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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

what i want my daughter to know

Recently, I read Things I Want My Daughters to Know. It was an inspiring read, but only in a general sense. It didn't give me any concrete "takeaways" on what I do want my daughter to grow up knowing. I've read some great blog posts and articles on this topic, too. Things I want my daughter to know. How to raise a confident girl. How to raise a strong girl. All of them had great underlying value, but none of them fit ME.

So, I decided to write down my own list of things I want K to know as she grows up. Things that I want to instill in her. Things that I have learned in my own life or watched others learn that I want her to understand. Something more personal than just phrases out of a book or another person's blog post. Here is that list:

Life isn't fair - and it's okay to be upset about it. People always said to me, "Life's not fair. Deal with it." And it's true. Life isn't fair. Shit happens. You can throw all sorts of cliches out there. But it doesn't mean that it's okay. It doesn't mean that you can't be disappointed. Always give yourself time to mourn whatever it is that was unfair. Giving yourself time to be upset about something puts you in a better position to move forward and "deal with it."

Men will never think like you do. Men are a different breed. Their thought processes are completely opposite of yours. Expect it and accept it. And don't worry if you never understand it, because odds are, they will always tell you exactly what they are thinking. And it's just that - nothing more, nothing less. They don't overanalyze like we do. Lucky bastards.

You can never change someone else, not matter how hard you try. The only person you can change in this life is you, and even that's hard. If you don't like someone for who they are, tough luck. Either embrace that person with all of their quirks and faults or move on. And remember that everyone has quirks and faults - even you. No one is perfect.

Chocolate and wine cure almost anything. This one doesn't need much further explanation. Just know that there will be days when you want to curl up on the couch, turn on a chick flick, and indulge in chocolate and wine. And that's okay. You'll feel better in the morning. I promise.

You are your biggest cheerleader. Aside from your dad and I, of course. Always believe in yourself. Always advocate for yourself. Because your dad and I won't always be around, and you won't always be a kid. You have to learn to stand up for you, even in the toughest of situations. If you have confidence and the ability to stick up for yourself, you can make it through absolutely anything life throws your way.

Friendship isn't about quantity. It's about quality. Your dad and I never had a lot of friends. We were never the popular kids in school. Even now, we have very few friends who we would consider close. Yet, at the end of the day, when something happens, we know we can count on these people. These are the people who have been there through the good days and the horrible days - the ones when we needed all the love and support we could get. Keep a small circle of close friends, and don't worry about choosing them. Life and its tough situations will choose them for you. At the end of the day, when you've made it through "the suck," these are the people who will still be around to hold your hand.

Never drink a bottle of vodka before noon. It might sound like a good idea at the time, but I promise it's not. It's not going to make game day any more interesting. And yes - you will get sick. Stay in control. Drink in moderation. Always, but especially on a 95-degree day before a noon kickoff.

Live outside of the box. Don't be a wallflower. Travel. Move to a different city. Try crazy foods. Take risks. Make mistakes. You only get one shot at this life. Make the most of it.

Live life without regret. To follow up on the last point, making mistakes is good. Don't ever say you regret anything. A mistake in the moment feels like the end of the world, but you will learn from that mistake. You'll grow from it. You'll be a better you because of it. One of my favorite quotes (I have it tattooed on my back) is, "The mistakes I've made are dead to me, but I can't take back the things I never did." Take the chance. If it works out in your favor, great. If not, you'll know for next time.

Speak your mind. But don't be surprised when people disagree. Be proud of what you believe in. Stand up for what is right. There will always be naysayers. There will always be people who don't understand your point of view. (And remember, you can't change those people.) That's okay, though. You have your opinion and they have theirs. The important thing is that you stood up for what you felt was right. Stand up for the good. Stand up for others who are less fortunate than you. Stand up for the people who don't have a voice. Even though people won't always agree, they will admire you for your passion and your conviction.

Forgive. But never forget. People screw up. People will break your heart and your trust. It's okay to be mad at someone who does this, but don't stay mad at that person forever. Move forward. Mend the bridges. Forgive them, even if they don't take responsibility for what they've done. Never forget, though. By this, I don't mean hold a grudge. I simply mean: learn from it. It's a chance to understand that person better, your relationship better. It's also a chance to better protect yourself in the future. Balance is key. Try not to be too trusting, but try not to be too protective, either. This is one of the greatest challenges in life. You can't protect yourself from getting hurt in every situation. But you can give yourself to tools to handle it in the best possible way.

Take the hard route. It's, well, EASY to take the easy route. But the easy route never tests you. It never teaches you. It doesn't make you stronger or prepare you for anything. Take "the road not taken." You'll be a better person for it.

It's okay to change your mind. I changed my major three times in college, and then I ended up going back to school again to get a master's degree in a different subject. Your dad has changed careers more than one. It's okay to change course - whether it's with your career or with your general way of life. If you feel the calling, take a different path. The only exception to this is when you make a commitment or promise to someone or something. In these instances, you made a vow and you must stick to that vow. Be respectful to others by being true to your word.

Have the strength to say no. You can't do everything for everyone, as much as you would like to. You can't go to every social event. You can't take on every extra project at work. Push yourself, but don't overextend yourself.

You can always turn to me. I'm not going to guarantee I won't get upset about things you might share with me (especially during your teenage years). What I can tell you is that I will try my hardest to help you work through whatever the problem is without reacting in anger - even if that means I need to take some time to think through my response. I will always be honest with you, and I hope that by treating you with this respect, you will always be honest with me.

Strive to be the best version of yourself at all times. In dress. In attitude. In work ethic. Don't wear a low-cut shirt when you meet your boyfriend or girlfriend's parents for the first time. Always do your job at 110%, even if you hate it. Treat others with respect and dignity, even if they don't do the same for you. Be the best YOU that you can be. Sometimes this seems impossible, especially during tough times, but the way you present yourself will make a lasting impression on everyone around you. Don't let those bad days or bad feelings wear down on others if you can avoid it. And if you can't avoid it? Take a day off. Take some alone time. Give yourself a chance to get through whatever you're feeling. The storm will always pass.

Adopt a dog. Or a cat. Or a bunny. Adopt some kind of animal. At the end of those bad days, when you are home watching TV, eating chocolate, and drinking wine, you'll want a pet to curl up next to and love you unconditionally. Notice I said adopt, not buy. The puppy in the window of the pet store might be adorable, but nothing compares to the heart of a shelter or rescue dog. It's because they need your love just as much as you need theirs.

Take photos of everything. Your dad makes fun of me because I take hundreds of photos a month. Yet I often catch him looking at all of the photos I've taken of you, from the beginning. It's the only way we can visualize how much you've grown, because - unfortunately - we can't bottle up these moments with you and save them forever. Photos help us remember. Photos will help you remember, too. Savor those memories.

I will always think you are the smartest, most beautiful girl on the planet. So will your dad. We promise to love you unconditionally. We promise to provide you with a place that is safe and filled with family, friends, and laughter. We promise to encourage learning and creativity, and to support every dream, goal, and passion you wish to pursue. We will love you and encourage you, no matter what path you take, and we will always be "there" - even when we are long gone.

Find a partner who feels the same way. If you decide to marry, marry someone who sees all the wonderful things in you that we do. Marry someone who will always support you and who will stick by your side through the good and the bad. Marry a person for love and not money. Marry a person because he or she brings out the best in you - and treat that person with the same love and respect that he or she gives you.

Friday, February 22, 2013

follow up

Thank you for your comments on my last post. It was hard to write, mostly because I didn't want it to come across the wrong way. In no way did I intend to make it sound like I didn't get support during my adoption wait. I received a great deal of support from some amazing friends in this community. Members of this community are who encouraged me that adoption WAS a good option for us, and I certainly don't regret that decision.

I just intended to stress that we all have a place in this community. It may seem, at times, difficult to find that place. (Like now, for me.) But it's there. I hope that we can continue to be a community of inclusion rather than exclusion and respect each other's choices to resolve infertility. This isn't the end to this topic for me. I know there is more I want to expand on, and I am going to work on that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

fitting in

In case you missed it, yesterday's post about our adoption story was also posted on BlogHer. I am so excited that I was given the chance to share some of our story and what I learned while going through the process.

I have to admit that sometimes I feel weird discussing our adoption journey, especially as a member of the infertility community. Part of me feels like by talking about adoption, I'm distancing myself from the IF world. I've struggled with this lately - this feeling of isolation I get not only from not having gone through IVF, but also now being a parent. I feel like I don't fit. I'm not writing about parenting. I didn't go through IVF. I don't consider myself to be an adoption advocate.

In fact, I got this question from several friends, blog readers, and even family members after K's birth. Would I now focus my efforts on calling attention to adoption?

Four years of infertility taught me many lessons about life, about myself, and about others. It also taught me a great deal about this community. If I'm being honest, I've always felt ostracized for making the decision not to pursue IVF. However, just because we opted not to go down that road doesn't mean that I condemn anyone else for pursuing it. Both choices have their positive and negative aspects, and neither one is more difficult than the other. That said, it can sometimes be painful to read the negative comments about adoption that come from those who argue "for" IVF. Adoption was the best option for my family. I'm incredibly grateful for it.

I also know it's not the best option for everyone. I respect that. I respect that adoption has its "issues." But, if we are being honest, everything has issues. Every choice we make on this journey has problems - challenges we must overcome, both from the outside and from within. That's the beauty of fighting for this disease. We fight for - or we should fight for, rather - all of it: the good, the bad, and the ugly that come with it. Except that sometimes I don't feel like we do. I don't feel as though we fight equally for all of our options.

More on that some other time. I don't know if I have the right words to expand on it right now. What I do know is that I'm proud to say that I built my family through adoption. It's a personal choice that worked for us, and it was an honor to share that story with others outside of this community. I hope it helps them understand a little bit about what the adoption process is like. But I sometimes wish that the process was better understood within this community, too.

Monday, February 18, 2013

our adoption story, and what i wish i had known

Adoption is a difficult road to navigate. When we chose to pursue adoption, we didn't know many people who'd been down this road before and who could provide us with the basics on what to expect along this new phase of our journey.

These days, I read a number of adoption blogs that I'd wish I'd known about before we traveled this road. Lori at Lavender Luz is one of these bloggers, and she wrote an amazing Crib Sheet that tackles a few of the topics I wish we'd had direction on and support in at the start of the adoption process.

Read and print out our Crib Sheet with tips on adoption now.

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

When we became home study approved and we signed with our first adoption agency back in the fall of 2011, I thought we were well prepared for the wait ahead of us. After all, we'd been through several years of waiting. What were a few more months?

The reality is that the adoption wait is much different from the waiting we did during infertility treatments. Infertility treatments were like sprints. We would go full speed for a few weeks, then rest, then go full speed again the following cycle. The adoption wait felt more like a marathon. Lori's advice about taking up various activities is perfect. We immersed ourselves in schoolwork, running, and volunteering. It helped pass the time when there wasn't much we could do or control on the adoption front.

Wait to Buy

One of the things we did before we even became home study-approved was buy baby necessities. We had our nursery furniture in place before we mailed our paperwork to the social worker. It wasn't necessary, but I felt at the time as if we were doing the right thing to prepare for our future baby.

In the end, we needed the furniture fairly quickly, so I was grateful to have it. Yet, part of me wished we hadn't purchased it so soon. It sat in our nursery for months before it was used. Instead, I wish we'd done as Lori suggests, which is focus more on the emotional preparation for having a child come into our lives so suddenly. Having so many baby items in our home for that extended period of time was simply too much to handle on those "low" days.

Emotional Roller Coaster

We kept our family members and friends informed during every step of the process, yet as Lori suggests, we were cautiously optimistic in our sharing of information. This kept us, and our loved ones, from getting too emotional one way or the other, but it also allowed us to gain support through the good times and the not-so-good times. It gave us a chance to educate our family and friends on adoption, as well, which helped us avoid some of those awkward questions.

PADS

I love that Lori recognizes and understands post-adoption depression syndrome (PADS). When our daughter finally came home from the hospital after a five-week stay in the NICU, I felt depressed and defeated. I couldn't understand. I'd waited so long for this moment. Why wasn't I in a constant state of sheer happiness?

Turns out, I wasn't alone. Once I opened up to a couple of people about what I felt, they suggested I go see my doctor. I had PADS. I felt ashamed at first, but the more I opened up about it, the more support people offered. It's important to understand before starting the adoption process that these feelings are normal so that you know when to reach out and get the help you need.

Your Child's Story

Lori hit the nail on the head: Start sharing as soon as possible! Our daughter is only 7 months old, and we re-tell her adoption story to her on a regular basis. Even though she can't understand yet, it's good practice for us to share openly how she came into our lives and it reminds us of the wonderful gift her birth mother gave to us.

Being a Mom

Part of me was worried that, once our daughter was born, I wouldn't feel like a real mom -- especially because we were only matched with our daughter's birth mother for 13 days before she gave birth. There wasn't much time for things to "settle in." Yet, everything sort of fell into place.

I remember about a week after her birth, I called a meeting with the head nurse on our NICU floor to address some issues we were having with our daughter's care. In that moment, I realized how much I felt like a "real mom," because this is what real moms do. Sure, they change diapers and rock their babies to sleep . . . but they also become their child's biggest advocate and protector. Sounds scary, right? It is. But it's also the most amazing adventure you will ever experience.

This post is part of the Absolute Beginners editorial series made possible by Pampers and BlogHer. Our advertisers do not produce or approve editorial content.

Friday, February 15, 2013

l-o-v-e

Those of you who've followed me since the beginning of my blogging days or who know me in real life know that I am not a huge fan of Valentine's Day. I never have been. I'm simply a believer in celebrating love - all types of love - year round. I say "I love you" often, and I mean it.

But yesterday was special. It was fun to dress K up in her Valentine's Day outfit and see her school decorated for the occasion. However, the best part came at the end of the day when we picked her back up and had a Valentine waiting for us in her folder.

No amount of jewelry, candy, or flowers could make me feel the way seeing this piece of paper did. It was such an amazing reminder of how lucky I am to be her mother, and how much I want every person in this community to experience this same feeling.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

7 months

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

With all of the "excitement" over K's trip to the hospital last week, I completely neglected her 7-month update. So here it is. I know you were on pins and needles waiting for it.

Weight & Length: She's 14 lbs. 9 oz. (up 1 lb. 5.5 oz. since her last visit). We didn't get her length at her last visit, but I know she's taller based on the way her pants are fitting.

Sleeping: Sleeping through the night didn't last long. She went back to waking up 1-2 times a night in the middle of the month. We think it was a combination of teething and a double ear infection, which she is still recovering from.

Eating: She's not consuming as much formula these days. She's only taking an average of 4 ounces each bottle, and around 20 to 22 ounces a day. However, she's eating a lot more when it comes to solids. We feed her oatmeal 2x a day and a mix of fruits and veggies 2x a day, and she eats all of it. Sometimes she even "asks" for more.

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.

Clothing: She is in mostly 6 month clothes now, but I've had to break out some 6-9 (and even some 9) month items in the last week or two. :(

Personality: The older she gets, the more outgoing and vocal she becomes. The ladies at daycare joke about how loud she screams, even though she's not angry. She's just content to hear her beautiful voice. We have noticed some separation anxiety, though. It tends to happen more often with men than women. And it doesn't happen at school - possibly because she's so used to going there, which isn't a bad thing. We can definitely tell the difference between "I want my mommy or daddy" crying and other types of tears now. She's also mimicking sounds and movements we make. We are trying to get her to mimic words, too (like mama or dada), but she just laughs at us.

Milestones & Firsts: Between six and seven months, we had a few big "key" milestones and firsts in our house. K started being mobile in her sleep and sitting up on her own without support "full time." She also began standing (briefly) without support while holding herself up - usually on the couch in her room since it's about her height. She also took two steps (!) while holding onto that same couch. And we took her to the beach for the first time to have her 6-month photos taken. She loved it!

Friday, February 8, 2013

another theft by infertility

Thank you for the kind thoughts, everyone. K is doing much better. I took her to the pediatrician for a follow-up appointment yesterday, and they gave her the all clear to return to school. Her lungs sound great. No more wheezing and no signs of distress. We also moved her back into her nursery last night. She sleeps much better in there than she does in our room, but it made me sad and nervous to move her back. I tried my best not to be paranoid.

This is one of the things about infertility that I'll never be able to accept or embrace: the fact that I now expect the worst. During treatments and the adoption process, I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Things haven't changed much on that front since I've become a mother. I think, "Well surely everything is going to go wrong, because doesn't it always?" First it was worrying about her health issues at birth and their long-term effects. Then, once we got her home, it was worrying about SIDS (I still worry about this, for the record, because she's at an increased risk). Now, it's worrying about her breathing. It's ALWAYS worrying about her developmental milestones, even though she's yet to miss anything.

When does it end? When do I just say, "Okay, time to relax now. Nothing bad is going to happen"? Or will that never be possible because of infertility? Has this disease changed me so much that I don't know how to go back from that?

I don't want to be a helicopter mom, but I'm conscious that I have the capability at this point to head down that path. I want to find a healthy balance of enjoying life with my child yet also protecting her. Sometimes I think this is why I never got pregnant - because I never could have handled a pregnancy. A pregnancy would have driven me off the deep end.

Maybe this is the first step toward getting better with this. Maybe admitting my craziness will help me to try and bring these emotions back toward the middle. Right now, outwardly, I'm fine. But inwardly I need to find my zen. I need to make myself believe that the other shoe isn't going to drop. I need to recognize that I do the best I can, and that's all that I can do. That's all that matters.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

yesterday

Yesterday morning, Joey dropped K off at daycare around 7:30. She was fine. A little sneezy, but we've had some extreme weather changes here in the last few weeks, so we assumed it was allergies.

At 8:20, daycare called me to let me know that K was wheezing. My entire 20-minute drive to daycare was spent wondering what on earth could have happened in less than an hour to make them want to call me to come get her.

When I arrived, she was still wheezing and sneezing. I decided to feed her a bottle before taking her to the doctor. That's when I realized something was going on. She practically choked on the formula and began to act lethargic. I let my limited motherly instincts take over and opted to head straight to the emergency room at our local children's hospital.

By the time I got her into the ER less than 10 minutes later, she was slumped over and struggling to breathe. For a good 5 to 10 minutes, we couldn't wake her up. Finally we got her to wake up, but she was still completely disoriented. It took the nurse flushing her sinuses twice and two breathing treatments from the respiratory specialist for her oxygen levels to go back to normal.

It wasn't until later that evening after she fell asleep in Joey's arms when I finally cried. I hope we never have to go through something like that again, but it looks like we may be dealing with childhood asthma - so it's entirely possible that she may have another episode like this in the future. For now, I'm just happy she's okay. And I'm still working on getting my blood pressure back to normal.