Don’t Ignore – NIAW

This is sorely overdue. I’m really sneaking this in at the last moment late, but this last week has been was National Infertility Awareness Week, with this year’s theme being Don’t Ignore Infertility.  I’m honestly at a loss for my own words on the topic, somehow, but I cannot ignore an opportunity to point out some excellent blogs that tackle the idea  from many different perspectives.  I have read some truly amazing posts this week.  These are just a sampling of what’s out there.  I could go on and on….


Anna at This Was Supposed to Be My Symphony:

Infertility is a heart-wrenching, faith-questioning, relationship-testing, life-altering, finance-draining experience that affects 1 in 8 couples. Please consider supporting the Family Act and the Adoption Tax Credit.

Mrs Brightside:

What I keep thinking about is how the ALI blog community means that none of us are ignored. We all bear witness to each other’s pain, struggle, strength and grace through every setback and triumph. I felt ashamed and invisible and utterly alone in my circumstances for years until finally finding you all, and I shudder to think of how much worse off I would be had I not.

jjiraffe at Too Many Fish to Fry

Why Do We Gather Online?
In the blogosphere, we can share our true feelings with others who have “been there” and who can comfort us. We can reveal the true level of devastation we are suffering from.
It’s because those closest to us often say painful things to us. We know people don’t mean to hurt us. But they do.
“My two coworkers (told) me that they “feel so sorry for people without kids! How empty their lives must be.”
“My SIL who knew we were devastated about not being able to having children looked at us with her newborn in her arms and said ‘You can’t imagine what it’s like to feel this kind of love.’”
“That was a defective baby and you wouldn’t have wanted it.” (As told to someone after a miscarriage)
It’s because insurance doesn’t cover most infertility treatments, and some don’t want to “out” themselves as having pre-existing infertility issues to their employer.
It’s because when people tell us, “Just Adopt”, they don’t understand how much it costs, how long it takes, how difficult it is and how much rejection is involved.
It’s because people are scared: infertility is increasing among people in their 20s.

Here’s the thing…
I got pregnant. THREE TIMES.And yet, I am still infertile.
After I got pregnant and miscarried, I felt like I didn’t fit into the category of “infertile” or of “fertile” or even of “subfertile” because I got pregnant. But technically, after my miscarriages, I clinically fell face first back into the category of “infertile.”
People think that my three miscarriages were just three terrible things that happened to me all in a row, like bad luck. What I think people miss about my story is that, in my case, miscarriage is a symptom of a DISEASE.Infertility is a DISEASE. It’s a life-altering, unwanted disease.
Statistics say that between 15% and 50% of all pregnancies will end in miscarriage (source), so chances are, more people are going through it than we realize. Some are handling it in silence, without support, which breaks my heart.

Check out Melissa’s Analogy Project for many, many more posts that can help those who’ve never struggled with infertility start to grasp what it means, like Bebe Suisse’s:  Having a miscarriage is like screaming silently and alone in the bathroom while the party continues without you.

“How lovely, congratulations!” you say brightly in a voice that doesn’t even hint of shattering. 
The ceremony has become awkward. Marc jumps up to look for a juice, a soda, something other than the wine, for her. Gilles mumbles some good wishes and puts down his glass. You take a sip – more than a sip – from your own, not caring about the rudeness of doing so before having touched it to everyone else’s. Claudine is still in the kitchen. 
It gets worse. Oh, we weren’t expecting it, they say; it was a surprise; we only found out a couple of weeks ago. It’s not the right time, but we’ll be happy nonetheless. It’s three months along. As it would have been for you. 
The time has arrived to say cheers properly. Glasses clink, your own among them, half-empty. “Congratulations again!” you add, as if saying it enough times could stop the anger and sorrow and resentment and jealousy, simmering, burning inside you. Consuming you. 

So that’s my take on the Don’t Ignore theme – don’t ignore the stories of those around you.  Don’t assume that having kids is as easy as falling off a log for everyone.  If someone confides in you, and you don’t know what to say, just say that you’re sorry, and mean it.  Don’t try to come up with some platitude to make them grateful for their pain.  If you have never had reason to read enough about infertility and infertility treatments to know that it’s not one-size-fits-all, don’t assume that your friend of a friend who you heard took “fertility drugs” has the same issues.  Don’t tell someone that you know it will all work out – because you don’t know that.  

Basically, don’t be a dick.   

Thirty-one & One

Growth check ultrasound yesterday – all seems okay.  I know that the measurements they take can be off, so I’m not completely freaking out that previously he was 30th percentile and this time only 26th (3 lbs. 5 oz.)…though I definitely am not overlooking it.  I go back in three weeks for another growth check, and then every week for a biophysical profile, to include growth checks every other week.  That’s all with the peri practice – not sure exactly how that will intersect with the NSTs that start on Tuesday with the OB/midwives.  I plan to just keep showing up and try to not stress too much about any of it.  I’m stressing and furious enough as it is with work stuff and general life-can-be-annoying-and-unfair (I cannot be the only one who wishes to be Canadian or European when it comes to healthcare costs and FMLA being unpaid, right?) stuff.  I can usually quickly take some deep breaths and try to shrug it off, but damn if I don’t get RAGINGLY ANGRY first.  I don’t blame it on hormones, but I definitely am feeling the weight of this becoming-a-parent-very-soon reality, especially financially.  It’s so exciting…yet still completely terrifying. I know everything will work out, and we’ll be fine, but I just really despise the feeling of scraping to make ends meet.  Makes me feel irresponsible, even though I know we’re doing the best we can for the circumstances.

So far we’ve taken the infant CPR class and the breastfeeding class.  Tomorrow is the infant care class, then starting the second Wednesday in May, we have the four classes in the ‘birthing naturally’ series.  We are FINALLY almost done painting (still need touch-ups and the closet door done) in the nursery, so I think Sunday we may even get to start assembling furniture.   Then I can start washing clothes and prepping diapers (I am stupidly excited about cloth diapering – not that we won’t have some disposables on-hand, especially at the beginning) and organizing stuff.

Oh yes, STUFF!  And lots of it.  My family shower was last weekend, and it was amazing.  My sister went all out with the jungle animal theme – everything was adorable and all the food and desserts were delicious. Mike and I drove up with my mom, so we only had room in the car to bring home some of the gifts.  My sister will bring the rest next month when she comes down for the local friends/work people/Mike’s family/etc. shower.  I’ll admit that all the stuff makes me feel a tiny bit more prepared, or at least somewhat less ill-prepared.  I know that we’re in for a rude awakening, as all new parents are, and that it’s going to be harsh, with little sleep and much feeling like we have no idea what we’re doing.  And I expect to be surprised by the intensity of it all, as well.  I mean, if I feel overwhelmed now, clearly I am just warming up!  Deeeeep breeeeeaaaaths.

30 Weeks

Terrible cell phone photo, but what the hell.  I’m trying on a dress to wear to a baby shower.  MY baby shower.  That’s crazy.

Also, I can’t believe I’m going to get so much bigger.  I know I am, but holy crap, I’m kind of enormous already.  I still don’t really feel it, or realize it when I look down at myself, but seeing it in profile is different.  Very different.

A Delicious Cliché

I totally just sent Mike to the store at 9:30 pm to procure some ice cream.  (No pickles, though – ew.) He asked what kind and all I could come up with was ‘something full-fat with lots of stuff in it.’

Super classy.

(29w6d)

Oh yes – completely uneventful midwife appointment this morning.  Nothing of note this time – first NST is scheduled for May 1st.

April PAIL Theme Post

The prompt for this month’s theme post asks:

What kind of parent am I or do I want to be? If you’re already a parent, what kinds of things work for you now? Did they always? Has your view of what kind of parent you are changed? If you’re pregnant or TTC, have you given this topic much thought? What is your style likely to be? Are you a structure sort of person? Will you or did you cry-it-out? Will you or did you try to get your baby on a schedule? Did you or will you demand feed? Did you or will you subscribe to a method like Attachment Parenting or Babywise or some other method? Do you think you can spoil a baby by holding it too much?

I suppose I’ve thought about this some, but not in great detail.  Being, and staying, pregnant should obviously lead to that train of thought, but frankly I’ve gotten about as far as reading up on natural childbirth, and not much further – yet.  It’s been hard for me to picture us parenting.  It’s getting better as I get bigger, and the other current PAIL project (book club, wheee!) is helping, too.  We are reading Bringing Up Bebe (sorry, not hunting for e’s with accent marks) by Pamela Druckerman.  I’m not finished reading yet – in fact I just started, but so far, I am actually liking it.  I wasn’t sure what my preconceived notions were from the description and sample – I sort of thought I was going to either love it or hate it for being overly judgmental toward everything I haven’t even had a chance to try yet.  Not being even halfway through yet, I’m reserving final judgement.  I don’t think I’ll use it as my go-to parenting manual, necessarily, but so far there is definitely at least one thing I think I’d like to incorporate into my…I don’t even know what to call it – that’s funny.  Style?  Method?  SURVIVAL TACTICS!   I’ll not get specific yet, since I’ll be writing about the book again once I’m done reading it.  
I think what I’d like to aim for as a parent is a sense of balance.  Of course being a mother will change me, and parenting will probably be our primary focus, but I’d like it to not fully consume and obliterate everything else that we enjoy.  I don’t want to be a mother who has nothing going on other than mothering, basically.  I think it’s important for kids to be able to see their parents as people, not just as parents (or their servants, as I think happens in a lot of cases).  I want to trust my kid(s?  so greedy of me).  I haven’t read the book itself, but from what I have read about it, I like the idea of Free Range Kids, as I think that’s how my parents pretty much approached it.  Granted, it was twenty-five to thirty years ago, but we were allowed to roam the neighborhood (not every house was assumed to be inhabited by a pedophile) on foot and on bicycle (WITHOUT HELMETS, GASP!), and did not always have direct parental supervision of playtime.  It’s not that there were no rules or expectations (far from it), but we were not helicoptered by any means.  Even into adolescence, if I was keeping my grades (way) up, which I did, I wasn’t given a lot of restrictions on what I did with my free time. Not saying I had great judgement (are teenagers supposed to?) – I was really good at being bad and not actually getting in trouble.  Plenty of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (let’s not talk about the country music phase – we’ll pretend that never happened).  But I survived, without any major damage, I think.  That’s basically what I want for my kid(s) – to of course keep themselves safe, but to not be afraid to experience life.  I plan to be more open and honest about the sex and drugs part with him/them than my parents were with us (not that my parents were puritanical in any deliberate way – they simply said nothing about those things at all, ever, unless my shenanigans forced them).  Hopefully not as much will be hidden from me as I hid from my parents.  It’s gonna happen, I figure, and while ignorance may be bliss – it could also lead to disaster.  Luckily I was just a fairly normal amount of self-destructive and stupid and not bent on actual destruction.  Actually, that’s probably not so much luck as proof that my parents did an awful lot very well.
As far as my plan for the beginning, I’m hoping to be as flexible as possible, hopefully without creating unsustainable sleep and eating patterns.  I like the idea of attachment parenting (or as much as I know of it – the baby-wearing and bonding, not spanking, etc.), and I do NOT think you can spoil an infant by holding it too much (though I don’t think you need to necessarily pick up a baby within 5 seconds of a whimper, either – self-soothing is a necessary development as well).  This reminds me of a comment Mike’s dad made at Christmas, actually.  Mike’s cousin and his wife’s son was about six months old at the time, and after we left the family dinner gathering, my father in law noted that the baby was “pretty well-behaved.”  I sputtered and choked on the inside, because…yes, while I suppose infants technically exhibit behaviors, but I don’t think you could ever fairly criticize a six month old as behaving badly, either.  I’m no expert on infant development, but I don’t think that babies can be manipulative.  They’re just learning and surviving for the most part.  So even if the kid was having an awful day and cried and fussed the entire time, I don’t think you should really have much to say about it (unless of course you’re also witnessing parental abuse/neglect).  
I do not like what I’ve read about Babywise.  I’m not assuming I’ll never turn to Ferber or cry-it-out, but the criticism for Ezzo’s methods just listed on the wiki page are enough to turn me quickly in the opposite direction.  Or at least hope to feel confident enough to go with my best guess, knowing that there are plenty of guides and gurus out there to consult as necessary.  I don’t want to have so much of a plan in place that any necessary deviation throws a bunch of other stuff out of whack and I feel like we have to start all over.  I want to learn as I go (without hopefully fucking anything up too badly…like maybe his very first word shouldn’t be fuck, as my mom half-jokingly mentioned while we were stroller shopping/researching). With breastfeeding, yes, I suppose I’ll start out feeding on demand, but then hopefully get him on a schedule by two to three months or so and get myself to pumping like crazy so that we can have some to leave with my mom during the day when I go back to work and so Mike can feed him when he wants to or when I need a break, too.  If that pumping is exhausting to the point I’m not getting to enjoy my baby, then screw it, some formula there will be.  I’ll be disappointed, but hopefully not crushed.  
Basically, I want to try and stay flexible and balanced and not lose my shit over the little stuff.  I don’t think my parents were perfect, by any means, but I feel like I have a pretty good base to build upon.  I’m not going to be able to do the SAHM thing, at least in the very near future, so I want to try and enjoy as much as I can while he’s tiny – yet I have no illusion that it will all be enjoyable.  Sometimes it will probably suck rather mightily, but that’s okay.  I still can hardly believe I am getting to legitimately consider such questions…even if I maybe am not taking them seriously enough yet.  On the other hand – I don’t want to fall into taking everything too seriously, either.  It’s just really, really nice right now to be able to believe that, most likely, everything is going to be okay.    
(29w3d)

Progress

Had my appointment with the new OB yesterday.  He didn’t seem to have any reservations about my aiming for Family Beginnings, so big fat YAY for that!  He just said, yes, we’ll stop the low-dose aspirin and heparin at 37 weeks, and then it’ll be just as normal as any other birth (who me, normal?!!?)  We’d gone ahead and registered for the childbirth classes the birth center recommends – I was shocked how many are actually full already.  We don’t start until May, every Wednesday evening.  Have yet to register for the infant care, breastfeeding, and CPR classes, but they did not seem to be filling up quite as quickly.  Need to let the cash flow recover a bit after these peri bills.  Unfortunately they don’t let you set up payment plans like some physicians’ offices, and $400 an ultrasound is a bit harsh on our relatively meager incomes.  Stresses me out.  Not even going to let myself get started on that, since there’s very little I an actually do about it right now.

But on the positive side, the new OB does not necessarily require that I switch to a new perinatal practice, and even said that while he wanted me to keep my next appointment with her, he may not require as many scans/non-stress tests/biophysical profiles toward the end as the old OB seemed to think would be mandatory.  I don’t think the low PAPP-A result is so threatening to him, which is reassuring, though he did acknowledge that there are statistically more poor outcomes when you get those results.  Aware, but not trying to scare me.  I like it.  They even gave me the Rhogam shot right there in the office, though my records from the old OB’s practice STILL hadn’t shown up.  That really irked me (and yet my blood pressure was pretty low, phew).  At my last cervical check the woman who checked me out as I was leaving said she’d faxed them that morning, even remarking “there was a LOT.”  No shit, lady, so sorry if my four miscarriages gave you a paper cut.  But either she lied or they didn’t make it into my new file.  So the nurse at the new practice had to call, and they were arriving as I left.  Complete, I hope.  Anyway, I was thoroughly impressed that they felt comfortable with my being able to say, yes, I’m B negative, I need the Rhogam, and not making me spend a whole day getting blood draws to confirm this.  The nurse said, “I’m sure you know what you’re talking about.”  How refreshing, to not be treated like a moron by medical professionals.  So I canceled the appointment I had with the old OB’s office this morning.  Feels good to be settled with care that’s not overly alarmist.  Now I can start hunting for a pediatrician we’ll be comfortable with, too.  Eek.

I feel like I’ve accomplished a few things.  Filled out the paperwork for the doula.  Catching up on some CASA stuff.  We’re still far from actually prepared, of course, but at least I can say we’ve made progress.

(28w1d)

No Joke

Ultrasound was good.  We got to see some cute thumb/finger/hand sucking.  He’s just over two pounds, according to the belly measurement (I think that’s what they use to estimate, anyway).  He’s head down (unless he’s flipped since Thursday…I’m still not sure I’d know, honestly), but he was face up.  Plenty of time still for him to spin around, I hope.  I mentioned that I’m switching OB practices, and they said that the new OB generally uses a different perinatal practice, so I may have yet another new doctor soon.  No shortage of opinions, I suppose.

We met with another potential doula on Friday evening.  I like her, she seems younger but has more and wider experience as a doula, and says she’d match the fee quoted by the first one we interviewed.  So we’ll probably go with her.  She seems a bit scattered – called at 5:30 looking for me though we’d agreed to meet at seven.  That threw me, but she says that her mother has been in the hospital and so they’ve been taking care of two houses, which is understandable.  I don’t get the feeling that it’s the kind of thing that would actually interfere with her being present when we need her to be.  There are a few other pros – she’s also an early lactation care specialist, and is working on a nursing degree with an eye on becoming a midwife.  I’m not sure if those things should outweigh the first doula’s midwife’s assistant’s training (at The Farm with Ina May Gaskin, in fact), but I have to admit that I find the high-collar, modest-dress, skirts-not-pants, Big-Love-type-hairdo thing a bit off-putting (enough hyphens for you?).  I can’t even put my finger on which religion that probably signifies (Pentecostal?), or why that should matter much when it comes to doula care, but…it makes me oddly uncomfortable, even though when I met with her she was perfectly friendly and very knowledgeable.  I think if I had not liked this second doula, I’d be perfectly happy to hire her, but…overall, I’m just more comfortable with the second, and Mike is, too.  Plus, she has a backup doula and an apprentice doula, so even if some unavoidable conflict would come up, we’d be covered – and I very well may get two doulas for the price of one.  Seems sort of like a no-brainer.  Maybe it’s just that I’ve never really been in the position of hiring anyone for anything, but I’m feeling weirdly guilty about my bias against the first’s implied social/political/religious values.  It’s definitely a prejudice, but I have to go with my gut here.  Thank goodness for email; at least I don’t have to say “you’re not hired” on the phone or in person, I guess.

What else?  Oh, we need to start registering for the childbirth education, breastfeeding, infant care, CPR, etc. classes.  I fear we are running out of time (not to mention energy and money) to get all of this, and the nursery (we have primer!) done before his arrival.  While I know that all the details don’t really matter, it somehow feels important – as if everything we can accomplish that’s baby-related drags me a bit further away from the disbelief that it’s finally happening for us.  Even as I sit here with him kicking away inside…I can’t believe we’ve been so lucky, that we’re really going to get to have a baby.  I think it may not fully hit me until he’s actually here.

(27w3d)