A Letter to my baby as I return to work…

My Brynn,

Tomorrow baby doll I go back to work ending my maternity leave and this very special time with you that I will always cherish. For the past 166 days since you were born, the 41 weeks before that when you were in my belly and the 2 years before that when your dad and I were trying desperately to bring you into this world, you have meant so much to me. You have been my quest, my heart, my sidekick, my inspiration, my joy. We have (often literally) been attached to each other for so long now. Tomorrow both of our worlds change a bit. A big portion of our day will be spent apart and it is going to be gut wrenching for me not to see your beautiful smile all day. I have cried a lot this past week and I know more tears are ahead. But today more than sadness, I feel grateful.

I know you will never remember this time but I will never forget it. Your giggles, cries, our late nights those early days when it seemed like we were the only two people in the world awake, your playful spirit, bath time, those crazy poop explosions, our feeding challenges and successes, your first fever, your first doctor appointment, your first airplane ride, the joy you bring to your grandparents and aunts and uncles- every bit of these five and a half months has been etched into my memory and heart.

Just as you have learned and grown so much, I have too. A whole new part of my heart as opened up. I have witnessed the beauty and love that can come from sacrifice. I have felt strong and powerful in bringing you into this world and overcoming countless obstacles. I have found peace and stillness in the chaos and anxiety of caring for a newborn. I have strived for balance in being a mother and a wife. I have learned to live more in the moment. I have messed up more times then I can count and discovered the beauty in that too.

As sad as I am to leave this time behind, I am also so excited for the future. Our journey as mom and daughter has really just begun and I can not wait for all of our adventures ahead. Thank you for letting me be your mom- it has already been the greatest blessing of my life.

I love you always,

Mom

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Returning to Work

8….the number of days until I return to my job. I have such mixed emotions about this transition. I love my job but my heart is breaking at the thought of missing so much of my little girl’s day. What if she has a milestone while my gone? She is so close to sitting unassisted and crawling does not seem far off either. What if she gets hurt? So many worries have been floating through my head. But mostly I’m going to miss the lazy mornings, afternoon cuddles, her smiles and giggles. All the ordinary yet extraordinary things that happen during the day. I am also surrendering so much control to my father (who will be watching her). He will be shaping her day and in turn her mind and behavior now too. It feels unnatural for me not to be the one doing that. But I also know that my job is something that is important to our family’s livelihood and my sense of self.  I hope one day it will provide my daughter with a good example of how women can find success and fulfillment at both work and home. I know my baby will be in amazing hands with my dad. He is more neurotic than me when it comes to safety, he is fun, and he is extremely caring. He loves nature and will take her on daily walks.  He loves music and will play great tunes for her. Most importantly he will follow my husbands and I’s requests on what to do and what not to do. (He is definitely the grandparent most likely to follow our wishes haha). He will avoid screentime. He will follow the eating and napping schedule. In fact out of all of Brynns grandparents, my dad is probably the one who is most like me in terms of parenting style and personality. All of this brings me comfort but it does not change the fact that I am going to miss a lot. My babies world is getting bigger and bigger. I will always cherish the past 5 and a half months. It has been the best time of my life.

A grateful yet frustrated infertile mom rant

My little girl is 16 weeks. I can’t believe how fast time is passing! I decided I wanted to make a post about how infertility impacts my new role as a mom.

The good: I feel infertility allows me to put the negative aspects of parenting in perspective and be in the moment more with my daughter. Sure there have been days I have broke down covered in bodily fluids. Days were I felt an exhaustion I have never experienced before. But with every difficult moment I have been able to reflect upon my infertility journey and it immediately puts the stress in perspective and I feel lucky and joyful and grateful. Every day I look at my baby and my heart smiles. Sometimes I can’t believe that she is mine and am in such awe of this miracle in my life. I’m sure as I get further away from  the blood draws, the procedures, the pain I won’t have such a quick rebound from the stress of parenting. But for now, it is helping me to feel grateful for both the joyous and the difficult aspects of parenting.

The bad: Despite feeling so grateful there have been a number of outside comments that have been bothering me. Certain family members have been asking me when I’m going to have baby number two. They are telling me it will probably just happen naturally the second time. Some family members are even saying it’s selfish of me to have only one baby.  Implying that if I don’t give Brynn a sibling I am depriving her.

These comments are bothering me on so many levels. First off, I want to bask in the joy of my daughter. I want to bask in my triumph over infertility. Did I always want two children? Yes but infertility has taught me that things don’t always go as planned. I have already bargained with god that if I can have just one baby I will not want or need more. I have come to terms with the realization that I may just do this parenting thing once and I am so lucky to be doing it once. I have already thought of all the benefits of having one child. We can travel more and bring Brynn to amazing places that we probably couldn’t afford with two children. We can help her out more financially with college if she chooses to go that path. Being an only child may help her develop more independence, maybe creativity…who knows. Sure she won’t get a chance to have the amazing sibling relationships I have experienced but she may develop incredibly close relationships with her cousins that will hopefully continue after my husband and I are gone.

As you can see these comments are bringing up an exhausting internal dialogue. They are also bringing up a slew of negative feelings. I feel these comments have minimized my struggles. Haven’t I put my body through enough? Why can’t they realize the chance of me getting pregnant naturally is incredibly slim? Why do they still don’t understand how real infertility is? Is it really selfish not to put my body through the hell that it went through before? Is it selfish not to open myself up to the mental anguish of infertility- the disappointment, nervousness, anxiety and sadness I have felt? These questions have also brought up the really tough questions I have buried in my heart….What if down the road I did open myself up to wanting another baby and then it didn’t work out? What if I had another miscarriage? What if Brynn desperately wants a brother or sister and I can’t give her one? Perhaps it would be so much easier to never open that door.  I just want to scream. I know these questions are probably future conversations with my husband but for now I want to keep them buried. So I am getting them out and burying them in this blog post. Brynn is enough for me to do so for now and maybe forever. I just wish my family members would be more understanding and sensitive.

 

A Birth Story- Bringing Brynn into the World

Brynn Amaela turned nine weeks old last weekend and I am just getting around to posting her birth story now. I guess that in itself captures how life has been with a newborn. My friend said “the days are long and the years (in this case weeks) are fast.” I couldn’t agree more. But for this post, I want to focus on the labor and delivery.

Brynn’s birth was the most amazing experience of my life and by far my favorite day. Everything started on Friday, March 17th, the evening of my scheduled induction. My husband and I were told to go to the hospital at 8pm to start the induction process but to call labor and delivery before we left to confirm the time. Well it turned out that St. Patty’s was a busy evening.  After calling at 7pm, I was told our check in-time was to be pushed back and to call at 9pm for a new time. I tried to distract myself with television for the next two hours. Finally, I got our new time- 11pm.

On our way to the hospital, my husband and I talked about how odd it was that we were going to have our baby but I was not in active labor. The car ride was not what we had imagined. No contractions or heavy breathing. No sense of urgency. I was calm and not in pain. I was a little sad I wasn’t experiencing going into labor on my own. (Hours later this feeling would be washed away with the very real contractions.)

When we arrived at the hospital, we were told to sit in the waiting area. That is where we encountered two women who were indeed in active labor. I sat between them as they waited for their rooms. I felt like a bit of an imposter. Needless to say, our induction was pushed back again. After watching the women get ushered into their rooms and wishing them lots of luck, I was escorted to my room at 12:00am. Here is the timeline from 12:00am to 5:23pm when my baby girl arrived!

12:00am- signed consents, found out blood pressure was very high, also found out I was having some big contractions but was not experiencing any pain. Feeling super excited!

1:00am- doctor on call (my doctor arrived in morning) inserted balloon catheter. Doctor asked me if I was uncomfortable and feeling the pressure after the balloon was blown up. When I told her I was quite comfortable,  she was surprised. A conversation but whether to get cervidil ensued. After some back and forth and the doc calling my doctor to consult, it was decided cervidil would be skipped since I was already having contractions and had responded so well to the balloon. For a few minutes, I felt like a champ. I thought….”Contractions and a balloon aren’t phasing me- maybe I have a crazy high pain tolerance ?! Maybe this labor thing won’t be too bad?!” (These thoughts would also be washed away hours later).

3:00am- Pitocin started and nurse told us we should try to get some sleep ,I was of course wide awake, Husband settling in to his cot which looks more like a beach chair. Husband dozes off and I am wide awake.

3:33am- our neighbor (one of the ladies I met earlier in waiting area) has baby boy in chilliest, most calm birth. It sounds like she pushes three times. I listen and get emotional. I keep thinking “there was just two of them in waiting room and now they are a family of three.”

4-6am- Contractions are amping up now. Not unbearable but definitely painful.

6-6:45am- zzzzz Finally slept for a little

7:15- Get up to pee (which involves untangling wires, unplugging my iv thing from the wall and dragging the iv bag with me). I find I am bleeding a bit. Not sure if it’s from the balloon but happy to see progression

9am- my doc is here and removes the balloon. I’m pleasantly surprised to learn I am dilated to 5 centimeters. The hope with the balloon is to go to 3-4 centimeters. Again my body is an overachiever- in this case it turns out to be a good thing (wasn’t always good for ivf).  The doctor breaks my water and my husband decides to watch! I feel the pop inside of me like a little balloon exploded. The amount of fluid that pours out of me is insane. Feels like a gallon.

9am-12pm- Here is where things get interesting. After my water is broken, my contractions come like crazy! It’s like 0 to 100. My husband watches the screen telling me they are about a minute apart and then quickly only 30-40 seconds apart. They are also so intense: I was told with induction, contractions can be super intense super quick but experiencing it is a whole other thing. Suddenly I can’t lay in bed. I insist on getting up. These three hours essentially involve me walking around the room like a gorilla and hanging on to my husband’s shoulders for dear life. I can feel my face making the sadest, most pleading look at him although I can’t speak. If I could I would say “Help”- not in a yell but a quiet pathetic whimper. I’m pretty sure my face says my pathetic drawn out “help” for me. Then I decide I need to get in the shower. The nurse helps to wrap my IV arm up so I can drag the whole iv pole back to the bathroom. I stand in the hot water. The rails on the sides of the shower take the place of my husband’s shoulders as I put all my weight on them. After about 15 minutes I get out of the shower. I immediately bring up an epidural to my husband telling him I think I have an hour left of this in me maybe an hour and a half but if it’s going to be much longer I want epidural. The nurse comes in shortly after and I ask her how much longer do you think until I can start pushing. She responds “at least 4 more hours” and just like that the anesthesiologist is called in.

12pm- The Epidiural: despite the anesthesiologist being a complete deuce my epidural went pretty well. I was told to get in position with the nursing helping me. As I leaned forward trying to remain perfectly still (a nearly impossible feat in the midst of contractions) the doc says “Do you always tilt your back to the side?” I respond in my head “No asshole only when I’m in labor.” As he starts to insert the needle he tells me “if you feel it going to one side or the other tell me.” I again respond in my head “seriously ?! So I’m responsible for making sure you don’t paralyze me!” Then it’s over and I’m laying in bed. My legs aren’t completely numb and I don’t feel trapped (like I thought I might). I feel comfortable and like I can finally catch my breathe. My nurse Stephanie tells me I should probably sleep and relax now while I can.

12-1pm- I’m feeling great but not sleepy. I dilate to seven centimeters- woohoo.

1:30-3:00- I finally doze off for a bit. I pump the epidural button a bit as I start feeling the contractions again.

3:00- I dilate to 9 centimeters. I put on Bruce Springsteen’s The River to try and wake up and get motivated. I stop pushing the epidural button as I want to feel the pressure so I’ll know when to push. Doctor is telling me it won’t be long now and I’m starting to feel the contractions.

4:40-5:22- Pushing time! This part is different then I expect. I feel in control and motivated. My contractions aren’t coming quickly so I’m not pushing the entire time. It’s more like 3 pushes every few minutes. I think I end up doing about 7-9 rounds of pushing. At first I can’t get the hang of it. I am tensing my face and my arms way too much. Then once a mirror is brought in I finally get it. I think seeing the baby’s head coming out helps me realize what the good pushes are. I watch in the mirror as I push. My nurse and husband are at my side holding my legs and counting down. They are so encouraging and the counting is really helping. My doctor comes in towards the last few pushing rounds and tells me there is a woman down the hall that is progressing fast and he wants to see how I’m doing to decide who will be delivering first. I give him a superstar push and he says “oh you are having this baby soon. I’m not going anywhere!” I’m relieved. I push for another round and see everything getting very red down there. Baby girls head is about half way out now and she has tons of hair. Suddenly I am terrified I am going to see myself tear in the mirror and I demand that it be taken away. I don’t watch my lasts two rounds of pushing. I can feel burning and tons of pressure. The last push of the shoulders brings some pain.

5:23-Suddenly I’m reaching down and pulling my girl up on my chest. She’s not crying but she’s alert. She’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. The moment is peaceful, serene and joyous all at once. I’m staring in her eyes and she’s really looking back at me. I glance at my husband and tears are pouring down his face. After a few minutes she is latching onto my breast. It’s amazing and feels so natural. I feel an instant connection and euphoria. She lies on my chest for what feels like awhile. It’s the most amazing feeling. While I am basking in her, my doctor tells me I am delivering the placenta and then he is stitching me up saying I have a small tear. I glance at the doctor and the end of my bed. It looks like a war zone down there: blood and fluids all over the floor. I ask him to show me the placenta as a curiosity has taken over me and holds up something that looks a lot bigger than I anticipate. After a few glances, I am back to basking in my little love. Then my husband is escorting her to a little area in my room to get weighed, given a vitamin K shot and cleaned off. Now I hear her cry for the first time. My husband announces her weight to me 8 lbs 2 oz. then she is back in my arms. My heart is so full. My baby Brynn Amaela has arrived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

41 Weeks

I’m over here still pregnant. I never expected to go this far. In fact, I expected to go early which has made these last few weeks even more frustrating. I had quite an emotional week. My best friend (the one who lost her baby) is visiting. We have shed some tears together over her baby boy and her sister hosted a very nice fundraiser where we got to celebrate him.  It has been amazing to see her but I do feel a bit guilty about how much of our conversations have focused on my impending birth. I also feel like ever since I passed my due date, I’ve had this sense of urgency for the baby to be here ASAP. Every passing day just feels like a day that something can go wrong. A day I can lose the baby I have been waiting almost three years for. My fantasies of a natural birth have been replaced with fantasies of going to a doc apt and them telling me I have to get an emergency c-section just so she is here and I can stop worrying. Rationally I know this makes no sense and of course I don’t want anything to be wrong, it’s just been so hard to wait with my mounting anxiety. I really went to a dark place on Monday. I live in the northeast and a blizzard cane our way. Monday forecasts were predicting 2 feet of snow for Tuesday. I went into the doctor’s office and basically pleaded for an induction. The nurse-midwife reluctantly agreed to schedule me that evening before the snow started.  Well about an hour before we were to leave for the hospital my doctor called me to tell me all the reasons why my cervix was not favorable for an induction. I felt like a fool. After a lot of tears, my husband talked to the doctor and gave him the background about my friend and how I have been struggling the past week with anxiety and the snow just brought it all to the forefront. From that point on, my doctor was amazing. He told me he understood and I could still come in to be induced. After a lot of back and forth, I decided to be brave and wait out the storm. Since then I have progressed a little bit- dilated slightly more, baby girl moved down and I lost my mucus plug. Due to my progress, my doctor scheduled me for an induction for tomorrow (41 weeks and 1 day). He also did a very thorough examination imcluding a non stress test, ultrasound and cervical check. He said both the baby and I look great. While my doctor says he would push induction to Tuesday if baby continues to do well, he is supportive of my feelings and thinks an induction will go fine this weekend. So the plan is to go to the hospital tonight. They will give me medicine to soften my cervix and insert a balloon catheter to hopefully dilate me more. Then tomorrow morning, they will assess progress and give me pitocon. I know I may be in for a very long road but I am so so ready to meet my girl.

Due Date

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It’s here! The day I have been waiting for. My little girl is still comfy in my belly and showing no signs of coming out today. At my doctor appointment yesterday, I didn’t show much progress. I was 50% effaced (same as my 39 week appointment), a fingertip dilated (same as 38 weeks) and baby was at a -2 (moved down a little but still pretty high). I have been moaning and groaning for a few weeks now  and am feeling guilty about it. When I sit back and reflect on today, I know I am very lucky. Despite the cankles, insomnia, headaches and general uncomfortableness, I have a lot to be grateful for today. A day didn’t know if I would ever get to.

This journey seems so much longer than 40 weeks and so much more than the physical and emotional symptoms of pregnancy and I guess that’s because it is. It encompasses my husband and I’s quest for a family, starting back at our wishes and conversations before I went off birth control in the summer of 2014.  It encompasses our attempts at a natural pregnancy, our testing when that natural pregnancy didn’t come , our IVF journey, every needle, morning appointment, procedure, our heartbreaking miscarriage, our three two week waits, our tears of joy, our fears and our love. It’s all wrapped up in this little girl kicking away in my belly. So for at least the day, I am going to try to put my cranky pregnancy rants aside and marvel in the happiness these kicks bring. Marvel in the wonder of this pregnancy and the miracle that is upon us.

It’s the final countdown

I am 36 weeks and 2 days. There has been a lot going on since my last update. I had two beautiful baby showers- the first on January 8th thrown by my mom and sisters. I was sick as a dog but it didn’t matter- everything was perfect. They put so much love and detail into the planning. My godmother came from North Carolina. So many friends and family members were there. The theme was nursery rhymes.

The second shower was a surprise work shower thrown by my department on my last day of work.  My work family gifted me a gift certificate for a newborn photographer! I was so excited!

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I feel so grateful that our baby girl is going to be born into such a thoughtful and kind support system.

There has also been some bumps along the way. I had some funky symptoms over the past few months- seeing floaters and protein in my urine. I had to do some extra bloodwork and a 24 hour urine test (where I was given a lovely jug that I had to keep in my fridge and pee into over a 24 hour period). Last weekend when my notoriously low blood pressure spiked I was sent to the hospital by my doctor. All turned out well. Baby girl was looking great and besides a sky high pulse that wouldn’t come down from 130 for a few hours, I was ok too. We were discharged after a few hours of monitoring and only missed the first hour of the Super Bowl. They are still monitoring me closely for preeclampsia and I’m told to call with any symptoms.

The other bump in the road was my car being totaled by a drunk driver. The driver hit my car parked in front of my house, pushed it about twenty feet into a wall and then proceeded to drive over two street signs in front of the school I live next to. Thank god no one was in the car or on the sidewalk at the time as the driver could have easily killed someone. My husband was actually a matter of minutes from getting in my car to pick up lunch for us. When I realized how close he was to getting run over, I started hyperventilating. It certainly made me think about how fragile life is and how quickly everything can change. It was a scary ordeal. This event may or may not have been the cause of my blood pressure spike.

So I am hoping the days or weeks up to the “main event” are uneventful. I have some important things left to do on my “Before Baby Girl Arrives List.” I know when and how she arrives will be out of my control so this type A is just trying to go with the flow and control my excitement and nerves. I just can’t believe there will be a new person here in the next month. Even after all of this time and the long road to get it here, it doesn’t feel real yet. I can only describe the anticipation as how my 8 year old self awaiting Christmas morning felt….times a thousand.