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


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.