Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month


October may mean something different to many of us. Maybe more frequent visits to the dentist, or pumpkin spice everything, and an occasional cannon ball into a massive pile of fall leaves. I would bet a lot of people though, may not associate October with the fact it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month saying, "When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them." (October15th.com)
Mr. Reagan may have been a crappy actor, but he was compassionate and his words came from a place of familiarity of that infinite pain. I am unsure if this is documented, but I am all but certain either he, or someone close to him had experienced this firsthand. He is right though, there is no name for those parents who have had to grieve the loss of child. No word in the English vocabulary can capture the weight of the meaning. And there is no name for the 1 in 5 couples who have miscarried or lost.  
 
That is why for the next month we turn over our blog to those who have bravely shared their story. All of these voices sum up the raw pain and loss that was experienced, some of these guest posts will also shed some new light and hope that you can survive and live on to honor these angels who have gained their wings all too soon.
During our October guest post series, our site will be doing a behind the scenes remodel. We waited to add in tabs for resources and convert it over to a .com versus a blogspot. Hence why we are finally making the change from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress.  So for those who are weekly readers be on the lookout for these soon to come new enhancements! I am excited about the change and hope you all like the new layout and look.  Also, I am not sure how it will affect those who subscribe via email, but I can imagine we will be working out some bugs once I cross that bridge. Fingers crossed!
 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Birds and The Bees


Rando Person- Will you tell Jellybean about the surrogacy?

Me- DUH, Yes. 

How can I not share her amazing story of how she came to be? This surprises some people who have asked us this same question.  Maybe it is the fact the surrogacy is not the normal path to parenthood. So naturally people are curious of what is unknown to them. I just use these moments for rousing awareness. Really the truth is, yes we will tell her but I have no idea how. Just like I have no idea on how to explain the Tooth Fairy. WHICH IS REAL. Umm… moving on. Jellybean is only 13 weeks so we have some time to ponder over it for now.

It does make that uncomfortable birds and the bee’s barrage of questioning from the mini humans come up a little sooner than we would like to though. It has been a real challenge explaining Jellybean to our nieces and other various related rugrats. Deviously, we just spike that ball straight back to their parents to try to explain it. But never the less, explaining our surrogacy to these young minds is more confusing than I was in my Quantitative Analysis class in college. Really, how do you explain surrogacy?

A perfect example is when Chris’s sister (who is expecting) and seven year old niece, recently came into town to visit us and meet their new family member. Being already curious of her mother and now seeing a new baby, we were hit with a storm of curious questioning. I explained that like kangaroos, Jellybean was carried in some else’s pouch because my pouch was broken. Brilliant right? Not my geniusness, I stole the concept like a bandit from a book I gave to my surrogate’s kiddos called “The Kangaroo Pouch” by Sarah Phillips Pellet. More on that in a second.  Unfortunately for us, Chris’s niece is very smart and started asking very detailed questions. Kudos to his sister who had masterfully perfected the art of changing the subject.

 Now, there are a ton of children’s books out there that help explain adoption on a level that is easy for kids to understand, but how about surrogacy? Lets just say there is no shelf at Barnes and Noble dedicated to surrogacy children's books. I stumbled across “The Kangaroo Pouch” a year ago when I was trying to help our wonder-surro explain the surrogacy to her kids. It was a great book that explained it in such a way that will help buy you some time before the complicated infertility advanced sex-ed 101 conversations need to start. Great right? No need in explaining what a guys bingbong and the chickadees and a girls ladybits are really used for. Just leave it to the art of storytelling to explain it on their level. So that is why it is time for a giveaway! I have 2 copies of “The Kangaroo Pouch” to give away.

So if you right in the middle of a surrogacy or about to start it  and you would like to enter to win a copy of the book, please use the Rafflecopter widget below.  For those on mobile devices, you may need to use a desktop PC to view the widget and enter.  



If you missed the giveaway, you can purchase this book here.  You see folks, anytime you use our Amazon link we receive a small % of what you spend back to us, at no cost to you of course. It helps support our site.

We don't know when or how exactly we will tell Jellybean but we are going to make sure that she knows about the incredible love and sacrifice our wonder surro had, all of the excitement and worry we felt during the pregnancy, and how our world seemed to actually start the second she was born. I do know we will incorporate this book into her library so it will make those awkward conversations a little less uncomfortable. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Mail Came Today


The mail came today. So what? The mail comes every day.  And our mail box is over flowing with bills, junk and those annoying coupons you open up, speed read through and toss in the trash. You’ll never get that time back but yet you still open the envelope and hope for an all-star coupon. Hence why I dislike the mail man. He is not directly at fault but certainly an accomplice. Also, have I mentioned that I hate the ice cream man? I promise this is somewhat related, keep with me here folks. The ice cream man is an a-hole. He plays his horribly creepy jack in the box music down our street getting me overly excited at the chance that maybe today, just maybe I can make it to the truck in time for an ice cream cone or maybe a delicious choco-taco. But by the time I locate my massively unorganized purse, dig out some money and haul ass outside, he is gone.  EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. So I just gave up on him and let him taunt me from a far, with his creepy clown music.

 I have also adopted the mindset that the UPS man, the Mail man and the Ice cream man are all in cahoots with each other. For example the UPS man, every day parks his truck across the street from my house. He just sits there, mocking me. While I am desperately waiting for a package that he does not drop off. Sometimes he will even drive off and then come back and park in front of my house.  Salt in the wound I say!

See here is a picture of him toying with my emotions…



Will you bring me my package today or will you just drive off leaving me disappointed and empty handed?

Today though, I changed my opinion on one of those three. It was the mail man who has won hero status in my eyes. He can now bring me all of the junk mail he wants!  I have no reason to complain any more.  You see, we received a large envelope from our attorney. It was Jellybean’s birth certificate. It finally came 11 weeks later.  Until that point, she had a different last name. At every doctor’s appointment I would be referred to as Mrs. Notmylastname.


 In the muddy surrogacy laws of VA, Jellybean was born with our surrogate’s last name. It is just easier for the hospitals to identify who the baby came from versus the whole Jerry Springer conflict of who’s the baby mama or baby daddy. Now, don’t get me wrong here, our surrogate has a mighty fine last name. But can you blame us for wanting it to be ours? There is just a sense of finality involved once that piece of paper arrived and displayed us as the parents on the certificate. So thank you Mr. Mail Man. Today you stand amongst the many who have helped us become a family. 


For those reading this who just looked down at negative pregnancy test, know that one day your package will come too. One day your long wait will end. For us, it seemed like we were in baby wait purgatory. I have no uterus and we have heard ‘NO’ more times that we can count. But that is faith right? Keeping faith and knowing that one day you will look upon a birth certificate that belongs to your baby. 

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sweating ‘Off The Grid’


With bikini season over, now is the perfect time to think about one thing: getting in shape to show it off under that sweater and heavy coat.  Okay, not really the best timing on this, but this post was inspired by a recent experience.  You see, I really enjoy two things, snacking and beer.  And … believe it or not, it turns out those two activities are not great for your waist line.  Oh, I get by with humorous comments like, “Since I stopped growing vertically, I decided to start growing horizontally,” or how about, “Just making sure I am as ready as possible in the event a hurricane comes our way.”  But really, I am not too keen on having to hold my breath to put my pants on, looking down at the bed, and realizing, DAMN, I haven’t even put my belt on yet.  With all of that, I have only one solution, try to eat decent (most of the time) and exercise my ass off.  One way to do that in an efficient manner is, you guessed it, running.  Uhhh, sucks right.  Running sucks.  I don’t like running.  I do like the sense of accomplishment, the feeling of “wow I just ran that far and survived, barely.”  But, running is a great way to burn calories, so I employ my feet for this snack & beer enabling endeavor. 

So, I have the gear; shoes, shorts that are too short to do anything but run in, the breathable shirts that still get soaked in sweat, an Ipod, and a fitness band that tells you how long you have ran and what your pace is.  Ready for the inspiration of this post?  Yes Chris, we have wasted several minutes reading your ramblings and still have no idea where you are going.  Okay, fine.  To the point then.  Between an ear infection and a bad fitness band, I took a run unplugged.  You know what, I wasn’t bored.  I didn’t need distraction.  I kind of lost myself in my thoughts.  The strange bit though, I was able to think through things with a bit more clarity than when I am involved with other things or trying to think about nothing else.  Here I am, feeling like death while running (not really that bad, I’m being a bit dramatic), sweating and stinking up a storm, trying not to get run over, and still, I was able to really have a good think.  That kind of sounds old-man like.  But really, I was questioning a lot of things about myself, about everything we went through, if we made the right decisions, had the whole experience marred us to the point where we would never be good parents?  Do we have expectations too high for our Jelly Bean because of everything we have been through?    Lots of thoughts to say the least.  But during my run, I was able to work through things, separate the necessary thoughts from the unfounded worry.  You know what, when my run was done I felt two things, accomplishment for finishing the run and assurance that Candace and I are able to walk into this strange new land of parenting and survive.

Why share this?  Why is this relevant to anyone else, even more so, why is this relevant to anyone that is still knee deep in the throes of IF?  It is simple, you need an outlet.  If you are living a stress-free life, then ignore that, but the rest of us need an outlet.  What better outlet than one that serves two purposes.  Everyone knows that physical activity is good for us physically, and a lot of us know that it is good for us self-esteem-wise, but it is great for us psychologically too!  Endorphins aside, there are tons of things that the docs think exercise does for us on a brain chemical level that are beneficial.  If you are interested, check this article  and this article out. What about for infertility? Glad you asked.  Moderate, balanced exercise is great for boosting fertility too!  Here is an article  and another about that.  Just make sure, gents, to keep your boys nice and cool lest you turn your troops into scrambled eggs!  SnowBalls  to the rescue!  That’s 3 in one!  It’s a three-fer!


So, exercise, right!  Now, I am not saying do an Ironman competition, run the Death Valley ultramarathon (http://www.badwater.com/route/) (seriously, each race finisher should be given water, a completion medal, and a straight jacket), or swim the English Channel.  Just do something.  Maybe, if you do not regularly exercise, start with a brief walk in your neighborhood.  See how you feel when you get home, physically and emotionally.  Did it help?  If you do regularly exercise, try changing it up.  Run really early in the morning, or really late at night if it is safe.  Don’t bring music or a mileage tracker.  Try running on your hands instead of your feet … just seeing if anyone was still paying attention.  I hope that you find the same sense of clarity and calming that I did, or at least can come home with a great excuse to eat the Hardees Monster Thickburger for lunch.

Candace-
Anyone else notice the caloric intake of the Monster Thickburger? 1420 calories. WHHUUUUT? And they may as well just served you a salt shaker instead of a burger patty with the amount of sodium packed into that tasty yet artery clogging delight. OK that's all. 

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

6 Ways to Bond




I am a stranger. I did not carry her for 9 months so I am completely foreign to her. She will likely recognize my wonder surro’s voice but not mine. So does this mean that the sound of my voice will make her cringe like that of the nasally Fran Drescher from the Nanny? Another point of concern is since I was unable to be her tummy mommy I am terrified that she will not naturally bond with me.   I am afraid to say this but here it goes, a deep dark fear I have also developed is will I bond with her? I am supposed to immediately right? You know, the whole love at first sight kinda thing. But what IF that does not happen? I foresee a public lynching as a result since I fought so hard to get here and I end up being a horrible mom.

I worried over these same thoughts for weeks before she was born. I felt guilty for feeling them and terrified that this little miracle may not think of me as her mommy.  I found though that I was not alone in these thoughts. Many mothers that carry their own pregnancies share these fears. Many will not admit it but they had the fear of what happens if they cannot bond with their baby. Those who are about to embark on motherhood through adoption and surrogacy lose many nights of sleep before the baby even arrives, fretting over the fear of bonding. I guess for me I was scared that this was all a dream to begin with. It was just too good to be true. We were going to be parents. Although, subconsciously I was waiting for something to go wrong. Maybe perhaps I had built up the expectation of myself to be a mother as too great of mirage that when the time drew near I started to panic. I wanted to be everything to this child, but fear the repercussions if I was not. Failure is not an option here.

Before surrogacy was an option for us, I had read a lot about adoption and parenting an adopted child. I focused much of my time on bonding techniques because that is a huge piece of the process when you are adopting. Bonding or “The intense attachment you develop with your baby” for me, is the deep feeling of wanting to stay up all night like a creeper staring at your mini human or mama bear style bite someone’s head off for sneezing on your baby. The unconditional love you feel regardless of the perfect imperfections.  Either way, it is a topic that comes up regularly regardless of how you have built your family. The most important take home here is bonding is not biological, it is mental. I repeat, not biological it is mental. 

Here are 6 ways to bond with your baby, however which way they have made it into your arms:

1. Kangaroo care /Skin on Skin

Human touch is soothing and comforting for both mom, dad and baby. It makes them feel warm and secure, like how they felt in the womb. After Jellybean was born, as in seconds after the cord was cut, I requested an area in the delivery room where I could immediately do skin on skin contact with her. That, for me is where the bonding began for us. It is also good for those breastfeeding or doing induced lactation. When I started to have latching issues with Jellybean I was told by my lactation consultant to take baths with her and do lots of skin on skin contact. Now, bath temps for babies are not ideal temperatures, since I like my baths steaming hot. But if you don’t mind being a tit-bit-nipply than it is a great skin on skin bonding moment. I admit though, it felt weird taking a bath with a baby at first but whatever, I was already breast feeding her and basically walking around my house  National Geographic style with no top on for weeks already, so a bath was no big deal.

2. Eye contact

They can only see about 12 inches in front of them so the more you look at each other the more they recognize you. Gaze at your baby and don’t worry it won’t creep them out like it would staring at a stranger in a mall food court. They like it and it helps them recognize who you are.

3. Singing and Long-winded Conversations

I hate Chris sometimes, in the most endearing way of course. This is his special dad power. He can make up a ridiculously funny song to pretty much any tune on the fly. He sings to Jellybean almost daily. For me, I have the gift of gab. I talk to her about everything. I am sure to her I sound like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon but I must say she is a great listener. This benefits bonding because it helps them recognize your voice and of course eventually learn to talk. The more you talk to them the more they start to understand. Just start curbing the F-bomb usage around 8-12 months.

4. Hole up and be Hermits

We limited visitors and their interactions with our new baby all in the name of bonding. I did all of feedings and Chris began to feed her once a day after 3 weeks. When you nurse or feed, it is an intimate time and you are responsible for taking care of their basic needs. They begin to associate that comfort with you. I did not allow anyone other than Chris to feed her until after 6 weeks.  


5. Co-sleep but not “CO-SLEEP”

Chris is a wild sleeper. He has decked me in my eye one too many times. So needless to say, do not trust sleeping with your baby in your bed. However, they do have bassinets and Rock n’ sleepers like what we use, that are right next to the bed. Call it easy access or laziness at 12 am, guilty! However, I am right there at her first cry. It also establishes closeness. Almost every night I will lean over and watch her sleep or listen to her snores.

6. Hold Your Baby

Hold them close and tightly. I mean you did wait forever to be parents so I am sure this is not a hard task. This gives them a sense of security and that you are near. Be there when your baby cries and for heaven’s sake, don’t listen to unwanted baby advice and wise tails.  You can’t spoil a newborn. Crying is there language, the way they communicate. Try learning her schedule, and anticipate her needs she will know you are there for her.  Responding when your baby cries for you.


Bonding is a personal experience and it takes time just like building any kind of relationship. For me there was a “wonderment stage” that lead into bonding.  I was in awe with every eye blink and every sound that Jellybean made. We were new parents and she was new to the world so we all had something in common, we are all learning. I used all of these techniques that I learned through our adoption trials which helped wash all of my fears away. Even though you spent years trying to be parents, it doesn’t mean exempt from the same fears others who do not experience infertility feel. I love Chris more than I did when we met 12 years ago. Love constantly grows, as does the love you will have for your new baby. 


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Friday, August 22, 2014

When There is Help

Candace:  We lost someone last week, an icon of comedy. There have been 100’s of posts, tributes and commentary dedicated the recent loss of Robin Williams. Although many of us have laughed along with him in his many comedic satires for most of us we were blinded by his talents to see the pain and struggle of his disease. Yes, depression, much like Infertility is a disease that many fail to name as a disease.

Sadly, both of these unnoticed diseases are symbiotic. They feed off each other. Now, Robin Williams never struggled with infertility to our knowledge, but it was a shock to us all when we heard about the sad news of his passing and his long fight with depression. For many of us years negative tests, appointments, baby showers and financial strain can chip away at your will and mental grounding. The feelings of failure compound over time making you feel like a walking anchor. I remember those days when leaving the couch covered in my sea of tissues was near to impossible. For me though, I was one of the lucky ones, I had Chris. He would just fill up my wine glass and listen. He would hold me when the crying got too deep. He would help us, key word US, find a new plan to help restore hope again. Failure after failure.

I recently came across a Facebook post in a Resolve support online support group right after the media fires spread and opened the discussion of how depression can affect infertility. It could not have been worded more perfectly. She ended it with this quote:

“In your darkest hour may the road lead you to light. When you can’t find light may you find hope. When you can’t find hope may you find help.”

Sometimes hope is not always enough. Sometimes if you just ask, help is your saving grace.

Chris:  I am a man.  Far too tough to suffer from depression or any other psychological disease.  That is something that lesser people, lesser men, deal with … I think that for guys, that is sort of an undercurrent.  We can’t be depressed, we can’t cry, we can’t be out of sorts.  Well, that does not seem to be the hand that I have been dealt.  Psychological diseases do have a hereditary nature, although it is not exclusively hereditary, and I have several family members that have faced the beast that is depression directly.  I, personally, suffer with anxiety and panic attacks.  If you have never had one, let me paint this scenario for you:

Thanksgiving, a few years back.  We just had a failed IVF attempt and found out in far too public of a way, that someone very close to us was expecting.  Candace, fell apart, uncontrollably crying, unable to even spell the word composure, much less retain hers.  To make the situation worse, those around us had no idea why Candace would react this way and saw no irony in the fact that this was an unplanned pregnancy where our attempts were everything but.  We drove home shortly after that and Candace threw up on the way home from the depth of pain she was feeling from it not being us that were sharing that news.  Now, through all of this, what is my role, support right?  I need to be the rock.  I need to be the one that comforts Candace and says, we will get through this.  Push down what I feel, right now I am in caring husband mode.  We get home.  We talk, Candace cries but wrestles her demons of hurt back down, and we try to go to bed, only suddenly I can’t sleep.  I am restless, but it is way more than that.  My heart is beating, my airway is constricting, and my mind is going in 10,000 different directions.  Candace asks what’s wrong and I get up to go to our bathroom.  I am sitting on our toilet, not going to the bathroom (really guys … going to the bathroom … why would I detail that, a little interjection of humor), but sitting on the toilet lid.  I couldn’t quite my mind.  I had this worry that I would get out of control.  That somehow I would uncontrollably hurt myself.  I was worried to swallow for fear of choking, worried too deep for fear of not being able to exhale, worried to breathe too shallow for fear of not getting enough oxygen and passing out.  I was worried I would have a heart attack or aneurysm or both.  I was worried that in some fit of psychosis I would grab a knife from the kitchen, which was over 50 feet away, and fall and inadvertently impale myself.  All rationality had left me and I felt alone.  That my friends is a panic attack.

I never had one of those before our IF throes.  I am not a control freak of others but definitely a control freak of myself.  I don’t like losing control of my thoughts, my mobility, or my options for a place to reside (slight claustrophobia I suppose).  With IF though, so much is out of your control and I think, coupled with my hereditary predisposition for psychological illness, this has caused me to lose the appropriate control on anxiety and panic emotions.  This is actually closely related to depression and many people suffering from depression have anxiety attacks and vice versa. 

So now what?  I had panic attacks driving to work, flying on airplanes, and apparently, as a result of Thanksgiving dinner.  Give up right?  Don’t fly, drive over water, or eat turkey.  What do you all think WE did?  Let me stress the “WE” part.  We, as in Candace and I together, faced this.  Candace was amazing at accepting what would be considered an irrational train of thought.  She was great at enabling me to seek out help and accommodating to me when I would have a panic attack and NEEDED her to be there for me.  If you are going through something like this, whether it be depression anxiety or whatever, there is always a path that leads to a “WE” being able to cope.  Please look for that!  Anyway, we did not lay down.  I went to a psychiatrist, got some medication to help combat the chemical imbalance in my brain (hence the disease part of this folks), and talk regularly with our counselor as issues arise.  Did any of these things fix me?  Nope.  Do I still get anxious and have panic attacks?  Yep.  But, I have coping mechanisms, the medication helps to diminish the severity of them, and I know I have support for all of these things.  In short, it is a part of me.  I accept it and keep moving forward.  At one point, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to fly again.  I am happy to report that I have flown across country several times.   I have had panic attacks on airplanes, but I am able to recover because I have found great coping mechanisms. 

Candace is eye-ballin’ me because I am writing too much.  Running away so I can squeeze a few more sentences in though, let me say this.  I have faced many of the dark sides of depression and psychological illness either directly or through very close family members.  From all of that, I can say that I know the impact that irrational, irreversible decisions, like Robin Williams suicide, have on those around you.  Believe me that, even in your darkest moment, nothing is worth ceasing to exist for.  Always know that there is a “WE” path and you truly never are alone in your battle to maintain a reason to live.  If you do reach the point that you feel this not to be the case, consider this: the very fact that you have reached this nexus of decision makes you an invaluable person.  Being able to talk to others about how you came to this moment and were able to move beyond it can and will inspire others to do the same.




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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Home Sweet Clinic



I had a conversation in the car today. It was kind of a one sided conversation but I am pretty sure one day she’ll understand what today really meant.  It went something like this:

Me- Today you are going to meet a lot of people. You will probably be passed around like a doobie at a Grateful Dead concert, but don’t worry they have all held you before. Some when you were only a cell, and others in spirit.

Jellybean- Silence

Me- Did you know they were your first baby sitters too?! It is a lot of them. You were so special, that it took a small army of folks to watch you grow in those first few days.

Jellybean- More Silence

Me- {Wiping Tears} You see Jellybean, the amazing people you are about to meet create families. They make dreams come true. They are the ones, my love, that helped bring you to us.

Jellybean- Starts crying. Loudly... Pretty sure it wasn't the sappy exchange we just shared. She was either hangry, (hangry- adjective, when one is hungry and then turns into Bruce Banner when they do not eat.) had a righteous poop, or hated the “Fancy” song I was listening to on the radio.

Big things were happening today. In order to get Jellybean’s last name changed, I needed to make a quick trip to my alma mater, our fertility clinic. Currently her last name is different from ours… crazy surrogacy laws. In order to change this, our attorney needed an original copy of the chronology of the transfer for us to have a new birth certificate.  

A flood of emotions came over me as I walked the “Green Mile” pushing Jellybean in her stroller. It was a long narrow hallway. One that I had worn a tread in through our years of appointments. Not many fertility patients come back with their miracles to proudly show. I also probably pissed off a few of those that were now holding the waiting torch in the lobby. Sitting on the same couch I wore the thread count thin on year after year.  I know I was highly annoyed when I would see a woman with a baby at a fertility clinic. “How dare she step foot in here,” I would think. Doesn’t she realize I am hurting to the core and the shear sound of a crying baby will send me into a fit of rage or a tidal wave of tears depending on what injection I was taking at the time. Instead, I sulked and internalized the feeling that she was bogarting all of the baby dust.  Fast forward to now, my how your mindset changes. Instead, I should have cheered on my fellow IF sister.  I should have seen the hope in their eyes, through her baby that was a success. I did not know her back story, how many years she had been struggling and perhaps stop to consider she was just like me.

 The moment we checked in at the desk it became a hotbed of excitement and joy. Everyone came out to see us. The nurses who had foraged day after day for good veins, IVF coordinators, front desk staff, clinic manager, and even the billing and finance advisor (we became close understandably as we all know assisted reproduction is far from cheap! So best make good friends with those who know the system.) My eyes really started to leak when I went to the OR and saw all of the staff who had joked and cried with me all in the name of our IF miracle. All were ear to ear smiles seeing the fruits of their labor.

Then I heard a very familiar voice, one I will never forget, “Hello Mrs. W.” and with a rare smile my RE peeked over at my daughter and patted me on the shoulder. I thought to myself it has to be rewarding to see the perma-grin that is affixed to the faces of their once devastated patients. Although daily they have the difficult job of breaking the hearts of so many childless couples. It has to feel good once in a while to see in person what an answered prayer looks like.

I can imagine though there are many patients that have their positive betas, never to return. The clinic staff goes on to wonder, what does their labor of love and petri dishes look like? What does the pile of cute squirmy IF babies at the end of the rainbow look like? They all thanked me for bringing her and coming back. Yeah, I had a reason other than to show off baby cuteness but it felt good. I had another reason to visit my clinic other than to get poked and prodded.

For Jellybean, this was just another car ride, or at least that is all she was aware of.  But really, this visit was to return to one of several places that she has called home already in her short life.  She lived as two halves in Chris and I, as a multi-celled embryo at the fertility clinic, as a fetus in our surrogate, and now as our farting, crying, pooping miracle in our home.  In each place, she has been surrounded by love, grace, and compassion immeasurable and for that, we will never be able to say “Thank You” enough.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

When There is HOPE


Candace-Hope was when after countless years of failure to conceive you still pick yourself up off the cold floor to keep trying another day. Hope is when someone who has lost their child through miscarriage can find the strength to heal and face tomorrow. Hope is what RESOLVE gives to those who desperately need it in their journeys to parenthood. And HOPE is what our readers and blogging community have given us since we started our blog in 2012.
In times when hope was all but lost we would dredge up something positive. We would find the humor in something that is hard to laugh it, like beating the crap out of a uterus piƱata  filled will red candies for example. We wanted others to find hope in the darkest of places so that they would not ever have to feel alone in their journey. This is why we started our blog. We wanted others to find it when it was missing. To find a way to laugh when all of the humor was gone. To know that even though your struggle is debilitating at times, that you are not alone in your feelings. Even those feelings you may not be proud of. Our readers, electronic besties if you will, humble us and continue to do so. YOU, reading this post right now allowed us to share or over-share in many cases our struggles and feelings on the disease of infertility.
We were unbelievably surprised when we found out because of you, our electronic besties, we are the recipients of the 2014 RESOLVE’S Hope Award for Best Blog!

WHAAAAAAAA? We stand dwarfed by giants who write for advocacy and support of others, those who bravely share their journeys. We were just one of many bloggers that document their regular rendezvous with Mr. Ultrasound wand and the common goal to spread awareness like a boss. Chris and I are humbled to be amongst them, more so to be the ones voted by the community to win the award. If you have a moment please check out the other 4 completely remarkable nominees:
Chris-How great would it be if this was the last time anyone ever won the Hope award?  Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t want us to be the last winners and we certainly are not the most deserving of the award.  But wouldn’t it be great if there was no reason to give out an award next year?  I guess that is kind of the goal of bringing awareness to infertility, right?  If there is more attention to issues with fertility and policy and other obstacles in the adoption process, then maybe some of these things can be remedied.  Of course this won’t happen over the course of one year, but it is nice to dream right. 
Candace and I are thrilled to be selected for the 2014 Hope award.  We started writing the blog to get our story out and pass on the things that we wished we knew to the broader IF community.  It is an absolute honor to be selected for this and we are even more convinced that the more engaged that the IF community is, the greater chance there is of making progress to overturn infertility.  
OK last thing. We are not the only award winners for this years Night of Hope! If you have a chance, check out the RESOLVE link here  and learn about the other astounding advocates in the community that are making an every day difference in the lives of those who suffer with infertility.

If you like our blog, even just a little, how about showing us some sweet sweet bloglovin' and follow us? You can subscribe to our blog via email and can receive our posts as soon as we click send! (See right sidebar for how to sign-up) If you REALLY like us, we are also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Putting the Ale in Male Infertility



Chris: Alright, so the title is not really germane to the recommendations in this post, actually I am fairly certain that putting ale in a male is the opposite of what you want to do to boost male fertility.  But, I like beer and I thought it sounded catchy.  After all, you are still reading this right?
 
Anyway, I mentioned a while back that I wanted to discuss some ways to boost male fertility.  Don’t be confused with boosting male fertility and male virility.  No, there will be no recommendations for Spanish Fly, Viagra, or those crazy dangerous pills that you see at the 7-11 counters.   Following the suggestions in this post will not cause you to have a titanium penis or walrus shlong (look it up).  Instead, the information here is to improve your sperm count, sperm motility and morphology, and hopefully, eventually, decrease your sleep as you and your wife thumb wrestle over who will change the next diaper.

Diet


Alright guys … want to send your sperm count into the stratosphere?  Here is all you need to do: eat lots of steak, burgers and French fries, drink lots of beer and liquor, and smoke lots of cigars.  Uhmmm, not quite.  Sounds good but I am afraid it is kind of the opposite of that.  Unbeknownst to many, there are not a lot of vitamins in cigars.  Sucks right?  Don’t worry though, there are some nice options (and some that aren’t so nice).  Guess what you need: selenium and zinc, among other things.  You can get selenium from Brazil nuts and zinc from liver and oysters.  Brazil nuts, the nut that is always left behind in that holiday mixed nut bowl is now your friend.  Liver and oysters, a seemingly indigestible combination, can be just what you need to get your pointy headed swimmers to knock her up.  When Candace and I were hot and heavy on our quest for making babies, I would do Fear Factor eating of smoked oysters.  Unfortunately, there was no cash prize after finishing the metal pan of nastiness.  Check this site out for some other great ideas from Men’s Health Magazine.  Hey, there is steak and ice cream on the list … BONUS!

Exercise, don’t cook your balls though

That’s right, blast those quads to make those babies.  Hit the gym, the pavement, the pool, or the library (well, only if you are going to lift heavy books in a periodic fashion).  I know this may seem like absolute common sense, and it is.  If you are in better health, you will make more sperm that are higher quality.  Duh.  Here is another good site that talks about getting exercise and sunshine among lots of other good advice.  Just don’t get all Jersey Shore on us.  Now, let’s say that you cannot hold back.  Your eyes turn red as soon as you see those 100 pound dumbbells and you must do power thrusts.  What will you do?  Well, problem solved!  Just make sure you are wearing some SnowBalls underwear and those boys of yours will be comfortably cool while you run your ultramarathon.  Okay, don’t run an ultramarathon, these undies probably aren’t designed for that.


Lube

She gave you the green light, you have eaten your oysters and done your squat thrusts.  What the hell else do you need?  Well, maybe the situation is a little … how do you say it … dry.  Gents, we know what to do right?  Forgive my crassness but spit is a great lubricant, it’s not so great for your teeny swimmers.  Neither are any of the common amorous lubricants.  There is a solution though.  A lubricant that is a friend to your sperm, Preseed.  Check it out here.  There may be others as well but I have tried Preseed.  My only recommendation is to make sure to use it sparingly at first.  The delivery containers that we used were way too much stuff.  Think slip-n-slide.  Not pretty.

Get the troops rallied (or in women-speak, setting the mood)

In 2010, the most babies were born in September.  Wonder why that is?  Well, subtract 8-9 months from that and what do you get?  Late fall-early winter … which is just around the corner.  What happens during this time and why are so many babies born 9 months later?  Let’s check out the scene.  Ski resort chalet, check.  Curled up by a fireplace, check.  Your smokin’ hot wife in a tight fitting sweater, double check.  Bear skin rug on the floor ready to be tackled in passion, check.  So, all the romantic ingredients are there, let’s have a baby.  For men with fertility issues though, this may not be enough.  Geesh, what else do we need?  Cuddle time.  WHAT?!  That doesn’t seem to be too productive to having a baby.  Cuddle time, might as well shoot me now, I am here, I am ready, I want to get this baby making thing started.  Your body though, the reproductive system in particular, doesn’t necessarily feel the same.  If you can extend the amount of time that you spend being intimate (i.e., delay ejaculation), you are more likely to have a larger number of sperm “deployed.”  This means get the engines turning, rev up the RPMs, then slow down a bit.

Other thoughts...

We could go into tons of different things about how you should time your uhuhm, lurid encounters, to only be so frequent but not too rare so that you have just the right amount of the freshest of sperm soldiers.  Or, we could talk about all of the things you should avoid: tobacco, alcohol, fried foods, eating glass, smoking grass, and getting a swift kick in the … well you get the idea.  Want to do this right?  Think about it like this, as I am eating this or getting ready to do this activity, is it good for me?  Chances are if the answer is no, then it is not likely to be good for your little baby makers either.  What is good is being all Zen-like.  Think positive about your boys (the sperm factories that they are) and treat them right.  Eat fruit and veggies and steak too.  Take them for a light jog around the neighborhood and then for a turn around your misses when she is ovulating.  They will show their appreciation by giving you the greatest chance of becoming a father or expanding your family.  Worst case, all this healthy ball-care will have you in better shape, better state of mind, and most likely even more irresistible to your lady.  Good luck out there gents!

Last chance to throw us a quickie, as in a quick vote! Recall back in April (National Infertility Awareness Week) when we were challenged to write about a specific topic “Resolve to Know More About…?” Well, that is the post that secured our nomination for the Hope Award Best Blog.  So here is what you need to do:

Cast your vote HERE 

Share, Share, Share. More votes for “Our Misconception” = #winning!

Thank you for supporting us, our journey and reading our misadventures in the land of IF. 


If you like our blog, even just a little, how about showing us some sweet sweet bloglovin' and follow us? You can subscribe to our blog via email and can receive our posts as soon as we click send! (See right sidebar for how to sign-up) If you REALLY like us, we are also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest

Research point:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top 5 Must Have Items When you are Inducing Lactation


Remember back when I mentioned I was going to induce lactation? Well many of you have sent in questions and asked how it was going. The answer is it worked! Kind of. My 3 months of prepping, pumping and supplement taking has paid off. Having not experienced the physical act of pregnancy which triggers the pituitary gland to say to the rest of your body “hey, let’s start making an all you can eat milk buffet,” this was my way of giving Mother Nature a swift kick in the box on behalf of my broken lady bits, or lack thereof.  I stuck firmly to using a protocol that involved no hormones just pumping, herbs, and Domperidone resulting in infinitely sore boobies. But being an IF vet, we all know pain is for the weak I say! By the time Jellybean arrived I had been able to stock pile around 100 ounces. This is a HUGE benefit for those who are in the surrogacy situation such as Chris and I or those inducing for adoption. You can be ahead of the game in freezing a stock pile which takes some stress off of you during those first few weeks. It also doesn’t hurt to have a trusted mommy friend with extra on standby as well, depending on how comfortable you are with that concept.

Now, I say it kind of worked because Jellybean was losing more weight than we were comfortable with. Most babies lose weight after birth, but the red line is at 10% of the birth weight. Once that threshold is crossed than plan B needs to kick in. I knew I would have to supplement it was just disappointing that it happened 2.5 weeks into her being here with us. We were advised to fortify the already pumped/expressed milk with a ½ teaspoon of formula so that it would be 24 calorie bottles each feeding on top of putting the baby to breast. Which I am glad to report she is now “fluffy” and back to birth weight. I told Jellybean this will be the only time in her life that gaining weight is fashionable and very much encouraged as a woman. Back fat is the new black and is quite a good look on her. Good thing I had that frozen cache of pumped milk right? So for those surro/adoptive warriors who are inducing lactation, save Every.Single.Drop.

So that you do not have unrealistic expectations, it is very important to set tangible goals. Realistically, I know will not be able to exclusively breastfeed for the full year. I will be very happy to get through the first month. So I have set target goals, mine is 3 months, then 6 months, anything there after is a huge bonus. If I can be fortunate enough to provide breast milk for Jellybean for the first 3 months I will be all unicorns and rainbows inside. Anything thereafter is me succeeding my goal. 

I waited to write this post because with all things it takes a bit of trial and error. I started induction well over 4 months ago so I have had some time to get some experience under my belt. That being said, here is a list of the top 5 items I could not live without during my Milkcapades:



1. AHH Bras-Seriously they are a warm inviting, yet supporting hug for your ladies which will be sore, as in someone has taken a titanium bat to your bitties kind of pain. So needless to say, it is a bit-o-heaven at night when you go to bed. Even if you have never slept with a bra on, you will reconsider and start using this AH-mazing bra.  You also must have at minimum of 3. Because let’s face it, you will need to wash them eventually and you cannot be left in the desperate situation where you need one and it is wet and soggy and currently on the slowest dry cycle of your life. Click here if you want to check them out.  Thanks to K, my fellow blog friend for the Bras! My ladies double thank you. 
  
2. Coconut oil or Olive oil-  After repeated pumping, your nips will start to resemble cracked, ashy raisins. Sounds awesome right?  Lube them and your flange up with coconut oil or olive oil and it’s like nip-paradise. Now, many people use Lanolin. I have tried all three; olive oil, coconut oil and Lanolin and can say 100% that the oils are way better. Lanolin SUCCCKKKS. If you still think it is good then look up the ingredients of it and the adverse side effects hereDo you really want your little IF miracle suckling at the tit that has been coated with this nasty stuff? Case in point, moving on.

3. Breast Pads- Not because you are leaky, this is because you do not want huge crop circles on clothes. Remember the Jheri curl scene from the movie Coming to America where there were huge oil stains on the back of the couch? Soul Glow? Well that will be you instead it will be on your shirt, like two oily headlights. Trust me here folks, I learned the very hard and embarrassing way. Olive oil and Coconut oil is still better than lanolin so breast pads are your solution. Check out this site where you can get them and other goodies for free! I love free stuff don’t you?
https://www.breastpads.com/ code:AthrifyMom1 

4. Hands-free pumping bra- For those random moments you want to spontaneously break out in fits of jazz hands while pumping. And because you want to multitask like stalk a friend on FB, or knit an afghan for your neighbor, or trim bonsai trees, or read our blog, you get the picture. This is a must, may as well buy two. 

5. Hospital Grade Pump- My Pump "Larry, Sir Pumps A lot" is mighty fine crafted work of mechanics  that can make even Chris lactate. Seriously folks, I am pretty sure if I replaced my tatas with two inanimate objects like rocks, it would suck milk out of them. I used a regular pump and got drops then  I  started using a hospital grade pump and BAM it squirts out like a water gun. You can rent them from lactation consultants and some pharmacies. For some insurance companies, with a proper RX from your OBGYN, you can get one through them for a discounted cost or even free. Really, if you are inducing lactation, this is the way to go. I use the Ameda Platinum and I love it.

There you have it folks, the top 5 things I know that were (and still are) a life saver throughout my lactation inducing adventures.

Just incase it may have slipped your mind, please vote for us! Recall back in April (National Infertility Awareness Week) when we were challenged to write about a specific topic “Resolve to Know More About…?” Well, that is the post that secured our nomination for the Hope Award Best Blog.  So here is what you need to do:

Cast your vote HERE 

Share, Share, Share. More votes for “Our Misconception” = #winning!

Thank you for supporting us, our journey and reading our misadventures in the land of IF. 


If you like our blog, even just a little, how about showing us some sweet sweet bloglovin' and follow us? You can subscribe to our blog via email and can receive our posts as soon as we click send! (See right sidebar for how to sign-up) If you REALLY like us, we are also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest