Monday, December 31, 2012

the rearview mirror

It's over. This year has come to a close, and I face this closing door with mixed emotions.

2012 was the best year of my life. It was the year I fulfilled my dream of becoming a mother. But it didn't come without heartache. I don't forget that just weeks before K's arrival, we were making plans on what to do with all of the items in our nursery. We were not going to renew our home study. We were going to live child free.

As I sit here now, staring at K who is asleep in her swing, I realize how lucky we are. How close we were to never achieving this joy. How close we were to leaving this journey behind empty handed.

I don't usually make resolutions for the new year. It's not in my nature. I feel that - in general - if I work hard at all that I do, I will feel accomplished. And that's still true. But if I were to have a resolution for this coming year, it's this: to push forward in helping others achieve their dreams of parenthood.

To stay active in the infertility community.

To remain an advocate for all of you who still await your miracle.

Because while I will look back on 2012 as a year filled with joy, I know that so many others will not. All of you will be in my thoughts as we go into 2013. May this be the year that your dreams finally come true.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

merry christmas

Wishing all of you who celebrate a wonderful, safe, and very Merry Christmas.

Today I'm blessed to celebrate my daughter's first Christmas. But my heart is with those who are hurting this holiday season - from those who are suffering from infertility to those mourning the loss of loved ones.

Hugs to all.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

ICLW

Hi, everyone! Sorry I'm a couple of days late to the ICLW party. The holidays are always crazy around our house, and this year is no exception.

My name is Katie and you can gather most of the details of my journey from the pages above marked "My Story" and "Timeline." But in short, after over four years of infertility, my husband and I adopted our daughter this year. She was born in July, and we just finalized her adoption at the end of November. I refer to her as "K" (or sometimes "Miss K") on this blog to protect her privacy.

Right now I feel like I'm still sometimes trying to transition from infertility to motherhood. Baby announcements can still be incredibly painful for me - especially ones for second and third children. This is because we've decided that K will be our only child. Not only do I want to be sure we have the means to provide for her financially, but I also don't know if I can endure another round of trying for a baby (adoption or IF treatments) in a physical, emotional, or mental sense. However, it doesn't mean that I don't mourn the loss of my dreams for a big family.

But I won't end this on a down note. I'm truly excited for the next few days and the opportunity to celebrate our baby girl's first Christmas. We've waited years for this moment and it's finally here. So I'm going to enjoy this time and everything about it! I'm also taking this time to think about all of those still in the trenches, waiting for their miracle. I don't forget what it's like and I most definitely never will.

That's it for now. Welcome, and hopefully I'll have something more profound to write in the next few days. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

a need for change

The tragedy in Newtown has hit me hard. I don't know how to explain it. Some have suggested its because I'm a parent now, but I don't agree with that. To quote Savannah Guthrie of the Today Show, "If you are lucky enough to love a child, you cannot shield your heart from how much this hurts."

Maybe it's because the victims were so young. Babies. Ages 6 and 7.

Maybe it's because my mom is a school teacher, and I increasingly fear for her safety.

Maybe it's because this same story repeats itself far too often.

Since the shooting, there has been so much talk about gun control. Mental illness. Safety in schools. I do believe that there are improvements we can make to keep our children safe. What I don't believe is that "solving" one, single issue will stop this from happening. It's far more complex than that.

We, as a society, must change.

We don't need to take away every single gun. We do need to make them more difficult to access. We need to keep them away from our children and away from individuals who want to use them for harm. Is it necessary to have an arsenal full of semiautomatic rifles in your home? No.

We do need to support the mentally ill, to let them know that they are not alone and they are not "crazy." We don't need to drastically take away their rights. Not every mentally ill person kills. Not every mentally ill person deserves to be locked away - ostracized further from society.

We do need better safety in schools and more support for our teachers. We do not need to arm them. They have difficult jobs as is. Let's find better ways of supporting them. Let's not wait until they have to take bullets for our children to hug them and tell them we appreciate them.

We need to teach our children that violence is not okay. We need to teach them to treat one another the way that they would want to be treated. We need to stop the bullying and the hatred. We need to teach peace and kindness toward all. "God" in schools isn't going to solve anything. Tolerance of ALL might - regardless of their religions. (If you haven't watched the Muslim prayer from last night's interfaith vigil, please do. Enlighten yourself and be sure you have tissues handy.)

We need to stop accepting this as normal. Because it's not. We need to start taking action. And it can't just be in our schools, or with our mentally ill, or with guns. It has to be everywhere, and it has to be everyone.

These babies. We can't let them die in vain. They had so much life to live. They will never know what it's like to get their first kiss. To get their acceptance letter to college. To walk across the stage at their high school graduation and toss their cap in the air. To go drinking all night on their 21st birthday. To buy their first car. To get their first job. To travel the world. To fall in love. To fall out of love. To get married to their soulmate. To have children or grandchildren. They will never get to make decisions about their future. Someone made that decision for them. But they can still make an impact through OUR actions.

For "there is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

newtown

I write this as K sleeps next to me in bed. She was restless most of the night, chatting and squealing away while Joey and I fought migraines.

But you know? I have no complaints. I feel so fortunate.

Because hundreds of miles away, there is a group of parents who weren't up in the middle of the night with their children. Instead, they were up in the middle of the night grieving them. 20 innocent faces. Some of them surely in the midst of Hanukkah. Others awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus. Now gone. Their hopes and dreams - their futures - now unreachable.

Hundreds of miles away, there is a group of surviving children - those who witnessed or heard the deaths of others. Those whose innocence will never be restored.

There are the families of the adult victims, the men and women who were there to nurture our young minds and hearts. Dead - many if not all of them in an effort to protects other children from becoming victims.

There are the teachers and other school officials, the police, the first responders... All heroes, but all witnesses to the carnage that took place yesterday morning. They held hands and dried tears, while trying to hold back tears of their own.

So today, I may be tired. But I will down that extra cup of coffee and keep going. I will hold K a little bit closer. Tell her again how much I love her. Because any day with her is a million times better than what the residents in Newtown are enduring at this moment.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

bah, humbug

The holiday season is in full swing. In the midst of Hanukkah and with Christmas right around the corner, I've heard from many friends who are struggling with how to cope during this difficult time of year - especially when it comes to family gatherings.

I've always been a big advocate for self care/preservation. I can't count how many times I had to back out of events or gatherings because I wasn't emotionally capable of handling it. Events with children were especially overwhelming.

So, I'm here to tell you that it's okay to skip out on the holiday events. That's right. I'm actually suggesting ditching your family.

I love my family. I truly do. But I wish I had listened to my own advice and bailed on them at least one holiday season of the four I endured while childless. This is a painful time to cope with this disease. There are the holiday commercials and the kid-centric events (such as meeting Santa or opening gifts). This is also the end of the year. Each January, all of us have renewed hope about conceiving or bringing home our child. By December, we are run down. We've tried our best, and we still haven't succeeded. The holidays only serve as a reminder of the end - another year gone by without becoming a parent.

Why endure sitting through the torture of large family dinners or those kids opening their gifts?

Family means well, but they don't understand what it's like to be surrounded by such cheer when you aren't feeling very cheerful yourself. Your crazy, drunk cousin doesn't get that saying "at least you can still drink!" is painful. Your mom doesn't get why you don't want to hold your sister's baby and pose for photos.

But I do. I get it. I've been there. That's why I'm giving you permission to not deal with it. Stay home. Fake illness. Book a last minute trip out of town. Do whatever you need to do. Just don't force yourself to participate if you aren't in a place to do so.

YOU are what's important - your well being. Take care of yourself. Take this time to refresh and rethink your goals for next year. Connect with other couples going through the same thing, if you can, and celebrate the holidays together. (Because you KNOW an infertile couples' holiday party would be a much better time than dealing with Uncle Ned's questions about your barren uterus.)

And be kind to yourself. It may have been a rough year. But 2013 is a new begininning.

Hugs.

For more tips on how to cope with infertility during the holidays, visit RESOLVE's website.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

at what cost?

This morning, I stumbled across this article while doing research for a project at work. For some reason, I never knew (or maybe I never wanted to know) that REs receive a kickback from IVF loans. It makes sense. Many receive them from drug companies, so it's logical that they would also receive them from the loan providers.

I agree with what this author is saying, but I think there is a broader issue here. I'm reading this on the heels of several conversations with friends and family members regarding the high cost, in general, of infertility and adoption services. It saddens me that it cost as much as it does to build a family - particularly when these are circumstances we cannot control. We didn't choose to be infertile; therefore, why should we be punished financially?

By no means do I expect these services to be dirt cheap. I understand that it's costly to run a clinic. However, for average couples, it's unreasonable to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a chance. This is a large reason why we chose adoption (and, going back to the study I posted about on Monday, I imagine it's a large reason why couples choose child-free living . . . they simply don't have the resources to attempt IVF an unlimited number of times).

Of course, this would be a non-issue if we had mandated infertility coverage. If we acknowledged infertility for what it is: a disease.

All we can do is continue to fight for our "equality." To make lawmakers, insurance companies, and doctors understand our point of view. We can call our Congressmen/women and fight for the passage of the Family Act. We can get involved in organizations like RESOLVE. And we can hope that, in our lifetime, we see a change in the way we are recognized by others outside of this community.

Monday, December 10, 2012

being infertile shortens your life

Or at least it does if you don't resolve it - so get on that.

Last week, a researcher at the University of Denmark released the results of a study on couples who underwent IVF for infertility. According to the study, the mortality rates for those couples who were childless were higher than those couples whose IVF treatments worked or who subsequently adopted children. Doctors attributed this to the stress cause by infertility treatment and/or the lifestyle difference between those with children and those without.

I don't buy this.

Don't get me wrong. Infertility treatments are stressful. This is a large reason why we didn't pursue IVF (that and it was expensive with no guarantee of the payoff). I wasn't sure that I could mentally handle a failed IVF cycle. I've always struggled with anxiety and depression, but both were exacerbated by infertility treatments. A failed IVF cycle would have pushed me over the edge. To be honest, a failed adoption would have pushed me over the edge, too. Thankfully, we never had to experience either.

But I don't believe that the stress of infertility will kill you. Nor do I believe that your lifestyle becomes so much different than those who have children.

It seems like scare tactics. As if people who want children and can't have them need to be pushed any further toward the cliff of complete insanity. But why bring on this discussion? What is the point of telling people who can't have kids that they are going to die sooner than everyone else around them if they don't succeed? Let's scare the shit out of a group that doesn't need anything else to fear. That sounds like fun. It makes me wonder if IVF clinics sponsored this, just to get more people coming through their doors.

It's also interesting that they focused solely on couples going through IVF treatment, as well, rather than focusing on the entire population of childless couples. What about couples who choose not to have children? Or couples who choose to adopt children without the diagnosis of infertility? Do they live longer as a result of those life choices?

How long we live depends on a myriad of factors. You can't point the finger at any one reason or the decision behind it. I could get hit by a bus and die tomorrow; I have a child. Those two things have nothing to do with one another. And unless my uterus explodes one day, I'm fairly confident that, when it is my time to go, my reproductive capabilities will have nothing to do with my exit from earth.

Infertility certainly feels like death some days. But don't believe for a second that it will kill you - with kids as the result or without.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

5 months

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

K turned five months old on Sunday!

Weight & Length: She was over 23 inches long at her last check up (10-25%) and she weighs 12 lbs. 3 oz. (still 5-10%).

Sleeping: Sleep comes and goes. Sometimes she will make it through the night, or come close to it. Other times she will wake up every 3-4 hours to eat. She's also teething, and I know that discomfort doesn't help with her sleep patterns.

Eating: She's eating around 4 ounces at each feeding, and anywhere from 20 to 26 ounces a day. She was eating close to 5 ounces at each feed, but we took a step back late last week and over the weekend when she started struggling with her reflux again. The pediatrician upped her Zantac dose, so hopefully that does the trick. Prior to her tummy issues this weekend, we were also starting to introduce solid foods. So far, we've tried oatmeal (nay), bananas (nay), sweet potatoes (yay), avocado (yay), and apples (nay).

Diapers: We are still using cloth diapers at home, but daycare will only do disposable. So we are using Huggies Natural Care there, and she's almost ready to move out of size 1.

Clothing: Clothes that are 0-3 months are packed away, and so are many of the 3 month clothes. She's wearing mostly 3-6 month and 6 month sizes now.

Personality: SUCH A HAM. I promise there are times when she does cry, but for the most part, she's incredibly happy. And funny. She's started giggling uncontrollably when she finds something extra amusing, such as looking at herself in the mirror or playing peek-a-boo. She's also "found her voice" according to the pediatrician, because she shrieks and screams at times for no reason - and not in a sad way. She much prefers interacting with other people than being left alone, though she will occupy herself in her play gym for about 20-30 minutes at a time.

Milestones & Firsts: We had lots of big milestones this month, including trying solid foods for the first time (and sitting in her high chair) and, of course, finalization. She's sitting up a little bit on her own and rolling both ways with ease, though she's not a huge fan of rolling from back to tummy since she'd prefer not to be on her stomach. It seems to frustrate her, since she can't quite get her limbs coordinated in order to crawl yet. We've learned that putting a mirror in front of her does entice her to scoot forward, but it takes up a lot of her energy. She also celebrated her first Thanksgiving this month and met Santa for the first time.

I honestly can't believe that almost half a year has gone by already. Where is the time going? :(

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

officially official

On Friday morning, we piled into two cars: Joey, my father-in-law, my mother-in-law, and K in one; my mom, my brother, and me in the other.

We drove over an hour into the middle of nowhere, got lost walking to the courthouse, and arrived in front of the courtroom less than 10 minutes before our hearing.

It wasn't like the movies. There were no long testimonies about why we deserved to be parents or how much we love K. There wasn't even enough time for tears. We were sworn in, and it was over less than three minutes later.

Four and a half years in the making ended on Friday, November 30, 2012. We are legally parents. Finally!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"what is she?"

Since K's birth, we've gotten a fair amount of questions about her race. I don't post too many pictures of her on this blog for privacy purposes, but you may or may not have noticed her slight tan in previous photos. By contrast, I am very fair-skinned, so I think people tend to notice that she looks different more with me than with Joey, who has dark hair, dark eyes, and darker skin like K.

It doesn't bother me when people we know ask about her ethnic background, but in most cases, it hasn't been people we know who ask. It's been strangers. And it's almost always a question that isn't quite phrased right. (Such as, "what is she?")

I've noticed plenty of children over the years who do not look like their parents. In fact, I was one of those children. My brother and I were both born with red hair and fair skin. Our parents, on the other hand, had dark hair and darker skin. I'm sure they got plenty sideways glances when we were younger.

But I don't recall ever going up to families and asking them why their children look different from them, or having others approach me about why I look different from my parents. It seems completely inappropriate, right? Or am I alone in thinking this? I mean, I knew that this was something we would likely encounter adopting a biracial child. I guess I just didn't realize how often we would get comments – or the ways in which they would be worded.

Up until recently, I've been answering these questions with a straightforward, honest answer: she's half white, and half Hispanic. However, the more I answered this question with the truth, the more irritated I grew. WHY did they need to know? And, by giving these people an answer, am I letting them know that this type of behavior is okay? Because it's not okay! I don't go up to strangers and ask them about the color of their skin.

So, I started getting snarky. I've said things like "she's a baby" or "she's a princess!" when people ask what she is. I've thought about asking them a deeply personal question in response. ("Did you have sex with your husband last night? Oh, is that too much? If you don't want to answer a personal question, don't ask one!")

Yet, this is just as ineffective as answering the question. It's not serving anyone except for my anger. It's not teaching them anything except for "wow, that lady is a bitch." As K gets older, she'll begin to notice how I'm answering this question. I don't want her to grow up and resort to anger or sarcasm when people ask her questions that she isn't comfortable answering.

The truth is, it's a far more loaded question for K than people think. It isn't just about the color of her skin. It's about part of her background that we will never be able to share with her because we just don't have the information. It will always be this blank page in her story that we can't fill in for her, and that hurts my heart. I would love nothing more than for her to be able to celebrate who she is – her culture – but it's a piece of information we simply don't know.

Therefore, from this point forward, I've decided to be honest with strangers – truly honest. I will tell them that it's not appropriate to ask such a personal question. Because it's not. As K grows up, we will of course share her story with her, but we will also emphasize that this is her story. She can choose to share, or not share, with others based on her comfort level. This should be her decision, and not anyone else's. It's her personal journey.

And we'll teach her to always be respectful of other's personal stories - to understand that while she may choose to share her story, others may not.

Honestly, I wish I didn't have to teach her about respect and personal privacy. I wish I didn't have to help her navigate issues having to do with race. Instead, I wish people could just see the beautiful person that she is without focusing on the color of her skin.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

scars

I used to think that infertility made me a hard ass. I put up with less shit. I was indestructable. A bitch, in many situations, doing what I needed to do to protect myself. But I'm slowly realizing that infertility has - in many ways - made me MORE sensitive than I used to be.

Infertility has made me overly emotional, particularly when it comes to situations that have to do with children or lack thereof. Listening to people's stories about their infertility journeys still makes me tear up, even though I've heard the same stories from so many women over the last four years. It still gets me fired up to hear about doctors mistreating (or misdiagnosing) patients. I get happy and sad when people announce their pregnancies, despite the fact that I don't want to be pregnant.

I often wonder if it will ever fade, this emotion. If I will ever stop shedding tears over everything that's happened in the last four years. What infertility has both taken away from and given to me, and what it has both taken away from and given to others in this community.

The hole my heart nearly closed with K's arrival. But I fear that a tiny sliver of it will never heal. Not just for my lost dreams, but for the lost dreams of others. For the pain that this community experiences on a daily basis. For those women who never get to shed happy tears over their child's first visit with Santa.

I fear we will never truly be able to "cure" infertility, or the people who've experienced it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

giving thanks

It would be an understatement to say that I have much be thankful for this year. After four years of infertility, I feel so blessed to be a mother.

I am grateful for my husband. It hasn't been easy. We've had our ups and downs. But I love you with all of my heart, and it makes me so happy to see you with K. You are the best dad.

I am grateful for T, for giving us the gift of parenthood. While we don't keep in touch as often as I'd like, I think about her every single day, as well as her other children.

I am grateful for my family members and close friends. Those who've been there through all of the waiting and who've welcomed K into their lives with open arms and so much love.

And, of course, I am forever grateful for K. She has taught me so much in her short, four-and-a-half month life. She's filled the hole in my heart. She's taught me how to be a better person. She's taught me how to love again. Truly.

I also incredibly grateful for all of you. This would not have been possible without your love and support. If it weren't for this community, I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago. But you pushed me. You encouraged me. You told me that I could be a mom if that's what I wanted, if I put my mind to it.

I know that, for many of you, this holiday is the beginning of a very difficult time of year. You're still in the trenches. You're still waiting for that miracle. I get it. Believe me. I spent four holiday seasons in your shoes. Take care of yourselves. Don't push your emotions. Protect your heart in whatever way you need to. And know that while I'm celebrating with my family, part of my heart is with you. Because I haven't forgotten the pain or the struggle. I will never forget.

Love you all. Thank you. And to those still fighting? Fierce hugs. I would give anything I could for your fight to end in peace, happiness, and parenthood. That is my wish for this holiday season.

Monday, November 19, 2012

a forever kind of love

November is National Adoption Month. It began as a means to promote the need for adoptive families for children in foster care. However, it's become a time to celebrate all of the families who've come together through adoption.

Now (and always), I've thought a lot about K's birth mother and given thanks for her gift to us. I would love if - in addition to celebrating families made through adoption this month - we could also take a moment to think about the birth families of these children. Especially T. She is going through a difficult time right now. If you could send positive thoughts her way, I would be incredibly grateful.

Congratulations to all of the families who became "official" this month.

And I have news. We will be joining the ranks of "official" very soon. Our hearing is November 30. On the last day of National Adoption Month, we will become K's parents. We will become a forever family.

We loved you before we knew you
Even when there was just the hope of you -
We loved you

Thursday, November 15, 2012

firsts and lasts

I thought that the arrival of K would cure my holiday blues, but it hasn't. Instead, I'm facing a different sort of holiday depression this year.

Time is going by too fast.

We have teeth coming in. She's almost sitting up unassisted. She's rolling both ways. We set up the high chair last night, and we're starting solid foods this weekend.

We are quickly coming into her first holiday season, which will fade away just as fast.

Don't get me wrong. I'm HAPPY she's growing and thriving. The doctor can't believe how well she's doing. She's not only passed all of her four-month development marks, she's doing some things that shouldn't even start until six months. And she's a premie. It's truly unbelievable - a miracle considering the circumstances into which she was born.

Yet, it's hard for me to not want her to stay small forever. All of her firsts are our lasts. Every time I witness her doing something for the first time - whether it's as small as putting her pacifier back in her mouth or as big as her sitting up unassisted - I know that I will never witness that moment again.

So with Thanksgiving coming up next week, and Christmas right around the corner from that, I'm already feeling nostalgic. I can't wait to experience all of the exciting moments I know are ahead in the next month and a half.

But I'm also incredibly sad that I will never get them again.

Monday, November 12, 2012

poopocalypse 2012

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have survived Poopocalypse 2012.

This event began last Saturday. We look K out with us to run errands, and she went - uh - number 2 several times while we were out of the house. This is highly unusual for her, as she normally only goes once a day. As the frequency increased, I noticed that the consistency was, for lack of a better word, decreasing.

By Sunday, we were in full-blown shit hell.

Raw butt. Screaming. Blowout after blowout. It was like K ate at Taco Hell for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Friday, and was paying the price.

By Monday, we added fever to the list of ailments. Then Tuesday, a cough and runny nose. At first, we thought it was teething. Then her soft spot on her head bulged in the middle of the night on Monday, and we went back and forth over whether to take her to the hospital.

Ultimately, we decided to wait it out until morning (her fever was hovering around 101.5 with Tylenol) and call the doc. I took her in, and the verdict?

The flu.

After Joey and I got flu shots to make sure we wouldn't get the flu and give it to K, SHE ended up getting the flu (likely from daycare, aka the germ factory) and we needed the shots to protect her from infecting us.

I won't go into details, but lets just say that "it" lasted until this weekend, and I could go a lifetime without seeing another poopy diaper and not be disappointed.

Joey took her back in to the doctor today, and although she lost a few ounces on her Taco Hell diet, she otherwise received a clean bill of health. She got her four-month shots, was weighed and measured (10 lbs. 14 oz. and 23.25 inches), and got the green light to start trying solid foods.

Oh, and remember when we suspected teething instead of sickness?

Yeah. That's happening, too. :)

Time to break out the high chair and invest in Red Bull!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

red, white, blue, and respect

Dear Family and Friends,

I made no secret about who I voted for during this election cycle. I've written about it (diplomatically, I might add) on this blog and on social media. I've discussed it openly with all of you, and engaged in healthy debates regarding everything from the economy to women's healthcare.

As expected, I was happy that the American public chose to reelect President Obama. However, I was unhappy to read the dialogue that occurred in the aftermath of this decision. I read so many hurtful, negative responses from members of both political parties. It made me feel embarrassed to be an American. To be honest, it made me feel embarrassed to associate with some of you - particularly those who brought up issues of race and who painted those of us who support our president as anti-American.

There was a time, before social media, when we voiced our political opinions yet maintained respect for our country's leader and for each other. What happened to those ideals? What happened to the concept of a "civil" debate? I'm not quite sure, but I do know that it's gone. Our country has become polarized, and with it, so have individual relationships.

Eight years ago, I voted for President Bush in my first presidential election. I'm not ashamed of this; I considered myself a "moderate conservative" on most issues, and I believed in the idea of small government. I still do in some ways. I firmly believe in hard work and responsibility.

But part of the responsibility I believe in is social responsibility. I believe that we have a duty to look out for one another. I believe there are times when some of us may need extra help. We used to be those "somebodies" when Joey lost his job back in 2008. After six months of unemployment, we were forced to move to a completely different state in order for him to find work. We lived with my mom for 10 months in order to rebuild our finances. It was a humbling time, and it pains me that others who are enduring similar circumstances are painted as villains.

I believe that we have a duty to respect who others love. My love for my husband is not affected by gay marriage. It doesn't make my relationship any more or less valid. I admire the strength and courage of so many gay couples whose relationships have lasted not only the tests of time, but also the persecution and ridicule from those who do not respect their love. I believe that families whose parents are made up of two men or two women are, aside from appearance, no different than mine and therefore should not be treated differently under the laws by which we are governed.

I believe in the separation of church and state. While I believe in God, my neighbors may not. They may believe in another higher being or they may believe in nothing at all. And that's okay. Just as I have the freedom to practice my religion of choice, so do they. I believe that, as a result, those individuals shouldn't be subject to laws based upon my religion or anyone else's.

And I believe that we have a duty to honor a woman's right to choose what happens to her body, whether that be in regard to abortion or birth control or any other issue related to reproductive rights. I wish, more than anything, for my daughter to grow up in a country that values her as a woman and allows her to make decisions about her body that are best for her. I also wish for her to receive equal healthcare, equal pay, and equal respect to her male peers.

I did not vote for President Obama because I receive government "handouts." I have a job, and I work very hard to provide for my family, as does Joey. While I am pro-choice, I am not pro-abortion; I am not a "baby killer." I support the millions of troops who protect our freedoms abroad as well as those who protect us domestically (such as the National Guard, Coast Guard, police, and firefighters). Being a Democrat and voting for President Obama isn't a racial issue. It's not an issue of wanting or needing more from government. It's not an issue of being patriotic. I'm the granddaughter of a World War II veteran, the daughter of a former member of the National Guard, and I'm as patriotic as they come.

And I believe President Obama is as patriotic as they come. Those of you who wanted Christian values in the White House? They were already there. Those of you who wanted an all-American family to represent our country? They've been living in the White House for four years.

I feel blessed to live in this country, where we have the freedom of choice and the freedom of speech. We are allowed to choose who we feel will best represent us and our interests in government. We are allowed to talk freely about our political views. But we've stopped doing this peacefully. We've stopped respecting others in the process, including our President.

Toward the end of President Bush's second term, I began to disagree with many of his decisions as Commander in Chief. But I respected him as our leader, and I respected others who continued to support him. Today, I ask for the same from all of you. Please respect our leader, and please respect me for supporting him. Being a Democrat doesn't make me ignorant. It simply makes me American.

Love,
Katie

Monday, November 5, 2012

4 months

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

K turned four months old on Friday!

Weight & Length: She's just over 11 lbs. with her clothes on, but she doesn't have her four-month appointment until next Monday. So we won't know her official length and weight until then.

Sleeping: She is still getting up once a night to eat, almost the same time each night - between 12 and 1. But she's MUCH better at falling asleep. She goes to bed consistently at 8 pm and wakes up around 7 am - though she usually has her morning bottle about an hour or two before that.

Eating: She's eating between 3 and 4 ounces each feeding, and anywhere from 20 to 26 ounces a day.

Diapers: We are still using bumGenius 4.0s at home, but daycare will only do disposable. So we are using Huggies Natural Care there, and she's still in a size 1.

Clothing: Clothes that are 0-3 months are packed away, and some of the 3 month clothes are starting to get tight. I've taken out the 3-6 month clothes and even some of the 6 month stuff in preparation for the transition. Ah!

Hair: Her hair is getting a little thicker, but she still has the bald spot from birth on the back of her head. I'm wondering when it's going to start filling in.

Eyes: Dark brown and incredibly expressive. Her eyes always tell me how she's feeling.

Personality: She is still as happy and chatty as ever. We actually went through a period this month where she was waking up in the middle of the night just to talk. It was as if she didn't have enough time during the day to say all that she needed to say. The ladies at daycare rave about how sweet she is there, too, so it's not just at home. She recognizes the people she normally interacts with, and smiles/"talks" to them when she sees them (including Joey and I, of course). It's all fun, all the time with this girl. I joke that she's going to be a comedian, but she is so active, that I have a feeling she'll be into athletics. Her little legs are always going. Can we say the next Mia Hamm?

Milestones & Firsts: This month, she started holding her bottle for the first time (though she's not strong enough to do it herself yet), sleeping in her crib (for most of the night), and taking her pacifier out of her mouth and putting it back in. She's desperately trying to sit up, but hasn't quite mastered it. She had her first trip to a pumpkin patch, "walked" in her first 5k race, visited Epcot for the first time (she's already been to Animal Kingdom), and celebrated her first Halloween. We also had an important "last" for this month: we had our last post-placement visit with our social worker, which means we are ready to finalize the adoption! It will either be later this month or early next month.

It's hard to believe that her first year of life is already a third of the way complete. I remember being in the NICU with her so many nights and wondering if she would ever get better - if we would ever have a healthy little girl to bring home. And now? That time seems like a blur. Because there are so many more days of her life that have been filled with laughter and smiles. It's a wonderful feeling.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

tick, tock

Giuliana Rancic has always been a fabulous advocate for the infertility community. In this month's issue of Health magazine, she opens up about a subject that, in my opinion, isn't spoken about enough when it comes to infertility: delaying motherhood.

We started trying to grow our family when I was young - just 23 years old. I was career driven, but I also married someone eight years my senior who didn't want to delay parenthood any further. I've met so many women who were at the opposite age spectrum on this journey. Some delayed trying because they were waiting for the right partner. But many waited because they wanted to make sure it was the "right" time financially and for their career.

Before going through infertility, I probably would have placed the "blame" on those women who waited for the fact that they couldn't get pregnant. Instead, having this disease has made me aware of all the factors that go into making the decision to wait to have a child and battling infertility as a result.

For one, we (society) place far too much importance on this idea of waiting until the perfect time, when on fact there is no perfect time. No one is ever truly ready to be a parent, because no one can predict what you'll face when it happens. You could have your dream job, the ideal home to raise a child, and it could disappear the second you bring a child home. You can't rely on what you imagine your life will be like.

We also - and this is the bigger issue - see far too many stories about women getting pregnant later in life with no mention of infertility treatments. Specifically celebrities. I understand that people want to keep certain details about their lives private. I'm not suggesting that the public has a right to know such sensitive and personal details. But I am saying that people who don't speak out about how they struggled to conceive in their 30s and 40s are perpetuating the myth that women are still extremely fertile at that age (when, in most cases, we aren't). I mean, hell. I have three more years until I hit 30, and my uterus is like a coffin nailed shut.

Infertility is only taboo if we keep it that way. I commend Giuliana Rancic for opening up about this topic, but what we need is for other women like her to talk candidly about it, too. She is already the face of infertility to so many, but she isn't alone. What we need is for more women in the spotlight to speak out against this idea that we can beat the clock.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

once upon a time

A few people commented to me about Monday's post that my line "This will be our only child . . ." jumped out at them.

"You don't plan on having another?" seems to be the question these days. (Yes, even now as Miss K has barely reached the four-month mark and we are still waiting for finalization.)

The short answer is no. We don't plan on having another.

When we started trying to grow our family, I had a plan. A vision. Most of us do. I wanted two kids, maybe three. I wanted to space them out so that they would only be, at most, three years apart. I wanted a boy, and then a girl, so that our daughter would have an older brother. Something I always wanted.

Looking back, I think it's funny how we paint these pictures in our heads of how things will be. I don't know about some of you, but my imaginary family building started early on - way before Joey was in the picture. We plan our lives: how many kids we have, what their names will be, what they will look like, etc.

And then when our dream doesn't become reality, we throw it away. We ban all of that fairy-tale nonsense, and we focus instead on getting that ONE healthy, living child.

The dream is dead. My dream. I can't put my finger on an exact time or date, but it's been dead for a while, and I have no intention of bringing it back.

The last four years, we have tirelessly worked toward becoming parents. Our entire marriage, that's all we've done. Now that we've achieved our goal, we want to do something we've neglected a little bit over these last four years: live our lives. We want to travel, and bring Miss K with us on our adventures. We want to bring back all of the happiness that faded away with infertility. We want to be able to have fun.

I used to worry about having an only child. I worried about socialization. Not having enough entertainment. Not being grounded. But now I realize that it's my job to take care of these things - not the job of a sibling. Daycare already gives her plenty of socialization and entertainment. She has cousins and friends that she will be able to interact with as she gets older. And while she'll certainly be spoiled to an extent (she already is), we will also make sure that she has realistic expectations about life.

Is part of me disappointed that my original dream of having a big family won't become reality? Maybe. But I can't imagine going through everything all over again, both emotionally and financially. I don't want to drain our souls or our bank account for the sake of another child.

Instead we are going to focus on giving Miss K - and our little family - the best life possible.

Monday, October 22, 2012

hanging on

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

We had a busy weekend filled with a 5k walk, college football, and a visit to a local pumpkin patch - fun times with family and friends. The next two weekends are also jam packed, and I'm finding myself at a loss for how to manage my free time. Work is WORK from the time I get to my desk until the time I leave, and I don't want to do any more of it when I get home (including work around the house). Everything from blogging to freelance has sort of been thrown to the side.

Part of me wants to make a "don't do anything on the weekends except play catch up" vow from the beginning of November until the new year, but I also know that's impossible with the holidays coming up. Holidays = more visiting with family and friends, more holiday parties, etc. Not that any of those are bad things, but I'm starting to wonder when this house is going to get a thorough cleaning. Or when I'm going to get to the rest of my thank-you notes. Or when I'm going to shave my legs again (yeah, I went there).

I wish there were more hours in the day to get things done. But, since that isn't likely to happen, I'm focusing on spending as much time as I can with K. I keep reminding myself that this is likely it. This will be our only child, and this will be the only chance I get to spend with her as a baby. Someone at work put it perfectly: "You can't bottle it up and save it." No, I can't. So, as much as I wish life wasn't as hectic, and as much as I want to get more sleep, I can't say I'm not appreciating these moments.

I'm just drinking a lot more caffeine - and spending a lot less time on my hair!

Friday, October 12, 2012

the moment when i felt like sandra fluke

Most of you probably remember the remarks made by Rush Limbaugh at the beginning of the year regarding Sandra Fluke - the Georgetown University law student who spoke on behalf of women's reproductive rights.

There's a clear divide in this country over women's health and whether the government can or should get involved in the choices we make regarding reproduction. I've always found it interesting that the party who claims to want small government would like at least part of that government to be big enough to invade my uterus. But I don't usually talk about this on my blog. It's a touchy subject. There are many women in the infertility community who feel passionately about the topic of abortion because they are unable to conceive. I can understand how it may be difficult for them to grasp why someone else would want to end a child's life when they so desperately want to start a child's life. Yet, I also want to draw attention to the fact that women's reproductive health goes beyond abortion. It's a broad topic - one that is often shoved into a box marked "Roe vs. Wade."

On the occasions when I have written about my political beliefs regarding reproductive rights on this blog, I've experienced my fair share of backlash. In other words, I'm no stranger to name calling. I've had people comment that they do not think I deserve to be a parent because of my beliefs. I've been called repulsive.

But it wasn't until last night when, for the first time, I finally felt just a tiny piece of what Fluke must have felt when she was called a slut many months ago.

I was engaged in a political debate on my mom's Facebook page. Those who know me personally know that my mom is a Republican. I am a Democrat. (So see, we aren't all raised to be bleeding-heart liberals. I became one on my own.) The debate grew heated, as it often does. I wrote things, as did others, that began to press the buttons of those on the opposite side of our beliefs.

Finally, I wrote what I thought would be my final "two cents" on why I felt that President Obama had my best interest at heart when it comes to healthcare:

But it wasn't the last word:

I was - as many of you can imagine - livid. There were a number of responses I wanted to write in that moment. I wanted to make a snarky remark about getting an abortion on my lunch break after my nail appointment. I wanted to call him way worse words than I ended up using. In the end, this was all that came out:

And it's in this moment when I felt like Fluke: a woman painted with a stereotype for my personal and political beliefs. Apparently, voting for President Obama made me a woman dependent on government to take care of my birth control and pay for my abortions.

Make no mistake: I am a Democrat. Yes, there are policies that are part of the liberal agenda I don't agree with, but I largely vote left because of my personal healthcare journey. I'm a 27-year-old woman who has had more than one scare with breast, ovarian, and cervical cancers, and I am voting for President Obama because he will respect my reproductive rights. Just because I am a Democrat doesn't mean that I am "pro-abortion" (who is pro-abortion?) or that I have ever received an abortion (not like it's anyone's business, but I haven't). It doesn't mean that I expect the government to pay for my birth control. It simply means that I am voting for what I feel will protect my own health in the coming years. It means that I expect the government to stay out of my right to take birth control in the first place. I am voting for my daughter's health, because I never want to see her go through the hell I've been through to get the basic preventive care I need for my health conditions. I don't want her to waste time fighting for insurance to cover medical procedures or medication. I want her choose not only what happens to her body, but for which beliefs and organizations she would like to advocate. I didn't have the luxury of choice. I advocate for these policies because these policies are me.

I regret calling Rob an asshole. But I don't regret standing up for my body. I've said it time and time again: we have to be our own advocates for our reproductive health. And part of being my own advocate is voting for the presidential candidate that will respect and support my journey.

I'm leaving the comments open. Let the name calling begin. This time, I'm ready for it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

sleep deprived and slacking

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

I'm happy to report that, in the last couple of weeks, I've gotten better about being the paranoid mom who calls daycare and obsesses over the webcam. I'm not saying that leaving her all day is easy, it's just become easier. The teachers at daycare seem to love her (I think she's one of the lower maintenance babies in the room), and I have to say that I'm enjoying my time at work/getting a paycheck again.

Sleep seems to be a problem lately. At first we thought teething might be starting, but now I'm not so sure. All I know is that there's a lot of slobber, a lot of "hands in the mouth" action, and not so much sleeping going on at night - though she seems to be getting better during the day with her naps. Who knows. I guess we'll be able to tell if/when a tooth makes an appearance.

I still haven't quite gotten the hang of time management, which leaves my blog sometimes at the bottom of the to-do list. So please bear with me. I have some posts in the works, I promise. For now, update me on what's going on in your world(s). I don't get to read and comment on other blogs as much as I'd like to these days. What am I missing out on? Fill me in!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

it's a miracle . . . or is it?

Recently, several women have confided in me that, much to their surprise, they are pregnant. Each of these women is a member of the ALI community. In the midst of their news, the Huffington Post published an article (you can read an excerpt here) about miracle pregnancies after infertility treatments.

If you would have asked me a year ago how I would feel if I got pregnant after failed infertility treatments, whether this pregnancy would occur before or after our adoption, I would have told you "overjoyed." Isn't that what we are supposed to feel after years of failure? We're supposed to be happy for this gift - this miracle of life that is so unexpected.

If you were to ask my now how I would feel if I experienced a surprise pregnancy, I would have a much different reaction.

Part of me would be terrified that it wouldn't work. I've spent years being told that my reproductive system doesn't work properly. That I have a disease which attacks perfectly healthy cells. It wouldn't be easy to spend nine months on "Cloud 9" thinking that everything will turn out perfectly. All of us who've been through infertility and loss know better. We know not only the statistics about our own bodies, but we've watched other members of our community struggle first hand.

The other part of me might be a little angry. I'm not supposed to be pregnant, I would think. When you spend as much time as we do thinking that your life will turn out one way, and it suddenly takes a much different direction, it's easy to feel disappointment or frustration. Add on to that the fact that doctors have most likely told you pregnancy is "impossible," and it's understandable why you wouldn't necessarily be overjoyed at the news. Instead, you'd be looking for a different doctor!

Before, when I wanted to carry a baby so badly I could hardly see straight, I would have accepted anything handed to me. However, when I came to the realization that I was okay with not getting pregnant, I began to see why not every pregnancy was as joyful as outsiders wanted it to be. The article in the Huffington Post paints, for the most part, this beautiful picture of what these surprise pregnancies should feel like. Sadly, for some women, the reality is much different. Yes, it's a happy time. It's also a scary and confusing time - one that will need to be navigated with the help of a support system who understands the concerns these mothers-to-be have about their health and their unexpected change in family dynamics.

I know that each of these women will be absolutely amazing mothers. Two of them are already parenting children who are going to make wonderful older siblings. But I also understand their fears. I can't imagine what it's like to be in their shoes, yet I know that each of them will be okay. They are incredibly strong women who have made it through the worst in infertility and loss. If they can get through that, they can handle any other obstacle that comes their way.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

3 months

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

K turned three months old today!

Weight & Length: We don't have a 3 month wellness visit, but the last time she was at the doctor (two weeks ago), she was 22 inches long (up from 21 inches at 2 months and in the 10-25%). Her weight at that visit was 9 lbs. 3.5 oz. (up from 8 lbs. 8.5 oz. at 2 months and in the 5-10%), but it's obviously way more than that by now. We'll have to take her unofficial weight on the scale at home. :)

Sleeping: She is sleeping through the night occasionally now. When she does wake up, it's still just one time and it's usually between 2 and 4 am. I think daycare has helped with her sleep, because she comes home completely worn out. She's still not napping well all the time, but it's getting better. We're also trying to let her nap unswaddled as much as she'll let us to get her used to it.

Eating: Eating has improved a lot. She's now averaging 3 oz. each feed, and sometimes she'll go over that (nothing above 4, though). She's also a much happier eater now that we have the reflux under control. No more screaming fits during or after bottles. Yay!

Diapers: We are still using bumGenius 4.0s at home, but daycare will only do disposable. So we are using Huggies Natural Care there, and she's still in a size 1.

Clothing: Clothes that are 0-3 months are starting to fit a little snug, but 3 month clothes are still fitting nicely.

Hair: K's hair is getting an auburn tint to it, which I absolutely LOVE. She still has a bald spot on the back of her head (she's had it since birth), but the pediatrician swears that will go away. Above it, her hair is thin, but below it her hair is much thicker - so it looks like she has a mullet. Poor girl

Eyes: Still dark brown and gorgeous!

Personality: Oh, she has personality all right. What a sassy pants. But she's such a HAPPY sassy pants. She smiles a lot, and she's started laughing a little bit in the last month (as much as she can "laugh" at her age - it kind of sounds like a squeak/wheeze). When she's not smiling, she's focusing very intently on things. Her expressions amaze me, and I wish I could know what she's thinking. We still think she is going to be social, as she loves to be out and about and she "talks" a lot. She'll even respond back to you when you reply to her. It's adorable. She's also now obsessed with her hands and feet. Both go toward her mouth at all times - especially her hands (she hasn't quite figured out how to get her feet in there yet). She's extremely grabby, though mostly with her own face. We've had several face-scratching incidents in the last week or two. She loves books a lot, too, as we read to her almost every night.

Milestones & Firsts: Over the last month, she's had her first laugh. She can now hold weight on her legs and she pushes off like she wants to take off and run. She also pushes when she's on her belly like she is trying to crawl. She can get herself into a push-up position and hold her head steady. She's rolling from her tummy to back regularly now, and still working on getting the art of the back to tummy roll (she's done it before, but she's still working on it as a "regular" thing). She of course had her first day at school this month. She also had her first visit to Disney this past Saturday when my mom and I took her to Animal Kingdom, and she was completely mesmerized by all of the scenery. I can't wait to take her during Christmas to see the lights at Hollywood Studios.

It's surreal to me that a quarter of her first year is now over, but I have to say, I'm looking forward to the coming months because there's nothing I've wanted more than to celebrate all of the "first" holidays with my child. I've waited a long time for this, and I'm going to enjoy every single minute of it!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

mom's the word (updated)

When we were starting this process, I never imagined having an open adoption. In all honesty, I was afraid of one. I'd heard and read enough horror stories to make me want to steer clear of an open contact situation with our child's birth family. And then T came along, and it seemed odd NOT to have contact with her. Not only did I like her on a personal level, but the idea of having that relationship didn't feel threatening. She made it easy to communicate.

So I looked forward to being able to fill her in on the next 18+ years of K's life. I remember her expressing some concern in the beginning that I wouldn't hold up my end of the bargain. That I wouldn't stay in contact. There was no way I would become that person. I couldn't. Not after what she'd done for us. I was happy when she would text and ask for updates about how K was doing in the NICU, and it thrilled me to have her come back to the hospital to see K on the day we took her home.

However, over the last eight weeks, contact has grown from slow to nonexistent. She hasn't responded to my last two emails with photos and updates. I finally reached out via text, and I got a response, though when I replied again, there was no answer the second time.

It seems weird to most people that we would wonder and worry about T. In fact, almost everyone had this response after K's birth: "well, maybe now she'll leave you alone." Family and friends didn't understand that we didn't want her to leave us alone. Of course we don't want her knocking on our door every other day asking to see her (I don't want that from anyone!), but we wanted to be able to maintain those lines of communication. And it wasn't just for practical information, like medical history. It was for K to know how much she's loved, and for us to know that T was okay. We truly care about her, and it's difficult some days not knowing where she is or how she's doing with what we've learned about her situation/background.

I think some perceive us as having "rescued" K from T, and that's not the case. Can we provide for her in ways that T can't? Yes. But it doesn't mean T doesn't love or care about her, or that she wouldn't have done the best she possibly could to parent K. I honestly believe she would have, especially after meeting her other daughters. It hurt in the hospital, before she signed consent, to see some of the nurses treat me differently than they treated her.

Because what people don't understand is that we are BOTH mothers. T might not be raising her, but she gave her the gift of life. And I might not have grown her in my belly, but I will give her the gift of raising her in the best way that I can. Maybe going through infertility has made me better understand the ways in which someone is or becomes a mom. Whether we are mothers to babies who live with us, live in heaven, live with someone else, or live within our hearts, we all love and care for our children.

I don't know what will happen with us and T. I do hope she contacts us soon. Until then, I'll keep holding up my end of the bargain. Because it's the least I can do for her after all that she's done for us.

Update: I feel that I need to clarify this post by saying that I'm not in any way, shape, or form pushing T to contact me. I'm simply sending the emails on the schedule she originally asked for them. As for the text, it was the only one I'm planning to send and her response was that she was happy to hear from me. I've always maintained that she knows we are here, and she knows that she can call or text anytime. I never intended for this post to make it seem as if we weren't respecting her space or giving her time to grieve.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

back to the grind

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

Well, we survived the first day of daycare. I did fine dropping her off until it was time to say good-bye and she smiled at me from ear to ear. That broke my heart. I waited until I got to the car, and then I sobbed for most of the way to work. Luckily, yesterday went by fast because I had so much to do. (I still do, seeing as how no one has done my job for the last three months!) K was incredibly tired by the time I got home. She hardly napped, but she did eat well and they said she was in a happy mood all day.

This morning's drop-off went much better. It was actually "picture day" at school. And for whatever reason, they include the infants in picture day. I thought, "How does this work?" Turns out that it doesn't work. It was mass chaos. One baby would start crying, then ALL of the babies would start crying. Except for K and one other little girl, everyone was upset.

The photographer had me stay to try and get K to look at the camera and smile. She kept speaking to K in baby talk, and K just looked at her like she was nuts. Finally, I had to interrupt and say that we don't use baby talk (code: that's probably why she's looking at you as if you're crazy). Didn't matter. This woman continued to goo goo gah gah at K. I'll definitely be ordering one of these pictures, if not for any other reason but to have her "WTF" look on file for the rest of her life.

I left after the photo fiasco, and I didn't cry. So I thought I was doing better, right? Wrong. Today was the first day we had our web cam access. PAYING FOR THIS EXTRA WAS A HUGE MISTAKE. I called them mid-morning to give them a "tip" about putting her down for a nap (she likes to be swaddled), and not only did it not end up working for long, but they left her swaddled all day. AGH. So the swaddle bag will no longer be coming with us to daycare, and we'll be canceling the web cam after this month. Joey and I both agreed that it's causing me more anxiety than it's worth.

As for being back to work, that part is fine. I am right back in the swing of things. It's like I never left, and my coworkers are being super sweet with welcoming me back and asking how things are going with K. But overall? It's only day two, and I'm exhausted. I'll be going home tonight, having a BIG glass of wine, and counting the hours until this first, very difficult week is over.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

it's here

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

The day I go back to work. My bag is packed, and so is K's. Tomorrow morning, I will drop her off at daycare, and the rest of our lives will start.

It sort of feels like going back to work after your honeymoon. The celebration is over, and now you settle into your normal life.

The last 12 weeks have gone by far too fast - especially the last seven that she was home from the hospital.

Wish me luck. I'm sure I'll be a blubbering mess tomorrow morning. I promise to post all about it later this week.

Friday, September 21, 2012

all things "woman"

Some of you may remember my breast lump saga from the beginning of the year. If you're a newer reader, here's the shortened version: I found a lump in my left breast, went to my GP, was denied a mammo by two imaging centers because of my age, wrote an email about it to one of the local news stations, and ended up getting my mammo with the help of a local breast cancer charity and a TV reporter. When the mammo was inconclusive, I had an MRI done. The MRI determined that I didn't have cancer, but my GP thought it was best for me to start seeing a breast specialist because of my family history (the same specialist who, ironically, treated my mom when she had cancer).

Whew. Are you exhausted by reading that? Yeah, me too.

I went to the specialist in March, and she told me to monitor it and follow up in September - six months. My follow up was on Wednesday, and there's nothing new to report. It's still there, and it hasn't grown much since my last visit (we're talking tenths of a millimeter). The interesting thing was that the specialist feels something different from what the ultrasound tech is seeing - an area next to the lump that feels "odd." Yet nothing shows there on the ultrasound. BUT, she doesn't seem to think that it's anything pressing, so I go back again in March. As much as it feels strange to know there is something in my body that isn't supposed to be there, I'm happy she still doesn't want to cut it out. I can't imagine going through another surgery right now.

In other health news, I'm still seeing my RE for my pituitary gland dysfunction. I had a follow-up MRI in August to make sure there was still no tumor, and I need to go in for blood work next month. I've just been waiting for them to refill my prescription which is finally getting done TODAY (three weeks after I initially told them I needed a refill) to make sure that my levels are accurate.

After much debate, I decided not to continue with the birth control. We feel like we have my cysts under control with the pituitary meds, and I didn't see the point in adding hormones to the mix. I think my RE is a little disappointed, mostly because he's not convinced I can't get pregnant, but I wanted to give my body a break. I've been on and off different hormones now for almost five years. I'd like to see if my body can just act normally for a little while. That's not too much to ask. Right? :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

on the mend

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

I've been seriously slacking on my blog this week (and my blog reading/commenting), but I have a good excuse, I swear. I was sick. I mean, REALLY sick. I can't remember the last time I had a cold that bad. And then K got sick AGAIN because I was sick. Infection was running rampant in this house, and she hasn't even been to daycare yet. I'm surprised Joey didn't catch it.

Speaking of daycare, next week is my last week off of work. I go back on the 24th, and it's a bittersweet feeling for me. I'm going to miss her so much each day, but I'm also the type of person who needs to go back to work. Even if we could financially afford for one of us to stay home, I don't know that I could do it. Plus, daycare will be good for her. It will help get her socialized and into a daily routine.

K slept through the night for the first time on Thursday night. I'm pretty sure it was just a fluke (she woke up last night around 2:30 for a bottle), but Joey and I still enjoyed the 7.5 stretch of sleep.

I hope to get back into the swing of things next week now that I'm feeling better. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

disney did it well

I managed to sneak out of the house for a couple of hours last weekend (Joey watched K) to go see The Odd Life of Timothy Green with two of my girlfriends. I met both ladies through RESOLVE (all three of us are volunteers with the support group here in Central Florida). So if there was ever a group of friends with enough infertility and adoption experience to critique a film about infertility and adoption, we were it.

I loved watching this movie, even more than I loved reading about it. I loved the way that it realistically portrayed the emotions that couples go through when dealing with their fate. First the sadness, then the anger, and then the denial. Jennifer Garner did an amazing job at capturing exactly how many of us react to such devastating news. And Joel Edgerton did an equally great job of showing how men often respond to the same situation - expressing the desire to make things fixable when they simply cannot be fixed.

I loved the way that it realistically portrayed the emotions that couples go through after a child suddenly enters their lives. How life doesn't suddenly become perfect. How there is a learning curve to parenthood. How people make mistakes. Every time they faced a difficult situation with their child, it reminded me of this post and how, despite feeling grateful for becoming a parent, it doesn't mean that everything comes easily or there aren't difficult days.

I loved the way that it showed the stereotypes about adoption in a negative light. Throughout the film, one of the adult characters made remarks about Timothy's behavior and related them to the fact that he is an older "adopted" child. While the film doesn't address these statements outright, it paints this person in a negative light and paints Timothy in a positive one - showing, through actions, that older adopted children are no different than other children their age.

But mostly, I loved the way that it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. I won't ruin the ending, but it was bittersweet. It didn't come without loss or sadness - much like infertility and adoption. Things don't fall together like you expect or want them to, but they fall together as they should.

The movie isn't factually correct as far as the adoption process is concerned, but overall, I thought it nailed down the emotions that come with both infertility and adoption well. My only recommendation - if you choose to see it - is to bring your tissues. You'll definitely need them. It might be a Disney movie, but it still hits close to home for so many of us.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

nothing but a number

I thought someone was playing a practical joke on me last week when I received an email from an MTV producer about the filming of a new True Life episode on infertility. I'll admit I was a little taken back by the idea of MTV producing a show on such a serious and sensitive topic - especially one that already receives such negative press. But I was excited to learn today that RESOLVE has given MTV guidance on how to approach it.

That excitement quickly disappeared when I began to read the comments on RESOLVE's Facebook post about the show.

There have always been discussions about age and infertility. In fact, I did an interview a few months back with The Huffington Post on this topic and very few of my comments were included in the article - likely because I didn't give them the responses they were looking for. My argument was, and still is, that age doesn't matter. And not that age doesn't matter just from a physical standpoint. I mean that age doesn't matter from an emotional standpoint, either. Infertility is infertility. Whether you're young, old, black, white, brown, green, rich, poor, man, woman, or otherwise, this disease is a struggle. One journey is no more or less difficult than the next. One person isn't more or less worthy of parenthood than the next. Infertility just IS. And it sucks equally.

So imagine my surprise scrolling through and reading comment after comment from women who are upset over MTV's age requirement for the show (18-29). Women who don't think couples that young should be featured on the show. Women who don't think couples that age should be trying to have a baby. Women who don't think couples that age have it as bad as couples who are older or who've been trying for longer.

It's one thing to have people outside of this community stereotype infertility as a disease related to age. It's another for people inside of this community to do it. We are supposed to be a team. We are supposed to fight this together - the disease and the stereotypes that aim to keep us down.

MTV's age requirement doesn't surprise me. The ages they've invited to participate in this show meet their demographic. They're smart. They know that if a teenager turns on MTV and sees a 40-year-old woman speaking about infertility, that teenager will turn the channel. But if that same teenager sees a young woman talking about her struggle, she's more likely to tune in. She's more likely to hear the message.

And that's what this should be about. It should be about the message we are trying to get across, not the age of the person sending that message. This is about getting infertility out there to a new audience. This is about bringing awareness to more men and women regarding a disease that it so often overlooked and so often placed into a box. I'm disappointed in the women who took this news not as an opportunity to share our stories, but as a chance to divide us by numbers that make no difference in how we deal with this disease.

I was diagnosed with infertility at the age of 22. I'd barely reached adulthood when my doctor told me that I may never carry a child. It was devastating - just as it was devastating for those of you who were diagnosed in your thirties and forties. Am I less worthy of a child because some of you have lived longer? Been married longer? Been trying longer? I would like to think that this isn't the case. I would like to think that we all deserve what we've worked so hard to achieve. I would like to think that we all can recognize, understand, and empathize with the struggles others have in trying to build a family.

And I would like to think that we will all tune in to support the young, brave individuals who choose to share their stories with MTV. Thank you to anyone who steps up and becomes a voice for this community.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

2 months

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

K turned two months old today!

Weight & Length: At her well visit last week, she weighed 8 lbs. 8.5 oz. (5-10%), so she's up 2 lbs. 4.5 oz. since birth. Her length was 21 inches (5-10%), which is up 3 inches since birth.

Sleeping: It's a battle, but she typically falls asleep between 9 pm and 10 pm and wakes up anywhere between 4 am and 6 am with one middle-of-the-night feeding. This has been the trend since the last couple of weeks in the NICU. I think if we could get her tummy issues under control, she wouldn't wake up as early. But right now it seems that early morning is when her gas and reflux are the worst. As for naps? It's hit or miss. I just let her nap whenever and wherever she wants on that given day. Sometimes it's in the swing, sometimes it's in the boppy, and other times it's in the wrap.

Eating: She typically eats anywhere from 2 to 3 oz. a feed, which is usually every 2.5-3 hours (with the exception of the middle-of-the-night feed, which almost always lands in the middle of that 9/10 to 4/6 stretch). I think once her gas and reflux are sorted out, she'll be able to take more and go for longer stretches. But right now, the pediatrician thinks less more often is the best strategy, and K pretty much dictates this. I have to remind myself, too, that she's only four weeks adjusted age, and she's still small. So she can't take as much as other babies her age per feed. She has nowhere to put it. :)

Diapers: We are primarily using bumGenius 4.0 One-Size, and we LOVE them. No leaks, no blowouts. I wasn't sure if I would be dedicated enough to use cloth diapers, but I highly recommend it - especially if you're looking to save money. I don't even want to know what we would have paid for disposables at this point.

Clothing: Because the cloth diapers are so bulky, she's mostly in 3 month clothing. Packing away the newborn clothes was sad, but I'm so happy she's a healthy, growing girl.

Hair: Her hair has actually gotten a little lighter since she's left the hospital. It's still brown, but not nearly as dark as it once was. I can already tell she is going to have CRAZY hair (like me!), because it sticks up every which way after her baths or when she's outside in the humidity. I love it.

Eyes: Up until about a month ago, her eyes were a deep blueish gray. Now they are dark brown and so gorgeous.

Personality: I can already tell we are going to have a diva on our hands. She likes things HER way - and that way can change from moment to moment. She's also incredibly determined and gets frustrated when she can't do what she's trying to do. For instance, she has a mobile on her swing that we have to move out of her line of sight because she gets SO upset that she can't reach it. The same goes with some of her toys on her play gym. In general, she doesn't fuss unless there is something wrong (gassy, tired, or hungry). In the last couple of weeks, she's grown very "chatty" - cooing and blowing bubbles at us - and she now smiles pretty much every time we talk to her, especially when she hasn't seen one of us in a while. It's adorable. She also loves being out and about. In fact, she's happier out of the house than she is inside. I think this means she's going to be a social butterfly. :)

Milestones & Firsts: She's reached a lot of milestones and had a lot of firsts since she's come home from the NICU. She was sick for the first time. (Not the kind of milestone you WANT to have, but a "first" nonetheless.) She had her first real bath. She's been to the mall and out to dinner. She can now roll over from her back to her tummy AND from her tummy to her back. She can lift her head and her chest up during tummy time. She grabs toys and can shake them. She's noticed her hands and her feet (and she loves her feet). She watched her first college football game, and met a ton of family members and friends for the first time.

I can't believe that she's been in our lives for two months already. It feels like just yesterday we were racing over to the hospital to meet her for the first time. I can't wait to see what the next month brings!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

missing my cape

Nothing prepares you for the diagnosis of infertility. Most of us don't expect a doctor to sit in front of you and tell you that you may never have kids.

There's nothing that exactly prepares you for parenting after infertility, either. Sure you can read blogs and books about what it's like to raise a child after treatments or adoption. But it doesn't compare to living it. And after only two months, I can tell you that it's not easy. I was defined for four years by my label as "childless," and I still find it hard to believe that I'm no longer that person. I spent those years avoiding everything that could cause me pain - baby showers, the baby aisles at the grocery store and Target, baby pictures on Facebook. And now I am that person who is posting her baby's pictures on Facebook and shopping in those very same aisles I spent years dodging.

So it's no surprise that I feel guilt over this. I'm finally a parent, but that doesn't mean I can forget about all that I've been through and all that other close friends and family members continue to struggle with. Infertility felt like being trapped in a dark room with no escape. Now the lights are on, and I feel like walking through the door is betraying something - or someone. Maybe even part of me.

But it's not just the resolution of my infertility that makes me feel guilt. It's also the struggles that come with parenting. I knew that taking care of a child would be difficult, but I had unrealistic expectations of myself and my own behavior. This sounds silly, but I expected to always be happy. I expected to feel constant joy, even through the rough moments. And while I'll always be grateful (believe me), I'll admit that I've experienced moments of complete frustration. I've cried, more than once, and there were even a couple of moments where I simply had to walk away.

I'm not only learning about how to care for my child, but I'm also learning that I can't be supermom. That it's okay for me to be upset. That it's okay to have moments where I'm frazzled. This has perhaps been the hardest part. And while I know that every mother goes through this, I also know that going through infertility brings with it extra feelings of guilt and confusion. The wonder of "Am I a bad mom if I need a break?" is compounded with "But I've waited so long for this. I should always be happy."

And I am happy. But I'm also human. I'm not a robot. Admitting that I feel exhausted sometimes is okay. It doesn't mean that I don't love K, or motherhood, any less. This is what I'm slowly grasping. Maybe I would have gotten this sooner had I truly listened to what infertility "graduates" before me were experiencing. But who wants to think about the rough moments of parenthood when all you want is to BE a parent?

I'm thankful for K every single day, for all of the shitty circumstances that brought her into our lives. And while I'm not sure when the guilt I feel over resolving our infertility will fade, I'm working every day to chip away at the unrealistic expectations I had of myself as a mother. Instead of wanting to be supermom, I'm focusing on trying my best. My best may never be perfect, but it will always come - whether through tears of joy or frustration - with gratitude toward my daughter and toward her birth mother for choosing us to be her parents.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

contagion

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

There's a disease in this family. It's called "bad luck," and it appears we've passed this along to our child.

On Saturday, we started to notice that K was a little congested. By Sunday, it had turned into a full-blown cold. Or should I say what we thought was a cold. We decided to see if we could get in with the doctor sooner. I called at 9 on Monday morning, and when I told them her symptoms, they asked me to bring her by at 10. Turns out she has RSV - something that the hospital should have warned us about since she was at high risk based on her premie status and being on the CPAP. They also should have warned us that she was at an increased risk for staph infections, which she now has along with the RSV.

So in addition to having trouble breathing, she's now sporting some pretty nasty sores on her neck. They are having us do Nebulizer treatments for the RSV and antibiotics for the staph. Both seem to be making progress toward healing, but K is still uncomfortable. I'm hoping both clear up quickly. Our poor girl can't catch a break.

Friday, August 24, 2012

7 weeks

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

K turned 7 weeks old on Monday, and Joey headed back to work on Tuesday. So far, the solo parenting gig during the day has been difficult at times, but not impossible. I honestly have a new-found respect for single parents who do this day in and day out. You all must have the patience of saints. The good news is, though, that everyone is still alive and kicking, the house is one piece, and I even managed to make dinner one night when Joey was on his way home from work. We also had our first post-placement visit on Monday, which was (coincidentally) the same day the court terminated the parental rights of the birth parents. We have two more post-placement visits, and then K's adoption should be finalized at some point later this year - likely in November or December.

The formula issue seems to be resolved. She still gets fussy at times during feeds, but I think it mostly has to do with gas. I'm going to mention it to our pediatrician anyway at her eight week appointment on Wednesday.

A few of you asked why the doctor was so concerned about K gaining weight. We honestly have no idea. The doctors in the NICU were the same way - obsessed over her catching up to her peers. For us, we were always in agreement that we didn't feel weight was an issue. She was gaining weight on the standard calorie formula, just not as much as they wanted. We didn't think it was realistic to expect her to "catch up." She's a premie! That's what happens when you're early. You are, more often that not, going to stay smaller than the rest of your peers. The good news is that our pediatrician isn't pushing it now that we have other stomach issues to battle with. I'll be curious to see what her weight is next week. We know she's put on some ounces because she feels heavier!

Personality wise, K is growing up every single day. She has started to smile on a regular basis - not related to gas - and she coos and blows bubbles. She's put herself on a schedule in some ways, but getting her to sleep is still a problem. Once we have her down at night, she'll only wake up once for a feeding, but convincing her to shut her eyes is a huge ordeal, both for naps and for bedtime. She turns into the Energizer Bunny and refuses to fall sleep. We've tried establishing a routine at night (bath, story, bottle, then soft music/rocking while swaddled), I've tried to repeat the same steps during the day (minus the bath and story). We've also tried putting her to bed earlier. Nothing seems to work. Any tips from moms out there?

I think that's all on the mom updates for now. I'm sure I'll have more after her visit with the doctor next week.

Monday, August 20, 2012

the odd life of infertility

This past week was the release of the new Disney movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green. I haven't seen it yet, but I've read about it in recent weeks, taking in the views of various infertility and adoption bloggers - most of whom don't seem pleased at the idea of watching a movie that contains fanciful ideas about either topic.

I'm going to be honest: I would like to see it. Believe me, I'm usually the first person in line to advocate for the realistic portrayal of infertility in the media/arts, yet I'm not bothered by the idea of this magical child growing in the backyard overnight.

For starters, let's be honest: it's Disney. Nothing they do is realistic, save for the way they showed infertility in the movie Up. In my opinion, it's unreasonable to be upset or offended by a movie made by a company whose greatest success is a talking mouse. With Disney, you know what you are going to get. Magical. Over-the-top. Oh, a boy grows in the ground from wishes? Makes perfect sense! I wouldn't expect this to be a serious account of a couple going through infertility treatments. In fact, I would expect for them to become "magically" pregnant at the end of the movie (though I'm fairly certain that doesn't happen, but I won't spoil it by recounting what I've read).

Mostly, though, I want to see it because I find myself relating to the parents of Timothy Green. I know what it's like to sit in front of a doctor and be told that you may never be a parent, but I also know what it's like to dream. To wish so hard for something that you can't have. To beg for a miracle. And then? To have that miracle happen. Of course, Miss K didn't grow from the ground. But she did arrive when we least expected it. It WAS magical. It can be magical for many people.

I watch the previews, and I remember a time when Joey and I would curl up on the couch and make plans for our future child. We would talk about what he or she would look like, what they might do when they grew up. We all are guilty of it - those fantasies that feel so good in the moment and then rip our hearts to pieces when they are done. In my opinion, this movie is nothing different. I understand why it might be too painful for some to watch, or too difficult to explain to children. However, I don't quite understand the call for it to be more realistic.

So, I will see it. And yes, there are probably stereotypes in the movie that will make me roll my eyes and parts that will make me reach for the Kleenex. But I won't get angry at the fantasy. Because hoping for a miracle is what all of us do - whether it's that positive on an off cycle, a phone call from your agency on a Saturday morning, or a kid growing overnight in your backyard. Becoming a parent as an infertile does take a little bit of magic.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

oh, parenthood

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

We had our first baby-related crisis last weekend. While in the hospital, K was on Similac Sensitive and did fine with it. Then, they switched her to half Sim Sensitive, half Similac Special Care - the 24 calorie formula - to try and increase her weight faster. They went back to just the Sim Sensitive after a week of the high cal, then put her BACK on the high cal before she went home.

When we went to the pediatrician's office for the first time last Tuesday, we all agreed that mixing two different formulas probably wasn't the best idea. So the doctor gave us a recipe to mix the Similac Sensitive to be a higher cal/concentration.

Wednesday we noticed that she was getting fussy during feeds. It got progressively worse on Thursday, and by Friday night, she was out of control - screaming her head off for almost an hour every time we gave her a bottle. We opted to try going back to the regular concentration of the Sim Sensitive that night to see if maybe the different mix played a role.

Only on Saturday, she started refusing bottles completely. So that evening, we made our first visit to the pediatric urgent care down the street. I'm glad our parental instincts kicked in because it turned out she had a bowel blockage, likely caused by the high calorie formula.

But that wasn't the end of it. She continued to fuss through bottles on Sunday, so we returned to the doctor Monday. Long story short, she might have silent reflux. We not only had to switch formulas, but Miss Diva is ONLY taking ready-to-feed. (Do you hear that? That's a knife going through our checking account.) But in all honesty, I don't care. I am just glad we are working out the issue, and that K will no longer be in so much pain - and neither are our ears from all of the screaming. :)

Beyond the tummy issues, she's doing wonderful. She's up to 8 pounds, and she is now close to 21 inches long. She sleeps in 4 to 6 hour chunks at night (in her swing, since that's the only place she'll tolerate), and we've managed to take her out and about a few times this week. She even smiles now at times when we talk to her. Finally... smiles that aren't gas related!

We have our first post-placement visit on Monday with our social worker, and then Joey goes back to work on Tuesday. It's hard to believe that we've been parents for nearly seven weeks and home for two. Time truly does fly.

Monday, August 13, 2012

the other side

It's weird. Not a bad weird. Just . . . weird being a parent after all of this time.

It's a mix of emotions. Happy, scared, exhausted, overwhelmed. Realistically, we've had months to emotionally prepare for this. Our home study was done in October, we signed with our first agency in November. It was almost the same length as a pregnancy. Except it wasn't a pregnancy. There was nothing to grow attached to. There was nothing sure to prepare for. She just came - out of nowhere.

You spend years avoiding the baby aisle at the grocery store, and then all of the sudden you are SHOPPING THERE with a BABY in your CART. Instead of eyeing babies in their car seats, people are eyeing YOUR BABY in YOUR CAR SEAT.

It's not sunk in. I mean, I feel like K's mom. But I also think back and say, "Holy shit. Two months ago, I was ready to throw in the towel. Is this even happening?"

Honestly, I don't know if it will ever hit me, considering how fast all of this happened. But I'm glad it did. I'm glad I didn't stop trying. Because I wouldn't trade these happy, scared, exhausted, and overwhelmed feelings for anything else in the world.

In the last few days, I've lost several followers. I understand not wanting to read posts about motherhood when you are still in the trenches. Believe me, I went through that for four years. But I also want to reassure all of my readers that I am still going to post about infertility. I want to be a strong voice in the IF community. I'll continue volunteering for RESOLVE and being a part of their organization for as long as they will have me. And I vow to do whatever it takes to attend next year's Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. Because if it weren't for RESOLVE and for the men and women in this community, I would never have K.

I will never forget what life is like on the other side of the fence. And I will keep fighting for those who reside there.

Friday, August 10, 2012

home, sweet home

This is a baby-related post. Please feel free to skip if you are not comfortable reading.

Well, I'm alive. Joey is alive. Danica is alive. And yes, our little girl is still alive. We're nearing the end of our first week with K at home, and everyone is still relatively in one piece. We've gotten (a little) sleep, the house doesn't look like a complete disaster area (yet), and I have still managed to shower every day.

It hasn't been easy, and part of me feels guilty to admit that after everything we went through to get K. We're trying to get adjusted to having a baby at home - including Danica. We're also trying to adjust to our new sleep schedule. Meanwhile, K is also trying to adjust to life outside of the NICU. Everything is different for her: the lights, the sounds, the surroundings, and the air. But, overall, everyone is holding it together. We took her to her first pediatrician's appointment on Wednesday morning, and everything looked great. She's up to 7 lbs. 10 oz. and is now 21 inches long. She is currently on high-calorie formula as they would like her to gain more weight to "catch up" to other babies her age over the next several weeks. The downfall of this is that it makes her gassy, which makes her extremely irritable.

Some of you are probably wondering how Danica is taking this transition. Well, you might remember that I was worried months back about her becoming jealous over the addition of a baby to the house. Apparently, what I should have been worried about was her loving the baby TOO much. She's obsessed. She follows her everywhere, cries when she cries, and tries to lick her all over (presumably because she's trying to make her feel better). I'm sure she'll get used to her eventually, but for now, I think she views K as a puppy she needs to take care of. Too bad she doesn't have thumbs and can't change diapers!

I also know that many of you are wondering how we are doing with this transition, as well. I promise there's a post in the works for that. But right now, the baby is sleeping and I'm SUPPOSED to sleep when that happens. So that's what I'm going to (try to) do. Wish me luck.

Monday, August 6, 2012

NICU day #36

The average NICU stay for a baby in K's condition is 43 days.

Today is day 36; otherwise known as "the day we beat the average and got the hell out of this hospital."

I can't believe it. I can't believe we are finally at home with our daughter.

I promise I will update more tomorrow. But for now, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for all of the support and love you sent as we waited to bring our little girl home.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

NICU day #32

Today is K's one-month birthday, and tomorrow is day zero: her due date. We are now in the home stretch.

The plan is to take her off of her medication on Saturday and monitor her for 72 hours, putting her release at some point on Tuesday. This all depends on how she holds up tomorrow and through the weekend.

So please think some good thoughts that everything goes smoothly and we can bring our sweet little girl home early next week. We've been patient long enough.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

lessons in infertility

I'm grateful for my infertility.

I've expressed that before, but now - especially now - I feel the need to express that again. This disease has brought upon a change in me. And in this moment, I am incredibly thankful that it brought me the will to advocate for myself. Because now I have to use this skill to advocate for my daughter.

We didn't have a choice in this hospital. This is where T gave birth, so this is where K's NICU stay must happen. We can't transfer her, as insurance won't cover it because it isn't medically necessary. It's 90 minutes from home - inconvenient but not impossible - and supposedly has one of the best NICU units in the area.

Maybe it does. We've seen some great things from the doctors and nurses here. But we've also seen the bad and the ugly. There is no consistency in the way these babies are treated by the doctors or nurses. And there is no consistency in the evaluation methods used on K to determine whether she is ready to go home.

With many of them, there is also no support. We are often not treated with the same respect as biological parents with children in the unit. Because I stay almost full time, we are also taken for granted. The good nurses help in any way they can, but the bad nurses leave me to struggle both with sleep and trying to comfort our little girl. There have been times when we look out to see babies crying and nurses busy chit chatting or surfing the Internet.

And let me not get started on security. The lack of wrist bands. The constant questions about where the child's mother is - even though they see me every day and know that I am the mother.

I've fought everyone under the sun about these issues, and even though it's exhausting, infertility has taught me to never give up on an important fight. If I had been in this position several years ago, I never would have questioned the doctors and the nurses on their protocols. I never would have fought back. And even if the fighting back has to go on after we leave this hospital, to call attention to the issues with our level of care, I'm not afraid to do it.

So thank you, infertility. Every day you teach me new lessons about life, but today I am grateful for the most important lesson you've taught me thus far. I'm grateful for the ability to stand up for the medical care I believe is right. I'm grateful for the gift of advocacy - and I promise to continue with it. I promise to pass it along to my daughter.

I promise to never give up on what's right.