Thursday, December 15, 2011

8 Month Attitude

December 15 and my 1st post all month? Not to mention 6 days after the actual event I am blogging about. Wow, I think this is my worst case of blog procrastination yet! In my defense though I also haven't been brushing my hair or wearing make-up quite as often these days. You see I am now the mother of an 8 month old. And what I didn't fully realize, is that a baby this age is almost nothing like the one that came before it.

When you're embarking on parenthood you brace yourself for all the typical new baby stuff everyone is obsessed with warning you about: sleepless nights, spit up, colic, and I felt ready. I knew what to expect and I lucked out with a baby that slept relatively well, didn't scream or cry too often and virtually never regurgitated her meals. And as she grew she just got more fun, more sweet. My absolute favorite thing in the world has been her covering my cheek in slobbery kisses right before she goes to bed and sleeps for an uninterrupted 12 hours. Or at least it used to be. Because that is not my baby anymore. Now she has attitude, and plenty of it!

I have always been a teeny bit anxious about what parenting will be like as my kids grow up. There are so many obstacles to face and guide them through. Raising kids isn't easy and there are bound to be moments when my kids don't like me, when they don't want to give me a kiss goodbye or eat the dinner I spent all night making them. I knew it would come one day but I had years until I really had to worry about that, right? WRONG. The only thing my once sweet, happy baby seems to have done for the past week is whine, scream and yell.

Now that she is 8 months old and more aware of the world around and all that it has to offer, she is constantly bored. The things that used to make her laugh for an hour, are now old news after 2 minutes. I used to get a ok amount of items crossed off my to-do list each day, but now I feel like a circus performer frantically attempting to entertain my daughter before she has yet another nuclear meltdown. And boredom isn't the only thing that invokes her wrath. If she's hungry, she will yell and whine until food is produced and if it's not food she likes, she doesn't stop at spitting it out, she screams and blows 'raspberries', spraying the broccoli and carrots I spent an afternoon steaming and pureeing for her all over my face. She does have exceptionally good fine motor skills which she has further honed by eating cheerios, picking them up one at a time with her fingers. But you can't give her one unless you're prepared to give her an entire box, because if they're gone, it's DEFCON 1 and screams are imminent.

And it's not just daytime that's reserved for hysterical screaming. Oh no, now 2am has become a popular time for all-out, scream at the top you lungs cry-fests. The night before last our entire household probably slept 3 hours in between all the tears. I got better night's sleep when she was just a few weeks old and waking to nurse all night. At least then she could eat and drift back off for another solid 3 hours until it was time to eat again. She hasn't been nursing in the middle of the night for a while now, but it's not surprising that she's suddenly waking up hungry again, considering she sprays more of her dinner on to my shirt than ever makes it into her mouth the past few days.

Before you ask, yes we have thought about teething. We're keeping an eye on her gums and I think that it does have some part to play since she has yet to sprout any teeth, but it doesn't seem to be the only reason for her personality changes. Some of it, I think, is just her growing up. And that is so much more difficult for me than being able to blame it on teeth. I'm just not ready for this! She gets annoyed at me now. My sweet, easygoing baby gets mad and whines if she doesn't get her way. And most heartbreaking of all, she stopped giving me kisses. She used to get so excited to plant her mouth on my cheek, she'd smile and giggle and reach for my face over and over again. Now she not only refuses to give me even a single non-smiley kiss, she shrieks and turns her head if my face gets too near hers. It's killing me! I thought this wasn't supposed to happen until they were older and didn't want to look un-cool in front of their friends. It takes all of my strength not to take it personally and cry when I ask for a kiss and she growls and pushes me away. I know it's part of her development and that these things will ebb and flow, but still, it stings.

To be fair, attitude, opinions and independence aren't the only milestones she's achieving at 8 months. She has also mastered the art of clapping! When she started waving just before turning 7 months, I predicted that clapping would soon follow and sure enough it did! Her first real clap was during the 20 minute snippet of The Muppet Movie she saw with us. She was absolutely enthralled by it dancing and bouncing in my lap and then all of the sudden clapping out loud to express her joy. Now she does it to show her appreciation for good book, a nice rendition of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" or the hilarity that is Mommy putting anything on her head that shouldn't be there (Silly Mommy! Blocks don't go on your head but I applaud the effort you're making to keep me entertained.) It isn't kisses but it is incredibly cute and I have to admit love the sound of her tiny hands smacking together. It is one of my greatest joys lately.

And speaking of greatest joys, even at her whiniest, Eliana is still mine. Earlier this week, Chad and I were out to dinner with his colleagues. They were nice enough to move the reservation early in the evening so that we could bring the baby before her bedtime. Eating out with an 8 month old is no easy feat. As we took her turns trying to feed her, change her diaper in tiny bathroom stalls and digging through her diaper bag for any object that might somehow appease her for more than a second, I thought to myself how much easier this dinner would be if it were just me and Chad and how happier I am eating cold food so that I can take care of my amazing daughter than I ever could have dreamed. Yes, I get annoyed at her screams but my very next thought is always how incredibly grateful I am to be hearing them. After years of hearing people complain about their cranky babies and thinking to myself how incredibly thrilled I'd be to have a cranky baby of my own, I'm lucky enough to finally be proving myself right. I seriously love her more than I could ever express. And it doesn't make sense considering everything I just said but I love her crankiness too. I love that it gives me an opportunity to get to know new parts of her personality, I love that mid-cry, I can still trick her into a smile if I time my peekaboo just right. At least once a day I get overwhelmed with love and have to scoop her up and smother her in hugs and cuddles, telling I love her over and over again and lately it's when she's in a whiny mood that my love comes gushing out. She doesn't want to kiss me, that's ok. It breaks my heart a little but it's ok, because she can't stop me from kissing her double to make up for it!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Hopes

The holiday season is officially upon us and with it comes so many memories & emotions. I get a catch in my throat and a tear in my eye every time I think ahead to upcoming holiday traditions and realize that my daughter is here to experience it all with me. I also get a pang when I remember the holiday seasons before this one. It wasn't long ago that I was in tears all season long as I furiously flipped channels away from commercials for baby's first Christmas ornament and tried to avoid the line of eager little ones waiting to see Santa. So recently, I spent my Christmas crying into my husband's shoulder as we mourned together a "gift" worse than coal when my BFN was confirmed and AF arrived. I will always remember the deep longing I felt this time of year and the sheer pain of feeling like the only woman in the world that wasn't a mother during what was for everyone was "the most wonderful time of the year".

Even now as we trimmed our tree earlier tonight, I could feel the echo of those familiar emotions with each ornament we hung from that time in our lives. It is incredible how much emotion can be tied to an object, where just seeing it can make you feel exactly as you did when it made whatever 1st impression it had on you. When I pulled out last year's ornament, tears instantly welled in my eyes as I remembered how much hope and happiness came when we knew Snow Pea was on her way. And now this year, she is here and I can't wait to find the perfect ornament to commemorate that and how beyond overjoyed we are. Along with this there are so many holiday firsts I can't to witness and experience along with my daughter. High on the list is her first visit to Santa.

I have always been a big fan of Santa. I am a believer. I never worried if the mall Santa's beard was fake because he was just a helper anyway. When all of the other kids in school outgrew him, I felt sorry for them because I knew that since they didn't believe, he wouldn't come to their house and I defended my conviction even when I was the only one left in my class that believed. I waited up every Christmas Eve, heard hooves on my roof and saw glowing red noses in my windows. Christmas was pure magic for me and when I finally reached the point when the real world started to dampen some of the magic I felt lost. I cried to my mom that the magic of Christmas, of childhood was gone and I didn't know what to do. I wanted to be Peter Pan and never grow up, but time marched on and I was growing up anyway. She comforted me and told me her biggest secret. She had never wanted to grow up either but she had to, just like I did. The secret is to hold on to as much magic as possible and it will come back even stronger when you can live it all again through your children's eyes. And I could see in her eyes just how amazing it had been for her to see me and my sister giggle excitedly as we checked for our rewards from the tooth fairy, hunt for treasures from the Easter Bunny and stare in awe at the man in the red suit. That was the moment I knew for sure that more than anything in the world I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to give to my children what my mother had given me- the magic of childhood.

And now here it is. My child is here, and although she is too young to truly understand, I am convinced she already has a sense of that magical spirit I have always carried, and just like her mother, she is already a fan of Santa Claus. This past Thanksgiving morning we had a normal morning routine of breakfast, playtime and nap only this time we had the parade on in the background. she watched a few seconds here and there but mostly kept herself entertained with other things. Until Santa came on. As soon his his float came into view, Eliana stopped what she was doing and looked up intently and his jolly face came on screen she started giggling and waving to him! And she went right back to her book when the parade ended and Santa was gone. It was only him she was interested in.
I have to admit I got a bit teary-eyed and excited when I saw her reaction. We haven't taken her to see Santa in person yet, so I am hoping she loves that experience as much as she liked seeing him on TV.

But even if she doesn't love meeting Santa as much as I did as a child, this Christmas is already the most miraculous and magical one I could have ever imagined because I have the most precious treasure of my life in my arms to enjoy it with. I will never forget how heartbreaking my childless holidays were and I will be holding all those still hoping and struggling this holiday season close to my heart. I feel so unbelievably blessed to be finally be a mother this Christmas. It is my childhood Christmas wish come true. And if I could ask Santa for any Christmas wish this year it would be to bring this same hope & happiness to all of you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Waving Hello to 7 Months!

My Sweet Snow Pea, a few days ago you turned 7 months old and you enthusiastically waved the new month in! This past month you grew and learned so much but by far your most adorable new skill is waving! And it's not just any wave, you slowly roll your wrist side to side like the Queen of England in a parade. It is priceless!

It started while we were in Orlando visiting many of your friends and family, your first trip to Mommy and Daddy's "home". You were so cute waving as you first laid eyes on many special people who had been waiting anxiously to meet you for so long. No wave was more precious though then when you said goodnight to your Great-Grandparents (mommy's Grammy & Grampy) after meeting them. They were so in awe of your chubby cheeks and happy smile and you were equally fascinated by them. You sat in their laps curiously watching their faces and soaking in their voices until your eyes got heavy and as Daddy walked you back to your room, you smiled only for them and waved at them all the way down the hall. It is a moment you may be too young to recall, but it is one I will cherish for many years to come.

It took me a while to figure out where this wave came from. It is after all, a little bit early for you to be doing such a thing and I can't remember many times in your short life that you have had people waving to you. But as we were smiling and waving at the baby in the mirror the next day, it clicked. I taught you to wave! Me! Not intentionally but I taught you just the same. You have a mirrored closet in your room and since you were born, I have held you in front of it at some point in the day and we waved "Hi" to the mirror baby. Like all babies, you have been awed by your reflection but I never realized you were watching me too! Of course, I know you are and that you learn from me and Daddy everyday but this was the first real, big thing that I know for sure that I taught you. It is an incredible feeling to say the least, second to the heart melting feeling of actually watching wave hello to the world.

Your 6th month held lots of other fun milestones. You started really eating solids and wow do you eat! You are definitely not a picky eater and happily gobble up just about any food and any texture Mommy makes for you, which is great since I blend it myself and it's not always super smooth. And you started sitting up unsupported overnight, and now it's like you could always do it. And you have finally decided it is worth the effort to regularly roll over from back to tummy. You could do it earlier, you just didn't seem to want to until now.

But nothing is as amazing as that wave. And the undeniable fact that I taught it to you has a big impact on me. I know it sounds crazy but sometimes I forget that I am your mom. Not that I literally forget and stop acting like your mom- loving you and taking care of you, just that there are moments when I am so busy doing and then I get a moment to let it all hit me and I am overwhelmed by the amazing awareness that I am your mother. I, along with your Daddy, am your number one teacher and influence in life. Every single thing I do matters to you and will influence the person you become. If I teach you to tie your shoes using bunny ears instead of the around the loop method, that's probably how you'll do it your entire life. If I get frustrated or annoyed in traffic you will learn that impatience. If your Daddy and I show our love to you and each other every day, you will develop similar relationships as you grow up. And if I wave hello every time we see a smiling face in the mirror, you will mirror me and wave hello too. As we wave hello to your 7 month milestones, I am also happily waving in the awareness that I am not just a lucky mom with a baby to love, I am also a grateful parent with a child to raise. And you have no idea how just how amazingly, wonderful that is.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We Remember

This past Saturday, October 15th, was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. A day to raise awareness, to support those who have lost and to honor the lives, however brief, that have touched our souls and left our hearts changed forever. Since becoming involved in the infertility community, I have become close to many families that have had their lives forever changed by these tragedies. I always try to offer support and love in any that I can, knowing that I can't make their world right again and bring their beloved baby back, but I can at the very least honor their child and offer a shoulder to lean on.

One such family suffered an unimaginable loss earlier this year very close to the time I registered for The OC Walk to Remember, a 5k walk to honor and support infant and pregnancy loss. And it was with their precious boy-girl twins in my heart that I registered this year in honor of them, so that their names could be honored.

Last year, having recently suffered a miscarriage myself and wanting to support our neighbors who had lost their 5 month old daughter, I found the walk while searching for events to honor these losses. We walked with our neighbors as well as so many other in the loss community, holding hands and crying along with them. As I walked that day I carried the thought of so many angels in my heart. My Sprout of course, but I also thought of Matthew James, Wyatt River, Logan Ryan and Brody McRae. I greatly appreciated the ceremony at the event in which all of the names of every baby that was being honored was read out loud. Each precious name was given the opportunity to be not only spoken but heard. These names are so powerful, so beautiful, so alive. It often seems that the world has an easy time forgetting that those lost early on in life where never really here, but to those who have had to say goodbye too soon , they will never forget. The names of their children need to be shared, to be acknowledged, to be kept alive.

Such Beautiful Names

While I was thrilled to be honoring precious Bayli & Thomas Jr by having their names read during the ceremony, I knew there were far too many other precious lives that needed to be remembered. Names that needed to be shared. So I came up with the idea for the remembrance shirt that includes the names, legal or not, of those we've lost but will always love. (you can read that blog post here). And Saturday, the whole family wore those names proudly as we walked those symbolic steps. It isn't easy to articulate all of the emotion of that day. I cried, I smiled and I cried some more. It was an an amazing event that I wish there wasn't a reason for, but since there is, I am glad the walk exists.

Dressed and ready to walk for the steps they'll never take

Flowers for Thomas and Bayli

Over 2,000 people registered to walk. It was so moving to see whole families honoring their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and siblings. It was also inspiring to see so many families from last year that now had their rainbows in their arms. Us included.

Reaching out to touch Thomas & Bayli's names

Us and our neighbors with our rainbow babies

Rainbow buddies <3

Each name is precious and deserves to be honored.
(Let me know if you'd like your angels name added. I can still edit new versions for next year or if you'd like one for yourself.)

Honoring all those lost during the worldwide Wave of Light.

Some of my biggest tears of the day came right before the Remembrance Ceremony began. Just as Chad, Eliana and I had found our place among the crowd, I received a text from my dear friend Deanna, who had recently become unexpectedly pregnant for after a diagnoses of unexplained infertility and becoming a mother to a beautiful boy earlier this year through IVF. She had just had an ultrasound that morning where she tragically learned that her pregnancy had ended at 9 weeks. Although I sadly knew before the day began that my shirt would one day be outdated if another loss occurred amongst those in my life, I never imagined it would be so soon, on the day of remembrance itself. Heartbreaking is too light a word for it. I am still so devastated for her. Please stop by her blog and give her some love if you can.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Very Merry Half Birthday!

Half a year old! My Snow Pea has been here half a year already! I can't believe how quickly 6 months has gone but at the same time, when I think about how long 6 months is I can't believe that's all it's been, because it honestly feels like she has always been here.

This past month has been an exciting one. Eliana went on her second plane trip and her first excursion out of the U.S. when we went for a long weekend to Washington State and Vancouver. It was also the first trip that was just the three of us and I gotta say, I could used to that! I don't know how we wound up with such an easy-going baby but she did great!She kept her sleeping and feeding routine while we were on the go and even slept in her car seat so we could go to dinner every night. And of course she was little miss social as usual on the plane, making friends with all of the older couples around us who continually warned that before we knew we'd be on a plane to visit her at college just like them. I promised them and myself that I will never take a single moment for granted because if these 6 months are any indication, I know it's going to fly by.

As easy-going as she was during our travels though, I know it's all going to change the next time around since Snow Pea is now officially eating solids! She had her first ever non-liquid meal about a week before she turned 6 months. I had debated on making my own rice cereals, but in the end opted for store bought brown rice cereal because it is not only convenient, but also iron fortified and I know she needs the extra boost at this age. I have heard that a lot of babies don't care for rice cereal, but not my little one! She scarfed it down while kicking and smiling with excitement.

For most of the month, she had been sitting with us in her highchair during dinner time playing with a cup, spoon and rattle I had given her, so when I introduced a spoon with food on it her first impulse was to grab for it. But once realized it had food on it, she promptly stopped reaching and has since been demanding food anytime she is in her chair by kicking and babbling excitedly. What can I say? My girl loves to eat! After rice cereal, I introduced her to bananas and avocado, both of which I made myself using a cheap food processor I got on clearance for $7. So far I love making her food and can't wait to introduce her to more new things, especially since she enjoys it so much!

With new food though comes new tummy behaviors. At her 6 month check-up she measured 26.5 inches and weighed in at 18 pounds 12 ounces! My doctor had a teeny hint of concern in her voice when comparing this weight to her 4 month weigh in, but since she has always been in the 90-95th percentile she wasn't too concerned. And when I told her that Ellie Belly hadn't emptied her belly in almost a week, she laughed and said she would probably be a bit lighter after she finally pooped! Then of course came the tough part- shots. These were harder on me than the last two times because she was so much more aware of what was happening and it killed me to see her hurting like that. After the first one she calmed down right away when I leaned in to comfort her but then came two more and then it took lots of cuddles to make her feel better. She kept turning to make pouty faces at the nurse, letting her know she wasn't happy with what she had just done to her. It would've made me giggle if I hadn't been so busy kissing her squishy cheeks.

So now that she has passed the 6 month mark, I feel like Eliana is officially over the baby hill. I worked with children for years, and I know from experience that all of the really big changes usually happen in the second half of the first year: teething, talking and mobility! Of course I want her to accomplish these things, but there is something to be said for being able to put her on her play mat to play with out worrying where she'll go if I need to run to the bathroom. As excited as I am for that first tooth, those first words and seeing my baby crawl and toddle, I know that's once it's here I will never get this precious time back, so I am keeping that promise I made on the plane and savoring every single toothless smile and movement- free moment.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Walking The Steps They'll Never Take

As you may know, October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness month. Having experienced pregnancy loss myself as well as having so many close friends who have also miscarried or lost their little ones, it has become very important to me to honor those precious lives. Last year, we began the tradition of participating in the OC Walk to Remember, a 5k walk to take the steps our babies never got to take. We walked for Sprout and for every other Angel baby. We really wanted to support other parents who had suffered a loss, including our neighbors, who you may remember lost their 5 month old daughter to a congenital heart defect last year. It is a special event to walk side by side with these families and honor their children.

This year, I am saddened over even more heartbreaking losses within our community. I have been in tears so many times this year, hurting for those who have had to say goodbye far too soon. Having Snow Pea home with me, happy and healthy, has made me more grateful and happy than I ever could have dreamed, but it also makes me more aware of just how incredibly painful the loss of her from my life would truly be. This year, as I registered again for the walk I remembered our Sprout & how much that loss hurt, but I registered to walk in honor of two very special little ones, Bayli and Thomas Jr. Their names, along with their sisters'- Ayla & Juliet, will be displayed and read aloud during the flower ceremony preceding the walk. If you aren't familiar with these names, or their mother, Lis, you can find her blog here

Since I first registered for the walk I have had so many other precious lives on their loving parents on my mind and in my heart. I registered in honor of 4 amazing babies gone too soon, so that their names would be spoken aloud and seen and remembered, but there are so many other precious names that deserve to be honored as well. I have said it a million times but I will always say it again, the "virtual" community I have become a part of is so incredible, loving and real. I have not met most of the parents whose children's names I will be wearing in the real world, I don't even know some of those parent's real names, but I still feel a strong connection to each of them and a deep hurt for each of their losses. I have shared so much with them, been there through the darkest moments of their lives as best as I could, just as they have done for me. So I have designed a shirt to wear during the walk that has not only their names displayed but the names of many other angels that our community will always miss and never forget.

If you would like to see the shirt or order one for yourself, you can find it at my newly update CafePress store "Angels Remembered". A portion of your order will be donated to support groups for grieving parents. It is the same design for both the men's and women's shirts and you can order it in any color or size you wish. I had to quickly create & order to be able to receive it on time for the walk which takes place on October 15th- Worldwide Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, so if your angel's name is missing and you would like to add it, let me know and I will be able to create an edit just for you so that your shirt will have it.

I really wanted to find a way to make the shirts myself to see if I could get them any cheaper and raise money for the cause at the same time, but then I remembered I have pretty mediocre crafting skills and almost zero time (this blog is already days overdue!) Since most of the money for the shirts goes to the printers and not the charity, I have created an additional fund raising page for the OC Walk to Remember that will collect donations in honor of sweet Bayli and Thomas to support grieving families. If you would like to learn more or make a donation you can do so at my site Baby Steps For Bayli & Thomas.

On October 15, I will walk, alongside my husband, daughter and friends to lovingly honor, remember and cherish the memories of each of these precious lives. It is truly an honor for me to be able to celebrate them and although the event itself is only one day, the impact it's had on me will last a lifetime.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Let's Do Lunch

Eliana's half birthday is fast approaching. In a couple of weeks she will be 6 months old and it will be time for my Snow Pea to begin actually eating peas! That's right it's almost solid food time! I had debated when to start solid foods for a while and after consulting my pediatrician and a few wise mommies, I chose to continue exclusive breastfeeding as long as I could. I have really just gotten the hang of the routine we're in now, so it made sense to keep it going as long as possible before adding a new element. But now that routine is about to change and really I know she's ready. She has been sitting in her high chair with us during dinner and everyday she sits up a bit better and gets a little more interested in watching us eat. Her eyes get so big as she stares at the forks and spoons in our hands and I just know she is going to love experiencing the new tastes and feelings of her first foods.

So with this big event coming up so quickly I have more decisions to make. What should her first food be? The conventional choice seems to be rice cereal, especially for babies that begin foods at 4 months since it is easy on little tummies and virtually no one is allergic to it, but since we are starting a little later we do have the option to start with almost any stage one food.
If you have little eaters in your house, what food did you start with? I have some brown rice cereal ready to go and am leaning toward staying with the status quo and starting there, but I am so excited to see how she reacts to carrots and bananas and I get tempted to skip straight ahead to a fruit or veggie.

What food to give her is not the only decision I have been mulling over lately. I have also been contemplating it's preparation, specifically whether to buy or make my own baby food. Having worked with other people's children as a nanny for many years while I was in college, I have plenty of experience with those little jars of strained beans and pureed peaches and I have always just kind of assumed they would line my pantry when it came time for me to feed a child of my own. But now that she is here the idea of smashing her food myself has become really appealing to me. Not only will I know exactly what she is eating and that it is free from any crazy additives, the more I learn about it the more making baby food myself seems easy and fun!

Since I am not really much of a chef and I don't already own one, I ran out and bought a small, cheap food processor so that I'm ready to cream and puree. I don't know how good of a job my clearance appliance will do, but I figure it will give me taste of what it's like and I can always buy a better one later. Even better than buying one though would be winning one! And even better than winning a food processor would be winning an entire baby food system complete with food storage. Lee Ann at "The Life Of Rylie and Bryce Too!" is giving away a Baby Bullet system. I have watched the infomercial a few dozen times as well as some real life youtube demonstrations, and I gotta say, it is a really cool system not to adorable with that baby friendly smiley face on everything. I know I don't need to have an appliance with "baby" in the name, but I would still love to have this one! If you want to learn more about it and the giveaway you can find Lee Ann's post here. Does anyone out there have any experience with the Baby Bullet? What do you think?

So now the countdown is on. I have spoons, bowls & bibs ready to go, baby food recipe websites bookmarked and am on the hunt for freezer trays to store my creations. If you have any advice or words of wisdom for me before we get started, please feel free to share! Any recommendations on processors or storage systems are also very appreciated. And if you know anything about those hand held netting feeders please share that as well. When is a good time to introduce those and what is a good food to use with them? I have always assumed bananas were the best start with those but again, any advice is welcome! I am a little sad that my tiny little baby has grown up so much and will be eating real food soon, it is a big milestone and a big reminder that she won't be a baby forever. But I am also very excited to witness and take part in this exciting new stage. I can't wait to see her face covered in smiles and applesauce.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cause You've Got Personality

(Am I the only one singing the song from this post's title?)

It's hard to believe but yet another month since beloved Snow Pea was born has passed and she is now 5 months old! In just a few short weeks she will be half a year old! I can't believe how time has flown!

So much has happened in Eliana's 5th month of life. She traveled on a plane and a boat for the first time, learned to blow raspberries, began babbling in consonant noises, discovered her feet and met lots of new baby friends. She even had her first "date" with fellow miracle baby, Jackson, son of fellow blogger, Amy at Miracle Made. But perhaps the most exciting thing of all of these milestones is simply seeing her personality emerge. With each new event and discovery a little more of who she is comes out and I can't even begin to tell you what an amazing joy that is.

She loves to entertain herself on her play mat- first laying on her tummy and manipulating a toy until she decides she would rather be on her back, which is when she pushes herself over with one arm and continues about what she was doing as if nothing exciting took place. I often try to quietly spy on her while she babbles all of those cute "buh, buh, buh's" to her toy rings and sings little squeals to the giraffe dangling above her head. She will play alone like this for a while, but once she realizes Chad or I are there watching her, she smiles and squeals with delight at our presence. And then once she knows we're there she demands our attention, yelling more directly "hey! come play with me" and rewarding us with tons of giggles when we send a smile or goofy face her way.

And the raspberries! Oh those adorable spitty noises that she loves to make! Se has been fascinated by the motion and sound of them since birth and finally one day she puckered her lips and did it herself! It was so exciting. At first, she just did them while playing. I could actually see the learning process as she attempted them over an over, learning just what she needed to do to make that silly noise. Then she did it for attention and entertainment. She knew we'd oooh and ah so she played with us and we all shared smiles. Now it has become a noise that demands attention and she will often fuss and yell between pttbbbllltthhh's
. Which I can't help but smile at even though I know she's frustrated, because not only is it cute it's also really funny.

My favorite thing about watching her personality bloom this past month has been watching her interact with other people. She got to see her Aunt Pammy and Grammy for the first time since was a newborn and meet her Pop-Pop for the first time and it was amazing to watch her smile and giggle and delight at their faces and the new songs, stories and rhymes they shared with her. She also loves to interact with other babies. I know that technically at this age, babies just play "next" to each other, but she really is fascinated with them and anytime one is near she reaches out to touch her new friend and begins babbling to them.

Faces are probably her favorite thing in the world right now. Ever since she could focus on them, she loved to watch faces of people she knew and people she didn't. She stared fascinated at strangers in the store and smiled with her whole body when they made eye contact back. Now that she is gaining motor skills, she has decided that looking isn't enough and she wants to touch the face of every person she interacts with. It's like she wants to figure out how that particular noise or facial expression works as she reaches out to feel her daddy's cheek or another baby's nose, always with a thoughtful smile on her face. She hasn't taken to reaching out to strangers though, she still gives them huge happy smiles, but the touching so far has been reserved for family she has had a chance to warm up to. People that she watches me and Chad interact with before deciding she can trust them as much as we do. Unless of course the strangers are other babies, then all bets are off as she dives right in, determined to see and feel every other little person in her reach.

After 5 months of getting to know this precious little girl, I really feel like this past month has given me such a big glimpse into what her personality will be like in the months and years to come. Watching her learn to hold her head up and roll over in the early months was exciting but now seeing this sweet, happy personality of hers come alive I can imagine even more clearly how incredibly amazing the rest of my life is going to be now that she is in it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Am I Doing This Right?

Why is it that I can never stop thinking there is a right and wrong way to do everything? Really when I stop and think about it, there really are very few things in this world that have only one "correct" method but somehow I always find myself worrying that my methods and choices are somehow incorrect. . Two plus two equals four is correct and two plus two equals five is obviously incorrect, math is like that. But just about everything dealing with how to live our lives really doesn't have a right or a wrong, just a my way and your way.

Back when I was TTC naturally the fear I was doing it "wrong" was huge. You start out thinking there is no way you could do this wrong. I mean, you just do, you know "it", and nine months later you become a parent. When that didn't happen I worried about what I was doing wrong. Maybe the days weren't right, or the times of day or the amount or what I was eating. As I fell further down the TTC rabbit hole, I worried that I was charting incorrectly or not interpreting my CM the right way, Then during IVF and FET I obsessed over the "correct" amount of time to be on bed rest and whether to eat pineapple or not.

Pregnancy wasn't too much better when it came to the "Am I doing this wrong?" game. OB or midwife? Birthing Center or hospital? Which one was the "correct" choice. And if that was bad, it is nothing compared to the everyday decisions of parenting and feeling like somehow there is a "right" way and a "wrong" way. I know I shouldn't, but I continually worry I am not doing it right. I love my daughter and I shower with her love every single day and I know that's the most important thing, but when should I be introducing solids? She's 5 months old tomorrow and I have moms insisting to me I should have started a month ago and that she'll be behind and yet others who swear that you have to wait until 6 months. And naps! She naps multiple times a day, sometimes 2, usually 3 and sometimes for 45 mintutes, sometimes 2 hours. She sleeps through the night but sometimes wakes up in the middle to eat and sometimes doesn't. And I keep hearing about what a baby my age should be doing as far as sleep and routine. We have a routine but it's a very flexible one, and sometimes I feel like that in itself is somehow viewed as wrong.

Intellectually, I know that none of that is true. Yes, there are some very basic guidelines about providing for my daughter's needs but so much of what people tout as the "correct" way to do things are really just their opinions. I know this but I still have to stop and remind myself constantly that what we do in our household works for our family and that's what really matters. Yes, Eliana might be taking a 30 minute nap today at 9am and then a hour long nap the next at 9:30. Some nights she wakes me up at 1am to eat, others she sleeps right through. No two days are alike, but that that works for us. If I am happy, Chad is happy and our daughter is healthy and happy, we aren't doing it wrong no matter what the moms on the playground or the parenting magazines say.

It is easy however to fall prey to doubt and fear of getting it wrong when so much is on the line. During TTC and IVF the obvious fear was that if I missed a crucial day of BDing or took myself off of bed rest too soon, I would never become a mom. Now that I finally am one, the fear is that if I go in to comfort my Snow Pea too often when she is going to sleep or start her on rice cereal too early, I will be starting a chain reaction of problems and issues for her as an adult. And of course you can find a scientific study or firsthand experience to back up the claims of every side of an issue. For every mom who swears her baby slept through the night as soon as she started solids, there's another that insists her child became so constipated that he was awake all night crying in discomfort. Just further proving that in so many situations there is no right or wrong, just what works for you and what doesn't.

It isn't even the world around me that tells me I am doing it wrong so much as it is me. I have crazy standards and expectations for myself sometimes, and if you know me, you know I can be insanely hard on myself. I sometimes try so hard to get everything right and beat myself up when I don't, that I can miss seeing how great everything is, in spite of or even because of, its "wrongness". So I plan to keep doing what's working, what makes me and my family happy. Because that in itself means I'm doing something right.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Virtual Hugger

If you and I have chatted online via blog or twitter, there is a very good chance I have given you virtual hugs, lots of them. I am a BIG hugger in real life and as it turns out, I love to hug online as well. So often, I just want to reach through cyberspace and hug my pals, whether it is to show my support and be there for them when they are down or to celebrate with them when they are happy. I know I say it constantly, but I really do care about the people I have met through this journey. I may not have met many of you in real life, but that doesn't mean my love for you isn't real.

So when Krissi at Stress Free Infertility gave me a "Virtual Hugger Award", I wanted to share the love, just like I do with those great big, squishy cyber-hugs I love so much! I have never been one to track my blog's page views or comments but when I used the widget to find out who my top commenters were, I quickly recognized a list of people who have been so supportive to me and have definitely given me many much appreciated virtual hugs (and even a few real life ones from a couple of commenters!) Thank you all so much for being so supportive throughout my journey. And to those that have only commented once or twice, you too have made a huge difference to me during the moments I needed it, and I thank you so much for that!

Virtual Hugger Award Rules:

  1. Thank the person who gave it to you (and link back)
  2. Give 3 Reasons why you LOVE comments and want them to keep on coming!
  3. Award your top 10 commenters and tell them they won the award! (*Most blogger software has widgets/plugins that can figure out who they are!)

OK! I LOVE comments because they:

  1. Make me smile!
  2. Give me much needed love and support
  3. Help me to meet new friends and their blogs

Here are my top 10 commenters:

  1. Tiffany from PCOS Success!
  2. Katie from From IF to When
  3. Lisa from 3 Cats and A Baby
  4. Ashley from Stealing Baby Kisses
  5. Amy from Miracle Made
  6. Jody from Growing with the Gimlins
  7. Holly from Golly-Holly
  8. T from Inconceivable Journey
  9. Jen from After The Alter
  10. Tillie from A Nuttier Life

Thank you to all my commenters! And keep on spreading the love and hugs! ;-)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Looking Both Ways

4 months! My baby girl is 4 months old today. I know I have said it before but I will say it again, I am just in awe of her very existence and I can't believe how fortunate I am to have her in my life. All day I couldn't help but think about where I was and where she was, one year ago today.

As many of you know, my pregnancy with Snow Pea was the result of a frozen embryo transfer that took place after the miscarriage of my first pregnancy with Sprout from a fresh cycle of IVF. During that pregnancy I rode an emotional roller coaster of beta tests followed by a round of ultrasounds that revealed no heartbeat. It was devastating and heartbreaking. Which is why I didn't exactly shout from the rooftops when I learned I was pregnant the second time. I was hopeful and still very happy of course, but I was also very cautious. In the weeks following my BFP, I went in for the normal beta tests, which were much less rocky and emotional than the previous tests, but still neither Chad or I allowed ourselves to fall in love with this pregnancy as we did with the first one. We didn't coin a nickname or do anything else that make us feel "too attached".

I barely even remember those early days in the pregnancy. I remember the phone call telling me I was pregnant and the initial joy I felt, but all of the betas and phone calls after that have faded. It wasn't until the 1st ultrasound, one year ago today, that my pregnancy really felt real. I remember that day vividly and always will. It was the day we saw our sweet baby's heartbeat for the very first time and we knew she was there, really there, living and growing. It was the day our frozen blastie officially became our "Snow Pea". I will never forget Chad's insistence that he would still feel disconnected from the pregnancy even if the u/s went well and his quick retraction as we held each other in the parking lot crying tears of joy. Of course I could reminiscence all day about the amazing moment I first saw my daughter's flickering heartbeat, but I have more to get to so if you want to read the original post from last year, you can find it here.

Today it has been precisely one year since I saw that gorgeous flicker on the ultrasound screen. On that day she was the size of a lentil bean, barely visible but for the flash of white that was her heartbeat. Now it has been exactly 4 months since she was born and Eliana is far from a lentil bean, weighing in at 15lbs 6oz and measuring 24.75 inches, she's my cuddly baby girl. And size isn't the only growth she's done this month. She has also been mastering her grabbing and holding skills and has gotten very good at picking things up as well as transferring them between hands. She can stay on her tummy much longer now too, holding up her head and chest and has even rolled from tummy to back a few times!

She is discovering new sounds she can make and she likes to make them often. She coos, she squeals, she shrieks and she screams almost only when she is happy but occasionally when she's not. And she laughs! Oh those baby giggles are one of the sweetest sounds I have ever heard, right on par with the sound of her miraculous in utero heartbeat. Chad and I love to make total fools out of ourselves for her amusement with silly faces and goofy noises. We will do just about anything to hear Ellie Bellie's delighted laughter. At four months she is accomplishing so much and is on the brink of so many more new things. Soon she will be eating new foods, babbling new baby noises and as I watch her squirm and inch toward toys while she's on her tummy, I know she will also be moving even more in the month ahead. Today, I can't help but look at back and see how far she has come, from teeny frozen blastie to chubby giggling baby, and I also can't stop from looking forward and excitedly waiting for all of the amazing milestones to come!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Adventures in Babysitting

This past Saturday was a milestone day for not only Snow Pea, but for Chad and myself as well. After 3 months and 3 weeks of parenthood we left our daughter with someone other than one of us for the very first time. Up until this Saturday, I had had some alone time, as had Chad and we have had family dates, which have been nice. Eliana is an easy going baby for the most part and we have been able to take her with us to visit with friends, enjoy restaurant dinners and even see drive-in movies. But as great as that is (and it really is really great) Chad and I have not really been alone together at all since she was born.

For most first time parents, the first sitter is usually a family member.
Grandparents or aunts and uncles are always begging for the chance for some baby alone time and offer to give mom and dad a break in the process. Unfortunately for us though, the closest family members either Chad or I have right now are 1500 miles away and most are even further away, so that hasn't been an option for us. Of course, both sets of parents and all of our siblings have come to visit, but we get such a short amount of time with them and we want to soak up every second we do get.

That's not to say no one wants to spend time with our precious girl for an hour or two, it's just a little harder to leave her for the first time with someone other than those immediate family members. It also doesn't help that the majority of those babysitting offers are for us to bring her to them, which is not only overwhelming for us with having to pack up all her stuff to drop her off, but also for her because she not only has to spend 3 hours with a new person, she is also forced into a whole new environment. I have been really nervous about how the first babysitter experience would affect both Eliana and me so even though I have been dying for some alone time with Chad, I've kept pushing it back.

But this past weekend it was finally time. A co-worker/friend of Chad's has been pleading to be surrogate grandma/babysitter since she found out we were TTC as she knows we don't have family here. She has been a supportive person in our lives and on our journey. As an IF & IVF survivor and an adoptive parent, she has provided us with a lot of guidance and support and is incredibly trustworthy. And now that her two kids are too grown up to be considered children anymore but not grown up enough yet to have their own children, she is dying to spoil our little one. So Saturday night we packed up the diaper bag, rolled up the play mat and headed out the door.

We are both huge Harry Potter fans and have read the books multiple times. The movies aren't quite as big of a deal to either of us but that doesn't mean I didn't want to see the very last one in theaters if I could, and of course I wanted to see it with my favorite fellow fan. We researched the times, mapped out Eliana's routine for the day and made it to D's house just as she was waking up from a nap and in the best possible mood. Once we got there, we got her changed and fed and gave some simple instructions on what to expect over the next 3 hours, then set off for the theater.

My stomach was fluttering with nerves as we walked out. It felt so weird to be in the car without her. You know that feeling when something that should be with you isn't and you feel naked? Well this was like that except I felt more like I was missing an arm. I didn't cry or freak out about leaving her. But I missed her the second we were gone. We both did.

We still enjoyed the movie and our alone time though. We had popcorn, we sat through the previews and the credits (something I always do-yes, I'm odd) we laughed, we held hands, and enjoyed being on a real date. I did make Chad keep his phone out the entire movie and kept insisting he check it every so often, just in case, but no calls ever came and for the most part we relaxed and had fun. I am proud to say we didn't even panic and call as soon as the movie ended. Chad checked in by text then we sat down to talk over a quick dinner and some coffee. It was a lot like our pre-baby date nights. Except that it didn't feel anything like it did pre-baby because although we were having fun, we were both excited to get back to our little girl.

As we walked up to the house we could hear everyone inside chatting happily and we smiled as it seemed that things had gone well. But the instant she saw our faces, Eliana lost it. She was crying hysterically, and it was not a cry we had ever heard before. It was not "I'm hungry" "I'm bored" or her personal favorite "I'm tired". This cry was an emotional one. She missed us. She was sad that we were gone. It broke my heart to hear her sob like that I just wanted to scoop her up and hold her close the whole way home. Of course common sense and car seat laws kept me from doing that, but I sat in the backseat with her the whole ride home as she hugged tightly onto my hand refused to let go, even as she drifted off into a fitful sleep. Once we got her home and into her comfort zone, we could visibly see the relief and contentment on her face as we cuddled her. She relaxed right back into her familiar surroundings and smiled and cooed at us a few times before getting a good night's sleep.

D said Eliana did pretty well while we were gone that night. She played, had a bottle and enjoyed all the attention she was getting, but she did have a hard time napping, I think largely because she was in a new environment. I felt so guilty seeing my poor girl so tired and emotional. So Chad and I have agreed that the next time we have anyone babysit, we will try to have it be at our house, that way even though the faces will be new at least the rest of her world will be the same. And even though I am still a little nervous, we are going for it again this weekend!

Two good friends of ours, a married couple that doesn't have kids yet, offered to come to our place to spend time with Snow Pea while we go out. So thanks to their kindness and generosity, we are trying again, this time to see Bill Cosby perform at the county fair. I am both nervous and excited. Since they are coming here I feel like I will better be able to prepare them and keep Snow Pea in her routine, not to mention I think I will be better able to prepare myself and calm my nerves. And if the nerves do happen to creep in while we're out, hopefully Bill can keep me laughing. Wish us luck!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Sweet Dreams Are Made of This

I have about 4 blog drafts on various topics and events sitting waiting to be written and I have every hope that I will actually sit down and write out at least one of them this week, but right now I can't stop staring at my sweet girl. And when I can't stare directly at her, I love to watch the millions of videos we've taken of her so far. Especially this latest one. She is discovering so many new things as she approaches the 4 month mark, the most heart melting of which is documented in this video.

I love watching her drift off into dreamland, and her new thumb discovery is not only cute, it's been a great help in getting her to sleep. She still wants her pacifier most nights when we lay her down, but now when it falls out she has discovered that her thumb makes a great substitute. That it's absolutely adorable entertainment for me is just a bonus. Every time I watch her sleep I can't help but wonder about the dreams that are filling her head. Whatever they are, I hope they are nothing but sweet.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Seeing the Signs

I can't believe how much my little Snow Pea is changing every day! She is developing new skills and I am seeing lots of signs. Specifically, signs that's it's time to start baby signs! Eliana is getting more and more aware of the world around her and is also becoming more vocal about it. She "talks" to everything she sees: me, Daddy, her mobile, her play mat and even her changing table. With this new found awareness of the world, she has also become even more aware of her hands and is constantly watching them and moving them to see just how much they're capable of. Her favorite thing is, of course, grabbing rattles and rings that hang in front of her or grasping onto her blankets and bibs promptly pulling everything into her mouth. But sometimes she simply twists her hands and fingers into different configurations, watching closely to see just what these amazing appendages of hers are capable of. And now I am thinking about what they're capable of too!

I have read a few of books, attended a new mom group that covered some signing basics and best of all I received a hand made sign instruction kit from my fabulous sister in law, who teaches a baby sign course (you can find the Facebook page for her class "Signing Fun for Babies" here) So I know the basics. Now I just need to get started.

I have decided to start simply and think about the words I say to her on a daily basis and begin incorporating the signs for those things when I say them. What I didn't realize however, is that many of these common words and phrases have different signs associated with them and I would have to decide which ones to use. There is a difference between American Sign Language and baby signs. Because many of the ASL signs are too intricate or detailed for an infant's little hands, many of the ASL signs have been modified to make them simpler. The problem is that depending on what resource you turn to to learn these modified versions, you will get slightly different signs.After researching video dictionaries on some of these words, I am opting to use signs that seem the simplest to understand and repeat with favoritism toward the signs closest to ASL signs. And what I am learning when using your hands to communicate with your baby, the most important factor is your baby. If can use whatever hand gesture I want to teach her to communicate with me. And if she modifies or makes one up herself that's great too! No two babies will sign the same and that's OK. Which is great because I am always afraid I am doing it wrong.

Tomorrow is my official signing start day. After doing some reading and listening to some words of wisdom of the matter, it seems that it will be best for us to start with just a few signs that we can repeat over and over and slowly expand our vocabulary. So Chad and I will be consistently focusing on signing things that are not only relevant to Eliana's daily life but things that are repeated throughout her day many times. The words I want to start with are milk, more, all done, Mommy, Daddy and star. "Star" may seem like the odd word out on a list that includes many basic daily experiences, but she is surrounded by the heavenly, five pointed shapes in her nursery everyday, and they have quickly become her favorite thing to look at. She also LOVES hearing me sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" even calming from mid scream to giggles when I sing it, so I plan to begin signing it as I sing every time from now on.

I am so excited to get started! I know most babies don't sign on their own until about 7 months or later, but my niece did her first sign at 4 months and even if Eliana waits until 10 months or a year to talk with her hands, I still feel like this will be providing our family with a valuable communication tool. I adore having "cooing" conversations with my baby already where she coos, babbles and squeals in response to my voice and now I am looking forward to talking to her even more in a new, fun way!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Got Milk? Who Cares?

I have been looking at my life a lot lately and savoring the many things I have going for me. And while much of what I have has come from a lot of work, effort and patience on my part, I still can't believe the miracle of having my sweet, perfect daughter is here smiling at me right now. I certainly didn't do anything extraordinary to deserve her. Sure I charted, I OPKd, I timed, I payed thousands of dollars to receive hundreds of shots, I cried, I lost, I hurt, I prayed and I hoped but did I really do anything anyone else in my position hasn't done? No, absolutely not.

So why am I here while so many of my deserving sisters in the IF community are still hurting from prolonged adoptions,
BFNs and tragic losses? Not because these things are meant to or not meant to be or because I have good karma and they don't. I still struggle daily with infertility "survivor's guilt" knowing that so many people that I love dearly are still hurting and hoping for their time to come. I don't believe I am somehow more worthy of motherhood or somehow think I am somehow a better person than someone just because I have made the choice to be a parent and have been lucky enough to be able to do so. And the same goes for the choices I make as a parent, I don't believe mine are "right" and someone else's are "wrong".

I have been a mom for 3 and a half months, and with the exception of the first night in the hospital when Snow Pea was away from me in the nursery for observation, I have been fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed exclusively since she was born. I am very grateful that it has, for the most part, come easily to me and my daughter, but I don't take credit for it and I don't believe I am somehow superior because of it.

I am sure it is no secret to any of you that breastfeeding is a huge hot button issue. People are constantly throwing in their two cents on whether or not to do it, if it's ok to do it in public, whether it should be scheduled or "on demand" and what you're doing "wrong" if it doesn't go well. I have talked to friends and family members who have fallen on every side of all of these concerns and I have come to realize that breastfeeding carries with it so many of the same emotions and feelings as infertility.

One of the great gifts infertility has given me is gratitude. Of course, having struggled to become a mom, I don't take being one for granted, not for a second. And having learned that lesson with my fertility, I also realize how much my ability to nurse is something to be grateful for, something I got lucky with. So far, I have not had any trouble with supply or pain or infection and it has been pretty simple and painless for both Eliana and me. She is gaining weight perfectly and has even taken easily to a bottle of pumped milk anytime we offer it to her. But I don't think I did anything special to make any of this happen and I am also aware that it could all change at any time. Yes, I work at it and it can take a lot out of me, but that doesn't mean I have any control over it. I also worked hard to take my temperature every morning and chart my ovulation but I will never get pregnant without ART no matter how much work I put into it. It's just not something I can control. And just as someone who got pregnant on their first try is no more deserving of motherhood, I am no better at at it than friends who have had struggled with milk supply or who simply chose not to breastfeed for whatever reason. We all love our kids and we are all taking the best possible care of them in whatever form or fashion best suits our families.

I have seen and heard the hurt that comes from some of my friends who couldn't or have chosen not to breastfeed for whatever reason, and it reminds me so much of the pain of infertility. They seem to experience so many of the same emotions. And for those who struggled with IF before becoming parents, it can be even harder. There are similar feelings of helplessness, loss, and inadequacy. If you want to do it and can't, you can feel robbed of what you envisioned as a sacred experience and a rite of womanhood. If you choose not to breastfeed or become a mother without experiencing the hormonal changes of pregnancy and birth to trigger milk production, as in the case of adoption, you can feel completely left out by the rest of the boob-obsessed world we seem to live in. And in either situation guilt is lobbed at you in heaps. It all too often seems to make women feel like failures at motherhood if they don't breastfeed, just as I felt like a failure at womanhood when I couldn't get pregnant.

Being infertile, I highly value having relationships with others in my shoes that can relate, but I also have a great appreciation for my fertile friends and family that truly empathize with my experiences, those that acknowledge that they aren't somehow more deserving of being parents just because it happened easily for them. And in that same vein, I think it is important for me to acknowledge that no matter how hard I worked to get here or what choices that I make now that I have arrived, there is no amount of money I've spent, tears I've cried, shots I've received or milk I've produced that makes me a good or bad mother. I am a great mom because I love my child and I make choices every day that reflect that. I don't have control over many things, but loving her unconditionally and supporting everyone else that does the same for their families, that I can do.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

3 Months of Happy Tears

Snow Pea is 3 months old! Can you believe it? I certainly can't. And 3 months means the supposed "4th trimester" is at an end and my baby is no longer considered "brand new". It is all at once thrilling to think about all the growth and development that is on the horizon for her and bittersweet to say goodbye to her newborn status. It is a lot like when Chad and I were married for over a year and stopped being referred to as "newlyweds". We were excited to be a "real" married couple but it was still hard to say farewell to that shiny, glowing newness.

Saying goodbye to my daughter's brand newness definitely has its pluses though in the form of the trust she has in us. If you ever heard of "The Happiest Baby on the Block" you will have heard about the 4th trimester and the 5 S's used to soothe babies during this transition from life in the womb to life in the big, wide world. Basically, parents re-create the comforts and security of their child's life In Utero. Eliana has responded well to swaddling and white noise for comfort since day one and I am noticing now that she has learned to trust these things. She knows when she hears the crashing waves on her sound machine that it is time for sleep and thanks to this we have been able to soothe her to dreamland even when we are out and about and she needs to nap in her stroller or an unfamiliar new place.

In addition to providing the soothing comforts of lots of cuddles and kisses these past three months, we have also provided our Snow Pea with a routine that she has become very secure in. Not only does her routine give me a guideline to help structure my day, I can tell that she gets a lot of comfort from knowing what is coming next. Notice I didn't say schedule. We by no means follow a clock or force her to wait an hour to eat if she's hungry or wake her up if she's sleeping. But for our family, feeding her after waking, followed by playtime and then sleep has worked very well. I am by no means saying that my way is the best way or the only way, just that it's what our daughter has done these past three months and that she seems to really thrive with it. And thrive she has! She's now weighing in at 14 pounds and measuring 24 inches which puts her in about the 75th percentile and slowly into a new wardrobe of 3-6 month clothes.

Of course new outfits aren't the only milestones she's begun reaching in her third month. She has also become more and more vocal, making lots of cooing and trilling sounds every chance she gets. I could listen to those sweet sounds all day long! And it's clear that she is often "talking" to us with the way she makes eye contact and responds when we speak to her. It is incredible to see how Chad and I really are the center of her world and although she smiles and talks at almost every one she meets, there is a special level of communication reserved just for us. She even seems to have favorite songs and stories that she likes to hear from us. I don't know how I stumbled on it but if she's crying and I sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", she calms down immediately and is all smiles. She also loves hearing "Goodnight Moon" and watches the pictures intently as I turn the pages. She has even been chuckling and giggling every once in a while, but it's still not quite consistent and we're still waiting to capture the first true belly laughs. I can tell they are close though and I can't wait to hear them!

As for big physical milestones, she's showing no interest in rolling over or being mobile yet, but she has started tolerating tummy time now that she is able to lift her head, chest and shoulders off the mat. It's incredible to see how much stronger she gets every day! And on the 4th of July, just in time for her 3 month mark, she completed her first grab! Of course, the tragic part of this is that I just happened to be in the shower when it happened. It really isn't fair! I am home with her every day, all day and in the ten minutes I'm away to finally wash my hair and shave my legs while she hangs out with her daddy, she goes and does something exciting for the very first time! Luckily, Chad captured the entire thing on video and I of course have watched it over and over again. If you're interested you can see it too! Just click here. It's a bit long so you might want to skip through a bit but I highly recommend watching at about the one minute mark. Too cute!

I really can't believe she has been here three months, almost as much as I can't believe that I am somehow worthy to be mom to such an amazing little person. I keep thinking back to the years before she came into our lives and all of the hell and pain we experienced trying to become parents, and I know without a doubt that it was all completely worth it. I would do it all again and more for her. As much hurt as I have felt and as intense as the emotions of infertility still are sometimes, they come nowhere near the intensity of the love I have for her. During the 3 years we spent struggling to become parents, I cried more tears of heartbreak than I thought possible. Now in just 3 months, I think I have cried just as many tears of happiness. Thank you, Snow Pea.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Infertiles Are Fathers Too

Good grief I have let my blogging slack! Two weeks? Too long! Well even though it was two weeks ago now, I still want to take the time to share some thoughts on Chad's very first Father's Day.

I have long believed that my husband is the greatest guy there ever was. He is incredibly smart, talented, funny and has the biggest heart of anyone I know. And as much as I knew I loved him, I had no clue how much the years we spent journeying together to become parents would expand that love.

If you've read up on my blog, you may have noticed that our struggles with infertility all stemmed from my body. When we were in the testing stages of our journey, we learned that not only was my plumbing seriously clogged up, but that his was in beyond perfect condition. I felt so guilty. He wanted so baldy to be a daddy and I knew he would be an amazing one, the only thing keeping him from it was me. I cried and hurt over that but he never for a second saw it the same way. We were an us and it was our infertility not mine. He went through every step of the journey with me and shared the heartache of every pregnancy announcement and the hope of every monitoring appointment. He learned just as much about cycles, sperm counts, follicles, injections and uterine linings as I did. And he can discuss all of it with batting an eyelash and is quick to do so any time he hears anyone in need of an education on such matters. He cried with me and held my hand through it all. He kissed me on the cheek before every single injection during IVF and FET and never stopped thanking me for being the one to go through all of it so that we could both be parents. He bought the first and only gifts for Sprout and made the most amazing tribute video when we lost that pregnancy. He began planning and preparing years before his little girl was born and in so many ways, he was a daddy long before she was even conceived.

Once she was conceived and I was officially pregnant, he continued to be an amazing dad. He dubbed our miracle FET baby "Snow Pea", and came to every single doctor's appointment. He rubbed my feet and pressed his head to my tummy to hear her heartbeat. He read her stories and got up a million times a day to get me water or bring me a blanket. He asked how I was doing every afternoon and then asked how she was too. He held my hand and encouraged me throughout labor and hugged me and told me he was proud of me when I had to have a c-section. He cried as she came into the world and held her tight as he brought her to me for the first time. He stayed with her in the nursery and took care of her by himself the first 24 hours in the hospital while I was still bed-ridden.

When we came home from the hospital and I was struck by the baby blues, he held me and let me cry on his shoulder. He took on extra responsibilities with the baby and worked from home a little longer. And now that we have been parents for over 2 months and are beginning to find our routine, he still gets up with her in the middle of the night and changes almost every diaper he's home for. Every weekend he makes a bottle and kicks me out of the house for a few hours so I can have me time and he can have daddy-daughter time.

On Father's Day I was overjoyed to put Eliana in the bib I had bought for him years ago, before we even knew that becoming parents would be such a challenge. Many people buy lots of things for their babies before they're conceived and have hope chests full of cute outfits and adorable toys, but I have only ever had that bib, that hope that one day I would be able to see my amazing husband become our child's amazing father. I am so grateful that day has finally come. But even if it hadn't come yet I would still want to celebrate him and his devotion to fatherhood, just as I want to celebrate all of the amazing would be dads in the world. The men that struggle with their own infertility, the men that support their partners through treatments, tears, home studies, and heartaches and go through it all themselves too. It seems that the world not only forgets about dads when it comes to parenting, but they also leave out the men who long to be fathers. To me these men deserve celebration on Father's Day too, because even before their children come into their lives physically, they love them and dream of them and do everything they can for them. Just like any good dad.