Saturday, April 30, 2011

NIAW: You Don't Have to Go It Alone

All month long I have been thinking about National Infertility Awareness Week and this year's challenge to bust an infertility myth. There are so many misconceptions and misunderstandings about infertility, what it is and how it effects those who experience it. Since the birth of my daughter 3 weeks ago, what I have been dying to shout from the rooftops is that just because I have my child doesn't mean that I am no longer infertile and it does not mean I longer feel the pain and loss that infertility has caused in my life. I still feel the hurt of those 4 years of heartbreak and the loss of my first pregnancy, not to mention the financial costs of my IVF and FET and the reality that I will need to turn to these procedures again if I ever hope to provide a sibling for my little girl. But beyond my own experiences, I still also feel the pain, anticipation, anxiety, joy and most of all hope for my fellow infertile sisters and brothers because despite myths to the contrary, infertility is not something we have to face alone.

My husband and I, like most couples who are struggling to conceive, felt very alone when our journey began. We didn't tell anyone that we were trying and only began discreetly mentioning anything about our hopes for children when we realized we needed help. At first, we turned to our usual support network of friends and family members. We still consider ourselves very lucky that most of those people responded with love and support. But very often, despite everyone's best efforts, we couldn't find what we needed most: understanding.

At about the time that we began testing and evaluation to find out just why we had spent two years trying to conceive without success, I was introduced to the social networking site "twitter". I had connected with current friends, old high school acquaintances and a few new internet pals. I had enjoyed chatting with these online buddies about pop culture and the quirky happenings in our day to day to lives. But the farther down the rabbit hole I fell into temperature charting, ovulation prediction kits, blood tests and weekly ultrasounds, the more I found myself wanting to talk about these things in 140 characters or less instead of my usual lighthearted chit chat about who should win the latest tv reality dance show. Since I had so many real life friends following my thoughts online, I started a new account just so that I could vent my TTC (trying to conceive) related frustrations and hopes. I made a couple of connections with fellow TTCers and breathed a sigh of relief that I had found an outlet for my thoughts about trying to become a mom.

The group started out small but very close knit. We rallied behind each other and answered each other's questions about charts, testing and fertility procedures. We made jokes about the number of sticks we had all peed on and started a satirical store devoted to holiday ornaments and household items made of all of our BFN (big fat negative) home pregnancy tests. We "met" in private online chat rooms for a virtual happy hour to discuss our trials and support each other in real time. After encouragement in one of these chats, I finally decided to start this blog and here I've found not only the freedom to discuss my feelings in more than 140 characters at a time, I also found even more wonderful people that cared, that supported me and that understood.

When I was officially diagnosed with infertility and told that my only true chance to ever be pregnant was through IVF treatment, the amazing women and men of this online community were there for me in every sense of the word. I could safely laugh or cry as I expressed the full range of hope, despair and every feeling in between that I was experiencing. Although each of us were facing unique diagnoses and our own individual choices about how to move forward, we were there for each other and we understood, we got it. I truly believe that I would have never survived the year of treatment, miscarriage, waiting and yet more treatment that I underwent before having my daughter without the support and love I found in the infertility community. And what's more, I believe that the love and true hope I was given by this community is a big part of the reason my little one is here today.

Last year during NIAW, I did something big. I came out of the infertility closet. Chad and I both shared our struggle and heartbreak with friends and family who previously had no idea we had been trying to start a family, let alone having trouble doing so. The response we received was overwhelming. Not only was the support of the few close friends and family that already knew reaffirmed, but we were blown away by the support we received from others. We also received messages from others that had also been struggling but hadn't been outspoken about it. We felt less alone than we ever had. It was amazing and inspiring.

In the past year I have continued to be outspoken about my journey and reach out to anyone else dealing with infertility in any stage. Just because our experiences are are our own, it doesn't mean we have to face them alone. Just this week I was given an incredible opportunity to help someone on their journey in a concrete way. The other night I logged on to twitter and saw a plea on my timeline for an IVF medication from someone in my local area. A medication I just happened to have left over in my fridge from my own IVF cycle. Chad had actually tried to toss it on more than one occasion but for some reason I never let him. And now I had my reason. I immediately contacted her to let arrange a meeting so that I could give it to her. And of course I will continue to keep in touch with her and send messages of support and hope throughout her cycle, just as this community did for me. And I know I won't be the only one supporting her or the blogger that is recovering from loss or another that is preparing for her adoption homestudy or yet another that is finding peace with living child-free. Because even though each of our journeys are different, we are here for each other. Years ago, I kept my struggle and my pain a secret because I believed that I had to face these things alone, now I know better. Over the past year and a half my own myth has been busted. Infertility is a very personal journey but it does not have to be a lonely one.

For more information about the basics of infertility please visit
And for more information about National Infertility Awareness Week visit

Friday, April 22, 2011

An Unlikely Meeting

Those of you that know me in real life or have been following my journey for a while now will undoubtedly remember where I was at this time last year. In March of 2010, I had completed my first cycle of IVF and discovered that it had worked and I was pregnant with my little Sprout. By April, both mine and Chad's emotions were in a tailspin of hope, worry and sadness as betas and ultrasounds began to reveal that my pregnancy would not be a viable one. It was and still is the hardest time of my entire life. And the irony of my miracle baby girl being born during the exact same time that my first pregnancy ended in heartbreak has never escaped me. I have often marveled at the coincidence of it and the emotional effect it has on me.

I know to many, Sprout's short time with us doesn't seem so significant, but it is a loss I still feel and probably always will. That will always be my first pregnancy, my first ray of hope and unconditional love for a child of mine. I had a necklace made to memorialize Sprout and have worn it during every major moment during my FET and pregnancy with Snow Pea. I found peace in the belief that Sprout had left my body ready to nurture new life and having that charm close to my heart for transfer, each ultrasound, labor and even Eliana's birth, has helped me keep that connection and that peace. What's really amazed me is the moments I have felt the connection between Sprout and Snow Pea in very unexpected ways.

When Chad and I were hanging by a thread toward the end of my pregnancy with Sprout, we heard the song "Imagine" by John Lennon as we drove to the RE's office and we both felt the comfort of it. We actually heard it nearly every time we went to those appointments and decided very quickly that it was Sprout's song. After the pregnancy ended, we didn't hear it played again until the morning we drove to the office for my beta after Snow Pea's transfer. I will always remember the moment it started playing, Chad and I both froze and looked at each other, with tiny tears in our eyes, and he said "I think Sprout is giving us a sign" And of course, hours later we got the call that the FET had in fact been successful, I was pregnant and this time it went the distance.

In the days right before Snow Pea was born, an even bigger and more surprising connection nearly beat me over the head. I was days from my scheduled induction and trying to stay busy while also finishing any tasks I could pre-baby. I decided to visit the mall near my house to get some yummy chocolates to bring to the nurses when we went into the hospital. As I walked out of the candy store, I saw that a scene had been set and ready for the Easter Bunny's arrival. I was immediately giddy. Holiday fun like that is one of the things I was most looking forward to about mommy-hood and this was the fist time I realized I'd get to celebrate this fun holiday moment with my daughter so soon!

I excitedly called Chad to tell him we just had to take Snow Pea for pictures with the Easter Bunny after she was born, and began looking around the scene for signs indicating how much photos would cost. I couldn't find a price list, but instead I saw a sign that instantly made my eyes water. It said "Sprout, the Easter Bunny, will arrive April 9th". How could my jaw not hit the floor? The Easter Bunny's name is Sprout? And he is coming on my baby's birth date? Does it get more ironic? Why yes, it does. I looked more closely at the scene set for his arrival and saw that on his bunny chair sat a great big Easter basket. Inside there were two big, brightly colored eggs and a pea pod and that was it, nothing else. Sprout had a Snow Pea in his basket. Whoa. I know the whole universe didn't conspire to make all of this happen just for my benefit but suddenly taking my baby girl to get pictures with the Easter Bunny took on new depth. Snow Pea was going to meet Sprout.

Of course, the actual meeting was uneventful for both Sprout the bunny and my Snow Pea, Eliana. She slept through it all in her adorable Easter dress and he held her carefully and sweetly so as not to disturb her, both of them sitting next to the pea prop I made sure was in the picture. But for me it was a bittersweet and wonderful moment. Not only were we there together taking part in our very first holiday tradition as a family of three, but somehow it all made a crazy connection in my heart and gave me a feeling of coming full circle. One year ago exactly I was saying goodbye to my Sprout and now here I am saying hello to my Snow Pea. Last year for Easter, Chad made a basket for Sprout which included an adorable, soft plush chick that for months I had to hide away in a box because the sight of it made me cry. Now it sits in the nursery, a gift from Sprout to Snow Pea.

As I said, I know that to many I may be making way too much out of lots of little things, but it gives my heart a sense of peace to see these connections, whether they are real or imagined. After years of struggle and heartbreak, my first pregnancy was a dream come true and nothing in my life has ever hurt as deeply as when it ended without a child to show for it. And as deeply as I love my daughter, a part of me will still always remember that loss and wonder what might have been.
I know this sounds crazy but I continue to find contentment in a thought I had just after my pregnancy with Sprout officially ended. I felt as if Sprout somehow left my body in a state even more ready to grow life. As if, like a truly protective and loving older sibling, Sprout left some special unseen energy to ensure that the next one would grow healthy and strong. These moments, occurring just before learning I was pregnant and just before my daughter's birth, may be coincidence but to me they are signs that my feeling that day was right.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why So Blue, Baby?

My baby girl is now nearly 10 days old, and for the first week of her life I was floating so high on a wave of happiness, I began to wonder whether the granddaddy of postpartum symptoms, "the baby blues" would visit me or if I had somehow lucked out and dodged the volatile emotions of the post-pregnancy hormone crash. Over the past few days I have seen that I am in no way that lucky, and I have been a hormonal, crying mess for quite a few of my waking hours.

The good news is I am still head over heels in love with my little girl. And my husband for that matter. If it were up to me and I could make the real world stop, I would hide away with the two of them in a little cocoon for a week or more, not interacting with anyone or anything else. I just want the two of them near me every second and I want everything else to stay at a distance, just for a little while until I feel like me again. But alas, the real world continues to move whether I want it to or not and this is the first morning that Chad has been back to the office. I am actually doing ok with it, mostly because I know he is only staying half a day and then working from home in the afternoon.

The thing making this period of baby blues hard on me is the loop of emotions and thoughts that I just need time to cope with. Not long ago I wrote this post about how excited I was to finally meet my precious Snow Pea, but also about how much I would miss being pregnant. I had no idea just how much I would miss it though. It was my identity for nearly nine months. I don't think it's something you even realize at the time but being pregnant becomes a part of who you are and how the world sees you. It's a lot like leaving a relationship or a job, once it's over, you have to adjust to a new description of yourself, a new role and I miss having "pregnant" be one of my descriptors. I spent years trying to attain that role and I cherished every second, now I am sad to say goodbye to it. I miss being out and feeling that special glow of attention that the belly attracted. I miss talking with friends about the latest symptom or developmental milestone. I miss the special moments with Chad or by myself just rubbing my belly and feeling the life inside. When she was in my belly, I felt every squirm, every hiccup. Chad could lay his head on my tummy and hear every thump of her little heart. I was never alone. No matter what I did or where I went she was always closer to me than anyone had ever been. We were connected.

One of my favorite times of day the past nine months was our mornings together. Each day, me and my belly went for a walk and although I often used that time to catch up on phone calls with friends and family, it was also a special time for me and Snow Pea. I loved seeing my belly grow through my various workout clothes, loved rubbing my tummy as I walked, love the smiles I received from neighbors out tending to their yards as I strolled by. Even more special to me, I realized this morning, was my post walk shower. Every morning, I cranked the Journey station on my Pandora and serenaded my sweet girl with goofy 80's rock ballads, imagining how she would respond to them once she was born after hearing them in utero for so long. For the entire 9 months of my pregnancy I always felt that connection, I always felt her presence, but in the shower this morning I realized for the first time since she was born that I was in there alone. I could sing all I wanted but, Eliana, asleep in the next room, wouldn't hear me. It was a bittersweet realization because I absolutely adore having her in my arms but I also miss having her in my belly. I sometimes still rub my tummy out of a nearly year long habit and feel wistful at the absence of her presence there.

I think part of what makes me miss being pregnant so much though, isn't just the feeling of missing her, it's the way I made the transition from being pregnant to not. I thought I was over it. Days after her birth, before I even left the hospital, I was so elated and so relieved to have my sweet baby in the world, in my arms that I truly felt at peace with my unplanned, unexpected c-section delivery. She was here and that was all that mattered. But now that the dust has settled and the hormones have crept in, I feel robbed of the full childbirth experience and of the time immediately following her arrival into the world. I am planning to write her full birth story soon, hopefully when I am feeling less weepy, so I won't get into a lot of detail now, but I will tell you I was incredibly close to a vaginal delivery and everyone involved did all they could to make that happen, but it just didn't work out. And I am eternally grateful that she is here safe and sound, but I can't help but long for that birth experience and feel jealous of those that have had it.

The worst part of a c-section and what no one ever told me, is that as soon as the baby is free from your body, they shoot you full of drugs that leave you completely out of it, just short of comatose. Which means that I have only the vaguest of memories of those first few moments of her life. She was also born quite a few shades too pale with some swelling on her head on difficulty breathing, so she was taken to the nursery for care and observation and rather than spending those first hours of her life with her and Chad in our own little world, choosing her name and forming a family bond, I was alone and drugged while Chad tried to balance his time between visiting me and her on two different floors of the hospital.

Before you start to worry about me and my mental state, please know that I don't spend every second feeling this way. I am not feeling depressed or irrational. Just blue. It has only been two days of weepiness and it's not constant or overpowering. I do more than cry,
I still smile and laugh throughout the day too. I am eating and sleeping and taking care of myself. I don't think there is anything wrong with me, I am just coping with the craziness of these hormonal changes while also coming to terms with a couple of valid, emotional changes. But I have a great support system and some decent coping skills thanks to dealing with the emotions of infertility and the crazy hormonal swings that come with fertility treatments, and this too shall pass. I am just keeping my eye on that light at the end of the tunnel, knowing that I am definitely not the first to have baby blues and that I will come through to the other side of them very soon.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Week One of the Rest of My Life

Dear Precious Snow Pea,

It is 8:57pm, exactly one week to the minute since you were born and changed my life forever. The love and emotion I have experienced this past week are inexplicable in their depth. I always knew that I wanted you. I always knew that I loved you, even before you were conceived, even before your Daddy and I started the long journey to become your parents, even before I met your Daddy and knew that he was where my family would begin, before any of that I knew I wanted you more than anything in the world and that I loved you even more than that. But even knowing those things and feeling those things for as long as I have, still couldn't prepare me for the reality of having you really be here and the overwhelming love I have for you.

I feel unbelievably lucky to be your Mommy. You are so truly amazing in every way imaginable and I have often found myself staring at you this past week, wondering what I could have possibly done to deserve your presence in my life, to be able to call you daughter. For so long I feared I may never get the chance to meet you and I still can't believe you're here. It was a long and heartbreaking struggle for me and your Daddy, and now that you are here with us we truly know how worth every second of that journey was. I would face every challenge and endure every struggle all over again a thousand times if I had to, because there is no joy greater than you.

I will always remember and cherish every second of my pregnancy, of our special time together while you grew and became the little person that you are now. I remember watching with hope and excitement the little white shimmer of you as an embryo on the ultrasound monitor as the doctor transferred you into my body. I remember the tears of joy in your daddy's eyes the day we first saw your tiny flickering heartbeat. I remember the awe with which we watched you grow and change with each doctor's visit and the sheer bliss at feeling you move and kick each and every time. I talked to you often, hugging my belly and telling you how much I loved you. The day we left for the hospital so that you could be born was bittersweet for me, because as I excited as I was to meet you face to face I also realized that I had had you to myself for nine months and now I would have to share you with the world.

And I will always remember that exact moment, when I saw you go from inside my tummy to out into the world. The second I saw your tiny body, I exhaled a breath I didn't even know I was holding and felt peace wash over me. When your daddy brought you to me so that I could meet you face to face, I immediately held on to you and snuggled as much of my body as I possibly could into yours. I wish I could explain how warm and comforted and at peace I felt in those brief seconds when you were in my arms for the first time. Now I have had one whole week of holding and cuddling you and each second of it is better than the last. In so many ways it feels as if you are still snug in my tummy, I admit to having phantom feelings of your movements and hiccups these past few days, but in so many others it seems as if you have always been here a part of our family and our lives. Either way, you have filled up our lives in ways I have only ever dreamed of, and although it's only been a week, I can only barely remember life without you in it.

I love you, Eliana, my precious daughter. I love that you have made Chad a daddy, me a mommy and us a family. This past week I have been so thrilled by every cry, sneeze, whimper, late night feeding and early morning diaper change.
I hope you have enjoyed your first week of life because for me it has been nothing short of perfection.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Peas Out!

If you haven't already heard,
I am beyond thrilled to to tell you
that Snow Pea has arrived!


Eliana Sue

Born Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 8:57pm
8 pounds, 4 ounces & 19.5 inches

I cannot begin to express just how joyful these past few days since her birth have been. Chad and I have been savoring every single second, even the fussy, sleep deprived ones, we love them all. There are so many thoughts and emotions that I definitely want to write down and share with you all, not to mention her birth story, but I will have to get to that a little later. It is coming though. Thank you so much everyone for all of the well wishes, congratulations, and sweet words of support and encouragement. If you want to see a few more pictures, check my husband's photo blog His caption for yesterday's picture made me teary eyed.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Evicting My Heart

It's official, Snow Pea has been served a request to vacate. I met with my doctor yesterday and reviewed the current situation. Snow Pea is currently in perfect position and I am dilated about 2cm. The amniotic fluid levels are currently safe but they are definitely on the decline. Because of this, and because we know without a doubt exactly how long I have been pregnant to the minute thanks to FET, Chad, my doctor and I have agreed that if she does not come on her own sooner, I will be admitted to the hospital at 12am on Saturday the 9th to begin the official eviction process. This is not a decision we are making lightly. We have reviewed all the different aspects of what is entailed and reasons to do it versus not, and I truly feel that this is the right choice for us and our baby.

Of course, I am still holding out a bit of hope that she will surprise us all and come on her own before tomorrow night, but I am at peace with the knowledge that either way my sweet baby girl will be in my arms before the weekend is over. It is also incredibly surreal though to have this knowledge though. Part of me feels like a kid the day before Christmas, so excited and giddy and in awe of the day that is about to be here. And another part of me is becoming very sentimental and wistful. My pregnancy is nearly at an end. I truly will miss it. This has been the most magical and wonderful nine months of my life and I have wanted it for so very long. As much as I want to hold my daughter in my arms, I will so miss feeling her inside my tummy. I will miss her hiccups and feeling her kick when Chad reads to her. I will miss rubbing my hand over my belly, knowing that she is on the other side. I am thrilled and honored that I get to be her mommy for the rest of my life, but I also know that I will never be pregnant with her again. As excited as I am to say hello to her and to motherhood, I am a bit sad to say goodbye to pregnancy. Even if I have other children one day, this special time with this special child will never come again. Which, now that I think about it, is a feeling I will experience for the rest of my life. Each milestone she reaches in her life will probably feel a lot like this. I will be over the moon excited to hear her first words and see her first steps, but it will also be bittersweet because it will mark a transition from a stage of her life that I won't get to do over.

Which is why I am taking today to really celebrate my pregnancy and the joy of having my Snow Pea here in my belly, closer than she will ever physically be to me again. I'm taking walks and talking to her as I do, telling her all about the world that is waiting for her. I am rubbing my tummy every chance I get and stopping at every reflective surface I pass to marvel at my pregnant body. After 9 months, I still can't believe it is my reflection I am seeing when I look into a mirror and see a round belly there. I feel so incredibly grateful to be where I am and still don't quite understand what I did to get so lucky. I'm just overwhelmed with love and gratitude for this pregnancy and my daughter.

In addition to being rather emotional and weepy, I am trying to also be responsible and take advantage of these last pre-baby hours. Tomorrow, Chad is taking a half day from work and we are planning to re-pack and be sure we know where everything is, enjoy a meal together, see a movie and take a really good, long nap. I am also planning to take the longest shower in history, because next to sleep, this is one thing all new mothers seem to miss most. I am also wracking my brain to think of any other errands, chores or fun activities I should do now while it is still possible. If you have any other suggestions or things you wish you had done those last days before baby, please feel free to share!

Right now, sitting alone in my house, quietly writing this blog, I keep thinking about how different life will be soon and I can't quite wrap my head around it. Things will never be the same. I will not be able to think of only myself anymore, or be able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, like sitting here in the middle of the day, aimlessly writing a blog with no distractions or interruptions. Even though pregnancy requires you to think about the life inside you and it effects the choices you make, I know it will be nothing compared to motherhood. This morning when I woke up, I could still roll over and hit snooze, but I won't be able to do that with a crying baby. Far beyond things like that however, I know my heart will never be the same. I already love this child so much more than I ever could have imagined or explain. And even though she hasn't been born yet, I know that the saying about being a parent is to have your heart walking outside your body is true. My love for my daughter has already forever changed me and I can't wait to tell her how much I love her face to face.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

In Due Time

Today is April 2, 2011. I have been reciting that date for nearly 9 months, every time someone asked me when I was due. And here it is, the official due date. My daughter on the other hand does not seem especially interested in such dates or predictions as she has given no indication that she is in a hurry to join the outside world yet.

My last appointment with Dr. Casual was Wednesday and we learned that Snow Pea has definitely dropped into position but other than that progress has still been slow. I was dilated about 1.5cm and still not fully effaced. There was enough progress though to justify stripping my membranes again. It was definitely not the most comfortable experience, but we were all hopeful it would work. As you can tell from the subject of this post, it didn't have the desired effect so now I have an office appointment this upcoming Wednesday to evaluate induction options. Unless of course, she decides to come on her own sooner, which of course we're all hoping for.

Unlike my labor progress, Snow Pea's growth progress has not been so slow. According to the ultrasound measurements she is keeping up with the half pound a week weight gain and was measuring 8.5 pounds. Which means if she does indeed stay put until Wednesday there is a very real possibility that I will be giving birth to a 9 pound baby! Being born at less than 7 pounds myself, I never would have expected this, but I know I won't be the first to deliver a 9 pound baby and honestly her size doesn't worry me when it comes to labor any more than if she were 6 pounds. It is really the clothes I can't stop thinking about! I have the greatest homecoming outfit specially made for Snow Pea by a wonderful friend from twitter and there is a very good chance she will never fit into it. But really I know that I could bring her home in a potato sack and I wouldn't care because it is HER I am dying to see, not her cute, tiny clothes.

Snow Pea though, does not seem nearly as anxious to see us as we are to see her. I have the distinct feeling that is just nice and cozy in there and doesn't feel like moving yet. Her daddy is the same way when he is comfortable, he just doesn't want to budge and he is incredibly stubborn about it. I can't count the number of times I have heard him whine "just 5 more minutes" only to find him in the exact same position half an hour later. Even though I can't actually hear Snow Pea's voice yet, I get the sense that she is doing the same thing. She would come out, she is just way too comfy right now.

Watching my due date come and go without her arrival isn't exactly what I was expecting or hoping for but I do know that she has to come eventually.
There are only so many times she can hit the snooze button before she really does have to get up. I wish I had met her days ago, but the day is coming, it will happen and it will be amazing whether it is today or 3 days from now. She can't stay in there forever, right?