POST: Infertility Greeting Cards

I totally could have used a few of these…

These New Greeting Cards Offer Support And Encouragement For Women Undergoing Infertility Treatments

IVF-HollyCampCards

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Sadness, revisited

This morning, my coworker Robin came by my desk.  The usual “Hi/Good morning/How are you” commenced. He responded with “*Sigh* I’m tired.”

Robin is the father to a three year old. He could be tired for a number of reasons. I didn’t pry, and continued eating my Cheerios.

But he lingered and we made a little chit chat until Pea came over (His daughter has been in and out of the doctor’s office with, it turns out, mono. Babies get mono. Who knew?)

Pea made an off hand remark about how things were with Robin.

“We lost it.”

At my desk. At 9:20 in the morning. My coworker is openly talking about how his wife miscarried this week at 8 weeks. As you may recall, Robin and his wife suffered a miscarriage late in their last pregnancy. They are facing it again, and my heart breaks for them. There was a part of me that wanted to scream “Good god, man… GO HOME!” But we all have our ways to dealing with grief. I told him that if he ever wanted to grab a cup of tea, just ask.

(Aside: This lead to a very odd series of comments from Pea about how this is okay, good things are coming, etc. I wanted to push him, because this is NOT okay, good things aren’t always coming along, and sometimes things are just fucking miserable. Pea, of course, comes with his own set of losses so he knows this sting. I suppose this is just my way of pointing out that people who experience pregnancy loss can still be emotionally tone deaf.)

With my recent CD1, the idea has cropped up that Mr. O and I might try for another baby. You see, we have one on ice. Just one. I realize the chances that this one will thaw and become an actual human baby aren’t terribly high. But hope is there, somewhere in cryogenic deep freeze. The other day, I was looking at Chick and Mr. O playing together and thought “There is a 70%* likelihood that this is it for us. This is my family.” And you know what? I am okay with that.

Until this morning, I hadn’t also applied this statistic to the other side of the coin: There is high probability that my hypothetical pregnancy could fail. I’ve fortunately never experienced a miscarriage, but I don’t know that I could handle it– especially if I lost the only embryo we have left.

I don’t know what my point is exactly… Maybe just to say that these are wounds that never really heal.

*Based off the statistic that only 20-35% of IVF cycles result in a live birth. I rounded a little to a 70/30 split.  Sad sack stats, but thems the breaks for us infertiles.

CD1

(There’s a little TMI in here. You’ve been warned.)

It happened. 8 months post-baby, I finally got my period. I’d been feeling crampy and achey for a few days, but I chalked that up to… well, everything. I have a tiny person to take care of, I’m still nursing, maybe I’d eaten a cheesesteak sub that day… Whatever the reason, I brushed it all aside until one morning, I saw IT. The streak of red that I should be used to since I’ve been dealing with it in one way or another since I was 12.

I’ll admit that when I first got my period at 12, I was confused. I will spare you the details, but it wasn’t how I imagined it, certainly not how Judy Blume made it sound. I finally copped on and proceeded to steal pads from my mom for a few months until I womaned up and told my mom I needed my own supply.

Around this time, many of my friends started on theirs. One friend in particular had a party of sorts. Her mother and other motherly friends had a celebration to honor her transition to womanhood. I remember her telling me this and thinking “That’s nuts. There is no way I’m celebrating this.”

For the rest of my adolescent and adult life, I viewed my period as an inconvenience. I have never, not once, thrown myself a party.

So this time around, all I can say was that it was weird.

Oh, the period itself was fine. If anything a little lighter than I was used to in days of yore, but mostly it was fine.

But I was weird. How I felt about it was weird.

For YEARS (yes, multiple and in all caps) I’ve been vaguely terrified of blood coming out of my nether regions. There were the 2 years of TTC, where my period marked another failure and another loss. Then while pregnant, I was worried in the back of my head that *something* would go wrong, so I went to the bathroom each time with a tiny sense of dread until that day in June when I did see some spotting, and was on bed rest for two weeks.

Now I have absolutely no reason to feel conflicted about my period. But I do. Kinda. Maybe.

It’s hard to shake years (YEARS) of conditioned response to something, to anything. We are creatures of habit. My habit has been to get my period and feel a profound sadness and fear. In a way, I realize this is positive because it means my body is returning to its old self (whatever the hell that means post-pregnancy.) But in my head, it also signifies the end of something. The end of what, is what I’m struggling to articulate. As much as I didn’t love pregnancy, I have loved being Chick’s mama. Once he made his way out and safely home, I’ve enjoyed taking care of him. And my body has played a role in that. My period seems to be signaling that my days as the physical sustainer of life are numbered.

Perhaps more than anything, it is that this CD1 marks the beginning of the end of Chick’s first year. He will be 9 months in a few short weeks. It all seems to have gone so fast.

(Note:  Mr. O’s response was “That’s great. It means your body is getting back to normal.” Le sigh… sometimes dudes just don’t get it.)

Mini-post: my baby hates me. Or at least my cooking.

I find a lot of joy in cooking. When Chick started on solids, I was looking forward to it in large part because I was excited to prepare his food. Ready, set, purée.

Things have been going well for the last two months. Then just last week, Chick went all diva on food. He’d take a few bites and be, at best, disinterested. I tried new foods, old foods, new combos, even a little baby led weaning.

Tonight, at my wits end, I pulled out the emergency prepared, store bought baby food.

He ate all 4 oz with gusto.

I’m trying not to take this personally.

The Ostrich Becomes a Swan

This post was inspired by a post by Hound Mamas on how to navigate going back to work while loving the crap out of your baby.

Like many new parents, I was wondering how I would feel about returning to work. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be easier than I thought it would. I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I love dropping my kid off at daycare everyday. (okay, except that one time when my daycare was sucking…)

I don’t mean to imply, however, that this hasn’t been hard. It’s not easy to transition into being at home catering to a tiny human’s every need to… well, at work catering to grown men and women’s every need. (Let’s be real, there is an element to all our jobs which feels a bit like caring for infants. Even when we don’t work in early childhood development.)

For the first few months, I was all “I made it through work today without passing out on my keyboard? WIN!” And then I realized that wasn’t really me. Or at least, not the me I want Chick to know. I’m smart, driven, and a great leader. Work is how I express those qualities.

So as I got my sea legs under me, I decided to re-commit myself to my career, which because I love my work also means I am re-committing myself to myself to a certain degree. This seems to have worked, because at my recent review my manager gave me a raise and basically told me that I could develop my next job (with some parameters, of course.)

During my review, he specifically said I had done a great job re-entering the workplace. One thing he said made me pause, however. Not a direct quote, but something along the lines of “You don’t use your child as an excuse for why your work doesn’t get done.”

(Please note, my manager is fantastic and very supportive of parents at work. I don’t think this was meant as a critique.)

I’ve struggled a bit if this is to be interpreted as a compliment. Kinda like when a co-worker told me she thought I’d be more of a trainwreck coming back from leave.

I *guess* it is good that I make it look effortless, but holy shit, it really isn’t. Yesterday was balls out insane, for example. Work was back to back meetings all day. Mr. O has some horrid stomach bug, so I had to keep Chick away from him, make chicken soup (which Mr. O could hardly keep down, poor thing), get Chick ready for bed, prepared his bag for daycare, and take out the trash. And then Chick woke up twice last night and needed to be put back down. By me and only me. (See previous note about Mr. O’s stomach bug.)

And yet, I still give off the illusion that I’ve got this shit covered. Not just covered, but that I’m “leaning in”, to borrow from Our Lady of Ladies in the Workplace, Sheryl Sandberg.

In fairness, I do think I’m coping okay. I’m like a swan- graceful up top, but paddling like hell below. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that there is a secret to this, only that I’ve found some things that work for me. Like:

In an effort to get my head back at work, I picked a career-related goal for the next 6 months, then went at it. Not a year, not the next 5 years, but the next 6 months. It wasn’t huge (i.e. talking about a promotion with my boss) but the result seems to have paid off (i.e. raise and new role.) In 6 months, I’m going to check in with myself again to see what my next 6 month goal is.

I’m also trying to make looking like I have my shit together literally look easy. I’m defaulting to dresses more and more these days. Perhaps not everyone’s style, but they are a life saver when you have no idea what to wear. One item of clothing and I instantly look like I’m trying. Bonus points for wrap dresses that make trips to the pump room a lot less involved.

I’ve also become a huge fan of scarves because they can easily be rearranged to cover up any wayward puke stains.

Most importantly, I have made it a policy to never apologize. For being late, for spending hours a day pumping, for not wearing make up, for prioritizing 10 minutes more with Chick in the morning when he wants to play. I refuse to imply for even one second that I am not doing my absolute best. I AM. It’s just that my best looks a little different than it used to.

I think what working parents are doing is ambitious. It’s just that ambition isn’t always about the corner office. We’re taking care of our families, contributing to our organizations, looking for ways to live fully as professionals and parents. That’s pretty damn ambitious, I’d say.

Now off to get Chick from daycare.

NOTE: I do not mean to imply that SAHPs don’t have ambitions too… No one says that our ambitions have to be the same in order to be lofty and important, and I’m genuinely tired of this being an either/or debate. So in case you feel like you want to bring that up… Hush.