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.

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.

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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.


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.


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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Day Pigs Flew

Candace: It was 5am when our alarm woke us up. Really, it didn’t even have to make much of a noise to jar us out of bed since we were already subconsciously waiting for our wonder-surro to call us and let Chris and I know what time to meet her at the hospital. With our clothes laid out and bags preloaded the evening before in the car, we were given an hour notice to make it to the hospital. Good thing we are OCD and thought to have everything ready beforehand because our hospital was a good 45 minute drive with traffic away. Apparently pigs can fly. We were on our way to the hospital to meet our child because one woman was giving us the most precious of all gifts. See folks, I even wore appropriate socks for the occasion. 

Now, when you are in a hurry and you need something to grab and go for breakfast what would you chose? Breakfast bar? Perhaps a quick piece of toast? NO, we took two bowls of oatmeal with us. WTH? We are driving the speed of Mach-F to the hospital while we eat oatmeal. I am pretty sure at that moment our heads where not entirely clear. There were so many other things racing through our minds that morning that little things like, rational thought did not seep through the filters.

We met our wonder-surro at the L&D check in area and were quickly assigned a room where we waited, something couples master the art of when  baby making with broken parts. Oddly, I was at peace with waiting as long as it took that day. I think finally my jitters and anxiety started to kick in. Here you have me, knees bruised from praying for this child, fighting back the growing fears of if I will be a good mother. Will I let all those people down who have cheered us on? Will the folks that helped us fund raise to see me in this mother role think I am not the Donna Reid meets Carol Brady type of mom they thought I would be? How about the IF community? I see the finish line, it is right there and many of you reading this right now are still licking your wounds from the last failed IVF or failed adoption placement. Our Jellybean will be here that day and I am already feeling like I will not be loving enough, have enough patience, protect her from young hormonal teenage boys. It was at that point I felt the pressure of every failed procedure, but more so I was terrified I will let my partner-in-infertility down.

14 hours later, we got the green light that our wonder-surro was dilated to 10 centimeters. We had requested to the hospital staff that immediately after the birth I wanted to do skin on skin contact and try to breastfeed. Since I did not carry Jellybean it was important to me that we started the bonding process immediately. The L&D staff was so accommodating to our unique birthing situation. They sectioned off an area with a rocking chair, fitted me with a gown for easy booby access. Our wonder-surro was amazing and even asked me if I wanted to hold her leg while she pushed, and if Chris would cut the umbilical cord.

The doctor came in, the table of instruments rolled up to the center of the room, the blinding lights turned on and the once bed our wonder-surro laid in turned into a birthing table with stirrups. Chris jokingly refers to it as a medical version of a Transformer. My stomach dropped, my throat started to tighten and she started to push. Now, the whole day of dilation checks Chris stared at his shoe laces. This time however we were on a crotch watch of a different kind. We saw this wrinkled up dark haired round object first. Chris and I both talked about it later that day but we agreed that we had the same fear that Jellybeans brain was on the outside of her head. Silly right? Four pushes later, we got the first glimpse of her. She was perfect in every way, brain on the inside for those interested. Someone had put a needle in the balloon of pressure I had built up. All of those thoughts and fears had deflated when I took the first glimpse of her. I can say in that moment, everything was washed clean from the past years of our infertile purgatory. She was worth the wait.

Chris:  To recap Candace’s part, it was a crazy long day.  We were terrified at every second that something would go wrong and we would literally get to the precipice of being parents only to be turned away again.  And then, in the smallest fraction of a second, we were turned from infertiles trying to be parents, to infertiles that were parents!!  Now what?

Thing is, we have been steeped in all of the research, experiences, and lore of infertility, and we have not done our due diligence at thinking about how to be parents.  That showed right away as Grayson, in a moment that so poignantly brought this into focus, pooped all over my hands.  I literally was with her for about 30 seconds and she decided that now was as good of a time as any to introduce herself to me.  It was sticky, black, and not nearly as appealing as it sounds.  Funny thing though, I didn’t mind a bit.  If there was anyone’s poop that I wanted on my hands, after waiting for her for so long, I was over the moon that it was our child’s. 

Candace’s introduction to infertile parenting was a bit more graceful and, yet again, showed us the true beauty that is all around us.  I know Candace already covered this, but I wanted to weigh in on this moment too. The most amazing part to me was that Candace was actually able to nurse Grayson right there!  We were so worried about how Grayson would interact with us.  She didn’t hear Candace’s voice while she was in the womb.  I didn’t get to play with Grayson at night while she kicked the crap out of Candace’s organs (our surro would text us to tell us her spleen was really getting wailed on some nights). Grayson means so many things to us (hope, determination, kindness, altruism), but in that moment, she meant one thing, completion.  As I stood there, with gloved hands and activity all around me, I kind of got tunnel vision.  I saw my wife nursing my daughter and nothing else.  There was nothing else we needed … we were complete.  And to think, just a few minutes later I would be covered in Grayson’s poop!  I wonder if Candace had a similar transcendental experience seeing me?

We have Grayson, she is nursed and gotten her very first exam, now what?  Our wonder-surro was being tended to and we wanted her to see Grayson before making the trip up to the nursery.  We brought Grayson to her and let her hold Grayson for a bit.  Then, it was off to the nursery.  We watched them give Grayson a more thorough exam, give her a sponge bath, and put her under the heating lamp.  She had to stay there an hour and the nurses told us that she would need to stay there for an hour and we should use the cafeteria opening for the midnight shift to get something to eat.  Reluctant as we were, we succumbed to their suggestions.  I can say now, retrospectively, that part of me thought we would be coming back to the news of some terrible, albeit totally unpredicted, complication and Grayson would be taken away.  Yep, the whole infertility robbing you of peaceful, rational thinking strikes again.  When we got back though, Grayson was fine and we got the opportunity to wheel her into our room.

Our room.  Awesome hospital staff comes through major here.  For normal pregnancy (what’s that?), you have a room on the mother-child ward.  For us though, there was no recovery after labor for Candace.  The hospital had 2 nursing rooms right across the hall from the nursery and they offered to let us shack up in those for the entire time Grayson was in the hospital!  Yep, we were literally 6 feet from the door to the nursery.  Awesome because we were peppering the nurses with questions the whole time we were there!  They even had one of those super uncomfortable “Daddy beds” that they had in the mother-child rooms.  Guess where I slept that first night?  In the Daddy bed.  It sucked, my sleep sucked, and Candace couldn’t understand why.  I simply explained that I finally had a reason to do it and this would literally be my only opportunity to do so. 

We were in the hospital for two and a half days.  We met with a lactation consultant twice and asked the nurses about a bajillion questions.  I don’t think even as we were leaving that it had really sunk in that we were parents.  How could it?  We had been chasing after this dream for so long, all we knew was how not to be parents.  Even now, we look at Grayson and somewhere, in a dark recess of our being, we still think that she will disappear.  That somehow this is some amazing dream and we will wake up with our trashcan of negative pregnancy tests and containers of used needles still wet with IVF meds.  But we are parents now, infertile parents, and there are new and unexpected differentiating things that separate us from a “normal” set of parents, more on that in future posts though.  Grayson is home and we are learning what it means to be parents, to have truly unconditional love, and how to face those dirty diapers we prayed so hard for.  They are fine with us though, the dirtier the better.  We have Grayson and retaining a sense of smell seems insignificant compared to that.

Bored and need something fun and exciting to do? Well want no more my friend, here is what you can do! Do you remember 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

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Gift of Life

After seven years, it is not very easy to figure out how to start this post.  We had our baby seems appropriate enough … or maybe this is better – WE HAD OUR BABY!!!!!!!  

We will go into more details in our next post but we wanted everyone to see our story through the amazing eyes of the folks that shot our birth video, Sarah and Justin from Lovell Productions.  Obviously, we will forever be indebted to our wonder surro and her entire family!  Without them, we would not be all blurry eyed and sleep deprived from our daughter, Grayson (a.k.a. Jelly Bean) needing to be fed at all hours of the night.  One short comment on that though, we heard from a lot of parents around us to “wait” until we have to deal with the loss of sleep and all the hardships and then we will revisit our desires to have a child.  Well, we are there.  3-4 hours of sleep tops, dirty diapers, and lots of wardrobe changes from getting spit-up on them.  Guess what, we love it.  We are not tired from drinking a keg of sorrows the night before, we are not changing diapers from gambling with whether we could make it to the bathroom or not and losing, and we are not doing wardrobe changes because we are starring in a musical about infertile hysteria.  Nope, we are in the trenches of newborn care and are loving it.  Alright, enough drabble, please enjoy the video from Lovell Productions and keep reading about some more exciting news in the lives of us, the infertile editors!

The Gift of Life from Lovell Productions on Vimeo.

On top of all this, we are incredibly honored and truly humbled by Resolve and our amazetastic readers to have been nominated for the Hope Award Best Blog. WHHHHHAAAAT? I peed a little, (ok, ok, busted, maybe a lot) out in immense excitement when I opened up that email that said we were 1 of 5 blogs in the running to win such. There were over 130+ that were submitted!  The Hope Award is an annual award given to someone who writes about what it's like living with infertility and passionately fostering awareness of the disease through their words, electronically speaking. Uhm, Uh hem, over here!! Choose us!

Do you remember 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.  SO what is behind curtain #2 if we win? A NEEEEWWWWWW CAR!!! I kid, even better really. We are presented with the Hope Award at the Night of Hope Gala in NYC in November. This is like the Heisman trophy of infertility bloggers…THUMP…Yeah sorry, just passed out from excitement again.  At this point it is in the hands of YOU. No pressure right? 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

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

5 Things to Have Ready Before a Surrogacy Birth

Organized or OCD?

Some will call me OCD, but for the sake of this post we will say it is a healthy balance between the two. It is time to start getting ready. OK so not just getting ready but REALLY getting ready. Now at any point, we could get a call. We must have everything in order, but wait this is not a normal pregnancy scenario. It is a surrogacy which adds a whole lot of other steps and parties into the mix.

1. Create a Mountain of Bags by the Door

One would think we were moving in! But really, we have a lot of people to think about. Chris and I will be staying at the hospital. It always surprises people when we tell people that. It also doesn’t hurt that I will be breastfeeding, hence I am the food source. Aside from the nutritional benefits and the breast being best, another pretty good reason why I wake up every night pre-Jellybean at 3 am to pump. I’m just securing my spot, calling out “Shotgun” if you will on a room. Boobies are a magical thing. A nice rack can get you out of a speeding ticket, buy you free drinks in college and also help you get a room to spend the hospital days and nights with your surro-baby. Who knew?

Pack Our Bag- There is not a lot of “storage” room at hospitals. Hospitals are a far cry away from being a posh-swanky hotel. The mindset is get in and get out, and everyone is cool with that motto.  So we have to pack light and use the “roll” technique.

Pack our bag- a change of clothes for 2 days, minimalist toiletries and makeup, camera, cell phone charger and comfort snacks.

Pack Her Bag- I put together a bag of items to help foster comfort while our wonder-surro was pulling the heavy duty.  Fun toiletries that she may not have, new PJs, comfort snacks/unhealthly delicious junk food, stool softener, pads- AKA- The Red Boats and magazines. 

Pack Jellybean’s Bag- This is hard because what the hell do I pack? For many years I have dreamt about the day I hold my child for the first time. Never once have I put any thought into what to pack for newborn or for that matter, what epic outfit to bring her home in. I did ask the hospital what I should bring and here was the list they recommended: a few onesies/easy access out fits, mits for their little hands (they don’t have these typically and little babies have Freddy Kruger nails), a cap, a car seat- already installed.

2. Birth Plan
It is go time! I imagine Chris and I looking at each other and saying OH SHIT! Then running around bumping into each other in a panicked frenzy so we can get to the hospital before our wonder surro has a messy car birth. At least this is the image I have in my head. Really, that likely will not be the case. With labor, it can take hours. Don’t get me wrong here though,  I will be hauling ass (at a safe speed) like Earnhart Jr. bobbing and weaving through traffic to the hospital the moment we get the Jellybean green light, but no need to have a complete spazout. Through all of that chaos we have to call our lawyer first, and any other family second.

May also want to consider the importance of discussing a head of time how to communicate. At the first sign of physiological change it is good to keep all relevant parties looped in. You want to talk over the method of communication and emergency numbers to contact you at. Obviously a Facebook message, smoke signal or random tweet are examples of ways you should not deliver the “hey I am going into labor, come meet me at the hospital” news. Also, will she want to see the baby that day or rest and wait for the following day? Who should be present via c-section and who should be present if it is a vaginal birth?  Since it is a sensitive time, it is probably best to keep outsiders down to a minimum during the actual birth. Everyone can visit after the baby, wonder surro and parents have had time to clean up, rest and recover.

3. Don't Forget the Nursing Staff

Chris and I are no strangers to hospitals. We have spent many weeks getting to know nursing staff. They have a tough job and they have to deal with extreme situations when emotions are high. So in C&C fashion we made “thank you” baggies to give to the hospital staff.  One for the maternity mother/baby nurses the other for the nursery nurses. Each little baggie is filled with Hershey’s Hugs and Jellybeans with the saying: Hugs and Kisses for taking care of our Jellybean!

4. Furbaby Care

Your furbaby(s) need to have a plan as well. Who will be the caretaker? Do you have a bag of food, treats or ‘trizzles’ (so thug) as we like to call them already packed and ready? We even have a blanket packed in our diaper bag that we will wrap up Jellybean in and then send home to our little cold nose family member so they can get pre-acquainted.

5. Paperwork
Ah, yes the most important item other than the car seat, in order to bring home your little one. Surrogacy creates a lot of paper work.  Bear in mind that every state and hospital is different but this is what we must have with us to make certain everything goes smoothly:

  1. The Entrustment Agreement
  2. Both signed copies of the surrogacy contract
  3. Cord blood paperwork
  4. Affidavit of Physician Performing Assisted Conception
  5. Copy of signed (once baby is born) Entrustment Agreement and a request in writing to the insurance company

 {SCREAM} So much to think about that I needed away to get organized! Check out this idea I got off of my Pinterest collection.  A pretty snazzy folder to organize and help find a place for all surrogacy- hospital- baby related material you have or will acquire throughout the process.  The link above even has print outs, but I wrote in my own since our situation is a little different. Here is a picture of the one I created for Jellybean.

 I added the following tabs:

Surrogacy Documents
Pediatrician Visits
Immunization Records
Nursing/Feeding Info
Birth Certificate and Social Security Card
Receipts and Warranties
Other Health Records
Parenting Articles

Alright, I think we are prepared. Kinda, sorta, maybe? At least now that I have my 5 point check list done along with my baby binder, I will have all requested documents and items at the ready for us to take home our little miracle. Sometimes a little OCDness can come in handy especially when there is so much to remember! Ready or not Jellybean we are ready for YOU!

If you like our blog, 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