Friday, April 1, 2016

Why Our Family Doesn't Celebrate Making Someone a Fool Today

On this day, two years ago, I was at one of the lowest points in my life. To say that I was struggling would be an understatement. We had learned that our third and final IVF attempt failed. That we had no embryos to transfer from any of our cycles. And that our doctor recommended moving on to other options. It was time to face the fact that my body would likely never produce an egg with good enough quality to become a child. 

My grandmother, who was a second mother to me, had just passed away from cancer. That morning, tears soaked my pillow before I even opened my eyes and my heart ached from all of the loss in my life. I was in mourning. 

But then the most unexpected thing happened. Later that day, I found myself standing in my kitchen reading a message that would change my life forever. By the grace of God, a woman (who has the biggest heart I've ever known) found her way to this blog. After reading our struggles, she offered to gift us her eggs so that we could finally become parents. It will always be the most generous gift I've ever received. 

Our egg donor believes "it's in the giving that we receive". 
She woke up that day and saw an opportunity to change someone's life and make dreams come true and she didn't hesitate to offer to help. There were a million reasons for her to read our story and say "that's so sad for them" and go back to her own life. 

Her husband was deployed in Afghanistan at the time. She was busy parenting to her own four children. IVF is hard on your body. It requires a lot of time. For all of these reasons and so many more, she could have talked herself out of sending that message. But she didn't. Regardless of the inconvenience, stress, strain, pain or effort that the egg donation put on her body and her family, she said "I want to help". 

As our son grows up, I intend to use this day every year to teach him about giving. To be intentional about opening our eyes to opportunities to help others. To change lives. To help fulfill someone else's dreams. I can only hope, that over time, the impact of our efforts are as lasting as the impact she has had on us. 

It is because of her willingness to help that we have Mav. 
We are a family filled with love and joy. 
Our hearts are so very full.

April 1st is not April Fool's Day to us. We don't strive to play practical jokes and spread hoaxes…making people "fools". Our family celebrates something different. It's the day we celebrate the spirit of giving, empathy and helping others. Maybe through the sharing of this story…it inspires someone else to celebrate this day the same way. What a wonderful world it would be, if we could all be "helpers"… that give instead of take away. 


Saturday, March 12, 2016

How NOT to get a divorce when going through infertility

One of the biggest challenges when going through infertility is maintaining a happy marriage. The stress and emotions that come from infertility are so intense. The disappointments and heartache that come every month. The pressure for men to perform on a specific days of the month. Invasive medical procedures. Failed cycles. The exorbitant cost of treatments. 

The process puts so much stress on your relationship that it is difficult for both parties to feel understood and supported. As someone who has struggled with infertility and nearly lost my marriage in the process, there are a few things that I found can help you avoid the path that we went down. 
  • Be a good listener. This is a hard one. Probably the hardest for me. I'm that person that starts preparing my response before my partner has finished talking. But both partners are experiencing different emotions and see things from a different perspective. And both sides are valid. The only way to gain understanding is to listen….truly your partner's struggles. 
  • Dump on someone else. Sometimes we just need to get it all out there. Rant. Cry. Vent. Be angry. And while it seems like our partner is the most reasonable human being to be your "person" because after all they are going through this with you…often times they are not the best person. For some men, they can't handle all the emotions. Or they don't know what to say. Or they feel guilt because they can't fix this. Or they're scared they'll say the wrong thing. And many times they do say the wrong thing and then the crazy person comes out. Often times we have less patience with our partners than with other people. So find a different "person". Join a support group. Find a friend who has been in your shoes and walked this path. Or someone who is going through it currently.  
  • Make time for each other. Sometimes all of this is just TOO MUCH for men to deal with so they retreat to their cave. Whatever "cave" means to your husband. For some, it may be literal and he heads down to the garage and puts on the TV. It might be hitting up with bar with his buddies. For my husband it was the dirt bike track. But it is so important to stay connected during this difficult time. Plan a weekend getaway. Or schedule a weekly outing that's fun for both of you and takes your mind off of infertility (I know…easier said than done).
  • Cut each other some slack. This one is important. And it is my husband's classic line "cut me some slack". Sometimes we are HARD on our partners. We expect perfection. We want them to hold us at just the right moment. Say just the right thing. React the way we would react to a situation. That pressure is not fair. And perfection is not achievable. First of all, men are just different and they're not mind readers. So try to let things go more often i.e. cut them some slack. It is tough to let things go when emotions are high and your world feels like it is crashing down. But just try. Count to 10. Take a deep breath. Walk away. Whatever it takes to not react immediately and gain some perspective on the situation. 
  • Try not to become obsessed. Just like it is important for you and your partner to stay present in the relationship and stay connected, it is helpful if you're able to find some semblance of balance in your own life. And this is coming from someone who STRUGGLED with this one big time. I read every self-help book. Devoured everything on the internet about infertility. Blogged endlessly. Tweeted. Facebooked. Instagrammed. Attended support groups. I lived and breathed infertility during a portion of our marriage. It didn't help my emotional state of mind and it certainly didn't help my relationship. I'm not suggesting that you stop researching or seeking information or emotional support. But try not get so wrapped up in it that the rest of the world doesn't exist. And again, I KNOW this is not easy. But if you come close to losing your partner, I think you might find that other things DO matter and you have to make room in your mind and heart for the them.
  • Have empathy. Even though you are both experiencing infertility, you will never experience it in the exact same way.  Because of this, empathy becomes so crucial. I'll never know how challenging it is to go into a sterile, medical facility restroom and produce a sample under pressure. Or to listen to my spouse crying uncontrollably after a failed cycle and not be able to take her pain away. He will never understand how painful it is endure a hysteroscopy or get progesterone shots in the rear every night. But that is okay. We need to put aside our own viewpoint, and try to see things from the other person's point of view. If we are able to validate the other person's feelings and perspective and stay clear of judging, pointing out flaws or jumping to problem solving…it will lead to much more positive interactions. You won't always say the right thing (either of you) but at least you're seeking to understand and responding from a place of love.
Infertility is hard stuff folks. And I am no relationship expert by any stretch. But we learn from our own failures. I'm hoping that some of my hard lessons will save you from some of the pitfalls we landed in during our 6 year struggle to conceive. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

9 Months as Mav's Mommy | A Quarterly Update

I'm late. I'm late. For a very important date. Finally getting my last quarterly update into cyberspace in case anyone is still reading and hasn't given up on me. Okay, I'm recommitting to my blog. Right now. I put it in writing. I'll be a better blogger starting today…ready, set, go. Two posts a month to start out with is my goal. Hold me to it, ladies.

The last quarter with Mav has been amazing. He is growing and thriving. And we couldn't be more in love. He's the most wonderful part of our lives. I'd be lying if I said that I don't miss my little cuddle bug. He's so squiggly, squelching and squirmy now. He wants to be on the go all of the time. I can't believe how big he's gotten so quickly. But there are still those moments when I rock him at night and hold him in my arms. The quiet moments where I just gaze at his face…and I see my little tiny baby again…just like the day we brought him home from the hospital. 

Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to believe that I'm finally a mama to the most amazing little boy I could've ever hoped for. My heart is so full sometimes…I think it might burst. Don't give up ladies. It is worth the fight.

Here's what Mav's been up to….

At Mav’s 7-month mark, he weighed 19. 1 lbs. (65th percentile) and 27.8 inches (72 percentile). He's kind of a big lil dude. My hubby says that Mav's going to be too big for me to carry before he can walk on his own. This just might be true if he keeps growing at this pace. 

Our family of three took a nice little trip to the coast where Mav checked out a cool surfboard for littles. Daddy and Mav watched the sunset every night and we just hung out listening to the waves crash. It was a nice getaway.

  • Rolls in both directions and twists and turns his body
  • 3rd tooth popped through his gums which didn't bother him too much
  • Loves drinking water out of his metal sippy cup even though he hasn't figured out how to tip it back yet
  • Gets excited when he hear Caspar Babypants songs | All You Pretty Babies and Baby's Getting Up
  • Squirmy, wiggly and always kicking his legs
  • Doesn't like being restrained in his car seat 
  • Ticklish | Feet and Tummy
  • Likes books and story time 
  • Babbles but no words that we can make out
  • First trip to the pumpkin patch 
  • Watched first sunset and rode in hiking backpack on daddy shoulders | Santa Cruz
  • First stretch alone with daddy while mommy was on a work trip | Nashville

At Mav’s 8-month mark, he was measured by mommy and the home scale read 21 lbs. The end of October and November were busy months for our family with the start of the holidays. Mav had a lot of "firsts" this month and he learned and grew so much. 

  • Gives high fives which Daddy thinks is the coolest 
  • Scoots on the hardwood floors
  • Rocks in a crawling position
  • Likes to play peek-a-boo
  • Has 5 teeth
  • Eats stage 3 baby food  
  • Doesn't like to be bored
  • Obsessed with cell phones
  • Loves to be pushed on his Wheelies Ride-On
  • First time on the swing set with daddy 
  • First time wearing costumes for Halloween | elephant, horse, mouse and lady bug
  • First weddings | Lake Tahoe and Willows
  • First time being in the snow | Truckee
  • Grandma flew up to visit from San Diego and went to first Christmas event | BabiesRUs
  • First cold | This was not a fun first for mommy but thankfully it wasn't too bad
  • First Thanksgiving | Mommy and Daddy gave a lot of thanks for Mav

At Mav’s 9-month mark, he measured 22.5 lbs. on the home scale. When I measure him at home, I don't really look at his height growth or percentiles. But he's growing. That I am certain of. This month was all about Christmas and learning how to "be on his way". 

  • Commando crawling | sometimes refer to this as dragging his lower body around by his arms
  • Loves bath time | shrieks with happiness when he hears the water start running
  • Size 4 diapers
  • 12-18 month clothes
  • 7 teeth pushed through the gums
  • Decided he's shy around new people and hides his face in mommy's chest
  • Eats non-pureed foods now | avocado, mangos, raspberries, papaya, sweet potatoes and squash
  • Lamb wubbanub is his greatest possession 
  • Enjoys trying to pull himself up on things
  • Weaned from sleep suit and prefers to sleep on his side or face down on his forehead 
  • Opens and closes cupboards at every opportunity
  • Waves "hello" and points to things he wants to show you
  • Grunts when he eats something yummy. Or just because. He's a grunty little thing. Such a boy!
  • First Christmas tree lighting
  • First time meeting Santa Claus
  • First flu shot 
  • Second time visiting Pismo Beach for Mommy and Daddy's 7th anniversary 
  • First carousel ride | San Luis Obispo
  • First holiday party | Mommy's date
  • Second time visiting So Cal family | Christmas
I can't believe how fast the time is flying by. The next update I do for Mav will be his first birthday which blows my mind.  Sigh. Time, please slow down! I'm going to blink and my little boy will be a man.

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