Infertile Fo’ Life

eb1c7d8e3c874d26b1255e271311a006

When you deal with infertility and somehow miraculously have a child (through IVF), people think that cures you.  “Your body knows how to be pregnant now.” “Your endometriosis is cured!” “When’s baby 2 coming?” But it’s not so simple.  I still have a gigantic endometrioma and pain associated with endometriosis, and after nearly a year of not using birth control, we are still not pregnant.  So now’s about the time you tell those people that they have NO idea!

They have no idea how hard it is to be disappointed that you actually believed their statements for a minute.  They have no idea that you have to research fertility clinics that are willing to monitor your ultrasounds and bloodwork for weeks before you fly to another state to do a transfer of your frozen babies.  Or even the cost associated with the whole process.  No idea, that you’re frightened the amount of frozen embryos won’t be enough to work (because there’s no chance of doing another harvest).

While the fear is a little less because we already have one perfect little miracle, it doesn’t mean we want it any less.  And I think that’s hard for people to understand as well.  Here’s to hoping our Han Solo babies are as bad ass as R.

 

Advertisements

The Side Effects of Breastfeeding

Everyone tells you having a baby is hard.  Going through the labor process can be scary.  But I’m here to tell you that labor is not as hard as you might think, but breastfeeding…breastfeeding is the hardest thing I ever tried to do.  I blame this on my naive idea that it was going to be a cake walk.  Everything my mom ever said about breastfeeding was positive.  I was a Jabba the Hut sized baby because I nursed constantly.  So, when friends told me it would be hard I didn’t know what they were talking about.  I mean, my boobs practically grew two cup sizes during pregnancy, so clearly my body was ready for it.  I was so sure that it was going to be a natural and smooth process that I almost threw out formula samples, and only bought two bottles (just in case I needed them for pumped milk).  The following is a timeline of how my unrealistic expectations shattered over the course of a few weeks.

My haul a month into pumping.

My haul a month into pumping.

Day 1

Baby is born and I put her to my breasts every 1.5 to 2 hours.  It hurts but what do I expect? a little creature has never gnawed on my nipple trying to get liquid out of it before.  I cannot wait to see the Lactation Consultant in the hospital to tell me how to make this feel better.

Day 2

LC (Lactation Consultant) comes to see me and asks if this is my first child because I’m handling the breastfeeding like a pro. Baby’s latch looks good and my milk should be coming in any minute now (it IS only day 2).  This gives me a false sense of success.  Could this be just as easy as I thought it was going to be?

Day 3

We are leaving the hospital, but I want to see the LC one more time because it’s still hurting and I just want to make sure I’m doing it right.  The LC reassures me that everything looks good and I can come to a free support group on Tuesdays at the hospital.  (“I won’t need that,” I think)

Day 4

Baby has been crying off an on the past few days and falling asleep on the boob, but today she is inconsolable.  She cries all night and won’t latch on.  Good thing I made an appointment with the LC at her pediatrician’s office tomorrow.

Day 5

We see a new LC and she immediately looks at Baby and says she has jaundice.  She also thinks Baby has a good latch and that my milk just needs to come in.  I am told to put her to the boob as I have been every 2 hours and to supplement because guess what? She’s not getting anything and she’s starving!  I find out today that she has lost 12% of her body weight already, and is so jaundiced she needs to be put on bilirubin lights.  We rent a light bed you can take home and are told only to take her out of it to feed her.

Day 6-7

We continue to try and nurse, but she is so tired from the jaundice she will only eat from a bottle.  I try to pump and put it in a bottle but I’m only able to get about a quarter of an ounce.  I start the cycle of nurse-bottle feed-pump every 2 hours.  This is rough since baby is so sleepy and I still don’t have milk.

Day 8

Baby’s levels are looking better and she no longer needs to be on lights.  However she still isn’t nursing well and we continue the nurse-bottle feed-pump every 2 hours.  I find myself crying all the time for being unable to provide milk for my baby and practically starving her for 4 days.

Day 9

The LC makes a house call.  She determines that Baby is not getting anything out of my breast while nursing and sells us an Supplemental Nursing System (SNS).  She says I should use this and continue to pump, but to stop the bottle feeding except for the middle of the night.  She also sells me an herbal tincture and some teas.

Day 10-17

I try the SNS and pump after every feeding session.  I am now pumping every 2 hours, drinking teas, taking herbs, and eating tons of seaweed soup to increase my milk, but am still only able to pump 1- 2 oz max at each session.  I go to the free breastfeeding support group at the hospital out of desperation.  The LC there says perhaps my milk hasn’t come in because I had an epidural and retained water, not allowing the milk to come out.  She shows me how to massage my breast to help the milk move out.

Day 18

I get mastitis.  Yes, even though I am not producing enough to feed my baby, I get a clogged duct which becomes infected.  I want to quit so badly because it hurts so much.

Day 19

I go to another breastfeeding support group at a local mothers’ store.  The LC here tells me my baby is not sucking efficiently and sells me a nipple guard to help.  She says use the guard then pump and give the baby the milk in the bottle.

Day 20-21

I try the nipple guard and Baby shrieks every time I use it.  The milk gets stuck in it and she is unable to get anything.  I decide to stop nursing because she’s not getting anything anyway.  We move to pumping and bottle feeding.

Day 21-55

I continue to pump and feed our baby a combo of formula and breastmilk.  At this point 70% of her food is breastmilk.  I should be ecstatic but I’m miserable.  After I feed Baby I have to pump, which means she sits by herself while I spend 30 minutes massaging my breasts and hoping to get 2-3 oz. I cry about not being able to spend more time with her.  I get numerous clogged ducts.  I believe that I’m making enough milk, but neither the pump nor baby are effectively extracting it.  I cry about it.  I feel like a failure for not being able to breastfeed. I cry about it.  Every few days I am determined to nurse and put Baby to breast only to be reminded that she is not inclined to suck it.  It seems that everyone around me is breastfeeding successfully and that there must be something wrong with me that I can’t seem to make it work for us.  It is all my fault.  I cry some more.

Day 55-59

I decide to pump less frequently so that I can spend more time with baby.  I set my alarms for every 3-4 hours rather than every 2.  This seems to be working out better, but then my milk starts to decrease.

Day 60

On the verge of a breakdown I decide to stop pumping and go full formula for Baby.  This is the hardest decision I’ve had to make.  I just want that bond with baby that nursing moms talk about, but realize I’m not getting it through pumping, and decide to bond I need to spend more time with her and not be so obsessed about breastmilk all the time.

After making this decision, I am plagued with guilt.  I still can’t stop thinking about breastmilk and my baby and my body and my failed attempt at breastfeeding.  It takes a good month to stop obsessing over it, and clearly I’m not done since I am writing this post.

Today is day 94 and I have constant wrist pain from massaging my breasts that won’t go away, but I’d like to think that I’ve finally gotten over the PTSD associated with my attempt to breastfeed my child.  I mean, I wrote this without shedding a single tear (that says something). People always talk about the criticism breastfeeding mamas get, but in my experience formula feeding moms get way more flack.  As a formula feeding mom I feel it.  Perhaps it’s a self inflicted criticism, but it is there.

So if you are starting your breastfeeding journey, I hope the milk gods are kind to you, and your baby has a miraculously pain free latch and sucks like a vacuum.  I truly do!

A Southern/Crafting Themed Shower

A few weeks ago, my bridesmaids (aka my besties) threw me the most perfect baby shower.  It was after a long hesitation on my part that the shower was done.  When I found out I was pregnant I didn’t want to participate in anything that made me feel left out or sad pre pregnancy.  I didn’t want to rejoice in things that caused me difficulty in the past.  But, then I got to thinking.  I thought, “This baby has been anticipated for 3 years now.  We’ve gone through so much heartache to conceive her.  Our persistence, our love, and our hope should be celebrated.”  And since my lovely friends and family were so excited for us, they wouldn’t take no for an answer anyway.  I’m glad they didn’t, because it turned out to be such a happy day for me.

flowers

The theme was a surprise, and it was perfect.  They know I love crafting, so made it a crafting/sewing theme with one of my favorite cuisines: Southern home cooking.  There weren’t any traditional games, just a crafting station where people could design onesies, bibs, and headbands.

onesie

 

 

The food and drink were amazing too! All of it was home made and delicious.  I never knew what talented chefs my friends were.  Fried chicken, mac n cheese, pulled pork sammies, apple pie pops, deviled eggs, lavender lemonade…I ate a lot.

drinks

And of course a “cute as a button” red velvet cake!

cake

 

Every detail was so well thought out down to the favors, which were adorable homemade button cookies.

I feel so lucky to be able to have this experience at all.  Some days I get hit with a wave of extreme disbelief.  I can’t believe we are only a few weeks away from having a child.  This day made it feel so real, and to celebrate our future baby with all the people that have been there through our long journey to parenthood made it even more special.  This heart is so thankful!

Cry Baby

Whenever people talked about pregnant ladies being emotional wrecks, I just did not get it.  Until now…I’m not sure what’s going on with my hormones right now, but it seems that everything about babies, babies growing up, and the relationship between mother and child brings me to tears.  Today I found myself tear up watching Sex and the City.  SEX AND THE CITY! It was a scene where they were all singing happy birthday to Brady at his 1 year old party and Charlotte walks in despite having some bad news about her fertility.  (I totally felt her pain.)

But, the main culprit for making me full on bawl is this video:

I kept trying to understand why this video has me hysterical after 10 seconds, and I couldn’t figure it out.  Was it the cute voice? The adorable animation?  And then I made S watch it so I could cry at this video for the second time.  He said he totally got why it would make me cry, though it did not have the same effect on him.  His take was that it made the whole experience real.  It gave a voice and a face to the things that are happening within me, and he could see why that would make me emotional.  Guys, now I’m crying writing this.  OMG, I am such a mess!

My Mom Says I’m Weird

I am now 28 weeks pregnant.  I am now in my third trimester.  I am nearing the end of my pregnancy.  I am so happy to be experiencing this.  I love feeling our baby move around and get hiccups.  I love feeling tiny movements that no one else can feel.  Sometimes when she’s super active in my belly, I try to call someone over to feel it and she stops.  It’s almost like she’s moving just for me.

I only have 10 or so weeks to go.  The nursery is not set up.  I don’t even know what diapers to buy.  I don’t even have a birth plan.  I’m afraid of the pain.  I don’t want to bleed for weeks after.  I’m afraid my endometriosis pain will come back once our baby arrives.  There’s so much unknown.

These two sides of my brain are battling each other these days.  I told my mom the other day that I wanted the baby to stay inside forever.  She thought this was the weirdest thing she’d ever heard.  She said, “Most people want their babies to come out faster.”  Yes, but then I have to share all these moments with everyone else.  She won’t be all mine.  That’s when my mom said I was weird.  Is this a weird thing to feel?  Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited to meet this little human, and hold her in my arms, but a little part of me likes the way things are right now.  Weird?

This Feeling is Normal

First pregnancies are hard for the hypochondriac prone.  You never know what sensations are normal, or whether certain feelings mean something terrible is about to happen.  Not only am I a hypochondriac, but I also know of a few friends near and dear to me that have suffered extremely late miscarriages.  We’re talking 20, 21 weeks.  The knowledge that one could have an incompetent cervix especially frightened me.  In fact, I went to the ER twice because of feelings I just knew were bad signs.  Perhaps if you feel this way, I can persuade you that it may be nothing at all.

Around 19 weeks I started to feel like there was a heaviness down low.  It became so bad, that it felt like something was falling out of my vagina.  Seriously.  With every step it felt like something was creeping out.  It made it really uncomfortable to walk, and was somewhat relieved if I propped my hips up on a pillow and relaxed.  I googled nonstop about this pressure, and all the message boards agreed, “go see your doctor.”  Except, every time I felt this way it was a weekend.  Of course.  Cue the visit to the ER.  After an ultrasound that confirmed my cervix was indeed long and closed, it was decided that our little bundle of joy was doing acrobatics off of my cervix causing the heavy pressure feeling.

A similar situation happened around 22 weeks, only this time lying down didn’t help it any.  I headed over to Labor and Delivery this time, since I was far enough along to skip the ER.   They monitored the baby (who was extremely active), and my uterus.  Turns out I was having contractions (not Braxton Hicks and not normal).  I ended up having a UTI which can cause contractions and uterine irritability.  But again, my cervix was fine.

Here I am, three weeks later,  feeling this pressure again.  This time though, I can feel our baby moving around like mad.  I think I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that this feeling is normal.  I think I’ll put my feet up and let baby do her thing now.

25 Weeks Today

photo 2

At 25 weeks, I’m finally starting to feel like all of this is really happening to us.  It only took me 6 months to get here, but I am so happy to be in this emotional space.  I’m not saying that my brain has calmed down any at all though.  It seems to be on overdrive these days.  At this very moment I am thinking:

-I can’t believe I’ve already gained 25 lbs.  I’m sure I’ll be +50 by the end of all this

-I need to eat healthier

-I love feeling our baby move around (she is super active)

-We bought a crib! (This is getting real!)

-What do I register for? (There are a billion carriers/strollers/mattresses…out there. I’m so confused)

-I remember feeling so sick and miserable those first 10 weeks.  I’m feeling amazing right about now.

-I can’t wait to meet our little girl, I love her so much already.

-I am so thankful for this experience.

There are only 3 more weeks before I’m officially in my third trimester.  eek! This pregnancy thing goes by super fast! I’m trying to soak up every moment.