Sunday, December 8, 2013

the new year

I know we still have 23 days left in 2013, but I've been thinking a lot about 2014.  There are areas in my life I'd like to improve and changes I'd like to make.  2013 has been a good year.  When the year started, MBL had just started a new job and I was deep in the throes of pregnancy.  In May we were able to welcome healthy baby #2 into our lives and that has been incredible.  Seriously, Finn is such a scrumptious, roly poly boy.  Here is proof of that:

I always tell people that Finn is how people become the Dug.gars.  He's snuggly and sweet and so smiley!  And he is such a momma's boy.  Seriously, he totally prefers me to anybody else and I completely love it :).  And seeing Piper with him just brings me so much joy.

But, onto 2014.  I have a lot of hopes for the new year.  No, I don't have a ton of resolutions all about how I'm going to lose 20lbs and fit into a size 4.  I don't want to solve the world's problems (although that'd be nice).  I'd just like to make some improvements in my life, simple things that lots of people I know do well.  So, here's my list:

1. I'd like to start getting up earlier in the morning.  Right now, Finn gets up around 5-6:00am and I end up going back to bed until he or Piper gets up around 8:30-9.  Part of it is because I stay up late (11pm or later) and part of it is because that middle of the night wake up is just exhausting.  I haven't gotten more than 5 hours of sleep in a row since August.  First comes first, I need to fully sleep train Finn so that I can start focusing on this!

2. As much as I pride myself on NOT being Type A, I tend to be jealous of those that are.  We have piles of clothes and boxes from when we moved back in September.  During my last 2 months of pregnancy with Finn I got a taste of what it must be like to be Type A and it felt really good to be so on top of things and so organized.  I basically staged and organized and helped sell our condo all by myself (while working full time and taking care of a 1 year old by myself).  I'd be happy to just get everything organized and do a better job at staying on top of the "projects" in our house.

3.  I'd like to run (and/or walk) 1,000 miles.  I made it my goal to run/walk 800 miles in 2013 and I'm less than 58 miles away from that goal.  And given that I was pregnant/post-partum for a good part of the year, I feel confident that I can tag on 200 more miles and be able to actually complete it.  Making a yearly mileage goal helps keep me on track when I have nothing to train for.  It helps keep me in shape.

4.  I'd like to be intentional with the time I have with my kids.  I know lots of women who have struggled with infertility and several, thus far, have been unable to give their kids a sibling.  I look at my TWO wonderful children and my heart is in awe.  I felt lucky when we were able to get Piper, but I always knew I wouldn't be satisfied with just one.  When we got pregnant with Finn, I was over the moon.  Actually, I was terrified and then over the moon.  I hope that feeling is able to pervade my every day and remind me just how freakin' lucky I am.  And I want to spend these days on the floor playing and laughing and fully enjoying them!

5.  I'm a selfish, selfish girl, but in 2014 I'm committed to getting pregnant again.  COMMITTED.  I am in the process of weaning Finn and we have an appointment set up with the Fertility Doc for the first week in January.  I haven't been ready to seriously TTC another baby until the last few days, but now I am all in.  I want #3.  So, whether I get pregnant in March or in December, I want to have a baby put in my belly in 2014 (how's that for a visual :).  But, seriously, I want to give my kids at least one more sibling.  Hopefully my AMH has stayed stable and my FSH hasn't gone to crap.  I'm actually really looking forward to having these results so that we know our reality.

So, that's the start of my "to do" for 2014.  My goals.  What are your goals for the new year?
Are there any areas of your life where you'd like to see improvement?
Anyone else out there hoping to get pregnant in 2014 or work towards completing your family?
Do you make goals for the new year?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

a different view

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how things have changed the last 4.5 years.  It was this time of year 3 years ago that I was finally experiencing what I was so sure I was never going to experience.  I was pregnant and nauseous out of my mind and so so grateful.  And now 3 years later there are TWO of them.  Sometimes I pick up Finn and I just cannot believe that I get to do it all over again.  I cannot believe how much has changed.  During our time TTC, I spent a lot of time trying to believe that it would all happen for us, that one day we would have the family we so desperately wanted.  There was one song I listened to constantly and these lyrics helped me hold on to hope, " shall this night, soon end in joy".  Honestly, I never believed that the dark would turn into the light.  I never believed that I would get to hold MY baby, let alone do it for a second time.

So, what am I getting at?  I've been thinking a lot lately about the view I have from here, the other side.  Last weekend I was helping out a local mom to mom sale and I was talking with 2 ladies about their TTC journeys.  One lady said she was done having babies (after 2) and the other offered some hesitation and then openly reminded the other woman that she had done IVF to have her sons.  And then I pointed to Piper and said, "She's IVF #2!"  That woman and I ended up talking in the parking lot for 30 minutes all about TTC and seeing an RE and finally getting pregnant after all that poking and prodding.  And we talked about how freakin' grateful we are for our two kiddos, but how desperately we want more.

Lately, I've been running a lot.  Like 25-30 miles/week.  And I always spend those miles thinking.  Thinking about my family, thinking about my future, and inevitably thinking about what brought me to where I am today.  I am not exaggerating in any way when I say that every time I pick Finn up, I am in awe of the fact that he is here.  Ok, scratch that, every time I pick him up between the hours of 6am and 11pm, I am in awe of the fact that he is here.  I literally cannot believe that I have not one but two babies.  When Piper was Finn's age, I wasn't able to appreciate it.  I was so worried that I would do something wrong that I couldn't appreciate what was right in front of me.  But, with Finn, it's easy and fun and I'm loving every minute.  I'm APPRECIATING every minute.  After all of the shots and tests and ultrasounds and holding of breath for 9 months, I'm here.  My view is so very different.  I hold my baby son and I hold him tight.  And I hold him as much as I want to.  It took so freakin' long to get here and it took so many tears to have that chubby little guy in my arms, that I refuse to let one day go by without being thankful for it.

I am so thankful to be where I am.  So thankful every day for the two littles to whom I am "mama".  On those long runs, I pray for everyone I know that's still trying and I pray for the people I don't know that so desperately want to fill the role of "parent".  I pray for those wanting #1 and those wanting #2 or more.  IF is the hardest journey, but I can promise you that the view from the other side is worth it.  Worth all the heartache and pain.  I promise.  (Now will you remind me of this when I'm deep into TTC #3?)

What gets you through the hard times?
Is there any song or quote that's helped you while you were in the middle of a challenging time?
Do you ever think/pray while you're working out?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

feeding my kiddos

This post is a part of PAIL's monthly theme, "Feeding Your Child".

How a woman feeds her baby is a hot topic.  And, personally, I really don't feel it should be.  Sure, there are women out there who have no sense and don't care what the best way to feed their child is or whether or not they are getting proper nutrition (the best example of this was the girl feeding her 10 month old a giant slurpee), but that's certainly not the majority of women.  Most of us go into parenting with good intentions, we want to feed our children what's best for them.  We want to make sure they are getting the right nutrition.  We all know that breastfeeding is good for moms and babies and so many doctors/hospitals/medical professionals push it on new moms.  I would assume that they do it with the best of intentions.  But, here's the thing, breastfeeding isn't always easy or the best choice for women.

When it came to feeding my kids, I always knew I'd at least try to breastfeed.  And, I assumed, it would come easily.  Or, maybe, I was just hoping it would come easily.  I went down the whole IF/TTC and so I thought that my body owed it to me to this one thing right. Then I had a c-section and I didn't get to feed Piper until we were in recovery and at that point I was throwing up.  On her second day, she didn't eat for over 8 hours and the nurse forced us into giving her sugar water.  We ended up spending $120 in copays taking her to the doctor for weight gain and, finally, on day 10 we were forced to supplement with formula.  (And I'm not blaming any of this on my doc).  Piper started gaining weight and I decided that because breastfeeding was so painful that I would continue pumping and Piper would eat solely from bottles.  I pumped for her until she was 6 months old at which point I weaned so we could TTC #2.  I hated all the women who told me I just didn't try hard enough or that I shouldn't have listened to my doctors.  I felt judged for making a decision that to MBL and I was a no brainer.  I either had to give Piper formula or she was going to have to go back the hospital for failure to thrive.   My body just didn't produce enough milk plain and simple.

Now, when I got pregnant (naturally!) with #2, I was hopeful.  I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding again and I was hoping that my body would somehow have figured everything out.  I got pregnant without medical intervention, surely my body could figure out how to properly feed our little one, right?  Delivery went well, I was able to VBAC and Finn came out ready to eat.  He latched great and it was only painful for the first 30 or so seconds.  But, our very first night home I had to supplement.  He just continued to cry and cry until we gave him a bottle.  It ended up being a blessing because I was readmitted to the hospital the next morning and since we already knew he could take a bottle and tolerated formula, that's what he was given while I was gone (plus I couldn't give him what I pumped due to the meds I was on).  Since then, we've happily done a breastfeeding/formula feeding combo.  Finn gets about 40% breast milk and 60% formula.  Now, there are women out there who would tell me that I haven't tried my hardest or done my best because I didn't go on medications to increase my supply or sit and pump after I nursed.  And, it's true, I only tried medication for a while and pumping after feeding was just not reasonable with a 2 year old running around.  I'm sure I could have done more to get a *little* more, but it just wasn't worth it to me.

But, here's the catch with how things have worked out this time around, I feel good about what Finn is eating because it was MY choice.  When I knew that exclusively breastfeeding wasn't going to work out, it was easy for me to supplement.  Easy because I knew it was what my baby needed to continue to grow and thrive.  And, I'm not going to lie, the fact that Finn is used to taking bottles and formula has allowed me more freedom than if he relied solely on me to eat.  I can go to the gym and out for runs and not worry about Finn getting hungry.  It also means that if Finn wakes up in the middle of the night and I don't want to have to do the whole boo.b and bottle thing then I can just have MBL give him a bottle.  Now, I won't lie, I'm a little jealous of all the women I know who are able to exclusively breastfeed and those who have piles and piles of frozen breastmilk in their freezer.  That'll likely never be me, and I'm okay with that.  I'm doing my best and that's all I can do.  And I'm willing to defend it to any woman who tries to suggest otherwise!

Have you ever struggled with breastfeeding?
Anyone else out there with supply issues?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

still falling on the wrong side of statistics

This post could also be titled, "How Dr. Save my Life."

If you read my previous post, you know that I got my much wanted VBAC and found it to be much better and easier than my C-section.  MBL, Finn, and I enjoyed 2 nights in the hospital post birth, even going as far as ordering pizza the last night we were there as we knew it would be pretty non-stop once we were home again.  We were discharged around noon on Monday, May 20th and we were pretty excited to get back home and back into every day life, especially since we had seen Piper so little over the previous 3 days.  We all took naps and then ordered Thai food for dinner.  We got to bed at a decent hour and Finn slept awesome!  Everything seemed great until about 5am the following morning.  I woke up to feel a migraine coming on.  It started in the back of my head and wrapped itself around my neck and up the sides of my face.  I also had heartburn.  I thought it might have been from the thai food we had the night before--maybe MSG poisoning?  I took a Tyl.enol, a Vico.din, and some ibuprofen.  Around 6:00 or so, I decided that laying down was actually making my head hurt worse, so I went downstairs and told MBL to bring me Finn if he woke up.

Not long after I had settled myself in the recliner, MBL appeared with Finn.  At this point I had done some googling on migraines post partum and the scariest thing I read said that it could be post partum pre-eclampsia as the first and most prominent symptom is usually a headache.  After getting Finn latched on, I had MBL go get the blood pressure monitor so we could see what mine was.  He took it once and got 180/90.  I took it and got 190/90.  At this point, we decided to call my doc. While we were waiting for her to call back, MBL took it again on my other arm and got 190/100.  When she called back she had MBL take it again, but made him pump it up even higher as she was concerned we weren't getting the top number accurately.  MBL got 200/110.  I'm a 110/60 kind of girl and only had a few readings of 135/80 with Piper's pregnancy and absolutely nothing over 125/75 this pregnancy.  My OB noticed that on my chart and said that we couldn't wait until the office opened at noon and we needed to head to the ER immediately.

I was home for less than 24 hours and found myself headed back to the hospital for what I was pretty sure would be a 24 hour stay.  We called my mom, who had left for work for the day, and told my dad what was going on and that we needed to leave both our kids with him (including our 3 day old).  We were out the door within 20 minutes.  We arrived at the ER and I was thinking that maybe all of this was a fluke...  Maybe MBL took my blood pressure incorrectly or maybe it was just exhaustion or maybe my blood pressure spiked because my head hurt so bad.  I kept thinking that maybe I was just being overly dramatic.  They took me back to triage and it was confirmed that I was not being a drama pants...  My blood pressure was 180/100.  Within an hour and a half of arriving, they had done a CT scan, a chest xray, and an EKG.  They had also given me a bag of Magnesium Sulfate.  My favorite part was when they were able to rule out head trauma or any issues with my heart because it meant that I could finally be given something for my headache! A dose of dem.erol later and I was feeling a little better.  The ER doctor came in and told me my OB was on the phone and that I needed to speak with her.  She told me I was officially being diagnosed with "atypical late onset post partum pre-eclampsia" and that I had earned myself at least 24 hours in the hospital on a magnesium drip.  We called my parents to let them know I was being admitted and soon we were on our way back up to Labor & Delivery.

I spent the next 24 hours on the Mag which meant I could only have popsicles/toast/ice/water, I couldn't get up to go to the bathroom alone, and they had to measure my "output".  By the end of those 24 hours I couldn't stand up alone and could barely hold my eyes open.  All of that meant that I couldn't hold my baby (who had also been admitted due to jaundice and low body temp) and the meds I was given for my massive migraine meant that I had to pump and dump.  Not at all how I imagined the first few days of my baby's life going.  My BP finally went down to an acceptable level (140/90) after I peed out 7 liters of fluid.  That's right, y'all, I was retaining over 2 gallons worth of fluid!  It seems that getting rid of that was all I needed to get out of hypertensive crisis.  We were released on Thursday just in time for out of town visitors to arrive for Piper's birthday!

So, why the title of this post?  Well, pre-eclampsia occurs in 5-8% of pregnancies and is usually cured at delivery.  Post-partum pre-eclampsia that occurs ONLY after birth (as in I had no symptoms prior to delivery) happens in only 5.7% of pre-eclampsia cases, which means that I stood only a .3% chance of getting it.  In other words, I stood a 99.7% chance of NOT getting it, but get it I did.  Oh, and I didn't mention it in my birth story, but Finn was born with a true knot in his cord.  Having that happen is VERY rare (1 in 2000 births or .0005% of pregnancies).  Our nurse (who has worked OB/L&D for 15+ years) said that when they find it on ultrasound they usually admit the patient around 32 weeks for constant monitoring and then take the baby around 37/38 weeks.  I NEVER would have been allowed to VBAC if they had known.  Basically Finn and I are both extraordinarily lucky to be alive and well.  Often post partum pre-eclampsia isn't diagnosed until after the mother has suffered seizures and I caught it before that point.  And having a true knot can be really dangerous for the baby, but Finn was born without any issues, he didn't even have a problem tolerating labor.  I am counting my blessings and praising God that I have access to good medical care.  I have also declared that no one can make fun of me for being scared of rare complications in my next pregnancy as I am walking proof that it is possible to fall on the wrong side of statistics more often than not!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

my surprise vbac

I started writing this post when the baby was a little more than 24 hours old...  That was 15 days ago!  Whoops!  Better late than never, right?

It's no surprise to anyone who's been following along for a bit that with this second pregnancy, I was hoping to VBAC.  I knew that there was no guarantee that I would get to VBAC, but I wanted to at least try.  I spent weeks and months doing what I could to give myself the best chance possible and that included running until 34 weeks pregnant.  The week before I was due I walked 13 miles just trying to get my little guy's head to engage and help start dilation.  When I went to my due date appointment and heard that I was only 1cm dilated, I nearly cried.  There was little else I could do to make my body do what it should have been doing.  The week prior I had scheduled my repeat csection for Thursday, May 16 (3 days overdue), but we decided to reschedule to Friday after MBL's travel schedule changed.  The receptionist even went ahead and scheduled my 2 week post operative appointment.  I decided I would still walk and do what I could to get things to move along, but that I wouldn't beat myself up if I ended up making it to my scheduled section.

All week long I was having contractions and by Wednesday they would start in the morning and intensify in the night but weren't getting painful enough.  By Thursday I was at peace with how my second birth was going to go and spent the day finishing off the last of my to-dos and playing with Piper.  We topped the day off with dinner at a nice restaurant out on their patio.  I went to bed ready to meet my son the next morning.  I got up and got ready, then I got MBL up, and I even had the chance to see Piper before we left for the hospital.  We arrived at 8:30am and started getting ready for my 10:30 csection.  Everything seemed so relaxed and easy.  We were going to have a baby in the next few hours!  We spoke with the nurse, the anaesthesiologist, and my OB.  MBL got his scrubs and I signed all of the necessary paperwork.

At 10:00, I happened to ask the nurse if my contractions had been registering.  I just wanted to know how close together they were.  She responded with, "You've been having contractions?" and I told her that I had been for over a week and they were more frequent, but not as painful as I knew contractions were supposed to be.  She asked when I was last checked and I told her Monday and that I was 1cm, slightly effaced, and posterior.  She said she wanted to check me to see if I had any progress and I had, I was now at 2cm.  She declared 1cm to be enough change for her and went and got my OB.  Next thing I know, my OB declares me a "tight 2cm" and says she's breaking my water.  All I could say was, "right now?".  And the next thing I know they're telling us to grab our stuff because we were moving to a different room.  To a room equipped to handle labor and delivery.  It all happened so fast that I barely had time to process it.

Soon we were "checked into" our L&D room and we just waited for contractions to get more painful.  I was contracting on my own every 2-3 minutes which was great!  After an hour or so my nurse came back to check me and said I was still at a 2 and suggested I get up to walk around as that would help.  Soon MBL and I were pacing the halls.  Sure enough, my contractions became more painful and I would have to stop to work through each one.  My parents came to visit with Piper and so we spent some time in the room where I alternated pacing and bouncing on a "birth ball".  I felt confident we were making progress.  My nurse came back to check and declared me a generous 3cm and 80% effaced.  More progress!  I was committed to staying moving as that seemed to help things along, so MBL and I continued to pace the halls after my family left.  Around 4:00 I realized that my contractions were getting pretty darn painful and that if I didn't ask for pain meds soon I might not be able to sit still.  My nurse had promised to come back at 4:30, so MBL helped me work through the contractions until she got there.  When she told me I was 4cm (my goal dilation before the epidural), I told her I was ready for the anaesthesiologist.  After finishing up a C-section, he came in to help me!  It was around 5:15/5:30 by the time I got my epidural and started feeling relief.

At that point I was limited to being in bed and MBL and I passed the time talking and watching TV.  We also finally realized we had never updated his parents on what was going on, so he gave them a quick call to let them know that we had not had the C-section and were waiting on baby's arrival.  When our nurse's shift was ending, she came in to check on us and spent some time chatting with us about her experience as the Nurse Manager for a fertility clinic--15 years ago!  It was interesting to hear her perspective on what went on there--as it was back in the days of transferring 3-4 embryos to younger women where a lot more people ended up pregnant with high order multiples.  She was by far the best nurse I could have asked for and it was nice to spend some time talking with her.

Around 9:30/10:00, my new nurse came in to check me and said I was only a 6 (I had been a 5 shortly after getting the epidural).  That meant they were going to be upping my Pitocin.  Fast forward to 11:00 or so and I am literally trying to crawl my way out of bed because I can feel each and every contraction and they are 10,000 times worse than the ones prior to getting my epidural.  I am in so much pain that I get the shakes and start dry heaving.  The nurse comes in and says to push my pain med button more often and see if that helps, it doesn't, so the anaesthesiologist comes in and gives me a bolus of meds.  By this point, I am in so much pain that MBL called my mom because he couldn't handle not being able to help me, so she gets there and tries her best to help me with the pain.  Eventually, the bolus kicks in and we all try to get some rest.  We send my mom home around midnight and tell her we will call when it's time to push.  Sadly, the bolus doesn't last long and soon I'm in a lot of pain again.  I get two more boluses of meds, but for whatever reason the only part of my body the meds worked on was my right leg.  That part of my body was total dead weight and I could not feel a single poke or prod.  Every other part of my body was still fully aware of what was going on.  I begged my nurse for a sleeping pill or IV pain meds as I was really feeling like I couldn't handle the Pitocin contractions.  She told  me I couldn't have either, but she did turn the Pitocin down temporarily.  I basically passed the next few hours clinging to the side of my bed, wondering why I chose to go down this route instead of having a spinal and a C-section.  Soon, though, my nurse came in and checked me and said I was 9cm and almost entirely effaced.  She said I would be complete by 5:00 and so I counted down the contractions until that time and, sure enough, when she came back I was fully 10cm and effaced.  Since the baby was at 0 station, we decided I would labor down for a while.  Around 5:45 she came in and had me practice pushing for 10 minutes or so and then told me I had to stop or she would be the one delivering our baby.

It seemed like forever until my OB got there, especially since I could feel every single dang contraction.  During the wait for my OB, my mom arrived and I started throwing up.  Lovely.  My mom was fantastic and stood by my head and brought me cold wash cloths.  When my OB arrived we were finally able to really start pushing.  It was HARD.  I cried.  I threw up some more.  I got the shakes.  In between contractions and pushing, I would occasionally lament the fact that I had chosen a VBAC instead of a C-section (jokingly, of course).  My OB was incredible.  Encouraging me and telling me I could do this.  The only person I wanted to punch in the face was my nurse (she was a nightmare all night).  After 20 minutes of pushing, Fin.ley (Finn) was born!  The relief I immediately felt was incredible.  They put him on my chest and I immediately forgot all the pain of the past 18+ hours.  MBL cried, my mom cried and they took Finn to get weighed.  He was a big boy at 8lbs4oz and 21 inches long.  His head was 15 inches and well over the 90th percentile.  I had a second degree tear that required some stitches, but that was it.  They had me up and walking around within half an hour of him being born.  Here he is just moments after being born:

I cannot believe the difference between my C-section and my VBAC.  The recovery has been night and day and I can't believe I actually got to have my vaginal birth even though labor refused to start on it's own!  Turns out my body isn't entirely broken!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

it reminds me of clomid

Today, I am 39w2d pregnant.  And I am done.  When I was pregnant with Piper, I don't remember too much of that last week except for the fact that I started having mild contractions a week before she was born and they got down to coming every 5 minutes a full 4.5 days before she actually came out.  I remember that they weren't painful just uncomfortable and annoying.  I also remember being excited about meeting her and feeling like it was unreal that we were so close. 

This time around?  I'm feeling like someone snuck some clo.mid in my morning diet coke.  I'm rage-y and angry and so flippin' tired.  And the thing is I feel like I have absolutely no control over my emotions.  It's not like I can go read a book or meditate or listen to a really good song to feel better.  The deep down emotional rage feels completely out of body and it brings me back to those days when I was on clo.mid and would just sob and sob and sob or totally lash out at MBL.  I actually yelled at my mom on Sunday because I am so sick and tired of being told, "He'll come out eventually" even if it is true.

Both Sunday and Monday were just so difficult for me emotionally.  I know that sounds so silly considering the fact that I am literally days away from meeting my little guy!  DAYS.  After 9 months it's time and that is unbelievable to me, but even realizing that, I still couldn't shake the emotional imbalance I was feeling.  After a bought of uncontrollable sobbing and muttering, I realized what it was that was bothering me: I HATE that I have no options.  This whole VBAC/C-section thing is just bringing up all the negative feelings IF gave me in regards to my body working properly.  And the feelings that came after having Piper when my milk supply couldn't keep up and I ended up on Zol.oft for anxiety.  I mean IF is a hard pill to swallow, not being able to get pregnant naturally no matter what you do.  Having a low antral count despite doing everything possible to remain healthy.  It just reminds you that sometimes, even if you make all the "right" choices, you still may be faced with a negative outcome.  And that's what having a c/s the first time around did for me and I don't think I really ever dealt with those emotions.  There was nothing I could have done differently.  Finding out your baby is breech AFTER your water has been broken leaves you with exactly one option: C-section.  And getting pregnant after having a c/s leaves you with two options: repeat c/s or VBAC.  But, there's no guarantee that I'll actually be able to VBAC, no guarantee that my body will do what it's supposed to do and actually allow me to deliver him the way I want to deliver him.  And the medical world can't do anything to help me reach my goal.  I can't be induced, I have to go into labor on my own and I'm so completely terrified that I won't.  I mean, it would be just like my body to not do what it's supposed to do.

Have you ever felt frustrated by your body?
What was the most difficult thing for you in regards to your IF diagnosis?
Did you ever feel like a total crazy person while on fertility medication?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

finding a place--NIAW


This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and I feel the desperate need to write about it.  Infertility is not a club that I ever thought I would belong to, I was certain that I would follow in the fertile footsteps of the women in my family and pop out babies like it was going out of style.  I vividly remember talking to my mom after we had been TTC for OVER A YEAR and her comparing it to it taking 3 months to conceive me.  To put it in perspective, she was 30 at the time AND had never had to time anything to get pregnant before.  She told me it seemed like it took forever.  I'm surprised I didn't ring her neck ;).  But, that's the thing with suffering from infertility, it's not something a lot of people "get".  I can't tell you how many "just relax" or "it's all a part of God's plan"comments I got.  It was infuriating!!  And then when we decided to go through IVF because we had a MEDICAL issue that prevented us from conceiving, I got more judgment because I was so young (24) and some of our friends/family weren't sure how God would feel about us doing IVF.  It wasn't so much that all of my friends were getting pregnant all around me and so I felt left out or misunderstood by them; I was actually the first of my friends to get pregnant, it was more that I felt so left out from the rest of the world.  No one understood why not getting pregnant was such a big deal.  No one understood the crazy emotions that came along with months of TTC and taking pills and shots and having one too many intimate moments with the transvaginal ultrasound.  The meds made me moody and bloaty and I put on weight and the one thing that I usually did to de-stress was now off the table--running.  So, I got miserable and fat and angry and lonely.

And then I found a whole world of people out there who knew exactly what I was going through.  Even if I didn't have the same diagnosis and even if I didn't pick the same treatment plan, reading IF blogs helped me see that I really wasn't alone.  Sure, I might have still been fat and miserable and angry, but lonely I was not.  I could read the stories of other women and couples that had gone through the same miserable experience of IF.  These people, out there on the internet, knew what it was like to live your life in 2 week increments (2 weeks until ovulation and then 2 weeks to see if the treatment had worked).  It didn't matter that loads of people in my real life didn't understand what I was going through or why I was being a crazy person because there were real people out there in the world who knew exactly how I was feeling.  Even now I face criticism and questions and judgment over the fact that we chose to pursue IVF multiple times to have our family.  I face deeply personal questions about when I think life begins and why did I *need* to be pregnant and shouldn't I have "just" adopted?  Thanks to other IF bloggers out there, who are willing to share their story, I am better equipped to share my story.  Better equipped to help educate the world about the experience of IF and all the choices we are forced to make and the scrutiny we face simply because we have a MEDICAL problem.

I'd be lying if I said that some of the questions/comments I have received didn't bother me.  I have been hurt by well meaning friends and family.  But knowing that I'm not alone in this journey through IF and that I have a place, a community, where I belong has made the world of difference because sometimes a simple "me too" is all we really need.

Why do you share your story of infertility?
What is one of the hardest things you had to face when you were diagnosed?
How did you "find" the world of IF blogs/bloggers?
What do you wish people understood about IF?

Sunday, April 21, 2013


When I was pregnant with Piper, I spent my whole entire pregnancy convinced something would go wrong.  Convinced that TTC/positive pee sticks/9 months of pregnancy wouldn't actually equal a baby at the end.  The only word I can think of to describe how I felt those first few months as a parent is: shock.  This time around things have been a lot different.  Feeling this little guy's feet and knees and bootsie move and scootch all around in my belly reminds me that there IS indeed a baby in there. I am also more aware of the fact that in all likelihood he will come out and join our family and change our lives in the best way possible.

So, how am I still in denial?  Well, despite finding out I was pregnant at 10dpo all the way back in September, I feel like this pregnancy has FLOWN by.  I know I didn't always feel this way, especially when I was worried about my fluid levels, but looking back now I feel like the weeks/months were gone in the blink of an eye.  Life has been busy and I now sit just 3 weeks away from my due date.  THREE WEEKS.  I am full term, which means I can give birth at any time. And seeing that I come from a long line of women who tend to give birth BEFORE their due date, I'm a little worried that I'm looking at less than 3 weeks.  And I know that I'm not looking at much longer than 3 weeks as I'm a VBACer and won't be "allowed" to go any farther than 1 week overdue.

Tomorrow I will be driving down to my parents' house and I won't be leaving until after baby is born.  We're at the point where traveling too far from my delivery hospital just isn't a good idea.  And in my head I KNOW this, but I keep thinking that there is no way we are that close to meeting this little guy.  People keep asking me if I'm ready and I answer honestly with, "No, actually, he's welcome to bake until at least 39 weeks".  What helps is that I'm still feeling fairly comfortable and ever since I got written off of work, I've been better able to manage my migraines. I haven't washed any of his clothes.  Heck, I haven't even gone through the bin of clothes my sister gave me (which is all that I have for him).  I haven't installed the carseat or started packing my hospital bag.  All our 4oz bottles are still in storage.  Unlike the first time around where I was sometimes afraid that doing these things would somehow curse the outcome, this time around I am afraid that doing these things might invite him to make his appearance.  And considering MBL has to be available for travel until I am 38w5d, it would awesome for me to go into labor sometime during my 39th week.

Even writing that, though, I'm in total denial that 39 weeks is just 2 weeks away.  I am super excited to meet our son and see what his little face looks like, but also completely terrified about these 9 months being over.  I guess this means that I better spend the next few days taking care of my to do list :).

Have you ever been in denial over a deadline?
Do you have a tendency to procrastinate or are you a go-getter?
If you've given birth/adopted were you totally prepared or caught off guard?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

it's a beautiful life

Last week I was on spring break.  It meant I had 10 glorious days off with my girl.  It also meant that I was able to spend time with family, MBL, and try to finally break my migraine cycle.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the family time I got, however, I was not able to stop the incessant migraines.  Thankfully being on vacation meant that I could sleep in and get lots of outside time in.  As crazy as it sounds, staying active, especially when I can be outside, actually helps with the headaches.  The fact that I was also to get 8-9 hours of sleep a night also helped! 

We spent Friday through Wednesday morning with my family in Chicago.  We even took Piper to an Easter egg hunt on Saturday.  I actually almost burst into tears as I just couldn't believe I was there with MY child.  It's the small things that get me sometimes.  (Nevermind the fact that there were parents there who were so concerned with their 2-3 year old getting "enough" eggs that Piper nearly got trampled).  On Easter Sunday we had a nice meal with my family and let Piper do another Easter egg hunt in my parents' living room.  It was so fun seeing her get the hang of looking for eggs and putting them in her basket.

On Wednesday, I drove home and met up with MBL who had taken the rest of the week off of work so we could get some work done on the house as well as sneak in some family time.  We actually didn't get a whole lot done as he was feeling under the weather and there's only so much I could get done.  Thursday we decided to take Piper swimming at one of the local family centers and we had a blast!!  Here's my little peanut at the pool:

We went during Toddler Time and it was perfect because there were hardly any people there and we were able to let Piper safely explore the whole pool area.  We had loads of fun letting her swim, going down the kiddie slide, and go "round and round" in the lazy river.  I could have stayed there all day swimming with her!  The only downside was that the pool didn't have towels and I didn't bring any, so we ended up drying off under the hand dryer and using paper towels.  Oops!

 That night I wanted to use a gift card I got from work, so we all went out for a late dinner at Maca.roni Grill (and I actually forgot the gift card at home, so we get to go out again ;).  It's very interesting trying to dine out with an almost 2 year old.  She's VERY busy.  Piper had food off of mom and dad's plates:

To be honest, the whole week I just couldn't get over my feelings of thankfulness.  One night we drove an hour and a half north of my parents to visit my cousin, her daughter, and my aunt.  My cousin is currently pregnant with #2 (also a boy) and due just 3 weeks before me.  When I found out she was pregnant the first time around 4 years ago, it gutted me.  We had just found out that MBL's count had severely declined and we were getting acquainted with the world of IUI/IVF/ART.  And now, 4 years later, we stood there and compared boy bellies.  My aunt pointed out that what MBL and I had was exactly what we were hoping for when we first got married...  A little family of our own.  MBL and I have hit lots and lots of road blocks on our way to "happily ever after", but driving along in my minivan with a sweet little girl singing to me from the backseat and a little boy squirming away in my belly is just simply a dream come true.  I am thankful beyond words.  May is going to be a very bittersweet month for us, but I told MBL that the beautiful thing is that we will be able to look back at the last year and be just so completely in awe with how everything turned out.  We will have a new little baby in our family.  A boy baby.  We will also celebrate Piper's 2nd birthday!  A whole 2 years with the best thing to ever happen to me.  We are so so so lucky.  We've been to the pits of he** and now I can just look at everything with an incredibly grateful heart.

I've been given a very beautiful life and I count my blessings every day.

What are you thankful for today?
Do you get a spring break?
Do you feel you appreciate things more after you've gone through a particularly hard time?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

that one birth video...

When I ultimately decided on pursuing a VBAC, I read a lot online about what to expect, what other women experienced, and what I should know about risks.  Immediately, someone told me about an online group that "supports" women that have gone through a c-section.  I perused some of their content and it was suggested several different places that I give a certain documentary about birth my attention.  This is the video I am referring to:

I watched it while I walked/ran on the treadmill over a few mornings when I was around 20ish weeks pregnant.  And, to be honest, as someone who is interested in having a vaginal delivery, I found watching other women have successful and meaningful births helpful and empowering.  BUT, most of the "documentary" really REALLY bothered me.

It basically takes the approach that almost all births should take place in the home setting under the care of a midwife and it asserts over and over again that OBs are only interested in getting their patients under the knife.  Seriously, at one point they go as far to say that OBs should only be used for surgery as that's all they really want for their patients anyways.  Apparently this is the image they think of when they hear the word OB:

 With Piper I NEVER felt like that's all my OB wanted for me.  When I pushed her to move my induction date up from 41w1d because I felt uncomfortable waiting that long, she wanted to make sure that I fully understood what my chances were for having a c-section with my Bishop score.  She knew I wanted a normal delivery and didn't want me to make that decision without fully understanding the risks.  I appreciated that.  (Little did we know a c-section was in my future regardless of my Bishop score).

I was also bothered by the fact that the movie focused primarily on c-sections in a negative light.  They largely blamed the healthcare industry for the rise in c-section rates.  It's because of pitocin and epidurals and those darn OBs who just want to get home to their warm dinners.  Now, don't get me wrong, I think it's good to be educated and to approach birth armed with an understanding of how interventions work and what risks are associated with them.  I don't think that every woman in labor should be given pitocin and I do believe that if a woman wants to have a low intervention birth, they should be allowed that.  BUT, I truly believe that a lot of these interventions exist BECAUSE in general the medical community (meaning nurses and doctors) have seen negative outcomes and want to avoid the same fate for their patients.

Now, I will admit that as I watched the movie, I realized that A LOT of my friends have delivered by c-section.  I actually can only think of one in the last year that had a normal, vaginal delivery.  BUT, in every case these c-sections were done because they were best for both Mom AND baby.  My sister has a canteloupe sized fibroid that my nephew was never going to be able to squeeze past.  My very good friend from college had a placental abruption and would have bled out in 20 minutes without her c-section.  I had one because Piper was breech AND had the cord around her neck twice.  Another friend had a c-section due to failure to progress (she was in labor for over 24 hours).  All of us went into our labor experiences fully expecting a normal, vaginal delivery, but c-sections ended up being the BEST option for all of us.  Best and safest.

Even though I've chosen to pursue a VBAC this time around doesn't mean that I've all of a sudden become a c-section hater.  I truly believe that c-sections are happening more often because doctors are afraid of the worst outcome.  Doctors are being cautious because they know the cost of taking unnecessary risks during labor/delivery.  Allowing someone to go 24+ hours with their water broken just isn't smart, so when it gets to that point, Doctors don't cut because they love their scalpels, they cut because the risks of infection are too high (it's the same reason they might use pitocin after your water breaks, they are on a timeline and want to HELP move things along).  They don't allow breech vaginal deliveries because you can't feel for a cord around the neck.  As my friend put it, without modern medicine and the existence of c-sections she would have bled out and died within 20 minutes IN 2012!!!  Craziness.

I've also been quite frustrated with the fact that when I look for VBAC support I find a lot of women who believe that anyone who isn't high risk should give home birth a try.  I am all for women choosing to labor/deliver at home if that's safe for them and their baby, BUT I don't think it should be pushed as the best option for most women.  And I hate that rather than getting a feeling of comradery from other VBAC'ers I sometimes get the sense that I should be seeking an even "more" natural birth experience.  I want a VBAC, but I also want to deliver in a hospital with an OB and an epidural :).  I feel like that's OK, too!  And, no, I don't believe that giving birth at home would be a good/safe choice for me or my baby.

So, there's my rant about all the negativity surrounding c-sections.  I'm so over it!!

Have you ever felt any judgment over the way you delivered?
Have you watched the movie I mentioned?
Any other opinions or thoughts on all of this :)?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

high standards

The monthly theme for March from PAIL is "high standards".  The primary question is: do I feel like going through infertility has caused me to hold myself to a higher standard in parenting?  The short answer is: no, I don't.  One of the best questions posed was "do I feel that I try to be successful at parenting as a way to cope with infertility?".

I think for me, parenthood was such a surprise that I hardly had time to think about what I was doing.  And I failed so miserably at pretty much every aspect from the get-go that it's hard to feel like I'm doing or have done everything right.  For starters, I look back now and realize that I am not exaggerating in any way when I say that I NEVER believed that my pregnancy would end in a healthy, live newborn.  I mean, I went through all the motions as if it would, but deep down in my heart I never ever considered the reality of bringing home a baby.  I was, after all, the first of all four of my sisters to have a successful pregnancy.  And when you're a part of a community that joins together to grieve unimaginable losses, you start to think that no story has an easy and happy ending.  My pregnancy went really well and I LOVED the experience.  Because of that, I was sure I was never going to get my happy ending.  Even when they pulled an entire human being out of my uterus, I was still in disbelief.  I knew what I was *supposed* to do, but I went through those first few days feeling like it was all a dream.  Looking back, I should have spent more time doing skin to skin with her.  I should have set stricter parameters for visitors and done more of the baby holding myself.  Seriously, I think my mom held Piper more in her first few days than I did.  It was really hard for me to bond with a newborn that I never believed would actually come into existence.  I didn't have to worry about whether or not I was doing it "right" or doing the best thing possible for her, because I was just stumbling around those first few weeks.

And, on the note of being successful at parenting, I can tell you that right from Piper's birth I felt like I had done it wrong.  I had always heard that vaginal birth is the best way to deliver your baby.  Going through the birth canal gives the baby so many benefits and labor is good for both mother and baby.  So, when I ended up with a surprise! c-section, I felt like I was already starting off on the wrong foot.  I couldn't nurse Piper right away, I couldn't hold her in all her goryness and stare into her face.  Instead, she was cleaned up and handed to my husband while they put all my organs back in their proper position.  So, first I failed at birth.  THEN, I failed at breastfeeding.  Piper went 8 hours without nursing well on her 2nd day of life and they forced sugar water on her.  Our problems continued and at 10 days old the supplementing began.  I took fenu.greek and prescription medication, pumped after every feeding, did skin to skin, and nothing improved my supply.  Failure number two.  A few weeks later I was plagued with panic attacks and sheer terror over the idea of raising/entertaining my child(ren).  I was so scared I was going to do something wrong.  Failure number three is that I ended up with Post Partum Anxiety and was placed on Zol.oft, plus I needed some to get me over the "hump".  By the time Piper was 2 months old, I had failed her in every possible way.  And that's why I think I've been able to have such a go with the flow attitude about parenting!

Now, don't get me wrong, I've read a lot of parenting books and I definitely try to figure out how to do what is best for my daughter.  I cloth diaper, I made all of her baby food, and I stayed home with her for most of the first year of her life.  But, I don't sit around worrying about whether or not I'm the best parent out there.  While it was hard and totally sucky to "fail" at all of those basic things in Piper's early life, it taught me that even with the best of intentions, things don't always go according to plan.  I try to parent in the same way that I approach life in general, which is to take it each day at a time.  I can't worry about whether or not Piper will do well in Kindergarten when that's still 3 years away!  All I can do is have meaningful interactions with her that help spur on her physical, emotional, and verbal development.  I can take her to the park.  I can answer the question "what's that?" every time she asks it.  I can be an attentive and caring parent who sets good rituals and boundaries.  I don't necessarily feel that I hold myself to the highest standards simply because I failed to conceive Piper the traditional way... I just hold myself to the standard that I think will give me a reasonably well-rounded and happy child.  And, really, I think the fact that I failed so miserably in the beginning has allowed me to be so much more laid back now and, truthfully, I'm grateful for that.

Do you feel as though you hold yourself to a high standard of parenting?
Do you ever feel like you put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect?
Would you consider yourself type A or are you more laid back?
What's the best parenting advice you've ever received?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

the birth plan

I have been meaning to type this up for months...  But, I kept putting it off, waiting until I was at a "safer" place in my pregnancy.  I did this when I was pregnant with Piper, too.  I would put things off until I felt like there was more of a guarantee that everything would be okay.  Well, now that I am over 31 weeks pregnant and have single digit weeks left before we get to meet this little guy, I am going to go ahead and say that I'm about as "safe" as I'll ever be.  And, besides, I don't really believe that writing this post will cause anything bad to happen.

So, onto the birth plan.  Like any other plan, I am going into it this time around assuming that while I can make plans all day and all night long, sometimes things don't turn out the way we want them to, but I sure do have some preferences!  For starters, I am going for a VBAC.  After much debate from MBL and a lot of research, I've decided that this is the best plan for me and my body.  When it comes down to the safety of c-sections versus VBACs, the first post-cesarean delivery is kind of a wash--neither way is necessarily more safe (especially in my situation since my children will be almost 2 years apart).  If I am able to have a VBAC this time around, then my next VBAC will carry less risks than another c-section and because we aren't sure if we want to have #4, I feel more comfortable attempting a vaginal delivery so I have the option of having more vaginal deliveries down the road.

Another important reason I want to go for a VBAC is that while my hospital did everything they could have to make my c-section enjoyable, nothing about the experience was pleasant for me.  I hated how the anaethesia made me feel; how it made me shake uncontrollably on the table and throw up afterwards.  I felt so miserable during the entire procedure that I couldn't really enjoy what was happening.  I like the fact that during a vaginal delivery I will have a better appreciation of what is going on.  I'm also hoping that I won't be as nauseous during a vaginal delivery as I was during my entire c-section (can you tell I hate throwing up?).

Another clincher for me in pursuing a VBAC is that Piper and I struggled with breastfeeding from the very start.  The nurse tried to latch her on in recovery and I spent the whole time getting sick.  Then, Piper was so sleepy from everything that every feed was a struggle.  I'm not sure if I had low supply due to those first few days, but I know that missing out on immediate skin to skin and not being able to feed immediately certainly didn't help.  I'm hoping a vaginal delivery will give me an edge up in this department.

And now for the interesting part, we are not only pursuing a VBAC, but I am also planning on giving birth 5 hours from where we currently live.  The reason for this is simple, MBL just took a job with a lot of travel and *if* I end up with a repeat c-section, the only family nearby is my sister and she has 3 kids.  With a c-section, I won't be able to pick Piper up and if MBL is out of town there is no way my sister can come over every time Piper wants "up please" or every time she needs a diaper change.  So, I am giving birth at the hospital where several of my siblings were born and we will be living with my parents for about 2 months.  That way, if I have a c-section, someone will be available to help me with Piper any time of the day or night.  My dad is retired and my mom is a teacher who will be on summer break approximately 3 weeks after I give birth.  If I get my VBAC, then it will just be super nice to have help readily available if I need it.  My parents are awesome and this is really going to be a great situation.  I may even get some extra naps in with their help :).  And it sure doesn't hurt that all the birth suites at their local hospital were recently redone:

I came up with this plan while MBL was away in November and when I pitched it to him I was a little worried he might think I had lost my mind, but instead he applauded me for coming up with such a great solution.  It means that I don't have to stress out over the "what ifs" and he doesn't have to feel bad if his work wants to send him on a trip 2 weeks post partum.  Win win.

And there you have it.  My birth plan.  I guess we'll just have to see how it all pans out!*

*the baby is currently transverse, which if he stays that way automatically means c-section.  there must be something goofy with my uterus to make my babies want to lay in there incorrectly!  i'm hoping he behaves and flips soon.

Did you have a birth plan?
Did things go how you expected?
Is there anything you would change?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

planning for our future...

This post could also be titled "why my husband thinks I'm a total nut."  The hubs has been traveling A LOT for work.  This means that the only time I really get to talk to him is on the weekends when he is home.  This can be very challenging as he has ADHD (like for real) and gets easily distracted by just about anything around him.  So, when we had 4 hours in the car together on Saturday, I decided to take advantage and talk to him about everything I had been thinking about.  One of the biggest things I wanted to discuss is our future plans for more children.  29 weeks pregnant and already thinking about what will come next...

When we finally got pregnant and stayed pregnant with Piper, we knew we wanted more kids and were totally open to pursuing fertility treatments again.  Piper was an easy baby and once I got passed the initial mind numbing exhaustion, we set up a timeline for when we would try again.  My OB said not to get pregnant before Piper was 6 months old.  I weaned Piper right around 6 months and we went back to our RE the next month.  I was told that my AMH and AFC both suggest declining fertility and that we really shouldn't take the wait and see approach.  We took that advice to heart and pursued 2 IUIs and an IVF before taking a break from treatments.  Then we flew to CC.RM and my "diagnosis" was confirmed--I don't have the fertility of a 20 something!  And then we got pregnant.  Without treatments. 

To be honest, after having Piper, I was TERRIFIED that I would never get to be pregnant again.  I LOVED being pregnant (for the most part) and just couldn't imagine that I would only get to do it once.  I actually spent a lot of last spring reminiscing about where I had been the year prior (very pregnant).  And then I finally got back into running more seriously and it was awesome having a body that was all mine.  The fact that I started being able to fit back into size 6 or 8 pants didn't hurt either.  After years of fertility treatments, I was able to feel good about myself.  It was hard to imagine having to go through treatments and pregnancy again.  I was getting up at 7am on Saturdays to run 10 miles for fun, something I couldn't do while taking shots and transferring embryos.  And I just felt good both mentally and physically.  Such a stark contrast from how fertility medications make me feel (fat, cranky, and bloated).  Due to how I got pregnant this time around, I felt a lot more confident about letting go of the anxieties I had with Piper.  I mean, I had run 10 miles the day before I got my positive test...  If that didn't "shake" the embryo off, then why would it once I had rising betas and good ultrasounds?  I'm 29 weeks pregnant and still running 15-20 miles a week.  And it's made a huge difference!  I have hardly gotten sick despite MBL and Piper taking turns with head colds and I still have loads of energy!

How does this relate to what our plans for the future are?  Well, the fact that I know now how different a "natural" pregnancy and an ART achieved pregnancy look and feel like, I'm just not sure that I ever want to pursue IVF again.  And, yes, something in our minds has totally changed now that we know it's possible to get pregnant on our own.  I brought this up to MBL during our driving time on Saturday and he is totally against ever doing IVF again.  I think the biggest deterrent for him is the cost, but also the fact that he thinks that because we've gotten pregnant on our own once, we should be able to do so again.  I wanted to talk about this now so that he knows my expectations for the future.  And those are that I want #3.  I know this sounds so very greedy, but I always knew I wouldn't want to stop at 2.  I also know that I want to be done having babies by the time MBL is 40, which is in 4 years.  I told MBL that the bottom line is that I want to "pursue" having a third child.  I may even want a fourth child, but all I wanted was a verbal agreement that he will be open to doing clomi.d/IUIs, if needed, in order to get pregnant with #3.  I also added that if we somehow got IF coverage, then I may even want to consider IVF again if all other options had been exhausted.  He mumbled something that sounded like "maybe". 

So, that's our plan.  No more IVF for us.  I'm planning on BFing this little one until he's at least 6 months and at that point I may wean so that we can start trying again (I don't ovulate while nursing).  Or, I may decide that I like fitting in my pants a little too much and that waiting to ride the TTC rollercoaster again is a better option for our family.  I'm pretty sure that there is at least clo.mid in my future, but I guess we'll see!

How do you think you'll know that you're "done" growing your family?
Did you ever reach a point where you felt done pursuing fertility treatments?
Do you feel like you are on a timeline at all?

Friday, February 22, 2013

the picture of perfection

On Monday, MBL and I became the very gleeful owners of a new (to us) minivan.  I've been wanting one for years now and we are finally at a place where it makes sense to purchase one.  The one we got is glorious.  After much debate and research we ended up with this one:

Only ours is black.  It's an IIHS top safety pick and if we were to ever get in a crash it basically explodes in cushions around you.  Buying this van felt weird.  For the last few months I have felt very uncomfortable about how people perceive our family.  You see, I get asked about my pregnancy a lot.  Which is so sweet and people really are just trying to be nice/polite/make conversation, but it almost always turns into talking about how perfect it is that I have a girl and now I'm having a boy and the fact that they'll be the "perfect" 2 years apart.  And now I have the perfect family car--a minivan--all I'm missing is the white picket fence!  Or rather the nice, new, larger house that I have been eyeing for months now.

I walk around with this perfect belly that measures just perfectly on and I feel like people look at me and just assume that everything is just "perfect".  While it is incredibly flattering to look like I have it all together, I want to explode in confessions every time someone makes a comment about how having a boy and a girl is perfect or about how it looks like everything is going well for us.  When people ask about what our plans for the future are, I always have to preface them by saying that we weren't planning on getting pregnant this year, which is completely true and yet sounds completely crazy as we were timing things and seeing doctors and contemplating IVF #4 at THE fertility clinic.  One of the teachers that works here had a late miscarriage (she was due a month after me) and every time I have to pass her in the hallway, I want to pull her aside and just confess everything.  I want to apologize for having to be pregnant right in her face.  I feel awful walking around with my belly.  Heck, one of the first events I had to attend for my current position involved going to a picnic where they made a big deal over the pregnant ladies getting to eat first.  I had just been to Colorado where my decreasing fertility was confirmed and we were looking at having to rob a bank in order to finance pursuing IVF again (not really, but there was no way we could afford to do things on my timeline).  I doubt the DJ at the event could have possibly understood how much that stung.

I don't know why the idea of perfection is bothering me so much, I *know* I'm not perfect, but I still feel uncomfortable having people look at me as anything other than a completely flawed human being.  Maybe it's because I work as a counselor and I want my students to see that the world can fall down around you and you can still be okay.  Or maybe it's because I think we are able to grow the most in our relationships with other people when we are completely honest with where we've been and the mistakes we've made.  Maybe it's because I've felt a lot of pressure from other people who seem to be perfect to me.  I remember my first year of marriage being just one level up from unbearable.  MBL had been single for so long that living with another person and sharing everything with them was super difficult.  We got in a lot of fights, we yelled at each other a lot, and there was definitely a time or two that I wondered if we had made the right choice.  All along there was my "perfect" cousin who chirped about how the first year of marriage was so easy and so wonderful and I just couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong.  And now MBL and I very happily married.  We went through total crap last year and I wouldn't wish that on anyone, but we are on our way up and out and I know life can only get better and sweeter from here.  I saw this quote yesterday and couldn't help but think about how perfectly it fit our situation:

And maybe that is why I struggle with even looking anywhere close to having it together.  I want to share with people that I just don't.  I have crap fertility.  MBL and I sometimes yell at each other.  I sometimes get very frustrated with Piper.  I don't floss.  I don't always get up in time to work out.  I have graduate school loans and a car payment.  I sometimes feed my child Peeps.  My point is, that when people tell me how lucky I am I want them to know how much I've been through, how much I've struggled, just in case they've struggled too.  Just in case they're struggling right then and need to know they're not the only one.  I would love to have amazing fertility and stay home and be the "perfect" parent/wife/domestic diva, but those things aren't a reality for me and I think that just makes me appreciate what I have all the more.  It's because of what I have gone through that I appreciate what I have now even more!  It's because MBL and I went to h.e.ll and back last year that I can look him in the eyes and know that he is my one and only.  It's because of my infertility that I can look at Piper with incredible wonder and awe--this little girl is MINE, she's here after all of that!  I just wish there was a more succinct way to let people know that my life isn't so perfect, but it is pretty darn wonderful.  For now I'll just continue to smile and nod and search for the white picket fence to really seal the deal ;).

Have you ever felt the pressure from other people to be "perfect"? 
Do you ever find yourself looking at what other people have and feeling like they must have it all together?  Do you feel like you've learned the most from the hard times you've gone through? 
And, did anyone else out there have a tough first year of marriage?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

the best thing I ever pursued...

I had a snow day again last Friday which meant a three day weekend for me!  It could not have come at a better time as it allowed me to get a ton done around the house as well as eek in a 5 mile run.  It also allowed me to have some much needed time with Piper.  We took Valentine's Day pictures and had a lot of fun playing (until after her nap when she decided to be a needy, needy grouch pants, but I digress...).  Spending that time with her really got me thinking about all it took to bring her here.  All of a sudden I was flashing back to my days of clo.mid induced hysteria where I would just cry and cry over my fear of never being able to have babies.  Or rather, my fear of never becoming a parent.

When I think back to when we were in the midst of months of medications and treatments and surgeries, I'm more than a little impressed that we survived it all.  I think of going through IUI and IVF cycles.  Needing to constantly drive across town for blood tests and ultrasounds, praying that whatever we were doing differently that cycle would be the key to getting pregnant.  We would stare at the follicles on the screen and be so filled with hope.  Surely with 2-3 follicles we would get pregnant!  Surely with 17 eggs retrieved we would get pregnant!  We faced so many BFNs, so many failed cycles.  I knew I wanted to experience pregnancy, but I never was 100% sure that it would actually happen for us.  I remember being 9 months pregnant and contemplating peeing on a pregnancy test just to see those 2 pink lines again.  I wasn't sure that I would ever get to be pregnant again and I wanted the positive test to be mine one last time.  Waiting on those pink lines was something I had done for so long that even when I was literally on the verge of giving birth, I still found it hard to believe that it had actually happened for us.

But here's the one thing I know to be true above all else from our infertility journey: Piper is the best thing I ever pursued.  Last night I went to put her down for bed and we have a ritual of me singing to her and rocking her for 2-3 minutes before tucking her in.  And as I stood there swaying back and forth, with her arms tightly around my neck and her legs swung over the sides of my burgeoning belly, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  Becoming parents was not an easy task for us, but I am so glad we persevered and pursued this incredible journey.  I tell MBL near daily that Piper is the best part of every day and she really is.  Despite the tantrums and messes and chaos that having a small child creates, being a parent is the most incredible thing I've ever done.

I mean just look at this little cutie:

She's using the cord from our heating pad to listen to the baby in her belly!  So cute!

And then a nice little cheese for the camera!

I'm beyond thankful for that little girl!

If you went through IF, did you struggle to believe that it would ever happen for you?  Did you ever want to "give up"?  What helped you keep going?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

the countdown: 100 days to go!

We're here.  The magical place where the countdown to baby gets to enter the double digits.  Today marks 152 days of pregnancy and only 100 left to go (give or take a few).  Last time this milestone seemed so significant, I'm not sure why, but it motivated to me to write about it again this time around.  You can visit my blog post about hitting 100 days with Piper by clicking here.

Apparently at this point in our pregnancy with Piper, we had already picked her name!  This poor little guy has not been named yet.  We have a short list of 3 names that we really like, but I'm not 100% on any of them, so he's just "baby" for now.  I think my goal will to have him named by 32 weeks, which is only 6 weeks away!  I guess we'll see how that goes.

When I got to this point with Piper I remember feeling SO overwhelmed with all we had left to do.  This time around, I'm not really worried.  Part of the reason I'm more laid back is that we will be delivering out of state and living with my parents for a while post baby (and, yes, I swear to write more about this decision soon).  There is no nursery to set up as he will be sleeping with us (in a rock n play) for the first few months.  We have all the baby things we could possibly need and so there's no looming list of what we need to buy.  I do want to get a double stroller still, but I know which one I want and now I'm just waiting on a good deal.

Now, we do have a lot to do that would likely be easier to accomplish prior to adding another little one...  In the next few (6 or so) months, we have a condo and a house to sell and both have projects that need to be completed.  The condo is less complex as it just needs laminate flooring--which MBL has already laid most of--and paint, which we are hoping to pay someone to do.  The projects there can easily be completed during the work week and over 2-3 weekends.  Our house, however, is still the biggest cause of anxiety in my life.  I want it sold.  I want to move into a nice, new house with carpet and plenty of bedrooms and a master bedroom with attached bath.  Our goal is to get our house on the market by August/September.  We still have rooms that need trim, a basement that needs to be finished, a full bath to complete, and lots of painting.  I really want to just hire someone to finish the basement as I feel like that will help us get the house on the market sooner.  I hate feeling like we're not in our permanent home.  Yes, both places are comfy and cozy and have heat/running water, but I want to be in our house.  I just want to have a place where my kids can play and roam freely without worrying about tools/screws/sawdust all over the place!!

So... 14 weekends left until my due date.  Approximately 42 work days.  Out of those 14 weekends, we already have plans for 5 of them.  Here's hoping we can get LOADS of work done before this little guy comes into our lives!

Do you have lots of house projects left undone at your house?  What kind of house work do you try to get done during the week/on the weekends?  Are you in your dream/forever home?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

honestly? i'm a little scared...

I'm not a morning person.  It seems like no matter how much sleep I get, I am still tired.  It takes some coaxing, but somehow I manage to get up and out of bed for an early morning (5:30am) run most days of the week.  But, I go to bed at 9:30 so that I still get my much needed 8 hours of sleep.  Where is this conversation going?  Well, I'm a bit scared about how much my life is going to change.  Now that I know how much work a newborn takes, I'm even more scared than I was the first time around.  And, mostly, I'm scared about how tired I am going to be.  And I'm scared about how much this little guy is or isn't going to sleep.  And how will I ever manage TWO?  Here are just a few things I'm scared of this time around...

In the early days of having Piper home, I was actually surprised at how good I felt.  Piper was a sleeper from day one and when we brought her home, she was already doing a 4-6 hour stretch at night.  Well, when we found out that she wasn't gaining weight fast enough, those stretches had to end as I tried to increase my supply and we tried to get her fat!  And even though we gave up exclusive breastfeeding at 2 weeks old (in favor of exclusive pumping and formula supplementation) and were able to "allow" Piper those 4 hour stretches, I was still exhausted!  I vividly remember being at a restaurant with my parents when Piper was 4 weeks old and feeling like I was going to die from being tired.  I'm really not looking forward to that feeling again.

Speaking of breastfeeding, I'm also a little worried about how well that will or will not go this time around.  With Piper, both MBL and I were very committed to giving her breast milk and not "ruining" her by giving her formula.  Everyone out there told me if I gave my child formula she would be fat and stupid, so I really wanted to make sure we avoided it.  Piper was a lazy eater.  She fell asleep every single time it was time to eat.  It didn't matter if she was naked and we were dowsing her in cold water, she just loved to fall asleep while eating.  That fact, coupled with a high palate, led to us having a very frustrating BFing relationship.  My supply tanked and I was told to feed more, pump more, drink more.  I did it all and took Reg.lan and fenu.greek until I smelled like syrup.  It didn't matter.  Our lactation consultant finally gave me what I needed--permission to supplement with formula because I had done all I could.  I cried.  I remember telling MBL that I knew it wouldn't matter when Piper was going into kindergarten that she had 60-70% breast milk and 30-40% formula, but it seemed like a very big deal at the time.  I'm not looking forward to that again.  I pumped for Piper for 6 months and it was SO worth it, but so hard to spend 2 hours a day just pumping.  I'm hoping that things will be different this time around, but I'm also trying to prepare myself for another long term relationship with my pump.  Blech.

Another thing that was tough last time around was how LONG the days seemed when Piper was itty bitty.  I would literally count down the hours until it was bedtime, which always seemed to come too early as it was summer and still light outside when I would go to bed.  In those early days I was so consumed with making sure I did everything right, that I know I exhausted myself more than necessary.  This time around, I'm a little worried that the days will once again seem long because I won't be able to cat nap if I need to.  I won't just have a sleepy little newborn, I'll also have my vibrant toddler!  Where in the heck will I find the energy to play with Piper on such little sleep?  Will I be able to feel rested enough to enjoy those early days?  Now that I know just how fast it goes, I want to treasure snuggling my newborn, but the realistic part of me wonders if it will all go down in a haze because of the exhaustion.  Oof.

Finally, I'm a little worried about how I will ever get out of the house with TWO little kiddos.  And if I do manage to get out of the house and to the grocery store, then where will I put the groceries?  If I have two kids, one of whom will be in the carseat, then how will I ever have room for what I need to buy?  I got out of the house with Piper LOTS in her first few weeks.  We took a road trip to Chi.cago when she was 3 weeks old and it was easy.  I brought her to meet my coworkers when she was just 6 days old.  I relished getting out of the house with her.  We went to Tar.get lots, just to wander and look at things.  I would take my time shopping, knowing that if I needed to feed her I could just go to their cafe and have a popcorn/diet coke while she ate.  I'm sure that won't happen with two kids.  I mean, the baby will probably be easy to pacify, but Piper won't be.  And will it really take me 2 hours to get out of the house?  I read some blogs from parents of more than one and several mention just how hard it is to get out of the house.  I mean, I know going anywhere with little ones takes preparation, but am I really looking at packing the diaper bag for two hours?

I know I am so incredibly lucky that MBL and I get to add to our family.  And, I know deep down that we will get through the early newborn days yet again, but part of me is really dreading the "getting through them" part.  We are in such a good rhythm with Piper, that I don't want to feel like I'm wishing the days away because they are good, but oh so hard.

Do you find two children much more work than 1?  What's your biggest challenge?  Any advice?  Want to remind me how fun and cute newborns are :)?

Monday, January 28, 2013

why snow days are hard.

I work for a school as a school counselor and I live in Mich.igan.  The combination of these two facts mean that occassionally I get paid to stay at home due to inclement weather.  Those early morning texts are always nice to receive as it means I can turn off my alarm and go back to bed until Piper wakes me up.  They also mean a day at home with my girl where we can run errands together, play, and just enjoy a nice, relaxing day at home.  Last week that text meant I could push back my daily run from 5:30am to 8am and that I could go an extra mile.  Just something little that was so good for me.

Today was another snow day.  When I first heard rumors that we might end up getting one last night, I immediately started praying that the weather would be bad enough for it to happen.  I spent Saturday in bed with some sort of virus and so I felt like I got jipped out of one day of my weekend.  Getting today off meant that I still got two full days of being able to finish projects around the house and play with my girl.  It also meant that I could run to the doctor for an antibiotic for the sinus infection I've been fighting without misisng work or family time.

So, it sounds like I love snow days, right?  Well, I do!  Who wouldn't like being paid to be at home?  The downside is that snow days are hard on me emotionally.  I know I sound a bit dramatic, but it's the truth.  I have worked in some capacity outside of the home since Piper was 3 months old.  At first I just worked two days a week and it was pretty easy peasy.  When an opportunity to move to full time opened up last April, I took it because we were facing having to do IVF cycles and my income would help us afford that.  We were hoping that I would get pregnant from that cycle and my full time employment would be temporary (lasting only 8 months).  Well, MBL lost his job and I accepted a new one and somehow I have now been working full time outside of the home for 10 months.  When MBL was offered his new job, I immediately started dreaming about quitting my job.  Don't get me wrong, I actually love what I do, but I love staying at home more.  I want to be the one playing with my daughter.  I want to provide for my family by caring for my child and taking care of our home (cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc).  When it came down to it, however, it seemed really unfair for me to leave my job in the middle of the school year.  And if I stay until my doc writes me off for STD (I'm hoping for 37 weeks!), then I will get paid until August.  And considering we are looking at having to purchase two new cars and a new house in the next year, that income will definitely be put to good use!

Basically, I'm counting down the days until I will be a SAHM again.  As of today it was going to be 47 work days, so I guess it's 46!  I know that being a SAHM is a lot of work, but days like this remind me of all the rewards that come with it.  I love just watching Piper play and learn new things.  She seriously amazes me!  So, while I love having an extra day at home, snow days are hard because it reminds me of what I'm missing at home when I'm at work and that's a tough reminder.

Does your job give you snow days?  What kind of weather are you experiencing right now?  What did you use to do on snow days as a kid?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

where my babies came from...

I am writing this post as a part of the PAIL monthly theme post.  The topic for this month is "where do babies come from?" 

I've got to say that I'm pretty excited to be writing about this topic as it's something I've given a lot of thought to.  To be honest, when we were TTC Piper, I didn't put a whole lot of thought into whether or not HOW she came into this world would impact her.  I never planned on keeping it a secret, but I also didn't go into fits of panic worrying about whether or not this would harm her psychologically.  The truth is, that as a Psych major with an MA in Counseling, I don't really think that her conception will play a huge role in her mental well being.  Piper was made in a petri dish.  So what?  Actually, when I was pregnant, Mel highlighted a book all about ART.  When I saw it I knew I wanted to have it to read to our daughter:

I cried as I read the pages.  Creating Piper was an incredible process.  I didn't just walk into a doctor's office alone and walk out pregnant.  MBL and I went through months of treatment, months of heartache and through it all we stood by each other.  The process of getting pregnant was very emotional and it definitely brought us closer together.  My husband gave me most of my shots and came to each and every one of my appointments, even if it was just a follicle ultrasound or blood work.  He was there to hold my hand.  I look back now and realize that it really was a beautiful process.  When we got the call that we were finally pregnant, we were both elated!!  After 21 months our dreams of building our family were going to come true.  When we were preparing for labor/childbirth, I knew that MBL was going to be an awesome support for me because he had already seen me through needles, blood work, IVF retrieval, IVF transfer, 20 BFNs, and rounds and rounds of medication.  I knew that because of what we went through both emotionally and physically to get pregnant, that actually having the baby would be a walk in the park.  I mean at least we knew that the pain could only last so long!!  (unlike IF where it feels like the pain might just last forever).  I boldly share Piper's story because I am PROUD of what we went through.  We were suffering from the disease of infertility and we overcame it.  We desperately wanted to add a child to our family and IVF allowed us to make that dream a reality.  So, yes, MBL and I plan on explaining to Piper just how she came to be.  Mommy and Daddy wanted a baby and a nice doctor with gray hair helped them have YOU!  How special for her that she was so wanted, so loved even before we knew who she was! 

As for her brother?  His story won't be near as exciting.  He wasn't made in a petri dish and it didn't take any special medication to make him.  He is absolutely wanted and already loved beyond words, but I think Piper's story seems a lot more special.  Hopefully he doesn't get a complex about being "homegrown".

I do think that the stories about our children's creation will help them have a better understanding of how families are built and hopefully allow them to be open-minded, thoughtful people.  They will learn that families come in all shapes and sizes and are built in many different ways and that's a BEAUTIFUL thing!  I'm glad that our journey, our story will help them gain that important life lesson.

How do you plan on answering the question "where do babies come from?", even if all of yours are homegrown?  If you used ART or adopted your children, do you plan on sharing that specific story with them?  If so, how?