Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Write Stuff?

I never know how to start new blog posts. Why is it that those first few sentences of anything you're writing are always the hardest to get out? You usually know what you want to say, what point you want to make, what emotions you hope to convey, but getting them started is always the tricky part, at least for me anyway.

Tonight, what I am trying to get out on my blog is that I need help, input actually. Recently I learned about an essay contest sponsored by Ferring Fertility, a company that manufactures a few of the medications commonly used in IVF treatments. Two of which were used in my IVF protocol, the treatment that ultimately made my dream of motherhood a reality. Which qualifies me to enter an essay about my experiences for a chance to win $10,000 in educational funds for Snow Pea's future education. I am so excited about the opportunity! Especially since any college fund we could have had for her was spent on the treatments to get her here before she was even conceived.But first I have to actually write the essay. Which is where the help and input I need from you comes in.

I had a hard enough time starting this blog post. Now trying to begin an essay on the topic "If I Knew Then What I Know Now" I feel much the way I do starting a new blog entry. I know I have a plenty to offer on the topic, I just don't know where to start. I have been browsing through my old blog posts tonight, knowing that the key most likely lies in the moments as I lived them, but it is also hard to separate myself and I find myself reliving those moments, crying as I re-read and re-experience each emotion. So I wanted to ask those of you who have been reading or have just read a post here and there even, are there any that have stuck out? Anything that I have written throughout this journey that struck a chord with you and gave you hope? Or anything that has just fallen flat and left you confused? Please don't hesitate to be honest and give any constructive criticism you may have. I promise to respect and value any true (non-troll) opinion.

Here is the website for the contest if you'd like to learn more about it or even enter yourself, And if you do enter let me know, I would love to cheer you on! There are 3 different prizes so there's no reason we can't both win, and even if I am not one of the 3 winners, I am already thrilled for every family that wins this prize because I know that for everyone entering and especially for me, the scholarship money doesn't hold a candle to the true treasure that is our incredibly amazing miracle babies. But that doesn't mean winning wouldn't be great. So with a deadline less than a month away, I really need to get started! Thanks in advance for any help or support you can give!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Back With A Vengeance

Postpartum, AF is even more horrendous than before, like it's getting back at me for escaping its evil clutches the past 18 months. Ugh.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mommy Guilt

This past weekend we learned that Snow Pea is allergic to eggs. Poor girl loves them, gobbled them up like candy, but before she had finished her meal hives began appearing around her mouth, chin and jawline. So we did what any reasonable parent would do and took them away then immediately called the on-call nurse at our pediatrician's office. She gave us instructions on what to watch for and administering ben.adryl if necessary and reassured that most kids outgrow this type of allergy but that we should stay away from eggs right now. We were nervous, checking on our breathing throughout her entire morning nap, but honestly her reaction was very mild. The bumps were gone no more than 15 minutes after they appeared and she never fussed or whined to indicate that they were bothering her in any way.

I have still had the incident on my mind though and wanted to follow up with her actual pediatrician to discuss what to expect, what to stay away from and whether we should think about allergy testing. The doctor was nice, helpful and informative and she made me feel guilty as hell. She said that her office doesn't recommend eggs at all for babies under a year, and that introducing them before a year can actually cause the allergy. She also said that this allergy can be very serious and may lead other even more dangerous allergies like peanuts and that she could be allergic for life due to early exposure. So what I heard was "your daughter is allergic to eggs and it might be very dangerous and she'll have to live with it forever and it's ALL YOUR FAULT."

I got off the phone and just felt so terrible. Like I had screwed up, made a huge mistake and jeopardized her health for life. This perfect little girl trusts me every second of every day to take care of her. To change her if she's wet, to keep her from getting hurt, to feed her when she's hungry. And in doing those things for her there are so many decisions to be made: Do I use cloth diapers or disposables? Do I rush in the second she cries or let her try to soothe herself? Should I give her a dose of ty.lenol when she's teething or stay clear of medications? What foods should I give her for lunch today? All of these little moments seem to have a huge weight behind them. And when things go well, when I choose to let her self soothe and she's asleep again in less than 5 minutes, I feel good about the choices I'm making. But when they go wrong or worse, when someone puts their opinion into the mix, that's when the mommy guilt sets in.

I can't help it sometimes. I know I'm doing my best. I know that I love my daughter more than anything and that I am being proactive about raising her but the damn guilt is always just around the corner waiting to get me. When the egg incident first happened, I felt a twinge of guilt but I reminded myself that she was fine and that now we know and prevent anything worse from occurring. But talking to the doctor poked a hole into my mommy confidence. I can still hear her saying "well we don't recommend that at all, but what's done is done". That phrase took from feeling like an involved parent looking out for my child's best interest, to a heap of guilty feelings. I felt like I had made the worst kind of mistake. I felt that when it came to caring for my child's health, I had failed.

I've since talked myself off the edge of the guilt ledge, thanks to a lot of love and support from my husband and my lovely twitter family, but I can't say I won't blame myself if it turns out she does have a lifelong food allergy. And I have to say I kind of resent the world for creating that thought in my head. Of course I know that as her parent, I have more influence on her life than just about anyone else, but I am not the only influence. There are so many variables in the universe that I have zero control over and her immune system is one of them. But somehow everything we do or don't do as parents is blamed for everything that happens to a child. If something is wrong with your baby, the first thing people jump to is what you did to cause it. Your child has reflux? You must be feeding them the wrong thing or not burping them well. Your child has colic? You must be overstimulating or understimulating them to make them cry so much. Your baby still doesn't sleep through the night? You must be spoiling them or not spoiling them enough. It's enough to drive anyone crazy!

So my kid is allergic to eggs. Did I really cause it? Do I really have that much power and influence over her body? Maybe. But do I have to feel guilty about it? Do I have to writhe in sadness, thinking I've destroyed my child's life? No. I need to let myself off the hook a little. I need to remember that no matter how hard I try, I will make mistakes. I don't have to be a perfect parent because there is no such thing. And more than that, there is no definition of a perfect parent. For every "proven" opinion out there there is one in direct opposition with the same amount of research behind it. I've heard from countless people in the past few days telling me that their pediatricians recommended starting eggs and even peanuts before a year instead of after. So who's right? I'll probably never know. But what I do know is this: I am a good mom, this probably won't be my last case of mommy guilt and it might be time to find a new pediatrician.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just The Beginning

Happy 2012! I can't believe it's a new year already, and not only that but almost 2 weeks into the year! Just a couple of days ago, Snow Pea reached 9 months. And what a month full of excitement this past one was! She got her first two teeth and while I am sad to say goodbye to her gummy, toothless smile, I love the joy on her face as she munches on new finger foods. She learned to play "So Big!" and will frequently start raising her arms and giggling, patiently waiting for me to fill in the words. She also started blowing kisses and loves the sound of her own voice saying "muah, muah, muah". As for me, I am cherishing every single second and marveling that she has already been out almost as long as she was in. The 9 months of pregnancy feel more and more like a dream that I only believe happened sometimes because I have the pictures and the baby that were created in those 41 weeks. These past 9 months raising Snow Pea on the other hand, feel simultaneously as if they've flown by and as if they have no beginning, like life without her never really existed in the first place.

On the night before she officially turned 9 months, I was thinking about these things, about how much she has grown and changed in this time and about how much I grew and changed during the 9 months before she was born. And then I thought about the 3 years before that, the three years full of hurt and tears, charts and pee sticks, wands and needles, pain and hope. And in that moment a huge realization crashed over me: Snow Pea was about to be 9 months old and soon she will have been alive longer than she was growing in my tummy. But even bigger than that, one day, not today but one day God willing, she will be alive longer than the time we spent getting her here. One day I will be a mother for more time than I spent trying to be one. Even typing it now blows me away.

For some, this may not seem terribly exciting or emotional or noteworthy, but for me it's all of those things. It's the realization that while I will always be infertile and will never have a child without either the assistance of a medical team or the process of an adoption, I have nonetheless survived infertility. It's the realization that although the struggle of infertility nearly consumed three years of my life and has left wounds that will never fully heal, scars that will never disappear, my life is now consumed instead by my amazing daughter and one day soon that time will far surpass the time that came before it. Despite the pain that felt like it might strangle me at times, despite the moments that shook my hope & faith, despite the things I lost and will never get back, I survived. And although I am not exactly the same person I was before going in, I am happy with who I have become. Those three years are some of the biggest in my life and they will forever have an effect on me, but now I have also experienced 9 months of motherhood that have already changed me and effected even more.