Wednesday 31 December 2014

New Year's Eve

Mel posted about New Year's Resolutions in her Microblog Monday post. When I went to reply, I thought there are so many things I could write about, including any of the new things on my mind that I wrote about earlier this week.  Then I realized that when it comes to resolutions, there's really only one thing I will resolve to do, and that's to not constantly look back to "this time last year" in 2015. 2014 was an eventful year. There was a lot about this year that was joyful and wonderful. There was also some stuff that was traumatic, and I really don't want to spend more time living it over and over in my mind. Especially January and February.

But today I find myself feeling a bit emotional because it is the last day of the year AJ was born. It will never be the year of her birth again. She will look back on 2014 as the beginning of time, at least of her time.  I feel a bit regretful that she wasn't born earlier in the year so we could have lived in the year of her birth longer.

And there is something awesome about realizing that whatever 2014 was.....well, it was. It's in the past tense. Some times it's hard to leave experiences in the past, either because they were awful and they have made me afraid, or because they were wonderful and I don't want to let them go. But now on New Year's Eve, I feel like I'm free to see 2014 in a new light. The story has been told. It can be re-told and re-interpreted, but whatever happened, cannot be changed or undone. And that's somehow liberating.

At the same time I recall Caroline's post about how year ends and beginnings are really an illusion. We decided as humans that we would mark time in years, but maybe there is a better way of marking time.

AJ has come up with some totally different coos and cries today. Her daily growth and development is a reminder that life is happens in motion. And if 2014 was her year, so will be the future years.  She's also figuring out how to get her thumb into her mouth and keep it there long enough to suck. Maybe thumb sucking is not a good habit,  but she perseveres so much, it's really touching. And she is so sad when it falls out again and she loses it, and cries like the world is such a terrible unjust place. OK that was a bit random.

Happy New Year everyone. Thanks for walking with me this year. It means so much. I hope so much that 2015 brings everyone closer to their dreams, or even brings new dreams into your path.

Monday 29 December 2014

Microblog Mondays: New year, new stuff to do and write about

Ok, not technically the new year yet, but already I have so many "new" things on my mind!

AJ is doing great. She is bigger all the time, and giving us more and more smiles when she's in a good mood, including big gummy grins. Here is one of my favourite photos. This is the one we put on her Christmas keepsake ornament. She is already bigger than in the photo (goodbye cute fish pajamas that daddy bought her) but I'm behind on downloading and organizing photos.

I will write something about Christmas holidays eventually (hope everyone had a good one and/or survived with some grace). But my mind is already turning to the new, so here somewhat briefly are things on my mind:

1) Breastmilk storage/pumping

I have been planning to do this for a while but only worked up the nerve recently. I am hoping in the new year to be able to leave AJ with someone (i.e. grandparent) so I can resume weekly activities like band and hopefully a dance class. Not to mention being able to go on the occasional date with Mr. Turtle. But for this to work the babysitter has to be able to feed AJ and since I am exclusively breastfeeding, this means getting a supply of milk. So I'm having a go with the Medela hand pump. I didn't want to invest in an electric pump if the hand one would be sufficient ($60 vs. up to $200). It seems to be working in that pumping doesn't hurt and I'm expressing milk, but it is slow going. For the most part I'm only expressing milk after a feed, so I suppose it makes sense that there isn't much left. It comes out a few drops at a time, so it is rather tedious. My goal is to have between 40 and 50 mL collected by the end of today, which doesn't sound like a lot, but perhaps good for a start?

Any other moms have experience with using a hand pump and what kind of results to expect?

2) Car!

After being car-free up to age 30, then a one car household for the next four and a half years, I now have a car! So it is the end of an era but the beginning of another one and I am mostly positive about it. We were able to import my MIL's 2006 Volvo which I'm told is a good car. (I know nothing about cars and just want it to get me from A to B without breaking down. Oh, and a seat warmer is essential.) This should mean I am less house-bound and dependent on others. Of course my task is to get confident with city driving. I have had my license since age 18 and I have some experience driving, but it is something I have gone to great lengths to avoid in the city. Even when our shared car was available to me I preferred to take transit, walk or car pool.  So I have some work to do, including working up the nerve  for that first solo drive with AJ. There are places nearby I can go, I can choose to avoid high stress times like rush hour, and I have extras like Garmin and AMA membership, so I really have no excuses, although I will probably never understand the Romance of the Car that many people have.

3) Weight

It's not a big deal, but I would like to lose the last 10 pounds or so of baby weight. I feel fine and I'm happy with my body proportions, but I have a wardrobe of clothes that don't quite fit! Especially pants (trousers for UK readers). Pre-pregnancy I liked clothes a lot and bought quite a few, so I would like to be able to wear them again and not have to replace that many things, especially now with a tighter budget. I have been wearing my maternity jeans and knitted leggings, but as I get re-acquainted with my body post-birth I would like to wear real pants again. When I left the hospital I thought I would never wear anything but yoga pants again, but behold, I am moving on! Or at least thinking about it. I have decided to buy a couple of pairs of "real" pants that fit right now, however, so I'm not stuck in maternity jeans on the days that I do care what I'm wearing.

3) Child care for the fall

In my city it's common for parents to put their children on daycare waiting lists well before they are born. Well, if you read my blog during pregnancy you know that daycare was the last thing on my mind. Fine, whatever. But now I have definitely have to think about it, as the assumption is that I'll return to work in the fall. I've made a couple of inquiries; I don't know much yet. I really hate even thinking about child care for AJ, when she is so new and the time with her so precious, but it's not something that can be decided last minute. This could be the most stressful thing I deal with this year.

4) Birth control

Ack, what to think or do? This is one topic that I don't ever recall anyone blogging about! In our last post-natal class, the instructor went to great lengths to tell us how bad it is to get pregnant in the months after birth, how the body is not ready again for 18 months, etc. The general cultural assumption seems to be that you go on birth control after giving birth, because "anything can happen!" but of course that's assuming both partners are (optimally?) fertile. So I will go ahead and ask: Any IFfers who have had a baby (or have an opinion), did you use birth control (not counting breast feeding) and if so what kind? Or did you assume you would be your own birth control? I have such conflicted feelings about this because of course it brings up the question of a second child and if/how/when.

Happy new year to everyone; I hope 2015 brings you closer to your hopes and dreams.

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Friday 12 December 2014

Everything I have to say about being an infertility "urban legend"

This could be a very short post. Actually, I almost didn't write it. Then, I didn't post it for several months. After all, what is there to say about being an urban legend? It's not like I can give anyone advice on how to be an infertility urban legend. I can speculate (and have) about how I became pregnant, but it hardly feels useful to me, never mind anyone else. I could make platitudes like "never give up hope, anything can happen." But while that might be what some people really want to hear, for others it might not be the best advice. Sometimes people do need to give up hope, or rather, to look for hope down a different path. (See this post from An Infertile Man's Perspective for a great discussion of the significance of hope.) Mr. Turtle and I have been in that place of decision a few times in the past 2 years, and we don't take it lightly.

I suppose I should define "infertility urban legend" in case someone hasn't heard the term or used it in this context. I first heard it maybe a year ago, on someone's blog; I want to say the infertile chemist although I'm not 100% sure.  And I certainly read this post by Barefoot and... Basically, the infertility "urban legend" is the woman/couple who were told by experts that they couldn't conceive naturally, went through X diagnostic tests/treatments, possibly gave up hope of having a baby, either naturally or less naturally, and then BAM! got pregnant one day. One often hears about the urban legend from friends/family/acquaintances/strangers who know-someone-who-knows-someone who is an urban legend. The tale of the urban legend may be told to relay hope, to attempt to find common ground, or (this is how I most often perceive it) to stop the infertile person from relating those annoying uncomfortable facts about infertility already.

So why am I writing / finally publishing this piece?

I guess from a vague sense that I want to have some control over how my story is told. I can't really control it, of course, and I knew that when I started writing the blog. Most of my highest-rated posts have to do with the discovery of AJ's conception (i.e. Lightning Strike) and the subsequent drama. I have a few regular commenters (hugs to you all!), but they can't account for all those hits. I have no idea what the goals or motivations of my anonymous readers are and how they will interpret/read/pass on my story (or even if they read it at all. Maybe they were actually searching for stories about people being struck by lightning.) Furthermore, I don't particularly care. I find people's motivations and machinations very entertaining, but I'm not about to take responsibility for them.

Still. I feel like I should have at least one post out here where I state how I feel, so that it at least exists in the internet universe.

So. In no particular order.

1) Being an urban legend does not mean that the pain and fear of infertility goes magically away. Inevitably, after we found out I was pregnant, something we heard most often was "At least now you know you can conceive!" This from doctor, nurses, family. I heard it a lot especially after I feared/was sure we were losing the pregnancy. One of the urgent care nurses actually added "You know, a lot of people can't conceive at all." I didn't have the heart to tell her that I was one of those people. I knew she was trying to comfort/calm me, and I wasn't interested in correcting anyone's perceptions on the verge of a panic attack.

For that matter, I didn't say anything much to anyone who gave us the "at least you can get pregnant" line during that time, but in my mind, the answer always was "if you think I am ever, ever, ever going through this again, you are a fucking turd." The less profane translation being, while I could, barely, barely, imagine some parallel universe where I might find something positive about a miracle conception that ended in loss, there was nothing remotely comforting or hopeful about contemplating life in that universe. Nor is there now.

2) Being an urban legend does not mean that infertility is cured. OK, nobody's actually come up to me and said "Congratulations, you (and Mr. Turtle) not infertile anymore!" But its been, well, implied by some people in my life, who talk about this being the "first one" (and these people do know our history). Again, I have just let those remarks go. But they do touch on a sensitive spot, albeit one I can't really deal with yet. Clearly, the doctors who did our tests and drew the logical conclusions that we could not conceive naturally (or with assistance) did not know everything. But that doesn't mean our tests were wrong or that we don't have issues. I have egg issues, Mr. Turtle has sperm issues. Fertility does not improve with age. Lightning struck once, but can it strike again? Maybe it can, but AJ is also quite likely to be an only child. And that does make me a little sad, although at the same time a healthy living AJ is more than I dared hope for and worth more to me than almost anything in whole universe. Is that paradoxical?

3) "Just relaxing" does not lead to conception. That's hardly news to anyone in the ALI community, but just for the record, AJ was conceived during one of the most stressful months of my recent life. (My life to that point.) First of all, January is a really hectic time at work. Second, we were doing IVF for the first time. Third, IVF failed, and we were told not to bother even trying another cycle of IVF with our own gametes. Fourth, our house was burgled. Some time in between IVF failure and burglary Ember was conceived.  Fun, eh?

On the other hand, even though we had a lot of shit go down, Mr. Turtle and I handled it all quite well. I think the fact that we knew we were going to do IVF had a lot to do with it, because we  expected it to be stressful and were very deliberate about how we handled the stress. I worried less about work than I ever have (because I decided I was going to not care about stupid things). The IVF failure was crushing, but we did have a lot of support and we were able to care for each other and have rational conversations about next steps. The burglary was awful, but we put it in perspective. As I said to Mr. Turtle: "We can feel bad about all the things that happened this month, but we can feel good about how we were handling it." So, yeah, January was stressful, and we were stressed, but we did cope well, all things considered.

4) Control over ourselves - or our pregnancy/child - or anything or anyone - is an illusion. Again, this probably isn't news to anyone, and it shouldn't have been news to me, but. Other than joy-shock-fear, the biggest emotion I felt - and still often feel - with regards to AJ's conception was an overwhelming sense of being utterly helpless in the face of fate. AJ might live and grow, or might not, and in some scenarios at least, no knowledge or action of mine could change the outcome. Whether it's my personality, or the circumstances, or a bit of both, I've been unable to completely look away from this particular piece of knowledge, and sometimes I feel like I'm shattering from the inside out from the sheer awfulness of knowing it.  As my pregnancy progressed uneventfully, the logical part of me felt like the burden should be easier to bear because our story is a happy one. Why am I sometimes so negative? But if good things can be bestowed in the blink of an eye, they can also be taken away. When I come to this dark place, I can feel envious of people who have the consolation of religious faith and practice, because it seems like they have a mental/emotional structure for dealing with the questions, that the rest of us don't. Maybe.

Many years ago, I wrote a poem while walking along the ocean, that ended with these lines:

the waves break and break
but leave no pieces to be picked up.

I break and break and break, but throughout my pregnancy, I held on to the hope that my child and I are like waves on the ocean, and we will both be drawn back into something bigger and deeper than all the small pieces of this experience that I can perceive right now. And I hold on to it still.

Monday 8 December 2014

#Microblog Mondays: Little things that make a big difference

I think I might have some hormonal thing going on because lately I feel what I can only describe as icky a lot of the time, even after shower with clean clothes.

However, yesterday we attended to two things that I hope will help:

1. Haircut (both myself and Mr. Turtle were getting very shaggy)

2. New bras. The two I had were fine at first, but lately the gigantoboobs have not been happy in them.  Right boob also has a tendency toward blocked ducts, which so far has not turned into a major problem, fortunately. I am hopeful  that a different style and size of bra is more comfortable.

AJ: currently napping beside me. going to a Christmas concert tonight.
...has been sounding congested at night, wheezing and thrashing about. She sleeps through it, albeit noisily, but I get rather less sleep as it sounds like she is struggling to breathe. We are going to start using a humidifier and see if that helps. Tried the nasal bulb, but it seems to big for her nose and I don't want to force it in.   Planning to get a NoseFrida too...not sure if that is necessary yet.  I also bring her into the bathroom with me when I shower (sometimes twice a day).

(it really is a microblog this time)

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