Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

We are heading out before more snow falls, trying to make it to my in-laws, about an hour north. We have a Je.ep and my husband's confidence that we can make it! That, and I believe my MIL is willing us there with her grandma-psychic-ability.

Before we depart, I just have to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. I know some of you are on the "other side" and some of you are still very much battling with infertility. Having lived through some pretty rough holidays before this one, I know that it's not always so "merry." If you are a commentor here, if I follow your blog, or even if you're a lurker that I have never "met," my thoughts and prayers are with you. I know it's a hard road and I wish you peace at this time of year and always. Each of our stories is so different and there is no magic "bullet" to bring you your own Real Live Baby, but I really and truly hope that Will provides some small beacon of hope to those of you still struggling.

I consider so many of you friends in the truest sense of the word. It's funny how something will happen and my first thought is, "I can't wait to tell my Blog Friends." Or how my day isn't complete until I have checked in with all of you to make sure you are doing all right. Although we have never met, we have walked with each other on some of life's loneliest, hardest roads, and we have celebrated with each other on the ups and consoled each other on the downs. I am so thankful for each and every one of you that have walked with me and continue to do so.

I will leave you with a few pictures of our f
avorite Santa Baby. . .

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

With Love,

Katie and Will

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

First Snow

We don't get a lot of snow here in the Seattle-metro area. And the snow we usually get is wet and icky, and sticks around for a slushy day or two before the next rainfall washes it away.

So, it's very neat that we've had snow on the ground for over a week. After our most recent storm, we have a total of about a foot in our yard. I was telling Will that it's sad he is way too young to play in what might be the very best snow he'll ever see in his own neighborhood (it's probably the most that I've ever seen short of going to the mountains).

Before the day of the heaviest snowfall, when we just had a layer of ice with a couple of inches on top of it, I took Will out so that he could enjoy the weather. It was quite a production, especially since I wanted to take no chances that he would be cold!

I bundled him up in a snow suit and he was pretty happy about it.

I then piled the blankets up and around him in his jogging stroller (which worked great in the snow, by the way!). You can barely see him, but he's there!

I must have done a good job getting him warm and toasty, because within about five minutes, he was fast asleep!

I can't believe that Christmas Eve is tomorrow. Because of the Will's cold and then the bad weather, we still have to fight the crowds for Christmas shopping today. We are supposed to leave for my in-laws tomorrow morning, but with the weather forecast calling for more snow, we might end up spending his first Christmas here at home.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Memorial Monday

This week's Memorial Monday is for J and her angels. As always, the stories of recurrent pregnancy loss strike a special chord in me, as I know firsthand the heartbreak of loss with no answers or resolution in sight. My thoughts and prayers are with J and her husband. She sent me this first entry on November 24. . .

I met my husband in 2002 and we were married this past year. We had suffered one miscarriage when we were first dating and it was a very early loss. I had found out I was pregnant and a few days later I started bleeding. I never got any answers on what happened or why. I was young and had never experienced this

In 2007, 6 months before we were to get married, I got pregnant again. It was quite a surprise! We had to change EVERYTHING for the wedding, from the date to the church. I would have been 7 months when we got married so we moved the date up because I wanted to still be able to fit in my dress. At 8 weeks, my husband and I went in for the first ultrasound and everything looked good. The doctor said the babies' sac wasn't fully round, almost like a kidney shaped but it was nothing to worry about. We told our families and I even got a "Mommy to be" shirt from my sister. My husband was so excited and telling anyone and everyone. I, like most women, had that worry in the back of my head because of the last miscarriage. But, I thought that everything just HAS to be ok. I was very nauseated and bloated. My pants starting feeling tighter but I knew it was all bloat/baby because I could barely eat anything! My jerk of a doctor never really did any tests or anything and we just had some routine blood tests.

After I had hit 3 months, I woke up one day and just didn't feel right. I went to the bathroom and there was a little blood. I called the doctor and they said to come in. I started getting ready but felt some pressure. I went to the bathroom again and was bleeding everywhere. Then the clots started coming. I woke up my husband and we rushed to the dr. They did an exam and my cervix was indeed open so they scheduled a D & C. We went to the hospital and huge gushes of blood were coming out. (Sorry for the TMI). I was screaming at the people who admit you and bleeding all over the floor. They finally got me into my room and I then we were off to the operating room. I said bye to my husband. When he left I kept thinking, what if something goes wrong and I die? I know it's a horrible thought but I was in a bad state of mind. The anesthesiologist came in and I started freaking out and asking for them not to knock me out yet. I asked if they could do another ultrasound to make sure, but they knew. Anyway, the dr. kind of tricked me and said they were just going to put in an IV but he put in the medicine to make you sleep. I woke up and it was over. I forgot where I was for a minute. I had to sit in the recovery room for the longest thirty minutes of my life. I just wanted my husband. I was told later by the nurses that he was in the waiting room just pacing back and forth and would stop every once in awhile and sit down and cry. That broke my heart. I was more worried about him more then anything. We both wanted this baby so bad.

I got on the pill right after because we had then moved our wedding date back to the original date and I was scared to get pregnant again. I was on the pill for about 6 months and my husband wanted to try again right away. We just found out we are pregnant again. I am still really early but I am hopeful. We have a new, wonderful doctor who is doing everything he can to help us. I will always have that worry and fear deep down but it will always be there. My husband is over the moon excited and can't wait to be a daddy. I have our next ultrasound next week and can't wait. I am nervous and excited at the same time. I am not sure if my husband, nor I, could take another loss. I pray that everything will be ok.

And then this e-mail came on December 7 . . .

Well, we have unfortunately suffered our third loss. Last week at out 9 week appointment we found out that the baby had stopped developing. We were going to let the miscarriage happen naturally but the dr. called on Friday morning again and said they were worried it wouldn't happen naturally and would cause me more problems. So we had a D & C Friday night. I am doing ok, but I have my sad moments. My husband is taking it really hard. He doesn't understand and neither do I, since we were doing everything right. My dr. is going to run some more tests and wants to do a whole work up on me since he thinks it has something to do with clots. i am just glad that finally they are doing something to figure out what the problem is. (this is a new dr.) We are going to take a TTC break until Spring 2009.

To be featured in upcoming Memorial Mondays, please contact me by clicking on my profile link and then by clicking on my e-mail link. You can either write your story yourself or provide me with the details and I will do it for you. You may include pictures, poetry, whatever feels right. This is your memorial for your loss.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

From Liz

To Katie and Her Readers:

Thank you very much for posting my story and for the comments. It helps to know good wishes are being sent.

There were some questions as to our future plans and I guess the best way to sum it up is that right now we don't know what we are doing. We are still signed up with our agency, but have put our profile "On Hold," which means that we are asking not to be shown to birth moms for the time being. When our profile is active, we get at least one or two calls per week to meet with moms, and then we usually do an actual face-to-face meeting two or three times a month. This is higher than usual, but remember, we've been with the agency for a while and they are trying to get us matched, so they are pushing our profile to the top of the pile. Anyway, as I said, we are often the second choice, and it's very hard to face that rejection right now on top of everything else. The case worker that manages our file has promised to only call us if a perfect situation (for example, an already surrendered infant) comes up, and so far, the phone hasn't rang.

Todd and I are trying to come to terms with the fact that we might remain childless. We are not getting any younger, which makes us less-than-ideal candidates for domestic adoption and takes us out of the running for most international adoptions. We are not sure that we can continue living our life "On Hold" for much longer, so we might just decide to move on, as difficult as that is to imagine.

Thanks again.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Sniffle, Sniffle

Will is doing much better today. Thanks to those who offered get-well wishes and advice. I do have to vouch for those that suggested putting the Vi.cks baby rub on his feet. My mom had suggested that very thing the first night he was sick and, strangely enough, it seemed to work!

His little nose is still stuffy, but he is either getting used to it, or it is better enough that it doesn't both him anymore. His fever is gone and his eyes aren't as red-rimmed as they were. He had a rough time going to bed last night . . . didn't get him settled until well after ten, but once he was down, he slept a miraculous nine hours straight! I went to bed immediately after he did and slept eight hours straight myself! Although the poor breasts, which were just starting to get the message that they needn't produce milk at night, have now gotten confused after three nights of straight feeding. I woke up with painfully full breasts and was really ready for him to wake up and eat! But I'll take breasts filled with milk and a good night's sleep any day!

I think it's almost safe to say that we survived our first cold. I know that it's a good sign that all is working well with his immune system, but I sure hope we get to go a little while before the next one hits! Will might be fine, but I need some time to recover!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

And inside isn't exactly what I'd call delightful, either.

Little Man has his first cold.

It started with a pathetic little dry cough on Tuesday afternoon. He then proceeded to throw up his evening bottle all over Daddy (good choice on the target). He is a baby that rarely spits up, even a little, so that was my first real clue that something was amiss, more than the cough. As I was cleaning him up, I noticed that he seemed warm, so I took his temperature and it was 101.4.

By a few hours later, his poor little nose was stuffed and he was choking on the mucus. He didn't sleep that well that night, waking up too many to even count.

It didn't help matters that we are in the middle of record-low temperatures and that it's snowing here in the Pacific Northwest. I had a humidifier, infant Ty.lenol and a nose aspirator from the hospital, but no Vi.cks baby rub or saline nasal spray. Finally, the roads cleared up enough for us to brave the elements and get him those things, which did seem to help.

The funny thing is that he seems almost normal during midday, but in the evening, he gets really clingy and will not go to bed. His cough seems worse and his nose seems more stuffed. And he will fall asleep and go down in his crib, only to wake up twenty minutes to an hour later. He can be rocked back to sleep, but then it just happens again. I finally took him to the guest room bed last night and we slept together, me worrying the whole time that now he'll never want to sleep in his crib again. But desperate times call for desperate measures and I just can't let him cry when he is obviously so miserable.

All I can say is that I finally understand why mothers get so upset and rush their babies to the pediatrician begging for something, anything to stop the pain and suffering of their little ones. This isn't a major illness, just a little head cold, and I can barely stand it. It's going to kill me the first time he gets really sick.

In the meantime, any home remedies or advice on helping a little guy with a big cold is very much appreciated!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Memorial Monday

This week's Memorial Monday is for Liz and her sweet baby Sarah. I was very touched by her story and so glad to feature a different type of loss on my blog. Please remember to comment and let these grieving parents know that they are not alone.

Hi, I'm Liz. I'm 39 and husband is Todd, he's 41. We have have been trying for a baby for nine long years.

For the first year, it wasn't that bad, but then I started worrying. So I went to the doctor and she ordered some tests. We found out that there were a lot of reasons why I wasn't getting pregnant: PCOS, fibroids, or even some fallopian tube scarring that they couldn't explain. Of course, there were surgical procedures to correct each of these problems, but then another cropped up. Life kept getting in the way, too, with job losses for both my Todd and me, at different times, so switching insurance and not being able to do everything all at once seemed to drag the process out even longer.

We were finally referred to an official RE. It had been almost three years since we started trying at that point. I was relieved when the RE reviewed our charts and said that he really didn't think that it was worth our time wasting our money and emotions on any more drugs or IUIs. It was time to move to IVF.

I remember after that first appointment, I thought we would have our baby within the year.

I was so wrong.

We went through four fresh and two frozen IVF cycles. We never saw a positive.

We went through two donor egg cycles, both fresh. No positive.

Two years ago, I was done with the treatments. Todd agreed.

We talked about it and decided that we wanted to adopt. We got in touch with two agencies and hired an adoption attorney.

I actually had fun when we first signed with the agency. It was kind of like being pregnant, I imagine, since I never had one single BFP. We registered, got our nursery ready, and bought a minivan. I wanted to be ready when a birthmom picked us. Every time the phone would ring, one of us would leap at it.

But eventually, the novelty wore off. You can only jump at the phone for so long. You can only lovingly fold gender-neutral onesies so many times.

We met with a lot of birthmoms along the way. For some reason, we were very often the runner up, but never first choice.

Until six months ago.

Six months ago, we met A. She was 22, already a mom to one little boy, and knew that she was in over her head. She was five months pregnant and wanted to choose adoptive parents soon so that they could be part of the pregnancy.

We met a coffee shop and after she left, we lingered over our drinks. We hadn't even left the table when our agency called us. A wanted us to parent her child.

At first, it was so surreal. We were finally going to have a baby.

We were there for every doctor's appointment for the rest of the pregnancy. We were there for the gender ultrasound just a few days after A picked us. We were going to have a little girl. We named her Sarah after my mother, who passed away from breast cancer five years ago. We painted over the gender-neutral sage green walls with pinks of all shades. We added frilly little girls clothes to the yellow and green clothes that had been waiting.

It became real to us. We were going to have our baby.

We were at the hospital when Sarah was born. We got to hold her before A did (A's choice). We got to room in with her that night. I held her, I rocked her, I fed her, I changed her diaper. I was holding her when the social worker came in with a very serious look on her face.

We did not get to take Sarah home.

A changed her mind.

I still can't believe that this happened to us. It just doesn't seem fair. I know this is technically not for babies that are still alive, but in my heart, I feel that this was like a death. We have been seeing a counselor who said that it is like a death. Sarah does not exist for us anymore. She isn't even named Sarah now. I don't know what her real name is. My little girl, the one that I held and fed and rocked, is not here.

To be featured in upcoming Memorial Mondays, please contact me by clicking on my profile link and then by clicking on my e-mail link. You can either write your story yourself or provide me with the details and I will do it for you. You may include pictures, poetry, whatever feels right. This is your memorial for your loss.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Few Of MY Favorite Things

It's been awhile since I posted on some of the things that I have found to be invaluable as I continue to adjust to mommyhood.

For the breastfeeding mother, I highly recommend. . .

Target nursing tanks
. Yes, I am a little unhappy with the red circle right now, since I also ordered a carseat and was disappointed when they refused to honor the price. But these nursing tanks are still worth it. They are so comfortable and a decent price. I wear them all of the time under these types of sweatshirts. The lower, cross-style neck line allows for you to pull back one flap at a time and the tank underneath requires no bra. And for breast pads, I find these to be the most absorbent and also comfortable. The best thing is that in each box, they always put a little "freebie." I told my husband it's like the Jacks prize . . . my latest box had a free microwaveable sanitizing bag (for breast pump parts), the last box had a free mini tube of lansinoh gel, which was perfect for the diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or bottle feeding. . .

I really love the bottle warmer than I received as a shower gift. I would not have purchased this on my own, but it's so much better than boiling a bottle and it especially works great for thawing out frozen milk if I have forgotten to take out a bottle ahead of time or need a few ounces to supplement. Although Will doesn't like pacifiers now, I used it in the beginning to make sure they were sanitized. And it also warms food, future use.

For baby, I have loved . . .

These specific no scratch mittens. Yes, there are many of them out there. We have about six different brands. But THESE, my friends, will actually stay on Will's little hands, which really makes them far more effective than the ones that don't! They come in a two-pack at BRU and Tar.get.

He loves. . . no, wait, let me me phrase this properly. . . he is in love with this mobile. Every single person that I know that has this mobile raves about it and I have to join the chorus. It's kind of spendy, I won't lie. I saw it multiple places for around $40.00. So, I got mine off of Crai.g's List for $15 and I've seen in many times on e.bay for around $30. But you know what, I would have paid full price for it had I known its miracle, soothing properties. The music plays for a full 2o minutes, which is enough time for something like, oh, say a shower! He loves it so much that I sometimes get jealous. Some reviews that I read on-line mentioned that the volume is too low. I do have to admit that I have it on the higher level of volume, but that is plenty loud enough. Also, unlike other mobiles, this one will fit on thicker top rail cribs like ours - even on a curved edge!

Finally, this bath lounger is one of my "Best Buys." I couldn't find the right link, but I found one very similar (with Frogs on it instead of pink flowers - and mine looks sturdier with a foam padded headrest) at Wal.mart for $6. I was using one of these bath sponges, but it took forever to wring out and I couldn't take it places. This lounger dries in about twenty minutes - no more wringing and it folds for easy packing. Will loves it, it keeps his head out of the water. The only thing is that I wouldn't buy it for an older baby. I think Will is actually getting close to done with it. One of my fellow mom friends lent me this interesting gadget, which I have yet to use as they say that babies have to be able to sit unassisted in it. I'll have to let you know what I think of it when we get to that stage.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Memorial Monday

This Memorial Monday post is dedicated to our Gummy Bear. In some ways, it seems so very long ago that we lost our sweet baby. In other ways, it doesn't seem possible that two years have passed. So much has changed and yet my love for our precious angel remains the same. Gummy Bear, Mommy loves you very, very much.

It was December 8, 2006 and my eleven week OB appointment. I was giddy with the anticipation of seeing our baby as part of the routine visit. My husband came along to get another peek.

We were not strangers to this ultrasound business - this being our fourth look at our developing little one. After discussing my complicated pregnancy history and doing an internal exam, it was time for the show.

The ultrasound screen was fuzzy, complete with diagonal lines running through the black screen. We had been spoiled by the far more high-tech equipment at our RE's, so the first thought was slight annoyance that the picture wasn't going to be as clear. In fact, when the baby first came on the screen, it was such a faint image that I had to strain.

The doctor did the measurements and I felt my breath catch. They were off by almost two weeks. My husband didn't see the dismal numbers, so he didn't know why I started to cry.

But I saw those numbers and I saw the doctor's face. And what I didn't see was the very worst of all. I didn't see the flash of a beating heart.

Our sweet little Gummy Bear had no heartbeat.

My heart broke into a thousand pieces that day. I am still picking a few of them up. Time and Little Man have healed many of my wounds. But nothing can ever replace a lost child and completely take away the pain.

When people ask if Will is our first baby, I don't hesitate to answer yes, because to reply otherwise would just cause hurt and confusion. And he is our only living child, so it is not a lie. But deep in my heart, he is not our first. He is simply the first that we have gotten to hold in our arms as well as our hearts.

To be featured in upcoming Memorial Mondays, please contact me by clicking on my profile link and then by clicking on my e-mail link. You can either write your story yourself or provide me with the details and I will do it for you. You may include pictures, poetry, whatever feels right. This is your memorial for your loss.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

To Pump or Not To Pump

That is the question.

Now that Will is fairly consistently sleeping through the night (knock on wood, throw salt over shoulder, etc.), I have a problem.

Well, it's not problem, per se. It's more of an uncomfortable feeling that is also slightly responsible for keeping me up at night.

My breasts are full of milk. They still haven't gotten the message that the milk machine is no longer needed during the wee hours. And just when they start to get the idea, Will decides to wake up at 1:00 AM and confuse my poor girls.

I have a great breast pump, but to be honest, I hate pumping. I just don't like the bovine-esque feeling I get when I attach myself to the suction cups. I almost want to wear a bell around my neck and chew my cud as I sit there, pumping away. And the only time that my nipples have ever truly been sore (after the first few weeks, anyway), was when I have used the pump.

Plus, eventually, I would like to stop producing milk at night, and if I pump, wouldn't I just be putting of the inevitable?

But I am still very sore by morning and have pretty much soaked through my breast pads. I rush in at 7 if Will hasn't woken himself up by then, ready and raring to nurse.

My question to your nursing veterans out there is: how long does it usually take for the milk supply to readjust and do you think that I should pump during the night to relieve them - or would that, as I suspect, cause my supply to stay steady? And is there anything that I can do to relieve the nighttime fullness besides pumping?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What's Keeping Me Up At Night

And no, it's not Will.

In fact, Little Man has become quite the sleeper. We had a full 7 - 7 night on Sunday and 8 - 7 last night. Before that, it had consistently been 9 - 7 for over two weeks.

So, why am I not sleeping now that Will is?

You see, M and I are in the middle of trying to make a life-altering decision. I am staring at a fork in the road and I am not sure which path to take. Each path has its ups and downs, its twists and turns. I know that no matter which way I choose to go, I will look back with a serious case of "what ifs."

We've listed the pros and cons. We've discussed fully the merits of each.

And we've made a decision. Kind of, anyway. It's not final yet and won't be for a couple of months more. Which means that I have plenty of time to second-guess what we've decided and wrestle with the consequences in the dark.

I wish I could say more, but this is a public forum and I can't just yet. Which probably means that it's not fair to blog about it here.

But I've always turned to my blog in times of turmoil. So, here I am.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thankful for A Good Weekend

For those of you that keep up with me regularly, you might recall this post about some issues that I have been having with my mother.

Given our recent history, to say that I was a little nervous about the holiday weekend would have been an understatement. As we drove the three hours south last Thursday morning, I had butterflies in my stomach. My mom is my mom and always will be, and therefore, I am able to forgive (and even mostly forget) some of her less than stellar moments. My husband does not have that same convenient memory when it comes to her antics. I knew that if she was anything like the last time, our visit would be dramatically shortened and there might be no going back.

However, gone was the Evil Grandmother of the past couple of visits, replaced by the grandmother that I always had hoped she would be. She was eager to hold Will, cuddling him, feeding him a bottle, reading him stories. My dad was great with him as usual. My sister was also thrilled to see her nephew and made a huge fuss over him. My little brother, who has also had some adjustments to make with Will's arrival (a lot more understandable in a 15-year-old), also seemed more interested in Little Man. He still has never held the baby, but he got down on the floor and played with him and his activity mat. It was nice to see my family so happily interacting with my son. I have to say, it's about time!

Speaking of activity mats, I gotta give a shout out to my favorite mat. We got this mat for our baby shower and it's all right. Will plays in it, but never with the glee that he plays in with this one. The freakin' star is like Baby Crack. It's on sale at right now for $19.99 and if you don't have it, I highly recommend it. Even if you have one already, get this one to use for traveling or just something different. Here is proof of its wonder. . .

Anyway, all in all, it was a very pleasant holiday weekend. I am not even that nervous to return to celebrate Christmas in a few weeks.

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. I can't believe that it's the start of a another holiday season already!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Memorial Monday

This week's Memorial Monday is in honor of Stacy and her lost angels. In her own words. . .

I too have lost six babies. I've watched nearly all of my friends and relatives move into the next stages of life. I've attended their baby showers, given tons of gifts, visited their newborns in the hospital, and watched them grow up and start school in the past 7 years. I was 21 years old when I got married, and I thought that I would be done having kids by the time I reached 30. I'm about to turn 32 and am still at square one. There have been many tests and surgeries along the way and with each attempt at a pregnancy we have had some hope of success. Each time we have been disappointed. We've never named any of our babies, I think mainly because we've been in a form of shock or denial for 7 whole years, but also because we thought it would be too painful. Maybe it seems cold or informal to think of them in numbers, but each of those lives holds such a special place in our hearts. Each one captured our hearts and carried our hopes and dreams for the short time that we knew of them.
Baby #1 July 6, 2002
Baby #2 March 28, 2003
Baby #3 October 7, 2004
Baby #4 July 22, 2005
Baby #5 August 8, 2006
Baby #6 January 22, 2007
Those are my miscarriage dates. None of our babies made it past 12 weeks; some didn't make it to 6 weeks. It terrifies me to think of that list growing longer, but we have no idea what the future holds. Every day I wake up with a mixture of pain and sadness, joy and hope. Although there are extremely hard days, I trust the Lord and His perfect will for my life and my future!

To continue to follow Stacy's story and to further offer support, you can find her at Stacy's Thoughts On Infertility.

To be featured in upcoming Memorial Mondays, please contact me by clicking on my profile link and then by clicking on my e-mail link. You can either write your story yourself or provide me with the details and I will do it for you. You may include pictures, poetry, whatever feels right. This is your memorial for your loss.