April 27, 2012

NIAW – Don’t Ignore Joy

Posted in Infertility, Parenting tagged , at 1:57 pm by lifebytheday

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and the theme for this year is “Don’t Ignore Infertility.”  Bloggers have been given the charge to blog with the prompt “don’t ignore…”

I truly hope that I don’t come off as being a smug parent (in the vein of Bridget Jones) with this post, but I’d like to suggest to people who are parenting (or pregnant) after infertility – don’t ignore the joy of being a parent.  I feel like so many people in this community end up feeling so much GUILT after getting pregnant, that it starts to bleed into their ability to enjoy their pregnancy and even their child after they have arrived.

When we got pregnant, I made the conscious decision to enjoy every minute – partly because I didn’t know whether that would be my only chance to experience pregnancy, and partly to honor the baby that we worked so hard for.  And as most of you know, it was not an easy pregnancy to enjoy. 😉  Then once A was born, I was so preoccupied with him (and trying to fit in a shower here and there) that I made a less-conscious decision to step back from the blogging community a bit.  I still read all of my regular blogs – usually while BFing in the middle of the night – but I never made it onto my computer to comment.  Sorry friends!  (I actually still have a ton of posts saved in my reader to comment on…it probably will never happen, but hey, good intentions! ;-P)

None of that means that I have ever forgotten about those folks still in the trenches – I regularly send out prayers and wishes that everyone who wants to have a child is able to – but I don’t think that feeling guilty about the fact that we were finally able to have a child will make it happen any faster for anyone else.  And to be honest, it made me too sad to think about infertility every single day.  I think that my mind needed a break from the sadness as much as my body needed a break from all of the supplements and needles and meds.

My approach with A has been similar to how I treated my pregnancy…consciously focusing on enjoying every minute, and not wishing his life away or pining for what has passed.  Although, the latter goal is getting harder and harder the faster he grows up. 😉  (I can’t believe he is 11 months already!!  11 mo. post coming tomorrow…)

Anyways, all that to say…if you are blessed with a child, through birth or adoption, thank God and then enjoy the heck out of them! 😀


April 26, 2012

Sickness, separation anxiety and #2?

Posted in Infertility, Parenting tagged , , at 4:57 pm by lifebytheday

Phew.  Last week was a doozy…A’s first ear infection, which took until day 4 of a fever for the ped. to diagnose, and the simultaneous beginning of mommy separation anxiety.  Which was funny, and flattering, but exhausting!

I honestly thought that we had dodged that bullet, and had mixed feelings about it.  I knew that it was a common phase, and as his primary caregiver, I was kind of wondering why he hadn’t developed that attachment yet.  I chalked it up to the fact that my mom and aunt are his two other regular visitors, and we all have very similar voices and mannerisms…but I was secretly a little upset.  Then I got a little cocky thinking that he was just SO secure and probably wasn’t going to go through it at all, and boy did that come back to bite me.  With his ear infection he was the most uncomfortable when he laid down, so we went through four or five days where I probably held him for 20 out of every 24 hours.  I was EXHAUSTED, and surprisingly sore!  He’s a big boy. 😉  He finally turned a corner yesterday, and after (both of us!) took good afternoon naps, we were almost back to normal.

Yesterday was also my first time back at a regular gynecologist in I don’t know how many years…probably five?  Usually the RE would just roll in my pap with all of the other insurance-required testing, so I never felt the need to see another doctor.  I mostly set up this appointment to start building a relationship with the doctor I wanted as my OB “next time”.  I know, don’t burst my bubble.  But seriously, it was so refreshingly quick and easy!  And interestingly, my doctor pointed out that after I stop breast-feeding that I’ll be at my most fertile, and that I might even get in a few ovulatory cycles before my PCOS kicks back in.  I know that we’ve all heard that before, and that I really shouldn’t get my hopes up, but I was a bit surprised that he thought I might be able to get a few real cycles in.

I’ve always known that we’d try for a second at some point down the road, but thought it would be a while before I could convince S.  After the downs scare we had and everything we had to go through with A’s surgery, S was pretty sure that he only wanted one.  But the older that A got, the more and more S would make comments here and there about giving A a brother or sister…and finally a month or two ago, we decided for sure that we’d be trying for a second relatively soon.  We have two big weddings in September and October, and I’m kind of looking forward to having a few months “off” between breastfeeding and fertility treatments.  So right now, it’s looking like we’ll “try” on our own over the summer – it’ll be the summer of $ex, ha! – and then go back to the RE in September to start the pre-IVF testing up again.

I’m under NO delusions that it’s going to be easy this time around, but I honestly think that knowing that we are able to get pregnant will take some of the stress out of the whole process.  And at the end of every day, I get to come home and cuddle my little boy.  It all seems a little abstract right now, so for the time being, I’m just going to focus on weaning my little man and enjoying our summer!  There’s plenty of time for worrying later. 😉

April 16, 2012

What kind of parent am I? (April PAIL post)

Posted in Parenting tagged , , at 9:53 am by lifebytheday

This is my first month joining in the PAIL (parenting after infertility or loss) monthly theme post, and I’m super excited.  I found the group after last month’s theme (of breastfeeding) had closed, but I really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts and points of view.  And I think this month will be no exception.  Here’s the topic:

What kind of parent am I or do I want to be? If you’re already a parent, what kinds of things work for you now? Did they always? Has your view of what kind of parent you are changed? If you’re pregnant or TTC, have you given this topic much thought? What is your style likely to be? Are you a structure sort of person? Will you or did you cry-it-out? Will you or did you try to get your baby on a schedule? Did you or will you demand feed? Did you or will you subscribe to a method like Attachment Parenting or Babywise or some other method? Do you think you can spoil a baby by holding it too much?

I almost don’t know where to begin.

I think the easy answer is that I’m an “everything in moderation” kind of person, and that is (and was) my goal for parenting.  But that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

I’ve tried to write this post a few times but it just feels too big…too important.  I started to write a whole post about my “goals” in parenting, but I realized that everything I had initially been focusing on was for the early days (breastfeeding, immunizations, etc.), and while all of that is important, to me that’s not actually parenting.

It has been obvious to me for a while – since A turned 8 months or so – that our job has shifted beyond just keeping him alive to actually raising him.  My goal with A, and any other child we’re lucky enough to have, is to raise him to be kind, considerate, respectful, self-sufficient, and happy.  I also wouldn’t mind if he’s outgoing (more like his father than like me), because I think the world is easier for people not afraid to jump right into a situation.  S never went to college but now owns a very successful business and I’m very proud that A has that as an example, along with a mother who went to college and now works part-time out of the home.

Anyways…now that I’m viewing everything through the lens of what kind of man I want to raise A to be, every decision seems so much more important.  Whether that is getting him onto a sleep “schedule” or teaching him to be patient as I get his food ready, I feel like everything I do is a potential lesson, which is actually really daunting.  Especially since he’s not at daycare and there’s no one else (educated in child development!) available to help. 😉

I have always been a pretty “scheduled” person, but since meeting S almost ten years ago (wow…), his spontaneity has mixed with my planning for what I think is a nice little balanced life.  When A was born (after he got home from the hospital), we let him feed and sleep on demand, and continued letting him set the pace until it naturally developed into a rough schedule around 8 or 9 months.  My challenge now is to maintain that schedule without locking us up in the house or making all of our friends and family work around us.  I’m still figuring out exactly how to do that and how much I can push him without jeopardizing his overall sleep (and mood!), but I’m working on it!

Speaking of sleep, that was the one place where S and I have really disagreed.  Getting A to sleep well has always been a priority for me, because I think that well rested children are healthier, happier, and maybe even a little smarter.  (Don’t argue with me on that point – I have no proof – but I know that I think clearer and learn better when I’m not tired.)  A was a great little sleeper as an infant.  He literally only woke to eat – and yes, I know that we were super lucky – but around five months, his napping started to go south, and his overall sleep didn’t get back on track until he was nine or ten months old.

After trying a few different things, and eventually getting to the point where A was in our bed and no one was getting any sleep, I decided we needed to try to “cry it out.”  S hated hearing him cry, and we had more than a few heated middle-of-the-night discussions about who actually worked and needed their sleep (grr!), but I always insisted that the end justified the means.  Maybe it’s because of A’s NICU stay, but I know that there are certain things in life that are a necessary evil (shots, etc.), and that none of those things (have or) will affect our bond with A or his secure knowledge of our love and commitment to him.

[Sidebar – I always thought that S would be the tough guy and I’d get to be the softie, but as we’ve discovered, S is like an M&M (hard on the outside, and mush on the inside), and I’ve had (and will continue) to be the parent who sets boundaries.  As A gets older, I think I’ll probably do the daily disciplining, with the occasional invocation of “telling his father!” when necessary. ;-)]

I know that some people don’t agree with cry-it-out, and while it was definitely our last resort (and I absolutely didn’t enjoy it), I also didn’t feel like it made us bad parents or even for a second showed A that we didn’t love him and weren’t there for him.  We did the graduated check-and-console method (after making sure that all of his needs were met of course) and ended up with a little boy who can go to bed himself, takes two good naps, and sleeps 10-11 hours a night.

I also know that all babies are different, and that for some people things like cry-it-out simply don’t work, either because the baby gets him/herself so worked up that they puke, or the mom/dad gets so upset that it’s just not sustainable.  But it worked for us, and I think it’s a perfect illustration of the roots-and-wings theory.  Raise your child to be secure in their parent’s love and support and they will have the confidence to do anything.  That is my ultimate goal.  I also think that sleep is the earliest way of setting boundaries and promoting self-sufficiency, which to me is one of the most important things you can do for your child.  This is why I don’t understand or subscribe to attachment parenting, although I’m very interested to read about how it works for other people!

At the end of the day though, we’ve also just been lucky.  We have a really easygoing little boy, who enjoys playing by himself and with others, who has always eaten and slept relatively well, and really only cries when something is wrong.  Don’t let me fool you that he’s perfect though…he comes from two very stubborn and passionate people, and he’s already definitely getting an opinion of his own. 😉

April 12, 2012

More on breastfeeding, and questions about weaning

Posted in Parenting tagged , at 3:56 pm by lifebytheday

We’re still (happily) breastfeeding.  I ended up pumping during my trip to New York, realizing just in time that it would be a terrible idea to wean cold turkey while away from home.  Although I almost ended up weaning accidentally…as my train pulled into Penn Station I realized that I had forgotten the attachments for my pump!  I had bottles and the actual pump, but completely forgot the “nozzles”…thank goodness for friends of friends!!  I pumped kind of sporadically while I was there, which luckily didn’t affect my supply at all.

At this point, I’ve decided that I’m going to breastfeed for the full year, partly based on the AAP recommendation, partly to try and avoid bottles and formula and eventually wean directly onto milk, and partly in case any of the research on the cancer preventing benefits (in mothers) is true.  I know there are a ton of other reasons out there, but these are the ones that resonated with me.

I’m still questioning whether I’m going to miss the “bonding” aspect of breastfeeding.  I feel pretty confident that I’m still going to get my snuggles and cuddles and honestly, I’m pretty ready to have my body back.  Not my physical body, but ownership of it. 😉  I think it’s kind of going to be like being pregnant…I loved every second of being pregnant, but once A was here, I never missed having him inside rather than out.  Every day with him gets better and I have made a conscious effort through this whole process – of growing him to raising him – to enjoy each moment and milestone, without pining for what has passed or looking forward to what will come.

So now I’m trying to figure out how the weaning process actually works.  I don’t have any interest in extended breastfeeding (although I absolutely don’t judge anyone who decides that’s right for them!), so I’m planning to start weaning right around his first birthday.  I honestly think that he is psychologically ready for it now, so I’m not worried about harming him by “taking away the boob.”  He uses a pacifier and really doesn’t need the boob to settle down or go to sleep, which I have always been so grateful for!

My problem is finding some practical advice on how to actually wean, without judgement or guilt for not continuing through to two years or beyond!  From what I gather, you start with the feeding where you think they’d least miss it – so for us that’s going to be lunch – and offer milk instead.  Then once he’s comfortable with that, move on to another feeding (probably breakfast in our case).  So if all goes well, we’d get down to just the morning and evening feedings within a few weeks.  I’m thinking that the early morning feeding will probably be the last to go, and maybe that’s just solved by moving breakfast a little earlier and adding a mid-morning snack?

Does anyone else have any suggestions, success stories, or recommendations for reading material?