Monday, September 29, 2008

Perfect Moment Monday

I'm following Lori's lead and will be trying to notice those perfect moments during the week and post them on Monday. I realized this morning that there were many perfect moments, but I failed to notice them at the time so I don't know if they count. I think the idea is to really appreciate those perfect moments while in the moment, not in hindsight.

Fortunately I was saved by a perfect moment this morning. We are expecting an unseasonably warm day today so I stepped outside to test the air. LB was in my arms and looking around as I took in the crisp feel of the fall air as the sun warmed my face. There were birds singing. I found myself wishing it was a Spring day instead of Fall, but in the spirit of appreciating this moment, I banished the thought and just enjoyed the morning for what it was.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Calling it a growth opportunity

I am still feeling the effects of the events of last Saturday (previous post). I am sad, sad, sad. I don't blame Belinda for not telling me her family didn't know (we were in a local article together so I think it was a safe assumption) although it would have been nice. I'm sure she was doing the best she could and to be fair, she seemed surprised to see her mother. I don't blame her mother. As many of you pointed out, she was probably doing the best she could too.

The actual event, in hindsight, wasn't that big of a deal. I never intended to have any kind of relationship with anyone in Belinda's family and I still don't. I will likely never see B's mom or any other relation again. Whatever they think about things is their issue, not mine.

The repercussions of the encounter has very little to do with B's mom and a lot to do with me. What she so casually and innocently pointed out was how important genetics are. She felt a strong connection to a complete stranger's baby simply because they share some genes. It's more than making a child who is genetically programmed to lean toward certain traits and behaviors, it's about leaving a legacy.

I won't leave that kind of a legacy. I hope to leave another kind - the kind that comes from raising a child to be happy, kind, responsible and all those things that we hope for in our children. I am not naive. I know the template was set on the day she was conceived. If she was meant to be a sports car, I'm not going to change her into an SUV. My hope is that I will guide her to be the happiest sports car she can be. Ultimately, isn't that more important?

The last few days haven't just been about the genetic connection either. The events of Saturday brought out a whole lot of grief. The grief that comes with losing a child and not being able to have another. The guilt and regret of decisions I made early on that could have changed the entire course of events. The helplessness I feel looking back and wishing and wondering why I couldn't have done it differently - either by making different choices or just somehow willing it to happen. It was a vivid reminder of what went wrong. Even though I know it is wasted energy, sometimes it is hard not to get stuck in it.

I have heard grief is like climbing a spiral staircase. Although you are making progress, you keep coming around to the same view, just slightly different. I suppose this is how it will go. Some things in our lives just have too great of an impact to ever go away completely.

I have spent a few days on the side of the staircase that faces the past and sees the sadness, but I won't linger here any longer. I will likely come back to it, but maybe next time it won't take me by surprise or perhaps I will just keep walking instead of pausing to wallow in it. As we all know, life is too short to not enjoy the good in it. I know I have an abundance of good in my life right now.

In an effort to keep moving forward, I have decided to get more sleep and exercise - two things that have helped in the past. I suspect I already eat enough chocolate.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

One year old today

LB is one year old today. September 20, 2007 she was conceived in a lab. She was one of 17 eggs, 16 of which were mature. Her other half was hand picked by Uncle Jimmy (the embryologist) from several hundred thousand sperm. She and 8 other embryos were created. There she lived in a dish with her siblings in an incubator. Two days later we learned that although they were all growing, only 4 were eight cell. I suspect she was one of those 4. When she was five days old, she was either "compacted" or an early blast. On day 6, we transferred her and two siblings (All grade A expanded blasts) into my eagerly awaiting womb.

Today she has been growing for exactly one year. I still can't get my mind around it all - the infertility, Ernest's miracle conception and death, miscarriages, 37 dead embryos, countless eggs and then to have our LB via donor eggs. It all seems so unreal sometimes.

It seemed even more . . . I am at a loss for words . . . different? strange? awkward? It it just what it is, I guess. Let me tell you why I am currently at a loss for words and why my choices above were less than positive.

Tonight we accidentally meant our egg donor's mother - Belinda's mom. We met up with Belinda to celebrate LB's conception. We didn't have much time between our two schedules, so after meeting with her for about 30 minutes, we decided to go with her and see where she worked (Her third job!). She is a part-time baker at a cafe / bistro that her sister owns. Unexpectedly, her mother was there. In hind site, I should have known that her mother didn't know about LB or that Belinda never told her that she had donated her eggs. At the time, I wanted her mother to know how much we adored and were thankful for Belinda so I introduced LB as the child Belinda helped create.

Big mistake.

I have yet to know what, if any, the ramifications were for Belinda, but the following conversation was entirely unpleasant for me. Besides bragging about how fertile she was, BM (Belinda's mom), claimed herself as LB's grandmother. She then began to tell me about LB's "family" and "cousin". She was suddenly excited to hold LB, when moments before she either didn't care to or didn't feel that she could presume to ask. Not wanting to cause Belinda any more strife, I didn't say what came to my mind ("You are NOT her grandmother", "No, she will not be playing with this child you claim to be her cousin." , "I think this will be the last time you see LB, not the first of many."). I just smiled and quietly said these things to myself. I doubt she even noticed that I wasn't responding. She seemed to be more than a little wrapped up in herself.

I think I might feel a little bit threatened in my role as LB's mother. I certainly feel creeped out by the whole experience.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

EC Update

I am happy to report that we are continuing to enjoy practicing elimination communication, or EC. Well, at least I am having fun and LB doesn't seem to mind. In fact, I think there are times when she is signaling that she needs to go potty when she doesn't: just so that she can sit on the potty and get some face time. I could be misreading her cues, but it seems to happen more often when I am working and not paying as much attention to her. We only catch about 30-50% of the time and it continues to go up and down depending on how much sleep I have had and how work is going.

Here is the lesson learned this week. I was stuck on a call and LB had woken up. I kept muting the phone when she would coo or when I talked to her. (I try not to broadcast that I am working from home with a baby.) I think I was doing pretty well. Then she started to get fussy. Then more fussy. It was getting harder and harder to keep her quiet. Then I realized she needed to go potty. As quickly as I could, I sat her on the potty. She immediately relaxed and quieted down. Phew!

With confidence, I unmuted the phone to answer a question and . . . the sound thunder - wet thunder.

I just kept talking. What was I going to say (Um, that wasn't me)?

I learned that sometimes it's better to just let her go in her diaper. Preferably from a few feet away.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Oh, hey!

My first post is up at Bridges.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Telling LB her conception story

I have recently finished reading The Belated Baby. For the most part, I didn't find it very helpful. I think it may have been if I was more isolated in this journey, but most of what it discussed I had already either experienced or read about on someone's blog. The one thing that stood out for me was the suggestion to start sharing your child's conception story from the beginning (the book is very much for telling). I realized I was already doing that to some extent, but I started making a conscious effort.

When I ask her, "How did you get to be so cute?" I answer for her, "I was just born that way, " or "Mommy cooked you just right" or "A little bit of daddy, a little bit of Belinda and then mommy grew you."

Sometimes I tell her how special she is. "You are such a special baby, it took three people to make you." and "What an amazing baby. Did you know we had dozens of people helping us bring you into the world?"

The idea is that when you tell your infant his or her conception story, you have time to perfect it and make it positive long before he or she is capable of understanding. Note the "make it positive" part.

Today, I had a sad moment. Perhaps because I was overly tired, but when a wonderful, kind woman told me she had a great first beta after her second IVF (fourth transfer), I enthusiastically congratulated her and then got off the phone and cried. It was the antithesis of our third IVF cycle and it reminded me of it and I was just so sad all over again.

We had both decided we couldn't handle getting the call from the clinic, so we directed the clinic to call our husbands. She was convinced her beta would be negative. I was convinced it was going to be positive, but was afraid of a low beta with an impending miscarriage. Her husband was surprised with a great beta - maybe in the twin range. Mine was surprised with a negative beta. Her husband got to call her and tell her the great news. Mine had to drive home from work with the weight of the news to deliver it to me in person. She and her husband celebrated. Brad and I mourned another loss.

As I cried, I was holding LB and I thought about what these tears would mean. Would she see that I wanted another baby - a baby that came to us a bit more easily? One that shared my genes? I don't want her to think she is anything less than the most loved, desired, appreciated, cared for, wonderful and beautiful person. I decided to tell her an expanded version of her conception story.

It went something like this:

LB, you are such an amazing baby. Daddy and I waited such a long time for you and we are so glad you are here. We tried for a long time and then we had your big brother, but he wasn't healthy enough to live outside of mommy's tummy. We were sad that he couldn't stay with us, but we knew we had to keep trying to see if maybe a baby just like you was out there waiting for us.

Soon we went to a special doctor and he helped us try to make a baby too, but one day he told us he couldn't help enough on his own. He said we had to find a special women who was younger than mommy who had more healthy eggs. So we started looking and soon we found that special woman and her name was Belinda. She gave mommy her eggs and together with daddy and few other people, we made you! When you were just 6 days old, we put you into mommy's tummy and there you stayed until the day you were ready to come out.

And now look at you! You are such a big girl! You have such pretty eyes and you can hold your head up all by yourself. You like to go in the potty and you are learning about your right hand. What an amazing girl! And you have so much to learn about and discover! How lucky am I to be your mother? I love you so much!

I felt better and I think the story is getting better too.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Not like I thought it would be

In an effort to continue to honestly communicate my experience, below are some example of how I had imagined things would be compared to how they actually are. I will be the first to admit that some of my fantasies were only loosely based in reality, but as many of you know first hand - those fantasies are all that keep you going sometimes.

Fantasy: I wouldn't let anyone else but Brad hold LB for at least the first few months. I would let Brad hold her only when I had too.

Reality: Her very first day I was passing her around, at least while she was sleeping. I wanted to share our little miracle with all the people who have supported us over the last 6 years. It was if they had to touch her to understand that she was real. I suspect that was my bias, not theirs, but the fact remains that I was willing to let her out of my arms.

Within a couple of weeks, I was gladly handing her off to friends so that I could eat a meal and participate in an adult conversation.

Fantasy: I will appreciate Every. Single. Moment.

Reality: I have appreciated most moments, but I have a confession to make. She was only about 2 weeks old and had fallen asleep in my arms. I was exhausted and preparing to take both of us to bed. I looked down at her with the intention of soaking her up a bit more. Instead of the warm, glowing thoughts I expected, the thought that came to mind was, "Ug. I'm sick of her." I was. In that moment I wanted an off switch so I could put her on the shelf for about 10 hours and sleep uninterrupted. I couldn't believe I could have such a thought. Fortunately, Brad made me feel better by letting me know that he gets sick of me sometimes too.

Fantasy: I imagined my heart might burst trying to contain such happiness.

Reality: Truly, there are moments when I am just so happy that I feel like I have rarely felt before. It is even better than I imagined it would be. In those moments I want to tell everyone who is considering living childfree to not give up and keep trying. To do whatever it takes to parent. "IT IS WORTH IT!", I want to proclaim. (I promise I will do my best to never actually do that - I came too close to choosing that path myself and I still believe that it is a good option.)

Fantasy: I worried about having enough "Brad and Kami" time.

Reality: I sometimes ache to have more "Brad and Kami" time. At these times, I think wistfully about life pre-LB and wish I could have it both ways. I sometimes even wonder if it was a wise thing to do - to disrupt our (in many ways) very good lives together. I am glad that sometimes I remembered to appreciate our quiet lives together pre-LB even while I was sad that we weren't yet parenting.

Fantasy: I promised myself I would not over react to minor issues.

Reality: At about 5 weeks we had a minor mishap. LB kicked herself off the couch. She did a somersault and landed face down on the floor. I completely lost it. Even though it was apparent within a few seconds she was fine, I scooped her up in a panic. She stopped crying in about 2 minutes. I took me at least 10 times that. It was (is) terrifying to think that we could have so easily let harm come to her. I know Brad and I will remember that moment forever.

The one gem is that Brad and I didn't blame each other for it. Instead of "You were watching her!" or "Why did you put her down like that?!", we each took responsibility. "I'm sorry! I should have known she could kick herself off." and "No, It was my fault. I was watching her."

Fantasy: "Don't worry, LB, I will hold you." This is what I told LB while she was growing inside of me and our Someday Baby for years prior to her conception. I would say this whenever I saw a baby in a stroller or a car seat instead of a sling.

Reality: Sometimes I put her down. We have used a stroller (just once though). We have gone to dinner and left her in her car seat so I could eat without holding her. I have even gratefully discovered that she enjoys playing for short periods completely on her own. She seems to be surviving.

Fantasy: Brad will be the perfect father.

Reality: I have changed my mind about what "perfect father" means. We have had a few arguments over the division of labor. I thought we would be equals in childcare, but I found time and time again that he was looking to me to be the leader and primary care giver. When I asked for more (different?) he would ask me to point out a male that does it differently. I replied that I didn't know anyone, but thought he would be the one. When the stress was increasing because I was worried about going to work, we opted to have a session with KJ (our therapist). In the end I admitted that at this stage it probably makes sense that I am the leader when it comes to LB's care, I agreed that Brad had been willing to do whatever I asked and I would no longer worry whether he meant it or not. As KJ said, he is a big boy and if he offers or agrees to do what I ask, then I have to trust that he is willing. Things have been much smoother after that conversation.

Fantasy: It will be a bit harder to get back in shape after LB's birth than after Ernest's.

Reality: OMG! I don't know if it is the extra 3 months of pregnancy, not being able to exercise every day (at least to the extent I did after Ernest's birth - it was survival at that point), the years of fertility treatments while I self medicated with chocolate, or the fact that I am 40 instead of 36; but it has not been easy. Strike that, it is going ok, I am losing weight and getting in shape slowly , but steadily. I can't really complain and it is definitely worth it. What really surprises me is how flabby everything has become - from my arm pits to my knees. I expected the bigger breasts, I expected weaker tummy muscles; but I never suspected my tummy would sag. And what is the deal with my thighs? What happened to them? You would expect them to be stronger not weaker and flabbier after carrying around an extra 40 pounds.

For now, we try to get at least a short walk and some tummy time every day - she lays on her tummy and I do sit ups. I figure I have about 10 months until we try to get pregnant again so I am giving myself that much time to get back in shape. It will be close, but I think I can do it.

Fantasy: LB will be quietly ready novels to herself by 3 months old.

Reality: Since she can't even hold a book yet, nevermind read it, we have decided we need to give her a few more months. Harry Potter would be a good first book, don't you think?