Thursday, January 31, 2013

this is growing up

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

It's hard to believe that K will be 7 months on Saturday. I know I say this every time she gets a month older (and I write it, too), but I mean it. Every month that goes by is another month I never expected to be here.

She changes every single day. Her personality, her physical appearance. It's ever-evolving. So are her habits. She was sleeping through the night and now she's not again. She was taking short, frequent naps, and now she's napping (a little) longer and less frequently. But these things could all change tomorrow. Every day is a new adventure with her and I love it. I love never knowing what to expect.

I wonder so much about the future. I wonder what she will look like. I wonder what her personality will be like. What her favorite subject will be in school. If she will prefer sports or arts - or if she'll like both (or neither). I wonder what it will be like to teach her how to drive or to take her on college visits. I worry about drugs. And sex. And all of the things yet to come.

But right now, I try my best to just soak it in. Because when I blink, another day is over and she's grown a little bit more or she's doing something new.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

in the clouds

How do I let myself dream again?

Part of my struggle with looking into the future now is that it doesn't involve infertility - at least not our own infertility. We've "resolved" it for the moment, so what now? What happens when you work so intently on becoming parents for four years and then it's over? What happens when all you remember how to do is be infertile? When you forget how to make other dreams?

Infertility takes so much from us. We can pretend like it doesn't consume our lives. We can carry on as if it's just some small part of our existence. Yet, when it's over, you realize how much of your time was spent working toward this one thing. You realize that you spent so much time trying NOT to hope and wish and dream, that you sometimes forget how to do those things.

I've been hard on myself lately. I've been daydreaming about how I'd love for things to be. I've been daydreaming about the future. Then, I snap back to reality and I scold myself for getting my hopes up. I chastise myself for letting my mind wander or setting expectations that are "too high." But are they too high? Or are they just high standards for my infertile mind? We are told constantly to keep a level head. To not make plans. To simply let things happen. Once they've happened, then we take those same rules and apply them to other areas of our lives. We forget how to fantasize, because we remember what it's like to be drifting up toward the clouds and have something send us crashing back to Earth.

We remember having our dreams stolen from us - crushed into a million pieces and scattered to the winds. We remember what it's like to be told "it will never happen" or to "give up." We let ourselves succumb to the idea that nothing will ever turn out the way we want it to (or hope it does) again.

And then we have a baby. That's it. We have everything we could ever want. Right? Of course not. We still have wants. We have wishes. Or concepts, at least. Yet we don't know how to truly wish again. We don't remember how good it feels to dream, to let our mind run carelessly through the possibilities.

I need to learn how to let myself do this. I need to stop being so hard on myself. I need to let my thoughts go and explore all of the possibilities. Because those possibilites are still there. I simply forgot how to get to them.

Friday, January 25, 2013

inside out

"And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in."

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook the other day, and I think it speaks volumes about this journey.

I'm not the same person I once was. I don't have the same motivations or interests. My personality has changed. I'm not the passive person of five years ago. I'm more determined. I'm stronger. I'm more resilient.

I don't even look the same. Five years ago, I was young and vibrant. I rarely wore make up because I didn't have to. My skin was flawless, and my body felt youthful. Now? The dark circles under my eyes can't be covered by ordinary concealer, and they aren't from parenting. I'll never have the stomach I once did after two surgeries and countless hormones pumped into my body. My scars are hidden to the public, but when I strip off my clothes, I see them - the tiny lines that came with enormous pain.

Many people will argue that this is "getting older and wiser," but all of us who've been through infertility know that it ages you. I'm reminded of this every time I walk past the mirror. Every time I see my scars. Every time I look back on blog posts. Every time I look at my daughter.

It's almost impossible now for me to remember what life was like before this storm, but in a way, I don't want to. While that life seemed easier, I know now how unrealistic it was. It was unrealistic to think that pregnancy could come easily or that everyone who got pregnant stayed pregnant. It was unrealistic to expect that certain things would just happen. That I wouldn't have to work for them. That plans would always be in place.

I much prefer to live in a world where there are no expectations. Where plans are often thrown to the wind. Where I am not ignorant and blissful.

Do I wish I didn't have the scars to prove it? Do I wish I hadn't endured the storm to get here? Of course, but they are what makes me ME now. And as much as I hate the way my body looks from the outside most days, I like the way I look on the inside much better.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

behind the curtain

I didn't intend to worry or scare anyone with my last post and the hint of "changes." It's nothing bad, and it's not for certain at this point. I promise I'll share more when and if the time comes where I can.

My confusion over what to write has less to do with the birth of K and more to do with what's going on in my personal life. Laura brought up a good point on my last post about wishing she had a private place to put down those thoughts. I've thought of that, as well. And not necessarily private in the way of "so some people in this community can read and others can't." Private in the way that people who know me in real life can't read.

This has been my dilemma for a while with my blog. When I first started this, I didn't share this space with anyone in my personal life except for my husband. And now? Everyone knows. It's not necessarily a bad thing. It was a result of my winning the Resolve award and putting myself out there for everyone to support us in our journey. But now that I'm "out," I feel as though this comes with expectations. I need to "behave" a certain way. There are things I can write about and things I can't - whether it's out of fear of offending someone or out of protection for my family. I don't feel as if I can write freely anymore about the things I used to, particularly personal dilemmas or decisions.

What is it about anonymity that makes us so willing to open up about the most intimate details of our lives? Is it solely the lack of judgement or rejection from those in our personal lives? Or is it something more? Fear of the unknown? Whatever it is, it's made me realize how much I miss journaling and how much I prefer it over blogging. Perhaps this is a sign that I should begin journaling again - not just for my sake, but for K's as well. Because I want her to know exactly what I felt at a given time, not just the abridged version, edited for an "audience."

Even this post makes me uncomfortable. People jump to conclusions, and I don't want anyone to think I'm intentionally keeping something from them or wanting to write about them behind their back. That's not what I mean, but I'm nervous people will take it that way. I'm nervous people will think I'm pregnant (I'm not) or that this has something to do with my marriage (it doesn't) or K (no, again). Which is why I wish I had a place where I didn't have to beat around the bush. I could simply write down my feelings and be done with it.

Looks like I need to venture out today and find a journal to serve that purpose.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

strange times

I'm in a weird place right now. There are things going on in our lives that I can't blog about yet because I don't want to make it public. So I'm not quite sure what TO write. All I can say is that we are in the process of trying to make some big decisions, and that's what I haven't written too much lately about family life other than writing my regular, monthly updates on K.

I also feel as if people aren't visiting here as much. Actually, I know they aren't, because I know my readership is dropped. I'm curious: how much of this relates to the fact that I write about K? Or does it have to do with my lack of personal stories lately? I don't know. (Don't worry. I'm not expecting answers to these questions. I'm just sort of stream-of-conscious writing at this point.)

Which brings me to the fact that I'm not even sure where I'm going with this post. Kind of pointless, right? :) I guess what I'd like to say is bear with me as I tiptoe my way around how to blog - or rather what to blog - at this point in my journey. That's all. Hopefully you'll stick with me while I navigate these waters.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

a letter to me

A conversation with a couple of my friends prompted me to think about what I would say to myself at the start of this journey, now that I know how it all ended. I decided to write those thoughts down in a letter.

Dear 23-year-old me,

Take a deep breath and repeat after me: This is not the end of the world.

It's going to feel that way for a long time. You are going to go through the stages of grief more than once. You will be angry for no apparent reason. You will cry so many tears. Some will be tears of joy, but mostly you will shed tears of sorrow. You will be physically and mentally tested in ways that you never thought possible. Your marriage will be tested, as well, in ways that most couples will never experience.

You will grow up faster than you wanted to. You will endure more than you ever bargained for. But, in the end, you will be better for this. I'm here to tell you that you will make it through this intact.

In fact, you will come out of this a better person – a person who is more resilient, more caring, and more passionate about your beliefs. You will be a better friend, a better wife, and, yes, a better parent because of this experience.

You will learn to rely on each other. It's just you and your husband. No one else. You will learn how to love through the pain. You will learn that sometimes words aren't necessary. You will be better partners in life because of this.

You will find your passion and calling in bringing a voice to this disease. You will learn that silence isn't the answer. And although it feels like you are alone, you will learn that others who are going down the same path surround you.

You will make amazing friends along this journey. Relationships with women that will stand the test of time because you have a common bond. You will lose friends, too. Some people will not be able to stay by your side. You will not be able to stay by their side, either – for whatever reason. That's okay. You will learn that each person in your life is there for a reason.

Perhaps the biggest thing to understand is this: things will not go the way you want or expect them to go. Plans? Throw those out the window. Go into this with no expectations, no fears, and hold no regrets when it's all said and done.

Because when you reach your final destination, you WILL become a mother. It's not the way you believed you would be, but it's better. Because the life you will hold in your arms was meant to be yours. She will bring so much joy into your heart. Joy that you don't feel today because it's all too fresh, too soon. She will be the relief to your pain. She will be worth every needle, every ultrasound, every penny, and every tear that this journey will bear.

And when you become a parent, it won't be easy. Things will not be perfect. There will be obstacles, but they won't be anything like what you go through over the next four years. You will be exhausted, yet you will be forever grateful for the gift this journey is going to give you.

So buck up, dry your eyes, and get ready for what lies ahead. The road is bumpy, but your daughter is waiting for you at the end of it.


Your 27-year-old self

Friday, January 11, 2013

my response to rep. gingrey

(Emailed to him tonight in response to these statements made yesterday.)

Rep. Gingrey,

This letter is in response to comments you made on Thursday morning regarding the topic of "forcible rape." While there are dozens of things wrong about these comments, one particular portion of your statement offended me personally. It is this personal impact that leads me to write you this letter.

You see, I was diagnosed with infertility nearly four years ago. I sought the help of countless doctors in my husband and I's quest to have a child, and never once was I told to "relax" by a medical professional. I was never told to drink more wine or be less uptight. Why is that Congressman? That is because these things bear no significance on my disease. In case you have not heard, infertility was classified as a disease by the World Health Organization in 2009. A disease for which there is currently no cure.

I would have loved to drink a glass of wine and have it "cure" my infertility. Or gone on a trip. Read a book. Taken a yoga classes. The list goes on. I can name hundreds of things I did or my husband did over a three-year period that involved relaxing but did not result in us getting pregnant - or even resulted in me ovulating. What DID help me to ovulate was proper medical care, from professionals who stuck to the facts and did not include their own personal opinions or agendas in our treatment plan. It troubles me to know that you not only have these ideas, but that you shared them with patients. It troubles me more to know that while you no longer practice medicine, you are now in a position of power that allows you to use those myths (which you believe to be fact) to create laws that could impede couples from receiving correct and timely treatment for infertility.

As a doctor and as a Congressman, you took oaths to your fellow citizens: to respect and represent them. You have done neither with your statements. Instead, you have turned your back on your constituents, particularly women. You have disrespected them. And you have perpetuated myths that the infertility community works long and tirelessly to dispel.

I urge you to apologize for your offensive remarks. Then, I encourage you to learn more about infertility. This way, you are better prepared when RESOLVE visits you on Capitol Hill on Advocacy Day.


Katie Schaber
Orlando, FL

down and out

I had all sorts of good intentions about blogging this week/weekend. Then, I caught the stomach flu.

I've only had the stomach flu one other time in my life. That was 5 years ago, and I remember wanting to trade anything and everything to make it go away. That feeling still applies. I'd rather go to the dentist every day for a month straight than have this again. And I hate the dentist.

The worst part of this is not being able to be around/take care of K. Joey is doing a fantastic job, of course, but I miss holding my girl. Hopefully I'll improve enough this weekend to be in closer proximity to her. (The last thing we wanted was for her to catch it, so I've been keeping my distance.)

At any rate, I hope to be back in blogging form next week. I hope to be eating again, too.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

6 months

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

K turned six months old one week ago today!

Weight & Length: She's 13 lbs. 4.5 oz. (up 1 lb. 1.5 oz. since her last visit) and 24 3/4 inches long (up over 1 inch). She's still in the lower percentiles on both her weight and length, but the doctor is very happy with her growth and progress.

Sleeping: Two days after K hit the six month mark, she started sleeping through the night. It was like someone hit a light switch and she just decided to start sleeping better. The first few nights were hard on me because I would wake up paranoid that something was wrong and rush in there to check on her, more than once, during the middle of the night. But I'm getting better at not being such a helicopter mom. I think.

Eating: She's still eating around 4-5 ounces at each feeding, and anywhere from 20 to 26 ounces a day. We are full swing into solids now. She eats oatmeal twice a day and fruits/veggies two times a day, as well. She LOVES veggies and hates fruit. Strange, right? We've starting giving her blends so she gets a little of both.

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 in a size 2 now.

Clothing: She is in practically all 6 month clothes now, though I think there are still a few larger 3-6 month onesies that she wears from time to time.

Personality: Still a sassy little thing. Seriously, K has the most entertaining personality. I can't get over it. Everyone has commented on what an expressive baby she is, and the older she gets, the more expressions she has! Her latest thing is screaming. Not because she's upset, mind you, but because she just likes to hear her voice. It's pretty hysterical. (Yes, I'll admit, I sometimes do wish for earplugs. It gets LOUD!) We try not to let her watch TV, but if it's on football, forget it. She's glued, and she'll actually "talk" during the game. If that's not proof she was meant to be ours, I don't know what is.

Milestones & Firsts: This was a big month for firsts: first Christmas, first "New Year," first time sitting up with no assistance, first time standing with something to grab onto - like a table or the couch, and first time eating more than one "meal" a day. She is SERIOUSLY moving around now, scooting and rolling every which way . . . including in her sleep. She is also no longer the baby in her class at daycare. Sad.

She's not so interested in sitting by herself, but cares more about trying to crawl and stand. Everyone keeps saying that's okay, though, so I'm trying not to stress it too much. Oh - and we are FINALLY getting some hair. Her bald spot is disappearing! I'm excited to see what her hair will look like.

Friday, January 4, 2013

new beginnings

Yesterday marked a new beginning for me.

After seeing an RE for more than four years, I had my records transferred to my gynecologist. No more reproductive endocrinology - at least not at this point in my life.

I loved my RE, but he is over an hour away from our house. It just wasn't feasible for me to continue to travel there every three months to treat me for a condition that can be treated by a gynecologist or a regular endocrinologist. So, since I like my gynecologist and I didn't exactly want to sign up to see yet another doctor, I opted to see my gynecologist for everything.

I like him a lot. He's incredibly straightforward and practical. I started seeing him early last year, and despite only meeting with me for an hour, he remembered a lot about me. (The first question out of his mouth was, "Are you still trying to adopt?") We talked about my continued treatment plan for my pituitary dysfunction, and he believes that "if it's not broken, don't fix it." Which means I'll have my pituitary and my thyroid checked every 6 months or so, but unless something is off, I'll continue on my medication as planned.

He doesn't believe I should go on birth control, especially now that I'm in relatively little pain and my cycles are finally regular. There are no signs of any cysts at this point, but I'm to let him know if I notice anything unusual. We talked again about the plan if I need another surgery, too: taking out my ovary. I was especially happy to hear this. No more temporary solutions. We'll just take the "problem child" out of the situation.

The only bad news? I have yet another breast lump. However, it feels cyst-like to him. Since I see my breast specialist in March again, anyway, he just told me to keep an eye on it and let him know if I experience pain.

Overall, I was happy with the visit. I do wish there was something they could do about my breast lumps, but everything can't be perfect, right?

It does seem strange - no longer seeing a specialist. But I felt like it was the right thing for me at this time. I needed to close that chapter of my life. I needed help moving forward in my own journey.

Here's to turning the page.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

what's new with 2013?

1. Well, we didn't go over the fiscal cliff. And Congress made the adoption tax credit permanent, which is great. But they didn't make it refundable, and the Family Act was not considered as part of the deal. The good news is that a new session is starting soon, so maybe they will all get their heads on straight and pass some legislation that is meaningful to those of us fighting infertility. Please make sure that you contact your Senators and Representatives, and urge them to 1. support the Family Act and 2. make the Adoption Tax Credit refundable.

2. This will be the year of ultrasound parties. Creepy.

3. Just before the New Year, Russia banned all adoptions to the United States. I am incredibly sad over the decision to make orphans pawns in this political chess game. But I'm more upset reading the reaction from Americans who believe that we shouldn't be adopting children from other countries in the first place. Take, for example, the letter to the editor published in my local paper yesterday. (Don't worry. I responded.) It must be the same group of people who think that infertiles should "just adopt" and "save the children."

4. The Creme de la Creme of 2012 is up! Go read some of last year's most amazing posts. Mine is number 61. Thank you so much to Mel for doing this for our community each year.

and last, a personal note:

5. Danica turned 4 years old on January 1, and K turned 6 months old on the 2nd. Both of my girls are growing up. I have a 6-month update for K half written, and I promise to have that posted soon. Overall, things are going well and our family is looking forward to what 2013 has to offer. :)