Hello Birthday….

For years I have dreaded my birthday as it was often met with sadness, disappointment and neglect. Over the last 15 years, this woman has worked to make every birthday special and for that I will be forever grateful. The past five years were hard waiting for my wish of becoming a mom to come true. However, 36 turned out to be that lucky birthday, a year that I will never forget. I can’t wait to spend many more trips around the sun watching these two grow, love and interact. Bring it 37!

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NIAW – Infertility warriors

This quote is my infertility anthem. Getting pregnant, carrying a baby to term, and birthing a healthy baby are all a blessing as a woman and a mom. For so many women bringing a life into this world is just a dream, so let’s not forget to honor their strength in trying to make their dream a reality.

NIAW – Insurance Coverage

15… is the number of states that have some form of mandated insurance coverage for infertility. That means that only 29% of our states realize (or chose to recognize) that infertility like any other disease should have insurance coverage for treatment.

I live in a state that is not in that list of 15, however I was lucky enough to have a job that covered a portion of my treatments.

So many couples are not this lucky and often have to make the tough decision to give up on their dreams of a child due to the financial burden. Please contact your representatives and let them know infertility is a disease that should be covered.

NIAW – What Infertility Looks Like…

Often people think that infertility treatments just involve a few drugs and appointments and bang you have a baby…if only.

This is what infertility looks like thousands of dollars in medications, constant monitoring and testing, needles, shots, and ultrasounds. Infertility is physically and mentally challenging.

So rather than telling someone what they should do to have a child, ask how you can help instead.

So often those who are going through infertility treatments have done the research. They have seen doctors, tried the old wives tales to get pregnant and everything in between. What they really need is a someone to say I am sorry you have to go through this, how can I help you?

NIAW.. One in Eight

One in eight couples experience infertility. That means that most likely you know at least one couple that is struggling to live the “American dream” of a great job, a house and kids. Often society assumes something is wrong with these couples for them to have not conceived.

Then you add in the added financial burden of infertility treatments for most couples and it gets even harder to reach that American dream, as some may have to sell their house, sacrifice vacations and extras just to have the money to even try.

All of this pressure and guilt on a couple can cause a lot of stress and strain on a loving relationship.

I am incredibly grateful that our love grew stronger along our infertility journey as so many grow apart and some do not even last.

So before you go casting judgment on a childless couple, please be sure to be mindful of the pain they may be experiencing together.

Flip the Script… NIAW

In October 2012, my wife and I walked into a fertility office filled with hope and desire of becoming parents. We had picked a sperm donor and were ready for the next steps to meet our little one. Little did we know that four years later we would still be sitting in that same room at the fertility office trying to make our dreams of a family come true.

Our experience is not uncommon. Unfortunately it is becoming more and more common for couples of all ages, racial backgrounds and orientations. So many of us suffer on this journey in silence as fertility has become the “f” word that people do not want to talk about as it makes them uncomfortable.

This week is a week that means a lot to me, National Infertility Awareness Week. It is a reminder that we need to talk about the “f” word so that those who struggle do not feel alone. So I encourage you to “flip the script” and join the conversation.

Six Weeks Old and Six Weeks of Postpartum

So we have reached the 6 week mark. It is so hard to believe that we have a 6-week old. Time has gone by way too fast!

Let’s recap on the past six weeks from Hawk’s point of view:

Week 1: Time is going by way too fast…In my first week I sat outside hospital for a half hour while my moms tried to figure out how to work the car seat straps. Though my mama had me in a nice coming home outfit, I thought it was a great time to pee on it and the both of us. I also recall my Mama laughing when I peed on the nurse, so I got her a couple times this week. Don’t worry I got Mommy with a blow-out yesterday. My moms and doctor discovered my two natal teeth. I’m rocking that teething newborn status well! I lost some weight before leaving the hospital, but gained it back in just a couple days. I’d say breast feeding is going well with Mommy. Really digging my rock-n-play, it makes nap-time a breeze for my moms. I also like the shusher, it puts my moms and I to sleep super fast. It’s pretty cool that my first week spanned over 2017 & 2018!

Week 2: In my 2nd week I saw a lot of faces. On Sunday I had my first photo shoot. I took photos with my moms, then by myself, but I don’t remember much of it bc I was asleep. Which was apparently what they wanted. Had nurses at my doctors office swooning over me, so I thought. Turns out they were just interested in my natal teeth. My Mama is going to start charging a fee for a glimpse at them. Had my first shopping trip with my moms. We went to Buy Buy Baby, Carter’s, and Target. All of which were a snooze for me, but it was fun. I made a lady cry at Carter’s. She couldn’t handle my cuteness or my cool name. Despite having some awful gas this week I have slept for 6 hours straight three nights in a row. My moms seem super happy, anything for them! I’m really digging my moms- love smelling them, eating their cheeks (although they seem to really like my cheeks), and I’ve been watching them a bit more closely this week. Realized that my moms like these zipper outfits that zip from my head to toes. Whatever makes their life easier! I’m cool with my Mama’s swaddles at this point. She finally gets that my arms have gotta be out though. She tried putting me in a pod, uh more like straight jacket- no thank you. My Mommy seems to be getting use to my hands being in my face when I feed. I’m also turning on my side now when I sleep. Got introduced to tummy time with this awesome cloud mat full of toys. My Mama also read me a few books this week.

Week 3: Saturday I rode around with my moms as they ran errands. For some reason they were super excited about eating sushi and watching football. I met my Grandma and Grandaddy Guthrie on Sunday, as well as my cousin Sammie. Grandma LOVED holding me. My mama went back to work this week, I definitely missed our mid-day snuggles. On Tuesday prior to my doctor appointment my moms gave me a bath. While drying me off I sharted through my towel onto my Mama. Got her! Although I’m only 3 weeks old, I’ve seen my 2nd snow storm. My moms managed to bundle me up for a family photo with the snowscape, I slept through all of it. Still having a problem with gas even though my moms burp me really good and Mommy watches what she eats. Gas drops don’t phase me, I know it will get better with time and as I develop. I’ve almost outgrown the NB size clothes with my recent weight gain. I’m up to 9lbs and 11oz, surpassing my birth weight. Woohoo!

Week 4: Pondering on 4 weeks.. After digging out from the snow I had a few visitors on Saturday. It was nice to see some new faces. With Liz and Courtney visiting Mama thought she’d put me in the UNC outfit they gave me. Mama had a long conversation with me about the battle of the blues and that for today it was merely fabric and it didn’t mean anything. It certainly didn’t mean that I had picked a side yet. Sunday I got to spend some quality time with my Granny and Papa. I made sure she could hear me…my farts that is! No doctor visit this week, yay! No nurses fight for a glimpse at me or my teeth. Wednesday my Mama went into the office and I spent the entire day with Mommy. We kept each other good company. My moms will tell you that my sleeping at night is terrible, but I think I’ve got a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out).

Week 5: So apparently there is this holiday where a groundhog predicts if we are going into spring or staying in winter. Apparently the groundhog saw his shadow so we have six more weeks of winter. I am hoping for no more snow though, so my moms take me on more walks. This week was a hard week for my Moms. They found out on Saturday that a close friend died tragically in a car accident. The friend was close with Mama and he had been excited to meet me, but unfortunately passed away before we could meet. My moms were feeling extra sad and needy so I showered them with more snuggles and love.

Week 6: This week, I had some additional firsts: (1) visited Mommy’s office and enjoyed everyone ooh and ahh over me; (2) experienced my first UNC/Duke battle of the Blues game and celebrated with Mommy that the right shade of blue won; and (3) experienced my first Winter Olympics…go Team USA. Mommy has officially passed the initial postpartum phase and is halfway through her maternity leave. Time is flying by way too fast.

Postpartum Mommy Feels:

The last six weeks for me have been up and down for me.

Week one after leaving the hospital, I was on the new mom high. So happy to be home with my little man and his mama, finally our little family. Hawk took to breastfeeding well and we both seemed to be adjusting well. In order to maintain some sense of normalcy, I made a commitment to myself that if I took a shower and made the bed each day, then I had accomplished my goals for the day.

Week two, the pain and annoyance of the c-section started to set in more. Everyday when I took a shower it was a struggle to get ready because I had to tend to sore and leaky boobs, while blow drying my sterile strips on my incision because if they stayed damp they could get infected. I was frustrated with the hospital and that they do not schedule a follow up for me as the mom sooner than six weeks, especially having a c-section. We were instructed upon leaving the hospital to remove my sterile strips at home after seven days. No instructions on how to do so. I was tired, my boobs were super sore and I was not sure I was going to be a good mom. It did help my frustration to get out and go shopping, rather than being on the sofa all day feeding.

Week Three, my frustration with the sterile strips continued. After day 12, they did start to come undone around the edges so I was able to get Heather to remove them. Boy did that hurt like hell! I added pumping to my regimen and could tell why some people choose to not breastfeed. Pumping is a pain due to the constant cleaning of the parts. Between the pumping and constant feeding, my boobs were becoming super sore and I was worried that I might not survive breastfeeding. Prior to his birth, I had made the commitment that I would breastfeed until at least he was six months, but based on how it was going, I was not so sure it would happen. This week was also difficult because Heather went back to work, so at night she was no longer getting up to help me with Hawk. I was still feeling pain from my incision and getting up multiple times during the night to lift him, change him and feed him was rough by myself. Luckily though with the snow, Heather only had to be away from home one day that week, so she was still around to give me a break here and there which was very helpful with the pain and fatigue.

Week 4, recovery from the c-section and being stuck in the house due to snow began to take a toll on me. I felt frustrated that all I did was get up, feed, change diapers, pump and feed again. I was jealous that Heather slept through the night and got a break during the day with work. I know our pediatrician encouraged us to not look at your other spouse with green envy, but when I did not have a change of scenery or routine for days, it was hard to not be jealous. It also seemed that Hawk was going through a growth spurt because he was waking up more during the night. Needless to say I was glad to get out of the house once the snow melted. Just going to the grocery store made me feel like a new woman.

Week 5, I officially began to feel like a boob. It felt like the only time Hawk wanted to be close to me was to feed, otherwise he was crying from the gas pain or sleeping. I was frustrated that I barely had time to myself each day, basically the two minutes I took to shower. I missed my workouts every morning, my quiet meditation time, my afternoon reading time, my short rides back and forth to work to just be by myself. I felt guilty that here I had waited so long for our little miracle, that I should not be complaining. I reached out to my close friend to see if she felt the same way when her little guy was still breastfeeding. She assured me she did, which was a big help for my mom guilt. She reassured me that I am allowed to have regular mom feelings and get frustrated. It is a new role and it requires some getting use to, just like any new job. I was also feeling frustrated because our breastfeeding experience had taken a turn for the worst. I felt like I had clogged milk ducts on both breasts over the past week. With heat, pumping, massaging and some very painful feedings, I was able to work out the lumps. Yet my nipples were still on fire, dry and cracked no matter how much lanolin I used. I finally broke down and sent the doctor a note saying I was concerned that my latch was wrong and that Hawk was not getting enough during his feedings, thus waking up more. He responded and said they would check at his well visit his weight but he thinks the frequency of the feedings is a growth spurt and not a latch issue. He did however schedule a visit for us with the Lactation consultant (LC). When we went to his well visit it was clear that he was gaining weight so he was still getting what he needs from breastfeeding and we did not need to supplement. We met with the LC and she observed his latch. She said he was latching on well but that I had an overactive letdown, which was causing him to latch down harder and pull at my nipple to try to stop the flow. She showed me methods to lean back and have him come to the breast, which would slow the flow, rather than me leaning forward with my breast coming to his mouth. She told me to try that over the next few weeks and see if that helps. A couple of days later, we found out that our close friend, lawn guy had died unexpectedly in a freak car accident. You can never prepare yourself for these moments in life. Six years ago, he came into our life to provide us with lawn care but over time he became more than just a worker but a friend. He was a hardworking happy soul, who was always willing to lend a hand. He had some many ideas and goals in life and was always looking for the next big adventure. When he found out we were having a baby he was so excited for us and could not wait to meet him. Unfortunately he has left us before getting to meet our little man, however I know he is smiling over him. He was such a bright spot in everyone’s life and we will miss his joy in our life.

Week 6 .. we made it! So hard to believe that maternity leave is half way over and that our little guy is almost two months old. I finally went to the doctor for my postpartum checkup. I am at my pre-pregnancy weight, but still need to work on toning the abs and getting my body back. The OB cleared me for exercise..woohoo so I can get back to my yoga, just need to find 30 minutes between feeding, pumping and housework to get it done. I think the trick the LC told me is working because my boobs are feeling better and I haven’t had anymore lumps or clogged ducts…

now if we can just get Hawk to wake up only once a night, we will be doing great!