Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The first 10 minutes or so would show the baby preparations, then the birth and a quick follow-up. In one episode, the follow-up segment was a get-together the couple planned for friends and family, so that everyone could come and meet the baby. It was casual and looked like a lot of fun. I made a mental note… this looks like something I would love to do.
The traditional thing to do to celebrate a new baby is to have a baby shower. I have been to a LOT of baby showers in my adult life. When I was first married, I didn't think too much about them. As the years went on, and infertility began to rear its ugly head, baby showers became more difficult. I went to a few here and there, but had to give my regrets several times. I would always send warm regards (and give a gift). Those who truly knew me, and where my heart longed to be, always understood. I wish I would have handled that whole situation better, but I did the best I could at the time. And I still do.
Soon, it became very obvious that I would never have a baby shower of my own. It just wasn't going to work for me. The painful memories of baby showers past are too much. I can't do it. Instead, my thoughts returned to that Baby Story episode I had seen years ago… the joy as friends and family met the baby for the first time… no obligatory buying of gifts… no baby games or the exclusion of one gender… it seemed nice.
And it just seems like me. I have never been one who relishes in being the center of attention. I cried and hid in the bathroom during my surprise birthday party. At my wedding shower, though it was lovely and I am so grateful for it, I was just a ball of stress. With a get-together after the baby’s born, guess who the star is? The baby! I am just one of his/her adoring fans. ;)
After thinking about this for years, and discussing it with Ryan, we have decided to have an Open House after the baby comes, in lieu of a Baby Shower. We are excited for this, and we don’t question our decision one bit. We are happy that family and friends will be able to join in the celebration. We love that grandfathers, uncles, nephews and brothers can come celebrate too.
Some people have said they do not agree with this decision. I am sorry to hear that. I have supported the decision of countless friends and relatives to have a baby shower. Now is the time for them to support me when I choose not to. I just want a wonderful celebration with my husband, baby and those I love most. I want to honor all those who have supported us in the last 7 years, feed them a yummy treat and let them meet our baby. I think that sounds wonderful.
Although we don’t question this choice, we are finding that others do. Here are a couple questions we've received often and our responses.
How will you get everything the baby needs if you don’t have a shower? Well, we’ll buy it! ;) Our baby doesn’t need every trinket and gadget available, but those we feel we cannot (or don’t want to) live without, we will be able to get for our baby. Obviously, this baby was planned (haha – no kidding), so we went into this knowing how expensive everything would be. We plan to do all we can to provide for our child, and we aren’t expecting anyone to step in and do that for us.
So, are you not accepting gifts then? To me, a gift should be just that… a gift. Not an expectation or an obligation. I understand that many times people want to give a gift because this is how they show their love and excitement. I know how excited I get when I give something special to someone, and I wouldn't deny someone else that excitement either. :) We don't expect anything, and are very humbled by and appreciative of anything we might receive.
I want to thank those family and friends who have been accepting of (and even excited by) our unconventional way to celebrate. And I hope those who have been confused by our decision can understand it a bit more now. :)
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
In honor of Infertility Awareness Week, RESOLVE has invited bloggers to bust an infertility myth. The goal of this challenge is to bring together bloggers from the infertility community as well as other bloggers interested in the topic to answer the question: What is the biggest infertility myth and how has it affected your life or the life of your friends and family members?
I am not sure this is the biggest infertility myth, but it is one that impacts me the most at this stage of my life. After nearly 8 years of heartache, tears, treatment and loss, I am finally pregnant. This was the “goal” right? So, is the heartache of infertility over? Because I finally saw those 2 pink lines, am I no longer "infertile"? How does infertility really affect me now?
Myth: The feelings of Infertility end once you become pregnant.
The feelings of infertility never go away.
Motherhood will never be “normal” for me, or at least what I thought was “normal”.
Each day, I must make a conscious effort not to worry that this miracle will slip away. Even at 18 weeks, I fight the urge to panic at every cramp or twinge. I have nightmares of miscarriage, and have been known to grab the doppler in the middle of the night, just to hear my baby’s precious heartbeat.
I struggle to trust my body. It “didn’t work right” for 7 years, with no explanation as to why, not even from talented and educated doctors. I couldn’t count on my body to know how to become pregnant, and now I must magically trust it to grow, nourish and support this child? This has been a learning process.
Because of infertility, I will be an older mother than I thought I would be. I will have less children than I planned. There is a real possibility my baby will not have a sibling.
Infertility affects everything… even finances. The financial cost to become pregnant could have paid my baby’s first year of college tuition. Maybe two.
So scared by baby showers, I can't bring myself to have one of my own.
I still look at other pregnant women and wonder why some have and some have not. I no longer feel jealousy, but there is still something there. Confusion maybe. Especially when I see other women who have waited longer than I have, been through more treatments, spent more money, and still do not receive what I have been blessed with. It’s all very confusing. I don’t think I will ever understand.
And even with my beautiful baby nestled inside, I still mourn the two I lost.
No, the feelings of infertility never go away.
But in some ways, I am glad for that.
Our baby will never, ever question our love for him or her. There is no doubt this baby was wanted, desired and prayed for. I have literally given my blood, sweat and tears to bring him or her to our family. Even as that date draws nearer when we will get to bring our precious baby home, I have not and will not ever question my yearning to be a mother. In so many ways, I already am one.
Our baby will be blessed by our rock solid marriage. Infertility chipped it and cracked it, and tried to tear it down. We built it back up. It took a lot of work, but our foundation is firm. Two parents who love each other more than life itself… this is something not many babies are blessed with.
I am not sure there is a woman on this earth that has looked at her ultrasound picture as much as I have. I take nothing for granted. I relish in every pregnancy-related moment. I cried with happiness the day I threw up from morning sickness. And again when I felt my uterus had risen. And again when I felt my baby move for the first time.
Infertility has made me more compassionate. Not just toward others with my same struggle, but towards people in general. I understand the heartache of depression. I can empathize with other’s losses. I ask less intrusive questions. I listen better. I try not to assume. Infertility has taught me that sometimes in life there is not always an answer. And that’s okay. We are all just getting by the best we can.
Infertility has taught me how to have faith. Not faith in a certain outcome, but real faith. It has taught me how to pray and how to hope, even when things seem hopeless.
No, the feelings of infertility never go away. It is a life-long disease. It is always there… reminding me of what I lost, showing me what I’ve gained, and leading me through the never-ending process of trying to become a better person.
To find out more on infertility and its meaning go to RESOLVE's website here.
To learn about RESOLVE's Infertility Week visit here.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
From the naïve beginnings of my venture into the world of infertility treatment (Post 1), to my battle through depression (Post 100), to making it through the awful experience that is miscarriage (Post 200), what an adventure this has been.
Recently, I went to a women’s conference. A speaker there told the story of Florence May Chadwick.
Florence Chadwick had been the first woman to swim the English Channel (in both directions). On July 4, 1952, Florence attempted to swim the twenty one mile Pacific channel from Catalina Island to the California coast. She was hoping to set another record.
But that day, the water was choppy and cold. The fog was so thick, the land in front of her seemed to disappear. Likewise, she could barely see the support boats that accompanied her. On several occasions, prowling sharks and sting-rays had to be driven away with rifles. Florence swam more than fifteen hours and fifty-five minutes before deciding she couldn't go on and was taken out of the water. She had no idea how close she was to her goal.
So imagine her disappointment when she learned she was merely ½ mile from the destination. She swam 20 ½ miles, only to quit when she was right there. She simply couldn’t see.
That story reminds me of the one I shared about my never-ending hike. Florence’s story reminds me of infertility.
How much easier would it be to wait one more year, do one more treatment, if we knew success was right around the corner? I often commented I would wait 7 more years, if I had the knowledge the wait would end. The not-knowing was the hardest part.
There were so many times I wanted to give up. I had no way of knowing it would be the 9th treatment cycle, my 7th IUI, the 5th time I used injectables, during the 7th year of trying... *that* would be the time we would get our miracle.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face...do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I often think of my friends still waiting. Daily, in fact. I feel so many things for them... hope, frustration, admiration, sadness and some guilt for my current state. I want everyone to have the happiness I have felt over the last several months. But, just as the last seven years have made this time unbelievably sweeter, I know it will be sweet for them too. We may never fully understand why we had to wait, but I know now that the wait is always worth it. A thousand times over.
So here's to Post 300. Three hundred thoughts, vents and epiphanies. Each one leading towards strength through trial, hope through heartache, and the biggest blessing I've ever received.
Keep your head down, girls, and just keep swimming. Whatever the final result is... the blessing of pregnancy, a miracle adoption, or another path towards peace and healing... you may be closer than you think.
I have received advice from several people to document my growing belly. At first, I resisted. I didn’t really see the point. I especially hate those pictures of pregnant women where they cut their head off (presumably to focus solely on the belly?). I think that’s creepy. However, so many people have encouraged me to do it, I decided to take more pictures than I originally planned on (although I promise never to be headless). I guess I just figure we waited a long time for this, why not celebrate it?!
A few pregnancy tidbits…
- The heartburn train has pulled into the station. I’ve got it (and good!). Some days are worse than others. On the bad days, I get heartburn from *everything*. It’s actually kind-of funny. ;)
- I never realized how much your body has to stretch during pregnancy. Wowzers! I’ve got tightened rubber bands all through my groin, between my legs, in my thighs, you name it. Standing on my right leg by itself is barely tolerable. Shaving my legs is getting comical (and I’ve got so far to go!).
- You will spend $70 on a *pillow* if there is a chance a good night sleep could result.
- I LOVE feeling our baby move.
- Apparently, Beanie can hear me now. So, I sing to him/her in the car sometimes. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing…
- I get nosebleeds sometimes in the mornings.
- After a year and a half, I am eating meat again. And I blame it all on the baby!!
- As a child/teenager, I would occasionally get migraines with auras (numb hands and face, blind spots, trouble speaking, etc). At some point, I just stopped having them and went over 15 years without even one. Then, the week after my miscarriage, I had one. Fast forward to now and I've had 3 in just over a week. I'm wondering how long they'll stick around, as they are kind-of scary!
- My tummy is growing, and I’m still amazed every time I look down. :)
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
All of a sudden I felt something strange. It felt like popcorn popping, or bubbles bouncing around in my abdomen. I did quick math and realized I was only just over 14 weeks and, while it was possible, most women don’t feel a baby’s movements that early (especially their first). I tried to dismiss it, but it was unlike anything I felt before, and I actually laughed out loud because it tickled so much.
I tested it out by rolling onto my back. The sensation stopped. When I rolled back onto my side, it started up again. This kid was going crazy in there! Deep down, I knew I was feeling my baby move for the first time.
I didn’t say much about it, as I was afraid people wouldn’t believe what I was feeling. I would hear it was gas bubbles, or hunger pains, or the millions of other things women confuse for fetal movement. I didn’t want someone to ruin the moment by insisting it didn’t exist.
The next night, I felt Beanie again, although to a much lesser extent. The following night, I felt nothing. Then, the night after that, the moving and shaking started again. This has been the pattern for the past week or so. I’d still been keeping this experience quiet, just waiting to see what happens.
Then, today, I felt Beanie for the first time during the day. I was sitting up, putting my make-up on, and there (s)he was, doing morning calisthenics. Later on this afternoon, at my desk at work, it started up again.
I will be honest and say it really freaked me out a bit the first time I felt Beanie move, but now I am loving it. No hard kicks or right hooks yet, just a soft, subtle reminder every once in a while that our little miracle is still here.
This is just one of those many experiences that I thought I’d never have. I am eternally grateful.
Monday, April 11, 2011
I met with Nurse R, Dr M’s nurse practitioner. She is wonderful in all the motherly ways you would want a nurse practitioner to be. I almost feel like I have the love and care of a midwife when I am with her (not that I know how a midwife is, just how I imagine it would be). First, we weighed (I’ve gained a whole 1 pound – Something tells me I’ll catch up pretty quickly though…). Then she answered my list of crazy, out-of-nowhere questions (chicken pox risk, minor eczema breakout, a kitty-question, etc). We set up my 2nd trimester screening. Finally, she used the doppler to listen to Beanie’s heartbeat. Her doppler is better than mine at home, and it was amazing how loud and detailed the heartbeat sounded. I could literally hear the blood pumping through little Beanie’s heart.
Our next appointment will be with Dr M at the beginning of May. In this practice, you alternate between Nurse R and the doctor with each appointment. Following that, we have our 2nd trimester screening, which will also be when we learn if Beanie is a Jack or a Katelyn. :)