Sunday, April 28, 2013

Things are changing around here

Change is a funny thing.  It's something that can be so exciting and so terrifying at the same time.  So much good can come from change and most times it's a sign of forward progress, but the old is comfortable.  It's what we're used to.  It's hard to let go of sometimes.

Hubby and Bean are out taking the puppy for a walk and Birdie is sleeping peacefully in her swing.  I just got done walking through the nursery in a quiet house.  Which is strange these days.  It's strange to call it the nursery again.  I've thought of it as Bean's room for so long now.  She's been sleeping in that room for almost two and a half years.  She spent the first six months in our room, and then she moved into her own room full time.  We plan to do the same for Birdie and she's almost three months old now. Bean's birthday is next week and it seemed like a natural time to move her from her room the nursery, into her big girl room.

The room she'll be moving too is our extra bedroom, which is currently half guest room half play room. We set it up that way so that when Bean did get ready to move in there, it might be more enticing.  And it seems to have worked.  She's excited to sleep in a big bed.  She's chosen a paint color for the walls and yesterday we went shopping and got new blankets, curtains, and some furniture for the rest of the room.  It will truly be her room when it's all done and the nursery will be empty of the things that are just hers.  For a few months, the nursery will be empty period.  No longer Beans, not yet Birdies.

It's strange, because I'm excited for Bean.  I'm excited that she's looking forward to this new room.  That she's going to be three and seems like such a big girl.  But at the same time, she's going to be three and she's such a big girl!  When did that happen?  In the blink of an eye she went from my baby girl, to this little person with so much personality of her own.  She amazes me every day.  So it makes me a little anxious to have her moving on and leaving that baby part of her life behind.

It really shouldn't.  It's not like the nursery will be empty for long. Birdie is quickly growing herself and will soon be ready to be a little farther away from us at night time.  I might not be ready, but she will.  She'll move into the nursery and while several practical things will be easier, like the fact that we can get ready for bed in our own bathroom instead of Beans, without the fear of waking a baby, I'm sure this will be another transition that will be a little difficult for me.

I wonder sometimes if this is just as hard for fertile mamas.  When I stop and think about my babies growing, many times I can't help but think about our family and if it will ever grow again.  I don't feel like Birdie is my last baby.  I don't have any sense that when things are happening with her, that it will be the last time I experience it.  But it could very well be.  More babies aren't a guarantee in this house, no matter how much they would be loved or wanted.

And so when Bean moves to her big girl room and Birdie moves to the nursery, the house will be full.  All three of our bedrooms will have a person sleeping in them every night.  I can't tell you how full that makes my heart feel.  I love that our little house is filling with babies.  That was just a dream a few years ago.  I just can't believe how fast they're growing.  And I can't help but wonder if we'll be lucky enough in a few years to be setting up bunk beds in Beans room, which will no longer be Beans room but instead will be Bean and Birdies room.  Or if we'll be selling the crib, repurposing the cabinet that we use for a changing table, and painting the walls in the nursery to make it into a big girl room also.  It's hard to know what the future will bring.  More change, I'm sure of that.  So for the next week I'm going to enjoy the fact that Bean's still in the nursery, Birdie is still in our bedroom, and future babies are still a dream in my heart.  And I'll try not to think about the fact that my babies are growing so quickly.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Join the Movement...As a Parent

As many of you know, it's National Infertility Awareness Week and Resolve is asking bloggers in the community to talk about being more active in bringing change to the infertility landscape.  This is a topic that I think about a lot.  I want to be a voice in that landscape and I really want to help make change.

One of the things that I wish had been different for me in my infertility journey was support.  I wish I had reached out for support when we were in the thick of it.  My closest friends weren't at a place where they were having children and knew what kind of emotions went into that.  The people we knew who were having kids, had no idea what it was like to want kids and not be able to have them.  Our families certainly didn't make the process easier, and often said the worst thing they could in a given situation.  Hubby was and always has been my biggest support.  But outside of that, I felt very alone.  I didn't feel like anyone understood, cared, knew how to help me, or even wanted to help me.

I should have reached out for support at that point and found a group or a therapist or something.  I didn't.  I didn't even realize how low a point I was at until I wasn't at it anymore.  But I wish it had been different.  So now I try harder to know when I need support and go looking for it.  As an infertile parent, I started to realize that I still needed support.  Infertility has left me forever changed.  I was not "cured" once I had a child.  I am a different parent because of the process that it took for me to get here.  Some of that is very positive, some of it gives me great anxiety.  I still see the need to be supported by other people who understand the journey we went on to parenthood.

That's one of the reasons I started this blog.  I've read blogs in the ALI community for a long time.  I never commented.  I felt a huge connection to these people and they helped me in a lot of ways, but I never told them.  I wish that I had.  I'm so thankful that I started the blog when I did.  The connection that I've found with other people around the country and world has been amazing.  It has made me long for the ability to be with those people face to face though.  To sit down and have a cup of coffee, watch our kids play, and talk about life as an infertile parent.

So about two years ago, I started looking for support groups for infertile parents.  I figured there had to be one.  I started with Resolve and looked at their support groups.  All of the support groups and services that I could find were for people going through the process of trying to have children or living child free.  I found one page with some information about pregnancy after infertility, and that was kind of it.  Everyone in the ALI community knows that infertility doesn't end with a baby, but I couldn't figure out how to find support once I had one.

That's when I decided to start my own group.  I was really nervous to put myself out there, but I put a notice up online advertising a play/support group for people who had gone through the process of infertility or adoption to start their families.  I knew there had to be more people out there like me and I was right.  At our first meeting three other moms got together and while the little ones played, we talked about what we'd been through, how it had changed us, and what we were like as parents because of it.  It was really wonderful.  Unfortunately, it never got much farther off the ground.  We met more times over the next year or so, but the group never really grew.

The main problem that I had was figuring out how to get the word out.  I knew there had to be other parents out there like me, lots of them, but I didn't know how to reach them.  I tried some local bulletin boards but I knew the place where they all potentially could be, was kind of untouchable.  The reproductive endocrinologist.  I couldn't figure out a way to get the word out through my doctor without being hurtful to all of the people still trying to start their families and needing support with that.  And so life got busy and, reluctantly, I threw in the towel.

Luckily I gained a really wonderful friend through the process, but I feel like this is something that needs to happen.  We need to physically have a place for infertile parents to find each other, to talk about our past and how that has effected our present.  To support each other if we choose to continue growing our families.  Even just to sit down and watch the little people running around in the back yard and all marvel together at what miracles they are.  That is such a moment of healing for me, that the power it could have when multiplied is astounding.

My challenge to myself is to try again.  To join the movement and not let this hiccup that I ran into stop me.  I believe this is something that needs to happen.  I believe this is something that a national organization like Resolve could benefit from.  I also believe that I was a little afraid to put myself out there in a big way and really get it off the ground and spread the word.  That's my challenge and where one of my passions about joining the movement stems from.  I have a need to find other people who can relate to my situation as an infertile parent.  I want to talk to them, see their face, and be able to lean on each other.  And I know there have to be other people out there like me, itching to join that movement too.  Think of what we could accomplish together.  Not just as support for each other, but as a voice for infertility for all of those still struggling to start a family. (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Your thoughts on siblings

I've been trying to figure out, for the last three years, how you create a positive relationship between siblings.  I ask everyone that I know.  Unfortunately, it seems like I don't know that many people who have a really strong relationship with their sibling.  So I keep asking.  

I have one brother.  He's three years older then I am and we are like night and day.  Growing up we were the best friends and worst enemies at the same time.  We got in some all out brawls.  I resented him a lot because he was clearly my moms favorite.  I can't tell you really how he felt about me.  Since we've become adults we've mostly kept to ourselves.  We talk several times a year and see each other maybe once a year.  I don't lean on him or share with him or anything like that.  Mostly I talk to him when I need to discuss something about our parents.  And that makes me sad sometimes.   But I have been lucky enough to find people in my life who feel like my siblings, even if none of the blood in our veins is the same.  So I don't dwell on it.

Hubby has one older brother too.  His relationship is much the same as mine except more complicated.  I'll leave it at that because that's his story to tell, not mine.  Needless to say though, neither of us have stellar sibling relationships and we've spent a lot of time trying to figure out why.  My closets friends have siblings but none of them are really close.  When I meet people who are close with their siblings, I end up asking too many questions I'm sure.  They may feel like I'm interrogating them but I'm just so at a loss.  How does that happen?  Is it something parents create?  Is it just a difference in the family as a whole or the siblings?  I want to know more details, mostly because I want to do everything in my power to help Bean and Birdie really care about each other and want to spend time together.  

So if you are willing, help me out please, and answer a few questions.

1) Do you have any siblings?  Are they the same gender or different?  What is the age difference?

2) What kind of a relationship do you feel like you have with your siblings?  Do you have a clear picture as to how that came about?

3) No matter what kind of relationship you have, do you feel like your parents did do something to foster that or could they have done something to make it different?

4) Feel free to share anything else that you'd like.

I find the whole subject so curious.  I know that there are people out there who talk to their siblings all the time, do things together, and are a regular part of each others lives.  I just don't know those people!  Please help!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Putting myself out there

I worry entirely too much about what other people think of me.  I know exactly why I do it.  I was overweight as a kid and teenager and I got picked on pretty badly.  I learned quickly to try and blend in with my surroundings and get noticed as little as possible.  Somehow this worked out for me and by the time I hit high school, I was mostly invisible.  It was amazing how much people started noticing me again once I lost the weight.  Appearances are everything unfortunately.  Anyway, I digress.  My point is that I've had a really hard time shaking the idea that I should blend in with my surroundings, not call attention to myself, and certainly not make any waves.

I gained a lot of self confidence in college.  I found a wonderful group of friends who loved me for who I was, and I just really came into my own.  Red became my favorite color.  I didn't mind standing out and I was proud of the person that I was and who I was becoming.  After college I got into a very good graduate school because I put myself out there, moved to a big city, and ended up teaching in very difficult surroundings.  All things I never pictured myself doing because I didn't have the confidence in myself to do it.

Once hubby and I got married and moved to our current location, things started getting a little tougher again.  I was working from home in a new town, which meant I met no one.  Hubby was making new friends through work, but it was hard for me.  Once I quit my job to focus on the fertility treatments and having a baby full time for awhile, it got even worse.  I tried putting myself out there and getting involved in different things, but I quickly realized the person I was putting out there wasn't the person I used to be.  I was a watered down, beaten down version of myself.

Things got better after Bean was born, although I've still struggled to find good friends here where we live.  I thought once I had a baby that would be the answer, but I was wrong.  I tried out a couple moms groups and just couldn't find people who I felt like I related to.  I tried starting my own moms group for people who have been through infertility struggles, but that never really took off.  I've found a few people, but my idea that every mom in the world suddenly wants to be your friend, or what is more the reality, that I would want to be friends with all these other moms, makes me laugh now.  Infertility is always with me and makes it hard for me to relate to a lot of moms who haven't been through it, no matter how hard I try.

You're probably wondering by now where I'm going with all this.  Well, what I'm trying to get at is the reason why I censor myself so much on this blog.  Why I don't put myself out there more and talk about the things I really want to be talking about.  Why I don't share more of my personal life and story.  There is a part of me that's still that chubby kid, or that lonely newlywed, or that emotionally beaten down infertile.  And when the self assured, happy mama comes out, I always have a little voice that tells me not to say too much.  Not to share too much.  Not to put myself out there because the more you put yourself out there, the more you open yourself up to both positive and negative reactions.

I am at the point though where I'm getting older (yes, almost 33 feels older!), and I don't want to waste this one chance I have to be a part of the world and be seen and heard.  I always said as a teacher that if I made a difference in the life of one child then all my hard work would be worth it and I still believe that.  As a mom I still believe that my kids will most likely be my biggest and most important contribution to this world.  But I have more to say, and passionate beliefs.  I feel like I have more to give and I'm tired of holding myself back because I don't want to potentially get hurt.

From now on I'm going to try harder.  I'm not just going to talk about the blogs that I find inspirational because of their honesty, I'm going to aspire to be more like those blogs.  I've found so many wonderful people through my blog but I feel like I haven't given you all the chance to really get to know me, and that's not fair because you've been such a huge support.  It's going to be different around here.  I'm going to be different.  Because I'm tired of worrying all the time about everything.  I just don't have the energy anymore.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The fog has lifted

Yesterday was Birdies appointment at the pediatric endocrinologist.  We learned that she could possibly have a mild case of hypothyroidism. Or, she could have still been getting some kind of antibody from my hypothyroidism that would make it look like she had it when she didn't.  At this point that antibody should be out of her system, so they wanted us to get more blood work done to be sure.  If she is borderline then they want us to give her medicine everyday for the next few years to be sure that she keeps growing well and at the pace she should.  Essentially, it's all no big deal.  They weighed and measured her and she is well above average for her age (like 75th percentile for her weight).

Honestly, when they told me that she was growing just fine.  More then fine.  It was like this fog lifted from around me and all the sudden I saw my baby the way everyone else did.  Instead of her being this sick baby that I had to worry about, I saw this happy, chubby little girl for the first time really.  She has chubby cheeks, a round tummy, and most definitely more then one chin.  She's fine.  And so I stopped worrying about how long she was sleeping and how much she was eating.  I felt a huge wave of relief.

That's not to say I'm not going to worry about her anymore.  By afternoon I was convinced that the warmer weather had overheated her and she was dehydrated.  Not for long though.  What I realized was that I'm always going to worry about Birdie more.  Always.  The events that transpired in the first month of her life changed me and changed my relationship with her.  But that's life.  That's what happens.  I'm always going to find something to keep an extra eye on with her, but I'll try to keep myself in check.  We'll see how it goes.

That part of yesterday was a huge relief.  The part that was so hard was the blood test we had to get done.  When they did the blood work a few weeks ago the guy got a vein and it was no big deal.  Yesterday, it was a big deal.  We were at the blood place for over an hour and a half.  They couldn't find a vein.  Birdie was screaming.  I was trying hard not to cry.  Finally they had to do a heel stick to fill 6 vials of blood.  6 vials.  Yes, they were little ones, but they had to fill them drop by drop out of her heel and she cried the whole time.

All I wanted to do was just make it stop.  The woman kept telling us that her crying was good, it made the blood flow faster so that it would be over faster.  I had a hard time being on board with that.  I nursed Birdie in between sticks to try and do anything I could to make her feel better and then after it was all over we had a long snuggle and she slept the whole rest of the afternoon.  I didn't blame her a bit and left her alone so she could sleep it off.

It just breaks my heart watching her hurt so much.  I wish I could do it for her.  Part of me wants to slow down time so I can take in every moment with my girls for that much longer, but part of me wants to speed it up so those little veins of hers will get bigger and this won't hurt her so much.  For today though we're enjoying our new life as a healthy, chubby baby and her mama.  I feel like I can breath again, she probably is thrilled to get a decent nap without me hovering over her, and things don't seem so scary.  It feels like spring came at just the right time and exactly when we all needed it. The sun is finally starting to shine in so many ways.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


How Birdie Got Her Name

When Birdie was born, Hubbie and I joked that she came flying into this world.  On my last push, I was so focused on what I was doing, that when they told me to stop, I honestly couldn't.  Before you knew it Birdie came flying out and left everyone scrambling to catch her.  Not the graceful entrance into this world that we all imagine for our babies, but then Birdie is nothing like I had imagined so far.  When we were joking about this I thought of her as a bird and a song came to mind, one that is on an album that Bean likes to listen to.  The song is called Little Bird.

When we got home from the hospital I sang bits of this song to Birdie since I don't know all the words. Bean heard me and she started doing the same.  So our little one quickly became our Birdie.  I mostly sang her two songs.  This one, and Baby Mine, which I happen to know all the words to.  When we ended up in the hospital, all I could do to try and calm Birdie was sing to her.  I tried to sing Baby Mine and got two words in before tears took over.  Somehow Little Bird came out much easier.  So there I was, singing the few words I knew and humming the rest with a room full of doctors, because I didn't know what else I could do to help my little Birdie.

After we got home from the hospital, I almost stopped calling her Birdie.  I didn't know if I wanted that association anymore.  All the days in the hospital singing that song because it was the only one that didn't make me completely lose it.  But then I realized that it had kind of become her anthem.  So little Birdie had a name.

An Update About Birdie

Well, all in all Birdie seems to be doing well.  I worry about her all the time.  I know those two statements don't really go together, but they're both the truth.  Lately, my worry has stemmed from some blood work that we had done after she left the hospital.  They wanted her to have her thyroid checked one more time because an over active thyroid can also cause an irregular heartbeat.  They acted like it was no big deal, so I figured it was no big deal.  We got the blood work done, and then a few days later her pediatrician called.  I figured when it was the doctor herself on the phone, it probably wasn't routine.  She told me that Birdie's results came back borderline irregular.  Except it isn't over active, it's under active.  Since it's borderline, they want to repeat the blood work, but just in case, they also want us to see a pediatric endocrinologist.  So we're doing that on Monday.

Of course, the first thing I did was read more about all this.  I have hypothyroidism myself, so I know what it means for me, but I have no idea what it means for a baby.  It seems to be a bigger deal for babies and can effect their growth and development.  When I read the symptoms, I felt like they were talking about Birdie.  Sleeps long stretches, falls asleep nursing, dry skin, etc.  I started to worry more.  So I called the pediatrician back and talked to her about it.  She assured me that she didn't think Birdie would have any symptoms even if she had hypothyroidism because her levels were just slightly out of range.  And yet I worry.  The other night she slept for nine hours.  Nine hours!  I should be excited at the prospect of sleep and instead I woke up and immediately broke into a cold sweat.  First we listened to her heart, which was fine.  Then I fretted about her thyroid.

I've had days where I have brief stretches of time that I can barely function.  All I can do is focus in on Birdie, listen to her heart, and try to figure out if she's all right.  It passes because life keeps moving, even if everything is stopped inside my head.  Bean forces me to keep moving.  I know I need to get a handle on it, and I'm so trying.  I don't want to worry this much.  I'm hopeful that after we see the endocrinologist this week, and the cardiologist and pediatrician next week, that I'll feel better.  I need confirmation that she's okay.  I need to know that she's gaining weight, that she's growing and developing.  I see change but I wonder if it's enough.

I know that if I don't get the worry under control, I'm going to regret it.  This part of Birdie and Bean's life will only happen once.  Sometimes I feel like I'm in a fog and I'm missing it.  So when Birdie stares up in my eyes after she gets done nursing, smiles, and starts cooing at me, I just smile back and try to focus on all the things about her that are okay.  She will be okay.  She is okay.  I just love her so much. Both of them.  I just love them so much.