Friday, August 1, 2014

The First Trimester

My husband and I had been trying to conceive for 13 months when we got our big news and believe me after 13 months that positive test was a huge surprise and a shock.  In fact, I took 2 tests before I could believe it.

I didnt have any symptoms other than a late cycle and cramping, but since we had been trying and using temping, charting, and an ovulation monitor, I figured it wouldnt hurt to test.  I took the test (First Response) and was so nervous.  Then I was in shock and had to take a 2nd test to prove to myself that it wasnt just a false test!  Based on my estimated due date of August 5, 2014 (although by my calculations its actually August 7, 2014) I was 4 weeks and 5 days pregnant when we got our positive test result.  Michael wasnt home when I took the tests, so I laid out a shirt I bought him that said "Daddy est. 2014" and the positive tests on the bed for him to see when he got home.  When he got home I told him I had a present for him in the bedroom.  He saw what I had laid out and started crying and hugging me and asking "are you sure."  It was such a surreal moment.

We had our first doctor's appointment on December 18th (7 weeks 1 day) and our first ultrasound was scheduled for January 9th (10 weeks 2 days).  Michael wanted to tell everyone right away, but being a Librarian and reading too much for my own good, I was scared to tell.  I managed to convince him to wait until Christmas to share our news.  It drove him crazy, but he agreed to wait.
8 Weeks (Belly is 40")

9 Weeks

My first obvious symptom was hormonal anger which started at 5 weeks, but didnt last long.  I quickly went out and bought the books What to Expect When You're Expecting, My Pregnancy Week to Week, Baby Bargains, and Baby 411.  I started feeling nausea and bought a pregnancy journal, What to Expect Pregnancy Journal and Organizer, at 6 weeks. We told my mother-in-law our news on December 24th with a picture fram and she was thrilled with the news.  I told my mother and Meme on Christmas day, also with picture frames.  We werent able to follow through with our normal Christmas tradition of going to see my dad's parents and family since we were in the process of organizing funerals for both of my sister-in-laws, but my dad and step-mother came by before they left to see my grandparents.  They were both thrilled.  My step-mom's jaw dropped and my dad cried. It was wonderful.  We sent announcement picture frame gifts with them to pass on to my grandparents, since we couldnt be there when they celebrated Christmas.

I experienced the most extreme of my nausea between 7 and 9 weeks, but I didnt actually get sick.  The nausea was only better when I was eating and I let myself get hungry the nausea came back in full force.  The only smells that really bothered me were chicken and our dog's pill pockets.  I didnt have any serious cravings, but melon was definately on the top of my "want" list.

I bought the first of my maternity clothes in January because my skin was super sensitive and I couldnt stand anything to be snug and the button trick to make your pants fit better never worked for me.  In fact, I hated the belly band too.

At our first ultrasound at 10 weeks, we didnt get to hear the heartbeat, but we were told it was beating at 162 bpm and much to my husband's disappointment the scan showed one baby, not two (he was hoping for twins).

Not long after our first ultrasound we received the first bill from our OB.  I was really surprised, but they want us to pay the full balance before the baby arrives!  I guess on the plus side, its one less thing we have to worry about after the fact.

On January 24th I made a huge decision.  I took off my wedding bands because I was already swelling and I was afraid they would get stuck.  I feel so naked without my rings on and I am always rubbing my hand expecting to find them.

By week 13 (the end of the first trimester) I had gained 4lbs and my belly had grown 2 inches.  I was craving lemonade and melon and my biggest symptom was constipation.  We also decided on our nursery theme: Nautical / Ocean.
11 Weeks

13 Weeks
Swollen Hands at 12 weeks

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Gluten Free Goodness is Trial and Error #2

Gluten free products are hit and miss for tasre and texture and living in a small town makes finding good gluten free products even harder.

Hodgson Mills Muffins: I tried the apple cinnamon version.  They have a good texture and are pretty goid, but denser than non-gf brands. I did add extra cinnamon to my muffins.

Glutino White Bread: good, but better toasted. In fact, toasted I couldnt tell it was any different from non-gf bread.

Schar White Bread, Hamburger buns, and Hot Dogs: Really good bread. Hot dog and hamburger buns are some of the best gluten free options I have found. 

Zena's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip cookies: I did not like these at all. The texture is good, but they have an odd aftertaste.

Enjoylife  Sunbutter Chewy Crunch bars: terrible texture and flavor. I couldnt even choke down a second bite.

King Arthur Muffin Mix: I added blueberries.  I think these would have been great,  but I used too many berries and I think it threw the texture off. I bought anotger box and I expect my 2nd attempt will have better results.

Glutino Table Crackers: amazing substitute for saltines! Love these crackers!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nursery Organization (Chest and Dresser/Changing Table)

I plan to post a full blog on our nursery design, description, product information, and the amazing job my husband did making my vision come to life.  However, since I am still waiting on a few things to arrive (they should be here by the first of next week) and I really want to put something together, I am going to go ahead and write this post about my attempt to organize the nursery.  I am aware that once Genevieve arrives, things will probably change, but this is at least a good start.

Furniture: Crib, Chest, and Double Dresser from the Baby Cache Montana collection in Driftwood Purchased at Babies R Us, Baskets inside double dresser purchased from Dollar Tree, Aqua decorative drawers with starfish purchased at Home Goods, Diaper Caddy in Coral and Grey (size XL)purchased on Etsy from Yoon1206greene.


Top Drawer
This drawer has burp cloths, receiving blankets, and bibs.  I need to get a few more burp cloths at this point.  The embroidered burp cloths were a gift, so Im not sure who made  them, but I do believe the were purchased from Etsy.

Second Drawer
This drawer has changing pad covers, mattress pads, sheet savers, sheets, pack n play sheets, cradle sheets, and bassinet sheets.  My husband built my cradle and the mattress is made of foam core and not a standard size.  I ordered the sheets for it from Birdshaveflowers.

Third Drawer
This drawer is stuffed full of blankets!  The blankets on the right side were made by my Great Grandmother for me when I was a baby.

Fourth Drawer
This drawer has only two blankets in it because they are both super plush and large.  The top one in this photo was made for me by my grandmother and given to me at my baby shower.

Double Dresser / Changing Table (I havent put the changing pad on it yet)
The following pictures start with the top of the dresser and then move on the drawers in order from left to right.

Starfish Drawer Tower
I had trouble decided what to do with this drawer tower, but its so pretty and I really love it. Right now the top drawer is empty, but I think I will put alcohol pads in it.  The 2nd drawer has cotton pads.  The 3rd drawer has baby q-tips.  The 4th has small binder clips.  These may seem odd, but right now I am using them to clip socks together in matches.  Most of her socks have patterns on them and they are so small that if I fold them I cant see the design.  This may become more trouble than its worth, but its my current solution.

Misc. Plastic Bins
These bins are really random, but right now they are holding things that I couldnt decide where else to put.  In the first basket I have a sample surface cleaner from Honest Company, a few pens, a notepad, and some hand sanitizer.  The smaller basket in the corner has baby coupons in it.

Diaper Caddy

I ordered this diaper caddy from Etsy and the fabric perfectly matches my crib bedding.  In the left side I have tissues, nursing pads, and pacifiers. The middle section has baby wipes, baby lotion (Shea Moisture), and diaper rash cream (Aquaphor).  The last section has 20 newborn diapers in it. 

First Drawer

This drawer contains baby hats, mittens, headbands, hairbows, tights, diaper covers, 0-6 month socks (back), and newborn socks (front).

Second Drawer
This drawer has travel wipes, extra diaper disposal bags, Nose Frieda, Boogie Wipes, baby meds, non-latex gloves (I figure if we end up wanting to use diaper cream in a tub instead of a squeeze tube, I wont want to contaminate the jar), baby grooming supplies, pacifiers, and extra diapers.

Third Drawer

This drawer had newborn sleepers and gowns on the left and 0-3 month sleepers on the right.

Fourth Drawer

The left side of this drawer has newborn pants and onesies and the right side has 0-3 onesies and pants. 

Fifth Drawer
This drawer is an oddball.  Right now it has items that I cant hang in the closet, but that Genevieve wont be using for several months.  It has larger socks, a bottle leash, a large size sleep sack, onsies and hats for 6 months and older.

Sixth Drawer
I wanted to put these items in the chest, but I ran out of room.  On the left side are my muslin swaddle blankets and on the right side is my Woombies and swaddle wraps that fasten closed.

Our Birth Plan

We will be delivering Genevieve in Little Rock at Baptist Hospital, which is about an hour from our home.  This makes me nervous and probably has me over preparing for her arrival. I have attended all the classes my hospital offers and I have read several pregnancy and labor related books.  I feel like having a written plan will make me more comfortable about the process, and even though I know that my plan is only a guide to be used and cannot be guaranteed by my medical professionals, it still makes me feel better to have all my thoughts in one place.

Our Birth Plan

The Graves Family Birth Plan 

Mother-to-be: Ashley Kendall Graves 
Partner: William Michael Graves 
Due Date: August 5, 2014 
Practitioner: Jenny Gregory  
Baby's Name: Genevieve Estelle Graves

Hello, Michael and I have been together for 5 years and we are excited and nervous to be welcoming our first child, Genevieve Estelle, into the world. We live with 3 dogs who have been our babies up until this point, so we hope they adjust well. 

I am a Librarian and Michael is an Engineer, so by nature we both like information. We would prefer to be given all the information possible about every step in the labor and birth process. We consider ourselves fairly well informed, as we have attended the hospital classes and read several books, but please assume we want to know more! 

I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis for which I take .150 mcg of Synthroid and I eat a gluten free diet. 

For the most part we want the standard treatment provided by the hospital, but we do want to be included in the decision making processes. There are a few things that we do have options on, and while we know that the health and safety of our daughter may cause changes in our plan, we would appreciate consideration of our preferences. 

Key Points: 

1.) My husband and I want to be the only non-medical persons present at the birth, visitors are welcome during labor and after delivery. 

2.) We want at least an hour to bond with our daughter after delivery, and after that we are willing to have guests again. 

3.) Please preform all medical interventions (shots, tests, etc) as soon as possible to ease our minds and prevent interruptions in our bonding. 

4.) My husband wishes to cut the cord, but other than that, neither one of us wishes to watch the delivery happen (ie. no mirrors). 

5.) Please wipe off our daughter before handing her to us, after the delivery. 

6.) We plan to breastfeed, so please do not give our daughter formula or other supplements without asking us first. 

7.) We are non-smokers and do not wish our baby to be exposed to the by-products of smoking. We ask that any smoker wash their hands after each cigarette and that they brush their teeth as well. We have purchased several toothbrushes and toothbrush cases to provide to all those who may need them (we know this is an odd request). 

8.) We have brought our own toiletry products for our daughter and we wish them to be used over the products provided by the hospital (lotion, wash, and wipes).  
9.) We plan to donate the baby's cord blood through the Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas and we have the collection kit with us.

First Stage (Labor):

* Clear fluids.
* Ice chips.
* Please offer me pain medication, as soon as possible.
* Regular Epidural 
Second Stage (Birth):

* I would prefer to tear than have an episiotomy, but please use compresses, massage and positioning. * Cord Blood Donation * No mirror
Baby Care:

* Prefer partner to cut the cord. * Immediate medical treatments * Breast feeding only
* No formula or glucose water 
Other Baby Care Requests:

* Use the toiletry products we brought with us * Brush teeth and wash hands after tobacco use
Medical Needs: Ashley has Hashimoto's and takes .150 mcg of Synthroid and eats a gluten free diet.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Most Amazing French Toast Ever...According to my husband

Amazing Gluten Free French Toast


6 slices of your favorite gluten free bread (we use Hearty Italian from the Dempsey Bakery)
1/2 stick of butter

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
3 beaten large eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar (more if you want it sweeter)

1.) lay bread out in a large casserole dish and pour 1/2 the batter over the bread.  Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.  Flip the bread over and soak for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
2.) heat a couple of pads of butter in a flat skillet on Medium heat and cook bread until brown on one side.  Flip bread and brown on second side.
3.) continue with steps 1 and 2 until all bread is cooked.

Enjoy with syrup 

The Hearty Italian bread soaks up the mixture without getting gummy and cooks firm on the outside and soft in the middle.  I have not tried this recipe with other gluten free breads, but I suspect that the denser nature of gluten free bread is what allows this french toast to have such a great texture after it is cooked.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Trying to Conceive and getting pregnant

For many people who knew me when I was younger this post may seem odd.  I never wanted children.  Throughout puberty and adulthood I had been pretty steadfast in my belief that I didnt want children.  I was afraid that I was too selfish or that I would be a bad parent or that I couldnt be enough for my children.  Then I meet my husband.  Children were the line he drew in the sand of our relationship.  I needed to come to terms with my feelings and it was hard.  I love my husband and I know he loves me.  I struggled for a long time before I finally decided that it wasnt that I had changed, but that my life had turned a corner I never thought it would.

It wasnt that I didnt want children, I just never thought I would be in a place in my life where children would fit or that I would be in a relationship stable enough to support children.  I never thought I would want to be married before I met my husband, but after meeting him I quickly knew that I wanted to marry him.  That I wanted to spend my life with him.  Learning that I wanted children so dearly, was just another part of this journey in self discovery.....

My husband and I got married on October 6, 2012 after having been together since 2009.  We did everything backwards to the traditional relationship milestones: 1.) date, 2.) buy a house, 3.) raise a child (we got custody of our 16 year old nephew), 4.) get engaged, 5.) get married.   We loved our life in rural Arkansas with our 3 dogs (2 are ours and 1 we are fostering for my brother in law).

When we got married I was 29 and my husband was 30.  We knew that we wanted a family and we knew that we weren't getting any younger.  Most of our friends and relatives our age have had kids for many years now.  I told Michael that if we had more than one child that I wanted them to be about 3 years apart.

 Knowing that I didnt want to be giving birth and raising an infant after age 40 (in an ideal situation) and that in a perfect world, we didnt know how long it would take us to conceive a child, we started trying to get pregnant right away.  I quit taking my birth control pills a few days into our honeymoon.

I am a librarian, and what do librarian's do?  We research.  So that is what I did.  I found and read message boards, I learned about ovulation cycles and basal body temperature.  I read What to Expect Before You are Expecting and several other books and articles.

On our 1 year anniversary we still hadnt managed to get pregnant.  I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, so I had my Endocrinologist run extra labs to see if there was anything thyroid related preventing us from getting pregnant.  He found nothing he felt was causing our infertility.

I have always been curvy and big chested and have heard my whole life about my "child bearing hips" and I couldnt get pregnant.  Yes, I know there are people who struggle for years with infertility.  I know several and I know my struggle was no where near the trial that they had been facing, but I still felt inadequate.

We made an appointment with a fertility specialist in October  that was scheduled for December, but after learning that my insurance would only cover the most basic testing once per lifetime made us reconsider our options.  We choice to cancel the appointment and keep trying on our own until my annual exam at the end of January.  We decided that if we still hadnt conceived by then we would ask the doctor for her recommendations.

As it so happens we got a positive pregnancy test on December 1st (15 cycles of ttc)!  I was so nervous and excited.  I took two tests to be sure.  Michael wasnt home when I found out, but months earlier I had bought a super cute t-shirt that said "Daddy est. 2014."  I put this t-shirt out on the bed along with my two positive tests and when he got home I told him to come into the bedroom because I had a present for him.

He was so shocked and so excited.  He hugged me and asked "are you sure?"  He wanted to shout the news from the roof tops, but I asked that he wait.  I wanted to tell our families at Christmas and I wanted to wait til the end of the first trimester to tell work (I live in a small town, so once one person knows the whole world knows).

We met with a nurse at my OB/GYN clinic on December 18th which was basically just blood work and we meet with the doctor on January 9th.

This blog entry will post to the public on January 22nd, and their might be a few follow up posts that go hand in hand with this one that will post around that time too.  After that point, all blog entries about my pregnancy will be posted the same day I write them.  I am so excited for this journey!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gluten Free Mini Pies

I was craving pie the other day and so I decided to try my hand at making a gluten free version.  I had also been concerned about whether or not I would get to eat dessert at Thanksgiving or not.  I decided to go for a mini version of a pie for 2 reasons: 1.) higher crust ration and 2.) ease of eating and storing.

This recipe makes 9 to 12 mini pies using a muffin pan.  I used a drinking glass to cut the pie shells.  The pie shown here is peach.

Gluten Free Mini Pie Recipe:


Any of your favorite gluten free pie filling.  Many brands are gluten free, so just read the label.  A couple of examples are Comstock and Musselmans.


1 cup almond flour ( I used Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 cup all purpose gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon xantham gum
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Cup butter - chunked
2 Tablespoons of cold water (you may need to add more, just watch your dough and see - add a Tablespoon at a time until the correct consistency)
Cinnamon and brown sugar, to taste (optional)


1.) Add dry ingredients to your food processor and pulse to mix
2.) Add in butter and pulse until the texture is crumbly.
3.) Add water to bind the dough together
4.) Sprinkle flour on flat surface and roll out dough.
5.) Use a drinking class that is floured or greased to cut circles.  You may need to re-roll scraps until you get the right number of crusts.
6.) Grease muffin pan and place crusts in the bottom of each section.  You want the crusts to go up the sides a little bit to hold the filling.  The dough is really forgiving, so if you need to patch holes, cracks, or thin spots go ahead and use scraps to patch the crusts.  This will not make the crust tough.
7.) Bake in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes until it starts getting golden brown (but not quite done)
8.) Remove muffin pan from the oven and add filling to the crusts.  If you are using a pie filling with large pieces of fruit (ie. peaches), put them in the food processor for a few pulses first.  You want the filling to fit in the crusts, but not be mush.
9.) I sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar at the point, but its optional.
10.) Bake the final product for an additional 10 to 15 minutes (10 is normally enough)

These pies should slide right out of the molds, or you should be able to scoop them out with a spoon.  These are best served fresh, but do hold up well for later.

This recipe was developed by using this recipe from the All day I Dream About Food blog.