Please note on your readers that I have a new blog: http://nowaystosayit.com.

If you have any questions, you can email me at katieschaber (at) gmail.com.

Thank you for all of your support over the years! xo

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!