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!