Five Months in a Few Paragraphs

I’ve been holding back on posting for two reasons. First I am pregnant again and for a time was looking a job and didn’t want to advertise that fact to prospective employers.  Second there is just so much to say I wanted to give everything the attention it deserved by creating individual posts for all the ideas I wanted share. The later is proving to be my downfall as I keep getting further behind trying to decide how I want to approach it all. The first is no longer a relevant concern as there is no hiding my now seven month pregnant figure and I’ve found a part-time freelance gig that’s working for now.

So I’m going to condense the last 5 months into one post to get myself back to square one and a place where I feel I can move forward from, not be daunted by what I haven’t written about.

The Pregnancy  

Turns out I get pregnant very easily. As soon as we tried again, woo hoo there we were pregnant. I believe I conceived the day before we left San Francisco. This time around everything has gone swimmingly. I had mild morning sickness, but nothing a few boxes of Saltines didn’t cure and now at 29 weeks my only complaints are to be expected when you have 2-3 lb parasite growing in your belly. I will write another post entirely about my pregnancy as this is a very surreal experience that I feel is worth sharing.

The Job Hunt

After we got through the holidays I started my job hunt in earnest and it was tough. I went on a lot of interviews, sent out tons of resumes, and nothing worked out. I actually had three separate instances of going to an interview that I thought went well, a few days later receiving an email saying they decided on another candidate, and then seeing the exact same job reposted within a week. I have no idea what that was all about, but it certainly beat me down.

There does seem to be a different job culture here in Portland. A lot more ticking of the boxes and less what do you bring to the team. I also think my age and experience put me in an odd place. I’m not at the director or senior manager level with my experience, but my age puts me there. And then there’s the difference in pay scale too. There’s still a bit of desperation in this market, people willing to sign on for a lot of responsibility for not much pay. Anyway, I just wasn’t able to find a job that fit.

However, I was able to pick up some freelance work for a friend’s company that’s keeping a bit of cash coming in the door while Dan and I work really hard to get The Bitter Housewife going. We are closer than we’ve ever been with three recipes submitted to the TTB awaiting non-beverage status approval, a commercial kitchen secured, and an approved license to be a food processor in Oregon. We currently have a 50 liter batch in production that should net us about 300 bottles in mid-June. And then we really start rolling.

Being a Home Owner

I have really enjoyed settling into our new home and life these past few months, but the financial pressures have weighed heavily on me. So some things have been put off and parts still feel temporary. Plus my energy reserves haven’t been that great so with working on The Bitter Housewife and putting in freelance time I often don’t have the energy to get much else done in a day or a week. The control freak in me in is struggling a bit. But I keep reminding myself there is no deadline, the important stuff will get done, and the money situation is temporary. Something will shake out once I have the baby either with The Bitter Housewife paying me a salary or a full-time job that puts us in a better situation. 

So it’s been a roller coaster ride lately, mostly good, peppered with moments of overwhelming stress, but the promise and excitement of both my babies (The Bitter Housewife and our little boy) is keeping me going. It has indeed been a journey and it’s not even close to over. 

Portland Or Bust!

Somehow the apartment is empty.

We’re here in Portland and we got the house. The last week in San Francisco was a special kind of hell, but we got through it and managed not to kill each other. There were more things to go on the moving truck than the estimate included and what was left over wasn’t going to fit in the Jeep. Every time I turned around it seemed there was something else we had forgotten to consider. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly attached to my things, but I really hate making quick decisions, especially about whether or not to give something up and there were a lot of those in the final few days.

The morning we were leaving we made a last minute call to accept an offer to use a friend’s garage space for anything that wouldn’t fit. Two trips with a Mini Cooper, some very creative stacking and knot tying and there was nothing left on the sidewalk or in the apartment. With a healthy dose of sedatives in the cat, we were ready to take off.

Thankfully the drive was uneventful, our cat even slept almost the whole way with only a little howling in the beginning and the end. We pulled into Portland around 10pm and headed straight to Dan’s mom’s house, our home base for the next week while we waited to get the keys.

On November 20th we were handed the keys. Walking around the empty house and knowing it was all ours, was pretty awesome. It felt bigger than we ever could have imagined, especially since our stuff wouldn’t be here for another week or so. We quickly bought a couch and a new bed, borrowed some folding chairs and tables, and ordered a cord of firewood. What else did we really need?

The house really didn’t need any work for us to move in, but the living room and my office space had both been painted a horrible mint green, so we got to work before the furniture arrived. The living room is now a sophisticated mid-tone neutral grey and my office space is salmon, a color I hope will offset the grey winter we’re about to endure.

And yes, I did mention office space. Our house has four bedrooms, it’s kind of crazy really.  We’re living in the downstairs one with the best light and the other one downstairs will be a guest room for now and hopefully the baby’s room in the next year or so. Upstairs there are two more bedrooms, so I get one and Dan gets one. I’m looking forward to setting up my own creative space.

In our excitement to be in the new house we invited both our families over for Thanksgiving only to find out later that there was no way our stuff would arrive before Thanksgiving. We went for it anyway with everything borrowed from friends and family and managed to pull off a great dinner for 12. It really felt like Thanksgiving is supposed to.

Now a few weeks later, everything here and we’re slowly unpacking and settling in. The job hunt has begun for both of us, but we know there won’t be much movement till January. So we’re enjoying the slow time, getting to know our new city and making all sorts of plans for the year ahead. Most of them in front of the fireplace to make the cold and grey seem a little more tolerable. 

My Miscarriage Story: Sad, but Not Devastating

I had a miscarriage and you know what, the experience wasn’t even half as devastating to me as I thought it might be. If you had talked to me about what I thought it would be like before I would only be able to bring up the portrayals I’d seen on TV and in movies of completely distraught women barely able to go on. It wasn’t like that at all.

I want to share what happened to me, how I felt about it, and most importantly that the experience was like many things in life – it sucks and then you get over it and move on. Be forewarned I may mention blood and “female” things. 

About 5 ½ - 6 weeks into my pregnancy I started spotting (seeing blood when I went to the bathroom). Not a lot, certainly not a period, but definitely enough to cause me to worry. I called the doctor and got many assurances that this happens all the time, most likely nothing to worry about, and ultimately there was nothing that could be done anyway. So sit tight and let us know if it gets worse. Unfortunately, it did get worse.

I was doing a bitters demo at the Eat Real Festival. We had just parked the car, and as I got out I felt a rush of blood soak my underwear. Waiting in line for 10 minutes to get into the bathroom I just keep hoping I was mistaken. I was actually wishing I had wet my pants. But no, I still had complete control over my bladder and instead saw enough blood to know things weren’t good, but not enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.

It was possible things could still be fine from here, but I was finding it hard to be positive. However, there was little I could do at that moment, so I decided to go through with the demo. At the very least it would distract me. I didn’t bleed the rest of the day, but that wasn’t at all reassuring.

The next morning I made an appointment to see the doctor and have an ultra sound. The few days in between I had some spotting, but nothing like that Saturday. I tried to be positive, take it easy, and not stress out.

The visit to the doctor was anything but reassuring. The egg sack couldn’t be seen on the ultra sound, yet I had plenty of pregnancy hormones in my blood. So it meant either the embryo never implanted or I had an ectopic pregnancy – an even scarier possibility. We headed straight for the lab to get blood tests that would help to determine one scenario over the other. They would test for levels of hormones in my blood then test again in a few days. If there was a decrease it would mean the pregnancy never took and if there was an increase I was in trouble. In the meantime I had to sit and wait.

But before I even got my results I lost the baby for sure. I passed what looked like a huge blood clot while going to the bathroom. I felt it slip out of me, but there was no cramping, no incidence at all really. In that moment I felt more relief than sadness. I finally knew something for certain. I went back to work and didn’t say anything to anyone till I saw Dan that evening. 

I do not want to underplay the emotional impact experiencing a miscarriage has on women, for some it is truly devastating. However, I believe my experience is more the norm for most women. I went home that day and cried a lot. I had one truly rough week full of tears and genuine heartache. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about what had happened. I didn’t want to think about it or be reminded, my mind was doing enough lingering on it’s own.

But eventually the tears lessened and the sadness lessened. I learned how common it actually was, that it also didn’t mean I couldn’t get pregnant again or that I wouldn’t have a perfectly normal pregnancy the second time. Now, more than a month later it still weighs heavy on me at times, but it’s momentary. I have tears in my eyes as I write this, but I don’t have the same sadness and I also know it’s momentary. Dan and I will try again and if I have another miscarriage I know I will get through it.

The hardest part hasn’t been the experience itself, but instead other people’s reactions. I want to talk about the miscarriage now. Not to everyone, not all the time, but I want to be able to say I had a miscarriage without the crushing look of pity that often follows. I want to say it like someone would say my grandfather passed. Yes it’s sad, but not only will I get over it as most everyone does, it’s a part of life.

There are a lot of societal conditions behind that look of pity that I really don’t care to get into. I just want there to be more conversation and less mystery. I found that many of my friends had experienced a miscarriage, maybe even several, but I didn’t know till I brought up my own. I also learned that roughly 1 in 5 women experience a miscarriage. That’s a lot of women. That’s actually higher than your risk of getting breast cancer (1 in 8), yet we hear about breast cancer all the time and celebrate the stories of women who have survived it. 

I feel a bit like my miscarriage is my dirty little secret. I’m sharing my story so it’s no longer a secret. I’m sharing in the hopes that more women will talk about it. I’m sharing so that maybe one woman will read this before she has a miscarriage and know she’s not alone, it sucks, but she’ll get over it.

Trusting My Gut and Waiting for Magic

The house we put an offer on

The last few months have been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. Big changes are a foot and they’re happening fast. This is what happens when you marry an impulsive man who is quick to make decisions. As a plotting, planning, gather all the details Virgo, I’m doing my best to trust my gut and go with it. I know it will all lead to good things even I haven’t the slightest idea what they are.

To fully tell this story I need to go back to early September. A week or so after our return from Burning Man I found out I was pregnant. The signs had been there, sore boobs, unrelenting need for sleep, and over powering smells, but I wasn’t convinced until I saw the little pink plus on the pee test. Dan and I had only just decided to start trying in August, Burning Man being my first ovulation since the decision. I guess I really do take after my mother.

We let the news sit for a few weeks feeling mostly stunned, but also excited. As expected we started to look a little closer at our lives and how a baby was going to fit in. It quickly became clear that our tiny attic apartment would be hard enough for a pregnant woman let alone a crawling baby, steep narrow stairs, no extra storage and no second bedroom. But moving in San Francisco is virtually impossible these days, so we made the momentous decision to relocate to Portland. Most of Dan’s family is there, we both have friends, and most of my family is only a little further north in the Seattle area.

The first week of October was a rough one. I ended up losing the baby at about 7 weeks. I want to write separate post entirely on the miscarriage. I feel it not only deserves it, but found with my experience that it’s just not talked about enough. So more on that later.

We decided that moving still made sense, we knew we wanted the baby even more now and San Francisco was becoming too pricey to maintain the lifestyle we wanted. So we headed to Portland in early October to scout neighborhoods and look at what our money would get us. Shortly after our return I got news that Zaarly was laying off about half their staff, me included. While stunned at first, I had seen it coming and it kicked us in high gear with the move. It’s certainly easier to hunt for a job in a new city when you’re there. Once I was officially done with Zaarly we made a second trip up that ended with us making an offer on a house. I told you things were moving fast.

So now it’s the beginning of November and we’re packing up our entire San Francisco life for Portland. Our offer on the house has been accepted, but every day seems to bring a new financial challenge in the process that we need to overcome. My not having a job being a huge one, we prequalified for the loan with both our incomes, but our mortgage broker hasn’t given up and sees a way to make this work. 

We’re leaving San Francisco on the 17th of November with the hopeful plan of staying at Dan’s mother’s for a week and then moving into “our house” just before Thanksgiving. However, that really is just a hope at the moment given the financial hurtles we’re encountering. I knew buying a house was an intensive undertaking, but neither Dan nor I had any idea it would be this hard. Worst case we can actually live with his mother for a while as we decide our next move.

To say I’m feeling a bit stressed is the understatement of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about this adventure, it feels right. I just can’t shake the feeling that we’re moving too quickly and making it all much harder than it needs to be. And we probably are, but if I’ve learned anything in my time with Dan it’s that he has a way of making things work out, sometimes almost by magic. 

A Little Holiday DIY

I'm very excited to announce that I'll be doing a 3 hour online class through creativeLive next week on Friday, November 8th from 12:45PM - 4PM. I'll be showing you how to make your own bitters and limoncello for holiday gifts. The class with also touch on ways to use both, batch cocktails and aperitifs, as well as fun gift ideas that use what you've made.

The class is part of a series that includes all sorts of DIY holiday projects like crocheted snowflakes and pinecone ornaments. A few weeks ago we all gathered in the studio the shoot a promo video and if that experience was any indication of the classes they're all going to be a ton of fun.

You can sign up to watch all four or just one live the day they're taped for free or you can purchase the option to have unlimited access to the classes. Here's a link to my specific class, Homemade Liquor Infusions and Cocktail Bitters or the whole series, DIY Holiday Crafts & Cocktails. Be sure to check out the video for a taste of kitschy, wackiness that is in store.