Monday, April 27, 2009

Who would have thought?

Check out these t-shirts.

My favorite (of the ones I saw - there are pages of them!):

A poem on the back of this one:


Desolate paper
Mocks her
She is weary of searching
for words
to fill the pages.

Sterile sheets litter her past
the barren parchment
an endless reminder
that words
have failed her.

She dreamed of books
copious phrases
pressed between it's pages.

Yet, her manuscript remains
She can't articulate
the eloquent expressions
that haunt her empty heart.

How could words
have forsaken her?

She is a bard
designed to compose sinuous
A writer
destined to create
But her pen is parched;
vacuous volumes fill her

The bitter taste of failure
frequents faltering
Parched leafs fall
mocked by fluent tomes
Her defeat
recorded in blood.

The only thing worse
than a poet without words
Is a mother without a child.

~Patricia Gibson-Williams

Sunday, April 26, 2009

You went pee-pee in the potty! Updates in red

I have been meaning to write a post about my experiences with Natural Infant Hygiene AKA Elimination Communication (EC) for quite some time now and found I kept getting bogged down in the details. It turns out I'm not very good at writing technical manuals. For some basic information about EC'ing, I suggest you check out The Diaper Free Baby. Following I will just share some of my personal experiences.

First of all, I don't think EC'ing is much more time consuming than using a cloth diaper and changing the diaper when it gets soiled. Compared to leaving a disposable on until it can't hold anymore, it is more work. For me, I don't like the idea of using disposables and I really don't like the idea of LB hanging around with a toilet attached to her hiney.

I have never been very militant about practicing EC. If LB or her caregiver were not in the mood to concern themselves with using the potty, we didn't. I do ask that someone caring for her not leave her in a soiled diaper, so in a way it is pay now or pay later. You either put her on the potty before she pees or you change her diaper afterward. I am not opposed to using paper for those days when I have a caregiver who doesn't want to change a diaper or on a few occasions when I have been just worn out. We also use a paper diaper at night and while on the road since she is a very unhappy baby with a wet cloth diaper and I can't sleep without worrying if she is uncomfortable.

She is also not usually diaper free especially in the colder months. The neat thing about EC'ing is that I usually have a pretty good idea when she is "safe" to have naked and what's cuter than a baby in her birthday suit? Of course, I have been peed on a lot too.

The Beginning:

I thought it would be easier than it is. The women in The Gambia made it look easy and I didn't realize that very young babies pooped all the time. I only saw what was going on with potty training with older babies while I was in The Gambia. I have no idea what they did at night. I am sure they would have LOVED to have had diapers!

The funny thing is that when LB was about 2 months old I was wearing one of my wrap skirts from my Peace Corps days and was carrying LB around diaper free in order to try to get back in sync with her*. Soon, I missed her signal to me and she peed on me. I decided just to dry the skirt on the deck and put it back on later since I planned on continuing our diaper free day. As I tossed the skirt over the railing of our deck, I suddenly had the image in my mind of my host mother running into her house in one skirt, coming out in another and tossing the original over the fence. I never understood why until that moment. She had been peed on!

We caught LB's first pee and first poop less than an hour apart when she was six days old. It was so thrilling and for the first three months it was one of the most amazing ways we communicated. Sure, she made it clear when she was tired and when she was hungry, but letting me know that she had to potty . . . well, I just loved it. We caught probably around 25-50% of her eliminations in the early days. What I didn't realize when I first started, was that I would be using MORE diapers not less since I was changing her every time I missed an elimination. I am very glad I got a diaper service for those first few months as I was going through 80 diapers a week.

By two to three months we were doing quite well and we were catching around 50% of her eliminations and she was signaling pretty regularly. We used a Baby Bjorn Little Potty and I can think of few things cuter. I should post some of the hundreds of pictures of her using her potty from the time when it was still a bit to big for her until now when she has just about out grown it.

3-6 Months:

These days were a bit harder. I was working and not able to pay attention as much so I was missing her signals. She was probably also signaling less since she was now so much more aware of the rest of the world. She could grab toys for goodness sake, why would she want to think about going potty? We ended up going almost strickly by timing. We would potty her whenever she woke up from a nap (even young babies will often not pee in their sleep) and then about every 20 mintues in the morning and stretching that time out to maybe every hour or so at night. We still managed to catch about half her eliminations, but I really missed the feeling that we were communicating.

6-10 Months:

With the addition of solid foods, she became more regular and I started to notice that if we gave her a bit extra time in the mornings and evenings on her potty, she would use that time to "make a poopie". She would also need to take a bit extra time to get things going, if you understand me. If I caught her making "that face" I would scoop her up, put her on the potty and she would go. I remember that when she had her cast on at 6 months, we were rarely changing a poopie diaper and when we did, it was always just a little one.

She is now 10 months and we have changed one poopie diaper in the last 2-3 months. I remember it because I was trying to nap while Brad was watching her and I dreaming that we should put her on the potty. I suspect I was catching those pre-potty sounds even in my sleep.

I have to say that just not changing a poopie diaper alone makes it all worth while. Since sheis now trained to try to go in the mornings, she often won't try unless she is on the potty. When we took a plane trip last month, I was worried about having a poppie diaper on the plane since she didn't have time to 'relax' in the morning. Even though it was hours after her normal morning constitutional, she waited until we could set up her travel potty in the back of the rental car. A square of toilet paper and a trip to a garbage can was all the clean up it took.

I don't mean to rub it in, but when we were missing a poop here and there I thought that we always missed the worst ones, but I have since come to realize they are all that bad, they just aren't spread around inside a diaper. Honestly, sometimes I wonder why people don't practice EC.

The Future:

I suspect things will continue to change in how we practice (she now stands up when she doesn't feel like using the potty. I keep waiting for the time when she stands up only to pee on the floor), but I suspect we will still catch most of her eliminations. From what I hear, she won't likely be completely diaper free any earlier than around 18 to 24 months, but we are unlikely to go through the fight to get her to accept the potty that some parents do. Using the potty has always been normal for her so I think the transition will be a smooth one.

Random Thoughts:

I didn't care much for the split crotch pants or trainers. It isn't a matter of if she will wet her diaper or trainers, it is a matter of when. I use mostly prefolds and a cover and when one gets wet, I trade it out for a new one. When one of my split crotch pants got wet I would be all frustrated because now I would have to do laundry before I could use it again. The split crotch pants I had didn't open far enough on the Baby Bjorn Little Potty either.

If I were willing to spend the money and practiced EC very diligently, I would use exlusively (thin-ish) fitted diapers. These seem to be the most comfortable for LB, I can tell as soon as she wets and they are easy on / easy off.

I almost never worry about having a diaper bag with me anymore. I keep a couple of disposibles in the car or in her stroller in case she gets wet. I don't need wipes because I know that she won't go poop in her diaper. I potty her right before we leave and when we get where we are going. If I am going to be hanging out at someone else's house, I will bring her travel potty. Otherwise, I will just hold her by her thighs in front of me over a regular sized toilet.

Finally, it is never punitive. If she goes in her diaper I might say, "LB, we go in the potty." If I am feeling frustrated, I just change her after she wets. If I don't feel like the hassle, I will put her in a paper diaper. I feel kind of guilty about using any disposables and I know I won't win any records here, but we have only bought 3 Costco size packages of diapers. Each time I buy one, I swear it will be my last and I will go to cloth full time, but so far my intention has been better than my follow through.

This is an overly long post already so I will end it here. As always, feel free to ask questions.


Sara asked:
Eggbert pooped at least 10 times/day from birth to age six months or so. Did LB do the same? It was a lot more than I had expected, and made me think that EC would have been a bit of a nightmare with her, since even if I caught half of those, the other half would comprise five big messy poops/day. How did you cope with that
We keep her in a diaper most of the time. If she is diaper free, it is almost always on my watch. I don't expect other people to deal with it and if I hand her to Brad sans diaper he says, "Can you put a diaper on her? That's the agreement." So, to answer your question, she has only pooped sans diaper a couple of times because I am usually pretty good at knowing if she has to go and when she was going all the time, I took less chances. I want to point out that Brad does practice EC with LB, he just doesn't do it without a diaper on her as back up.

Lorraine asked:
Does she have a signal now for when she has to go? Is that part of the process?
She used to signal when she was younger. By "signal" I mean exhibit a behavior I came to associate with the imminent need to eliminate. Now we just aren't as in sync mostly because she is so much more independent. If I am holding her naked, she is much more likely to make it obvious she has to go because she tries to wiggle out of my arms.

We signal her by making the sign for "toilet" although I say "potty" (a rocking letter T in ASL) and say "pssssssss". I am hoping she will start signing when she has to go. Because we often say "Yeah!!!" and clap when is done, she sometimes says this as she is going or right after she has gone.

*One of the best ways to learn what you baby does right before she eliminates is to carry her around naked (at least on the business end). When she eliminates will have noticed what she did just prior. On some days, I just keep missing them and so I will have her diaper free. I also think it gives her more awareness.

Friday, April 24, 2009

You can have one for free!

I love my sister's mother in law. She is loud, full of energy, a good cook and Vietnamese. The last part is cool because I hope LB will grow up speaking Vietnamese if I get her around her uncle and his family enough. Once a month they have a family dinner and we often invite ourselves are invited. I think my BIL's parents would have us over more often, but I'm not sure my sister likes it. The family is always pestering her to have kids, but she doesn't want any. When I am there, it is probably worse. More than once she has looked at me and LB, looked at her and said, "You can have one for free!"

It is strange to think of getting a baby for free. Sure, they aren't really ever free long term, but the conception would be free for all of us in a perfect world. Sometimes I can't get my mind around it. Did they really just have sex and nine months later have a baby? Wow. Tell me again how that works?

The other day I was wondering through Costco. It is a great place to shop except it has the ability to make you think you suddenly need something you never knew existed before that moment. That day I was feeling a bit cynical as I looked at the $1300 jungle gym and thought, "Who can afford those things?" and suddenly realized I could buy that instead of trying for a sibiling. In fact, I could buy LB four of them for the cost of my upcoming FET cycle (15% chance of success). I could send her to a few years of private school for the cost of the fresh cycle that is likely to happen next. When I started thinking about what I could have done with the $65,000 we spent on LB's conception I decided I was quickly getting myself in a funk and put it out of my mind.

Today, with another precycle physical looming in just 45 minutes, I wonder if it is worth it. Right after LB was born, I thought we should give ourselves two or three tries instead of just one. Now I am going the other way and thinking that one kid might be more than enough. It's not that I don't want a sibling. It isn't even really the money. It is going through it all again.

I keep trying to keep my emotions light about it. It would be great if it works, but if it doesn't we already have a child. But it is hard to separate the process from old emotions, never mind new ones.

I think I will be ok with one kid. I know I will be ok if that is how it works out. I just don't want to find myself five years from now wishing we had tried harder. I also don't want to put it off and see how I feel later. None of us are getting any younger and I want to be able to put trying to conceive behind us sooner than later.

Well, I am off for a fun filled five minutes where I get to see the inside of my uterus for a mere $500. Wish me luck! Wee.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What if?

On Saturday I took LB for a bike ride. It was a nice ride along the river and we stopped a couple of times to take in the sites: the flood gates open on the damn, the geese and ducks, dropping rocks into the river. On the way back she was fussy so we stopped to nurse her a bit. She fell asleep so I sat along the river holding while she took a little cat nap.

All very nice moments. But the perfect moment happened before we even started the trip. I decided at that last second that she ought to be wearing socks after all. I grabbed a pair of socks, sat down next to her on the floor, scooped her up to put her in my lap and as her weight settled onto me I thought, not for the first time, how incredibly lucky I am to get to have this experience. Something so simple as putting on a child's socks yet so magical.

I wonder, what if having children happened easily for us? Would I have appreciated these every day, ordinary moments? Although I hate to admit it, I don't know that I would have. I am sure I wouldn't have thought of it in terms of being lucky, because of course we wanted children therefore we would have children.

I am not say that it was all worth it, but it is a small gem. And right now, as I type this, I am remembering how awful it felt to wonder if I was ever going to get to parent or if I would run out of money or energy or options before we got our Someday Baby. For all of you still in that space, my thoughts are with you.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Egg Donors

Ms. Spock somewhat recently posted about egg donors and questions about safety and compensation. I realized when I posted my comments I had the contents of a post myself.

It might make more sense to read Ms. Spock's post first, but most of it can stand on it's own (there were a few modifications from the original comment):

Oh my gosh! I am so late to the party and this is a subject near and dear to my heart.

1) We really don't know the long term risks of fertility treatments either to the woman (either donating or for her own eggs) or for the children produced from IVF and IVF with ICSI. I applaud more studies (especially long term prospective studies) in this area.

2) Registry? I think that is one way of studying the risks. I also think women should be limited to donating 6 times (I think my clinic follows ASRM guidelines for 4 times although a quick internet search could not verify that was the current ASRM guideline) for their own good. This might be a way to track that. Furthermore, I would like it if all adult donor children had the right to contact their genetic contributer.

3) We currently pay for eggs. We call it donation but at several thousand dollars it really is payment. I wonder if this amount will go down when (if?) freezing eggs becomes a more viable option. Then someone could shop for donor eggs like donor sperm and she wouldn't need to be "Ms Right Now". I also think that women might have a harder time separating themselves from their genetic component and this might also be driving up the cost compared to DS because it may lead to fewer donors.*

Another thing that really chaps my hide is that women are encouraged to give their donor a gift. A couple acquaintances in Seattle were encouraged to give rather expensive gifts - around $100, I think. I mean you are already PAYING them a huge amount and now we pretend that it was all done out of the goodness of their hearts? Please. IMHO a nice card saying that you appreciate it would be the best solution.

Personally, I am very glad that I was able to avoid that whole thing by finding a known donor. Sure, I was willing to pay her because I wanted a kid and it was worth it to me. The funny thing is, both my donor and my second choice (who I picked because I liked her not because of her 'fees') refused to be paid because they were doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. We gave our donor a gift of about $1000. Hey, it was great to spoil her - she was willing to do so much for us.

Now, some compensation is important. Donors miss work, they are uncomfortable, they risk short term and long term side effects. They should at least be compensated for any income they lose in the process and any costs (transportation, etc.) that they incur. Here I would like to add that medical "guinea pigs" for medical drug / treatment trials (ones who do not benefit from the treatment - ie are healthy) often get paid only a few hundred dollars.

Finally, I think that we may be missing some potential donors by pushing the financial piece. My second choice donor - when I encouraged her to donate through the clinic said, "I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that because I don't want to get paid."

On a bit of a tangent: One study on blood donation found that donations went DOWN after people were compensated with movie tickets. Yes, they were less likely to do it unless they felt they were being completely altruistic.

Think of how we view blood donors vs plasma donors.

And here is where I wave my white flag of defeat: If it takes spending thousands of dollars to get women to donate - if it really can't be done any other way - then, by all means, pay them.
*For further reading in regards to the differences between how we treat sperm donors vs egg donors, see this dissertation. The author concludes that it is a difference in how society views and treats men and women, in terms of their genetic contibution, and not relative supply and demand nor time involved that effects compensation.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Community and ritual

Saturday night I danced for the Easter Vigil at the coolest Catholic church in town. It is a very liberal church and they try to practice what they preach. They open their arms to everyone. I have often been encouraged to join their community in a more in depth way (I dance with them, but do not worship with them or even believe in a god). They are not trying to convert me, but want me to be part of their community even if I don't have the same beliefs. It does not escape me that they may be hoping I will convert, but they would never overtly try to change how I feel.

I really enjoy dancing with these wonderful ladies and in participating in this church's holiday rituals. Even though I see it from an outsider, I can understand how sharing a belief system and continuing to practice ancient rites of passage can bring people together. Saturday night, we opened the service by starting the Easter fire (which we danced around) and then lit candles from that fire which were then used to the rest of the congregations candles.

We were sitting behind the alter with the church lit by candle light. In the back of the church was a pool for the night's baptisms. There was a light directed on the water which was reflecting back onto the ceiling following the motion of the water. It was a beautiful, spiritual scene.

Then "we" renewed our baptismal promises. I said "I promise" with the rest of the congregation where appropriate (meaning I tried to be true to my beliefs). And at first it was easy. We promised things like: love each other, recognize and fight racism, avoid pursuing money and property. I wondered, "Could I join this community? Could I become a regular church going atheist? I can promise these things." Of course the promises went on to include to worship the one true God and Jesus and be Catholic and not just catholic.

I suppose if it is hard for "good" Catholics to get to church every Sunday morning, it would be even harder for a person who isn't religious. It is a nice thought, but likely will never come to fruition. It is a remarkable community and outside of the whole God thing, I would probably fit right in. It does not escape me that God is rather central to this community.

I want to share one other scene from Easter Vigil. They were baptizing three babies that night and not one was Caucasian - pretty remarkable for a very white town. I think it speaks to how this church really does welcome everyone.

I watched one baby in particular. She obviously had some African ancestry, but the Grandmother (I assumed) feeding her a bottle was very much white. I saw no non-whites in the immediate vicinity. I felt a bit of a kinship with this little girl's family because I started to understand she was adopted. Then the parents were called to stand around the baptismal font and as the pastor addressed each set of parents it became clear that this little girls parents were both women.

There is even a little icing on this cake. I realized that I was awwwww'ing along with everyone else watching these babies get baptized. Had I been given the chance, I would have gladly snatched one up and cuddled her. I don't remember the last time I was able to look at a newborn and not feel great sadness for my losses. I am sure it was before Ernest was born nearly five years ago. I honestly never thought I would see the day.

I guess this is a long way of saying that I have three perfect moments to report this Monday - all from dancing at Easter Vigil: the candlit church, the lesbian couple baptizing their baby in a Catholic Church, and my delight in seeing these small babies.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Remember when you started telling yourself, "This time next year I will have a baby."? If we ("we" meaning all of us dealing with infertility) only had a dime for every "this time next year" date that passed without a baby we could afford to pay for all those expensive fertility treatments.

I count myself among the fortunate who found out what it was like to get to "this time next year" and have the baby be a reality. We are having so much fun doing things and experiencing those dreamed of moments and now I find that I sometimes look back and think about what we were doing "this time last year" or previous years.

Looking back:

Spring 1999: I came home from the Peace Corps and told Brad, "Let's get married and have kids!"

Spring 2000: Married the love of my life. My family had a fit when I suggested that Brad and I might elope. Who would have thought these things took planning? In typical Brad and Kami fashion, we procrastinated for about 9 months and threw it together in about 3 months. We got married on a Friday because every place was booked on the weekends.

Spring 2001: I don't remember, but I bet we were having fun. Brad was between jobs so I would come home from work and we would do nothing but play since all those pesky household jobs were done. That summer I never even saw a cut blade of grass. I would come home from work and, like magic, the grass would be mowed, raked and tossed in the compost pile. Good times.

Spring 2002: We officially started TTC. I went off BCP's four months prior. How exciting and scary! I will never forget that first time.

Spring 2003: We are off to Amsterdam to work for our mutual employer. There had already been some tears on the TTC front, but this was a chance to forget all about that and see if we got lucky. We had some adventures while in Amsterdam including barely (I mean running through the airport, holding the plane for us kind of barely) catching a last minute flight to Venice for the weekend.

Spring 2004: Ernest was conceived on our second attempt at natural cycle IUI. I wish I knew then what a miracle he was.

Spring 2005: Still trying for our second miracle with IUI's. This is the time I was transistioning from "barely hanging on" to "maybe suicide isn't such a crazy idea afterall". I don't know how Brad managed to hold us both together. Did I ever mention what an amazing, kind, patient and loving person he is?

Spring 2006: First miscarriage and second IVF.

Spring 2007: Fourth IVF.

Spring 2008: Are we really going to have a baby?!

Spring 2009: Glorious! Enjoying LB to the fullest: first solo swinging, first buttercup, first buttercup oral extraction, sitting in the grass, cleaning out flower beds with her in a sling, walks to the boat house (river trail near our house), among other adventures.

On a tangently related topic (it happened in the Spring), I just got a call from my financial rep who is getting a quote for me for some term life insurance. She said that she has never quoted someone with such a high ranking. I was "preferred select." She thought that, given our fertility issues, the best I would get would be two tiers down or "non-smoker". Once again, I was given the opportunity to educate someone that "healthy" does not equal "fertile". Sigh.

Monday, April 6, 2009

First nice day of the season

A little bit of sun can make any moment a perfect moment.

For more Perfect Moment Mondays visit Lori's blog.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Working it out

I continue to think about what it means and doesn't mean to have a DE baby as well as what it might mean and might not mean to have a mutually genetic child.

Last night, Brad and I were laying in bed with LB sleeping between us. It was a magical time as Brad and I had a chance to talk and reconnect. For a moment I imagined this continuation between us. Brad blending into LB; LB blending into me. It's as if Brad was yellow and I was blue and LB was green - the blend of us, the physical form of our love for each other. Then I realized that wasn't entirely true. There is a line between LB and me. It is as if Brad was yellow, LB was orange (Belinda being red) and here I am, a nice shade of blue. We are happy, it is good, it's just different then it would have been. It is also more and less than this, but I don't know how to explain it.

I asked Brad if he ever thinks about how it might have been had the cycle with my eggs and donor sperm worked out. He has, often in fact. Likewise, he found it hard to explain. I am sure this a simpler version of what is in his mind but he said, "I don't think it would bug me, but I am glad I was needed for something. If she wasn't my genetic child, I would feel cut off." I tried to clarify the "wouldn't bug me" with "I would feel cut off" but there is the fuzzy part he can't really explain. It's an interesting discussion and one I hope to have again (and again?) as LB grows up. Right now Brad is happy to be her second favorite person and only sees her a couple of hours on week days. I wonder if things will change as their relationship changes and she becomes Daddy's little girl. I suspect there is, understandably, some insecurity in his role right now.

I continued to be thoughtful as I went to my pre-cycle physical at the clinic today. Since the last time I went there a couple of weeks ago triggered a melt down, I changed my strategy. Instead of repeating to myself, "Don't think about it." ("It" being all the crap we went through. ) , I let the thoughts and visions come and wash over me: the high anxiety times during follicle measurements, crossing the street to the clinic on the day of a transfer, sitting in the chair while Belinda had her follicles counted, Dr. R standing right there as we discussed whether to do a D&C or let nature take its course. And: the heartbeat that kept going higher, the baby I danced with that morning, the house that is no longer empty. I didn't judge, I didn't linger; I remembered it, felt it and let it go.

I left the clinic thinking maybe I do have it in me to try again. Perhaps I am even healing.

I got home and found that I am not the only one who is working out what it means or might mean to have a donor egg baby instead of a mutually genetic one.

Sarah wonders if it wouldn't be a better path to live childfree if this last cycle with her eggs doesn't work.

Sian has a beautiful post about mourning the loss of her precious Eggbert, her dream of a mutually genetic baby.

Lisa DG wonders what it means to continue a genetic legacy as well one that goes beyond genetics. She envisions scenes from her future and tries to figure out what her motivations are in becoming a mother and if she should stay the course or move on to donor eggs.