National Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month

Last month we celebrated two birthdays in my house. I turned 36 and Emma turned two. We should have been celebrating one more, that of my second child, who was due September 22nd.
We lost that baby in March at 11 weeks, just as we thought we were out of the woods. We heard the heartbeat at the 8 week ultrasound, shared the news with our families with Emma proudly marching off the plane on a trip to California wearing a Big Sister t-shirt, and entertained the thought of me and my two children all sharing one birthday.
And yet, I found myself in the Emergency Department at 6am with my husband and 18 month old after waking up to bleeding, being wheeled up to the ultrasound room trying to discern from the tech’s face if my baby still had a heartbeat. The OB resident could not have been kinder as he held my hand and told me that there was nothing I could have done. That it was not my fault. That likely there was something wrong with the baby, who had passed away a few weeks before and was lying there, silently, inside my body.
We did not go to work or daycare that day. Instead, we spent it at the beach, trying to take comfort in the beautiful family we had in front of us, to find joy in the little things, like our dog chasing her ball through the waves, my daughter shrieking in joy while playing in the sand.
I have not shared my story widely, as it was too raw, too scary, too exposing. But October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and I need to acknowledge the child that I’ve lost. The one who should be turning about one month old right about now, being held in my arms instead of my heart.
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A Sad Farewell to my Pre-baby Boobs

I do not have a full length mirror in my bathroom. This is a blessing and a curse. I’m grateful I do not have to see my ghostly jiggly body in all its glory every time I get out of the shower, however it also allows me to avoid everything happening below my neck. Unfortunately my mother-in-law has the worlds biggest mirror in her guest bathroom and this past weekend I was forced to face reality. Let’s just say: Yikes.
Now I know from getting dressed every day that my stomach isn’t, shall we say, “taught”, nor are my legs what they used to be. But what gave me a big surprise on this particular viewing was my boobs. Where did they go? Why are they halfway down my rib cage? How did they go from rounded globes to flappy pancakes without me even noticing? I’ve never cared much about these melons of mine before, probably because they were decent shape and size, but this is a whole new world. I’m incredibly proud of the fact that I breast fed my daughter for 16 months as Lord knows it is not easy so I guess these sandbags are my badges of courage? What a lame prize.  There is a joke in there about a booby prize but I just can’t get there today.
What can you even do about your boobs? If I gain weight, I can (in theory) diet and exercise. Wrinkles? Slap on some retinol and research chemical peels. But boobs are a different story. To assist with these guys, I did go to Nordstrom for a bra fitting courtesy of my mom who was horrified that I had been wearing the same nude nursing bra daily for 16 months and continued to wear despite no longer nursing. #cheap #lazy This $70 bra has done wonders and I will probably wear it daily until the wire pops out or the straps sag and my mom takes me in again. But what I really want is something that can bring these gals back to their days of glory. When I could rock a white (!) triangle bikini from Target without fear or shame while wearing some early 2000’s sunglasses. Oh, the good old days.  For all your sakes, after photos not included. 1929429_83223666806_3920571_n.jpg

Meet Me at the Crossroads

Now that I have Bone Thugs in your head…I want to actually write a post that is not Bachelor related.
The last few weeks have had me like this:
The company I work for is going through some major changes, which is always unsettling. It’s the nature of the industry to be in transition (I work in healthcare), and yet the unknown makes it hard to feel settled. Last week, after a staff training, the VP called me into her office and presented me with a new opportunity within my team that can totally change my career. It was pitched in a way that this position is the highest need for the team and I have the skills necessary to do the job well…but underlying was also the note that this would be an 8-5 office job within the operations team. My current job on the front lines requires the occasional evening and weekend, but with the transitions on our team, a hiring freeze and an exceedingly high financial goal for the year, the expectation moving forward would be having evening meetings 2-3 times (possible more) a week, plus travel across the state. Yikes.
I came home with my head spinning. This new job would be totally different than my current one and take me out of the work that I love most (and that I’m best at). It is a tack in a different direction careerwise. I struggled wondering if I would be making a terrible career mistake to take this new position–will it derail me from where I eventually want to be? Am I not living up to my full potential? Am I taking the easy way out?  I  was almost in tears when talking to my boss about the opportunity but I couldn’t understand why. When I sat back to think about it, I realized what was frustrating me the most was the fact that I had to choose between what was best for my career (staying in my current role) and what was best for my family (moving to the new job). This is the struggle for every working mom, right? I can kick ass at my job but my role as a mom and wife suffers, or I can be there for my husband and daughter, keep a clean home and have groceries in the fridge (sometimes), and under perform at work. There is no way to have it all.
After a few sleepless nights and long conversations with my husband and one of my best friends, I accepted the new position. I know that I will not be the mom to a young child forever and I will regret more the time spent away from her than the time not spent at work. Will I be frustrated that I’m not gunning at work? Yes. Will my long term career be impacted by this decision? Maybe. But this is the choice I have made because what is most important to me now is the daughter I prayed for, the husband I have been blessed with and the home we make together.  Without knowing the crossroads I’ve been facing these past two weeks, a friend sent me this article, which had a line in it that I need to put somewhere I will see every day: “My career is just good enough right now, and I’m accepting the ribbon for participation with grace, instead of pining away for the gold.” To all you mamas out there participating with grace, my hat is off to you. Someday, when our kids are grown and would rather go out with their friends than snuggle in our laps, we’ll back at it and the gold will be ours.

 

This is a post about breastfeeding. Consider yourself warned.

Disclaimer: This post does not take sides in the great breast fed vs. formula fed debate. I am of the belief that we should nourish our babies anyway we can. These are just my thoughts on my own unique experience.
Earlier this week, I reached into the freezer and pulled out the last two lonely plastic bags sitting on the shelf. And then I started crying.
Breastfeeding did not come easy to me. My milk was late coming in (resulting in a trip to the Emergency Department at the Children’s Hospital with a floppy four day old) and Emma had a lip tie which manifested itself in a difficult latch. This all added up to cracked and bloody nipples, incredible frustration and lots of tears. I remember sitting in the glider cringing in pain wondering how I would ever do this for the next week, let alone the recommended year. Through my stubbornness and a fabulous lactation consultant, E and I figured it out and breastfeeding became one of my favorite aspects of motherhood. I savor the time for connection, looking into my baby’s big blue eyes as she stares at me and touches my face, the quiet moments where it was just the two of us. I continue to be amazed that my body has been able to nourish her, and the trust she has in me to keep her fed, healthy and safe.
Keeping this gal full has not been easy. My body does not respond well to pumping and my job does not provide for regular space and time to do so. I have struggled to send her off to daycare with enough breast milk each day and have altered my schedule at times to allow for an additional feeding at home. I have pumped in the car, standing up in the bathroom stall at a hotel during a conference, back to back with a co-worker (or two) in a shared office space and, at my lowest point, on the floor of a hotel room, dress pulled down to my waist, in front of my 22 year old male intern during my company’s annual gala. We had a hard time making eye contact after that. Despite all this, lots of water, daily oatmeal and mugs and mugs of Mother’s Milk tea, I have not produced enough for my munchkin and it is breaking my heart.
So, this weekend, I will feed my 10 month old baby girl formula for the first time so we can start supplementing at daycare next week. I will try not to cry as I watch her gulp it down, able to drink until she is full. And I will savor even more those moments before bed, or in the middle of the night, when it is just the two of us all alone in this world. Because I know those times are fleeting.

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Thank You

Yesterday’s post was my most read in the very short history of this blog. It also received the most comments, texts and e-mails from friends. Thank you so much for your response. My heart was beating a mile a minute as I hit publish on Monday, and I still get anxious thinking of people reading about my experience. But it did help me to know others had gone through what I went through and come out the other side, so if I can help one person by sharing, that is worth it.
I won’t get into specifics about my infertility diagnosis and our treatment on the blog, but many asked if we went through IVF. We did not. It was the next step in our treatment, and in fact, my doctor recommended we start it earlier. But I just didn’t feel ready for it. I asked about alternative methods and advocated for myself and my body, to the best result possible. I also looked into alternative ways to improve my fertility and do think I partially owe my baby girl to an amazing acupuncturist in my neighborhood. He celebrated right along with me when I told him I was pregnant.
This is my story. So many others who struggle with infertility have stories that are different. Longer. More challenging. Unsuccessful. I know I am among the lucky ones. But if anyone going through this needs to talk, vent, share or cry, I am here.

On Being Grateful- My Struggle with Infertility

I woke up yesterday morning to the sound of my baby chatting to herself in her crib. I pulled her into our bed and breathed her in, feeling so thankful for her presence in my life. Two years ago, I doubted this moment would be possible.
Mother’s Day is a wonderful holiday. It encourages us to celebrate and acknowledge those women who raised us, love us fiercely, and constantly put our wants and needs above their own. I’ve always wanted to be a mother and feel so lucky to join this tribe. But for so many women, Mother’s Day can be tough. Relationships may be strained, some have lost a mom too soon, or, like me, struggle with infertility.
I haven’t shared this information widely and many of my friends aren’t aware that I had a difficult time getting pregnant. I couldn’t talk about my infertility while I was in it. I was too emotional. Too raw. I felt that if I admitted I couldn’t get pregnant, it wouldn’t happen. So month after month went by. I watched one, two, seven friends get pregnant or have their children in the time I was trying. Every single time I heard their good news, I was crushed. It’s an odd emotion, to be so happy for a friend but also be jealous, angry, and frustrated. Because it isn’t you.
There is such a feeling of failure around infertility. What have I done wrong? Did I wait too long to try? Why won’t my body do what it should? It’s hard not to blame yourself, because, honestly, who else are you going to blame? It’s exhausting. Draining. And the waiting, waiting, waiting every month hoping for a positive sign, for your good news, is heartbreaking.
Thankfully I have a husband that supported me through the emotional downspin and we were able to find a doctor that diagnosed me and began interventions, which presents its own challenges. Early morning doctors appointments. Numerous blood draws and vaginal ultrasounds. Shot after shot after shot. Thousands of dollars in bills not covered by insurance. Waiting and hoping and more tears than I care to remember. The fear is in the “what if?”. What if I can never get pregnant? What if we run out of money? What if I will never be a mother?
Just when I felt like it would never happen, when I was exhausted and tired and needed to take a break, I saw that positive sign on a pregnancy test. I took one after another thinking that there had to be a problem. A mix-up. I held my breath through the blood test at the doctors the following day. And through the six week ultrasound.  And the eight week ultrasound. And every major milestone after that until I held my perfect and healthy baby girl in my arms.
I count my blessings each and every day for this little miracle. I try to live in the moment and not think about the process I will likely have to go through to give her a sibling. But yesterday, today and every day, I’m empathetic to those women who are in the waiting phase. The longing phase. The why me phase. And I wish them the hope and patience to continue on with their journey. Because we all deserve the incredible, deep and oh so big love that motherhood brings.

Embracing the Little Moments

Today I took a nap when the baby napped. I put her down, curled up in my lovely white sheets, let the sun peek through the shutters and closed my eyes. It was wonderful. I allowed myself a break–something most of us don’t do often enough.
There is so much to be done. Housework. Real work. Laundry. Vacuuming. Grocery shopping. I need to work out. Or mop my floor. Or finish unpacking. But right now, I will let my baby nap in my arms because I know these moments are precious and she won’t do this forever. I will sniff her head and let her hold my index finger with her fat little hand and give myself a day off. Because this moment right here, with the dog snoozing at my feet and a baby nuzzled into my chest, is what I will remember, what I will treasure, when the dog is gone and the baby grows up and I rattle around, very lonely, in my clean little home.