Monday, April 24, 2017

NIAW 2017

Today I am dedicating my blog to National Infertility Awareness Week and to the launch of Justine Brooks Froelker's latest book The Mother of Second Chances, based on her blog Ever Upward releasing on April 17th. For five weeks 25 amazing women will share their stories of infertility and loss as part of this incredible blog tour, because together we can shatter the stigma. 

Friday Sarah shared her story and tomorrow we will hear from Jen author of In Due TimeWe would love for you to participate by sharing these posts far and wide. We’d especially love to see your own broken silence by sharing your own infertility story using the hastags: #NIAW, #infertility and #EverUpward.

Do you know what is the strangest part about infertility?  The other side of it.  Whether you have a child of your own, you use a surrogate, you choose to adopt, you become foster parents, you use an egg or sperm donor; no matter how you get to the other side, that other side seems to be more foreign then being in the throes of infertility.  

You become so accustomed (almost obsessed) with your cycles and when they'll be, and what meds you'll be on, and who your transfer buddy will be, that it really becomes a lifestyle.  You become part of a community of others who are also actively trying for children via assisted reproductive technology, you download countdown apps on your phone & religiously check it and post on Instagram how many days left until X, Y, or Z.  You take the obligatory photo of all of your IVF meds, the ultrasound machine, your transfer socks, and your embryos.  All of this becomes your norm, and for me that was my norm for 3 years.  

Finally after 2 IUI's,  7 IVF cycles; 3 fresh transfers with my own eggs, 3 FET's with my own eggs, an egg donor, a donor IVF cycle, (a partridge and a pear tree) we were blessed with a pregnancy and subsequent baby.  She was A LOT of work.  Like seriously, thousands of miles on my car traveling 2 hours in one direction between 3 different doctors over 3 years, hundreds of needle pricks, vaginal ultrasound prodding, 9 BFN's, blood, sweat, and tears, we got our miracle, and what a miracle she is.  She's E V E R Y T H I N G.

But, I will always be 1 in 8, and still, at this point, with a 2 month old baby, I still feel more in common with my infertility sisters than I do with other moms.  So much of the heartache of our journey has completely faded away.  She was 110% worth all the time and effort that we put into having her, but motherhood is still something I have so much to learn about and infertility is something I'm a goddamn expert on.  I'm not sure motherhood is ever something I'll be able to all myself an "expert" at.  Parenting is a lot like yoga, it's a practice that you're always working at, you never come to the end of your learning (although I highly doubt parenthood is ever as relaxing as yoga) and you're constantly learning.  

This years NIAW theme is Listen Up!  There are lots of ways that you can "listen up", there are so many facts out there to know and learn about infertility such as when to seek treatment, the policies and legislation that can impact family building options, and how to support someone who is going through infertility.  

What "Listen Up" means to me and what I've become so passionate about in regards to infertility is that there are several ways that families can be built.  It's not just about my eggs and my husbands sperm and if that doesn't work then there is no hope.  No, not even close. Egg donation is what gave us our beautiful daughter, but there are many other options including sperm donation, embryo adoption, surrogacy, gestational carriers, fostering, adoption.  The word "traditional" and "family" really don't go together at all these days as there are so many ways to build families beyond a man and a woman procreating.  There are same sex couples, there are single men and women with desires to have children, there are couples who prefer to adopt, there are couples who need someone else to carry their baby. To me it is so important to understand the options available if you're someone who is struggling with infertility and feels as though you might be at the end of your journey because of failed attempts.  It's also important to me to be an advocate for family building options.  Breaking the silence about how families are made today and shattering the stigma and the shame that some people might feel about how they created their family is what "Listen Up" means to me and why I openly share our story as much as I possibly can.  

If you or someone you know is struggling silently with infertility, please know that there are so many wonderful resources and a beautiful community of people who can help.  Please check out the NIAW website for more information.


Friday, April 07, 2017

Our Breastfeeding Journey



Over our five year journey to become parents, one thing I was always very sure of was my desire to be able to breastfeed.  The benefits of breast milk, the bond between mother and child, the fact that it's free, that all appealed to me and it was something I knew that I would set out to do, no matter how challenging it might be, once I got pregnant.  

Struggling with infertility and having to go through multiple rounds of IVF and eventually use an egg donor to get pregnant, I was very skeptical about my bodies ability to produce milk.  If my own eggs could not produce a baby, what would make me think my own breasts could produce milk?   Once I was finally pregnant thanks to the beautiful gift of egg donation from our known donor and I realized my body could carry and sustain a healthy pregnancy, I realized the same would go for my ability to produce milk.

Throughout my pregnancy I did tons of reading and researched and prepared myself as best as I could to nurse as soon as our baby girl arrived.  I was very clear in my birth plan that I wanted immediate skin to skin following my unmedicated, natural, water birth so that I could start nursing right away. As most mom's know, labor and birth doesn't always go as planned.  After 36 hours of unmedicated labor I was told I would have to have a cesarean section due to the positioning of the baby.  I was devastated and knew that I wouldn't be able to experience what I had always imagined and that my milk coming in was now being threatened by the fact that I would have to undergo a C-section.

Two long hours after Georgia was born I was finally out of recovery and able to meet my baby. Although I was in quite a blur from lack of sleep and anesthesia, baby girl was placed on my chest and immediately took to nursing all on her own!  I couldn't believe that after all we had gone through for our baby, there I was laying in the hospital bed with her on my chest breastfeeding like such a natural.  It was such a surreal moment for me and one I will always treasure.  Nursing continued to go well in the hospital.  We spent the next day with the lactation consultant in the room for her morning feeding and she showed me some tips, but said overall her latch was good.  

On day two we were sent home.  I continued to nurse Georgia and although she was gaining weight and eating often, I was experiencing a lot of pain, cracked and bleeding nipples, and feeling utterly discouraged.  Because of these things I desperately wanted to quit, but also kept reminding myself of the immense benefits she was getting from my breast milk so I pushed through the pain and fought through the tears.  I knew in the back of my mind based on all the research and reading I had done that this type of pain was not normal.  Eventually, after a night of agonizing pain and lots of tears I called the lactation consultant to reevaluate her latch.  She told me to  pump on the painful side for a couple days and treat the gouge in my nipple with triple antibiotic and hydro-cortisone.  She also found Georgia had a lip-tie but that we could probably forego surgery.  

After a few days of pumping and treating my nipple the pain subsided and I began to enjoy nursing again.  Although we had some really hard days in the beginning, especially as a first time mommy, I am so glad that we continued to nurse.  Luckily with the support of my husband, family, lactation consultant, doula, midwife, and OB, we were able to overcome the obstacles and have continued to have a very successful breastfeeding journey so far.   

Breastfeeding truly is one of the hardest and most challenging parts of being a mom that I have experienced in my short 6 weeks as a parent, but it has also been unbelievably rewarding and I love the bond that we are able to share.  In the long run what it really boils down to is that our babies are healthy and fed, no matter what or how.  A healthy, happy, baby is the most important thing in the end and as long as our babies are fed, then it really doesn't matter where their food comes from.  If at some point I end up having to supplement with formula then so be it.  I think the key to success for moms who want to nurse is to eat a well balanced diet, take the necessary vitamins, surround yourself with a support system, seek help if you're feeling discouraged, but never be hard on yourself for the choices that you have to make to keep your baby healthy.

We have been very fortunate that nursing has gone so well for us.  That isn't always the case for everyone.  It is easy to get discouraged, caring for a tiny human is real challenge, but being able to produce the milk needed to sustain that tiny human's life is truly a beautiful thing and one that I'm so thankful I am getting to experience.  

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

6 Weeks Postpartum


I can't believe I'm already six weeks postpartum!  If I would've had Georgia vaginally, I'd be planning on going back to work already in another week.  That is definitely a plus to having a c-section, I get an additional two weeks off to be home with my girl!  Maternity leave in the US totally sucks!  

So as you can tell in the picture, Georgia is not always a happy camper.  According to the Wonder Weeks app Georgia is going though her first leap in her mental development meaning she is experiencing rapid maturation of metabolism, internal organs, and senses.  She'll be more alert, but is also experiencing a stormy period, aka. crying for no reason, fussy, and fighting sleep.

Although we're having a rough couple days, she is still such an amazingly adorable little peanut.  She's got a pretty severe case of baby acne and diaper rash right now.  She also has a small touch of cradle cap.  She's still wearing some newborn clothes but is also quickly growing into her 0-3 month stuff as well.  She has the chunkiest cheeks and the cutest double chin.  Taking baths and being naked, two things she really hated before, she now enjoys.  We give her baths every other day right now.  I'm trying to get her on somewhat of a routine but since she's fighting sleep it's been tough getting her down when I want her to.  I feed her every 2-3 hours, sometimes more, still on demand.  At night her stretches of sleep time are starting to get longer, she's sleeping an average of 4 hours now so we are waking up less each night.  Once she gets to sleep at night she's a wonderful sleeper!

As for mama, I'm doing well.  I had my six week PP checkup yesterday and I'm down 40 pounds.  I have three more pounds to lose before I reach my PP weight of 116.  I was about 160 when Georgia was born, I'd say 10 pounds of which was all swelling/fluid gained in the last 3-4 weeks of my pregnancy.  I've been released to return to all normal activity and I am released to work on 4/24.  I'm taking the following week off as vacation so I'll be returning to work on 5/1.  Although I love being home, I know that going back to work is what is right for me and I know it will be a good balance for my life.  It will be tough, but we will get through it!

I thought I'd mention and link some of the things that go us through these first six weeks with a baby, there really are some great things out there for parents and for babies.  

DockATot - thrilled with this. we have the Deluxe which is good for use to 9 months, we may end up with the Grand once she gets bigger.
Rock N Play Auto Rocker - she loves it, it rocks it self, no other explanation necessary
Lily Padz - these silicone breast pads are amazing.  I wear them at night because they stick on and I don't have to wear a bra and nursing pads to bed.
Halo Swaddlesure - so much easier than trying to swaddle her in a blanket, bonus, she cannot get her hands out because she's velcroed in
Solly Baby Wrap - hands down one of the best items I registered for a received.  She loves it and it gives me the ability to be mobile while still having her close.
  Milkies Milk Trays - This was a genius idea.  This basically makes breast milk popsicles, each tray freezes eight 1oz milk sticks which I then just bag into breast milk storage bags.  I know that they're exactly 1oz so there isn't any questioning about how much I'm thawing and there's less waste!
Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller/Car Seat - I love this car seat and this stroller.  They're so easy to use!  I've taken Georgia for a few walks now and I love how smooth the ride feels.

It's been an amazing six weeks.  We've had lots more good days and moments than bad and I'm so thankful for all the time we get to spend together.  Although Joe is back with his regular job, because of all the rain we've had he's actually had the last couple of weeks off with us so he's been around for about the whole month which has been really amazing as well.  I know this next month off before returning to work is going to fly, I'm planning to enjoy it as much as I can and soak up every second possible with baby girl.

 
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