Accept it…

Accept it…and then challenge it! About 5 months ago I said enough is enough.   I was miserable.     How can you be miserable with a beautiful baby in your arms?  Well… part of it is you keep saying to yourself, “what the hell is wrong with me; I have everything I’ve ever dreamed […]

Stop Planning My Life

Serious conversation time…

STOP TELLING PEOPLE WHAT THEY SHOULD BE DOING!

The other evening, Kevin and I were shopping at a local store.  While waiting in line, there was a lady eyeing Claire and started talking to her.  Claire stared her down and as usual it is just an awkward exchange. Between the parent pretending to talk for the baby (or whatever we are supposed to do whenever someone ask their baby questions) and uncomfortable laughter.  Then it got more uncomfortable.  She asked us how old our daughter is, which we replied with 7 months old.  Her automatic response was, “you need to give her a sibling soon.”  There it was 7 months into this parenting gig and I got the first, “when is the next baby coming?”

Seriously, 7 months?  That is all I get to learn to be a parent, and it is time to have another baby.   That is all the time I get to spend enjoying my daughter before it is time for me to spend more time with my head in the toilet, waiting for baby number to to arrive?  That is ridiculous.

What I wanted to tell her was the following:

  • Will you hand over the thousands it will cost?
  • Will you go to Congress and help us fight to keep the law intact?
  • Will you come play with Claire while I toss my cookies and give me a nap?
  • Will you ensure me that each embryo transfer will not ultimately end in absolute heartbreak?
  • Will you ensure I am ready to have another baby?
  • Will you heal my anxiety so that I feel ready?
  • Will you hire someone to be my personal trainer so I can quickly get my body in shape to meet your deadline?
  • Will you hire a cook to create healthy food options so I can have a healthy pregnancy?
  • Will you take the shots in your ass cheek, to somehow help me?
  • Will you pay for college and weddings?
  • Will you come tame every argument between the two of them?
  • Will you be able to comfort me as I go through some of the most difficult treatments and experiences I’ve ever known?
  • Will you explain to my daughter why I have to give myself shots everyday?
  • Will you babysit when I want to spend a day with my husband on a date?

My guess would be that she will not do any of those things.  My guess is I will never see that woman again. So why does she think she can have ANY input in my life?  She has no right to it.

Bottom line is… there is nothing wrong with have one baby, five babies, eight babies as long as you have the love and means to support them.  There is nothing wrong with living child free either.  I believe a person can be perfectly whole in any way they choose to live their life, that could be with children, without them, maybe with a dog or even a really awesome sports car.  Whatever floats your boat is exactly what you should do.  What you do does not impact me, so I have absolutely no right to tell you what you should do.

If you do choose to have children, having one is completely okay too!  The lady at the store was telling me how much my daughter needs a sibling and how wrong it would be to not give her one.  Whatever.  My daughter will be fine just with herself or with several other siblings.  How dare someone think they can tell me otherwise.  Kevin and I have no idea how many children we will have, but I can tell you that it is not even a thought in our head right now.  We are living in the now, and loving the now.  Whatever we choose in the future, is between the two of us, not some random lady at a store.   I see it all the time, parents with one kid or couples with no kids, constantly hearing what they should do.  They know love, whether they have children or not.  Don’t be so ridiculous and so ignorant that you cannot comprehend that someone may want a different life than you.

Moral of the story…DON’T be the random lady at the store.

STOP PLANNING MY LIFE

 

 

Today I Drove On The Highway

Today I drove on the highway.  Big deal, right?  It actually is a big deal for me.  I have not driven on the highway since I had my daughter, 6 months ago.  My Husband drove us on the highway one time which resulted in a panic attack.  I have not been on it since.

I’ve always struggled with anxiety.  As a teenager, I was diagnosed with OCD.  Which is not what everyone thinks it is, where everything has to be in order or clean.  Sure, sometimes things have to be in order.  But if you saw my house or my car you’d question whether I really had it.  Instead, I might have to put something in order, only because inside of my brain I’ve been told if I do not comply, something terrible will happen. It is not just because I do not like the way the “out of order” looks.   It controls me.  I run late to things because I am constantly checking and worrying over things.  I live in a state of fear because I know that the compulsion will not prevent something terrible from happening, but the mind game continues.

After I had my daughter, my anxiety decided to take it up a notch (or fifty).  My jaw tightened, my breaths got shorter, and my muscles got tenser.  I was living in a constant state of fear.  I went through a difficult labor to a terrible time with breast feeding.  I also had someone new to worry about.

My biggest fear in this world is death.  It runs my OCD.  I worry so much about losing people I care about that my body cannot function sometimes.  It literally drives me insane.  So now, I have a tiny human depending on me to keep her safe and healthy.  I worry over everything.  The torture of it all is that I am aware I am doing it about 90% of the time.   So I know my thoughts and actions are not logical and that I look like a damn nut case.  It is beyond frustrating.  It feels like fighting the devil.  I don’t want to be the control freak Mom that does not let her daughter do anything.  I want better than that for her. There were times that I wanted to leave.  Not because I was not happy, but because I felt like my husband and my daughter deserved better.  I thought maybe I could watch from afar as she grows up so I do not ruin her. It was a terrible place to be in.  I felt guilt (still do) and despair.  I did not feel worthy of this life.  I have an amazing husband and a beautiful daughter that I absolutely adore, but I felt like I was not good enough.  I felt like I had failed them in every way possible and it only deepened my depression and anxiety.

I realized I hit a low when we needed to go to DC and I realized I could not get myself in the car to get on the highway. When I stepped on the scale and realized all the weight I had lost after having the baby was quickly creeping up on me, I knew something was not right.  I realized it when I cried over nothing or when all emotion I felt were too much to bare.  I realized it when I watched my husband enjoy every minute with our daughter, while I worried over everything which was taking away my joy.  I knew something was not right when I laid awake every night after a terrifying nightmare of someone trying to harm us.  I had to sleep with lights on everywhere because I was so afraid.  I panicked driving home at night to the point where there were times I almost did not make it.  I could literally feel my jaw locking and my teeth hurt from the clinching.  I felt no safety or security.

I hit the point where I needed help.

Since I have reached out for help I started taking medicine and seeing a counselor several times a month.  My jaw is starting to relax.  I am starting to feel joy in my life.  I am enjoying moments with my daughter, rather than waiting for something terrible to happen.  I started to get more sleep, although nightmares still come sometimes.  I have even lost some of the weight I had quickly put on.  I am starting to feel like me again.

Through counseling I am learning to understand myself a little bit more.  I was probably always predisposed to have anxiety.  However, there has been a lot of things throughout my life that amplified them.  Now that I am in a happy, healthy relationship and have the family I always wanted, some of the terrifying things that happened want to be remembered.  I am working on some of the things  and it has made me have more panic attacks.  However, it is like quitting a bad habit, it is going to be harder before it will ever get better.  I try to think of anxiety as an abusive relationship.  It wants to control you to your core and turn your life upside down.  You have to fight through some pretty difficult things to be able to break that relationship.  So I am fighting, like I’ve never fought it before.  I survived one abusive relationship and now I have to survive the one that is fighting myself.  I will, because I cannot and will not allow something else to control me.  If anything good came out of some of the hell I’ve met throughout my life, it is that I am strong.  I can be so incredibly weak sometimes, but I will always fight that with my strength.

So for today, I won.  Tomorrow I will have to toughen back up to win again.  And then the day after that, the same fight.  It is a fight I will not give up on because my daughter deserves a Mom who can drive her on the highway and enjoy every minute with her, instead of wasting her time in her head thinking of all the terrible things that can go on.  I do not want this life for her and I am going to have to fight it to help her fight it too.

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Do I have to love this new body?

Truth is, I don’t like the body I have right now.  I am miserable with it 90% of the time.  Right after I had Claire, I dropped a lot of weight very quickly.  I felt amazing, not to mention there was no longer a baby putting pressure in 1000 places too.  I’ve kept most of the weight off, but my clothes have never fit since having her. I am almost at pre-pregnancy weight but my body is different now. I’ve squeezed myself into a few pairs of jeans, but the lack of oxygen was not pleasant.  I wear mostly leggings because I refuse to buy bigger pants.  Then there is the skin changes.  The stomach that was covered in pin pricks and bruises from all of the shots to get pregnant is now a target made of stretch marks.  I made it most of the pregnancy with out them.  Then towards the end my hips and stomach got covered in them.   I used the creams and everything I could have done, it does not matter.  If you’re going to get them; you’re going to get them.  Then there is the beautiful scar from where my daughter was born.  I actually love my scar, it does not make me sad.  It is proof that I went through something tough and in exchange I have the most beautiful gift, my daughter.

I analyze every picture taken of me to see just how “big” I am and how much work I still have to do.  I take forever to get ready in the morning because I try so hard to dress nice but nothing satisfies me.  I take out so many tops and my bed is scattered in them.  Then finally, something makes the cut, but I still do not feel good about it.  Sometimes, tears flow because I do not feel confident with who I am. Sometimes I just get flat out mad that I am not thinner.  It is so hard to feel confident.  I constantly feel like I did pregnancy or life in general wrong.  Some people shed the weight and get their body back quickly, others don’t even if they follow a similar lifestyle.  I honestly never knew how self-conscious I was until I got pregnant.  I worried over every single pound because my doctors brought it up every single time and made me feel that I was not taking care of myself.  I worked hard to get pregnant, there was not a chance I was not going to give the baby growing inside of me the best I could.  But, I still always felt like I was failing her.  I’ve felt like a total let down to my daughter and husband because I do not always feel pretty enough.  My husband is amazing, he has to be one of a kind.  He does everything to make me feel beautiful.  It is a battle in my own mind that has nothing to do with how he treats me.  He is so kind to me when I am struggling with myself and it makes a world of different for me.  He always talks me up and makes me feel like I am worth loving.

The point of sharing this is I read awhile back something in regards to helping your daughter build self confidence.  It said something about how your daughter watches and hears how to treat yourself.  I keep playing that in my head now.  “Claire is watching and she is listening.”  She may only be 4 months, but that does not give me much time to get my act together before she really understands what I say to myself.  My heart would break in a million pieces if I saw Claire looking in a mirror assessing herself to determine if she was worthy enough to step out into the world that day ..  I do not want that to cross her mind. It might one day, but I want her to have enough confidence to brush it off and be herself, the beautiful soul that she is.  I want to show her how to love who you are.  I know if I want her to understand that love, I have to model it.  I cannot tell her one thing and then do another.  I have to figure out how to love this body and to feel confident in it.  I am working out again to hopefully help me make it to the goal of getting into my pre-pregnancy jeans and will hopefully teach her how to keep her body healthy.  I am trying to watch what I vocalize while trying to change what is said in my head too, which I think is probably the most powerful thing I can do.

The changes to my body brought me my daughter, I could never express how thankful I am for that.  Every single thing that has happened is completely worth it all.  I’d stay like this forever if I had to, but I do not have to.  I can exercise, I can eat right and I can figure out how to love who I am so that my daughter never second guesses herself.  Okay…she is going to second guess herself because who doesn’t, but hopefully she will remember how I treat myself and adjust her thoughts about herself. I may never be “skinny” or lose these stretch marks, but I think if I can change how I feel about myself I win either way.  So the answer to my question is “yes, I do have to love this new body.”  It is mine, it is flawed (in some eyes) but it has carried life and nothing is more beautiful than that.  So the battle starts, to change my thinking and to push myself to be a healthier person inside and out.

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A Year Later…

A year later…

Today is one year from us finding out our fresh cycle failed.  It is such a unique pain that it causes.  There is no real word for it other than “failed implantation”.  There is no real support for it either.  Infertility and it’s treatments often leave you feeling a lone.  While infertility is common, it doesn’t mean you have close people who also have been through the treatments and honestly it is sometime you pray to be alone with as you’d never want to see someone go through this. 

I have a picture of our embryo that we transferred.  I talked to it, I prayed for it and I dreamdt day after day about who he or she will be.  The excitement I felt on transfer day was beyond compare.  I was finally going to be pregnant.  I’ve been around so many other peoples kids and watched so many other pregnancies for so long it was finally going to be my turn.  I know without a doubt I did everything I could to make sure I took care of myself and to stay hopeful during the two week wait.  Everyday got harder and the emotional roller coaster was hard to bare at times.  By the day of testing, a year ago today, my heart was in pieces, completely shattered on the floor.   I knew I lost but I still had to finish it out and get the blood work.  I was so embarrassed to even be getting the blood work, like I didn’t deserve anyone’s time for it because I had somehow failed.  It was one of my darkest days.  I am so thankful for the kindness that I was shown at our doctors office, l will never forget them for that. 

 I survived it.  Even though a year ago today I felt complete hopelessness, I somehow found the strength to keep this as a memory but to try again.  I will never forget how I felt today.  I will never forget the image of the embryo we transferred or the hopes and dreams I had.  It still causes me heartache knowing that I will never know who I lost.  I will always wonder. Now that I have Claire I know the depths of what was lost a year ago today when I look at its picture .  I am thankful I had another chance and another embryo who eventually became the love of my life, my daughter.  

It is amazing what can change in a year… someone’s entire world can be flipped either positively or negatively.  I’m thankful for the positive.  This will always be a part of my story.  Having a baby doesn’t cure infertility.  For every child we want to have we face this heartache and stress over and over.  But my God is it worth it!  I never knew a love as a strong as the one I feel for Claire.  I continue to promise her the best of me, everyday and in every way I can.  I will fail her some days, I know, but I hope she will always know how hard I tried and just how deep my love is for her. 

Hope is what got me through our FET and led us to Claire.

What is Best

Simply put…breast feeding broke my heart.

During my pregnancy I researched, went to classes, and bought all the”must haves” for breast feeding.  I had big plans that this was going to work out, because why wouldn’t it. While in the hospital I was making colostrum for a few days.  However, by day 4 my daughter stopped making wet and dirty diapers.  A big clue that she was not getting milk from me.  Her weight started to drop a lot too.  She lost a little over a pound.  I knew something was wrong and tried to pump to see if I could get anything out.  I got a drop. As much as it hurt I knew I had to admit she wasn’t getting what she needed and I needed formula.  I started supplementing to ensure she was getting the proper nourishment.  This time of my life was hell on my head and heart.

I couldn’t get my baby out and now I could not feed her.  Talk about feeling unequipped to be a Mother.

My heart was broken.  I planned for this, I wanted to make this work for my daughter.  My love for her is unbelievable and I knew giving her breast milk was doing “what was best for her.”

When I started supplementing I would first start by nursing her.  Then I would feed her a bottle and then pump.  I was spending so much time trying to give her food and make food for her.  It was exhausting physically and emotionally.  As I was nursing her I would bawl because after a little bit she would scream because she was not getting anything. Then I would have to feed her a bottle and I would continue to cry because I felt like such a failure.  And then there was pumping… ugh is all I can say.

I cried a lot!  Sometimes I was crying so hard that I would start to panic.  My husband would take Claire from me as I tried to get myself together.  He had no idea what to say to me, and I had no idea how to stop myself.  On one particular bad day I called my sister bawling telling her , “I can’t feed my baby” and in a pure panic.  I am so lucky to have her as she came over right away to help me figure it out.  Between her and my husband, I survived that incredibly difficult day.  I’ve had more days like it after that, but I made it through. I’m thankful for people to talk to that I can be brutally honest with and not feel judgement. My brain told me terrible things that I was not a good Mom and that maybe Kevin and Claire deserved someone much better than me.  I even had thoughts that because we needed IVF maybe I forced something I wasn’t supposed to be blessed with and that was why my body could not do its job.  As my sister told me, she could not imagine a God that did not want me to be a Mother and I am starting to believe that too. I’m starting to believe that all of this is completely unrelated and we just have a different story. I always wanted to live, I just wanted someone else to take care of them because I felt like I could not give them the best. One night I wanted to run, run anywhere, so badly to just get the sheer panic and adrenaline out of my body.  I didn’t because running surely equals instant heart attack! Instead,  I cried and cried while trying to feed my baby.  My body has failed me in so many ways I felt.. as I forget that my body gave me the most amazing gift…my daughter.

This isn’t a way for anyone to live.  I want to enjoy this time with my baby.  I want my daughter to see a smile on my face as I feed her.  I don’t want my stress to make her life feel stressful.  I want to be be physically and emotionally present.

So I quit breastfeeding and I held my baby.

I fed her formula and she was okay and still is.  I looked at her and smiled as she was eating, I talked to her, I held her close and kissed her head.  I enjoyed my time with her.  I didn’t worry if she was getting enough because I could see that she was.  I didn’t spend time after nursing her and bottle feeding, with a pump attached me just so I could get half an ounce after 20 minutes of it.  Instead, I held my baby longer.  I smiled longer and  felt like a Mom who had it somewhat together.

I still feel so much pain that this did not go the way I had planned.  I wanted to give her the absolute best.  I know she will be fine with formula but I wanted better than that for her.  I was willing to give breastfeeding everything it takes but my body did not let me.  I took every supplement, power pumped, nursed, used an SNS, met with lactation, etc and it still did not work out. I never really felt my milk come in.  The only reason I knew I had some was because I was pumping but I only ever get about half an ounce total.  Even now that I haven’t nursed or pumped in two days, I feel nothing. The only thing I was not willing to do was take prescription medication because the side effects include extreme depression, something I was already slightly suffering from.  My baby needs me present emotionally more than she needs breast milk.

I gave breastfeeding 4 full weeks before deciding this was not something that was going to happen for us.  During those 4 weeks I never saw a change in my milk production no matter what I tried.  Some say it could have been because the extreme amount of fluid my body had taken on, the c-section, a long induction, etc.  In other words…no one knows why it did not work out.  I guess it does not really matter.  I gave it everything I had, I worked really hard at it and now it is time for that to be in my past.  Hopefully the sadness will continue to become less and less and I will spend more time holding and smiling with my baby.  I know that I am not failing her, I am giving her everything I possibly can.  It has been a difficult journey trying to adjust to motherhood, the loss of career (at least for now), and that nothing went even remotely as planned.  My lactation lady said they really should have a support group for people who have unplanned c-sections because that in itself is difficult to deal with when you’ve planned something different.  Someday I will fully accept that the things that went “wrong” were just not supposed to be apart of our journey.  Until then I will keep trying and keep smiling because the greatest thing I’ve ever done has name and it is Claire.

I’m not sharing this sob story for sympathy or because I need advice… I am sharing to get it off my chest and so that if someone else feels this way they know they are not alone and you will survive it.  In the end all that matters is you were there…a healthy and happy Mom who feeds her baby is what is best. 065_Claire.jpg

A bad case of bad luck

If you’ve known me for long you probably are well aware that I have the strangest luck, at times no luck at all.  I take the hard road for things, no matter how hard I try to make life easy.  I am thankful that while my luck somewhat stinks sometimes, that it is down right awful.  I have the type of the luck that sometimes makes me laugh.  I saw a joke once that said, “I have as much luck as a bald man winning a comb.”  I laughed probably way too long at that because the reliability of it was out of this world!   I am the type of person who will go into basket BINGO and win 10 baskets that I have no care for and then walk out of the building to a flat tire.

The unfortunate part of this luck is that I often believe that good things cannot happen to me.  If I want something too much, I feel like it is going to be out of reach for me.  Thankfully, life has proven me wrong a million times.  While I’ve experienced a failed marriage, I now have one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  While I’ve experienced infertility, I now have a beautiful baby girl in my arms.  I am so thankful that life proves me wrong sometimes.

I still get hit with just unfortunate bad luck repeatedly.  My husband and I took a birthing class that lasted 12 weeks.  The program was called the Bradley Method.  The purpose of the program is to help prepare you for a natural child birth.  I was open to the idea that I may not have a fully natural child birth but I wanted a “tool box” so that I could make the most informed decisions and tolerate the pain the best that I can.  Part of the program is monitoring what you are eating to ensure your body and baby are healthy.  I followed the program.  I ate healthy food and I stayed more active than I probably should have most days.  The result… feeling like absolute crap about myself at each doctor appointment because I was gaining too much weight.  By my doctors standards I should have gained 15-20 pounds.  By the end of my pregnancy I gained 40 pounds.  I tried everything to make it so that I would not gain the weight.  Yet, at every appointment I had gained large amounts of weight.  I tried to tell them I was loaded with fluid but they still insisted that I was not eating healthy.  Sometimes I would gain 9 pounds in 2 weeks.  I would have had to eat cake for every meal to do that weight gain… which I obviously didn’t.  I started to cry going to every appointment because I could not stand feeling like I was not doing everything I should have to keep my daughter healthy.  I fought so hard to have her, I was determined that I was going to give her the very best if I could just have her.  Yet, at every appointment I was told I wasn’t do my best.   I felt awful and nothing I did was helping.

Then it came time to have Claire, and if you read my previous post about her birth story, you know that it did not go as planned at all.  I spent 3 days in the hospital being induced before we determined a c-section was my only option.  The very thing I did everything I could to avoid, was now my only option.  I remember thinking, I did not get my natural child birth but at least I will breast feed so I can have one experience I really wanted (aside from having my daughter).

Shouldn’t have said that…

Breast feeding has completely broken my heart.  I was making colostrum when I was in the hospital. Everything appeared fine.  Claire was latching perfectly.  Then she stopped producing any output.  After about a day of that, I realized that I must not be giving her the nourishment she needed.  I lost my mind!  I remember just holding her and bawling.  I couldn’t have her on my own and now I cannot even feed her. I felt completely unequipped to be a mother and that she deserved so much more.  I introduced formula to supplement because I could not bare the idea of pushing breast feeding while knowing she was not getting enough.  After my meltdown, I learned that a mother’s milk may take longer to come in if you have a c-section and that may be all that was happening.  So  I would just need to supplement until my milk came in.  By day 8, I was starting to produce milk when I pumped.  Claire still screamed after I nursed her and I knew she was not getting enough food.  She lost a little over a pound and more and more formula was needed.  The irony of it all was I spent the entire pregnancy worried I was gaining too much and now the worry is Claire was not. I met with lactation several times and worked with the pediatrician.  Nothing was working to make me make enough food for her.  I tried supplements, power pumping, support groups, multiple consults with lactation, everything I could possibly think to try-I’m simply not producing. If you are reading this, know I cannot handle more suggestions because I’ve likely tried it, I’ve worked harder on this than most people ever do and I am doing the very best I can at it.   It appears to have come down to a case of bad luck.  Bad luck that broke my heart once again.  Everything that I had dreamed would happen wasn’t going as planned at all.  It feels selfish now that I say it because all that really matters is that Claire is healthy but my heart still breaks for all the parts of this story that went drastically differently than I thought they would. Sometimes they make me feel like a failure…even though I know deep down it is not true.  I am still working on breast feeding.  I’ve given myself a time limit before I decide that I’ve given it absolutely everything I can.  That time limit is coming up and my luck isn’t proving any significant break through. I am sadden and frustrated by it.  Eventually I will write more on this once I know which way this journey is going to go for us.  Either way I know Claire will be okay and I am glad I’ve given myself the time to make decision for myself.

I have no idea why things just do not go as planned or follow the “norm” for me most of the time.  My only hope with it is that someone else struggling won’t feel alone because I share my struggles.  I do have good news… I’ve dropped 35 pounds already so only 5 more pounds are left!  And the very best news… Claire is gaining plenty of weight and has surpassed her birth weight now.  I have a happy, healthy, beautiful daughter and I know deep down that nothing else matters.  I am still determined that I will give her the very best of everything I can…which she already has… my unconditional love.

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