Friday, April 29, 2016

National Infertility Awareness Week 2016 #StartAsking

Nearly 6 years ago, BJ and I decided to throw our hats in the race to parenthood.  I had no clue, that it would be the beginning of the most tumultuous period of our lives.  I, probably like many young women, had no clue that getting pregnant would or could be difficult.  My mother conceived easily, so I assumed that I would, too.

But here I am over a half decade later with my first child who is not even 4 months yet. A child that took 4 IVF cycles including 2 donor egg cycles on top of multiple tests.  What happened?

What happened will probably never be totally figured out, but I should have been more aware that problems conceiving were not some rare curse reserved for career-driven women that put off having children into their forties.  In fact, I should have been aware that age was not the only risk factor for infertility.

I grew up in the south with mostly an abstinence-based sex-ed program.  My biology classes in my small hometown high school always skipped reproduction.  I think my health teacher spent 20 minutes glossing over a menstrual cycle sometime when I was in 8th grade.  By the time I started my period, I "knew" almost everyone had some cramping or discomfort with their period, but it shouldn't keep you from missing work or school - that's a little subjective, don't ya think?

So instead I spent month after month in high school gritting my teeth, sneaking ibuprofen in my back-pack, and tearfully praying that this would not be my life for the next 30 years.  When my mom caught me pacing while clutching my heating pad to my abdomen in the wee hours of the night did I finally land in my pediatrician's office.  His answer, was along the lines of "all girls cramp to some degree" just take ibuprofen right before you start your period.  He didn't ask how bad, how long, or even what I was doing to manage at that point...and neither did the next 4 health care providers...Including a Women's Health NP, and 3 OB/GYNs...NSAIDS and birth control. So by the time I saw my current OB/GYN, I just glossed over my cramps like all the other health care providers glossed over them.

Birth control did nothing, but taking ibuprofen helped if I started taking it before my cramps set in.  Problem being that while I had periods almost every month, they were very irregular (first of one month, 25th of the next, 15th the month after that...).  So my physical activity was blamed.  It wasn't for another 13 years, that I understood how important the hormone balance that creates regular cycles were to the whole conception process.  I just thanked God for sparing me that month from the ridiculously painful "normal cramps" I had.

It may have made no difference in the long-run, but I will always wonder if the lack of treatment I got for endometriosis lead to the demise of my ovaries, and therefore my ability to conceive my own child?  I didn't ask, and worse, I didn't even know what to ask.  At some point the not asking turned into not advocating for myself, either.

Fortunately, once I accepted that infertility was my plight in life through no fault of my own, I was able to #StartAsking.  I started tracking my cycles, researching, and figure out that I needed help if I wanted to have children.  I found a medical team and plan that ended in a healthy pregnancy and a beautiful bouncing boy.  He's just the best thing, ever.

Conceiving a child is supposed to be this simple process that you don't really talk about.  And that works just fine for 7 of 8 couples...but for 1/8th of us, it's a confusing, maddening, heartbreaking and lonely process.  And when it doesn't simply happen, it becomes super-complicated.  You need to #StartAsking, you need to advocate for yourself, and you need to know you are not alone.

Peace, Love, and #StartAsking,

Mary Katherine & Matt

Monday, April 25, 2016

3 Months - There will be blood.

Wow...we...BJ and I have a 3 month old baby.  He's just a treasure. He's a messy treasure, but he is OURS!!! It's still so much to take in and process that this little, giggling, smiling and cooing nugget is mine.  He might even call ME, Mama...for at least a while before my complete adoration of him drives him away from me.  *SIGH*

Did I mention I love him?

So anyway, the raising Matt saga continues... After no improvement on my second round of Diflucan I went back to a lactation consultant. She immediately said his tongue and lip were way too tight. She went through everything that it would cause, including Matt's pulling off behaviors, screaming at me, gassiness, restive behaviors at the boob...not to mention all my symptoms.  So I decided at nearly 3 months of age it was time to see a local oral surgeon that performs many frenulotomies.  She said that sooner we got it corrected the better.  I read where after 4 months the procedure is almost pointless as far as improvement for breastfeeding, because the babies become pretty set in their feeding habits.  So I made an appointment for the next day.

The next day also happened to be my first night back at work...I worried that I should wait, and I was torn about the doing it done as soon as possible. So with our future in mind, I went ahead with it even though I had some concerns about not being home with him.  When we saw the surgeon he completely agreed and said Matt would experience difficulty with speech as tied as he was and wanted to move forward with both his upper lip and tongue-tie. He explained it would be bloody but that it would stop within 4 minutes and even sooner if he nursed.  They handed me a surgical towel, a couple of 4x4's and tell me in not so many words to get my boob out.  I think the surgeon is just getting his placement when all of the sudden Matt is screaming bloody (literally) murder.  He absolutely could not and would not nurse for almost 10 minutes.  I pulled out a couple of pinky (my pinky)-sized clots.  They left me, but kept checking on us every couple of minutes. Matt was basically inconsolable and I just felt like total serious mom-scum.  When he finally latched, it wasn't any better than usual but I was getting major red-faced side-eye.  After about 20 minutes, the bleeding was down to a very slow ooze and way more drool than blood so I decided to pack his little self up and get him in the car.  The doctor said everything looked normal and really the total amount of blood didn't seem that horrible, but I had no clue how much he swallowed, so I just went with it.

By the time he got home, he was his pretty light-hearted self...even if he looked like a dhampir when he smiled...

He was a trooper.  So I left him with BJ and my mother as back-up support and headed to work that evening. The idea that BJ would do all the baby care but be able to rely on my mother for back-up and not text me so I could focus on work.  I was slightly concerned when by midnight I did not get any texts or a little after 2:00am I am admitting a patient to our floor when my Apple Watch goes off and it's my mother...*SIGH*..."Don't panic, but we are on our way to the emergency room with Matt."

Suffice it to say that after 3 cumulative hours of pressure, Matt was still actively bleeding, and we probably did need to know that he had enough blood left in his pipes.  So pretty much my first shift back ended up as a total bust, but Matt was a little trooper and fell asleep in the ED. So while no major baby milestones crossed...I guess we have the parenting milestone of taking your kid to the ED for the first time covered. *SIGH*

My parents took temporary custody (I'm joking) for 3 days, this past week, so I exclusively pumped and I was feeling pretty good.  But my little muncher in 2 sessions or less had my boobs pretty angry.  Oh, well...We followed up with Dr. Pickett and a lactation consultant today.  He already had a little re-growth on his tongue which Dr. Picket was able to stretch back out.  The lactation consultant was pleased with his latch except for the turned in upper lip.  He's just going to have to grow into it.  He's done great weight-wise, all things considered.  Her advice to me was keep pressure on the back of his head so he doesn't pull off and twist as much, and....use nipple shields - WTH... I'm throwing my hands up in the air with this one and just decided I'll use them when they're sore, but how funny.  I feel like if I'd just used them the whole time I could have saved myself a lot of time, frustration and money....doh! But those plump cheeks are SOOO worth it!

Speaking of milestones...We think Matt has the rolling front-to-back thing down pretty well, but we cannot be for sure.  Our Emma disGrace gets a little jelly and thwarts progress by lying down beside him on the side he's rolling toward.  She is utterly ridiculous...I mean it would be cute if she'd at least pretend to be concerned about him, but nay.  She just wants to make sure we know she can roll front to back, too. [Good job, Emma!] *SIGH*

Matt's spending a little time in his Bumpo...we got the wrong one...the one for 6 month-old babies, apparently.  But he seems to do fine as long as he's entertained.  He's tired of being on his back all the time, so I try to prop him up more.  He's a happy little fellow, we think...though his facial expressions when in public would have you believe he's pretty disgusted. I've told him he's way too young to be this skeptical of everyone.

Matt Facts:

Weight: 13 lbs, 9 oz.
Length:  ??
Favorite food:  Mama's Milk
Favorite Toy:  Drogo the Dragon and Eric the Horse
Favorite Comfort Item:  Wubba-nubs
Future Occupation Prediction:  Going by his judgemental/skeptical facial expressions, we think he's headed toward the seminary at this time.  Father Matt...


It's National Infertility Awareness Week.  If you have 8 friends chances are you know someone dealing with infertility.  Reach out if you know someone and tell them you are there for them.  Hug them, let them tell your what they are going through without offering advice, and be supportive.  In just those little things, you will do more for them than they could ever ask.  Prayers going up for everyone still in this battle.  BJ, Matt and I send all our love, prayers and good vibes.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

12 Weeks of Mattness

Oh, my gosh, I just keep falling more in love with my little guy.  He's such a blessing to wake up to every morning!  It's honestly a privilege to be his Mama.

I am just still so thrilled.  And the more smiles and giggles and milestones just make it that much sweeter.  He's so much fun to play with, love on, and listen to his stories.  He has big adventures, apparently and is very insistent on telling us about them.

Well, maternity leave has been wonderful, busy, and amazing.  I have missed my work family, however.  In fact, I haven't had the 'I can't leave my baby' panics until just these last couple of days.  I love that I work nights because I won't miss much of his days, but I hate that I'm going to miss those nights with him. Those nighttime feeds are the best when he just snuggles into my neck...*sigh* But, I'm sure he'll do fine.  I mean he spent nearly half the length of my shift at a babysitter's house, and survived. It is time to move on to my new normal.  Besides, I really don't think that I'd be happy as a SHM, either.  I think being in school has kind of masked how much I would miss adult contact and using my brain for science-y/nursey/medical things.  

Don't get me wrong...The nursing profession is amazing.  The people I work with are amazing. While only having to work 5 shifts in 14 days, seems amazing, but no matter how I slice it, it's always inconvenient.  I always schedule myself on a day BJ wants to be spontaneous or family wants to get together, etc.  So this last 12 weeks has been pretty wonderful for getting to visit our families whenever we wanted.    

Back in the milk barn, I'm on my second round of Diflucan and nipple ointment.  I finished the first round and had maybe 2 days where I thought, oh, this has the potential to not be soo awful. But by day three I was contemplating calling the lactation consultant back if I wasn't better in a couple of days and the next day I was so bad that I went ahead and called.  *SIGH*  I kinda hate my fire boobs right now...but even if I stopped breastfeeding, I'd still be yeasty, and engorged, so it's not worth it.  Matt on the other hand has absolutely no signs of thrush.  He does pull off my breast and seem gassy when I'm at my worst, so that fits in with thrush of the breast.  Fortunately, he's been spared the throat infection and diaper rash.  I have nystatin that I swab in his mouth a couple of times a day, just in case, but I hate treating him for something he doesn't have.  And his pediatrician, my pediatrician (Nicole, Matt's Godmother, LOL), and even my LC said he didn't need to be treated.  I just constantly feel like I ran a 10K w/out a bra in an itchy shirt.  Usually about a half hour after I nurse I have stabbing pains, and it sorta feels like I sprained my nipples.  

I wash everything in hot water, I change out my nursing pads frequently, I let my girls air dry as much as possible, but apparently fungii love me.  I tried starving myself and eating only vegetables to see if not feeding the infection any sugar would help.  The only thing I haven't tried is gentian violet because I can't afford to ruin the few clothes my boobs will fit in.  

But Matt is SOOOO worth it. Look at these tubby little legs and healthy glow.   

Peace, Love, and Embracing New Normals,