Author Archives: Wannabemom

A Fertile World

I look like one of them now.  A fertile.  To the unknowing eye, I’m just another chic with a baby.  In some respects, it’s okay.  I’m just a mommy.  The path doesn’t matter.  But it does matter because even though I’m a mommy, I’m still an infertile.  And I’m reminded that time and time again while I play house in a world of fertile moms.

Now that I have a baby, it’s better.  The bitter has tamed down a bit.  I can feel happiness for others more easily now.  There is a peace.  Because regardless of what the future holds, I am Max’s momma (and Abby’s too, but the world doesn’t count her).

The other day I was in a local store picking out a wrap in which to wear Max.  And the woman serving me while breastfeeding her toddler, flippantly said in regards to whatever it was she was talking about, “I’ll have another baby”.  And I was taken aback by it in such a strange way.  She was so sure.  She, like so many, didn’t give it a second thought — there will simply be another.

Oh to be so confident.

I haven’t got it yet, but a friend asked me the other day if people have started asking when/if I’ll be having the next one yet.  She said it started for her at the 3 month mark.  C has got it though and took great joy in making his co-worker squirm with his response “well, we’ve got one more in the freezer, so we’ll see”.

I think I’ll steal his response when the time comes.

 


Worth It

A few weeks ago we ran into a teaching acquaintance of C’s.  She was from the school where he was working when we lost Abby, so she was aware of our struggles to get to where we are.  She cooed over Max, like everyone does a new baby.  But it was what she said that left an impression.

“It makes it all worth it, right?”

When I look at my beautiful, perfect, little baby boy, am I glad I didn’t stop fighting?  Hell yes!

But was it worth it?  I don’t know why this has stuck with me.  Perhaps it was the flip way that this stranger said it to me… because I don’t know her at all.  Maybe I’m too sensitive.  To my ears, it almost sounded like what she meant was that everything we went through, the infertility, the loss, is what is expected to get a baby at the end.  That if you fight hard enough, it will happen.  An infertile knows this isn’t true.  It’s sheer luck.  Maybe it strikes a chord, because I’m still so incredibly envious of all the people who make it look easy.  Snap their fingers and they have all the babies they need to make their families complete.  I’m working on it.  I really am.  I’m trying to let it all go.  But it’s a process…. backed up by lots of years of disappointment and hurt.

Was it all worth it?  Would I do it all again to get to my son?  How do I say ‘no’?  How do I say ‘yes’?  Losing Abby broke me in ways that I’m not sure can ever be fixed.  Have I walked away from that experience a stronger person?  Sure.  And it sure as hell has made me value every moment of my son’s life right from the very beginning of knowing he survived transfer and burrowed himself a spot inside me.

Why did it have to be so hard?  Why did the path have to be so long and windy and full of potholes?  Will I ever find meaning in the “journey”?  Will that make it better?  Will it all make sense one day?  I don’t know.  I might just need to eventually let it all go and stop searching for a greater purpose.

Was it worth it?

My son is the best thing I ever did with my life.  Being a mom is the most important job I’ve ever had.  He makes me want to be a better person and the best momma I can possibly be.  That’s all I know.


The Visit

A couple of weeks ago, Max and I made the trek back to our fertility clinic to show him off.  I have stayed in touch with my favourite nurse, and had emailed him when Max was born with a picture and the details.  I also sent a Christmas card with Max’s newborn Christmas photo in it, but it was time for a face-to-face meeting.  The clinic also has a “wall of success” (actually several walls now) where they put all the babies’ footprints.

I have waited so long to have footprints on that wall.  The way the clinic is set up, one has to walk past these footprint-decorated walls to get from the waiting area and blood rooms to the ultrasound and other treatment rooms.  I walked through with longing on so many occasions.  So many times, wondering if I would ever have my child’s feet on that wall.

maxfoot

 

It was so emotional.  To walk through those doors with my little miracle.  I know they see them all the time, but it was an inexplicable feeling.  Tears were shed as that little foot went on the wall.

I got pictures of Max being held by my favourite nurse — he was instrumental in this journey — and pictures of him being held by Dr. M.  I couldn’t tell you the name of the doctor who delivered my baby, and while I could tell you about my actual MFMs, nobody in the medical field was as important as the people at that fertility clinic.  We wouldn’t have Max without them.  I am eternally grateful for the day that my favourite nurse picked up the phone and told us we could come back — it was one of the darkest days of this infertility journey where I was absolutely sure I would lose my mind (and my will to keep going) and he saved me by doing what they do — helping people (all people without discrimination) have babies.

When Dr. M was holding Max he asked when we’d be back to make another.  I told him we had one little frostie in the freezer and that I hoped he could work his magic again.  I don’t know if we’ll be lucky enough to strike gold twice, but we’re sure going to try.  There’s room for more feet on that wall…


The Club

The infertile is an outsider to a very important club.  The mommy club.  We’re like little children standing outside the toy store window — always on the outside looking in.  So desperately wanting in.  I can’t count how many times I was asked “do you have kids” and when I answered “no”, it was like I was immediately disqualified because I couldn’t possibly understand if I didn’t have kids.  It was like a kick to the gut every time.

One of my biggest peeves is when clients would do it.  Not necessarily to me (although sometimes), but towards their F&CS workers.  “Blah, blah, blah… stupid worker doesn’t even have kids, what does she know?”  Yeah, because if F&CS is at your door, you’re obviously doing a bang up job.

The first time I realized I was part of the club was right after Christmas.  Max was almost one month old and we were out doing some “boxing day” shopping.  I left Chris with Max in the stroller to try on some clothes in the change room and the sales woman started talking to me about sleep deprivation and having a new baby.  Soon, a woman who was waiting for someone in the change room chimed in.  And we were all talking about our babies and sleep and feeding.  Just like that, I was part of the club.

Most days, it still doesn’t feel real.  There’s a part of me that keeps waiting for someone to take him away from me.  “Time’s up, we were just kidding, give him back”.  It’s probably why I don’t want to miss a moment of time with him.  Sometimes I find myself holding him while he sleeps and I’m thinking of all the things I could be doing if I just put him in his swing to sleep.  But I keep holding him.  Because even if no one takes him away from me, one day he won’t want to be held all the time.  I feel like I need to make the most of every single moment.

I wonder if all parents feel this way or if infertility and loss does something to you?  Does it make the parenting experience different?  Did my hard-fought battle to join this exclusive and elusive club make me a different kind of momma?  I’m not sure.  I just know that it has made me the kind of momma — the kind of person — that doesn’t take any of this great gift — this club membership — for granted.


Time Passes

I blink and weeks have passed since I’ve written here.  I compose posts in my head but I always opt for Max-snuggles over screen time.  In fact today, a snowy day in Southwestern Ontario, I did little more than snuggle my son.  I could have put him down once he fell asleep but why?  Time passes so quickly and one day I won’t be able to snuggle him all day.

So I’m going to offer up a summary post of things and goings-on.  Each deserves it’s own post likely, but you do what you can do.

Abby Day — Another January 26 came and went.  Two years since we said goodbye.  A little easier this year but I’m still haunted by the wonderings of what might have been.  In some respects, it’s almost harder to think of Abby while holding her little brother.  I look at him and feel such sadness that I never got to look at her in the same way.  I’ll never know what kind of kid she would have been.  Having a baby is no longer an abstract concept for me and it has changed my grief for the one that I lost.

***

Breastfeeding — Thank you for all of your comments and support.  I bawled my face off the day I decided we were done but I’ve accepted where we’re at.  I’m still pumping 4-5 times/day, so Max is getting about 1/3 or more of his daily milk from me.  I’ve decided I’ll pump as long as it’s worth it in terms of output and until it drives me nuts.  And he’s still doing his morning feed from the bo.ob.  Funny thing is, when we decided to stop nursing, he became a better nurseling!  So sometimes he’ll nurse throughout the day too when I haven’t pumped in a while and my bo.obs are extra full.  It’s enough for me.  Because if I was being completely honest with myself, I didn’t love nursing.  I loved the idea of it and I would have loved it if everything worked perfectly.  But it didn’t and it just stressed me out.  And I’m not a big fan of nursing in public places.  I hate that nursing cover and I wouldn’t just let it all hang out because I wouldn’t want to make other people uncomfortable.  Maybe it all would have been different if things worked properly.  I watch other breast-feeding moms do it with such comfort and ease and there is still a sense of “why not me”.  But then I give Max his bottle and watch how happy he is to drink his milk and nothing else really seems to matter.

***

Max — oh my goddess how I love this child!  He’s smiling and cooing and more interactive now.  He’s such a sweet boy and an easy baby.  He cries when he’s hungry and when he’s tired.  Can’t ask for better than that.  Sure, he has his fussy days but it’s really nothing.  And he’s finally growing!  After weeks of barely skimming by at his weight checks with the LC, at his 2 month appointment/vaccines, he had gained 2 lbs in two weeks!!!  Which kinda made me feel like an asshole because he clearly wasn’t getting enough milk.  Now he needs to slow down on the growth because my almost 10 week old baby is almost all grown out of his 3 month clothes and sporting some of his 6 month clothes.  He’s 14lbs 5 oz and 24.5 inches as of last week.  My healthy boy!


Old feelings are new again

This post is about breastfeeding.  And how I suck at it.  Well at least that’s how the Committee of Assholes talks to me.

We’ve had a rough go from the start.  I didn’t have Max with me for very long when he was first born and then I could’t go see him in the nursery for about 12 hours as I recovered from the forced delivery of the stickiest placenta known to womankind.  By the time I got to him, he was on formula for his low blood sugar and had a soother stuck in his mouth.  I started breastfeeding him right away but only a few hours later, he was diagnosed with bad jaundice and had to go in the tanning booth.  He continued to need the soother since he was in there unless he was eating and being changed.  And he had to keep drinking formula to flush the bilirubin out.

We saw the hospital LC the day after we were released and had to come back for the bilirubin test.  She told me then to ditch the bottle if I wanted to EBF because in a short time, he would reject the breast.  Enter the feeding tube (a.k.a. the thing that made me nearly lose my marbles).  The feeding tube was placed in a bottle of formula which I would stuff into my bra strap for holding.  Then I would fight with the little tube to get it perfectly in place so Max could suck and still be at the breast.  It was a bloody fucking nightmare.  Ideally you are supposed to tape it to your breast but that never worked for me.  So I was constantly readjusting the tube because it would move… or Max would get the tube wrapped around his hand an pull it out.  Feedings were taking up to an hour or more sometimes.

We continued to see an LC through our family doctor pretty much every week after his one week check up.  I was taking Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle.  And after 2 or 3 weeks I got put on Domperidone.  And now I’m on the highest dose at 4x10mg, 4 times/day.  My supply is still crap.  When I pump without a feed — that’s right — we also have a rented hospital grade pump and I’ve been pumping after feeds to try to increase supply.  Got that puppy the day after our release from hospital too.  So when I pump without a feed, I’m getting about 2-3 oz.

Just after 5 weeks, we got the okay to ditch the feeding tube and switch to a bottle.  Sanity restored instantly!!  We bought a special Medela bottle that has very slow flow and reduces nipple confusion/drinking too fast.  All this time, Max was not gaining weight like he was supposed to.  Hence the continued visits to the LC for weight checks.  We were giving him bottles at every other feed in addition to breastmilk.  While he was peeing and pooping fine and did not seem dehydrated, he just wasn’t gaining.  We went up to formula at every feed and that’s when he started to gain.

Probably in the last couple of weeks, he began pulling off the breast.  We attributed this to slow flow.  I don’t know if this is truly the case or if it was nipple confusion, because I think he started it after the switch from the the tube.  Over the weekend, he flat out refused to nurse.  Screamed blue murder at the breast.. and then happily gulped back 5oz of formula from a bottle when offered.  When this happened a couple more times, I just gave up.  It’s torture to offer my breast and have him be so unhappy.  I’m pretty sure feeding your baby shouldn’t feel like child abuse.

So I think I’m done.  And I feel like a failure.  Logically, I know that he’ll be just fine on formula.  We’re both happier — well, he’s happier, I’m less stressed.  But it brings up so many old feelings.  I can’t make a baby, I can’t keep a baby living and I can’t breastfeed.  I am less than.  Funny how this experience can negate that fact that I grew a perfectly healthy, full-term, ginormous baby boy that I delivered without any drugs.  All the confidence and good feelings washed away but the immense guilt of faulty boobs.  So much anger at a body that’s failing me once again.  So much wondering if things could have been different “if only”.  Such a feeling of loss of another experience taken away from me.

I posted my defeat on Facebook and was shocked by the support and all the people who either commented or messaged me to say that I wasn’t alone.  So many people struggled to breastfeed and ultimately switched to formula.  Why the hell does nobody talk about it?!  It’s almost as taboo as infertility and loss for crying out loud!  So much guilt out there for those can’t or don’t want to breastfeed… when there’s a whole club of us!

Max will still breastfeed at his early morning feed — because he’s too dopey to protest and because my boobs are full of milk.  Although this morning, the little dude slept extra long and needed a bottle too before he was happy to go back to sleep.  I guess we’ll continue on like that as long as he will.  And I’m still pumping when I can.  Two pumping sessions gets me enough for one feed.  I’ll do this for as long as I can and for as long as it’s worthwhile.  I can’t say I’ll keep it up if my supply starts to dwindle.  I booked an appointment to meet with the LC tomorrow — even though we were “dismissed” last Friday due to the good weight gain.  There’s a big piece of me that is relieved to formula feed — so much easier and less stressful.  But there’s still a part of me that doesn’t want to “give up” — and she needs to make sure that there is nothing else she can do.  C asks me what I was hoping to get the LC to “fix” — and I don’t know.  What I really want is to be able to breastfeed my child with ease to his satisfaction.  But I don’t think that’s ever going to be possible.  I have to make sure.  I don’t want to have any regrets — because there have been so many regrets along this “journey” to Max.


Pictures

I know that a lot of folks struggle with posting pictures of their babies on their “infertility” blogs because it will be painful for those still “in the trenches”.  I will admit, that I have, in the past, stopped reading the blogs of “resolved” women when their blogs became mommy blogs.  I just couldn’t handle it.  I fully expect to lose some readers, and I’m okay with that.  I know reading about babies — even hard won ones — is painful when it’s all you want in the whole world.  But Max is everything I’ve been fighting for over the last nearly 5 years of infertility and loss, and if I want to share his beautiful face or write about being a mom, I will — with no apologies.  If you are in a place to read along, great.  If not, I understand…. far too well.

Below is a shot from our newborn photo shoot.  Max was absolutely unco-operative!  He’s not such a happy guy in the morning (at that point) (honestly, that might be the one thing he got from me!) and he was a total crank pot at the shoot.  We didn’t get to do them until he was 16 days old, so he was beyond that mushy sleep through absolutely everything “newborn” phase from the really early days.

I’ve also added a final “bump” picture in the bump picture page.  And I’ve started a new page with Max’s monthly photos.  I hope you enjoy his adorable-ness as much as I do!

MAX 2013 (55 of 119)


Enjoy

Happy New Year!

Last year, in a wine-induced haze, I wrote this post. I was so defeated by all that 2012 had thrown at me. So many times, just ready to give up. But somehow, there was still some fight in me.  And 2013 proved to be the year where my strength paid off.  It was “my” year.  In so many ways, it was good to us.  Not that the year wasn’t without it’s challenges — but that’s just life, I suppose.  But everything seemed so much more manageable, knowing that a life was growing inside me.  It’s really quite amazing how much energy infertility and grief takes from you… how difficult it makes everything in your life.  For me, anyways.

Every year since 2009, I have picked a word for the year.

2009 – Relax (because if I just relax, I’ll get pregnant — and it was chosen after a stressful but wonderful year of wedding planning.)

2010 – Patience (because all good things come to those who wait and I will get pregnant when the time is right)

2011 – Hope (because I still had some)

2012 – Grateful (because I was finally pregnant and happy — see above post for how this word became about something else)

2013 – Strength (because I wasn’t done fighting and had survived the worst year of my life)

This year, my word is “enjoy”.  I have no plan for this year, no aspirations, no goals.  I just want to be.  I want to take every day and every moment as it comes and enjoy my son and my husband — the two most important people in my life.

 


Merry Christmas

Christmas is a horrible time of year for the infertile.  It’s all about family and kids and happiness.  I’ve spent the last few years just getting through the holidays and not enjoying them at all.  Going through the motions really.  I’m not going to tell any of you still in the trenches to “hang in there” or to be “patient” and keep fighting.  I’m a realist and I know that not everyone gets a happy ending… and that sucks.  And makes the holidays that much more unbareable.  I’m eternally grateful to have the best Christmas present I could ever have.  I am one of the lucky ones.  To everyone out there, whatever you are battling, I wish you peace and for joy to find your heart.

MAX 2013 (111 of 119)

 

MAX 2013 (99 of 119)


Birth Story

Somehow, 3 weeks and some change have slipped away from me!  But I want to make sure I tell Max’s story of entering the world.

***

I had my doctor’s appointment on November 28.  I was so annoyed that I had to make yet another trip to Hamilton that was for a check up and not to have my baby!  The doc did a check and I was 2-3 cm dilated, so he did another stretch and sweep.  We also booked my induction.  According to them, I was 40 weeks and 2 days (my calculations put me two days ahead of them based on an IVF calculator).  I was scheduled for induction the following Thursday — December 5 — my husband’s birthday.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to keep Max cooking for another week!

At about 6:30am the next morning, I woke up to pee and discovered that I was having my “bloody show”.  I texted my doula but we both agreed to not get too excited, because there had been lots of signs over the last week that resulted in nothing.  I started having contractions shortly afterwards but they were very sporatic.  Although I was a little freaked out, I sent my husband to work because we didn’t want to waste one of his precious days off for nothing.  I spent the next several hours tracking contractions with my app and trying to be comfortable — which wasn’t happening.  I forced myself to eat, knowing that I wouldn’t be allowed to eat once we got to the hospital.  And basically wandered around my house getting through contractions.  At about 1pm, I called Labour and Delivery at the hospital to get their opinion as to when I should come in — and you are supposed to call ahead of time to warn them anyways.  I had an hour drive ahead of me, so I was a little scared of leaving things too long — for fear of delivering on the highway, but also because my most comfortable position was walking or standing — impossible in the car!  Because my contractions were still unevenly spaced (5, 9, 13 minuutes type thing), they encouraged me to stick it out.  C got home from work about 2 o’clock and we chatted while contractions continued.  Shortly after 3pm, I called the hospital again and while they were still fine to let me keep going at home, we made the decision to come in.

It was a great day for the drive.  The roads were bare and the sun was shining.  Traffic was mostly smooth until we got nearly to Hamilton.  I was very uncomfortable in the car and I was glad there was only a little traffic as we neared Hamilton.  We arrived at L&D and checked into triage.  They hooked me up to the monitors to check the contractions and baby’s heart rate.  It took some time, but eventually around 6pm, the doc came in to do the internal check and discovered I was 8cm dilated!  I was getting progressively more uncomfortable and they asked me about drugs.  I spoke with the anethesiologist about an epidural, but everyone was really encouraging me to keep going without drugs since I’d made it to 8cm with relative ease.  Since I wanted as natural a birth as possible, I kept going… knowing I could get the epidural later if I wanted.  From there, I was admitted and off we went  to the birthing room and laboured.

I really wanted to try the tub for pain relief, or at least a shower, but the hospital had some sort of issue and had no hot water!!  So I basically sat on the side of the hospital bed and laboured for the next 4 hours.  I had a fantastic nurse and my doula was a life saver.  C was basically clueless but responded well to directions when the nurse or the doula told him to do something!  Poor guy told me later that he just felt so helpless to assist me with the pain and discomfort.  I was exhausted after four hours of hard labour and very much ready for Max to get out.  I kept telling him that with every contraction — “Max get out!”.  The nurse made me go on my hands and knees after doing an internal and seeing that I was almost fully dilated.  This position really got things going.

They had to break my water for me — neither C nor I can remember exactly when they did this.  When they did, they discovered some green in the fluid which meant that Max had pooped.  They explained that this would mean that the Pediatric team would need to be present for his birth and that they would whisk him over to the baby station to suction his lungs.  They also said that there would be extra people on deck in case his shoulders got stuck… a common thing with babies who are larger (at my ultrasound the week before, they estimated 9lbs, 4 oz).   I pushed for about 45 minutes.  I think this was the best part.  It hurt but in a different way.  The contractions during the hard labour part made me feel like my whole body was heaving — the way your body does when you’re throwing up… only way more powerful.  The pushing felt like we were almost there.  The doula and the nurse were so encouraging and telling me that he had lots of hair.  I just wanted him out and gave it all I had.  They had me stop as it came time for him to be delivered and in came the calvary.  There must have been at least a dozen people in that room!  Out he came, and they whisked him over to suction his lungs.  Because of that, C did not get to cut his cord.  I don’t remember him crying but he did cry, I just kept asking if he was okay.  C was with him at the baby station across the room and he said that when they were done suctioning, they did the weight/clean up and started laughing.  That’s when they pointed out that Max was a whopping 11lbs 5oz!  When they told me, my jaw dropped to the floor.   That’s one big baby that just came out of me!  No stuck shoulders either.  And only one flowing stitch on the inside!  I was the talk of labour and delivery for doing it all without drugs.

They brought Max over and laid him on my chest.  It was hard to give him a good cuddle because I had 3 IV lines stuck in me that restricted the movement of my arms.  But I kissed his wet little head and it was the best damn feeling in the whole world.  But then things took a bit of a turn because I couldn’t deliver the placenta.  They left it for a little while and honestly, I was completely oblivious to what was happening because I was so caught up in the amazement of finally having my living, breathing son on my chest.  They took him from me to bring him to the nursery while they dealt with the placenta.  It basically wasn’t coming out.  They talked to me about a couple of options but if they couldn’t get it, they would need to rush me to the OR for a D&C.  The doctor said that she could go in and get it manually but that it would hurt.   I gave her the go-ahead and in she went to get it.  It was the most painful part of the whole experience.  She told me afterwards that she was in there “up to her elbow”, which meant I would need some anti-biotics just in case to ward of infection.  I guess I continued to bleed and shortly after that, my blood pressure dropped really low — 60-something over 40-something.  Turns out my bladder was full and hiding a piece of missed placenta.  So in went the cathetar to drain my bladder, which eventually led to the retrieval of the missed piece of placenta.

This is whole placenta business sent C over the edge because he basically had flashbacks to what happened when I was in hospital with Abby.  Thankfully, he was told to leave the room and the doula stayed with me and agreed to keep him up to date.  It was a painful experience for me but it was a terrifying experience for C.  But once they got the placenta, everything was fine.  They monitored me for the next little while and eventually took me to my room by hospital bed because when I tried to sit up to get in the wheelchair, everything got real spinny and my ears were ringing.  I joked that I was just lazy and wanted to travel in style to my room.  When I got to my room, C went for some food.  I had a ginger ale and a little container of cheese, crackers and grapes.  It was the most delicious food ever.

Max had to stay in the neonatal nursery due to low blood sugar.  Unfortunately, they gave him formula by bottle.  When I finally got to see him, it was noon the next day.  And he also had a soother stuck in his mouth.  We got him in our room a few hours later, only to find out that he had jaundice.  And while he could stay in our room, he had to be in the phototherapy box.  He was in the “tanning booth” for 48 hours.  We were only allowed to take him out to feed and change him.  It sucked.  And I think it messed with my milk supply too.  We’re still battling that.

We were finally released from the hospital on Wednesday.  It was a long stay at the hospital.  And hospital beds are damn uncomfortable.  We had to go back the very next day for a final jaundice check but we were just happy to get sprung.

And that’s our story.  We finally got our take home baby.

 

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** I mentioned in my “welcome” post that I was proud of my body.  After the infertilty, all the failed treatments and the profound failure of my body in carrying Abby, I was always waiting for bad things to happen.  I had a great pregnancy.  I was healthy.  And I birthed a healthy, HUGE, baby boy naturally.  I felt vindicated.  Like this was me giving infertility the finger.  I won this one, bitch.


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