happy family mother and daughter read a book in the evening at home

For My Mom

For My Mom,

So many things are happening all at once in life. I wish I had more time to capture them all on paper. This year has been hard. The fragility of life continues to stare me in the face. It used to be my daily encounters with patients, but now it’s my own role as infertility patient and my mother’s role as breast cancer patient. As I fight to make a new life she fights to save the one that she has refined with fire over the past 69 years.

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There’s no one quite like my mom. None can really compare to the depth of her compassion for others, her genuine concern for their deepest needs, her self- sacrifice, and her willingness to give regardless of any cost or discomfort to herself. I’m not sure that I’ve ever met a woman more willing to give everything that she has to a stranger. When Christ said to the young ruler to sell all that he had and give it to the poor…my mom makes that look easy. You may think I’m exaggerating, but then I recall the homeless woman that she picked up off of the street and then brought home to live with us for 6 months; the time that we took about 50 pounds of fried chicken to the homeless in Metro DC parks just because; the week we spent serving meals to families during the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew; her hours spent pouring into children with severe learning disabilities, the years she has ministered to broken women who have lost their husbands, their freedom, and their self-worth. When asked to help, she doesn’t think of the most minimal way…nope…she’s all in. If you could fault someone for possibly giving too much it would be her. And, yet, how can you fault her? I’m sure that she has entertained angels because she is always ready to say yes to what God has for her.

Not many people have that kind of empathy that moves beyond emotion into action. Not just action for a season, but action for a lifetime. Is my mom perfect? No. Do I hold that against her? Absolutely not. She has been an example to me of how an imperfect human can make an amazing difference. She has taught me to love others more than myself. To care for their needs more than my own. She has shown me that getting ahead is not as important as making sure that others get their feet underneath them. Money is simply a tool to help others. The more you have the greater your responsibility to use it for good. She has been an advocate for the woman without a voice and for the child trapped in the chaos of learning disabilities. She has opened doors and broken windows that others wouldn’t dare to even turn the handle on. Her boldness is courageous…and she makes it look easy. She asks for nothing in return except for prayers answered.Closeup On Hands Of Stressed Young Woman

Yes, she’s the woman who prays for the clerk at the grocery counter…every time…For the woman sitting next to her in the waiting room, for the nurse administering her chemo, for the doctor who may be having a rough day. And, people actually want to pray with her. She is sincere. She wants to know their struggles. She wants to take them to God. She knows that only he can fix them.

Strangers are her friends within moments. And, she truly cares about their spiritual well being. Above all else she loves Jesus and has made it her mission in life to make sure that I love him too. I’m sure that she made far more sacrifices for me than I will ever know. And, while I selfishly complain that I don’t get to see her enough at Christmas time each year because she is off empowering widows young and old in Nigeria each holiday season, in my heart I’m astounded by her resolve to make their lives better. Because of her I’m inspired to heed to the compassion and empathy that stirs in my own soul.

The thing about her giving spirit is that it never runs dry. The more she gives out the more she is filled up. Her prayers are answered. She circles them. She marches around buildings until the walls fall down or until new walls are built. She is Ruth, Esther, Mary, and Martha all at once…and she is my mom. How blessed I have been and still am to know her and to be loved by her. She is the first person that I call for prayer. Again, while she has faults and imperfections that drive me crazy at times, these fall to the wayside in light of her strengths. I have never met another woman like my mother. She is loud. She is bright. She is the love of Jesus to others. And, she is unashamed.

She would be embarrassed if I said that her faith in God was, “impressive.” Her faith in God is faithful. And, while she triumphs now through rounds of chemo to quell and aggressive stage 4 breast cancer, she would point to God saying that he is her miraculous healer even if that healing happens after this life.

Selfishly, I don’t want to lose her from this life. I want to continue to see God use her in amazing ways. I want to continue to be inspired by the legacy she is creating-a legacy that moves thousands to their knees in prayer. I’m sure God can’t wait to have her in heaven, but my prayer is that he will wait a whole lot longer.

To My Precious and Irreplaceable Mom

(Boldly written because she wouldn’t have it any other way.)

Love,

The Daughter in Me

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Brand Rep Search for a Beautiful Business and an Amazing Cause… The Borrowed Boutique

Many of you are aware that I have a styling and rental business called, The Borrowed Boutique. Well, things have taken off in the past year and this “baby” of mine has become a full-time job, apart from caring for my 3 year old, freelance health writing, blogging, and trying for baby #2 the hard way (aka IVF). My heart for medical missions and public health lead me down a path I wasn’t fully anticipating. I’ve always had a love for children’s fashion, styling, and creative design; but, I didn’t want to leave my medical background behind. Instead, I decided to become a social entrepreneur. You may not be familiar with this term, but most of you are probably familiar with TOMS Shoes. Same idea, except, for every item rented from my shop; I currently donate funds to help protect young girls from sex-trafficking, childhood prostitution, and exploitation. GIVING BACK is what my shop is all about. Those renting give the dresses back, and in return, I give back to non-profits doing amazing work. 12118842_521452064699858_5224801051532503696_n12027668_10207385755860235_5895045795442512388_n

The journey to start this business has pushed my comfort zone on all levels. While my natural skills make styling easy, and my medical and public health background make the giving portion easy, the business side of things has been a bit more challenging. That’s okay. As most of you know…I’m up for a challenge. Getting through med school and residency taught me that perseverance and a positive outlook are more than half the battle. Sprinkle in some infertility with 10 cycles of IVF and I would say determination is part of my portfolio. So, late nights, dreams (and nightmares) filled with tutus, tracking packages, manually invoicing, filling orders, running to the post office and UPS, steaming dresses, etc. etc. have all been worth the sweat and toil when I consider the difference this business is making. In July, I travelled to Brazil where I was able to work with an amazing non-profit that helps protect young girls from sex-trafficking, childhood prostitution, and exploitation. A partnership was born, and now Esthers Children is our first giving partner.M88B8847

Visiting the broken down homes of destitute little girls…broken windows, missing front doors, men passed out on filthy beds after shooting up all night, mothers intoxicated, food in scarce supply; and hearing the stories of girls as young as 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 being exploited by 40-year-old men stirred a fire in me that I refuse to extinguish. In addition to giving back for each item rented, I have now launched a #Styledtogive campaign. 100% of proceeds from this campaign will be donated to our giving partners. While fashion may seem frivolous, and expensive photos a luxury, using these aesthetically gorgeous things (which I deeply appreciate) to bring inner beauty and hope to a less fortunate child or mother is anything but frivolous or luxurious. It is justice. It is compassion. It is empowerment. It is true beauty at its best.

I don’t say all of this to make myself into a hero. I’m simply sharing so that you too will be inspired to find creative ways to make a difference too. Make the ordinary…extraordinary. Add meaning to the mundane. Approach each task with the intention to incorporate giving. A truly full life is one full of generosity.

If you’re excited about my new venture and want to get involved, I’m definitely looking for partners in giving and business. I’m also looking for Brand Reps (which is why I started writing this blog in the first place!). Check out the details below to be considered. And, for more info on The Borrowed Boutique follow on Facebook and Instagram. The website is due to launch early February, but in the meantime you can still rent through the Facebook page.

BRAND REP SEARCH DETAILS!!!!

READY…SET…GO!!! The Borrowed Boutique will be choosing brand reps every several months to help promote our brand and business by posting images using our rentals; giving us major shout outs; promoting our events, and telling everyone you know about our business. This is a fun way for you to get rental items for free. Many of you have asked for trades of product for images. Here’s a way to have that dream come true. For those selected, we will send you free rentals each month that you are serving as a brand rep or enthusiast. Both photographers, bloggers, child models, and ordinary kiddos who love to have their picture taken will be considered.

Here’s how to qualify and how to enter:
1. Follow The Borrowed Boutique on Facebook and @theborrowedboutique on Instagram
2. Repost the picture below on Instagram and tag @theborrowedboutique and ‪#‎theborrowedboutique‬‪#‎theborrowedboutiquebrandrepsearch‬
3. Include these rules when posting the image so others will know what’s going on.
4. Share the image with three friends that you think might be interested on Instagram
5. You may tag up to three photos daily with #theborrowedboutiquebrandrepsearch
6. Your instagram account must be set to public to be considered. And, yes, you must be active on Instagram.

We will be selecting the first set of Brand Reps very quickly. READY…SET…GO!!1

From,

The Mom in Me, MD and The Borrowed Boutique

Happy Holidays!!!

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This Year our travels took us to England where we were able to stay on a gorgeous property complete with its own stables and horses! Can’t wait to see what the New Year will bring.

From,
The Mom in Me, MD

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When Infertility Updates Go Sterile

Sometimes it’s just too hard. Too hard to swallow. Too hard to breathe. To hard to share. Thus, my recent silence.DSC_2682

After our primary infertility struggles and IVF success catapulted me into the crazy, hectic, wonderful life that motherhood brings; I became an open book about our infertility journey. I hadn’t had the emotional support that I desperately needed while going through round after round of complicated infertility treatments. To be honest, even an army of supporters probably wouldn’t have been enough. With infertility…the best intention, the nicest phone call or text, the sweetest gift, the most compassionate comment…somehow it’s still never quite enough. The pain, the chronic patient role, the longing, the sorrow-it all outweighs the support. (for those showing support…please don’t stop! I’m just ranting.) I wanted to be real for other women struggling with similar issues. I wanted to break down the stigma that infertility builds and then reinforces with steel beams. Woman hiker on a top of a mountain

But, then I became an infertility patient once again. Optimistic…determined…nervous…and hopeful. At first sharing felt second nature. Our first frozen IVF success turned miscarriage made it a little harder. Repeated disappointments have continued to zap my desire to share. Instead, I’ve found myself withdrawing from the spotlight. In a way hiding. Clinging to privacy once again, as though it is a better comforter or coping mechanism to deal with my grief. My hope is still real, but the painful question of “Will it ever work?” plagues me each day. Blame it on the hormones. I do. But, my heart knows that my silence has simply been a way to quell my grief. Writing is acknowledging. Putting things into words makes them real…acute…like pouring salt into a wound. I like to think that I’m strong, but a girl can only take so much.

So, please forgive my silence. I don’t mind your curiosity. I love your support. But, to answer your question…No, we are not pregnant. Our most recent IVF cycle was more than promising. With 9 embryos to show for my efforts (yes, “MY.” I’m taking all of the credit. My husband would agree.) and the best cycle of stimulation yet, I was certain that it would work this time. So certain, that when we received the call 1 hour before our embryo transfer that none had survived to day 5, I went into something of a tailspin. NONE?? A statistical anomaly? A lab error? We made good embryos consistently. Only 10-15% not 100% should have arrested in development. WHAT? WHY? HOW?

The answer: ????????? Laboratory Fertilization Of Eggs In IVF Treatment

I hate the unknown. I hate the uncertain. As a physician, I want answers…reasons…solutions. I want to fix. I want to heal. I want to have a baby!!!! Instead, I’m starting from scratch once again, this time with a new doctor. Joy of joys. The idea of entering a third infertility establishment as a new patient just makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over again. Here goes!

Thanks for listening. Thanks for reading. Since silence hasn’t done the trick, I’ve decided to clink on the keys a little more going forward. My prayer is that for those struggling you will know that you aren’t alone. I’m here in the trenches with you. My prayer for myself is that even in the darkness I will not lose sight of the light…no matter how small it’s glimmer. I will hold onto hope, not blindly, but with the understanding that even if things don’t work the way that I long, there is still a greater plan. God may not answer my prayers the way that I want, but my story may just be the game changer to impact someone else. And, that uncertainty makes me smile. family, charity, healthcare, health. christmas, x-mas and happy

From,

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Autumn. Fall scene. Beautiful Autumnal park. Beauty nature scene

Another Quick Fall Appetizer That’s Oh So Delicious!

Appetizers are either far too complex or plain old boring. If I am going to cook a meal and make a dessert, I don’t want to spend too much time preparing an appetizer. Solution…Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini. These sumptuous appetizers are gourmet without trying too hard, and they are speedy to make (any sous chef…aka my husband, can whip these out in a jiffy!) Fig Fruit

YOU ONLY NEED THREE INGREDIENTS…plus a knife! 

1. 1 package crostinis (you can find these in any grocery store bakery department). If you can’t find crostinis, just grab a box of gourmet crackers!

2. 1 jar fig preserves (I personally love Organic Adrianic Fig Spread from Dalmatia carried at most stores including Whole Foods) You can mix it up by choosing a fig and orange preserve as well.

3. 1 block of soft goat cheese (plain or one with herbs would work well too)

Sliced French Bread Baguette

The Self-Explanatory Way to Assemble Your Gourmet Appetizer

1. Spread goat cheese on crostini (if your goat cheese is not soft enough to spread, then spread your fig preserves first and layer a slice of goat cheese on top)

2. Using a different knife, spread fig preserves on top of goat cheese

3. If you want them to look a little prettier you could always add a sprig of mint or basil to garnish or for another variation you could drizzle with a little honey and sprinkle with chopped walnuts

4. Arrange on a plate

5. Serve!Sheep milk cheese with basil and black olives, on cutting board

Sometimes the best things come in simple combinations. Embrace how easy delicious can be!

From The Mom in Me, MD

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One of the Best (and easiest) Appetizers for Fall…Caramel Apple Brie…just a bite away

Looking for a quick and easy appetizer that wows every time? Butterscotch-Caramel Brie with Dried Apple, Pecans, and Cranberries-This tasty version of caramel smothered brie does just the trick. Not only do the flavors resemble a caramel apple…they take a huge gourmet leap forward by incorporating both sweet and savory flavors!

The tasty supplies:

1 jar of Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch and Caramel Topping (you may have to hunt for this in the grocery store, but most mainline stores do carry this. If you can’t find it, it is okay to substitute with a mixture of Butterscotch and Caramel from another company such as Sanders. If you have the time, you can also order Mrs. Richardson’s online from Amazon)

1 bag of dried apple slices

1 bag of dried cranberries

1 cup of whole or chopped pecans

1 wheel of briecheese

How to smother your brie:

Simply heat your Butterscotch and Caramel in the microwave or stove top until warm. Add in your dried apple slices, dried cranberries, and pecans. Pour over the wheel of brie. Serve with crackers. Oh, my goodness! It doesn’t get any better! So simple…so fast…so good! Great for football tailgating in the fall, a Thanksgiving appetizer, or even a winter treat!

From,

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Beauty Romantic Girl Portrait. Sensual Woman Lying on a Meadow w

What does a fertile faith look like in the midst of infertility??? Part 1

I don’t touch on “religious” topics too often. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my faith or trying to shy away from it. On the contrary, my faith centers my life. It gives me hope. It keeps me sane. Call me weak…and I’d probably agree with you. Without my faith, I never would have found the strength to endure the road to becoming a physician, infertility, pregnancy loss, severe preeclampsia, having a premature baby, and dealing with the rest of life’s trials along the way.Woman hiker on a top of a mountain

Don’t get me wrong, many people have suffered greater losses, heartaches, and pains than I can dare imagine. Living in the United States makes most of my problems “First World” inconveniences. But, here and there my heartaches have been and still are significant. I’m often asked how I’ve found the strength to make it through 9 complicated IVF cycles with only one baby to show for it. How do I keep going?  Were does my strength come from? How do I find the endurance? What’s the key to making it through?  As I’ve opened up about my infertility journey these questions have continued to ping my inbox. What’s the secret?Closeup On Hands Of Stressed Young Woman

I’ve decided that it isn’t a secret at all. And, while some won’t like my answer, it is still my answer. Feel free to disagree. That’s the beauty of living in a country with freedom of speech and religion. If you don’t have a faith base and find this annoying, that’s fine too. I’m not offended by you, and it’s not my intention to offend you. I’m simply sharing from my own world in life view what I’ve found to be most helpful. Here goes…

Stay tuned for Part 2

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Obesity in children and childhood obese concept with a yellow painted asphalt road sign showing an icon of overweight kids and young students as a warning to the hazards of eating junk food and fatty fast food.

One Easy Way to Prevent Childhood Obesity in your Family

child drink the fruit juice

With childhood obesity numbers soaring off the charts, many parents are more in tune with what their children are eating and drinking. French fries are being replaced with sweet potato fries and fruit cups, chicken tenders are getting the boot from their healthier grilled self, and sodas are being upgraded to real fruit juice. But, is this upgrade to juice really an upgrade at all?

Even though juice comes from fruit, it is still loaded with sugar and extra calories. Unfortunately, many parents think that this is a healthy option for their kids because of all of the vitamins and minerals juices offer. What they don’t take into consideration is that a single serving of fruit juice has far more calories from sugar than eating a piece of fruit (more than double, actually). And, while chewing an apple actually burns calories, swallowing a calorie-laden beverage like juice doesn’t give your mouth a workout.

Juice is absorbed quickly, and because it is full of liquid sugars, it creates a spike in insulin levels. If consumed in larger amounts regularly, it has the potential to cause childhood obesity and diabetes. Additionally, it lacks the filling fiber that a piece of fruit offers. So even after having consumed 180 calories of juice, your child will probably be hungry again fairly quickly.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics currently allows for a limited amount of juice (4-6 ounces per day for infants >6 months and 6 ounces twice daily for children) in a child’s daily diet, the recommendation to cut it out altogether may be on the horizon. So while skipping the daily candy bar and soda is a must, limiting the amount of juice your child drinks may be equally important in ensuring their health and preventing childhood obesity.

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Grilled Chicken Skewer With Salad

Best Grilled Chicken Recipe…EVER!!!!

Grilled Chicken Skewer With SaladSo, I swore that I would never share this recipe! It has been my entertaining go to for several years now, and it is always a hit. Not only is it fairly easy, it is incredibly healthy and delicious. Although it’s primarily meant for summer grilling, I adapt it for the winter months too by baking the chicken instead of grilling it…still delicious!

Mediterranean food is just plain healthy (It’s also my favorite). Give me some tabouli and hummus, and I’m in paradise. Although tandoori is technically an Indian dish, I like to pair it with Mediterranean sidekicks. The yogurt marinade and side sauce make the ensemble work deliciously. Even if you don’t usually gravitate toward ethnic foods, give it a try. Your taste buds may surprise you. My sidekicks for this chicken dish include rice pilaf, tabouli, pita and hummus, and a watermelon/mint salad for dessert. Here is my version adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook.

The Chicken Marinade: 

3/4 cups plain yogurt

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I often double the recipe for company)

Chicken Directions: 

Mix all of the above ingredients together in a bowl. Using a knife, score the chicken (make small cuts into the meat). Place flat in a dish and pour the above marinade over the meat, coating both sides completely. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours (overnight is even better). Get the grill going, and throw the chicken on. Use the left over marinade to re-coat the chicken when you flip it. Cook on grill until fully cooked (approx. 20-30 min).

The Side Sauce:

1 cucumber chopped

1 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Side Sauce Directions: 

Simply mix it all together and serve it on top of the chicken or on the side as a dipping sauce for the chicken.

Enjoy!!

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