown. Barely noticeable. My anxiety wouldn't let it go through, and I freaked out. The nurse at my OB's office sent me for bloodwork to check my hCG levels. My hCG was high enough for something to be seen in the utereus, so off we went to the hospital for an ultrasound to make sure the pregnancy was in the uterus and progressing. Ken went with me, and we were absolutely thrilled to see our tiny embryo next to a healthy-looking yolk sac. It was in the uterus, it was growing. It was still too early to detect a heartbeat, but that wasn't worrisome. 

On January 6th, we went to my first prenatal appointment with Dr. T. She was wonderful, and after a thorough history and exam, she did an ultrasound to check on the babe. There had been growth, but it was still too small to see a heartbeat. She scheduled me to come back the following week, because by then we would definitely be able to see something. Anxiously, I waited. I went to class. We stared at our ultrasound photo. Our embryo was the size of a blueberry and we were in love.

The following week, I went to my ultrasound by myself in the Maternal-Fetal Medicine department. The ultrasound tech put my images up on the screen, and right in the center, the tiniest of flickers. A heartbeat! I nearly cried with joy. And then my heart fell into my stomach because the tech said, "The baby's heartrate is a little slow, and it's measuring a little small for how far along you are." She took some more pictures and told me to get dressed; the doctor would be in to see me in a few minutes. The doctor who came in, Dr. P, was someone I had never seen before. He introduced himself and then frankly told me what was going on.The good news? There was cardiac activity. The not so great news? The rate was slow and the size was measuring about 2 weeks behind where it should have been. He was cold and unfeeling, and when I asked how concerned we were, he said, "It's basically a coin-toss as to whether you'll be okay or have a miscarriage. Would this be your first miscarriage?" I held it together as he man-splained to me how there was nothing he could do to prevent a miscarriage from happening, and how this was very common. He scheduled me to come back in two weeks for a growth scan. His final words to me? "There's cardiac activity now. There might not be in two weeks. We'll just have to see. Try not to think about it." I sobbed the entire time that I drove home.

Later that day, Dr. T called me and we talked some more. She confirmed Dr. P's concerns; the baby was small, the heartrate was low, and no, we didn't know which way this would go She squeezed me into her schedule the following week so she could do a quick scan. The next week was hell. I read too many academic journal articles, tried to avoid the message boards, tried to keep myself from Googling things like, "Average embryo size at 7 weeks" or "Low heart rate in the first trimester". Every time I found something that was reassuring, three more things were not. I finally made myself stop. I focused on the positive. Our baby had a heartbeat. I am a small person, maybe I just grow small babies. It's so early, it's hard to see things with ultrasound sometimes. I felt pregnant; my boobs hurt all the time, I was nauseated, I was exhausted. I felt like nothing was wrong, and I was sure that if something was wrong, my body would tell me.

On Tuesday, Ken left school early to go with me to my appointment. Dr. T came in and we got down to business. I was filled with hope. Our baby would have a strong heartbeat, as fast as it should have been. It would have grown. We would be talking about due dates and next steps. Instead, Dr. T grabbed my wrist to feel my pulse. Then she said the words I had been hoping and praying not to hear. "I think what I'm seeing is not a normal pregnancy. I could be wrong, I have to have another doctor come in to check. I want to tell you that it does not look good. I'm sorry." She left. I laid on the table and sobbed. Ken held my hand and bent over me to hold me. I felt like I couldn't breathe. I wanted to wake up and have it be a terrible nightmare. Instead, Dr. D came in with Dr. T and looked again. He looked for a few minutes. He conferred with Dr. T. I tried to hold it together, so slow my breathing and to stop from screaming. He confirmed what Dr. T had seen. There was no heartbeat. The embryo had not grown; in fact, it was smaller than the previous week. He apologized. She apologized. They left so I could get dressed. I felt like I was underwater. I wanted to sink into the floor and die. Instead, I put on my pants and we went across the hall.

Dr. T handed me a box of tissues and apologized again for the horrible news. She explained that 25-40% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and that 80% of those occur within the first trimester. She said that this early, there was almost undoubtedly a major chromosomal abnormality that had caused the pregnancy to end. She reiterated that it was not my fault, that there was nothing that I did or didn't do. That sometimes, this is just a normal and horrible thing that happens. I asked if I had an increased risk of miscarrying again (no). I asked if there was an increased risk of not being able to get pregnant now (no). I asked if my PCOS or endometriosis or autoimmune disease had caused this (probably not). I asked what felt like the insane question of when we could try again (after my next cycle). And then I asked what we had to do next. 

She gave my three options. I could wait until my body miscarried naturally. I immediately rejected this because I could not imagine just waiting for that to happen, Clearly, the pregnancy had ended well over a week ago and my body hadn't gotten the memo. I wasn't about to let it decide when to ruin my life. I could take drugs to induce a miscarriage at home. I also rejected this because I don't think I would have had the strength to swallow the pills, and then to wait for everything to fall out of my body. I needed it to be over and I needed it to be as passive as possible. That left option three... having a D&C, or a dilation and curretage. Yes, that's the procedure they do when an abortion is performed. This was not lost on me. I tried not to think about that part. Instead, we scheduled the procedure for the next day. I needed this to be over as soon as possible. Ken and I went to the car and cried until we were ready to drive. Ken drove because I could barely see straight.

I told everyone in the most impersonal way possible... via text message. I just couldn't pick up the phone to tell anyone because all I could manage at that point was incoherent sobbing. The only person for whom I answered the phone was Sarah. When I picked up and said hello, I immediately started crying and she cried with me on the phone. After a few minutes, there was nothing more to say, so we hung up. I cried the entire way home. We dropped Ken off at his car and drove home separately. I got home first and immediately threw out the folder from Penn, congratulating me on my pregnancy. I took the "100,000+ Baby Names!" book, my copy of Expecting Better, my copy of Love Works Like This, and The Belly Book that I had started filling out, and put them all into a bottom drawer. I threw out the positive pregnancy tests. We laid in bed and held each other and cried. We raged against the unfairness. We grappled with how to hold this much grief at one time. 

Eventually, I showered and washed my hair. He showered. We ordered a pizza. Ken called out of work for the next day and spent the next hour writing up answer keys for his students. I wrote in my journal. I got the Xanax and the Ambien out of the medicine chest. I resisted the urge to fall back into my old self-injury habits. I wanted so badly for my physical pain to match my emotional pain, and if I wanted so badly We went to bed and we cried some more. We both took an Ambien and tried to sleep.

The next day, which was yesterday, I woke up and the feelings washed over me again. I rolled over and told Ken how much I didn't want to do this. He agreed. All we could say was a variation on, "This is awful and I hate it." I emailed the dean of students at my school and told her what had happened and that I would like to reschedule my exam that was slated for Friday. She got back to me, apologized profusely, and said that it wouldn't be a problem. We got dressed. I was weirdly particular about what I wore. I didn't want to wear anything that would routinely remind me of "that day I had a D&C". I thought about bringing headphones so I wouldn't have to listen to anything going on, but anything I listened to would have probably been tainted forever, and if Ken had to listen, then I had to listen, too. He ate, I didn't. I was too nauseated and was afraid I'd throw up all over the doctor. I took 600 mg of ibuprofen and 0.5 mg of Xanax. I threw the rest of the bottle of Xanax in my purse, and I was not afraid to use it. He drove us to the office in a light snow. People were texting me messages of love and support. My therapist texted me and said she was thinking of me. I turned off my phone. When we parked, we sat in silence and then said, "Let's get this over with." We went inside and checked in, and I sat in the waiting room and tried not to awkward sob among all of these women with their pregnant bellies and tiny babies. Ken held me, and I think he was actually holding me up at this point.

The medical assistant called me back and took my vitals. She asked if I was in any pain. I said, no, not physical pain. She touched my arm and tried to comfort me. We read and signed a consent detailing all of the things that would be happening, and all of the risks. I wanted to rip up the consent and throw it on the floor. I wanted to scream that no, I didn't want my uterus scraped out, I wanted my baby to be okay. Instead, I signed the consent and got undressed. Dr. T came in and explained everything that would be happening. She was kind, she was as gentle as she could be. Ken held my hands and never looked away from me. I was afraid I was crushing his fingers. Every time Dr. T heard me make make a noise in pain, she asked what I was feeling. She worked as quickly as possible. The physical pain was tolerable, minus the moment she put a clamp on my cervix to stabilize it and I thought she was going to have to peel me off the ceiling. The emotional pain was a completely different animal. It was the worst ten minutes of my life. It felt like forever. I wanted to die right then and there.

But I didn't die. It ended and I got cleaned up and Ken and I cried and blew our noses on paper towels, because for some stupid reason, there weren't any tissues in the room. My legs were shaking so badly that I had to sit down. I felt like the room was spinning. I guess that could have been the Xanax, but I couldn't believe that anything that had just happened had actually happened. Dr. T came back with my letter for school and sat with us for awhile. She told me how strong I had been and that I had been really good. She told me that I could take ibuprofen and to expect some bleeding, but not a lot. She apologized again. She looked me in the eye and said, "This will happen again for you. You will get pregnant. You will get through this." She created a spot in her schedule for me for a follow-up and said to call if I needed anything. We walked to the car in the snow.

Ken drove home and I called my mom. I was still kind of dopey from the Xanax, so I made dumb comments about birds flying in a "V" and the snow. We got home and I made tea and soup. We ate salads, and for some reason, they tasted like the most amazing food we had ever eaten. We watched House of Cards, because there was nothing further from our reality that we could imagine. We went upstairs and laid in bed. I read World War Z and texted people, Ken played his Nintendo DS. Eventually, we took a nap. We woke up at 8 and didn't know what to do with ourselves. Ken made his lunch for the next day, I fed the cats and gave Gershwin his medicine. We talked about what had happened that day. We held each other. We tried to do normal life things. We kind of failed, so we went to bed. We listened to the wind and the snow.

I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned for what felt like hours. Ken slept, but fitfully. At some point, I had started crying, and he rolled over to hold me. We laid in the dark like that and eventually fell asleep. This morning, he woke to go to work and I tried to pretend that life wasn't happening. Ken asked if I wanted him to stay home, and I told him no, that I would be okay. I read a few things on my phone and went back to sleep. I woke up at 10:30 to get ready to go see Danna, and it took every ounce of strength that I had to pry myself out of bed. I didn't think that I could face the world, not today. I got dressed and drove to Philadelphia. I basically sobbed through my entire session. I needed it, though. I made an appointment for Ken and I to come back together on Monday, and for myself next Thursday. I forgot to get new checks, so I couldn't pay her. I felt stupid, but she told me that it wasn't a problem, I could pay her next week. I cried the entire way to my car and the entire way home.

I don't know what to do with myself. Grief is not linear and it has no rules. There is no manual that says, "On Day 1, you will feel exactly 37.5 ounces of pain, and on Day 5, you will feel 20.3 ounces." There is no guide for how to deal with the fact that everything hurts and every nerve is raw. There is nothing that tells me how to mourn for something that was never here, or how to grieve hope or expectations. There is nothing that makes sense. This sorrow has no bottom. I keep thinking that I've found it, and then there's another layer beneath that. In medicine, a woman's pregnancies and births are noted as "G_P_" where "G" is for gravidity (number of pregnancies) and P is for parity (pregnancies that cross the 28 week mark). On my medical record, for the rest of my life, my "G" number will be larger than my "P" number. Somehow, this is especially painful. This baby will always be our first, and we will never know what he or she was like. 

My body does not hurt. I have very little bleeding. I have been taking 600 mg of ibuprofen, which pretty much takes care of the cramping. I wish that my body hurt more. I wish that my outside matched my inside. At least physical pain would be a partial distraction from mental anguish. I wish that I could feel none of this, that I could take a pill and when I woke up, all of my feelings would be gone. Then sometimes, I wish I could feel everything at once, as if I could combine all of the grieving into one big pile and finish it quickly. But grief is not like that. The only way out is through, and I can't speed the process, no matter how much I wish that I could.

People are trying to be helpful. Friends near and far have said that we can ask for whatever we need, whenever we need. I know that I have a small village of support behind me, and open arms to hold me when I need to cry. I wish that I felt like being around people, but I also don't feel like being alone. Nothing feels right. Being outside, among all the life and movement, feels wrong. My sadness feels illigitimate because I was only 7 weeks pregnant, and I am somehow embarrassed by the failings of my body. I feel like my body betrayed me, that I can never trust it again. There is no rhyme of reason to how many "good" hours I will have before I collapse into sobs, and there is no warning about what will make it happen.

I will say that it is not helpful when people tell me about the woman they know who had 5 miscarriages, but who now has 3 beautiful children. It doesn't help when someone reminds me that at least I wasn't farther along. Any time someone says, "At least you know you can get pregnant," I want to punch them. That's about equivalent of saying, "Oh, your cat died, but at least you know there are more cats to be adopted." Our baby was not a lightbulb; I cannot simply throw this one out and replace it. They do not come in six packs; they are are not disposable. And yes, to us, it was our baby. It doesn't matter that it was 5 mm long and that its heartbeat disappeared so shortly after we saw it. This was real and I was really pregnant and we were really going to be parents and now we're not, at least not in August.

In August, we will not have a baby. We will not have a baby in September, and we probably will not have a baby in October. 2015 was supposed to be the year I became a mother. Now it is the year that I had a miscarriage and broke our hearts. 

I would apologize that this post is so depressing, but this is real and this is raw and this is the truth. Too many women and men stay silent for fear of judgment or because they don't want to depress people, but if 25-50% of pregnancies are ending like this, there has to be more people like me out there. All of my friends have been outstandingly wonderful, but Constance sent me something that really touched my heart:

It's not your fault. Sometimes bad things happen. It has nothing to do with you or Ken or someday being a mother. Sometimes, things just go wrong. That was the luckiest little blueberry in the world because it was so loved. You have so much to give, and do not let this make you afraid. You WILL get through this, it will always be a part of you, but you WILL get through this. You do not have to "move on," you do not have to leave your first pregnancy, your first child, no matter how early or how small - behind. It's part of you and that's okay. It hurts because it sucks and it sucks because it's unfair and it's unfair because it's just - random. Crying is okay, crying is good. You are so loved and your baby will be too, when it comes.

I've read that over and over to myself since Tuesday night, and every time, it makes me tear up, but it also makes me feel strong. Danna says that there is a bottom to this; that every day, something will get easier. That I will know it's ending when my anxiety returns and replaces the utter despair and agony and grief, because it means that I will be thinking forward, not looking backward. It sounds crazy, but if I could be pregnant again next week, I would do it. Sign me up, let me do this again. Perhaps biology knew what it was doing though, when it makes your body wait 4-6 weeks until you can try again. It demands that you give the grief the space it needs. It gives you time, for better or worse, to feel all of the feelings, over and over. To make new ones. To discard old ones. And then, eventually, people tell me that I will be okay. That we will be okay. 

Until then, I have to let this run its course, just like any other illness. I will stumble around as if in a fog, and someday, that fog will lift. Ken keeps me strong, and I keep him strong. We will hold each other up, and our friends will keep us afloat. Someday, I will find the bottom of this well, and then when there is nowhere else to go, I will go up.

Someday, I hope we will have joy, and someday, I hope we will be parents. For now, we have to wait and exist and grieve. Life goes on, and I will not let this make me afraid. Choosing "brave" as my word for 2015 turned out to be especially appropriate. And Ken and I will face this trial as bravely as we can, together.

- A

Friday, January 9, 2015

Oh Hey, Friday! - 2015 Resolutions (?) Edition

Today is Friday, and it's an extra-awesome Friday because it's my 29th birthday! ::cue parade:: WHOO!

This weekend holds some exciting, and not-so-exciting, plans. Tonight, I'm going out with Ken and two other couples for birthday hibachi, and tomorrow I'm studying and then having dinner with my mom, Ken, and my aunt and uncle. Then on Sunday, I'm working at the library from 9-1 (AKA: Studying) and then going to Colleen's for binge-watching Downton Abbey in our pajamas! Sounds like a pretty great birthday weekend to me. Of course, it was snowing this morning, which isn't surprising because:

A) It's winter in the northeast, and
B) It always snows on my birthday. Always. (I think one year it rained. Whatever.)

Anyway, I'm glad my birthday is today because the next two weeks are going to be spent in my studying cave as I prepare for our first block exam of the second semester. Hurrah for the renal and respiratory systems, I guess.

But yes, today is "Oh Hey, Friday!" and this week, I thought I'd post 5 goals that I have for this year.



1 | Pass my first year of medical school
This is... pretty self-explanatory. The subgoal for this is to high-pass and honor as many courses as I can, but really, 70 = DO, so passing sounds great. So far, so good!

2 | Finish decorating and fixing the house
We still have a lot to do in two of the three bedrooms (there are still boxes!) and there is nothing on any of the walls. I need to call someone to hang out foyer chandelier and do a few other things around the house, but I will feel SO much better once our house feels like our home.

3 | Eat more fruits and vegetables
I feel like this shouldn't even be a goal because I am a grown-up, but I seriously feel so much better when I'm snacking on veggies or fruit than if I'm grabbing a granola bar or something even more carby and unhealthful. Ken started making up 4 salads for each of us at the beginning of each week, which has made it super easy to go home and grab one out of the fridge!

4 | Purge the clutter 
We got rid of a lot of stuff when we moved, but the boxes we haven't touched in the guest room are full of stuff that I could probably throw out and never miss. I want to keep our home clutter free; it's so much more calming to be in a clean and organized space!

5 | Spend more time in the moment
I am the worst at this. Literally (and I mean the real definition of literally, not that weird and stupid non-definition that the OED added this year), the worst. I am constantly anxious and worrying about the future and what's going to happen that I miss so much of the good stuff right in front of me. I've been more intentional with leaving my phone in my purse when I'm out with friends or eating dinner with Ken, and I've really enjoyed keeping up with my massage and acupuncture regiment. More time in the moment means less stress for me, and less stress is always a good thing.

And since it's so popular in blogland to pick a word for your year, I've decided to choose BRAVE. Other words I considered:

- Calm
- Hope
- Breathe
- Now
- Intent
- Honest

But being BRAVE, to me, includes all of those words. So, 2015? You are the year of BRAVE, so get ready. I'm 29 and ready to take on the world. (Or at least... this month.)

- A

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It's Baaaaaack!

Hey hey hey, it's Wednesday! Hooray! 

Okay, that's enough pseudo-rhyming for now. You may have noticed (or not, I have no idea) that Humpday Confessions had disappeared. That's because the host, Kathy, of Vodka and Soda, laid the link-up to rest. Melissa, of Making Melissa, has graciously picked up the mantle and lots of people are really excited, myself included! So, without further ado... Humpday Confessions!


Making Melissa
Now brought to you by Channing Tatum


This morning was the first time that I ever made a real breakfast on a weekday before 10 am. I am not a breakfast eater; usually, I can't stomach anything more than liquids before 10 am. This morning, though, I woke up at 5 am and was unable to go back to sleep, so when I got up at 7:45, I was starving. I scrambled some eggs and threw a bagel in my purse to toast at school, and voila... breakfast. I make some pretty great scrambled eggs, if I do say so myself. And don't tell me that you can't screw up scrambled eggs, because trust me, it's been done.

I may make great scrambled eggs, but that is only way I've ever cooked them. I understand the mechanics of a fried egg and a poached egg, but I've never done it.

Victoria got me this mug and some caramel syrup for Christmas, and I am obsessed with both of them. Probably a little too much.


I am really not on board with this whole going back to school thing. My brain is just not ready to be functional yet. So sleepy.

I carry way too much crap in my purses. Yesterday, I was changing purses and in the process, discovered a pair of socks (clean), an umbrella, many receipts, two clementines, a watch, and a yogurt cup. (I threw that out, even though I had only put it in there that morning. Still... gross.) This is probably why the strap on my black purse recently separated itself from the bag. Sorry, bag.

I'm totally not paying attention to the physiology lecture right now, but since the professor is essentially just reading his slides, of which we have copies, I don't feel that bad about it.

Last night, my best friend was sworn in as the mayor of a town near me and I was positively kvelling last night at the ceremony. She's the youngest, female, mayor in the state! I feel like I know someone famous.

My birthday is on Friday (29!) and I am already really excited about the birthday goodies I've been getting. So far, I have a free pastry at Panera, a free milkshake at Zinburger, and $15 from The Limited. Whoo!

I've been having bizarre dreams about the diamonds falling out of my engagement ring and wedding band. What does it mean!?

I don't know what it is, but I really love baroreceptors and control physiology. I'm having major flashbacks to autonomic physiology at Penn last fall. #nerdstatus

My friend Julie got engaged on New Year's Day and I AM SO EXCITED!!! She and her fiance, Mike, are adorable, and I'm almost as excited about her wedding as I was about my own.

The only things I am looking forward to this weekend are food and sleep-related. Then again, I guess that's not specific to this weekend alone...

***

And with that, I'm off to theoretically learn more about the kidneys. Thank your kidneys today; they're very busy and important. Oh, and if you live where winter happens, stay warm. Only 72 days until spring!

- A

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How I Spent My Winter Vacation

Oh, hey there. Remember that time I had a blog and then ignored it for two and a half weeks? Whoops.What can I say? I finished my first semester of med school and promptly tried to forget the fact that I was a med student at all. It worked pretty well.

I would love to say that I accomplished a lot, but that would just be a lie. Here are all the things I did and didn't do during the break.

I didn't accomplish a single house task. No pictures were hung, no rooms were finished.
I did have the house cleaned though, and we're using the same cleaning lady as my family did when I was really little. She's kind of amazing.

I didn't bake all the things.
But I did bake a really great apple pie. And I roasted a turkey for the first time! We didn't have a turkey lacer, so we made do with this:

Yes, that turkey is held together with yarn and paperclips. 
I also got a haircut after my last exam, which I will admit was the first haircut I've had since the end of July.

I may be a sleep-deprived med student, but my hair looks GREAT.
I successfully bought and applied RED lipstick:

Sometimes you just have to put on lipgloss and pretend to be psyched, right?
I didn't work on the blanket that I've been knitting, but I did finally finish this mug sleeve. Only I can take a project that is supposed to need scrap yarn and turn it into a project that consumed an entire skein. However, I didn't mail the Secret Santa gift to which this mug cozy belonged by 12/15. It's being mailed tomorrow because I am a terrible human being.

Blocking the mug sleeve, pre-button application 
We didn't go crazy on New Year's Eve, but we did spend it eating amazing food and playing Cards Against Humanity with some of our favorite people:

This is what happens when you try and take a selfie with 6 people. Where am I even looking?
Other things I accomplished:

- Slept almost as much as my cats
- Ate way too much food (and most of it was Italian, oddly)
- Survived my inlaws
- Survived my mother
- Drove my brother to Newark to catch a flight to Israel
- Caught up with a lot of friends
- Binge-watched Orphan Black, True Detective, and House of Cards
- Listened and became obsessed with Serial

And now I'm trying to remember how to do this med school thing. Only 11 weeks until spring break...

- A




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014: How'd I Do?

Last January, I wrote this post about what I wanted to do with 2014. Since the end of December is generally a time for reflection and whatnot, I thought I'd check back in and see how I did. 


1. Get into med school...?
Check and check! When I wrote this goal, I hadn't even received any interview invitations. Little did I know that a month and a half later, I'd be holding an acceptance letter in my hand. It's been a crazy ride thus far, and we're only almost 1/8 done. Yikes.

2. Knit a sweater
Nooooope. Once again, I have not learned how to knit a sweater. In fact, I'm still not quite finished that shawl that I posted about a freaking YEAR ago, but in my defense, I had to hunt down another skein of yarn in the colorway that I was using. Of course, the only reason that I needed to do that was because I am a moron who somehow turned a 1-skein project into a 1-plus-a-tiny-bit-of-a-second-skein project. This is why we can't have nice things. Like shawls that should only take a few weeks. I did knit a baby blanket for my friend Jenni, started another one, and have knit a couple of coffee mug sleeves (most of which have been ripped out because they weren't quite right). Maybe 2015 will be my sweater year...

3. Find a seamstress/tailor
Done! Thanks to Jen, the bride from the wedding I was in this past August, I found a wonderful seamstress a mere 15 minutes from our house. She does amazing work, is reasonably priced, and has a quick turnaround on jobs. I had my dress for Jen and Mike's wedding altered there, and I also had a few bras and a dress altered as well. Next up, getting some pants hemmed (finally!)

4. Put away money for savings
Check... sort of? Ken and I did put away money for savings, but then we bought a house, so... there went that. I didn't use the 52 week money challenge, mainly because I forgot that it existed, so maybe I'll try to do that this year. Who knows. I am calling this a success because we were able to buy the house, and now we're building our savings back up. #adulting

5. Go to the freaking gym... or quit it
CHECK. I finally quit the gym! It took... entirely too long, but it's great to know that I'm no longer paying $40 a month to not exercise. Remind me not to join a gym ever again, okay? Thanks.

6. Take more photos
I did accomplish this, but not because I used my DSLR, sadly. I did take a lot of photos this year, mostly of our cats, but hey... I did take photos, so this is technically a win. I also got a new lens, but I ended up getting the f1.8 50 mm, not the way more expensive f1.4 50 mm. In fact, I bought the 1.8 from Chrystina and I love the shots I've taken with it thus far. Maybe over the break I'll get some more practice in.

7. Build my blog
My original mini-goals were to write at least 3 times a week, buy a domain, get the blog redesigned, sponsor 4 blogs, go to a blogging conference/meet-up, and have guest bloggers. I.... did not do so well with this, sadly. For awhile, I was writing 3 times a week, and I may have averaged 3 times a week, but not on purpose. That's what happens when you go to med school, I guess. I didn't buy the domain for Simply A, mainly because I wanted to do that after I got the blog redesigned, and that isn't completely finished yet. I did sponsor a couple of blogs (Becoming Adorrable, Venus Trapped in Mars, The Florkens, and Six One Six), and I participated in a few giveaways with Becoming Adorrable! I also linked up with lots of blogs and connected with a lot of great bloggers around the country. I became part of the #PHLBloggers group, started by Chrystina, and even though I've only been to one meeting thus far, it was great to meet other women with blogs that are so different from mine. No guest bloggers yet... anyone want to be the first?

8. Be more intentional with my time
This was super vague, and I have no real benchmark for determining if I succeeded. I did stop looking at my phone so much, and Ken and I no longer sit in bed, glued to our phones before we go to sleep. Studying has forced me to uni-task, and hey, I actually kind of enjoy it. Imagine that.

9. Read more books.
Fail. In 2013, I apparently read 14 books. IN 2014, I read... 7. Again, I guess that's what happens when you go to med school. 

10. Attend synagogue more regularly
Nope, didn't happen. Whoops.

So... maybe 5/10, if I'm being generous with myself. Overall, not a bad year. I am putting together a little list for my 2015 goals, as well a year in review post, so look for those coming up. Let me know how you did with your goals for the last year!

As for now, I am heading back into my studying cave. Roughly T-41 hours until the last exam of fall semester, and then I will be FREE!

- A

Friday, December 12, 2014

Oh Hey, Friday - Holiday Edition



Another day closer to the end of the semester! Of course, that means we're another day closer to exams, but I'm going to ignore that fact for the next few minutes. Next week, I have an OMM written final on Monday, an OMM practical on Tuesday, class on Wednesday (wtf, why?), nothing on Thursday, and then our last block exam on Friday. And by "nothing" on Thursday, I obviously mean, "Studying until I fall asleep, go to class, or die." All that to say, the posting next week will probably be non-existent. I haven't been great about keeping up with it anyway for the past couple of weeks, but it certainly won't be getting better. C'est la vie.

So, without further ado, here are five random things for, "Oh Hey, Friday!" that are vaguely holiday/winter break themed.

1 | Ken needs to know what I want for Christmas, and I have no idea. 
Usually, I have at least a couple of things that I want, but this year, the only things I want are either school related (which Ken has vetoed), really expensive, things I'll buy for myself anyway, or things that need to be done around the house. He's requested "something fun" and apparently, I am boring. Any ideas of things I absolutely need!?

2 | I am apparently cooking on Christmas and that's going to be... interesting.
I am not necessarily concerned about messing up the food; I'm a pretty good cook. I'm more concerned that I won't be able to orchestrate roasting a turkey, making stuffing, making vegetables, putting rolls in the oven, making sweet potatoes, and making dessert... before 8 pm. But hey, at least I have a double oven and a convection toaster oven (in which I am theoretically able to roast a whole chicken or bake cookies), so we should be okay. I'll let you know how it goes.

3 | There is a perfect -1.00 correlation between my desire to bake and my desire to study.
Just a little stats nerdery for you. Also, there are just way too many recipes that I want to try... like this one... and this one!

4 | I am really not looking forward to the traveling we're doing around Christmas.
We do this every year, and every year I think it will be easier, and it never is. On the 26th, we're driving up to Long Island for the usual "Day After Christmas" festivities at Ken's grandmother's house. This is when we celebrate Christmas by cramming way too many people into a tiny house so we can eat Italian food and play poker until midnight. For bonus fun, I get to answer the same 20 questions from his relatives over and over again. And there's no wine. I don't play poker, so I usually spend the evening trying to entertain myself. At least this year, I can go back to Lynn's apartment when I'm tired and want to go to bed. Usually, I drive home on the 26th and Ken stays to see a few friends, but this year we're both staying over at Lynn's until the 27th. Then we're having dinner with Ken's dad's family. And then we're driving home and I'm collapsing into a pile.

5 | We are theoretically taking a couple days and heading up to the Poconos.
I haven't been up there in probably ten years, and Ken has never skied, so it should be an interesting trip, haha. Don't worry, there will be photos. Anyone have any favorite Poconos hotels or vacation recommendations? 


And on that note, it's back to the studying. The only breaks I am taking this weekend are to get acupuncture tomorrow and to grab lunch with my friend Patricia. Other than that, you'll find me in a Starbucks, mainlining coffee and cramming information into my tired brain.

Have a great weekend, all!

- A

PS: This time next week, I will be finished my last exam and will officially be 1/8 doctor. What!?