Thursday, February 27, 2014

Some Additional Thoughts on Breastfeeding

I was very much a person who hoped that breastfeeding would work for me, but was not so emotionally attached to it that I'd be devastated if it wasn't a possibility. On some level I always knew it would happen naturally. But, as I said, if I was someone who had to supplement, had a baby with an allergy, or simply could not do it, I would have been ok.

In the hospital, we didn't quite get the hang of it. My personal goal was to be able to feel comfortable nursing before heading home. Each time we tried to feed, Baby Fix-It had trouble latching and got all frenzied. I, in turn, started sweating. I'd take a deep breath and the exhale would hit him on the face. This calmed him just enough to focus. Kind of. Every single time we fed in the hospital I was dinging the nurse call button to get assistance. I'm so glad I did. We never had an issue after those initial sessions.

While breastfeeding, I felt like I had a superpower. No matter what was going on, I could calm my baby. Feed him, cuddle him, ease him to sleep. It also meant that at the onset of the slightest fuss he was in my arms. Almost every mother experiences this. It's empowering and exhausting.

We made sure to introduce a bottle so that Mr. Fix-It could also feed our baby. We weren't as diligent about this as we should have been, and Baby Fix-It became a serious bottle-refuser. This means that in the history of my son's existence I have never NEVER ONCE slept through one of his wake ups. I'm honestly not resentful, he's so sweet when he's half awake in those wee hours of the morning, but still - wow. I know that if I worked traditional hours, this would have changed and he would have figured out how to take a bottle. For us, it was fine and in those very early months we were never apart more than 4 hours. Sometimes this felt hopelessly overwhelming and confining, but most times I thought to myself, "where do I need to go?" We introduced solids a tiny bit early, and that immediately allowed me some additional freedom. Baby Fix-It is healthy and thriving, and we found what worked best for us.

I didn't think I'd like nursing as much as I did. It really was this exceptional bond I shared with my baby. I felt comfortable feeding my son anywhere we went. On a plane, in a restaurant, outside Target in the parking lot. It's incredibly demanding, and yet also special and beautiful.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why We Stopped Nursing

We were ready for another baby when Baby Fix-It was 9 months old. Actually, I'd have been willing to start trying when he was 6 months old. I'm one of those people who feels that when you're in the thick of the baby phase, just add more chaos. That's not exactly how things will work out for us, and that's ok too. Since I was nursing, and with our grim fertility diagnosis, I knew the odds of a surprise baby were basically non-existent. (Aside: those people who innocently say, "Maybe it will just happen this time!" are just...wrong. No one would love that surprise more than me. Please, universe, prove me wrong. But really, no. Makin' babies around here involves just a bit more.)

So, when Baby Fix-It was 7 months old, we made a visit to our Reproductive Endocrinologist. He informed me that I'd have to stop nursing three months prior to beginning a fertility cycle. I had hoped to make it to the year mark breastfeeding, but then I also very much wanted to expand our family around Baby Fix-It's first birthday. We weaned at 9 months. It was HORRIBLE. The physical pain of that process was...OMG...awful.  

PSA: Do not stop breastfeeding cold turkey. Your boobs will be rocks of feverish pain. 

Funny story from that hellish week: I had a photoshoot during the time I had the gigantic rock boobs. It was summer and I was wearing a sporty tank top. You know those lululemon ones with the built in bras? Yeah. Above all else, I needed those suckers to stay in place. Any bouncing or movement almost drove me to tears. As I leaned down to photograph an 18 month old, the mom stood there with her jaw on the floor. She announces, "I just can't stop staring. Ohmigod. I can't. I'm mesmerized. Your tits are HUGE!". It was pretty hilarious. Yes, why yes they are. And if you try to come near me I will bite your hand off.
 "Those look like they still work, Mom"

So around Baby Fix-Its first birthday we picked up the phone to schedule another appointment with our Reproductive Endocrinologist to get things moving. We had successfully stopped nursing three months prior, as recommended, and were ready to make another baby. Oh, wait, surprise! They don't accept our insurance any more.

Cue an ugly meltdown on my part. We now were guaranteed to be delayed in this process a few months. And I could have continued to breastfeed a bit longer. This, my friends, is where the road to Baby 2 starts to get, rocky, if you will...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Think It's Getting Better

I find vague-booking insanely annoying. You know those people who post things like, "Thanks for the support and prayers!" and you're left scrambling to read the comments to figure out what the heck happened? Then that brave person inquires about what's going on, and there's no response. I have a friend who recently did this. I honestly have no idea if her husband got hit by a bus, has cancer, lost his job, or just got a bad case of food poisoning. Sorry, can't send well wishes if you're going to be frustratingly vague. Either share or don't share, you know?

In the same vein, I apologize. I've been pretty tight-lipped about our fertility process at the moment. I'd probably be comfortable sharing more, but my privacy isn't the only factor. I have a husband and child to consider. Said husband is more of a private person than me. For now, we're hanging in there. The road to baby #2 simply has not been as easy and stress-free as it was to #1 (which was no walk in the park). It seems that things are slowly turning around, though, and the bad news, frustrations, insurance battles, and stress are subsiding. Right now, the best thing I can do is take care of myself physically and emotionally as well as pour my love and energy into my child and marriage. Most days this is easier said than done. But I remind myself that it is a healthy body and healthy marriage that nurture healthy families.

So, here we are, just about to wrap up February. Sometimes my mind wanders to that failed cycle in December, and I think about how I'd be just about to complete my First Trimester. That seems so crazy, and also a bit sad.

It's been a long winter. A long, exhausting, cold, snowy, cooped up kind of winter. This past weekend we got a break from it. Some time with friends, sunshine, and warm air really breathed new life into us.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Choosing Happy

At some point you have to choose happiness. Even though it's snowing in Chicago again today, we ventured out. Sure, there was snow blowing directly into my ear. But it was time to get my head out of my ass.

Spring eventually comes.

I often talk to my clients about confirmation bias. Meaning, once you decide something, you subconsciously look for ways to validate your belief. I could quite easily list the ways in which life has been trying, since November really: the failed fertility cycle, insurance battles, our condo flooding, family challenges, a particularly harsh winter. Alas, I'm choosing happiness.

Our sweet little boy is thriving. Mr. Fix-It completed his Master's Degree. My therapy practice is doing well. We have wonderful people in our lives. Photography season is starting up again. Our life is, ultimately, quite good. And even though it's only mid-February, it's starting to feel like spring is just a few more weeks away.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Even a day late, we're still feeling the love. Hope yours was happy!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It gets better

Except when it doesn't. Sometimes it just gets worse. At that point you just have to cling on extra tight to the things most important in the world. 

You have to soak in the snuggles. Laugh at the sillies. 

Take a deep breath. Get some fresh air. 

And wait for that better day to come. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Disappointment and Distraction

How do you parent amidst a fertility battle? I feel like I'm failing. Failing so terribly.

The phone calls, the appointments, the research. (Also known as fighting with insurance, getting poked and probed, and endless googling.) Then it's the mental distractions, the stress. My fuse is shorter. I'm tired.  

I feel like everyone is getting the worst version of me right now. Today is awful. It's just long, and dark, and painful, and sad. Tomorrow will be better. It has to be. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

This Little

Sometimes I look at this sweet little boy and all I can think is, "He'll never be this little again".

And then I want to freeze time and squeeze the heck out of him. And make him promise to stay cute and cuddly and goofy forever.

If only it could work that way.