Friday, April 27, 2012

Success Story

No pictures today, I've got something that I really need to write about. This post has a very special meaning to me, a very important purpose in our lives. This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW)...

Without Infertility, I would not have my babies.

Yeah, that sounds wrong, I know. But the journey we have made, the hurdles, the struggles, the obstacles, and the victories; this journey brought me my babies. These babies are the miraculous product of overcoming infertility. Plain and simple.

They were not a product of luck. They were not a product of "just relax and it will happen". They were not a product of trying each month for years on end, either. They are the product of many, many prayers and the second successful round of IVF. Thank you God, and thank you modern medicine.

I am infertile. I am not uncomfortable mentioning to someone that "No, twins don't run in my family. We did IVF!". I am not uncomfortable admitting that I could not get pregnant the good ol' fashioned way. I am not uncomfortable discussing the tests, the procedures, the needles, the monitoring, the egg retrieval, the embryo transfer, and the blessed 8 frozen embryos we have remaining.

I am also not uncomfortable talking about that unbelievably difficult time after our first round of IVF that resulted in an ectopic scare, two doses of methotrexate to end the ectopic pregnancy, the discovery of a normal uterine pregnancy, and the resulting miscarriage and D&C.

The reason I am not uncomfortable sharing this incredibly personal and intimate side of my life is the very heart of NIAW, this year's theme for the awareness week: "Do Not Ignore"

I can't ignore the years I spent worrying about my fertility after I was diagnosed very early with stage 4 endometriosis. I can't ignore the scars that has left on my confidence, my sexuality, and of course, my body. I can't ignore the lasting imprints of having to tell my then boyfriend that having a baby with me wouldn't be easy, so if that's something he wasn't willing to deal with, he should just get out now.

I also can't ignore the amazing blessing of being able to look into my then-boyfriend's eyes and know that he was completely genuine as he told me he would be by my side every step of the way.

Finally, I can't ignore that I am so incredibly lucky to have escaped the trenches of infertility. And there are so many other wonderful men and women who cannot say the same. I can't ignore the fact that I have a story to tell that could change someone's life, that could help them through a very difficult journey, that could comfort them in those isolating moments of "why me?"

Infertility affects one in eight couples in the United States. One in Eight. That's a huge number of people who are (often times silently) battling this devastating disease. What if we made our voices heard? What if we stood up to say that this is not an issue to be swept under the rug? What if Infertility was no longer a uncomfortable conversation or a hushed topic?

What IF?

Most of us in this blogging community know the below video, filmed a few years ago by a fellow ALI blogger.  The words on this screen are so devastatingly true to millions of people. It's easy to keep this disease at a distance if you're not personally affected by it, but remember all of those who may be silently suffering, who may not have the voice yet to share their story. Remember that I am a success story. Remember Grace and Caleb. Remember hope.

If you are reading this and are in the trenches right now, don't lose faith, don't give up hope. It took a lot of suffering to get our two miracles, but miracles do happen. What IF?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Six Months!

Happy Half Birthday, Luckies!

Six months old. There’s no possible way that you’re really six months old.  It’s gone by so fast, honestly.  I know people say that all the time, and in the moment it feels like the days and weeks drag on sometimes…but truly, with you two, I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that you’re no longer newborns.  You’re not tiny little infants, learning how to take a bottle, discovering your hands, barely holding your heads up and falling asleep every thirty minutes.  I don’t know if I’ll ever wrap my head around it.  It felt like you would always be so tiny, and now look at you.  You’re both growing so fast and learning so quickly!

Princess Gracie,

What an amazing month you’ve had. You really have gone from infant to full blown baby this month! You are rolling with ease, loving to play with toys, reaching, grabbing, “oooh”ing, sitting up, and bouncing! Your new favorite game is standing on our laps and jumping up and down. Your legs are getting really strong and you can push off pretty well, so jumping is your new favorite skill.

You just had your first stomach flu and it wasn’t too bad. It really only lasted about a day and a half, but I feel so bad that it started at daycare. They called me to let me know you had thrown up a few times, so I left work early to pick you and your brother up. When I got there you didn’t have your usual smiley face on. You seemed sad and tired. We fed you pedialyte the rest of the day and night to try and keep you hydrated, and by the following night, you were pretty much back to your smiley self. I do have to say that as awful as it sounds, I didn’t mind that you wanted to cuddle a lot cuz you weren’t feeling great. I held you in my arms for two hours before I put you down for bed, feeding you slowly and watching you sleep. It reminded me of those long past days of newborn sleepiness.

Oh how I love your new energy, though! You love to oooooh at Daddy and I as you jump in your jumperoo, play with your feet, or bat at and chew on your toys. You’re making friends at daycare already, and you seem to be getting more and more social all the time. This has become much easier for you now that you can sit up and play! No more lying down for you- you seem much happier to sit and hold your toys and reach for your friends. Of course, we’re still working on that whole balance thing so sometimes you end up lying down involuntarily…

You’re eating pretty well, but you’re not a hefty eater by any means. My petite girl seems to want to stay that way at this point (which would be pretty funny with two very tall parents and one seemingly huge brother…I can’t imagine you being little for much longer). You take about 6-7 ounces around 4 or 5am, then you take 4-5oz per bottle at 8, 11, 2, and 4. Then your bedtime bottle is around 6pm and you will sometimes eat 5oz, and sometimes you’ll crash on the bottle after only a couple ounces. You get SO sleepy by 6:30pm. We can’t keep you awake!

You’ve definitely been growing, even though you’re not the biggest eater in the family. You’re in pretty exclusively 6 month clothes. I’ve been having fun putting you in some cute summer clothes every now and again, now that it’s much hotter here. We don’t hang out outside much, but any chance I can get to throw you in a little dress or a cute tank top, I take it. Somehow, you’re still in size 2 diapers (which I think is a little more normal than your giant brother in his size 4’s). You’ve got a skinny little tummy, so the size 3’s would be way too big around the waist.

Another new game that you love is when Daddy holds you up in front of him and bounces you from side to side singing “You’re a dancing baby, you’re a dancing baby!” It’s adorable. You smile so big the whole time, especially when he does it in front of the mirror so you can see yourself (or that other cute baby you think is there).

You’ve done so well at daycare, you’re definitely thriving there (even though I’m sort of jealous that they get to see your beautiful smiling face more than me during the day, I’m so glad that you like it there). You seem to be picking up new tricks from the other babies pretty quickly, like sitting up!

Gracie, I never want to forget the way your hair tickles my nose when I’m burping you, rocking you, or just snuggling.  It’s the cutest thing, your hair is not growing down, it’s growing up! Straight up! I can tell that as it gets longer it’s going to start lying down a little more, so I am loving this phase for as long as I have it.  It gets so soft after your baths, which you love by the way.  You seem really comfortable in the water and you’ve really enjoyed swim lessons!  We’re done with them right now, but I think we might need to start up again soon because you were both so good at it.  The water relaxes you…until we put it on your face or over your head…not a big fan of that right now. Your eyes are still blue, and I think they’re going to stay that way which is wonderful! I always thought I’d have brown eyed babies, but your big blue eyes are stunning! So, so beautiful!

You’ve been using your pacifier a little more at daycare than I usually like, but you’ve figured out how to put it in your mouth so when we clip it to your shirt,  you just grab it sometimes and want to suck on it.  You’re really good with it, though, and it doesn’t impact your sleep really at all, so I don’t mind much!

Sleep! Oh sleep!  You, my dear, are our sleeper.  You’ve done so great with it, we feel really lucky.  The only problem is that you sleep TOO MUCH! ;) It’s just that I miss you so badly when I get off of work, I want to spend hours just playing and snuggling with you.  But when the clock strikes 6pm, you’re either dozing off already, or letting us know that it’s about that time.  You are so easy, baby. You fuss to let us know you’re sleepy and you want to go to bed.  For naps, as soon as you start fussing, we give you a binky, put you in your crib, and bam- you’re out. 
 At bedtime, we have our standard bedtime routine and you get a bottle right before going down, but usually you fall asleep on the bottle, no matter how early we put you down.  I wish you’d stay awake a bit longer so I could spend some more time with you, but I’m just so proud of my awesome little sleeper.  You usually sleep through the night until about 5am, but sometimes you’ll wake up and we just need to give you your binky so you can fall back to sleep.  We usually wake you up to feed you after your brother’s been fed sometime between 4 and 5, but I think you could go longer if we let you (but we have to take you to daycare anyway and mommy and daddy need to get ready…so 5am it is). Then we put you back in bed after that bottle and you fall back asleep until around 7am!  When I get you up from your nap or for the morning, I take you over to the mirror and we play in front of it for a minute, which always makes you smile. This month, you started reaching for the mirror every time I get you up, which is so amazing.  You like our game, that makes me so happy! You’ve started reaching for things that you want all the time, including us when you want to be held. I cannot resist picking you up when you reach up for me, it’s impossible!

Your favorite toy is probably Sophie, your giraffe.  You LOVE to suck on the legs and it seems like you enjoy the squeak it makes!  And you love your jumperoo! You’re getting really strong and can jump really well in it now, so that’s been pretty fun for you.  You’re all about toys in general right now, and pretty much anything can be your toy if I let it.  Everything is still going straight into your mouth, including paper. You had a little too much fun with one of mommy’s birthday card envelopes a little bit ago. J Oh goodness, you were so cute on my birthday.  Daddy put you and your brother in birthday hats and surprised me when I got home with balloons everywhere!  It was my best birthday yet, especially because I got to share it with you, little face.  Best present I could have ever wanted!

I am having so much fun with you right now, Grace Face.  You’re so vibrant and happy, it’s such a joy to play with you, tickle you, get you to show me that adorable gummy smile and your way too cute giggle! You laugh with your Daddy more than me, still, but I get to have a front row seat to your little show and I love every single minute of it. I’ve missed you more than you know this month being back at work, and I cherish every moment I get to be with you.  You’ve turned my life upside down in the best possible way, and I’m so grateful every day for you. I love you with all of my heart, my little lady.

Mr. Caleb, my little dude! 

Goodness you’ve grown so much this month! I’m not sure exactly how much you’ve grown as far as size goes, but your personality is growing and changing all the time! You are learning so many new skills right now and it’s fun to watch and see just what you’ll do next! 

You just started rolling over regularly this past week, although you’d done it a few times before that sporadically.  Now we put you on your tummy and in just a few seconds you’re right back on your back!  You’ve figured out this whole bearing weight on your legs thing, which makes me feel a little better; I was getting a bit nervous that you just wouldn’t put your feet down.  But now you’ll stand with us for a couple minutes sometimes, and you love it! You’re also sitting up by yourself now, although you still need a little support after a few seconds usually. You’ll lean on your hands to help you balance and I’m just so proud!  Pretty soon you’ll be sitting up with no problems, grabbing toys and putting them right where you want them- in your MOUTH! 

Oh little man, you’re teething so badly right now. I feel awful for you, it must hurt like crazy.  I can see two big white bumps on your lower gums, just waiting to break through. You usually do awesome with it, just suck on your hands or anything else you can get in your mouth.  But sometimes I can tell it’s just too much for you and you need to let me know!  We give you some baby.tylenol when it gets really bad, but not very often.  I hope they break through soon to give you some relief…but a part of me just isn’t ready for my little baby boy to have teeth already!!  You’re growing up too fast, my little man.

You’re weighing in around 21lbs now, I have no idea how long you are but we’ll find out next week.  You pretty much skipped right over the 9 month clothes and are wearing mostly 12 month stuff, although I’ll squeeze you into a few 6 month shirts if I really want to ;). You grow out of everything so fast; I hardly get any mileage out of your cute clothes! You’re still rocking out the size 4 diapers and I think we’ve got some good time left in those, thank goodness.  Most kids don’t wear size 4 diapers until they’re toddlers!

Of course, as you grow, your little attitude is coming right along with you.  You’re such a sweet boy, and you’re so happy and playful most of the time. But I do have to say, you’ve got your needy moments when you’ll just scream and yell if we’re not right there with you giving you what you want.  You seem to be a little more clingy now that you’ve started daycare, which I don’t really mind to much!  When we get you home, there’s no putting you down. You just won’t have it most of the time.  Over the weekends you aren’t as clingy, because it seems like you get the mommy and daddy time that you need.  I wish I could give that to you every single day, buddy.  But I make sure to give you as much snuggling, exploring, and playing time as possible whenever I’m with you!

You didn’t really seem to like daycare much the first few days, although you were just getting over Hand, Foot, and Mouth for your first days as well.  We were supposed to take you a week earlier, but you somehow came down with this horrible virus the DAY before your first day at daycare, so we had to hold off for a whole week.  Of course, I didn’t mind too much!  I wish you didn’t have to deal with all of the sores and the stuffy nose that came with it, though.

After about three days of being in the new place with all of the new faces, toys, sights, and sounds, you turned a corner. By Friday of your first week (this last week), I picked you up and you were smiling and playing!  I’m so glad that you’re starting to get used to it and it’s not bothering you too much.

Those smiles of yours are just dreamy, really.  Your cheeks are so big and you smile so wide that your eyes nearly shut, your dimple comes out, you stick your tongue partly out, and you usually throw your head back  or turn away mid-smile like you’re bashful or flirty.  It’s amazing, and so, so cute! 

I never want to forget the way you’re looking at your Daddy right now. You’re going through a Daddy phase and whenever he comes within eye sight you get a huge grin on your face.  When he holds you, you literally look up at him and just stare, smiling, waiting for the next thing he’ll say.  He gets you to laugh all the time and you’ve got such a sweet and full giggle.  He tickles your chest and it gets you every time. But honestly, he could do anything to get you to smile right now, you are all about Daddy!

Of course, I get my sweetness, too.  I’m usually the one to put you to bed, and you fall asleep in my arms as I’m feeding you most nights.  When you’re upset I can usually get you to stop crying and sometimes even turn it completely around for a little giggle.  You still like the car game, but not as much as last month.  And you still love when I hold you over my head and bounce you up and down! We have great conversations oooh’ing and waaa’ing at each other.  I love when you talk to me and I make sure to talk back to you every time!

This month, I had to do something that was harder for me than you could even imagine.  See,  you were waking up around ten times each night, crying for your binky because you had dropped it. You weren't getting any sleep, and neither was I.  You would fall asleep without too much problem, sometimes needing your binky replaced once or twice in order to finally doze off. But a few hours later, you'd wake up and then have trouble sleeping for the rest of the night.  So, I decided it was time to help you learn how to sleep...on your own.  No binky.  This was agonizing for me, and sometimes it still is- I just want to give you a binky when you're upset, but I know it's better for both of us if you aren't so addicted to that thing.  The first day and night without it was pretty rough, you were really mad that you didn't have it.  For about four nights,  you would cry quite a bit.  We used the Ferber method and would go in to comfort you every few minutes, increasing the time between each visit, to let you know we were still here, we hadn't abandoned you, but that you needed to try to sleep by yourself.  On the fifth night, you fell asleep without any crying, and stayed asleep until morning (you wake up around 4am for food every morning, which is perfectly fine seeing as you go to sleep so early around 6:30!  Then we put you back in bed and you sleep until around 7:00 usually if we let you.).  I'm so glad that you can sleep now, even though that was horrible for both of us (I cried almost the entire time you did the first night, your Daddy had to help me remember that this was good for you so I wouldn't just go in and pick you up!).  You seem much happier most of the time now that you can sleep, as well!

When you’re really upset, the water will always calm you down. You still get mad at night sometimes, but if we give you a bath, you’re happy as can be.  Especially if we blow bubbles right in front of your face, it gets a smile every time.  You loved swim lessons, too, so we’ll make sure to keep doing those all the time!  It makes me so proud to see you and your sister loving the water! I also don’t mind how delicious you smell after a bath. As I’m feeding you before bed, I’m intoxicated by how good your hair smells, I love it!

Your hair is starting to come back now!  It’s looking a little darker now, too! And your eyes are just amazing, they look so much like your Daddy’s.  They’re turning more and more hazel; sort of blue on the outside and green on the inside. Everyone says you look JUST like Daddy, which makes me so happy. You’re both incredibly handsome, I’m a lucky girl!

You still love your playmat and the dangling toys to swat at and grab.  You’re grabbing toys much better now, so you can play with rattles a little easier which you seem to really like. You also love the spinning rattle on your jumperoo and play with that thing almost the entire time I let you play in the jumperoo. 

Little man, “Little Butros” (I know, Daddy gave you that nickname I swear), you have completely stolen my heart.  I would do anything to make you happy and make you smile, and I’m so lucky that I get to watch you grow and learn every day. I wish I could spend every moment with you, I miss you so badly when I’m at work. I hope you know how very much I love you, with all of my heart!

Babies, my Luckies!  You’re halfway to your first birthday, that big milestone which means you’re no longer a baby at all. I can’t imagine you walking or talking, but I know that it will be here in no time.  So I’m cherishing every moment of these sweet days where you’re happiest in my lap and in my arms.  I’m loving lying with you on the floor and seeing the world through your eyes.  I can’t wait for you to keep learning new things and start moving and exploring this world. But in the meantime, I love that you’re happy right next to me, exploring the world right by my side.  I am such a lucky, lucky woman.  You are both so incredibly wonderful.  I love you.

Thank you to Meim for the adorable t-shirts for my little Luckies! :)