life, love, and maybe babies

Monday, December 21, 2015

Make Like a Tree and Maternity Leave: 10 Tips to Prepare You For What'sComing

Maternity leave. Two tiny words that can bring up a wealth of all kinds of emotions. Fear, anxiety, joy. For the most part, the idea of maternity leave (if you're taking it) will make you feel excitement, and maybe even a little hopeful. After all, newborns sleep a lot. You're going to get SO MUCH DONE! You might even start and complete that novel that's been living inside you for the last 10 years. Move over, J.K. Rowling, there's a new best selling author in town.

Then you get home with the baby and you realize things aren't exaaaaactly like you thought they'd be. And with that, here are the top 10 things about maternity leave you never saw coming.

10) Time flies, even if you aren't having fun

You'll probably be up before 6:00 AM. And yet, somehow, when your husband walks in the door in the early evening and asks, "So what did you two do today?", you find yourself wondering exactly that. WHAT THE HELL DID I DO WITH THE LAST 12 HOURS?

I'll give you a hint. You changed diapers, fed baby, changed baby, soothed baby when he cried for two hours straight, attempted to load the dishwasher but gave up when baby woke up from his nap, and took a shower. (No promises you get one of those tomorrow, though.) When you look at that list, how in the world did those few items take up that much time?

Because they just do.

I'm convinced days with a baby are actually looped into some sort of cosmic time warp or dog year phenomenon, where one minute is actually 10 minutes. So hours really only last six minutes. And therefore, those 12 hours are really only 72 minutes long.

Trust me on this, I know what I'm talking about.

9) Television makes no sense

When you first started thinking about maternity leave, you poured through your Netflix account, looking for a great series to start (and maybe even finish!) while your babe and you snuggled on the couch.

Good luck with that, honey buns.

What actually happens is you watch the first few episodes when baby is sleeping 16-17 hours a day and get really into it. (For me, it was "The Affair" on Showtime). Then, right as you're getting into the meat and potatoes of the show, baby decides he's had enough of you eye-gulping television and wants to be fed smack in the middle of episode 4. So you pop the boob (or bottle) in his mouth and settle back in. But he doesn't want to be fed anymore, he wants to be rocked and cuddled. So for 20 minutes you look into his eyes and coo at him until he drifts off to sleep. But then you have no idea what the hell just happened on your show. You reach for the remote, but the movement startles baby and he wakes up...and you get to start all over again.

Bottom line? You aren't going to be watching any television unless it's something you've already seen.

8) You will learn efficiency at a pro level

This happens fast. Pre-baby, you could nestle on the sofa in the morning, drink in the morning peacefulness, and occasionally change the channels on the television.Those days are gone. Now you must learn to think in advance of what you could possibly need before you sit down. TV on? Check. Channel correct? Check. Coffee in arm's reach? Check. Bladder empty? Check. You will learn to anticipate every conceivable scenario and your response to it before you're seated. (I'm convinced this is actually brain training for when my child is older and is trying to think of ways to sneak out of the house.)

7) You might hate your partner a teeny little bit

Your days are spent changing poopy diapers, feeding your baby on demand and occasionally eating a meal. So when your husband gets home, you fully expect to be able to do a changing of the guard and hand baby over for a bit of a reprieve. Perhaps you'll finally pay the bills that have been mounting on the kitchen counter. Or eat an apple. But Hubs might have other ideas. And for the record, it isn't even his fault. He (or she) comes home from a hard day and wants to have snuggled with a happy baby. Not grumpy, smelly, hasn't-slept-for-hours baby that needs to be rocked and bounced. So when you give him that baby, don't be surprised when he immediately tries to give him back and say, "Oh, he must be hungry. I can't help with that." And then you want to throttle him.

This is going to take communication for both of you to get through. Hubs needs to know you need a break. After all, you've been working hard all day too, just in a different way. Both of you deserve a little downtime and you're going to have to take it in shifts. I remember the exact moment I realized Hubs and I needed to talk very seriously about what I was expecting from a help perspective when he came home from work. I was sitting on the couch nursing my son and realized I had left his pacifier upstairs. I asked Hubs to grab it and he replied, "Well, what would you do if I wasn't here?" I considered calling a divorce attorney right then and there.

The point is, you have to talk to one another. You both must understand that life is different now and "downtime" might just be a fond memory. And you need to be there for each other.

6) You will kick yourself for "powering through" your tiredness when you were pregnant.

Because naps were at least an option back then. Now your bed beckons you and you have to ignore it.

5) Your laundry will become biblical

Remember the feeding of the 5,000? This is what happens to your laundry. One tiny, little human will produce more laundry than you could ever conceive. Sometimes baby wears an outfit for literally three minutes. Then it's one go-around with a blow out diaper and baby needs new pants and you need a completely new outfit.

4) Your bank account will suffer

No, not because you need to buy diapers and formula and wipes, although those certainly cost money. The spending shenanigans comes from online shopping. But wait, you say, I thought I was going to be spending all my free time rocking baby and being tired. How am I going to shop?

Your body is an amazing thing and will learn to buy things with the use of only one extremity. Did you know you can rock baby with one arm and scroll through Amazon with the other? You will become next level amazing at it. 

To make matters worse, night time feedings may cause half-awake spending, which is both the best and the worst kind. The best is when a package arrives that contains an item that you've always wanted but could never pull the trigger on. Did Hubs buy this for you because he loves you? What a doll! And then the worst part comes...because you realize you sleep-bought this item for yourself during baby's 3:30 AM feeding. Oops.

If you want to try and curtail the damage, don't save your credit card info onto your phone. At least then you have to physically go and get your wallet to purchase something. Otherwise, you're just a few clicks and an Amazon Prime membership away from bankruptcy.

3) You will wear out Google

Is baby supposed to burp after breast feeding? When should she stop sleeping in her bassinet? Are these weird bumps on her arm normal?

Get ready for your entire search history to revolve around things that may or may not be wrong with your kid. And prepare to feel more judged than you've ever felt. For the first three weeks of maternity leave, I relied on Google or Mom Blogs to guide me through what I was supposed to be doing. The problem arose when I found great advice, then three minutes later found advice that counteracted the great advice I just got. It's a vicious cycle. 

Use Google if you truly think it will help, but more than likely, you'll end up more confused and fully convinced you're failing at motherhood.

2) You won't work out

I bought a set of workout DVD's my second day of maternity leave, and they're still sitting in my kitchen. It's not that I don't plan to use them, but I've made peace with the fact that they're going to have to wait until after my son is in daycare. This is the one time in my life I can spend an unprecedented amount of time with my baby. I'm not going to use it worrying about my gut and stretch marks.

The workouts can wait.

1) It will fly

Don't blink. Your time with baby will be over before you can even process that it's happened. Sure, eight or ten or twelve weeks sounds like an eternity, but it isn't. As the end of my uninterrupted time with my son comes to a close, I am floored by how quickly it's gone. I struggled with feeling like I got nothing accomplished, but then I remember that I had a baby. I kept him alive. I fed him from my own body parts every single day and he is happy and thriving and well. 

And now I have to turn him over to someone else.

It breaks my heart, but I know I soaked up every minute of my time with him and didn't take any of it for granted. Even when he was cranky and barfing or pooping every four minutes or refusing to go down for a nap, I was grateful for him. I was thankful to have him in my arms, a little piece of my husband and me.

And now I'm ready to go back to work and watch him thrive. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Feed Me, Seymour: The Honest Guide to Breast Feeding You Never Knew You Needed

When I was pregnant, people would constantly ask me one question that grated my nerves more than any other...

Are you going to breastfeed?


As someone who had worked so incredibly hard to even get pregnant, I hadn't really taken the time to consider breastfeeding vs formula. I was way too busy thinking about whether this pregnancy would even go to term to focus on what I would do to sustain my baby's life after he came. 

But, as most babies do, he arrived. And he was hungry. Our nurses at the hospital were fantastic and the lactation consultants were extremely helpful in helping me to get breast feeding going. Now that nearly 13 weeks have passed, I look back and see how much my approach to breast feeding has changed since those first few days.

So let's get to the good stuff that 4,392 other articles won't tell you about breastfeeding. For example:

1. Breastfeeding is freaking hard

Yeah, yeah, you say. Everyone knows it's hard. All the mom's say it. But really, what's so hard about it? I mean, you bring the baby up to your nipple and off you go. Um, no. That's the forensic explanation. It is so, so much more than that. I mean, sex is technically putting part A into part B, right? But we all know how intense and complicated and wonderful and awful sex can be, don't we? Breastfeeding is the same way. It's all the nuances and little things that make it either fantastic or awful.

Full disclosure, though? At the beginning, it's pretty much just awful. So don't go into your first experience breastfeeding and feel like you're a failure if you aren't screaming, "YAY, I GET TO BREAST FEED TODAY!" 

That may never happen.

2. There is pain. No matter what you read that says otherwise.

Almost every "how to" guide I read clearly stated that if your nipples hurt while breastfeeding, you were doing it wrong. That is blatantly not true. Remember, before you had your baby, your nipples were rarely (or never) getting play. Maybe once a week? Once every two weeks? Hell, it might have been five months since your boobs last saw daylight because when you're pregnant, your boobs hurt and you're all " DON'T TOUCH ME THERE, OKAY!?" 

Now, this eight pound human being wants to chomp down on your practically re-virginized tata's and get liquid out of them 10 times a day. And this isn't supposed to hurt? Girl, please.


The fact is, your nipples have to get used to being sucked on in a completely non-sexual way. It just isn't pleasant at the beginning. Now, that isn't to say that if it hurts to feed that you're definitely doing it right, it just means that if it hurts, you aren't necessarily doing it wrong. And you, my friend, get the joyous task of figuring out which category you fall into. For me, it hurt because the cross-cradle hold turned out to be a dud. My little man just couldn't latch correctly. The minute I switched to the football hold we were off to the races. But it still did hurt at the beginning. 

I highly recommend walking around shirtless and braless for at least a week if you can. Your partner will love it and your nipples will love you. Be aware though, you will have to thwart the increased advances made by your partner as a result of your free floating lady parts. Just "accidentally" squeeze some breast milk on him. He won't touch you for a month.

3. You will leak.

I spent a good month and a half waking up in the middle of the night swimming in my own liquids before finally realizing I needed to sleep with a bra and breast pads. And no one thought to share with me that when you feed your baby on one side, the other side is going to let down, too. You must prepare for the rain!

Sometimes the leakage happens two minutes after my baby's last feeding, sometimes it takes two hours. So keep close watch, as thou cannot know the time or the hour when the boobs will spring a leak.

Do yourself a favor and invest in the nursing pads and keep them in your bra 24/7. Don't bother taking off the sticky adhesive strips and trying to keep them in place, either. They're going to move, as are your boobs. You get used to it and eventually you won't have any qualms about fixing it in public. 

4. You'll Never Take Your Bra Off Again

Because #3.

5. Ounces matter

If your breastfeeding time table goals exceeds your maternity leave capabilities, you're going to have to pump. I'd recommend starting pretty early on so you can get the hang of it. 

Pumping sucks. In fact, they should just call it Sucking because that's what it is. Two weird, plastic, alien-looking things attach to your titties and siphon the freaking life out of them. If you're lucky some milk comes out, too. But guess what? Sometimes you'll pump for 25 minutes and not a single drop happens. It's super reassuring. Then out of curiosity you'll Google"how many ounces should I be getting when I pump" and you'll read things like, "I immediately got 10 ounces at every pump!" and "I loved pumping! I got 1,200 ounces in two weeks for my babe!" 

(I just tell myself that these women are ugly in real life. It's the only thing that makes me feel better.)

(Not really, those ladies are just super lucky.)

As an added bonus, here's something else you have to deal with. Your husband WILL NOT get it. One of the first times I pumped, I only got half an ounce and my husband said, "So just throw that out, right? It's not worth it to keep it."


Excuse me? Not worth it? I just spent 35 minutes with a machine making a sound that can only be described as several cows being disemboweled as I hunched over two giant vacuums who, I swear to God, get personal pleasure out of my pain, and you don't think the half ounce I pumped is WORTH IT?

I highly recommend keeping all sharp objects away from yourself when you've just pumped, because if anyone dares question how much you got, you will probably end up on death row.

6. Forget Text Neck. 

You will get Tit Neck from looking down at your boobs when you pump to SEE IF ANYTHING IS COMING OUT. Oh, and get ready to get genuinely excited when you see the milk start to spray. It's like Christmas morning.


7. Eventually you will breast feed for all to see in public


8. The nursing cover sucks

Who wants to eat like this? Exactly no one.


For the purposes of research, I ate my breakfast today with a blanket over my head and guess what? It's not a pleasant way to eat. I couldn't see anything, it made me hot and it's stupid. Why would I expect my child to eat this way just because we're in public? I mean, if I do flash a nipple it's for less time than Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction.

Also, the nursing cover is the most awkward thing on earth. How is anyone expected to thread the needle of a mouth to a nipple without the benefit of SIGHT? I am not a superhero, people. 

9. Cluster feeding is a real thing

As I left the hospital with my newborn son, basking in the glory of the beautiful human I produced, my lactation consultant called after me, "Don't forget about the cluster feed at two weeks! You'll feel like he's attached to you!" 

I wasn't really listening. 

Thankfully Hubs was, because around the two week mark, my son went on a breast feeding binge. He fed every 15 minutes for over two hours straight. As I sat there with red nipples, a sore back, and angry as hell, Hubs piped up, "Hey, didn't that lactation lady say this would happen around two weeks and you just had to power through it?" 

Those lactation peeps. They're always right.

Cluster feeding sucks but it is necessary. It's signaling to your body to up the milk production to keep up with what baby needs. If you supplement with formula, it might cut back on your discomfort, but you might not ever get your supply up to where it needs to be. Try and power through. Sit down with Netflix ("House of Cards" all day, erry day.) and a bunch of snacks and let babe eat as often as he needs. Have some lanolin on your nipples in between feedings and you'll come out the other side, I promise.

10. Your timeline will change

When I started nursing, my pie in the sky goal was to make it at least a year. After day two, I had decided I would make it a week. After a week, I decided one month...max. Now I've been successfully breast feeding for three months and my new goal is six.

The correct answer for how long to breast feed is: as long as you want.

There is no magic number of months or days or weeks. Frankly, if you're hating every second of it, you are transferring that energy to your baby. He can feel it. If you are absolutely despising the process to feed your child, then it might be time to move on. 

But here's a little thing to remember: breast feeding is like having contractions. If you knew you had 192 more to go before your baby arrived, you probably would have just given up and jumped out the window. Instead you took it one at a time, minute by minute, half hour by half hour. That's how I've learned to handle breast feeding. I take it week by week. 

So, new mama (or second or third time mama), give yourself a break. Join a breast feeding support group. Email me. Call your mother. Call your best friend who breast fed twins for nine months. Your body was designed for this, and you owe it to yourself to give it a try. If breast feeding isn't for you, that's fine. You will probably get questions from nosy people with good intentions. Try not to go too hard on them. They just don't know any better. 

Hang in there!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Looking back...

I don't know who "they" are, but apparently "they" say looking back isn't a wise thing to do because it prevents you from moving truly forward.

I say horseshit.

As an infertile, sometimes looking back is the only way to see just how far I've come. (Surely that's a Maya Angelou quote...or I'm just amazing.) If I didn't have the strength to look back, I wouldn't be able to see that one year ago, I was in Colorado, living at my friend's house, sticking myself with injections every day, and waiting patiently for my retrieval date. Every morning I would wake up, convinced I was at home, and then reality would set in. I would remember that I was far from home, without my husband (who would come later), living off of my friends' hospitality, all in the hope that this journey would end with a pregnancy.

It wasn't an easy time for me.

But, because I look back, I can smile at that time. I can laugh at the day I tried to go buy my in laws a Christmas present at a nearby Crate and Barrel, and was so terrified of the Colorado traffic that I turned the car around and went right back to the house (with a detour to buy ice cream, of course). I can finally grin at the memory of telling myself, "If you can get through this Gonal F injection, you can rent Serendipity," because I knew a Christmas movie would cheer me up. I can get all warm and fuzzy thinking about how my selfless friend Lindsey asking me what she could bring me home for dinner, as I sat on her plush couch, watching her TV, reading her books. 

Most importantly, I can look back and not have my heart break as I recall the pain and turmoil I was experiencing as my retrieval date grew closer. I don't have to wince at the memory of giving myself an injection in the Dick's Sporting Goods bathroom. I no longer live in fear of it all not working. 

Because it did work. 

My son is sleeping in his crib right now. I can go in and watch him breathe. I can look at his fingers and his toes and pinch them ever so gently to know he's real. I can hold him up to my breast and feed him, sustaining his life with my own. All because I went through that pain and suffering and misery a year ago.

Just one year.

I always thought that if I looked back on infertility, I would surely think about how it was the worst time of my life and how much I hated it. But quite the opposite has happened. I truly look back on my time in Colorado and throughout my infertility and feel proud. Accomplished. I feel invincible. Then I look back on my birth story and feel even more proud, accomplished and invincible. By golly, by George, I can do anything. If I can handle all of that, I can handle no sleep, engorged boobs, and crying fits at 3 AM. I can handle teething and potty training and first dates and puberty. I can and I will handle it all like a champ.

And I will look back on all of it. And I will smile.

Happy Holidays, all! Here's a photo from our fall family shoot. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Birth Story: Part 2

The other day, I shared with you all the story of how my little buddy came into this world. It was long, tiring and scary but we made it through and Hubs and I left the hospital with a perfect baby in our arms government approved car seat.

I was amazed about how my expectations of the birth were absolutely nothing like the reality, and I had a sneaking suspicion the "after baby" experience would yield the same results.

I was right.

Rather than tell you the long version of what happened after baby, I'll use one of my trusty lists to tell you about the post production of having a baby.

(I realize there are already a ton of lists out there on the internet, but they're all things like "you have to wear giant maxi pads after giving birth." I mean, duh. But I, dear friends, am going to tell you the real stuff.)

Things No One Tells You About Birthing a Baby:

1. You will have no modesty left

Like I mentioned yesterday, there's no need to cross your legs like a lady and try and hold your hospital gown closed. You will have more people up in your lady business than you ever thought possible. A few times Hubs even said, "the nurses are getting more action from you than I've seen in weeks." They've got to check your cervix, adjust really annoying monitors on your belly and after delivery, and take out your catheter. They don't care if you've shaved and they don't care if you fart. Do what they say and it will be over a lot faster than if you fight it.

2. You will forget how to pee 

I can't speak to vaginal delivery because I had a c-section, but I can tell you that after it was all said and done and my catheter came out, my nurse took me into the bathroom to pee. But I couldn't go. It was like my bladder had shut down and gone on strike. The nurse gave me a little bottle to spray warm water on my lady bits (like I said earlier, they see it all) to trick my body into peeing, but it didn't really work. Ultimately, there's one way to make sure it finally happens. (Brace yourselves.) When you take your first shower and the water hits you, your bladder will go "OH! I remember what to do!" and you will pee in the shower.

Gross, but you will be so, so happy.

3. You'll Heart Stool Softeners

If the doc and nurses don't offer you a stool softener as part of your postpartum care, ASK FOR IT. Constipation is a legit phenomenon after birth. I realize it's TMI, but I went almost a week after delivery without a BM. And don't think you can just tough it out, because you will regret it when you're pooping out what feels like glass mixed with sand paper and a splash of bleach. TAKE THE STOOL SOFTENER.

4. Your stitches aren't going to rip open- but it will feel like it

This is for you c-section gals. The first time you cough/sneeze/laugh, you will be positive you ripped open your incision and your guts have trickled into your lap. They aren't. Your stitches will withstand just about anything. If you're so lucky as to accidentally choke on some Jell-O like I did, you will experience a large coughing fit and get to feel your incision on a catastrophic level. It isn't fun and it doesn't feel good, but rest assured your stitches are going to hold. Also, be sure to check out your incision in the's pretty bad ass.

5. Your first shower will be better than sex

A lot of things happen to your body while and after you giving birth. You sweat, maybe throw up, and leak various fluids out of every hole your body has. So it should be no surprise that you, stink. A shower is necessary (if your doc okays it). Grab yourself a chair for the shower if your bathroom allows for it, and let the warm water do its thing. You will feel like a new woman. Oh, and you'll probably look down at some point and see a lot of blood going down the drain. That's normal and it will probably continue to happen for another few weeks. Yay.

6. It's open season on your boobies

Breast feeding? Lactation consultants will be your BFF...and they will touch your boobs. A lot. This sort of goes back to #1, where being modest is just not going to get you anywhere. When you first try to breastfeed, it will feel weird and foreign and you'll be afraid that you'll break your baby. Let the consultant help you. I didn't realize my milk wouldn't come in right away and freaked out. The consultant explained that my breasts would only produce yellow, gooey looking stuff called colostrum at first, and it is super good for my babe. But, there's a chance it might not come out without some coercing. When my colostrum wasn't showing up on its own, my lactation consultant massaged my boobies with both hands for a good 10 minutes. And I so didn't care. If it means your baby is going to get what he needs, you won't care either. It got to the point where I would have both of my girls out in the open when nurses would come in to check on me. No one blinked twice. They see it every day.

Not wanting to breast feed? I won't lie, you might catch some flack for it. Try not to take it personally; lactation consultants know the benefits of nursing and they want you to recognize it, too. But hey, it isn't for everyone and some women don't produce milk enough to sustain their baby. Don't be afraid to tell your nurse firmly (but nicely) that you have made the choice not to nurse and to please respect that.

7. Your nipples will be on fire

It's the truth. You will probably dread feeding baby the first few weeks. But trust gets easier! Your nips will toughen up. If you're in total misery, it could be your baby has a bad latch. Don't be too stubborn to call the lactation consultant and ask for help. That is what they're there for. They want to help and they want you to succeed at breast feeding. Hang in there, champ. You're doing fine.

8. You'll want to leave...I mean stay...I mean leave

Leaving the hospital might be harder than you think. One would imagine that getting away from that sterile smell and uncomfortable furniture would be welcome, but you have to remember that once you've left, you're on your own. And that can be pretty scary. Be prepared to have mixed feelings about saying goodbye to your room and the staff who have taken such great care of you and been with you every step of your delivery. I was surprised at how choked up I got when we left. I knew we had to go, but a big part of me wanted to stay and continue to get help on demand. But alas, the time came, and it was time to move on.

9. You will experience love for your spouse/partner like never before

You already love your spouse. They've been with you for the entire pregnancy, dealing with your mood swings, cravings, and heartburn. But now? They are your rock. Your sanity. Your partner in every sense of the word. This little person that just entered your life will require more work, effort and attention than you ever thought possible, and sometimes you just won't have what they need. Your spouse will be there to make up the difference (and vice versa). They will scratch your foot when you can't reach it because your stomach (or vagina) is still on fire from delivery. They will move your water glass 2 inches to the left so you can reach it. They will wake up with you when baby screams and comfort you when you feel like you're going to lose your mind. They will be your third and fourth arm because I promise you, two arms aren't enough for all the things you need to do for a newborn.

Lean on your spouse, because otherwise you are going to fall over. Let him help you in your darkest moments. Shower him with "thank you's" because chances are, he's feeling as helpless and lost as you are. Together, you've got this.

There are many other surprises and pleasantries that you will experience after your delivery, but the most important thing is to stay positive and realize all of it will pass eventually. Being in the moment can be stressful, so call on friends and family to help you out. No one should go it alone.

Love to all my mamas and hopefully-soon-to-be mamas out there!


Monday, October 19, 2015

The Birth Story, Part 1

I've wandered into uncharted territory. 

I'm a mom.

Holy moly, it feels strange to write that. After 4 years of wishing, hoping, praying and offering sacrifices to any God that would listen, I am a mother. I realize this is technically an infertility blog, and I still plan to write about infertility because that part of my life will never be scrubbed from my mind. But, in fairness to myself, I want to continue to write about my life and what's happening in it, and bloggies....that now includes a baby.

I promise to let you know when my posts are pregnancy related so you can guard your heart if you're feeling vulnerable or down. I know a lot of my readers are infertiles and I certainly don't want anyone to feel like i"m being insensitive.

Today I'm finally getting around to telling the birth story of my son, Ames. I promised to write this well over two weeks ago after he was born, but let me tell you something - newborns kind of demand a lot of attention. So I'm writing this little by little in between feedings and cry fests and nap times. 

Bear with me.

To say that birthing a baby is an exercise in letting go of any semblance of control is the understatement of the year. I didn't really have an official "birth plan" because I wanted to allow room for change and improvisation and boy, did we end up improvising. Let me just say that any plan you have for the birth of your child pretty much flies out the window the second you check into the hospital. Or at least for me it did.  

Here's my story (and it's a long one, so you've been warned):

My due date was September 24th. My son laughed at this. For my weekly checkups leading up to his due date, the doctor had the same report every week. "You're not dilated, you're not effaced. Nothing is happening." 

I tried everything to get thing moving. I ate pineapple, walked on curbs, had sex, ate spicy food, took hot baths, did squats - nothing made a difference. The weekend after my due date, I was convinced something finally happened. I began to feel tightening in my stomach and things just just felt different. My doctor appointment on Tuesday was surely going to show that I had dilated to at least 2 centimeters, I just knew it.

On Tuesday the 29th, Hubs and I headed to the doc. I laid on the table and let the doc do his thing to check my cervix, convinced he was going to admit me. And then I saw him frown. "I'm sorry," he said, eyebrows knitted and bracing for impact. "I can barely even get to your cervix, and what I can feel is...well, it's closed. Completely closed."

I almost lost it. Past 40 weeks pregnant, you're just over it. So, so over it. As I fought back tears the doc said he didn't think another week of waiting would do any good. We probably needed to induce. We agreed that the next night (Wednesday), we would check into the hospital and get things going. It wasn't ideal, but clearly our little man wasn't going to be coming on his own. If he had his way, he'd come out a toddler.

On September 30th we checked into the hospital at 6:00 PM. Naturally I was quite nervous but was immediately set at ease by the awesome nurse who explained in thorough detail everything that would be happening as it occurred. And all went well. The IV went in beautifully, the blood draws were painless, and I was feeling pretty content. The nurse explained they would be giving me a dose of Cervidil. You can look it up (because my explanation is rather elementary) but basically it's a drug that helps to soften or ripen your cervix in the hopes that it will cause dilation to occur. 

The drug is encased in this little tampon looking dealie -majig that is inserted up behind your cervix. Therefore, any modesty I had upon arrival of the hospital was immediately gone. I mean, they've got to get up in there, high and tight. Once the Cervidil was inserted, I had myself a nice Subway dinner, a little pain medication to help me relax, and then it was off to nighty-night ville. I slept pretty soundly, only waking up a few times because of all the monitoring that was being done. But I felt very little pain or discomfort. In fact, at one point the nurse came in, checked my vitals screen and said I had been having several contractions. Really? I wasn't even feeling them! I was amazing!!!

At 6 AM, the nurse came in to check how much progress I had made overnight.

Except there was none.

Not even a milliliter. 

The nurses then explained that this sometimes happened, and we would go ahead and start the Pitocin. For those that don't know, Pitocin is a drug that makes contractions begin. Again, it's used in the hopes that you will begin labor on your own. The nurses explained that yes, it was rather rare for Cervidil to not work overnight, but not to worry. The combination of the Cervidil and the Pitocin together would likely be enough to really begin my labor. And so I had high hopes.

As we waited for the Pitocin to get going, I told Hubs to take advantage of the calm before the storm to go home quickly and get a sweatshirt (it was 62 degrees in our room and the thermostat didn't want to work) and a few DVD's. Of course, three minutes after he left, I felt something happen. I called the nurse, convinced I was internally bleeding, but she just informed me that my water had broken. It was only leaking out slowly (because I was still closed up like Mother Teresa) but she was encouraged. This meant things were progressing! YAY!

I texted Hubs to let him know that the water had broken, but I was okay and to just get back when he could. 40 minutes later the contractions hit, and they hit hard. Because I wasn't at all dilated, the hospital wouldn't give me an epidural, so I just had to deal with the pain. By the time Hubs had returned, I was miserable and trying cope as best I could. ("Miserable and trying to cope" is code for crying a lot and wanting to die.)

Something to remember about Pitocin is it makes your contractions go all Kanye West and be "harder, faster, stronger." I was having contractions about every 45 seconds and they were a bee-otch. I tried to remember the breathing techniques, but dangit, it's hard. The pain is intense and even though it's only for seconds at a time, those seconds are pretty miserable. And so it went for six hours hours, contractions every minute or so. I changed positions, sat on a very phallic looking birthing ball, sat on the toilet, stood next to the bed, squeezed Hubs' hand and breathed. Okay, and vomited every now and again. 

It wasn't fun.

At around 2:00 PM I begged the doctor for a break and to check to see how far I'd dilated with all these contractions. I think I even told her to give me a break or I'd jump out the window. I was exhausted. Surely six solid hours of contractions had done something and they could take me off Pitocin so that I could have lighter contractions on my own. The doc checked my progress.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

I cried.

I was now in the 25% of women who Cervidil and Pitocin didn't do anything. How I love being a rare statistic. We were told that they would take me off of Pitocin to give me a break and we would do another round of Cervidil that evening.

Joy and rapture.

The good news, I was told, was that only about 15% of women have two rounds of Cervidil and don't go into labor, so the staff was confident that things would go better the next morning and the baby would be in my arms before noon.

That night we did the second verse, same as the first. Cervidil went up, some food went down and I tried to sleep. Considering the helluva day I had experienced, I thought I would sleep soundly. Unfortunately, I didn't account for the fact that the day of Pitocin and water breaking had started my own contractions, which I experienced about once every 10-15 minutes. They were mild, but enough to keep me awake a lot of the night. But I didn't care. In the morning, I would surely be in full blown labor.

The daylight of October 2nd arrived and with it, a new doctor. She came in to check my progress...and discovered that once again, nothing had happened. I was now officially a freak of nature. How could I have all these drugs whose sole purpose for existing is to cause a woman to go into labor, and somehow I wasn't? 

My doctor started to refer to me as Steel Cervix.

At this point, it was time to start Pitocin again, which I was completely dreading for good reason. The nurses brought in the IV bag and I watched as the drug drip, drip, dripped into my IV and the pain started. I would now like to take this time to send a virtual hug to any woman who has made it through an entire labor without drugs of any kind. You are truly amazing. Three hours into my second day of contractions and I was ready to kill anyone and everyone. It didn't matter what position I moved into, the pain was awful. The nurses were so encouraging, reminding me that the drugs were making the contractions extremely hard and fast, and I was doing great. I didn't feel like I was doing great. I felt like a big, fat failure. Hubs was there every step of the way, stroking my hair, holding the vomit bag, kissing my forehead. I think a few times I remember even hitting myself with frustration and he held my arms down. That's love, man.

Eventually I told the nurse I had to have something  for the pain. She recommended a pain med through my IV. I took it (duh) and almomst instantly regretted it. All the IV medication did was make me ridiculously sleepy and drunk feeling. Yes, sleep is a great thing, but when you're having contractions every 30 seconds, you're not exactly getting rest. In addition, when the pain wakes you up, you don't have any time to prep for the coming contraction so you just end up panicking and being in more pain. SO MUCH FUN.

At 1:30 PM I had had it. The contractions were getting stronger, I was getting louder and likely scaring my pregnant neighbors, and was finally told I could just have the damn epidural. 


Mr. Anesthesiologist came in all business like and read me all the risks and potential hazards of an epidural. He relayed how there was a very small percentage chance that the epidural wouldn't work and blah blah blah and sign this piece of paper. I signed what I think was "F*ck you, give me the drug" and he went to work. After four tries, I felt the pain subsiding. 


The doctor acted quickly on my numbness and inserted some sort of balloon thingy in-between the baby's head and my cervix. The details on this are fuzzy because I was in la-la land, but the gist is, the balloon was filled with a liquid to create a gap, otherwise known as dilating me the hard way. I couldn't feel it since I was numb. I was so elated after the epidural kicked in that I just kept saying to Hubs, "I'm so happy. I'm so happy." And then I passed out for two hours. 

The happiness was short lived.

I awoke to pain. Not as much pain as before, but something wasn't right. My right side felt like it was on fire, and it was getting progressively worse. The doctor was called in and he confirmed it.The epidural wasn't making it over to my right side. Apparently I have slight scoliosis in my back (there's that fun rare statistic again) and therefore, where my back curved, the epidural was taking a detour and not making it over to my right side. Neat. The anesthesiologist gave us three options:

Option 1) Pull the epidural out and try and put it back in again so it would be on both sides. There was no guarantee it would work and the potential was there for it to not get back in at all. I passed on this option immediately.

Option 2) Be happy the epidural was working at all and deal with the pain on my right side. Better than feeling the pain everywhere.

Option 3) The anesthesiologist could add in a little bit stronger medicine and see if it helped alleviate any of the pain.

We went for option 3 and additional medication was administered. I do recall that it dulled the pain in my right side a small amount, but not by much. The good news was, the balloon thing had worked and I was dilated to 3 centimeters. The doctor wanted to take up the Pitocin very high to see if we could get me any farther along. She promised we'd only do it for one hour if I could handle it. I agreed if it meant it would all be over soon.

I watched the nurse up the Pitocin. Several times. She was sadistic, that one. The spot on my right side was like a hot poker surrounded by spikes. I don't honestly know what was worse...feeling a lot of pain throughout my entire stomach or having that pain isolated to one small spot. It's kind of like trying to figure out if I'd rather be burnt with a blow torch or fall into a fireplace. Neither option is appealing.

I started screaming expletives. I told Hubs I hated the nurse while the poor gal was standing right next to me. Hubs was at his wit's end. Thankfully an hour passed and I started looking toward the door for the doctor. She didn't show. At the two hour mark I was inconsolable. I couldn't do the breathing anymore. I was physically wiped out. Nurse Ratchet had increased my Pitocin high enough that I think she was just trying to see how much pain she could cause me. I started screaming for the doctor, asking why she wasn't back yet.

At long last, the doctor arrived and did a final check. I hadn't dilated any further. I was stuck at three and going nowhere fast. My water had been broken for well over 24 hours and the risk of the baby getting an infection was growing higher by the minute. It was time to make a move. The doctor recommended we go to a c-section.

And then I lost my shit.

I'm not sure why the idea of a cesarean freaked me out so much since it was a means to an end I was so desperately wanting. I imagine it was the exhaustion coupled with fear, but I was convinced I was going to feel myself being cut open and then die on the operating table. The hospital staff and my husband went into overdrive to calm me down. They explained the entire procedure in great detail and the doctor assured me she had done over 1,000 of these before.

I don't remember a lot about the next 15 minutes, but I do remember Hubs. At one point I looked up at him and tears were running down his face. I think he was freaked out about me going into surgery, but also knew how much pain I was in and wanted more than anything to make it stop. All this time he had been there for me, holding my hand, talking me through the contractions and telling me what an amazing woman I was...and now he would be helpless as the baby was removed. It was all in the doctor's hands now.

I was wheeled into surgery and given a spinal to numb me from the chest down. Hubs wasn't allowed to come in until I was completely numb and ready for surgery, and even when he was brought in, he wasn't allowed to watch the procedure. I remember feeling a lot of tugging (when I think about what that tugging meant, it nauseates me), a lot of chit chat from the doctor and nurses that I didn't understand, and my husband's eyes. I remember him looking at me, telling me it would all be done soon and our son would be coming any moment if I could just hang on a little longer. 

I heard the baby before I saw him. Just a quick little cry that I now know so well. And at 3:44 PM, there he was. He wasn't covered in goo like in the movies. He was perfect. The second I saw him I was overcome with emotion. The little dude that didn't want to come out had finally arrived. 

8 pounds, 7.5 ounces. 21" long. Blue eyes and huge feet. My son, Ames Wellington, was here.

Looking back, that time in the operating room was a blur. I was semi-aware of what had to be occurring, but at the same time completely oblivious to what was actually happening. But when he came out and was healthy, I didn't care about myself anymore. He that was all I could think about. I wanted to hold him and simultaneously was scared to even breathe near him. I was pulled in two different directions: fear and love. 

As they placed him on the scale, I heard the nurses ask if Hubs wanted to take a picture. Of course he did, and as he raised his phone to snap a photo and I was instantly taken back to the room at our fertility clinic when the embryo was transferred in. I remember Hubs being asked if he wanted a photo of that as well. Ten long months between that embryo transfer and the birth of my child. So much time, effort, money and emotions had passed over the course of four years, and yet here we finally were.

Hubs and me the day of our embryo transfer

Despite the odds, despite the complications and despite all the "what ifs" that turned out to be realities, we have done it.

We are finally parents.

Our new chapter has begun.

Daddy and Ames


Quick note: We ended up staying at the hospital for 6 days because Ames had an infection from my water breaking longer than 24 hours before he was born. In those six days, we had a handful of nurses who were absolutely amazing. No matter what I did or what insults and obscenities I hurled at them, they just did their job and told me I could do it. If it weren't for my amazing husband and those angel nurses...I don't know what I would have done. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Two Week Countdown

(Warning: Pregnancy post ahead. Protect yourself as always and don't read if you're feeling vulnerable or sad.)

Bloggies, I have been terribly bad about blogging. I'm so sorry...I can't really even blame any one reason. Oh wait, yes I can.

I'm in complete denial about this baby. No, seriously. Total, absolute denial.

I'm hoping I'm not the only one who has experienced this. I'm thinking perhaps it's a side effect of being an infertile for so long? I got so used to the idea that a baby was never coming, and now that I'm less than 2 weeks away from him being here, it's almost like I won't allow myself to believe it. This has manifested itself in many ways. Ways that are not helpful to me, Hubs, or the impending child. They are:

1. I'm not taking very good care of myself. I'm working harder than I've ever worked, traveling more than I've ever traveled and basically pretending that this giant belly of mine isn't really there. I sleep on my back when I'm not supposed to because, dammit, that's what I want to do. I pick up heavy objects that I'm not supposed to because, dammit, that's what I want to do. I'm basically pretending I'm not pregnant.

2. I'm not signing up for classes. Of any kind. I was advised to sign up for Breastfeeding class around 30 weeks and Child birthing class no later than week 25.

I'm at week 37.5.

I finally made myself sign up for both. The breastfeeding class put me to sleep and my childbirth class is literally one week before my due date. So there's that.

3. I'm not nesting. Is there an opposite word for nesting? Like maybe "lazying"? Instead of folding baby clothes and organizing baby books, I'm instead watching hours of "The Good Wife" on the weekends to avoid thinking about it. I don't want to shop for diapers or baby shampoo. I don't want to think about any of it.

4. I'm not talking about him. At all. When someone brings up "oh, you're getting so close" I say "Yep - hey, did you watch that one episode of The Good Wife?" and people look at me like I'm a martian. My parents and Hubs' parents called last week to ask what the plan is for if I go into labor and we need someone to pick up Hubs' daughters from school. My response was literally, "I don't know. We'll figure it out."

5. I'm turning down opportunities to get my progress checked. Today the doc asked if I wanted to have my cervix checked to see if things have started happening. I told him no. I don't want to know.


I've been thinking about this all day today and I've come up with another possibility about why I'm so detached about this.

It's because I'm terrified.

I am not good with pain and discomfort. I call it having a low tolerance for pain - Hubs calls it being a pussy. Call it what you want, but I am scared. When I was 21, I had my first cavity and they had to shoot my tooth up 4 times with Novocaine. After the cavity, the dentist laughed and told me most people have cavities of this size filled with zero medicine.

So yeah, maybe a pussy is the right word for it.

Regardless, I feel no shame in admitting that I'm a wimp. It's just who I am. And everyone keeps reminding me "there's the epidural, there's the epidural." Well yeah, but you know what has to happen BEFORE I can have an epidural?

Contractions. Lots of them. Contractions = pain.

Unfortunately, the fear of the unknown is really keeping me from enjoying these last few weeks before little man arrives. And that's a huge bummer. I know I can't control what happens, but I've heard so many horrors stories about epidurals not working, or only working on one side or spinal headaches after birth and near death experiences. It's all I really think about, rather than focusing on the absolute miracle that will be joining us in less than 20 days (if he's on time).

I don't want to think this way. I want to think about the amazing baby that's rolling around inside me (by the way, it's super annoying when I'm trying to sleep). I wanted this SO BADLY for 4 years, and now that it's here...I'm not quite sure I'm ready.

So I'm scared. And panicked. And nervous. And jittery. And fat.

It's not a good combo.

But I do take comfort in knowing that there's no getting off the roller coaster, no matter how much or little it may hurt for a little bit. At the end of the pain will be my son. At the end of the pushing and heavy breathing and epidurals and placenta passing and whatever else happens, I will be a mother. I will have in my arms the one thing that I have wanted for so, so long.

And it will all be worth it.

XOXO, friends.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cutting the Digital Cord: Why Infertiles Should Consider Leaving Social Media

The election is over and the holidays are on their way. A time for family, egg nog, and over the top family posts on social media.


A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post about getting rid of social media for awhile. And look, I rely on social media. It's how I stay connected to all of you. But sometimes it isn't healthy. And I need you healthy so you can focus on your baby making.

So here's the post I wrote, updated for now. Read through it, share it with your friend who just saw 3 posts in a row about babies, and then consider logging out and walking away for a bit. You just might be glad you did. And hey, I'll still be here when you get back. So there's that.



  • Sooooo blessed to find out we are expecting our 4th child in January! Guess that super birth control pill didn't work after all. LOL!
  • Ugh, I hate being pregnant. Someone kill me. #notplanned #16andpregnant #MTV #selfie
  • Why would anyone ever adopt? I mean, there are so many precious babies out there that need homes! #adoption #IVFisaSin

Look, we all do it. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, blogs - it's how we stay connected. It's a convenient and voyeuristic way of seeing what is going on with friends and family and even perfect strangers across the globe.

But it will drive you crazy.

When I was in the throes of my fertility treatments, I often found myself tangled in the trap of social media. I'd be waiting for my umpteenth blood workup and hop quickly on my phone to keep occupied. I'd be happily reading ridiculous political posts and the occasional rant about bad customer service from a carpet cleaner, and BAM, there it would be. Pictures of my cousin's brand new baby. Mocking me. Laughing at me.


It's enough to drive anyone batshit, yo. Unfortunately for infertiles, we're already halfway to crazy, so it basically drives us straight to the nut house in our bathrobe and curlers.

And so, after many hours of debating and thinking, I finally did it. I suspended my Facebook account for three months. I cut the cord last year right before the holidays. At the outset I was concerned about missing all the engagement announcements and "Happy Holidays from the Murphys!" photos that were sure to be abundant during that time. But in retrospect, it was exactly what I needed at the time. 

So if you're an infertile and you can't take one more post about Sally Jo and her kid having green diarrhea, allow me to bestow on you the 5 reasons you need to let social media go for awhile.

1) It's distracting you from what's important

You, my friend, have protocols and schedules to follow. You have medications to take and happy thoughts to be thinking. And while it's lovely to see that your best friend is pregnant for the third time right before you leave for an RE appointment, it isn't doing you any favors. It's taking your eye off the proverbial ball (the ball being a baby). Instead of focusing on your own pregnancy journey, you're now having the "WHY NOT ME??!!!" conversation in your head.


Instead of logging on to Instagram and seeing yet another picture of your colleague's newborn, try something else. Step away from the apps and go for a walk. Eat a banana. Or...if you refuse to delete these apps altogether, considering hiding those people you know that are pregnant or just had a baby (trust me, I won't mind). Focus on yourself and your journey.

2) It's making you grumpy

How many times has your RE told you that keeping a positive attitude and a light heart is vital to the fertility process? Every time you see a post about a baby, your heart clenches. Trust me, I know. You plaster on a smile and pretend it's all good. Your body knows better. It can feel the tension and the anger and the icky stuff. It knows the reason you're snapping at your barista for failing to make a non-fat latte isn't because it's early in the morning. It's because your insides are in pain from Fertility Overstimulation. (And yes, I made that up.)  

Your body is smart. It knows when you're lying to yourself.

3) Deleting social media might just improve your social life

Can you imagine how awesome your friends will think you are when you send them an email or a text to tell them happy birthday rather than a Facebook post? Or if you actually call them to see how the first day of their new job went? You might get a Friend of the Year Award.

When I first suspended my Facebook account, I didn't tell anyone I was leaving, I just went. Over the next few days, several people emailed or texted me asking why I'd dropped off Facebook. I explained that it was just getting to be a bit much for me and I needed a break. And you know what? Not much changed. The people that I loved reading about on Facebook started to email me or text me more often. I really didn't miss much of anything (especially those awesome political posts from random family members I barely speak to). 

I found that if something was really important, and a person was special to me, they found a way to communicate their news. And I didn't risk a Fertility Overstimulation episode in order to hear about it.

4) Your husband/partner will feel special again

I am so guilty of checking my stupid social media pages when Hubs and I are eating. What a terrible, atrocious, rude habit. But guess what? Once I deleted those apps, I had nothing to "check" anymore. I just had him. One night at dinner he actually said, "Hmmm, something's different. Oh, I know. You haven't looked at your phone once."

We were able to have a complete conversation without stealing glances at our devices. I felt more connected to him than ever. And really, when you're going through infertility stuff, feeling connected to the father of the child you're hoping to create is kind of a big deal. Attention must be paid.

5) No accidental advertisements

Twitter and Facebook and Google are smart little cookies. So if you've ever written an update mentioning the word "pregnant", chances are those sites think you're preggers. Subsequently, you will start to see ads for bottles, diapers and baby clothes in your Facebook feed or off to the side of your Gchat. Those sites aren't trying to hurt you, but it's still a knife to the gut when you see a Facebook ad for "Pregnant and scared? Call 1-800-XXX-XXXX."


By unplugging those social media outlets, you once again start to take control of what you see. Remember, you can't see an advertisement for breast pumps on Facebook if you AREN'T ON FACEBOOK.


Look, I'm not saying leave Facebook and Twitter and Instagram forever. Maybe just ax one and keep the other. I maintained a relationship with my Instagram the entire time I dumped Facebook and that worked for me. But protect your heart. Clean out the clutter that is keeping you from focusing 100% on making a baby. This is one of the most important things in your life and you don't want something as stupid as a Facebook update making you lose focus. After some time has passed and you feel like you can handle a rant about "Synthetic Babies" from your Aunt Ethel, consider coming back. But take it slow.

And in the meantime...don't give up cool infertility blogs. :)

XOXO friends,

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