Trying, Not Trying

I’ve mentioned before our plan to start trying for #2 when C turns a year old. Well, that time is here. I still find it rather comical that we’re going to try on our own first, but M thinks it’s a good idea. I don’t disagree that we might as well give it a try, no matter how remote the chance of conceiving on our own. It doesn’t cost anything (except perhaps my sanity), and – as everyone likes to tell me – you never know. I’m all for saving a few thousand dollars.

If   When I don’t get pregnant au naturale, we will do a FET, most likely next spring. That gives us about 6-7 months of trying on our own. The last time we TTC without help, I charted hardcore and used OPKs. I’m not sure I want to do all that again, so it may be that rather than try try, we’ll simply not prevent. I think I can handle that.

Of course, I have to get my cycle back first, and that means putting an end to breastfeeding. That will not be an easy task. C doesn’t nurse very often any more, but it’s a central part of her sleep routine, so I’m hesitant to take it away from her before she’s ready. And she isn’t showing any signs of being ready. Lots of women get pregnant while breastfeeding, but it seems I’m not even going to get my period until we stop. And even then, who knows? Part of me is tempted to just keep doing what we’re doing, and not worry about weaning until FET time. In other words, throw TTC on our own out the door.

So many emotions and thoughts…. Are we ready for this? Am I ready for this? This morning, as I was getting dressed, I looked down at my ankles and remembered how swollen they were at the end of my pregnancy. I thought about how difficult it was to carry around all that weight, and how utterly exhausted I was. How can I possible handle that again, this time with a toddler to take care of? I already feel like I’m missing a huge chunk of C’s life by working a full time job. I’ll miss even more when I’m too tired to play with her, and later when I’m caring for a newborn. I know people do it all the time, but that knowledge doesn’t seem to help with the guilt.

Not to mention the fear. Fear of miscarriage and stillbirth and premature birth. Fear that I won’t get pregnant at all. The optimist in me wrote the above paragraph, but the realist in me knows there’s a very good chance C will be our only child. As of this moment, I think I’m okay with that, but I know that trying and failing to get pregnant will take its toll on me.

Did I Give Up?

Did I Give Up?

I love everything about this post. It’s not about “giving up.” It’s about making choices, the best choices for you and your family. It’s not “giving up” when you choose to stop fertility treatments and move on to surrogacy or adoption. It’s not “giving up” when you choose to stop pursuing parenthood altogether.

So, I refuse to say that I gave up.

And, I refuse to say anyone who stopped trying gave up.

Instead, I think we as society, need to celebrate those who make difficult decisions and attempt to figure out what is best for them today and into the future, regardless of what they choose.

Year One

I know every parent says this, but I can hardly believe that my daughter is a year old already!

Just two years ago, on the cusp of IVF, we didn’t know if we would ever be parents. IVF was a scary thought – a lot of money for a small chance at parenthood. It was our last resort, we had decided together. My RE didn’t give us great odds – with my low AMH, she said we could expect 4-5 eggs, and possibly have one embryo to transfer, nothing to freeze. We were elated when they retrieved 9 eggs, transferred 2 embryos, and froze 3. That two week wait was the craziest emotional roller coaster ride of my journey, by far. When we learned that both embryos implanted, I was pretty shocked. One was only half the size of the other, so we pretty much knew that twins weren’t in our immediate future right away, but still I think back to that time and get a little sad that I basically had another blighted ovum. My medical chart still mentions something about a twin pregnancy, but the whole idea that I almost had twins is a bit surreal to me. If this had been a “normal” (i.e. non-IVF pregnancy), I wouldn’t have even known about the twin, most likely.

But back to the topic at hand. I have a one year old. A toddler! She is simply amazing. I love watching her work things out on her own, like figuring out how to stand up without help, and fitting different shapes into the right spaces. I keep expecting her to get frustrated with her lack of coordination and tactile agility, and sometimes she does, but not often. Already I see that she prefers to figure things out on her own, and that she won’t accept help unless she asks for it.

Even though I hate when people call her this, my daughter is a mama’s girl. She makes it known that she wants no one except me, and she won’t let me leave a room – or even cross one – without her. She can wander away from me, but if I take a step away from her, boy, do I hear about it! I love that she’s so attached to me, but it makes things really difficult, like leaving her with a babysitter, or even with her dad. I can’t get much done around the house, which causes tension between me and my husband. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal, but day to day, it’s a struggle. Soon, she will be more independent, and I’ll be longing for the days she wanted only me.

The most surprising thing to come out of this past year is that I don’t lack instinct after all! I always used to snark when people talked about following their gut, but my gut instinct has served me very well during this past year. It told me that my daughter had more than a cold – it turned out to be RSV and she needed a nebulizer to help her breathe. It told me that letting her cry it out to sleep was not right for us, despite her doctor and others telling me that we needed to do it if we ever wanted to sleep again. There are other examples, but these were the big ones. I am so much more confident now that I know what is best for my daughter and my family. That’s huge for me!

That One Time I Was on a Podcast

I mentioned in my last post that I was interviewed for a podcast called “Beat Infertility.” In that post, I shared my thoughts on what it means to “beat” infertility. Well, you can now listen to my episode hereor through whatever podcast listening app you prefer – just search for Beat Infertility; my story is episode 8.

While you’re there, check out the other episodes, too. The personal stories are wonderful – it’s like an infertility blog come to life. You’ll also find bonus episodes on different topics like endometriosis, PCOS, and strengthening your relationships while going through infertility, all packed with great information from experts.

Hope you enjoy!

08: Endometriosis & Ovarian Cysts

Have I “Beat Infertility”?

I suppose it depends on what you mean by “beat.” Some people interpret the phrase as overcoming infertility by finally holding a long-awaited-for baby in one’s arms. For others, it means rising above infertility by not allowing it to consume them.

When I was asked to consider being a guest on a new podcast called “Beat Infertility,” my first instinct was to say “But I haven’t beaten infertility. I may have my daughter, but I’m still very much infertile.” After I visited the Beat Infertility website, I understood that the creator was referring to the second meaning: in her words, “taking back control” over infertility. This is certainly something I’ve been striving to achieve personally through my blog, so I decided to take the leap and contribute my story to the podcast. (As of today, I don’t know when my episode will air, but I will post an update with the information as soon as I know.)

Ever since the interview, I’ve been thinking about the idea of beating or overcoming infertility. Some days, I kick infertility in the balls with my super-charged coping skills. Other days, I’m overcome with jealousy by a pregnancy announcement from a fellow infertile (followed immediately by intense guilt), and I crawl into a hole of self-pity. All that averages out to merely surviving it, I guess.

And there’s nothing wrong with mere survival. It’s a worthy goal, a necessary goal, for many of us. At the end of every interview, the host asks what words of hope we would offer to someone just starting on their infertility journey. I realize hope is a heated topic in the infertility community, and I’ve certainly struggled with the concept myself. I don’t remember my exact words, but the message I wanted to convey was that no matter the outcome, you can survive infertility. It may not feel that way at times, and it may take a lot of work, but I believe that everyone who faces infertility can survive it. Maybe I’m speaking out of turn here, since my journey does include a child of my own, but I believe that even if your journey doesn’t include children, you can be okay – you can still survive, even beat, infertility. (I’m sure some will disagree with me, and I’m fine with that.)

I will always be infertile, but, some day, I hope to be able to say with confidence that I have beaten infertility once and for all – that the evil demon no longer has control over me and my thoughts about my self-worth… that it no longer dictates how I react to a pregnancy announcement or the sight of a pregnant belly. Some day… most likely when I’m finished trying to get pregnant for good. But, for now, I’m still hovering around surviving.

Confessions of a Cry-It-Out Dropout (Or, How I Broke My Baby)

This isn’t one of those you should/shouldn’t let your baby cry it out posts.

This isn’t an advice-seeking post.

This is a post about how making an emotional decision during an emotionally-charged situation is a supremely bad idea.

I’m a terrible mother.

I know I’m not a terrible mother.

But I feel like a terrible mother.

Because I’m pretty sure I broke my baby. Psychologically, anyway. Physically, she’s just fine. (More importantly, just so we’re clear, I have no desire to harm my baby in any way. And I’m not making light of those who feel those urges, either. This is just my perhaps-not-so-clever way of saying I feel responsible for making my baby feel and act a certain way that is contrary to how she was before… in other words, broken.)

C is not a great sleeper. At 9 months, she still wakes up anywhere from 2-6 times each night, unable to get back to sleep on her own. Parental fail #1: I never let her fall asleep on her own. Instead, I’ve always nursed her to sleep. Furthermore, even when I lay her down fully asleep, she often wakes the moment I set her in her crib. Of course she does! I would, too. And she isn’t just awake… She cries, hard, until I pick her up and help her fall asleep again.

At C’s 9 month check up, her doctor asked me if she sleeps through the night. Nope. She frowned at me, as if to say, Tsk tsk! This is no good! Bad mom! Her only advice: “I wonder what would happen if you just let her cry for a while.” I made light of the situation and said I didn’t mind getting up a few times a night. The truth is, I mind it. I mind it a lot.

So, one night early last week, when C just wouldn’t stay asleep, in a sleep-deprived state of physical and emotional exhaustion, and with the doctor’s words in my head, I said “Fuck it! If you don’t want to stay asleep, you can figure this out on your own.” And I left her to cry in her crib.

I decided right then that we would Ferberize the baby. Parental fail #2: decided, not weI didn’t ask my husband for his opinion. I just did it. I decided I would check on her and console her after 5 minutes. Then 10. Then 15. That night, she eventually fell asleep, sitting up, after about 2 hours of total crying. But she slept for 4 hours straight! I let her cry it out in the middle of the night, and after just 20 minutes, she fell asleep on her own.

I didn’t think that was so bad, so I decided to keep going. Night #2, I decided that consoling her wasn’t helping any, as she would just start up crying again as soon as I put her down. So, I just let her cry. Fail #3: I didn’t research cry it out enough to know how to do it properly. After about an hour, she fell asleep, sitting up, this time with her face against the side of the crib. Again, she slept for about 4 hours, at which time I nursed her, and she fell asleep immediately for another 4 hours.

Again, not so bad, right? The part I haven’t told you is that she didn’t just cry… She was hysterical, nearly hyperventilating, standing up in her crib and falling down over and over again.

So why did I keep going? Because I’m a cold, heartless bitch. That’s the only explanation, right? Don’t feel bad. I agree with you.

Actually, I kept going, because everything I read said that I would see improvement soon. I couldn’t give up, because that would be unfair to her. She needs to learn to fall asleep on her own, just as much as I need her to fall asleep on her own.

Night #3…. M has a panic attack, because he can’t stand to hear her crying. I tell him to put on his headphones or leave. Fail #4: Not listening to my husband’s gut. An hour of crying, maybe, before she falls asleep, again – you guessed it – with her face against the side of the crib.

The next day, C clung to me as if her life depended on it. When we went into her room to change her diaper or nurse, she started whimpering. The longer we stayed in her room, the more upset she got. That’s when I realized I had damaged my baby.

She continued to be super clingy all day, and would not nap, except if I held her. But even then, it wasn’t a deep sleep. I decided then that what I had been doing was wrong – not morally wrong, just wrong for her. It wasn’t helping. If anything, it was hurting.

So, I went back to my old ways of nursing and rocking her to sleep. Except now she didn’t trust me. Even when I nursed her to sleep, she would wail the moment she felt my muscles tense up before lowering her into her crib. She continued to be clingy during the day, and nap time was impossible. For two days, I worked hard to regain her trust by rocking her to sleep and consoling her immediately when she began to cry. By the end of day two, we were nowhere near back to normal, but there was some improvement.

I feel just awful for breaking her trust in me. That’s not how it was supposed to go, and it wasn’t my intention. But that’s what happened. And now I have to fix it before we can truly address her sleep issues… this time with a rational, well-thought-out plan. To that end, I’m actually reading Dr. Ferber’s book, Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems cover to cover before we implement any new sleep plan.

So, whether you decide to let your baby cry it out or not, I don’t care – just be sure it’s right for you and your baby, and don’t do it out of a moment of weakness like I did. I’ll probably feel guilty about this for the rest of my life.

(For the record, I’m not opposed to cry it out techniques for all babies. It works like a charm for many, just not for my baby.)

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I’ve been struggling with what to write about lately. I don’t want to abandon this blog, or go months without posting anything. I know at least some of you wouldn’t mind more updates on C – and believe me, I could write about her ALL day long! – but I know for others it’s triggering. At the same time, I want to be completely honest and open, as I have been through my entire journey – the good, the bad, and the ugly. But I know I’ll feel guilty for writing anything that sounds like a complaint. I know what advice I would give to me, but it’s still hard to talk about parenting after loss and infertility when many of your readers are still deeply in the trenches. That said, it’s important for me to get this out here and now. So, please, if you’re in a bad place, don’t read any further.

The Good

This is nearly everything, I will happily admit. Some highlights:

  • C is 8 months old, and on track in her development, both physical and mental/emotional. I’m amazed every day by how much she learns and remembers.
  • She is starting to look to M for comfort, more and more, even when I’m nearby.
  • She LOVES food, just like her mama!
  • She is the happiest baby you could ever wish for.

The Bad

  • C wakes up a lot at night, so I get very little sleep. We’re working on it, but it’s one of those “two steps forward, one step back” things. Sometimes it’s 2 steps back.
  • She is super clingy with me, as in I can’t even put her down on the bed in front of me while I get dressed without her crying huge tears. It’s incredibly annoying and inconvenient.
  • She’s had RSV once and croup twice in the last 2 months. I get sick every time, too.

The Ugly

  • I fucking hate pumping. HATE. Lately, my output has been seriously lacking. It doesn’t help that I went from 3 to 2 pumps per day, primarily due to my travel schedule. I know some women would kill to get anything at all, but for me, producing less than half of what she eats at daycare each day just isn’t worth it. I struggled, but finally decided to stop pumping at work. I have a good frozen supply, and C is not shy about eating solid foods. We’ll have to supplement with formula for a few months, but I’ve never had a problem with that. I plan to keep nursing her whenever we’re together.
  • I’m not so crazy about breast feeding, either. Again, I feel bad saying this, because I know plenty of women who would kill to be able to breast feed. Sure, I’ve loved – and do still love – things about it, like the bonding and the idea that my body can nourish my baby. However, lately, the negatives seem to outweigh the positives. I just want my body back. It sounds selfish, but I want to be able to eat or drink anything I want, and not worry about what OTC medications are safe for breast feeding. I’m tired of making my breasts available 24/7, planning my wardrobe around nursing, and worrying about leaking when I forget my breast pads.
  • I’m struggling to resume my work travel schedule, which includes evenings away, and the occasional overnight. I hate the idea of C being sad that I’m not there (especially with how clingy she’s been lately), and I worry about M’s anxiety dealing with a inconsolable baby. Plus, I just don’t want to be away from her, especially overnight. So far, it hasn’t been a big problem for me to restrict my travel, but I can’t continue like this for much longer. Eventually, I’ll have to bite the bullet.

So, that’s life right now.