The Journey to a Little One to Call Our Own

One gal's experiences dealing with IF, pregnancy, the birth of our first son, parenthood, and doing it all over again with our second son... here is our journey.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Best Night Ever

Max slept through the night! Oh, my gosh, did it feel good to sleep, uninterrupted, all night. Of course, I woke up several times to check to make sure he was still breathing, but he never woke up to eat.

Fell asleep at 9:30 p.m and woke up at 6:15 a.m.

Let's hope this is a pattern, not just a fluke :) He is requiring more milk during feedings and less times to be fed, so hopefully we are all in for some more night-time sleep!

I read so many things about the "magical 6-week mark" of a baby's life - how they are awake more, more content, smiley, sleep longer, lose some of their baby acne, and are overall just more calm. IT IS SO TRUE... literally, the day before Max turned 6 weeks, I started noticing changes, and now, one day after his 6-week birthday, it's like he is a different kid. I love it!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To Freeze or Not to Freeze... That is the Question

Last night, a friend and co-worker of mine came over to meet Max. Her name is Katie, and I've known her for about 4 years. Katie is very independent, very smart, motivated, nice-looking... very type-A personality. She is 35 years old, has a great career and makes well over $100K, never been married, and wants nothing more than to have a wonderful relationship that turns into a marriage. She is very active in the dating scene and keeps wondering when she will meet Mr. Right.

During my 4 years of knowing Katie, she has made it pretty clear that she doesn't want kids. Just not her thing... she is career-focused, likes having freedom, not sure she wants to be a mother, etc. She's been dating guys on-and-off for as long as I've known her using online sites, and she's kept her profile to show that she's not interested in having kids.

So, last night, she tells Mr. D and me that she is considering going to a fertility clinic to have her eggs collected and stored. When I asked her about the change of heart (because, I mean, come on... going from not wanting kids at ALL to now working with a fertility clinic?!), she said that she wants to do this to at least have the option to have kids if she meets the right guy, gets married, and they decide they want children. Plus, she mentioned that 35-year old eggs are "younger" and "better" than if she were to try to achieve pregnancy on her own later in life.

I was in complete shock. Not only is this coming from the friend who only dates guys who know that kids are not in her future, but she nonchalantly mentioned that the fee is $5K to retrieve the eggs and $60/month to store them (and then another $5K or so to put them back)... not a big hit on her pocketbook, I guess. So then I asked what she would do with the eggs if she determined she didn't have a need to use them, and she mentioned donating them.

So, here's my question... and I apologize if it offends anyone reading my blog. Why would you freeze eggs if you're not 10000% sure (yes, I know I typed 10000 instead of 100) that you want kids? I think donating them is fantastic if you aren't going to use them, but I would assume that the purpose of freezing them in the first place is for your own use?

And here's my even bigger question: would you freeze eggs just in case you met the right guy who definitely wants kids? Even if you never really wanted kids?

I know it's really none of my business what Katie does and I will support her in anything she decides, but this just caught me off-guard. Maybe it's because I knew that I wanted kids more than anything, and investigated all of the avenues to do so. She seems to be taking it the opposite way and investigating all avenues and then making the decision of if she wants kids.

I guess there's multiple ways to look at people's fertility journeys.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Healthy Little Man and Pictures

Max was in for his one-month appointment yesterday! Here are his* stats:

(*May I just pause here and mention that it is surreal to be posting Max's information, not my infertility or pregnancy-related info... HCG levels, baby's heartrate, protein levels, etc...)

Weight: 10 pounds, 9.5 ounces = 75 percentile
Length: 22 inches = 75 percentile
Head Circumference: 15 inches = 95 percentile

We have a strong, healthy, growing boy!

I am trying my hardest not to resort to the feelings of "where did the time go" or "I wish he was still only a couple days old" and making sure to live in the present and feel blessed for what we have today instead of dwelling in yesterday. The truth is, Max gets better and better as the days go by, and I need to remind myself that this isn't a dream. He is my son, and he will be here, God-willing, with me for the rest of my life. I get to be this little boy's mother. And although he was smaller, more newborn-ish yesterday than he is today, he will be here tomorrow, will need me to be his Mom, and will still be part of our lives. I don't know if any of that makes sense, but it does to me, and I needed to type it out to feel like I've communicated it somehow.

Here's a few pics of my little man...

Kind if a funny expression on his face, but I love it:

Max LOVES taking naps in his swing:

Love this picture (minus the baby acne):

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Happy One Month, Maxwell!

One month ago, my life changed forever and my little man was born. Ahhhh! Time flies.

We've been having SO much fun. One month ago, as I type, the doctors were starting to hint at a C-section after I was exhausted from hours upon hours of labor. Feels like just yesterday in some respects. On the other hand, it feels like this little guy has been in our lives for months now. We learn something new about him every day.

Here's what we've been up to:

- Max developed a protein allergy a couple of weeks ago, which has sent us on numerous paths to figure out the best food for him. I stopped breastfeeding. Two things contributed to this: one, I had a breast reduction about 10 years ago and wasn't sure if I'd ever get any milk in... turns out, I barely got any; and two, if I was to continue, the pediatrician wanted me to cut out dairy and meat... that was enough to make me quit. Not that I wouldn't have done anything necessary for him, but I was literally getting about 1.5 ounces combined from both breasts when I pumped (which was ALL THE TIME)... not worth it. My pediatrician agreed. So, now we're trying a protein-sensitive formula, which seems to be helping. Time will tell.

- I returned to my love of running. I strapped on my Nikes exactly two weeks after Max was born, and reunited with the road after 9 months. It felt AMAZING. I actually shed some tears after my first run (might have been hormones). I ran about 3 miles this afternoon and keep thinking about a 5K that is going on in our neighborhood next weekend... pretty sure I need to run it :)

- Trying to stay busy while on leave. Maternity leave always sounded really glamorous to me... 12 weeks (or more, in my case) of paid time off work... what could be better?! And, don't get me wrong... it is wonderful bonding time. But I've struggled a bit with normally being so productive and value-added at work (truly, not trying to toot my own horn here) and now transitioning to a different kind of "staying busy". My days are consumed with laundry, feeding, washing bottles, cuddling... all fun stuff, but totally different than my days of wearing suits and stilettos to work and leading meetings in Corporate America all day. So, I've tried to stay busy... joined a Mommy-and-Me class, going to Target (multiple times!), and running errands.

I'll post pics in the next couple of days... need to get to my computer downstairs so that I can download some off our camera!

Happy weekend, everyone!

... And, Happy One-Month Birthday, my little Max... words can't express how much you were wanted and are loved :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Things that Surprise Me

Although I prepared my whole life for the experience of motherhood, there are several things that I have surprised me.

Overall, I learned that I over-prepared, which isn't such a bad thing. Take, for example, my stock pile of diapers:

Yup, I have a 6-month supply. I received some very good advice from our financial planner: once you have enough storage (which, for us, meant April, since that's when we closed on our house), buy a box of diapers every time you make a weekly shopping trip to Target. That way, you'll stock up little by little and can just buy diapers here and there while still keeping a decent supply.

We also bought way too many things that seemed like something we would use. A few examples: wipe warmer, travel bottle warmer, Mothers Milk tea, SwaddleMes (my kid only likes SleepSacks), and the list goes on. But I am glad we over-prepared instead of under-prepared... there's really not much that we've had to go purchase.

But here are some things that have truly surprised me:

About Max:
  • He really does look like my husband and me. It's crazy to see your own flesh and blood that was created. Sometimes I just stare at him and realize how much of a miracle he is.
  • The kid eats. A LOT. I didn't realize how much and how often babies eat. My whole schedule revolves around when the next feeding time is.

About Mr. D:
  • He wanted to be a father just as much as I've wanted to be a mother. Of course, I knew that we both wanted kids, and that our journey with infertility affected us both in different ways, but I never really sat back and realized how much he wanted to be a Dad.
  • He loves me more than I imagined. The hugs, kisses, and snuggles in bed I've received since having Max feel much different now... it's almost like he is thanking me for our son every time he is around me.
About Me:
  • Motherhood fits me. Not that I ever really doubted that it would, but I am surprised at how instinctual and motherly I've become in three short weeks.
  • Although motherhood fits me, I am looking forward to going back to work when the time comes. Not that I am not enjoying time with my son, but I know that I would not be a good stay-at-home-person. I value my career, and Max will value his time interacting with other children at daycare.
  • I loved being pregnant. I lost all of the pregnancy weight I gained (about 20 lbs.) within 10 days of Max's birth, and now weigh less than pre-pregnancy (although I am now working off some of the lovely, chubby-looking skin left over...). I loved how I treated my body, how I ate, how I exercised, how I carried my baby... everything.
  • I am dead-set on working out and getting my old stomach back. I started running on Max's 2 week birthday (only a couple miles), and have been running every-other day since. I need to get rid of the little bit that's left.
  • Although I conceived, carried a healthy baby, and delivered our son, I still consider myself to be on this journey of IF. It kind of irritates me when people who have conceived or had a baby say things to the effect of, "thinking of you who are still struggling" or "I remember dealing with IF... just keep hanging in there." In my opinion, once an IFer, always an IFer. We are all bonded for life, and it seems funny to me that some people who think they used to be IFers feel as though they have "graduated."
The biggest thing that surprises me is how much I want another kid. Max isn't even a month old yet, and I am already thinking about when to pull out my ovulation tester. It's weird. I always have wanted kids to be close together in age (maybe 2-3 years or so), but it's surprising to me how much I have thought about how and when to try for #2. Even more surprising? Mr. D is totally onboard and is thinking about it, too. Given how much time it took us to get Max, I think we are both thinking that we should start at the earliest point we would be okay with. Maybe next summer... who knows.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Max's Birth Story: Part Two

They kept saying that I was progressing really slowly, but that the baby would be born anytime... certainly sometime that morning or early afternoon. But that didn't exactly happen...

I literally slept pretty much all day from 8:30 a.m. until about 8:00 p.m. The times I would wake up is when a nurse or doctor would come in to check on me and need to talk to me, when the medicine would start to taper off, and I could feel contractions again, or I wanted to talk to Mr. D. The doctor came in to break my water at about 10:00 a.m - what a weird sensation. Felt like I took the biggest pee ever all over the bed. TMI alert... Throughout the day, I also bled a lot... the nurses kept saying it was bloody show. I guess I thought that bloody show was just a little blood, but if what I saw was truly bloody show, there was a LOT.

We took some pictures of us in the labor room, but because I looked like absolute hell (pale, no makeup, baggy eyes, drained face, etc.), I'll refrain from posting :) I will, however, now that Max is here, post a family pic soon. I have never posted a picture of myself on my blog (for a long time, I intended to remain anonymous), but feel that now is the right time to share pics of our family. Soon to come :)

Anyway, throughout the day, I was checked numerous times, and little progress was being made. Around 11:00, my doctor finally explained it to me: during labor, the cervix is supposed to open (duh). Two things were happening to mine: first, mine was getting harder and thicker (the opposite of effacing). He had seen this before, but wasn't sure why mine was doing this. In addition to my cervix doing the opposite of what it was supposed to, with every contraction, Max's head was bumping up against my cervix instead of gradually applying more and more pressure to open it. This was resulting in my cervix becoming swollen, and poor Max tilting his head and trying other positions for his head to come out. Eventually, his forehead/eyebrows/eyes were the parts of his head that were trying to come first, when it is best when the top of their head comes first.

Throughout the day, I SLOWLY progressed off and on. As long as I was technically progressing (meaning, dilating further), they wanted me to continue laboring. Every time a nurse or doctor would come in, they would say something to the effect of, "Oh, this won't be long... soon, you'll start dilating really quickly and the baby will be here. Just you wait!"

But by 8:00 p.m. - almost 24 hours after my contractions started - we were losing faith that it would really happen naturally. 8:00 is the last time I remember the nurse saying, "you've progressed" - and at that point, I had made it to 5 centimeters. At 9:00, the doctor came in, checked me, and said that I was still at a 5 and that it was time to start talking about a C-section.

I was really sad. I had just spent almost a whole day in painful labor only to result with a C-section. But there was really no choice. Had there been anyway that I could have delivered naturally, I would have held on hope and continued trying, but my cervix was starting to close. Since my water had been broken, we had a few hours to keep trying, but the doctors said that there was really no way that the baby would come out of a closed cervix.

So, I was given until 9:45 to continue laboring to see if any additional progress could be made. And at 9:45, when I was still at a 5 and my cervix was even more swollen, the decision was made by the doctors, Mr. D and me to go ahead with a C-section.

Within 10 minutes, my doctor, about 7 nurses, 2 anesthesiologists and I were in the operating room. I was given numbing medication and prepped for surgery. They kept Mr. D out of the operating room until I was cut open (not exactly sure why - I am sure there's a policy or something about this), and I kept asking for Mr. D. He finally came into the room in scrubs with the biggest, excited grin on his face. Up until this point, I was exhausted and kind of sad about needing a C-section, but seeing Mr. D so, so excited at that moment completely re-energized me.

Mr. D stayed at my head with the camera and talked to me. I remember him saying how he was so proud of me and how excited he was to finally be a Daddy.

And then I heard, "Okay, you're going to feel a little pressure..." (up until this point, I hadn't felt a thing), which just felt like a little rocking motion in my belly. They told Mr. D to stand up and watch them take our baby out of me. I watched him as he looked over the blanket covering my stomach, and smiled as I saw his expression of complete amazement.

And then I heard the most wonderful sound I have ever heard in my life.

Screaming. It was Max. He was alive, I was a Mom, and he was here.

Mr. D gave me a kiss before a nurse quickly rushed him off to the scale to take pictures of Max being weighed. As they were pulling him out of me, I heard a couple nurses say something to the effect of, "Wow, that's a big baby!" and "He's a healthy, big boy!" I thought for sure that meant he was a 12-pounder. But I soon heard the nurse call out: "Time of delivery: 10:12 p.m. Weight: 8 pounds, 5 ounces. Length: 21.6 inches. Baby Boy."

And then the waterworks started. I cried the whole time as I was being stitched back together. Max cried, too, which made me cry harder... complete happiness. I didn't see him for about 5 minutes as the nurses performed the AP.GAR tests, and I kept asking Mr. D questions from across the room: Does he have all 10 fingers and toes? Does he look healthy? Did he open his eyes? Is he breathing?

Finally, Mr. D came over to my head, and the nurse untied my left arm so that I could put my arm around my son. As soon as I put my arm around him, I stopped crying, and so did Max. We locked eyes and just stared at each other. It was probably the most surreal, amazing moment of my life... this little baby was just pulled out of me, and the second we laid eyes on each other, it's like he knew exactly who I was. Mr. D and I confirmed our name choice of Maxwell within about 5 seconds... we always said we wanted to wait to "see what he looked like," but Max was always our first pick. And after looking at him, we both knew this little guy was a Maxwell.

He was a perfect, healthy little baby boy... just what we had prayed for.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Max's Birth Story: Part One

Although there are a million other things I need to do right now (Max's laundry, our laundry, cuddle with my little guy, dishes.... etc.), I owe it to my blog, my followers, myself, Max, and anyone who's interested to fully document this amazing experience. As I take a sip of my red wine (oh, yeah... it's amazing - and the only thing I really craved during pregnancy), I will begin...

On Tuesday, August 16, I was irritated. I was 40 weeks, 3 days pregnant, still feeling amazing, and seriously doubting if I was ever going to go into labor. It's amazing what was going through my mind... I was truly starting to question if I was even pregnant, or if this was just a huge practical joke and I had just put on some weight and appeared to be pregnant. That Monday, my boss had continued to be the best ever, and told me to have my cell phone close, but don't worry about logging in to work or doing anything work-related. So, I spent most of Tuesday watching The People's Court, Maury Povich, and cuddling with my dog.

Mr. D arrived home from work around 5:00, and we started dinner. Tacos. Never thought tacos would be my last dinner, but it ended up to be. For some reason, when we were doing our weekly grocery shopping the past Sunday, they were out of our regular taco seasoning (we pre-plan all of our dinners for the week... I know, it's a bit OCD, but it keeps us organized). So, we bought a new taco seasoning that ended up being SUPER spicy - which I didn't mind, but did it contribute to putting me into labor? Not sure. Anyway, around 6:30, a huge storm rolled through the Twin Cities area. Lots of rain, some thunder, lightning, and dark clouds. It passed within an hour or so. On top of the spicy tacos, could the storm have started labor? Again, not sure, but looking back, both serve as old wives' tales things that trigger contractions.

At 8:30 p.m, I felt a contraction. I was laying on one couch, and Mr. D on the other as we watched Teen Mom on MTV (yeah, I know... lame, but I am addicted). It was not my first contraction ever, so I really didn't pay a ton of attention to it - sure, it kind of hurt, but I had Braxton Hicks contractions since 20 weeks and real contractions since about week 34, so it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. By 9:00, I had consistently had contractions 4-7 minutes apart, lasting about a minute. Mr. D and I decided to go to bed and watch TV. I continued to have contractions until 11:00 - again, consistently timed and one minute in length. Mr. D, as sweet as he is, had to get up for work in the morning, so fell asleep around 11:00. Both of us were completely unfazed at this point... I truly thought they would go away and we'd be sticking with the original plan of induction on Sunday, August 21. Funny enough, it never really crossed my mind up until that point that I could really be in labor.

I tried to fall asleep around 11:30, but woke up every 5 minutes with a contraction. By midnight, they were more and more painful. I could always breathe through them, but my stomach was as hard as a rock and crunching into a ball laying in bed seemed to be the best position to get through the pain. I woke up Mr. D at 12:30, thinking, this has GOT to be labor. We called Labor & Delivery, and the kind nurse told me we should pack up and go into the hospital, especially since at this point I was overdue. I can't believe I did this, but I actually told her that I was going to wait awhile to see if the contractions would go away. I remember the nurse saying, "Are you SURE? From what you are telling me, you need to go in to the hospital because you are in labor." But I think I was in denial... I truly thought the contractions would stop, and I had a huge fear of going to the hospital and being told to go back home. I thanked her for her help and told her I would call her back if I decided to go in. Mr. D fell back asleep, and I continued laboring for the next 45 minutes (at this point, I was walking around the house, hunched over every time a contraction would start). I finally woke him up at 1:15 and said, "It's time."

Mr. D shot out of bed quicker than I had ever seen and started packing the last-minute items into our hospital bags. In the meantime, I showered, knowing that I wanted to do my hair and shave my legs, armpits, and you-know-where before the big show began. I can't believe I showered and shaved without falling over in pain, but somehow I did. I even got out of the shower, blow-dried my hair, and straightened it (I have pretty thick, long hair, and the drying-and-straightening process takes about 30 minutes). As I was using my blow dryer and straightener, I had to put each down about every 3 minutes so that I could walk fast back to my bed and sit down as a contraction would start. It felt like a TON of pressure and I felt like the baby was coming out as the contractions continued. I wasn't crying, but the pain was pretty bad... I am surprised I never shed tears with the amount of pain I was experiencing.

After my hair was as good as it was going to be and Mr. D had everything in the car, it was time to go. Except... our dog. The plan was for my in-laws, who live about 15 minutes away, to come to our house and get him whenever it was time. But, since it didn't seem that I was going into labor before our scheduled induction, they had went out of town to Wisconsin for one night. So - we called my parents, who live about 5 miles from the hospital and asked them to please meet us there.

The ride to the hospital was the longest ever. We left our house at about 2:00 a.m., and I contracted once every 3-4 minutes. And they were PAINFUL. My dog was sitting on Mr. D's lap and just staring at me... he totally knew I was in pain and didn't know how to make me feel better. We called Labor & Delivery again and told them that we were on our way. My Dad met us at the hospital, gave me a kiss on the cheek, and took our dog. Mr. D and I went through the Emergency entrance and went up to the Family Birth Center. We were escorted into an exam room and I was placed on two monitors - one to monitor baby's heartbeat (which, thankfully, throughout the entire labor and delivery process remained completely normal) and one to monitor my contractions.

I was given a cervical exam at about 2:30 a.m. I was thinking I was at LEAST 3 centimeters dilated, after all of the laboring I did at home. But, no... I wasn't dilated at ALL. I was so pissed at my body. There was NO WAY I could be in this much pain and have this many consistent contractions and NOT be in labor. The nurse had me stay on the exam table for an hour and continue to contract. She thought that I would progress and they would be able to admit me. Their "policy" is to only admit women who are at least 2, if not 3, centimeters dilated. At 3:30, when I was checked again and still at a ZERO, I just about started crying. The nurse could tell that I was definitely in labor, but not sure why I wasn't progressing. So, I was told to walk around the Family Birth Center for the next HOUR and come back to get checked again.

Mr. D and I slowly walked the most painful walk and longest period of my life... I was contracting every 2-4 minutes and they were STRONG. I almost threw up at least 10 times, and gripped the side of the wall every time I had a contraction. Poor Mr. D didn't know what to do, but was such a trooper... rubbing my back and literally holding me up when I thought I was going to collapse. As we were walking, I felt a wet glob fall down my right leg... totally thought it was KY jelly they used during the exam, but nope... it was my mucous plug. I thought I was going to die from the pain and thought for SURE I had progressed.

Around 4:45 a.m., the nurse checked me again and I was still not dilated at all. She actually asked if I had any procedures done to my cervix to hold it together, as she couldn't quite believe that nothing had happened either.

At 5:30, a Doctor from the group's practice came in. She checked me, and I had FINALLY dilated to a ONE (I wanted to scream, 'WTF?? ARE YOU SERIOUS???'). The decision was made to admit me... THANK THE LORD. The Doctor thought for sure that I would just progress from here and the baby would be here in no time.

I was officially laying in a labor room at 6:00 a.m. and was asked if I would like pain medication. "Hell, yes," I said, "Give me anything you got."

I was given an IV and some mild pain medicine right away, and the nurses said that, in looking at how quickly I was contracting (which usually means that I would be progressing quickly), they would recommend an Epidural sooner than later. So, at 8:05 a.m., I was given an Epidural. And it did not hurt a BIT... I had heard so many horror stories, but it seriously felt like a mosquito bite. Within 10 minutes, I was floating on cloud nine... no pain whatsoever. It was lovely. I couldn't feel anything from my belly button down to my toes, but I could care less. The medicines did make me sleepy, though, and I slept for the most of the day. I kept getting woken up by Doctors and Nurses who would come in to check me, but I was exhausted and couldn't have cared less.

They kept saying that I was progressing really slowly, but that the baby would be born anytime... certainly sometime that morning or early afternoon. But that didn't exactly happen...

Part Two of Max's Birth Story coming in the next couple days!