Friday, January 29, 2010

Issues? Me?

Please Note: This is a 'poor me' post about being pregnant after infertility. If you are not in a space to read about anyone, let alone an infertile, complaining about being pregnant then please skip this one.

I have recently realized I have issues - issues surrounding being pregnant and giving birth.

I did before too, but I tried my best not to think about it. Not entirely true - I did think about it, but didn't think it would effect the birth experience. And maybe it didn't. Certainly I tried enough positive thinking, imagery, meditation, you name it - all failed - during the infertility journey to doubt their efficacy during birth.

There was also my first birth experience. Let me tell you how ready I was to give birth at 27 weeks and knowing that immediately after the baby was born to be faced with life and death decisions. I was not prepared at all - for any of it. Not for the physical pain. Not for the emotional experience of being in labor. Not for being more convinced than not that the baby would die. Not for what it would be like to hold our dying or dead baby. Not for the image in my head of a limp baby trying to find his way out of the birth canal. Not even the tiniest fraction of any of it.

Yet I gave birth vaginally and without drugs. Despite not being mentally ready. Despite checking out emotionally because I didn't see any other way. Despite doing all the things 'wrong' that those natural birth books talk about - my body did it. Quite on it's own, it found a way to push out a baby I so desperately didn't want to see born - at least not yet and not how I was so afraid it would be (and was).

Going into LB's birth, I also wasn't ready. I couldn't allow myself to believe I would be a mother. There were moments it did seem possible. There were moments I could embrace and celebrate being pregnant, but I couldn't really believe I would be a mom. After six years, one neonatal death, two miscarriages and more compromises than I care to count; I knew with certainty that it could all still go to hell and we would be left childless. Since I could not allow myself to believe that it would actually work out, I also couldn't allow myself to prepare either for the birth or for having a child in our home afterward.

Not a problem. I allowed myself a few onsies, I had breasts to breastfeed and I ordered a diaper service. I had all I needed for a baby to come home. As for the birth process? I had my midwife and a home. The rest was left up to my body. It worked before, it would work again.

But it didn't (not that it wasn't still wonderful in many ways) - at least not the way I wanted. I am mostly convinced that there was nothing I could have done about it - that it was the double nuchal cord that caused LB's heart rate to drop every time she tried to descend which led to the cesarean birth. But I also had, per some studies, a tired uterus (my contractions were slow to build and slow to recede by the time I got to the hospital). There is some indication that this can be caused or made worse by a build up of adrenaline. Was my body responding to my mind's inability to face what may come - for good or ill - by pumping out extra adrenalin? Could I have made a difference if I had been more mentally prepared?

While I feel that the likelihood is small, this time around - my last ever chance for the birth I imagined twice already- it is beyond important that we at least have a birth a bit closer to that ideal. That is, a home birth with a live baby. It is so important that whenever I verbally express my hope, tears come to my eyes.

To that end I have been doing what I can to prepare (fortunately this time around I can imagine having a live baby and am willing to take the emotional risk to plan for it). One of the things I have recently been doing it rereading a book I read before Ernest was born: Birthing From Within. In the second chapter, it encourages you to do 'birth art' - basically drawing a picture on a particular topic and see what comes out. Rather than participate fully, I just visualized what I would draw. The first topic: Draw yourself as pregnant woman.

Pregnant woman?! I am NOT pregnant woman. Pregnant Woman is arrogant and boastful and undeserving. Pregnant Woman walks around in tight maternity shirts, rubbing her belling. Pregnant Woman thinks she is all that when she is really just lucky and has no idea how lucky she is. Pregnant Woman is fertile and I hate everything about her.

I wasn't quite expecting such an angry response. I felt my whole body stiffen. I am not one of those people. And I am pregnant.

Suddenly, as I stop to reread the last two paragraphs, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Remember the phrase, "I'm not bitter, I'm just consumed with hate."? That's me.

It's all good. I am pregnant, the baby is seemingly healthy and it has all gone remarkably easy so far. I just have some work to do. It might even help. Thanks for listening.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday: Taking The Long Way Home

After dropping Brad off at work late last week, I was almost home when I realized I didn't want to go home yet. For whatever reason (sleepy? hormones?) I was feeling blue and going home to do some laundry and get ready for work just didn't sound good. I didn't know where I was heading, but I skipped the turn that would take us home and instead continued north over the river near our home.

Where to go? Up the hill to the winery and enjoy the view for a few minutes? North to visit family for a bit?

Ahhh . . . left to the trail by the river. That's it.

Almost directly across from our house, but on the other side of the river, LB and I took a little walk. We had some stale bread left in the car to feed the ducks and we took that with us (I know . . . bad for the ducks. Does it help that it was whole wheat?).

It was a wonderful 30 minutes or so. The Canada Geese turned out to be a bit aggressive so we quickly jettisoned all 3 pieces of bread (after imagining a goose taking LB's finger along with the bread) and headed for high ground. Soon we returned to throw rocks in the water and watch the action. Such a peaceful, happy time. I'm so glad I trusted my instinct to keep driving.

A cell phone picture from that day:

For other Perfect Moments this Monday visit Lori's blog.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Heart for Adoption

My good friend Leah is going forward with adopting a second child and could use a little help.

After 5 IVF transfers at the ripe old age of 28 (and given a 97% chance of success), she was unsuccessful in bringing a child to term. After spending tens of thousands on fertility treatments she moved on to international adoption and after a few more tens of thousands (and living in-country fostering her child for 8 months) she brought home her beautiful daughter, Maya.

Now she is hoping to give Maya a sibling via domestic adoption.

No, I am not asking for a donation, just that you purchase one or more of these lovely chocolate hearts for Valentine's day. They are 5.25 oz of great quality Guittard chocolate.

Just go to Leah's blog and let her know you are interested. More detail is in the flier below. Feel free to Please pass it on to your friends.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

So There!

How I got a little bit even with a fertile:

This is the story about how I, unintentionally believe it or not, horrified a fertile. In the retelling, it isn't as good as I remember it. The memory is just as good, but it just isn't the same if you weren't there or perhaps if you weren't me at the time. This happened just over a year ago at my husband's work kid Christmas party.

A little background first. The person in question - I will call her Lisa - was married to "Dan". They both worked for my husband's company as did I when Ernest was thought of, conceived, born and died. I used to work in the same department as Dan. Before Brad started working there, Dan and I would regularly go for walks on our lunch break. Often the conversation turned to money. Money was important to Dan. He said, again and again, that money was a means to an end for him. Money bought freedom - the freedom of time (as opposed to spending 40 hours / week; 50 weeks per year working for someone else). More then once he painted a picture of him with a kid or two and maybe fixing up houses for a side business. Given the flexible nature of that kind of job, he would have a lot more time to spend with his kid(s).

Dan was quite frugal and also invested well. When Dan and Lisa married (also frugal) at the age of 41 (her) and 40 (him) they each owned a house outright. I know he had many thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars invested. Dan moved into sales and Lisa was promoted and together I know they made over $200,000 / year.

Brad and I were trying to conceive when Dan and Lisa got married. Given their advanced age, they immediately started investigating adoption. Then a bit less than a year in the marriage she got pregnant - just as they were going to sign up with an adoption agency. You guessed it - they told everyone that it was signing up for the adoption that helped them get pregnant.

A few months later we had our miracle conception. Their child was born - live and healthy - about one month before Ernest was born and died.

Then despite all the talk - neither one quit his or her job. I don't think being a stay at home parent is the only way to go, but Dan had gone on and on about how important time with the kid was. I guess it seemed important until it came to actually giving up the income. I'm not sure how Lisa envisioned parenthood. The only insight I got was when she said that if she had been in her 20's she might have been willing to be a SAHM, but now that she had an established career she couldn't imagine leaving her job. Brad and I were making less than half of what they made, didn't have their huge nest egg and yet I was willing to quit. We were willing to do anything (and we did just about everything before it was over) to have a kid and here they were handed this gift and they didn't give a damn.

I clearly began to hate them. I admit some of this was probably unfair and stemming from envy, but hate them I did.

Cementing my feelings of dislike for this couple came about a year later. Lisa saw me in the company parking lot after dropping Brad off (I had since left that company). I cringed inwardly as she approached my car. After a short hello she said she wanted to give me back the baby sling I had given her. I was horrified! Not only did she tell me she never used a present I selected for her, but what the hell was I supposed to do with a baby sling when I had no baby?! I politely told her to give it to someone else and drove off as quickly as I could.

Fast forward 3 more years to the company's kid Christmas party. I was quite uncomfortable at the party being surrounded by fertiles and was hiding out in a corner for a bit while Brad stood in line with LB to see Santa. She was just 6 months old at the time.

Lisa found me in my corner and the conversation went something like this:

Lisa: Hi! Congratulations! Dan and I were so happy to hear you had a baby.

Me: Thank you. We are very happy. In fact, on the way here I was thinking that if LB died today, at least I got to be her mom for 6 wonderful months.

Lisa: Silence.

Me: Well, you know, I often wished I could have been with Ernest for even a couple of hours. It seems wrong that the only thing I did as his mother was sign as 'next of kin' for the release of his body to the funeral home.

Lisa: Dan and I tried IVF for a second child. It was absolutely awful. It obviously didn't work and we didn't try a second time. It was really awful.

Me: I understand. We conceived LB on our 5th IVF cycle.


Me: Well, we wouldn't have tried so hard if we already had a living child.

Lisa: Yes, well, congratulations again. I need to get back to ____"

That's it. Not very dramatic. I'm still glad that she had the tiniest insight into what it is like to deal with infertility and loss and it was that overwhelming for her.

Me: Yeah. Try living it, Sweetheart.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Previous Post

It seems my previous post came across as negative which I didn't intend. I was very tired when I wrote it, but not feeling down. I am hoping to redirect a bit.

I am very happy to be a mom and so thankful I get to experience it. It is a role I am very happy in. I also need to figure out how to not lose track of the other things I like to do.

I thought before we had LB that nothing else would compare. I thought that a dead end job would no longer matter. I also thought that I would maintain my hobbies - just add a kid or two to the mix.

What I have learned is that I still want to have that contributing role. I don't think it needs to be a formal, paying job; but I think there needs to be something like it in my life. It also needs to be something I feel is worthwhile not just something I am doing. My job isn't all bad, but it isn't going anywhere and it doesn't have as much flexibility as I like. I am on the fence about what to do about it and am happy to maintain status quo for a bit until I decide.

I have also found that maintaining my hobbies and my relationship with DH isn't as easy as I thought it would be. We co-sleep with LB which is important to me but that means I don't sleep next to Brad - she sleeps between us. I am thinking it is time to move LB to a toddler bed. We will either do that - starting with her bed next to ours - or move to a king size bed and figure both kids (assuming this pregnancy works out) will move out into a shared room in about a year. I am also hoping that LBII will be a better sleeper than LB. This may not be related, but neither Brad nor LB's donor need much sleep. I do. Perhaps she is just programmed to only need 10 -11 hours a day. The girl only sleeps 9.5 hours per night (and naps between 1 and 2 during the day while I am normally working). I need about 8.5 but more if I am waking up to check on her or not sleeping well due to pregnancy hormones and aches.

The other thing is not all my hobbies are as baby / kid friendly as I thought. I used to bike a lot. I thought I would just get a trailer and continue as usual. Then I discovered how much I like to let my mind wander while biking a local bike trail. It is a trail isolated from traffic and very safe to not really pay attention to my surroundings. Unless I have a kid behind me then I am always thinking about her contentment and safety. No more mindless riding. On top of that, she would get bored about 1/2 to where ever I thought I was going and wasn't too keen on getting back in the trailer with only a 30 minute or hour break. I am crossing my fingers LB and LBII might keep each other entertained a bit. I will keep trying.

Another thing I used to enjoy a lot was baking bread. I stopped in the last few years because wheat wasn't supposed to be good for TTC if you followed Traditional Chinese Medicine. Since LB I haven't been in a position to easily have sticky fingers for 30 minutes at time. The vast majority of the time she naps while I am working and if she isn't napping, she doesn't normally entertain herself for that long - although this is changing. Well, thanks to my wonderful DH I now have a shiny red Kitchen Aid. I have wanted one for over 12 years but thought I would get one when we got a bigger house. We have made accommodations and made some space for Lady Red (or whatever I end up calling her) and I am baking again. I miss the kneading part, but if time or LB allows, I finish up the kneading by hand and there is always the shaping and baking.

So it is an adjustment and I am still learning to set boundaries that protect my own happiness while maximizing my commitment to being a good mom. And by 'good mom' I don't mean someone who has to respond to every little whim of her toddler. It is just something I need practice. I believe when she seems heartbroken because I won't nurse her she is heartbroken not just manipulative. But heartbreak happens and I refuse to be a giving tree.

I am confident I will figure it out and continue to enjoy the time as it is. I am actually pretty proud of how much I am appreciating and enjoy toddlerhood even though I am quite tired many days and somewhat tired the rest. I would be very surprised if I looked back on this time with any regrets. Although I don't know I would have made the decision to parent had I known what it would take to get there (and been able to turn off that innate desire to parent), I wouldn't give it up for anything now that I am here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Highs And Lows

Before I get started on the subject of this post, I would like to beg your forgiveness for a moment of thoughtlessness in my previous post. I don't know how I did it, but I stupidly asked for peoples opinions about posting child pics from those with blogs and kid(s). Effectively telling those people who are still trying for number one that 'you couldn't possibly have an opinion since you haven't actually experienced parenthood yet.' Of course you would and I welcome your thoughts on the matter. I feel awful and I am also sorry that it took me so long to apologize. I woke up in the middle of the night and realized my arrogance not two days after I posted it. In the future, please feel free - no, I encourage you - to point out when I am being insensitive to those on the IF journey.

I swear I have all these ideas about blog posts in the middle of the night and here I am with a rare occasion to blog and I can't think of anything pertinent to say. How about some random highs/lows of parenting?


Well, this isn't really a conversation, is it? My apologies for complaining about being pregnant and parenting. It is the truth the way I see it right now. In a way, it is also my answer to people who try to coerce others into having kids. It is wonderful, but it is not without it's trade-offs. While I believe choosing to live childfree / childless after infertility is the hardest path to take (how do you turn off that desire to parent?), there is also a reason why studies show again and again that those without children are happier than those with children.

High: I am sure there is at least several times each day when I am delighted to watch LB learn and grow. Tonight I put LB to bed early. She has been teething and/or had a bit of tummy trouble and she hardly napped today. She fought it as she usually does, but it all fell apart when her stuffed duck told me she wanted to go night-night so I laid her down on her side. LB cried the cry of the heartbroken, but it was cute at the same time. I don't know if she was sad because the duck went to sleep when she wanted to play or it was a clear indication it was indeed nighttime. Either way, it was an insight into her world. After I assured her that the duck would get up with her in the morning, she quickly fell asleep.

Low: I got back out of bed at the late, late hour of 7:30. This is a rare treat - normally I go to bed with her closer to nine o'clock. How wonderful to have some quiet time to myself. I decided I would start a crochet project for which I bought the yarn somewhere around 2 years ago. I gathered everything up (and imagined blogging about it for Perfect Moment Monday) and decided I was way too tired to follow directions never mind get my tired eyes to focus. I have not been well rested since late in my pregnancy with LB - not even a day. Just as she started sleeping pretty well, this pregnancy has been taking it's toll. Some nights I am just wide awake and I don't know why. I am hoping I will get some much needed sleep in a year or two.

High: Oh my god, I can't come up with another 'high'. That tells you how tired I am, I guess. I like being a mom, I really do. What do I like about it? . . . . I like getting hugs and kisses from LB. I like that she comes to me when she needs comfort or reassurance. I am not auntie or second best. I like being the one.

Low: Who am I? I find that my day is often a day of doing: Make breakfast, tidy house, take a shower, work, tidy house, make dinner - all interspersed with playtime. What happened to my hobbies? What happened to that feeling of self I think I used to have? I know I am the adult here and can set expectations and make time for myself. I am always working on doing that better, but it is hard for me. After waiting so long for LB, I find I want to give and give and give. My job isn't satisfying and I entertain the idea of quitting, but then I wonder if I would disappear all together.

High: Our morning ritual: Ready or not (usually not) LB wakes up and is ready to eat! Sometimes I can nurse her back to sleep for a blessed 30 - 45 minutes, but usually she signs "eat" with vigor. Stalling, I ask, "Are you hungry?" "Yeah." "What do you want?" "Banananana." "How about some cereal?" "Yeah!" "With banana?" "Yeah!" Then she climbs on the momma-express and we get a small bowl of cold cereal and sit on a stool (LB on my lap) and watch the sun come up while we eat. It is a good, peaceful, if sleepy time for me. Soon we will be playing with toys or taking a shower or tidying house until it is time for a more nutritious 'second breakfast'. Yes, we also often have elevensies, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper.

Low: Husband? What husband? OH! You mean the daddy! Even though Brad and I have a standing date night and so get at least 2 hours / week together to be a couple, so much of our time is spent parenting LB. I can spend all day with my poor hubby and still miss him at the end of the day. Where is our friendly banter? Didn't we used to have sex? At least cuddle? Ok, it isn't that bad - well, the lack of sex is, but we find times to connect intellectually throughout the day. Still, it isn't like it used to be. I suspect it is just one of those trade-offs. I think as we move out of the toddler stage, we will have more time to simply be together and less of, "Isn't it your turn to take her to the potty?" and "Oh look how cute she is!"

High: Cute factor. Need I say more?

High and Low: Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama! It isn't a form of address around here, it is command. With limited vocabulary, "Mama!" and some signs/pointing is about all you need to get your point across.

This is great when I notice how well we can communicate with only a few words. It isn't great when I am lacking in patience or feeling . . . micromanaged. LB is getting increasingly demanding and prone to tantrums when she doesn't get her way. I suppose all kids go through this (again and again, I suspect) to see what they can get away with. This is hard for me, as I have said. I hate to see her upset because she wants something and doesn't understand why she doesn't get it or get it immediately. Necessity is teaching me to be strong and to find creative ways of saying "no" (like walking away from a tantrum), thankfully.

High: Emptying the dishwasher. I think this is a 'high' Oh, it is. Given my normal lack of patience the fact that I almost never think "hurry up!" while we unload the dishwasher together must mean it is a good thing. I can be tiring though. The dishes are easy - she takes them, hands them to me and I put them a way. The silverware (after I have quickly removed all the knives) is more of a process. She will get a spoon or fork, walk over to the silverware drawer, turn her back to me, say "Mama!", I pick her up, she figures out where the particular item goes, and with no small amount of time actually manages to place the item in the correct spot. Put the baby down and repeat.

I will end with a question - What do you do (if you have kids) or imagine you would do (if you are trying for kids) to maintain a balance between your role as mother and your other roles?