Saturday, April 28, 2012

NIAW: Don't Ignore The Baby Steps

April 22- 28, 2012, is National Infertility Awareness Week. It is a time to speak up, to share our journeys and educate others about infertility. A time to increase our advocacy on the issues facing those with infertility. A time to raise the volume on the voice of the infertility community and ensure that we are not forgotten or ignored. 

All over the country so many of us have participated in NIAW by organizing and participating in fundraisers, sharing infertility information online and writing blog posts dedicated to raising awareness. For many, NIAW also marks their "coming out" as many of us choose this week to open up about our private struggles and share with our friends and family what we have been up against. I myself, shared my journey publicly for the first time during NIAW just two years ago. It is an inspirational week and the advocacy and awareness that takes place is incredible. There are so many big things happening this week and it's important to talk about them, to share them and cheer for them. But in doing so we must be sure not to ignore the smaller steps being taken as well.

You may not know this from reading my blog, which is focused on my personal journey rather than the broad scope of infertility, but I am passionate about advocacy and I very often feel guilty for not doing enough. I feel guilty for not fundraising, for not blogging enough, for not writing enough letters to my politicians, for not networking and supporting the community as much as I want to. Maybe you feel this way too. Maybe you haven't donated or written a blog post this week. Maybe you don't feel ready to publicly share your journey on Facebook or open yourself up to family and friends. Maybe you had never even heard of NIAW until now. But that doesn't mean you can't get involved in whatever way you are comfortable with, no matter how big or small. Don't ignore that even the smallest of actions can have a big impact. 

Advocacy can often feel like embarking on a perilous climb up a steep mountain. The goal often feels insurmountably high and the steps to get there immeasurably large. It is often intimidating to even think about facing that huge hurdle, but don't ignore the baby steps. Don't ignore that donating just one dollar to an organization like RESOLVE can provide vital funding to a program that supports the 7.3 million women and men in this country dealing with infertility. Don't ignore that sharing just one simple fact about infertility can open someone's eyes to the reality of the disease. Don't ignore that just one phone call to your local representative can impact public policy that affects family building options. Don't ignore that even an anonymous blog post can comfort someone who thought they were alone with their struggle and can also provide you with an emotional outlet in the process. Don't ignore the possibility that someone close to you is suffering in silence and by sharing your journey, you may both find solace. Don't ignore that even just one kind word to someone who feels alone, one virtual hug to someone who is hurting, one supportive comment to someone who feels lost can make all the difference for them.And don't ignore that the end of NIAW today, doesn't mean the end of opportunities to raise awareness or show your support. Advocacy can be big or small and it can happen every day of the year.

Don't ignore infertility. Don't ignore its effects. And most importantly don't ignore yourself or the positive impact you can have on the infertility community every little step at a time.

For more information about infertility, National Infertility Awareness Week, and ways you can get involved visit:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NIAW Don't Ignore Each Other

There is so much educating and activism happening during National Infertility Awareness Week aimed at making sure the voices of the infertility community are heard by those who have not experienced our struggles and that our concerns are not ignored. While this is a very important part of NIAW, it is also a good time for us to take time to reflect on the infertility community as a whole and be sure we are not ignoring any part of it. 

The online infertility community has grown by leaps and bounds since I stumbled upon it nearly three years ago, and with that growth a certain amount of mainstreaming seems to have happened. I am not saying anything against the "traditional" IFer, I myself fall into that category in many instances, but with this year's NIAW theme "don't ignore", I think it is a good opportunity to not only raise awareness within the general public, but among ourselves as well. I have too often heard from IFers who feel left out because their current circumstances don't look like everyone else's. So here some things that both the world around us and the infertility community itself should not ignore:
  • Don't ignore that going through IVF, IUI or any form of ART is not what defines infertility. These are methods of attempting to resolve infertility, not the disease itself. Many people will find resolutions without ART but that doesn't make them any less infertile.
  • Don't ignore that infertility resolutions are not one size fits all and not every path is for everyone. Likewise, just because there are choices that aren't right for you doesn't mean that it's not the best option for someone else in their journey.
  • Don't ignore that choosing adoption is not an indication of "failure" at biological conception. It is a choice that everyone makes for many different reasons and due to their own unique circumstances.
  • Don't ignore that choosing to live child-free is just as valid a resolution to infertility as any other and not a worst-case scenario or last resort. Our child-free sisters and brothers are a vital part of this community.
  • Don't ignore that secondary infertility is real and it hurts. Having a baby easily the first time does not change that.
  • Don't ignore that becoming a parent is not a cure for infertility. Most infertility survivors still struggle with their journey and will face the same as well as new struggles if they choose to attempt to have another child.
  • Don't ignore that the ability to get pregnant doesn't mean someone is fertile. Losing a child or a pregnancy leaves people with the devastating hurt of infertility in addition to the loss of their child. 
  • Don't ignore the many men struggling with infertility that need our support too.
  • Don't ignore that non-traditional parents face infertility just like every other group and being young, straight or married does not make anyone more deserving of our support than anyone else.
  • Don't ignore that the pain of infertility is not a contest. There is no winner for who has been trying longer, who has done more cycles or who has spent more money. We have all been through our own version of hell and we should all be here to support each other regardless of the differences in our experiences and outcomes. 
I know that I am preaching to the choir for the most part, but I still think it is worth taking the time to remind ourselves of these things. It is only natural and expected that we gravitate toward people who's journeys look more like ours, people that can we can relate to and share with when discussing IVF protocols or adoption agencies, but that doesn't mean we don't still have something valuable to offer those whose stories are different from ours and that they don't still want our love and support.

For more information of Infertility and National Infertility Awareness Week visit

Monday, April 16, 2012

To Snow Pea, With Love

Forgive me for posting this a week late, but it has been a non-stop whirlwind of activity lately! None so important or as emotional for me as my baby girl's first birthday on April 9, 2012.

To Eliana On Your First Birthday,
You will never know what this year has meant to me, how much joy and love you have brought into my life. I will remember the moment I first heard your cry for the rest of my life. It is a beautiful sound that echoes in my head and my heart constantly and I will be happy to replay it forever. I can't believe how quickly that sweet sound has gone and been replace by the glorious noise of your giggles and first words. Watching you grow and change throughout the first year of your life has been nothing short of amazing. Each day you give me and your Daddy new reasons to smile, new reasons to shed happy tears and new reminders of how unbelievably grateful and lucky we are to be your parents. I thought I knew love in the first moment I held your tiny body close to mine, just moments after you were born, but this year has shown me that I will never know just how deep and big my love can grow because each day I fall even more in love with you and and the amazing person you are already becoming.

You have such a unique personality and I love getting to know the things that make you, you. You adore books and kitties, always squealing with excitement for both. You like to share and to pretend to feed me and your baby, scooping invisible food from an empty cup onto a spoon. You love to giggle and dance and clap. You really are a very happy baby and people you meet in the store or on the street are always very excited to tell you that. You are dying to be even more mobile than you are already are and you get very frustrated if you're stuck in my arms or your carseat for too long. You love to communicate and have started picking up new signs within minutes and excitedly adding them to your vocabulary, as well as attempting to verbally repeat a lot of what Mommy and Daddy say. You're also a bit of a daredevil and you seem to enjoy the adrenaline rush of a slight scare. You have a toy monster that sings and dances and every time you see him, you squeal and beg to see him sing. But he also freaks you out and you always whine a little and reach for Mommy if he gets too close. We can't put him away though because you instantly cry and sign "more" to see him again and again, even though you're still a little scared. Only a year old and already standing up to your fears. Such a brave girl.

I have to admit I am a little sad to say goodbye to your first year of babyhood and all of those precious infant behaviors that you'll never get back, like the sweet "ooo" face you made as you stretched your arms and legs during your first few weeks home, and the sweet coos of contentment you made before you learned to make more distinct sounds and the adorable way you slept all wrapped up like a burrito in your swaddle. Those days were far shorter and flew by far faster than I could have dreamed. I would keep them forever if it didn't mean missing out on the joy and excitement of watching you grow up. As amazing as your infancy was, watching you venture into toddler-hood has been an incredible adventure. There nothing quite like seeing you figure out a new skill for the first time. The look of curiosity, determination and pride on your face is breathtaking. I hope and pray that these attitudes will stay with you for life. For my part, I will do my absolute best to nurture and encourage you to continue to be exactly who you are. I will do everything I can to ensure that you grow to remain the amazing person you already are at a year old: curious and playful, determined and daring, friendly and giving and most of all happy and excited about life. I will do everything in my power to make sure you always have a truly happy life full of love and joy, because that is what you have given me just by being here and you deserve nothing less. I love you, Snow Pea. You are the light of my life and my world is forever brighter with you in it. Thank you for giving me the best year of my life so far. Happy 1st Birthday, Eliana.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Although I still have a few days until my little Snow Pea is officially a year old, we held her big 1st birthday bash a few days ago. It was a musical themed Birthday Palooza and we had an absolute blast putting it together and even more fun enjoying it! Hope you enjoy the photos from Ellie Belly's fun day!

Dessert Table- This was one of my favorite aspects to plan and execute. We ordered simple but delicious cupcakes from a local bakery and had them dusted with sanding sugar in our party colors (bright pink, orange, turquoise, lime & yellow) and they included a free smash cake decorated like a drum. I made cupcake picks with scalloped circles and personalized confetti purchased on Etsy. Chad and I also handmade cake stand from old vinyl records by using gorilla glue to attach them to upside down margarita glasses. I also had fun making pretzel "drumsticks" with white chocolate and sprinkles. Chad used a free pennant printable I found to create the birthday banner. Add in the amazing re-purposed guitar plaque made by a friend, my hand-drawn music not confetti and rock candy and I am pretty much in love with this spread!

The Party- Eliana has been a music lover since day one. She dances and bounces to the beat of almost any song, can do the motions to "Wheels On the Bus" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider", loves to cheer and sing along and claps enthusiastically for an encore every time she hears music. Having a music themed party seemed like an obvious choice once I gave it some thought. We set up a play area with all of our musical instrument toys and nursery song board books. I really lucked out though, when an online deal site hosted a 75% off bargain for an hour-long music party from a truly fantastic local children's musician. The second Eliana saw the guitar in his hands she was transfixed and no interest in anything else but hearing the music he was about to play. Most of his stuff is original and I gotta say the songs were fun for the babies and the grown ups as he acted like pirates and shook the maracas he brought to play with. He also did some classics, including of course "Happy Birthday" and presented Eliana with his CD as her special gift. After baby music time, there was plenty of yummy food to eat at our sandwich bar and Rock Band gave the adults a chance to jam out too!

Special Touches- Photo timelines are getting really popular at first birthdays and as soon as I saw this cute idea, I knew I had to do it, so I hand-painted wooden clothespins in party colors with musical confetti to accent it and pinned up my favorite monthly photos on black & white along with her "Peas Out" newborn shot and of course her very first picture, as a recently thawed embryo. It was so cool to see how much she's grown in one line like that. I also snagged another cute idea I've seen done for 1st birthdays lately and had everyone fill out a card for her birthday time-capsule to be opened when she turns 18. Being a music party though, I added the twist of a song dedication for her to listen to when she turns 18. She had some really funny recommendations for that and I can't wait to see what she thinks of those songs when she turns 18. I ordered the super cute high chair banner on Etsy and then discovered that it wouldn't fit onto her high chair. I was bummed, but it still looked cute as part of the decor.

Party Favors- No party is complete with a little something to thank your guests for coming! We made VIP badges for all the babies as they arrived, personalized with their name & photo. This was one of my absolute favorite touches and all of the parents seemed excited about it too. We of course made one for Eliana as well, to put into her time capsule. I also put together favor bags for each baby with a toy maraca, tambourine and bubbles in a guitar shaped bottle all tied with ribbon and handmade favor tags that thanked Eliana's guests for rocking out with her.

The Dress- I wanted her to wear something a little special, she is the guest of honor after all, but I also wanted to keep it simple and comfortable. I found this adorable cotton and chiffon gray dress on clearance and ironed on the hot pink guitar patch. Pair it with some leggings and a bow to match and to match and you have one rocking birthday girl!

Cake Smash! She was so flabbergasted during the birthday song before we blew out her candle together. she loves to hear people sing, but she's never seen an entire room full of people singing the same song to her! Once she had her cake in front of her, it took her a bit to realize she could dig in and eat this this thing. We gave her hand by literally smashing her hand into it to get it started. then she wanted to share and feed bites to Mommy & Daddy. Once she saw that we like it she was ready for a few little nibbles. She loved poking the red and yellow buttons around the top and spent some time going round and round poking each one. Finally, she dug her hand in and got a good taste and then it was all smiles as she gobbled up her first real serving of sugar.

As with all good things, the party had to come to an end, but not before we created a lot of new and wonderful memories together. It was so amazing to celebrate the greatest year of our lives and to honor our precious daughter in such a fun way. I can't say that we'll go this big every year, but I am so glad we did it for this one.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Due For a Party

Is it just me or did March zoom by at warp speed? I guess that's how it goes when you're busy, busy, busy! Between travel, anniversary celebrations, party planning, and keeping up with increasingly mobile baby, busy is definitely what I have been. And since I am so behind I am dying to talk about mine and Chad's 5 year wedding anniversary and a zillion other exciting things that have happened the past few weeks, but none are more exciting than Eliana's 1st birthday celebration yesterday.

I debated for ages over whether or not to give into my craving for a great big first birthday party. I know it's over the top. My parents had my grandparents over for a home-cooked dinner and birthday cake with a couple of gifts when I turned one, because really what more do you need? I never gave it much thought really, but as this amazing first year of motherhood as gone on, I kept daydreaming about celebrating it in a really big way. It has been after all the absolute, hands-down best year of my life so it felt appropriate to celebrate the amazing little person that gave that gift. So I finally decided to go for it, and I am so glad I did.

Not only was the party a ton of fun for all three of us, it gave me a place to channel all of my energy and emotion about her upcoming first birthday. Each month on the 9th as Snow Pea reached a new monthly milestone, I have felt a bittersweet burst of emotion about how much she's grown and how amazing it is to be a part of it. I won't lie, both happy and sad tears are shed almost monthly as I realize that while a stage of her babyhood has passed, there is still a lifetime of love to look forward to. So if I get weepy just celebrating her monthly "birthday" you can only imagine how much pent up emotion I'm containing with her turning one just one week from today! Having my party to-do list this month has taken the edge off of the emotions of my baby growing into a toddler. I had so much fun planning, crafting and preparing every little detail and it did a lot to keep my mind in the present as well. Although it hasn't stopped me from reminiscing entirely.

I have been playing lots of "this time last year" remembering the excitement and anticipation of the last weeks of my pregnancy. In fact, this day last year, was my original due date and I remember talking to Snow Pea all day, telling her I love her and that I was ready when she was. She didn't come for another week, but April 2 is one of those dates that will always stick in my head. Of course, I can't play "this time last year" without expanding into "this time 2 years ago" and remembering all of the challenges we were facing wondering if parenthood would really ever happen for us. A friend recently helped me realize just how incredible it is that I am talking about the best year of my life, when the years directly preceding this one were without a doubt the most heartbreaking and most challenging. It really is incredible how much my world has changed and all of it for the better.

And nothing was better than than celebrating all of that joy, those bittersweet milestones, the amazing love that is my daughter at her "birthday palooza" yesterday. There was music, laughter, friends and plenty of cake. Eliana enjoyed every one of those things and I am just grateful to have experienced it with her. I know she won't remember any of it, but I certainly will and I look forward to sharing my memories with her. We are even putting together a first birthday time capsule to be opened when she turns 18, full of mementos of her party and her first year so that she can see just how special and precious she is.

I promise I have lots more pictures and fun stories to share from our incredible day, but unfortunately my laptop is outdated and is not letting me access the server properly so that I can post them (yes, we have a tiny computer network in our 1200 sq ft apartment and yes my husband is a total tech-head). I promise to have them up very, very soon! And in the meantime I am going to cuddle up my sweet girl, reminisce about those wonderful last belly kicks and enjoy this last week of my daughter's amazing first year.