The Last Entry / Bookends

I just went back & read my very first blog post. It feels like it was a million years ago. Can I still call myself infertile now that I’ve borne a child? Yes, I think so (seeing as how I couldn’t get pregnant without extreme intervention). Still, it feels strange somehow. It’s familiar and foreign at the same time — like my body, which has returned to its former weight but not its former shape. I have scars that ache from time to time. Body parts have been stretched and pulled, severed and sewn back in a way that still feels alien to me. On the other hand, my body has achieved the miraculous. She has not only nourished and sustained life, but provided the perfect sustenance for the first six months of my daughter’s life. It continues to amaze me – even after 13 months now – that I make milk!

My world has changed almost completely.

All my ‘Are you kidding mes’ have been altered forever.

Are you kidding me?! I got pregnant with the one good embryo we were able to produce after three IVFs?!?

Are you kidding me?! My husband who never wanted children is the most loving father who now adores his daughter more than he ever thought possible?!

Are you kidding me?! I got to have the easiest pregnancy and the most gorgeous baby girl ever?!

Are you kidding me?! I get to stay at home and actually be a Mom to this beautiful little angel?!

Are you kidding me?! After believing she was my last shot at motherhood, I’m actually in a position to try for a sibling for her?!

The blessings go on and on. I wish I could just take this huge lump in my throat that arises whenever I think about just how lucky and grateful I am and make you feel it, too. But there are no words. Language can only deliver a pale facsimile of what I feel. The agony and the ecstasy are far too great to be captured in words. The only way is through.

It was important to me that this particular blog come to an end, since it is so different now from how it started. It’s no longer about the journey through infertility and I no longer feel the need to blog anonymously. I will probably still blog about parenthood because I love it… and writing is so cathartic… and maybe in my moments of vanity, I think it will mean something to my daughter later on in life.

I never expected anyone to really read my blog. Those who have, have surprised me and touched me with their caring. Through reading your blogs, I’ve come to realize what an amazing journey mothers of all kinds go through. Each of our stories, sagas, quests, is so unique and powerful. I have gained tremendous strength through this sisterhood.

Thank you for being here with me now, too, as I say goodbye to this chapter of my life. We’re hoping to try for a sibling for our daughter next year. It would be funny if it were a boy and we named him Robert. I would feel like my prayer to the two embryos I imagined I had in January of 2012 was a premonition, a stamp of destiny upon the ether which materialized. I hope that it is. I love my children: lost, present, and future, more than anything in the world. If they know nothing else, please let them know that.

Last opportunity to blog

It’s 10 pm on October 10th as I write this. Tomorrow, my in-laws will arrive to stay with us for a few days to celebrate our daughter’s first birthday on the 13th. So, this is my last chance to have a moment to myself to gather some thoughts.

Just as I have been every single day for nearly the past two years now, I am so incredibly grateful. I live in gratitude day in and day out. I think that possibly one of the best parts about being an older mother is that I know how precious each moment is. Every diaper change, every early morning feeding, every laugh, hug, tear, and tantrum is something to be cherished. Time may be going by faster than I’d like, but my saving grace is living in the moment and savoring every bit of it. I hope my husband is, too. Sometimes, I fear I may be nagging him with my constant admonitions to put down his mobile phone and play with our daughter! I know he’s crazy about her (as she is him) but somehow, I don’t think he’s got the same urgency about “sucking the marrow out of life” that I do. I wouldn’t want him to ever look back on this time and think that he didn’t give it his all or enjoy it as much as he should. Chores, be damned! There’s a little girl who needs every ounce of attention and love we have right now. At this moment, we are the world to her… and as everyone knows, it won’t be this way forever. I want us to take advantage of this amazing blessing as much as we can.

Our little love bug is getting cuter and funnier by the day. She does things to make us laugh all the time. I don’t think I’ve ever known a baby to laugh so much. (Is it wrong that I secretly take credit for this?) I do believe, without making a judgment regarding anyone who does it differently, that my staying home with her — my loving being a mother in every aspect — my calm demeanor and my own sense of humor have a lot to do with the reason she is so relaxed and delightful. There is no doubt that she is one happy baby! And every smile feels like a personal triumph. It feels like I’ve more than done my job, but rather like I’ve answered a higher calling. Being a mom is who I was always meant to be. I have honestly never been so happy (or sleep deprived) in my life!

I just re-read that paragraph and I don’t mean to say that my child is perfect or never screams at the top of her lungs for… well, who knows why they scream?! She throws tantrums daily; tears stream down her cheeks at the slightest provocation: diaper change, the putting on of socks (!), if I’m a moment late to feed her after she’s already in her high chair. You name it. But she’s also super quick to laugh and smile and forget it all. I have become something of an expert at getting her to go from screaming to belly laughing in a matter of seconds. Hmm. I guess I am kind of feeling like SuperMom these days!

We’re having a family party for her on Sunday. There’ll be about 20 people, including her two Godfathers. I’ve hired a photographer to document it all so that I can enjoy the party myself without having to worry. I hope it goes off without a hitch (I’m thinking about you here, Mom.) Let’s just pray everyone behaves and remembers that my baby girl is the star of the day. Having said that, I still cannot believe she’s turning one! The other night I watched the videos from the night she was born. In some ways, it feels like a million years ago, yet in other ways, it seems like it just happened. I’m resisting the thought of her being a toddler. My father says she can’t be a toddler until she’s walking or “toddling” so… I think I’ll go with that convenient definition for now.

I love my little girl in a way and to a depth that is impossible to describe. I can hardly comprehend it myself. She holds my very life in her tiny, precious hands — mine, and my husband’s… and probably my father’s, too. As always, I truly hope she knows how much she is loved… although, I suspect that she won’t fully grasp how we all feel until she has a little one of her own someday. I look forward to being the kind of grandmother to her child that I always wished I had. Happy Birthday, baby girl. Daddy and I are so in love with you.

She’s almost ONE!

I must have fallen into the rabbit hole as soon as I gave birth because this (nearly) year has gone by so incredibly fast. The other day when I asked my husband if he could believe our baby girl is about to turn one… he looked stunned (although, of course we know she is and we talk about it all the time). He said, “I remember the day she was born like it was five minutes ago!” and then this faraway look came over his face. Yep. It’s insane how everything pre-baby seemed like f-o-r-e-v-e-r and everything post baby is super time-warped. People can say, “It goes by so fast!” until they are blue in the face, but until you experience it, you – my friend – have no idea.

Our little angel, who used to be so calm and mellow, has turned the proverbial developmental corner and now screams (I mean SCREAMS) the split second she doesn’t get exactly what she wants. And what she wants is often completely arbitrary — or at least, it’s a mystery to us. A few days ago, she was happily playing in her play area in the den. She decided to crawl around and when she arrived at her playpen (which was blocking access to the kitchen) she screamed bloody murder! Two seconds before, she’d been a smiling, happy little muffin (that’s what I’ve been calling her these days). My nicknames go through phases… and I find that they spill over to people I love. So now I call my husband “Muffin” too!

She’s doing so many amazing things (well, to me, they’re amazing!) and I’m such a proud Mommy. She can stand and sit like a champ and can also “cruise” or walk, holding onto furniture. A few times, I’ve seen her stand completely on her own and I’m convinced she’ll be walking by her birthday – squeal! She is so cute that I find it really, really difficult to give her soft kisses. I tend to give big loud kisses and squeeze her all over. I have to fight the urge to just bite chunks of cute baby all the time. Okay, I know that must sound odd, but I’m sure I’m not the only one… right?

We’re planning a small, family only, get together for her on her actual birthday. And, I have to say, this is the first party in my life that I’m actually excited about planning. I don’t think I paid this much attention to my wedding – lol. Yesterday, I was reading a baby article to my hubby as he was washing our dishes (yay, me!) and it said something about toddler behavior. Naturally, we’ve come across the word “toddler” a million times, but neither one of us was sure when exactly toddlerhood began. So, I googled it and it turns out that the official toddler era is from 12 to 36 months. When the realization sunk in that our little bundle of preciousness only had another month of being a BABY, it was just too much to take. Mommy & Daddy had a little pity party for ourselves. We have so loved her babyhood and aren’t even close to ready to say goodbye. I can’t believe she’s going to be a toddler now. This whole growing up thing sure is painful… for the parents!

Baby Update – 8 1/2 Months

I’ve been trying to get to the computer to write an update for nearly 6 weeks now (this was meant to be a 7th month update!) but time is such a precious commodity and energy seems even more so. As it is, I’ll probably be writing this in increments and publish when I’m all done. Did I already mention that my blog will end in October, after my baby’s first birthday? I may start another one after that — or not — we’ll see. I may want to when we start trying for baby number two. I imagine it will be strange returning to fertility clinics and procedures after already having failed several times, but more importantly, having succeeded one miraculous time. I feel so lucky. We have been so blessed.

My biggest surprise about parenting has to be how incredibly fast time goes by. And, this is coming from a person who has very consciously savored every moment. I feel guilty if I sneak a peek at a t.v. set or look at Facebook on my phone while she’s awake … because I’m not completely engrossed in the moment with my daughter. Yesterday, I picked her up from the changing table and scooped her into my arms, hugging her tightly, and said to her her, “Time is going by so fast, it’s making my head spin!” I was extremely emotional and teary. Sometimes, it really feels like I put her down for a nap and by the time I go back to pick her up, she’s grown or matured in some way. It is SO FAST! I want to hold on to my baby… I want her to slow down. I miss those days when she used to fall asleep on my shoulder for an hour! Now, I cherish the few seconds or minutes she falls asleep on me before I transfer her to her crib. So. Much. Distance.

I’m not sure I can even remember all the ways she’s changed since the 5 month update. Let’s see…. At around 6 months, her two front (lower) teeth came in. I hadn’t really believed my mother-in-law when she told me that my husband didn’t make a big fuss when his baby teeth came in, but lo and behold, my baby was the same way. I was expecting screaming, crying, and sleepless nights for the whole family. Instead, she seemed a bit cranky, clingy, and wanted to nurse (and sleep) more. Win! (Too bad that “sleep more” thing was only temporary, though.)

Just about the same time, the doc had us start her on solids (baby oatmeal, for starters). She took to solids like a champ. My kid loves to eat! I hear all these stories about babies spitting the food back, but not my little eater. She has yet to turn down food. My favorite thing about her eating (okay, two things, actually) is #1 – the way she opens her mouth super-wide, like a little baby bird in the nest and #2 – when she’s got food all over her face and she gives me a big, toothy grin in response to something I’ve done to make her laugh or smile. Ahhh, the simple joys of parenthood.

So far, in addition to oatmeal, we’ve given her: sweet potato, peas, carrots, kale, tofu, apples, pears, regular potato, broccoli, and corn. Last month, we also discovered her inexplicable love of cucumbers. Her two little teeth are enough to carve out all the flesh and leave the hard cucumber skin behind. It’s a great way to keep her busy & entertained for about 20 minutes, sometimes more. I try to remember to take a cucumber with me whenever we go out — that and a pacifier will buy me maybe 40 minutes of quiet time. I never knew how precious info like this would be!

Sometime around 6 months, when we went in for our monthly checkup, the doctor told us that her feet were curving too far inward. We’d been massaging them like he instructed for months, but the doc said they hadn’t improved enough – especially the right foot – and we had to get special shoes for her. They were these big, clunky, horrible clown shoes that looked like they were being worn on the wrong foot. And to top it all off, she had to be in them for 22 hours a day! The first day we put them on her, I had to hide my tears. I would cry whenever she couldn’t see me. It was so sad to see my beautiful and perfect girl in these awful shoes. Luckily, after eight whole weeks, the doc decided her feet had improved enough and she could get rid of the clodhoppers. My husband and I were over the moon! Our little girl’s chubby feet are so adorable, that it felt like a real sin to have them covered all the time.

Her sleep… oh, man, I could write an entire book about our trials and tribulations regarding getting our little one to sleep. Let’s just summarize by saying we tried absolutely everything — twice! We even went so far as to attempt complete extinction (otherwise known as Cry It Out / last resort) for nearly four weeks, but our stubborn little cherub, despite going to bed & taking her naps without much fuss, insisted on waking up with a burst of energy at 4 am every single morning. Nothing — and I really mean nothing — we did was ever able to change that. Miraculously, three times this week, she’s woken up between 5:30 and 6 am. I don’t want to speak too soon, but I’m hoping and praying that something has shifted and I will soon be able to sleep through the night. I say “I” and not “we” here because her father has always been able to sleep through the night. He can sleep through her screaming. It’s uncanny. I’ll never understand how Dads can do this… I’ve never met a Mom who could!

A couple of days before Mother’s Day, she said her first word: Mama! I wasn’t absolutely sure I heard her correctly because she only said it once… but since then, she’s been saying it all the time. I know she doesn’t know that it means me, but it’s still nice to hear. I keep trying to get her to say “Dada” now, but she’s not having any of it! So, “Mamamama” it is! I can’t wait to hear what words she’s going to say next. There’s a part of me that’s hoping it’s something really impressive.

I try my hardest not to compare her to other babies, as I’ve been warned that’s a recipe for disaster. It would be dishonest to say I haven’t noticed the differences, such as my friend’s baby who is three weeks older and has been crawling and pulling herself up to a standing position for a good five weeks now, but I can say that I’m not freaking out over the milestones. I mean, my baby has a gorgeous head of hair and teeth… and the most pinch-able apple cheeks you’ve ever seen. One cannot have everything. In fact, as soon as she starts crawling, I’ll be forced to be a lot more active, so I’m really okay to wait. Currently, she gets around by a series of well-coordinated routine of rolling over and sitting up. It doesn’t sound like much, but she can go pretty far.

Her newest skill is turning the pages of board books by herself and feeling textures in the touch & feel books. She just loves her books. I hope that’s something she never outgrows. In her moments of tantrum, she is quieted by chewing on either my cell phone, the remote control, or sharp edges of our no-petroleum jelly tube — these are all things I hope she does outgrow!

I’m sure I’ve left things out… that’s bound to happen when you’re pressed for time and still working to make up the huge sleep debt I’ve accumulated, but this will have to do for tonight. I hope my baby girl will know, someday, how much I am enchanted by every aspect of her and how very much her father and I love her.

R.I.P. Sir Robert Edward

By chance, I was in the car listening to NPR today, and I heard the newscaster report that Nobel Prize winning scientist, Sir Robert Edward – the father of IVF – died today. I was soon overcome with emotion and in tears, for a man I never knew, but who changed my life completely. I owe him so much. I am so grateful. My whole family is so grateful. How can you thank someone enough for giving your life meaning and purpose? For making all your dreams of motherhood come true? For making me the happiest, luckiest woman alive? For my beautiful, beautiful daughter?

I came home and Googled this wonderful man. I learned that by the time he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010, he was too far gone with dementia to appreciate the honor. The same goes for him being knighted by Queen Elizabeth the following year. I read about Louise Brown, the first “test tube” baby and how Robert had become a part of her family.

He started research on IVF in the Fifties and was driven by the belief that people had the right to receive help in having a family.

He once said: I have seen how infertility is a cause of great and lasting human sadness. It demands treatment. The most important thing in life is having a child.

What an incredible man… and what a huge debt our family and countless other families owe him. In one of the articles, I read that – among many tributes written to him – the most profound was from a young man whose note simply read, “Thank you for my life.”

Baby Update – 5 months

I’ve been reading baby updates on other blogs and it’s high time I write one myself – just to keep tabs on where our precious girl is now.

The sleep training went well until she got sick (boo!) so, now that she’s weathered her first baby illness, we’re starting all over again. Oh, joy. I really shouldn’t complain, though, because she seems to be sleeping for much longer stretches than other babies her age anyway. If I could just get her to stop waking up (usually screaming) at 5 am, that would be great.

*She is feeding a lot more during the day now, since we’re weaning her from nighttime feeds – except for one dream feed when I go to sleep.

*Her clothing size is anywhere from 6 to 9 months… PJs closer to 9 months.

*She’s 15 lbs. and 24 1/4″ in height according to her last visit. Not very tall, but has LOVELY chubs in all the right places. She is such a hugable, squeezable size!

*Loves story time right before naps & going to bed at night. When Dad is home, story reading privileges go to him. I think all three of us love that!

*She can sit up pretty much on her own either on the couch or in her playpen (which we just started using yesterday). Currently, she loves sucking on anything that comes near her mouth. Stuffed animals with tags are her favorite. She is also enjoying her Sofie the Giraffe teether.

*She’s been teething for a while, but no teeth have cut through the gums yet.

*Yesterday, I saw her roll over for the first time. Apparently, she only likes rolling on her right side and I absolutely cannot make her roll onto her left side. She can’t crawl yet and doesn’t like it when I place her on her belly to try. We figure, she’ll just crawl when she’s ready.

*She loves her baths! Her favorite thing to do is kick really hard with her feet so that the bathwater splashes whoever is giving her a bath! She smiles and laughs… and loves to watch water being poured onto her belly. I think she’s a water-baby like her mama. We bought her her first pair of swimming diapers and I can’t wait to see her swim this Summer.

*She is really chatty and enjoys blowing raspberries at any opportunity. We blow them on her tummy frequently just to hear her tinkling laughter!

*So far, I don’t think she’s met a person she didn’t like. In an instant, she’ll flash her ear-to-ear grin and showcase her charming personality. Seriously. People everywhere just fall in love with her and seem to go out of their way to tell us that she’s unusually sweet and calm. (She is pretty patient. We haven’t taken her out much, but never has there been a public tantrum.)

*She’s independent and happy to play on her own with her toys without constant interaction. I do try to interact with her nearly all the time because I think she learns more and I want her to know I’m paying attention, but I’ve also observed that she is totally content whether I do so or not.

*Her eye color hasn’t settled in yet. Her eyes change from swampy green to grey. In a certain light, they look hazel. I can’t wait to see what color they become! Her hair is light brown, with the slightest reddish hue, and golden blonde pieces. She is a beauty!

*She loves when we make up funny words and exaggerate their pronunciation. Daddy likes “speaking Italian” to her, which basically consists of him listing foods: spaghetti, cannelloni, ravioli, etc. but the way he says them by stretching out the vowels, “Cannellooooooni” makes her giggle with glee. In fact, we have so many made-uo words, I’ll just die if she says one before a “real” word! Hahaha.

*This week, she was able to self-propel in her walker (a pink Cadillac). I was amazed and realized that we’ll have to buy the gates for our home much sooner than I expected.

Okay, that’s it for now… I’m sure there’s a lot more to memorialize, but this is all I can come up with for now. Next weekend is Easter and I want so badly to put her back into the little lamb costume she hated at Halloween. Who knows? She may just have needed some time to get used to the idea.

My heart grows a little every day to accommodate all the love I have for her!

Why I don’t write more

Someday, I will no doubt look back on this blog and wish that I had written more – documented more about what my experiences in early motherhood were like. The present Me would like to remind the future Me that there simply is/was no time and that I was either torturously sleep deprived and/or preferred to spend precious waking moments paying attention to and interacting with my sweet baby.

Having said that, I am intentionally trying to ignore her now… as it is almost an hour past her bed time and she has had a screaming fit – for no discernible reason – for the better part of this time. Maybe if I hadn’t already been deprived of several nights’ sleep, I could think of a better, more creative, more compassionate plan of attack. However, that is simply asking too much of me right now.

Last night went something like this: I gave her her “last feed” at 8:25 pm and she was asleep by 8:50 pm, then she woke up at 9:10 pm. I rocked her to sleep. I tried to go to bed at 10 pm. She woke up again at 10:45 pm and 11:45 pm and I rocked her back to sleep each time. She woke up again at 1:20 am and would not be consoled, so I fed her (my admittedly misguided attempt to cheat & put her to bed the “easy way” as she tends to fall asleep after feeding). The joke was on me last night as she decided to sever our tacit understanding by crying, screaming, and generally making a nuisance of herself until 3:30 am. At this point, I was sobbing in the kitchen, on my husband’s shoulder (a rarity at that time of night) out of sheer exhaustion. I fed her again and she drifted off to sleep for somewhere close to an hour – I think. My memory starts to get a little fuzzy here. She may have gone to sleep for longer, and it just took me until 4:30 am to get to bed. At any rate, she was up again at 6:30 am, and I fed her again. Again, she showed no signs of going to sleep, and started her (cute, when I’m not tired) babbling. I tried to ignore her, but it was impossible since she still sleeps in our bedroom. Eventually, I had to wake up the hubby on his day off, even though he’d only gotten a few hours of sleep himself. He could see I was in bad shape, so he watched her for a couple of hours so I could get some much needed sleep.

What I really don’t understand is how she went from sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night without waking up – which is what she was doing at 2 months old – to THIS?!?! I’ve read all kinds of things about sleep regressions and 4 months seems to be a typical time for the first regression but this is horrible and I cannot go on like this. I walk around like a zombie all day, trying my best to be present and have fun with my precious baby – but I’m exhausted and am actually starting to dread nighttime. I can’t take all the screaming and crying. I can’t stand the lack of sleep. I completely understand why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture.

To top things off, tonight, I felt some tenderness near my c-section incision and when I felt the area with my hand, I noticed a sizable lump on the right side. It felt very strange and I’ve never experienced anything like this. Google seems to think it’s a hernia… which would be really bad news, as that can only be treated surgically, and I wouldn’t be able to lift anything weighing over 15 lbs. (which basically means, no lifting my daughter). I really hope that’s not what it is, but I have a sinking feeling that my hoping is in vain.

I know this post isn’t particularly clever, funny, or entertaining… I just needed to jot a few things down for me. Take a little time for myself. Sometimes it just helps to take pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, as the case may be.

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