Thankful for..

This one’s easy – I’m thankful for my family and friends.

Little A* was inconsolable last night (turned out to be gas) and so I cuddled him and was telling him his story. A year ago, he was just a little blob of 100 cells and a prayer. His implantation was a little before last Thanksgiving and I spend the whole day trying not to overdo it so he stands more of a shot of making it. I’m not utterly thankful that I get to share such moments with him – he’s more than I ever could have imagined.

This year, we’re not hosting Thanksgiving for the first time in.. 7 years? something like that. I was rather sad because I love Thanksgiving but realistically, we don’t have the spare capacity to host.

I’m thankful for my husband and my parents who have been amazing over the last year, supportive and endlessly helpful. I’m thankful for my health which, in spite of everything in the last year, seems to be not-to-bad. I’m also thankful to be able to enjoy food again without overthinking it!

 

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Publicly Talking about IVF

Can I just say that I’m so happy that Michelle Obama went public with her IVF? Not that I wish the whole infertility hell on anyone. But it’s so nice to hear someone that high up normalizing it.

It’s also a bit of a relief seeing how her kids turned out – there’s a little (unscientific) part of me that always worries that IVF would negatively impact my baby. And actually seeing the IVF children grow up into such intelligent, wonderful adults is … not soothing but more of ‘see, I have nothing to worry about’.

Three Months

I’ve been such a bad blogger. Every week I mean to write a post and check in and every week I get swamped by stuff.

So.. life with baby is nothing like I’d imagined. It’s both harder and easier than I thought it would be.

The hard parts – mostly just how each day is so busy and can be quite grueling. I started back full time at 12 weeks and.. I’m still not ready to be full time. You do what you have to do I suppose. I love my job and working and the adult company but I’m also so aware of all the time that I’m away from baby. My day is basically: get up, pump, get ready, go to work, come home, play with baby for an hour (or feed him depending on his timing), eat dinner, give baby a bath, feed him, wrap up little things in the house, go to sleep by 9 (if I’m lucky), up at midnight or 1am to feed baby and then Hubby takes the other night cycle. I didn’t expect there to be so much to do all the time. And things that I’ve been meaning to do for ages keep piling up. We try to go out once a week because baby loves seeing new things but we’re too exhausted to do more than that.

This week also sucked at work. My PI went all “you guys are basically where you were a year ago” which considering I started on this project a year ago is complete BS. Anyways, I’m pissed at him, at the project, at my labmate who flaked out last semester, and work stuff in general. Makes me wonder just why I leave home every day.

But all this is the sucky parts. The easy and wonderful parts — there are so so many.

Baby is thriving. He’s grown oh so chubby. Makes me feel like my body’s been good at one single thing with all this childbearing stuff – producing milk. Very little supply issues, no pain anymore, and it’s clearly good rich milk (judging by baby’s arm and leg rolls).

I didn’t expect this but I like baby. In that I like his personality. He’s so curiousconstantly looking around and taking everything in. And now he’s babbling which is hilarious. He gives me wide gorgeous smiles when I wish him good morning. He’s also relatively easy going – he’s often happy just playing on his own. Though at his age playing basically involves fighting with his hands to get his thumb into his mouth. He ‘sleeps’ through the night in that he’ll get up to eat and promptly sleep again.

And whether I feel like a good mom or not, Hubby is an amazing dad. He never tires of taking care of the baby. He’s up whenever he’s needed at night (and often when he’s not). He’s constantly singing and talking to the baby. I’ve.. well, I’m constantly second guessing myself and don’t really feel like a mom. Mostly I try not to overthink that.

 

 

 

Physical memories of IVF

In the last couple of days, there’s been all sorts of little things that triggered my memories of.. everything in the last few years.

I was clearing and organizing my pile of medical documents. The bills/receipts from my fertility clinic – an inch thick. And another inch of test results and information from them. All my other medical documents combined are about the same quantity. It was a sobering reminder of even with all my sleep deprivation, it took so much to get to this point.

One of baby’s outfits was a gift that my friend gave when we were first pregnant – last March when it turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy. I had been debating whether or not to use it for baby A*. On one hand it seems a bit morbid. On the other, it’s a beautiful one-piece and why waste it. He did wear it this week (and promptly had a massive blowout so most of the white is now yellow). So now memories of last spring are taken over by memories of poop. I suppose that’s a good thing?

I know I shouldn’t compare but this year would have been massively depressing if things hadn’t worked out. About 80% of the friends I have that’s marriage announced a pregnancy or baby this year. Some were with their second kid. With some, I have no idea if they went through struggles of their own. Others I know they didn’t. Not that I’m not incredibly grateful for baby himself but I am relieved that I didn’t go through this year while under more treatments.

The remaining 20% .. well, some are close enough friends that they mildly gauge our openness to answering questions. We’re quite open with most people about IVF though, for the most part, we keep it super short (“Baby A* was an IVF baby”). Some of this is to normalize treatments. Some is that neither of us are the type to obfuscate. At any rate, a couple of friends asked us how long it took to conceive baby. For the record, they were asking because they and their wives are thinking about starting families and they wanted to gauge what they should prepare for (funny that this came from the male halves of the couples). My answer of “3 years” took them aback. And then I went into the probabilities and how common infertility is and what to watch out for. A short summary of the shittiness of the last few years. One had known about a lot of it. The other was surprised I think at how much can happen without others knowing.

I feel like my default answer to friends asking about conception related stuff is to point them to “The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant” and to feel free to ask if they have any questions/issues/want to talk. I don’t know if that’s the best way. On one hand, I want to let others know that issues are common and there are safe spaces to talk about them/learn about them if they need. On the other.. well, face it, most of these couples will get pregnant in a couple of months.

Hubby and I are starting to talk about long-term finances again. It’s something we’ve put off for years – I’ve never known when we would need a sudden influx of thousands of dollars of cash so we’ve kept most of our savings as liquid cash. And it’s kinda a shock to realize that we can move past that. I no longer have to save for IVF. At this point, I don’t know if we’ve decided on having another child. But if we do, we’ll use the rest of the insurance covered cycles and if that doesn’t work, that’s that. It wouldn’t be ideal but I don’t think I’d be at the same sense of desperation of throwing all our resources at it.

In some ways, I think I’ve moved past things. I can look upon all these and feel like a chapter in my story is over. Thank God. I might wish that things had been easier but I can’t complain with the end results. In others, well, I’ll carry my story and experiences with me. And I still feel a pang when I hear of a easy-to-achieve pregnancy of why was it so hard for me. But baby’s here and he’s strong and active and growing so fast so on some level, it doesn’t matter.

Breastfeeding

I’ve been wanting to write about so many things for a while but honestly, I’m out of energy most days. I have 1 week left of maternity leave and I have no idea how I’m going to have the energy to deal with a full day of work. And its been nice being in a baby bubble and I’m rather sad to leave it. Still, I know that going back to work is the right decision for me, even if I wish leave was a bit longer. (I hate the family leave policies in this country – they’re ridiculously backward and callous.)

Anyways, I digress. So I’ve been breastfeeding without really thinking about it – that was the default choice and I figured that if I could, it’s better. I didn’t really have much expectations or set ideas – if we need formula fine. If bf-ing is too hard/painful/low supply, supplementing is fine. I will say that I haven’t been a huge fan of it. Supply has been ok. It’s not painful anymore. But it has been making me feel rather.. trapped by another being’s demands.

We’ve largely been lax about certain things. Because of the jaundice hospital stay, I very quickly got comfortable with the breast pump. And formula for baby. When we came home, we decided to go with what’s already been started. So Hubby takes one of the night feeds while I get to sleep through that. Of course baby’s cycles are still so short, that really just means that I get a 3 hr stretch instead of 1 or 1.5 hr. Even with that, I’ve been feeling so restricted with constant demands. And I haven’t been particularly enjoying it or feeling like it’s bonding baby and me. I’ve been thinking of weaning from breastmilk earlier or keeping it to just a couple of nursing sessions a day.

For the last week, we’ve been pretending that I’m on a work schedule – I pump in the daytime and Hubby or one of my parents gives him the bottle. Baby gets used to that many bottles a day and I get used to the pumping schedule and we all work out the logistics of thawing/storing.

Funnily enough, I’m now finding that I like my sessions with baby. It’s something that only I can give. And he’s starting to interact with me (though its still usually a “what the hell are you doing and why am I still hungry??” look). And even if I completely stop nursing, he still needs food every couple of hours so someone still needs to be up. The long and short of it is that I don’t know how long I’ll continue and for now, I’m making the decision one month at a time. And for now, it’s working for us.

Some dreams do come true

For as long as I remember, I wanted kids. I don’t know that I saw myself as a mom but I did see myself as part of a family. I would imagine myself baking with children. Or reading with them. Or just cuddling with them.

I haven’t talked much about religion here for multiple reasons but for background

One of the little things that I looked forward to was celebrating a particular festival of ours – Krishna Jayanthi. I haven’t talked much about religion for various reasons. Culturally, Hubby and I are Hindu. This particular festival celebrates the birth of Krishna who is often worshiped (adored?) as a baby and child. And as a child, sweets are a guilty pleasure. One of the traditions as part of that is to draw little footprints with rice flour from the door to the puja area where there will be piles of sweets so that baby Krishna can come through the door and follow the footprints to the sweets. If there’s ever a child in the house, we use their feet to make the footprints.

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We haven’t celebrated this festival for several years for many reasons. This year, we have too many things to be thankful for and rejoice in. And I had always imagined my baby walking to make the footprints. How could I not celebrate it this year? And his name is another name for Krishna. Behold baby’s beautiful footprints. Basically baby hated it – maybe the paste was too cold or maybe he didn’t like us forcing his feet in different directions.

Still I like how this captured the imperfect beauty of life – maybe things didn’t happen quite how I expected but this is real and present and all the imperfections are part of our path.

Flakiness

I’m an over planner. I’ve grown to realize that I’m most comfortable and least stressed when I have planned out things well. It does consume extra mental effort cycles but usually the results are worth it. Before the baby came, I spent ages setting up the nursery and buying everything that I thought we’d need in the first few weeks — from diapers to medicines to clothes and so on. I think that’s when Hubby finally appreciated my planning skills – all he had to do was ask “where is <something>?” and I’d go “in the second shelf, on the left”. Of course, I can’t (and don’t try) plan baby’s schedule to that degree but there’s a certain schedule that seems to work for us. Hubby is completely the opposite – he never plans and ends up compensating with more physical manpower when needed. We do have regular arguments about this but largely, I’ve made peace with my role in our relationship as planner and his as the labor needed when things go off-script.

What I really really can’t stand is when people change their plans (which involve us) and then there’s a whole host of dependencies that are drastically affected (and they’re oblivious). In this case, it’s my in-laws.

I don’t know how to describe my relationship with them – they’re very nice and affectionate people but things regularly happen with them that piss me off. It could be that they don’t even realize that they’re comments/behavior are having that effect or that they think that we’re close enough. The current set of issues is a fairly long story.

Back in Feb/Mar, they basically said that they wanted to see the baby and they wanted to come in August. They’re nice people but I did not want my in-laws around when I was exhausted and bleeding and recovery and trying to establish my own relationship with my child. So many reasons I didn’t want them to come right after he was born — I was worried they’d take over my husband’s role (that’s basically how it played out with his brother’s family though in that case, it was more like the husband did nothing so my mother-in-law stepped in to fill the void). They have particular opinions when it comes to religion that I didn’t want to entertain. I didn’t want to deal with their advice/opinions about diet/practices/etc. Also in our culture, the standard practice is for the girl’s parents to come out to help for the first several months and the boy’s to help after that. It’s not that I didn’t want them to visit but I wanted them to come in the November or so when Hubby and I were more used to things.

This led to a ton of arguments between Hubby and me. My stance was basically that them coming in November is actually useful for us because my parents make their annual trip to India then for my grandfather’s remembrance ceremony. Hubby’s was basically that they want to come see their grandson. They didn’t want to come in November because it’s too cold (we have to keep telling them that there’s heat in the house which for some reason they don’t seem to understand). Anyways, after all the arguments, we booked tickets for them to come in August. So then my dad planned a trip to India in that same time frame so he could get some work done there.

Said trip of theirs got canceled (for legitimate reasons – my father in law had a minor surgery so he can’t travel for a few months). Health reasons – absolutely a good reason to cancel. But his mom wants to come on her own except she’s not committing to a timeline and my dad was nice enough to volunteer to come with her for company but he needs to book his ticket soon and can’t indefinitely wait on her. Anyways, that’s one big mess.

The part that did annoy me with their cancellation is then they ‘suggested’ that we visit in December. I am not at all sure I want to do that. The logistics of traveling with a 5 month old are daunting. I’m not sure if he’ll have enough of his vaccinations. Plus, I don’t know if I’ll have vacation time. Or the energy – India trips are never particularly relaxing for me.

The other part of this is we have been planning for my parents and hubby’s parents to be our childcare for the first year. There are various reasons behind this choice including Hubby completely dropping the ball on looking at daycares (and there’s a long waitlist) and savings. So we figured my parents will do ~6 months and his another 6 (both sets of parents have indicated a willingness and desire to spend this time).

In a conversation a couple of weeks ago, his dad basically said “We’re thinking of coming for at most 3 months next summer. Any longer and we’ll get bored.” Bored??!! If you’re bored, you’re clearly not contributing enough. But this all leads to other issues that we have to resolve because then my parents have to provide coverage (or we pray that the daycare waitlist is short).

The thing that’s been frustrating me about dealing with them is it feels like their decisions are based on solely their desires with our needs not coming into play at all. It doesn’t even seem like it occurs to them in any fashion (even though, in certain cases, we’ve been pretty clear about that).

I’m learning to not depend on them and instead figure out childcare between daycare and my parents. If they come, great. If not, whatever.

More than a month!

I’ve been super flaky about posting – I keep meaning to and then just get too drained and tired to contemplate writing. There’s a bunch I want to rant about but I’m going to save that for a different post and keep this one (relatively) happy with random little stories from the last several weeks that I want to remember:

  • When we were bringing baby home from the hospital, I couldn’t find my sandals. We thought that it was in one of the bags that was already packed and loaded into the car. At that point, I was so exhausted and tired that the thought of unpacking and searching those bags made me want to cry. So I just wore socks to walk through the hospital and to the car.
  • We’ve started learning to distinguish baby’s cries. There’s basically 2 – “I’m hungry” and “I need to poop”
  • This morning I heard Hubby go “damn, I dropped my clothes” right after he came out from the shower. I didn’t think it was a big deal – just pick it up and wear them. Turns out that we keep a basin filled with baby’s pooped and peed upon clothes to soak until the next laundry load. And guess where his clothes fell…
  • There’s been a couple of times now that baby poops during his diaper change. The last time it happened, poop got on the changing pad, flew onto the carpet and overall it was a mess. I wasn’t the one doing the changing so I just ended up cackling at Hubby.
  • I can eat like a semi-normal person again! So of course, I end up having a scoop of ice cream each day. And realized that the ice cream is far healthier for me than (among other things) croissants and frappacinos.
  • We found a mouse in the apartment. When Hubby stepped on it (he spent the next several days shuddering in horror). We then cordoned off that room for the rest of the night and the next morning started figuring out how to tackle it. We ended up finding where it was, putting a cardboard box over it so it couldn’t escape while Hubby went to all the local shops trying to find traps. Eventually we got hold of the super to help take care of it.
  • When people said that babies are expensive, I assumed it was just the big ticket items. But no, it turns out that there’s a lot of smaller items that I keep finding to be usual and buying. The latest purchase — a stroller strappy thing to hold coffee cups.
  • Baby’s now over a month old! We celebrated with a cupcake and ordering in.

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(Im)Perfect Lives

I finally got around to sharing our happy news on Facebook – nothing about infertility/IVF, just a simple post introducing baby.

Afterwards, I told one of my friends, “I finally put up an obnoxious, my life is perfect FB post.” Because Facebook is so carefully curated and really only shows the positive in anyone’s lives. I’m very well aware of the heartache and struggles behind the joyful baby photos. And so are very close friends. But to most people, I know it’ll look like I have this perfect happy-dappy life. I think also, with age, I’ve learnt how to spin a life story into sounding amazing.

I can’t actually blame Facebook for this phenomena of people only sharing their happy stuff and hiding/minimizing/demeaning the struggles. Even before, most people only ever showed only the best side of their lives. I suppose the blame to Facebook is the scale at which it takes place now.

Still, the last few years have made me more aware of people’s hidden stories. I now assume that there’s more going on behind the picture perfect foreground that you see.

Baby A*: Week 3

Three weeks into parenthood, we’re starting to get the hang of it. Hubby and I are both still rather sleep deprived. Having my parents around has been an amazing help – they watch baby during some of the day cycles so we can nap. And they’re the ones keeping the house running – cooking, groceries, etc.

Our achievements of the week: we went on our first non-doctor outing! Just to a local coffee shop but it was a nice change of pace (even if I did find it so tiring that I came home and promptly crashed). And Hubby and I watched a movie together! (at home with breaks to nurse/burp/change baby).

Baby A* is thriving. He passed his 2 week check-up with flying colors! From 6lb 15oz at birth to 7lb 3oz by day 17. Though the check-up rather felt like more of a test for us than him. He has relatively clean 2.5-3.5 hr cycles now (well.. sorta. Out of the 8 or 10 feeding cycles a day, about 80% of them are clean ‘wake up, eat, poop, change diaper, eat some more, sleep’ cycles. Sometimes he ends up fussing or crying when he needs to poop and can’t. And we’re learning that during his awake cycle, when he’s active, he gets hungry after an hour. Tummy time is hard work!

He’s also so strong! He lifts his head a ton (during tummy time and when we’re burping him). He’s managed to roll over from tummy to back multiple times now. He did the superman yoga pose yesterday during tummy time. It’s so cute to see all his expressions — he looks at the world with such wonder and awe. I can almost hear him thinking “Woah, what is that?”. Most of the time, it’s the plain white wall.

It so comforts my heart to see his strength and to see him leaping over milestones. So many times I’ve wondered how fair it is of us to fight nature for our own selfish desires and whether we made the right choices. We fought nature to conceive him, to carry him, to bear him. And the whole pregnancy I was so so worried about the effects of all the complications that might carry over to him. Would there be some residual effect of all the IVF meds and hormones? Of the sugar levels? Of whatever the hell was going on with the liver?

Seeing him here, in the world, strong and healthy and generally acting like a normal baby — it gives my infertility-bruised heart so much peace to know that despite everything, we somehow managed to bring a perfect little human into this world.