Monday, April 30, 2012

Balancing Act

My Twitter profile reads: navigating my way through grad school and now parenthood. trying daily to find the right balance.

Sometimes I'm not so sure I'm doing a great job of it. Something's always got to give. Lately I feel like it's Simon - though the blog may not be the best evidence of that. I hit the ground running with Simon was 5.5 weeks old with this third year of grad school by teaching two classes and trying to finish my thesis (second year project that will count for my Masters). I feel like I haven't stopped. Christmas was nice - I seem to remember a break then, but that was so long ago now.

For the Fall semester I was supposed to be working 2.5 days a week. In reality it was 4. Thankfully Rob was home with Simon, but I wasn't. This semester I was supposed to work 3 days a week and be with Simon the other 2, in reality that hasn't happened either. It's been 4 or even 5 days almost the whole semester. On some of these "extra" days I've just brought the kid with me, but some times it isn't appropriate, or I just get more done when I'm not chasing a mobile baby who wants to be a toddler. (OMG he's getting so big so fast and he's just started balance standing without holding on to anything.) So he's been going to extra days at daycare.

And I'm torn. Because he loves it there. Kids! Toys! Food! And honestly, I don't mind leaving him. Except that it's not being the mom I want to be. I've already struggled with and come to terms with the fact that I'm really not cut out to be a full time Stay at Home Mom, but I DO want to be home with Simon more days than not. Yesterday, after church we had such a fun day, the three of us playing and laughing. Rob was wrestling Simon and he was crawling to me to keep him "safe" while he giggled so hard. And I realized, I've been missing far to much of that, and when I am with him, I'm fried. Today, I picked him up early, and pushed through the tired and we had the BEST afternoon. An hour at the park and peek-a-boo and chase at home.

But I've gotten so much done this year academically. I taught 2 classes in the fall (bad idea, but live and learn) and one this spring. I finished my coursework (as of next Wednesday) and my thesis is done. Like actually done. As in the paper I've been talking about for the last 18 months is being sent to my readers. When I talk about my paper, it is going to be a different one.  This. Is. Huge. And I'm on to the next thing with an abstract due, and another project that's just been waiting to be written up, and fellowship applications to finish. It's never ending.

I've been asked a few times recently how I "do it all" and the easy answer is that I don't. Our apartment is mostly a disaster and I don't really cook all that much. Balance is so hard to find. And I'm finding that I'm giving up some of the "me" things in order to make up the Simon time that school eats away at. And that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. But the "me" time is important too.

There are two more weeks to this semester, and I switch to a summer schedule. It will be three days a week. And I am going to really work to keep it to that, and to make those days count. Because when I have time to take Simon to the playground and watch him go down the slide by himself, I smile. And I want time for me too. I don't self identify as "just" a mom, or student, or wife, or woman. I am all of these things and more. And giving all parts of me the time they deserve is a key to this balancing act of life.

So while student and mom have been taking precedence lately, I really would like to get back to wife and woman. Rob might appreciate that too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Don't Ignore...

...that this is a common problem. 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility. You very likely know someone with this disease.

Don't ignore that your friend's feelings are real. Don't belittle their pain. Be supportive. Let them know you're willing to listen. Never say, "just relax" or "you can always adopt" or any other number of cliched comments. Don't be offended if they pull away for awhile.

If it's you.

Don't ignore the signs. If you think you may have a problem conceiving, be proactive. Talk to your doctor - and find one who takes your concerns seriously.

This is National Infertility Awareness Week. To learn more check out the links below.

NIAW: My Story {part 3}

National Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-28. This week I'm going to be blogging about infertility.
My Story {part 1} which also has the short version
My Story {part 2}

We did the second Clomid cycle, and conceived, in a crazy month of travel – if you really want to think about it count back and figure out which trip/city/house where it happened…

This second cycle I ovulated! My chart (basal body temperature) left no question of that. For the first time I had a chart that looked “normal.” Five days after ovulation I met with the RE for the first time. Dr. C was awesome. She looked at my charts, rather than dismissing them. She looked at my records and validated my IF and my stress. I didn’t realize how much I just needed to hear “I know this is really stressful for you.” And then at the end of the visit she said, “I have no doubt that you will be parents.” Dr. C was the first doctor in 10 years who I felt took my concerns about my fertility seriously.  She didn’t dismiss my stress. She didn’t brush it off making it an “easy fix.”

Dr. C did a bit of blood work, including the genetic screening that is standard (I’m not a carrier for anything common!) and said that since I had the known problem (not ovulating) and that Clomid seemed to be working, that we should stick with a minimally invasive plan for the time being. I was given a refillable prescription for Clomid and told to come back in three months if not pregnant. - At that time we would discuss changing the meds, upping the dosage possibly adding Metformin, a couple of other things. And also discuss if running any tests on Rob should happen. I left that appointment knowing we were in good hands and at least for a couple of weeks relaxed that even if it took awhile we would be ok.

But instead of filling that prescription, I took a pregnancy test on October 25. It was a bit early to test, but it was a Tuesday. And Tuesday in 2010 meant kickball. So I took the test because I wanted to know if I could drink. I fully expected it to be negative. But I got out of the shower and there was the faintest of lines. I was a shocked. I woke up Rob and showed him the test and he didn’t believe me at first – but a line is a line. An aside here, he had been out late the night before, I can’t remember why, but I do remember he was not in a very good mood that Tuesday morning. So not the “yay we’re pregnant moment” I had imagined. I just really didn’t think I was pregnant this cycle.  Over the course of the day it started to sink in a bit that this could be real. So on the way to kickball, we bought another test – which I took the following morning. This one was a digital test, so no ambiguity. I asked Rob to look and he said “it doesn’t say not pregnant.”

I called Dr. C’s office and went in for a beta HCG test. I went in for 2 more, the numbers looked great and then for an early ultrasound at 5 weeks.  This was too early for a heartbeat but we saw the sac and confirmed a single uterine pregnancy. At 7 weeks Rob came with me for a second ultrasound. Here we saw our little tadpole with a strong heartbeat. Rob cried. Definitely one of the best moments of my life.

Now I was pregnant and moved to my OB. But although the stress of “can I get pregnant” was gone, it wasn’t perfect. I knew too much maybe, through all of my research and blog reading, I knew about miscarriage and early and late loss. Even though Dr. C said that chance of miscarriage had dropped to almost nothing, in the back of my mind I worried that it had been too easy. I knew women who suffered so much, so why did I deserve to have it so relatively easy, minimally invasive and 2 cycles. I worried I hadn’t suffered enough and didn’t deserve to be so happy. I know these thoughts are not rational. I prayed a lot and had to trust God that this would work out. And that infertility and pregnancy and loss aren’t about deserving anything. Sometimes life really sucks and sometimes we are able to just be happy.

Around 10 weeks I was able to finally let go of most of these intrusive parts and just enjoy being pregnant. I had a good pregnancy. Severe motion sickness wasn’t so awesome, but there was nothing abnormal, no bed rest, I enjoyed being pregnant.  My labor and delivery were traumatic and I had some bonding issues once Simon arrived.  This was a whole other kind of guilt, that I had wanted this baby so much, and worked to get him, and now I was second guessing my wish to be a mom and not head-over-heels in love. But that came. And I can hardly remember life without Simon, because he’s awesome.

Our future…I don’t know. I work really hard to let stress go. And if we had not gotten pregnant, I would have been ok. Simon’s birth was traumatic enough that afterward I said I would be ok with just one kid. And I still would be. But now that he’s 9 months old, I do want to be pregnant again someday. I was on the fence about if I would go to the RE again (twins really scares me) but we’ve talked. And since minimally invasive worked once, we are open to Clomid again. I’m still nursing so that has an impact, but I’m seeing the signs that my body is going to behave the same as always with crazy long cycles and spotting but no period. I have a couple of big school milestones that I need to put behind me before trying again. But when I’m ready back to Dr. C we go. Hopefully it will work. And if it doesn’t we’ll decide from there. It’s nice to have a plan.

Monday, April 23, 2012

NIAW: My Story {part 2}

National Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-28. This week I'm going to be blogging about infertility. 
My Story {part one}, which also has the short version.

During this time I started researching. I found a lot of information and a lot of blogs of women with situations similar to mine and different, but all stories of IF and wanting a baby.  In February of 2010, a few months after going off the pill, I went to see and OB/Gyn at the office where my doctor once worked. She got married and moved away, so I went with whoever took my insurance. At first I thought I liked Dr. P ok. I think he ran some bloodwork (LH, FSH, testosterone, progesterone) and an ultrasound to check my ovaries, which were covered in tiny cysts. At any rate he gave me a prescription for Provera to start a period and Clomid (50 mg) to make me ovulate when I was ready.

So I waited and researched and tried not to stress to much as we weren’t really “trying” yet. How can you be trying when there is no cycle and I haven’t actually started IF treatment. But I was scared. Scared of all the eventualities that this wouldn’t work. Or that it would be difficult. Or take years. The only person I knew directly had had multiple miscarriages and two children after IVF.  Even though we weren’t trying, we were because weren’t preventing. There was a part of me – a big part maybe – that was hoping it was all in my head and we would get pregnant in this waiting time. Even though biologically this isn’t possible if you aren’t ovulating. And even though we weren’t trying every pregnancy announcement hurt a little. It’s not that I wasn’t happy for my friends. I was. Thrilled for them even. But it hurt knowing that it might not be me. I think I was scared of the unknown.

I talked to a friend who is an acupuncturist, who also used Clomid for her first. This was a relief to hear that sometimes, it does work on the first try. I started acupuncture and changed my diet. I cut as much sugar and carbs as I could. And then I took the Provera and we were officially TTC. I didn’t ovulate with 50 mg. I called Dr. P’s office and said as much, and got an appointment for the next week. He would not give me an ultrasound to check for ovulation, but said that based on my cervical mucus he was pretty sure I ovulated. I told him I was sure I didn’t and he needed to do something. So they drew blood for a progesterone check (it came back 2) and gave me a prescription for 100 mg of Clomid. Then said to me “your young, just relax, it will happen.” Never, never say to anyone TTC to just relax but especially not if you are the doctor who just prescribed fertility medication. Because relaxing really isn’t going to help. And yes I get that he was likely trying to help me stay calm and not stress too much and remind me that this was early in the game, but seriously, find a different phrase.

A few days later I met with a friend who has decided to live child-free. Isn’t it amazing how I now know three people who’ve suffered IF? It’s really more common than you might think. She asked me why I would ever go back and suggested I just call the RE. Which I had been putting off, again because I was scared of the unknown and scared of making this real, like it was fake at this point or something.

But I called the RE and made the appointment. The first opening was four weeks away. At some point Rob and I sat down and really talked about treatment. We were ok with Clomid. I wasn’t really excited about the idea of possibly having to inject myself with drugs, but we were ok with IUI. IVF however makes me really uncomfortable for a variety of reasons, so it was taken off the table. Rob is not interested in adoption so that was off the table. Rob is fine living child free, he never had the desire to have children until he met me, so while he’s on board with babies, he’s also ok with no children. I could be ok with living child free – I think, so we agreed that if Clomid and IUI did not work we would reevaluate. I had been putting off this conversation because I felt like we weren’t “there” yet and why talk about this until we’re ready to cross that bridge. But seriously, I felt so much calmer after really talking about the pros and cons of possible treatments and how we felt about them.

And what I want to say here to anyone who’s found this post because you are currently struggling with IF: Every decision about what treatment to pursue or not pursue is an individual decision to be made with you and your partner. You will have personal reasons that are your own. So our reasons for not wishing to pursue IVF or adoption are our own and right for us at the time of discussion. We hold the right to change our position on this in the future.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

NIAW: My Story {part 1}

National Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-28. This week I'm going to be blogging about infertility and I’ve never really blogged about my infertility (IF) before. I talk about it, and when we were trying to conceive (TTC) I found a great community of IF bloggers, but this blog at the time was primarily read by family and IRL friends and I wasn’t comfortable sharing the nitty gritty of the details. Partly because it seemed a little weird to me, and partly because I wanted to be able to tell in my own time when we did finally become pregnant. So this is my story.

Here’s the short version. I’m infertile. I have an ovulation disorder. GYN said PCOS, RE said probably not rather PCOS like. It doesn’t really matter because I don’t ovulate. After a year of stress over “what if” while we waited to start treatment I did two cycles of Clo.mid (one 50 mg, one 100mg) with my Gyn, who told me after the first failed cycle “you’re your, just relax, it will happen.” I got the courage to call the RE the following week – it was a month before the appointment which was 5 days after ovulation. The RE validated my stress, made me feel comfortable, and talked to us about a plan starting non-invasive and where we could go if that didn’t work. But I was already pregnant. And now Simon is here.  When we’re ready to try again, we’ll go to the RE first.

The long version with details, possibly too many details, and in installments.

The first time I worried about my fertility I was in high school.  I had a long to non-existent cycle.  For awhile I had fairly consistent 6 week cycles that over time stretched to every 9 months or so. I asked the doctor, who was my pediatrician, about having kids some day. She told me not to worry and sent me to Plan.ned Par.enthood for a prescription for the pill. For the next seven years or so I was mostly on the pill, but when I was off, I rarely had a period. 

I saw a new doctor in 2006, after I’d moved to NYC and this was the first time I heard PCOS.  She didn’t make it sound like it was a big deal, and when I asked her about fertility she said “don’t worry about it, we can just give you a pill to make you ovulate when you’re ready for that.”  Like magic or something. Oh, how much I’ve learned since then.  I stayed on the pill. Dated some.  Met my husband.  Got married. Talked about having kids and when we thought we’d like to try.

Just before I started graduate school I thought I might be pregnant. I’m really, really horrible about remembering to take the pill, and since getting pregnant on our own would have been a happy surprise, I never stressed too much about it. But taking that test was scary, because the thought I might actually be pregnant was scary.  The test was negative. I breathed a sigh of relief, but at the same time was a little disappointed.  That’s how I knew I was about ready to start this journey.  I just had to get Rob on board and figure out if even trying to have a baby in grad school was feasible.

I went to see my nurse practitioner for my yearly exam and asked her when, if I wanted to get pregnant a year from now (which would be after the first year of school), I should go off the pill. I told her I didn’t have a cycle without the pill, and thought I would likely need some kind of IF treatment. Her response was to go off the pill now, because I don’t know what my body will do because I’ve been on the pill for so long. So I did, I knew what my body would do, but this way I would at least have proof, and that waiting period of 6 months to a year before a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) will see you out of the way. I had a 45 day cycle, ovulating on day 31 and then I went 187 days and nothing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Simon is a bit young for an egg hunt, but that doesn't mean he can't have an Easter basket.  I got this adorable custom bucket from Chloe Tate on Etsy. And since Simon doesn't eat candy I filled it with some other goodies: bath toys, a baby language DVD, a mini tambourine and two mini cups that match the ones Rob got me last year. Grandma Connie sent the plush bunny and Grandma Val the basket with books and the sock monkey-bunny. Mostly Simon just looked super cute. Even with all the snot.

Monday, April 16, 2012

9 months

 Another month down and quickly closing in on one year. Another month of new developments too.
At the nine month appointment Simon weighed in at 16 lbs. 14 oz., a skinny little squirt, but 28 inches long!
 Crawling is getting fast, we really have to pay attention because only the living room is really baby proofed, and if you turn for a second he's in another room.  This month Simon discovered the bathroom and the toilet.  I'm waiting for him to pull down the shower curtain while I'm spraying diapers.  Mostly I keep the bathroom door closed.  Same for his bedroom which also houses Rob's computer.  We talked about moving it out, but if the computer is in the living room it's that much more accessible.  Watching Simon crawl is funny because he's started switching from his knees to feet for a few crawls.
 Pulling up an cruising are the preferred method of mobility.  Our living room (and the room at daycare) are set up with lots of things that Simon can grab to go from item to item. When he gets to a spot where he can't reach the next thing, he will yell until we come help, or crawl, but mostly yell.
This month climbing was mastered.  First at the playground and at a couple of houses that have stairs.  Rob takes Simon to the playground two or three nights a week before bed time.  Simon climbs the stairs and crawls to the slide.  Down he goes then around and climbs again.  It's a pretty good workout for the little guy.  Simon also got some new shoes that have rubber pads on the bottom so he can climb outside and not slip. He has tiny little feet, about a size 2.5.
He's also getting pretty good at walking by holding on to our hands.
Just before his 9 month birthday (which was last Monday the 9th by the way) Simon mastered clapping.  Yay Simon!!!  At first it was mostly mimicking, but now he claps when he's happy and laughs while he's doing it.
Still only 2 teeth, but eating most everything.  Veggie chips are a huge hit. I know they probably aren't great for him, lots of salt, but he loves them and if he's fussing a couple will usually calm him down.  My favorite part is that Simon decided he likes bottles.  The second half of this month he averaged 10-12 ounces a day.  This is huge! And he's sleeping better.  8:30 - 5:45 multiple nights in a row. It's not perfect, but I'll take it.  Naps are still hit or miss though. My guess is that the eating and sleeping are connected.
Lot's of babbling still.  Mamama, dadada, bababa. He knows his name and will respond when he wants too. He knows that "not for you" is what we say when he's doing something he shouldn't.  He'll look at you and then do it anyway.  But he checks first if you're watching, like he's trying to get away with something. I *think* he may be saying "mama" with meaning some of the time.  When I get home he'll usually start babbling mama, and reaching for me. I still don't know that I would call it a first work though.  He won't mimic with babbling, but he will with yelling "Hi / Ha" and with "Rawr."
He loves to play with soft things. He has Lamby, Puppy, Bunny, & Bot. He likes to lay on his monkey mat and will snuggle and "talk" to it's face. The stacking rings are an old classic and a huge hit along with the shape sorter toy.  We also have a little basketball goal that he loves to climb on and play with the balls. There is a lever that when the ball goes through the hoop causes the toy to cheer.  Mostly Simon just stands and sticks his fist on the lever.  Funny kid. 
This little guy just keeps getting better and better.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lab Rat

Since Simon was five months old we've been going to the Child Development Lab at the campus I work on to participate in infant research. The research is about infant locomotion and cognitive development.  We are doing a diary study, where I've been filling out a daily checklist of motor and language activities since December and will continue until about 18 months.

We also did a reaching study, and today we rode the bus for the second of five visits for an "A not B" study.  We left early and took the subway to the Express Bus.  Simon got his own seat before deciding to take a nap on my lap.

Then when we got to the lab he was in his best mood of the entire day. I'm so glad he used it up for the study. First he crawled to me down the paths. After five tries down path A, I moved to path B and he came right to me. Rob and I love this "thinking" face; he started it a couple of weeks ago and the pout is priceless.

After the paths we moved on to tunnels.  Five tries on tunnel A, then I moved to tunnel B. He didn't even look to see where I was and just zoomed down tunnel A. Then when I wasn't at the end he was a little confused until he saw me.  Then he came to get the new toys.

Oh how he loves to play with new toys.  We'll go back again when he can take 10 steps by himself. I've got myself a little Lab Rat.

Friday, April 6, 2012


after a late pumping session on a day I'd forgotten some pump parts...oops

Just before Thanksgiving I read this post, the first I heard about Jackson and Reverie.  The post showed up in my blog feed, linked from one of the blogs I read regularly. As with anytime I hear of a baby loss, and now in this case the loss of a mother, I hugged Simon a little tighter, lingered a little longer while nursing (one of the few times he's still and cuddly) and said a little prayer for the family. Because of my own C-section and the fear and trauma that accompanied it, I don't think I mentioned this story to Rob.

A few days later I saw an email in my neighborhood mom's group asking for breast milk donations for the twins. I took note of the request, but as I don't actually know the family or the mother making the request, I passed not knowing if they would want a milk from a stranger.

A few months later I saw a second call out asking for donors.  Some of the original donors had weaned their nurslings, or were no longer able to pump enough for their own baby and have extra.  I had 70+ ounces sitting in my freezer. Simon was not taking a bottle well (choosing to make up his deficit by nursing extra at night and increasing my supply even more) and I knew that I was going to end up throwing out a milk as it expired. Breastmilk is only good frozen for about 3 months.

So I answered the email. I included basic medical details about myself and Simon, and linked to my blog - as I figure this is the best way for a stranger to get a glimpse of who I am. I had 50 ounces ready to go. And thus began my journey as a milk donor; something I never thought I'd do.

I didn't know how I would feel about nursing while I was pregnant.  I knew I wanted to, and I was lucky to have a very good support system in place. Going to a Le Leche League meeting before Simon was born and reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding are two of the best things I did to prepare for a baby.  I never had supply issues. And once I learned how to help Simon latch properly on day 2 in the hospital I never had any pain or problems.

I didn't immediately love it, it was a way to feed him, it was easy, cost nothing and good for us both. Simon is a snacker, in the beginning nursing 12-15 times a day, but for a maximum of 10 minutes at a time. I think at almost 9 months we are down to an average of 8 times a day. And I really don't want to think about what my attachment would have been like had I not been nursing. Today we have a good nursing relationship. He smiles at me and laughs because he enjoys it so much.  I'd kind of like to cut down on the pinching and clawing of my face and the distractablility when we are in public, but I'll take it.

Breastfeeding is the one thing that's always been easy. I am grateful for this and know we are lucky. The bottle however has been a struggle. I pump plenty and have a love / hate relationship with my pump, but Simon doesn't like the bottle. Up until 6 months it was rare for him to ever take more than 5 ounces in a 12 hour stretch when I was gone.  Since starting daycare we are up to about 8. But I'm still pumping 12-15 each day, so lots of extra.  The build-up led to the donation.  I am working on a small stash for when we travel this spring, but other than that it was going to go to waste.

I'd heard of breast milk donation, but didn't really get it.  It wasn't something I'd ever considered for Simon and being a donor didn't cross my mind until the great surplus.  The last two weeks Simon has suddenly upped his bottle in take, so I don't know how much longer I will have extra.  But I'm willing to donate as long as I do and someone wants it.

I've helped coordinate two drops for Western Queens now with other mother's dropping off of me picking up donations and scheduling a delivery to one of the family's nannies. The first drop was a Styrofoam cooler full with 187 ounces; for the second drop I took a large freezer bag with 256.  The story has continued to spread.  I was interviewed, though not quoted for this Wall Street Journal article. I really can't imagine what Jay and his family are going through, but the twins are thriving, and it feels really good knowing I'm doing something to help.