Friday, May 20, 2016

After Infertility

I spoke with a friend the other day who admitted to me that she and her husband were in the beginning stages of the struggle to start their family. I had long suspected this was the case, but it was the first time we spoke at length about the topic. I struggled to find the words to help or reassure. Honestly, it was hard to hear her words without letting the memories of our not-so-distant past come flooding back.

It was just over three years ago I found out I had a unicornuate uterus byway of laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis. It was just under three years ago we started the IVF process. And, it was shortly thereafter we were surprised with a pregnancy prior to beginning our first round of IVF. But, the memories, they seem like a lifetime ago.

Life after infertility looks different than I thought it would. I thought I would be immersed in the gratitude toward these little surprises after so many months of heartache. But the truth is, the gratitude comes in waves. Because, motherhood – it’s hard.

I have come to regard our long journey to parenthood as a gift. We were granted the opportunity to ask ourselves what we wanted out of our lives. We didn't go from marriage to parenthood because it was what we were supposed to do. When it didn't come easy, we asked ourselves if we would be okay with our lives if they looked different than what we had always imagined. We explored our feelings toward adoption and fertility treatments. Ultimately, we put in place how far we were willing to go to complete our family.

Photos by Heart Shot Photo
Today, when we don't sleep or when we hear "no" for the one thousandth time, we know that we chose this life – this family! And although the gratitude comes in waves, the waves are big and can be momentarily debilitating.

I wish I could gift the after to my friends who are currently swimming through the storm that is infertility. But, unfortunately, experience isn't something you can wrap-up with a bow. Instead I can gift them this... the dark moments will eventually give way to sunshine. With or without a little one, your life will end up looking different than what you expected – the sunshine might be a different hue than you knew existed – but I promise your journey will help you. And, the journey will be what gives you the strength for the hardest of days to come.

A version of this post previously appeared on St. Luke's Birth Care Center.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Getting Honest About Sleep!

There’s an old country song that goes something like this; “Six days on the road and I’m gonna make it home tonight.” For whatever reason, it plays on repeat in my head when I think about our current state of sleep deprivation. But, I edit the lyrics a bit; “Seven months with no sleep but I’ve gotta have some hope tonight!”

I hesitate to even write this post as I always cringe at the way our society treats sleep when it comes to babies. How many times have you heard, “so, how’s he sleeping?” This question always seems to be posed with an ounce of judgement – as if sleep somehow separates the good parents from the not-so-good parents. But, I’m writing this post anyway. Frankly, I’m writing it for all those parents who are living on four hours of interrupted sleep, caffeine and hope that tonight’s the night!

Our trip down the road of severe sleep deprivation began innocently enough. We packed our little man up at 13 weeks old and sent him off to daycare. Sure, we weren’t sleeping great at that point but he was still so young, and we were sleeping as well as expected. But, daycare did what daycares do – they loved our boy hard! But, they also shared some germs with him. Those germs turned into a cough which was eventually identified as the dreaded RSV. It took us the better part of three weeks to get him through the worst of the RSV.

Our hope was once he was feeling better, we’d build some better sleep habits and right our ship. But, RSV gave way to one ear infection after another, and now our little guy hasn’t had a clear ear since the beginning of February. Sleep is hard to come by for Mom, Dad and Baby Boy these days (thankfully Nora is still sleeping like a rock!).

Andy and I have both missed work and social outings abound. I’ve never been a fan of the idea of cry-it-out, but I’ve also never gone this long on such little sleep. We never made a choice to co-sleep, but we’ve admittedly landed there when the nights have gotten long and busy days lie ahead. I’ve felt like a horrible parent and a great parent in the same day. I’ve cursed myself countless times for not putting him down “drowsy but awake” more often, and have felt jealousy when I hear about friends’ babies who sleep!

But, we’re doing the best we can – just like the parents with a sound-sleeper! We’re shedding tears at 2:00 in the morning because we don’t know what’s wrong with our baby. Then, we’re drowning our under-eyes in eye cream and running a business meeting the next day. We’re making time for doctor appointments and strategic planning sessions while not folding the laundry. There are dishes in our sink, and not enough hours in our day, but cuddles are plentiful.

Here’s what I’m trying to say about this sticky subject of sleep… we’re all more alike than different! Maybe sleep isn’t your battle – maybe it’s something else. Regardless, it’s important to remind ourselves there’s a story behind every struggle. If we can remember that, we just might find ourselves with more comrades in this battlefield we call parenting.

For today, I’ll drink some coffee and hope that tonight will be our night because… “Seven months with no sleep but I’ve gotta have some hope tonight!”

This post previously appeared on St. Luke's Birth Care Center.
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