Wednesday, May 30, 2018

It Is Well | loss, grief, and growing our family

     I'm not really sure where to start. I don't feel my usual 'writing inspiration' before writing an update or an announcement. So I suppose I'll just cover the last 6 months and go from there.
      Last summer Tyler and I decided we were ready to add to our family and do another round of IVF. We made all the appointments, had all the tests, and injected all the drugs. On November 1, 2017 we transferred two sweet babies and brought them home. The whole experience was a huge roller coaster, but we were hopeful and prayed and planned. But our babies, like so many before them, didn't make it. We were devastated. We grieved and had continued hope for the two embryos who were frozen and waiting for us.

      We prepared for my FET (frozen embryo transfer), our first ever. It was so much easier than a fresh round of IVF. Our spirits were high and we felt so much joy and anticipation. We entered into this transfer feeling hopeful it would work. We even saw a rainbow on the way to the transfer and smiled at the thought of our rainbow babies who would soon be home with us. 

      I won't go into details about those few weeks we had after our transfer, though please don't hesitate to ask us about them. We're happy to share with you, but to make a long story shorter, once again, our babies were gone. 

Devastation. Grief. Confusion. Anger. So many feelings. Feelings I can't even keep track of. 
      We spent the next several weeks grieving our babies and planning for our future. With time comes healing, but this is not a wound that ever closes. There will always be grief. It comes in waves, and it always will. 

     We miss our babies, however short they were with us, and we are also excited to continue to grow our family. After a lot of prayer and research and meetings, we decided that God was calling us to pursue a dream that I've had for as long as I can remember; adoption! 

      We are so very excited to be on this new road to growing our family and can't wait to share it with you all! We know that adoption can be so beautiful and we know that there can be a lot of deep grief involved with it, too. Even successful, "without a hitch", adoptions come from brokenness, and that fact is not at all lost to Tyler and me. Having a baby has never been easy for us (as is the case for many of you who are reading this, I know), and all the paper work and expenses seem oh so very normal. It's amazing to look back and see the ways that God has prepared us for this life over the course of our journey to parenthood. 

"We loved you before we knew you. Even when there was just a hope for you, we loved you."
      Through the course of our adoption, we will be fundraising through my art work. 100% of every house portrait, custom piece, pre-made print, and photoshoot will go towards bringing our baby home. I will include below a link to my photography pages and Etsy shop for you to browse and share. 
      Thank you so much for all your love, prayers, and support during these last few years. It means so much to us and we are so thankful for the people God has surrounded us with as we walk this road. 

Family photos by Jody Robinson at Moments by Jody

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My First Giveaway! | Baby carriers and why you [might] need one. *CLOSED*

Baby wearing is not new, but it has certainly become more popular in the States these past few years. From woven wraps to slings to soft-structured carriers, it can be overwhelming to navigate all the options and chose the best fit for you and your family. In this post I'll cover what I know about the different types of carriers and share my opinions and experiences.
The most exciting part is that I'm also offering you the chance to win a $50 gift card! To enter the drawing for this prize you must comment on this post and let me know which carrier you are most interested in, that think would work best for you, or is your favorite (if you already baby wear). The contest will close and a winner chosen in 7 days. If you want to put this toward a baby carrier of your own, check them out!

Boba Wrap

The Boba was my first wrap. It's very similar to a Moby or a Solly, but I have a Boba so that's what I'll talk about today. 
This wrap is made from a high-quality French terry material , 95% cotton and 5% spandex. 
The Boba is recommended to be used from birth to 18 months/up to 35 pounds, but I personally would only use it for the first few months. Due to the stretchy nature of this wrap it has a lot of give and slip so when your baby gets heavy they tend to slide down after awhile, and the straps can dig into your shoulders.
 The important thing to remember about baby carriers is that different carriers will work better at different times and stages. I consider the Boba to be the perfect beginner wrap and fantastic for newborns. It can be tied on before you insert your baby which is very convenient when going out. I like to tie it on before I leave the house so that I'm not wrapping in a dirty parking lot or store with the tails dragging on the ground. You cannot do back carries with any stretchy wrap. This is very dangerous because your child can slip out of it.

Mommy's kitchen helper!

Ring Sling

Ring slings are by far the best (that I've found anyway) for quick ups and trips.
When I have to run in to the store for a minute or carry Calvin in to church, situations where I need to be hands free but only for a moment, I find my sling is what I reach for.
There's no tying it on and it takes literally two minutes to get him in and ready to go.
The cons of the ring sling are that I can't bend over at all or he will slide out the top. He's not nearly as secure as he would be in a stretchy wrap.
Obviously you cannot do a back carry with a ring sling.
I like ring slings for a quick wear but not long term.

Sleepy squish! Four days old in the ring sling. 

Woven Wrap

Woven wraps are by far my favorite (of the carriers I have used) way to wear my baby. 
They are so supportive, versatile, and you can carry your child in them for...well...pretty much as long as you want. Your little one may become heavy enough that they pull uncomfortably on your back and shoulders, but your wrap will hold strong. I've even seen people wear other adults!

When you begin looking into the world of woven wraps you will hear it said that once you start you can't stop.
That you'll get addicted.
This is [usually] true.
There are so many beautiful woven wraps.
From different weaves, patterns, and colors, to numerous fabrics and combinations thereof. There are also several different sizes (or lengths) that all have different wraps and purposes as well.
I happen to own two woven wraps, a size 6, which is my base size, and a 3. They are Didymos brand, which is a well known and reliable brand of wrap, though they can be expensive when you buy new. There are several more affordable options, such as Girasol and Lenny Lamb, that you can find used for well under $100 in a BST group.
I always suggest buying a used wrap, as breaking wraps in can be quite a chore; one that I have never attempted myself and was advised never to try. It involves a lot of braiding, beating, ironing, washing, and use before it gets soft and easy to use. In the mean time they are difficult to wrap and tighten and can get really frustrating, therefore not ideal to learn on and not good for beginners.
There is a learning curve to using them but once you figure it out it there's a good chance that it will become you preferred carrier over the slings and stretchy wraps.
I suggest joining some of the BST (buy/sell/trade) groups on Facebook to learn more about woven wraps.
You can do back, hip, and front carries with a woven wrap.
Check out Wrap You In Love for tutorials.

Didymos Lisca size 4
100% cotton
Kangaroo Carry

Didymos Prima Papaya size 6
100% cotton
Front Wrap Cross Carry

Didymos Prima Jade size 3
Tri blend 55% cotton, 25% hemp, and 20% linen
Kangaroo Carry

Soft Structured Carriers

Ergobaby 360
100% cotton
Adjustable hood
Supports 12-33 pounds
(can be used with smaller babies using the infant insert)

Lillebaby Complete Airflow
360-degree carrying: fetal, infant, outward and inward facing, back carries, and hip carries
Does not require an infant insert
Removable hood

Tula Ergonomic Carrier
100% cotton
Front and back carry
Removable hood
Supports 15-45 pounds
(can be used with smaller babies using the infant insert)

I don't own a SSC (soft structured carrier) but I know that they are beloved by those who do. They are the simplest to use. Buckle around your waist, insert your baby, pull the back panel up, buckle around your shoulders.
You're done!
Ergo, Lillebaby, and Tula are the most popular and best for baby's posture and based on friend's recommendations and my own research I would suggest any of these to someone looking to invest in a SSC.
Tula has, in my opinion, the best prints (campy is a personal favorite of mine. If I ever get a SSC, it will be Tula Campy!), but requires an infant insert for a baby under 15 pounds that is an extra cost (as does the Ergo). Lillebaby does not require any extra insert for newborns and has the most carry options, though they are a little bulkier than the Tula and more expensive than the Ergo.
Depending on your needs, any one of these carriers might be a good option for you if you're uninterested in learning how to wrap or dealing with a lot of fabric. 

Baby wearing comes with a lot of fun accessories.
My personal favorite are baby wearing coats!

  Well, that wraps up (haha, get it? Wraps up!) this post! There are so many more baby carriers out there, but these are the ones that I would personally recommend. If you aren't sure what would be the best fit for you, see if there is a local baby wearing group in your area. Most of these groups have a 'lending library' and you can try different carriers out for a few weeks to see what works best. 
Stay warm and have fun wearing your baby!

“This giveaway is a partnership with Nakturnal, with a prize of a gift certificate”

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Calvin Joshua | Our Work of A.R.T.

    I suppose it's probably time that I update my blog and introduce the little man that this whole journey has been about! I'm not good with time management as it is, so add some sleep deprivation and a helpless, albeit adorable, little being to the mix and things get messy. Literally. My house is a disaster. But back to the important stuff...
     My labor was long and definitely didn't go as planned or hoped (but do they ever?). I was set for induction on Thursday night, but my crazy nesting had me running around the house cleaning and I actually went into early labor on my own. I was having contractions 2 -3 minutes apart all night long, but they gave me Cervadil anyway to get things moving a little faster (if there is a next time I will not worry about moving things faster.). Friday there still wasn't much cervical change so they gave me another Cervadil that would be removed at 1am and we (Tyler and my best friends Holly and Ashton) hung out and judged people on HGTV most of the day.
    That evening it was just Tyler and I, so we waddled walked the halls to get my contractions really going. It worked! I began having contractions that I couldn't walk or talk through, so we went back to our room and I bounced on the ball and paced for awhile. I noticed I was having back labor (oh joy), but it wasn't too bad yet. Tyler got some sleep on the couch while I continued to bounce and pace. Eventually I called Ashton and asked her to come back because I was having trouble coping with the contractions on my own but wanted Tyler to get as much rest as possible (we had already been there for over 24 hours at that point and he'd hardly slept).
    After Ashton got there and the Cervadil was out I was really in labor and feeling those contractions! I labored on my own for awhile but after a couple hours we decided to start the Pitocin to, yep, you guess it, get things moving. Again, I really wish I would have just taken my time, because I was definitely in labor on my own.
    Apparently I am really sensitive to Pitocin because they only had me on a 2 (they can infuse you up to 20) and I was having overlapping contractions. I don't remember those two hours very well because I honestly think my mind was just in shock after going from normal, gradually increasing contractions, to overlapping, end-stage type labor.
    I got my epidural but I was still in the same amount of pain. After about 20 minutes they realized it wasn't going to work so they had the doctor redo it. The second one worked (Hallelujah!) and I was finally able to get some sleep.
    The next morning my water broke on it's own. I felt and heard a "POP", even Ashton heard it from across the room, and I said, "I think my water just broke!" By that time I had dilated to a 4 and things were going great. Holly came back shortly after that and they had lunch while labored on [painlessly! Hooray!].
    After a few hours I  started to get uncomfortable again. The pain got worse and eventually it felt like I didn't have the epidural any more. I was also in transition during this time and started vomiting (fun) and getting the urge to push. The nurse checked me and I was at a 10 and ready to go, but the attending doctor was delivering another baby, so she told them to turn off my Pitocin (a little ragey about that). So there I sat, for two hours, no Pitocin, ready to go, but having to wait. I pushed when the urge hit anyway, not sure if that was good or bad but it was what it was. It hurts to fight the urge to push and I had been in labor for nearly 40 hours at this point. I was pretty over the whole thing. My epidural worked on and off, I'd say I had some pain management over all but not much.
    Fast forwarding to pushing; I pushed for quite a bit, making minimal progress. After about 3 hours the doctor came in and said it was time for a C-Section. I asked her if Calvin was ok, to which she responded that he was a champ and his heart rate was perfect. I then told her that if both Calvin and I were ok, I would like to keep trying for a vaginal delivery. She gave me thirty minutes, the time it takes to prep the OR, to get him out. At this point they admitted that I wasn't going to make any progress on my back, so they brought in one of the male nurses, Jared, to help. He had been advocating for and helping women with epidurals try different positions to help deliver their babies vaginally when they had previously been told they wouldn't be able to. He and Tyler got me up on my knees and holding on to the back of the bed for support. Tyler held my oxygen mask and fed me ice chips, Jared helped support my back and monitor my progress, while Holly and Ashton cheered me on. During this time I made a ton of progress. The doctor came in planning to wheel me out for a section and instead told them to cancel the OR. "We're having a baby!" she said.
It took another hour, but he was finally born after fourty-seven hours of labor and five hours of pushing. The cord was wrapped around his neck and his fists were up by his cheeks. He had a major cone head and he was a little stunned after so long in the birth canal, but all in all he did great. They laid him on my chest and now, here we are. Introducing our sweet little guy who is going to be three months old in just a couple weeks!
   Now the fun part, photos:

While my epidural was working.



I brought his 3D ultrasound with to look
at when I was feeling discouraged.

You are NOT confined to your back
when you have an epidural.

The best partner.


He was so worth it. The needles. The pills. The tears.
He was worth every moment we spent waiting.

Our first family photo!

Photo credit Melissa Adams, LLC

Photo credit Melissa Adams, LLC

And finally:

As all my loss mamas know, October 15 is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day.
As with our pregnancy announcement, we wanted Calvin's birth announcement to convey our joy, while acknowledging the grief that so many are feeling every day, and that we have felt (and feel) ourselves.
I am so proud of the announcement my husband wrote:

    After starting labor induction late Thursday night, Macy and I are so excited to introduce our new son! Calvin Joshua Rodeffer was born at 9:20 Saturday night weighing 6 lbs 15 oz and 19” long. It was a very long and tiring 47 hours, particularly the nearly 5 hours of pushing Macy had to do. She did so good! She worked so hard and refused to give up. I’m so proud of her and impressed by her. She had two amazing friends supporting us and encouraging her, as well as an amazing staff in labor and delivery to work with. We are so loved and so grateful.
    Many of you know that October 15th, forever his birthday, was also National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Too many people know that. Far too many. It isn’t fair that while we had the privilege of celebrating our first few hours with our brand new son, for many, the grief of loss remains all too fresh. Hearing this announcement and seeing our baby will be hard for some. Maybe impossible. No blame or judgment here. We haven’t forgotten those emotions and I pray we never do. We have struggled through infertility for more than four years and experienced 4 miscarriages. But we haven’t had it the worst, not even close. This is only to say that we empathize with the difficulties of others and share the grief. For us, in vitro fertilization was the miracle that resulted in our son. It was far from easy, but certainly worth it. It provided no guarantee, but, medically speaking, it was our last-best chance. Our hope is that this journey has paved the path of greater appreciation for our son, greater sense of responsibility for loving and parenting him, greater fear of taking him for granted, and greater empathy for the grief of others.

I know this post was long, if you made it to the end, thank you. Thank you for walking with us, for thinking of us, for praying for us. We could not have walked this journey without the support of our friends, and we pray that we never forget the road that led us to where we are now, so that we can be there for others like they were there for us.

"Everything that is real was imagined first."
- The Velveteen Rabbit

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day | PGAL


    My first Mother's Day. 
    A lie. This isn't my first, it's my fourth. It's just the first one when I was included in "Happy Mother's Day!". It's my first Mother's Day that I didn't celebrate alone. The first when I didn't wonder if I should stand or accept flowers, because, doesn't that make it awkward? The first when I didn't get asked, "Do you consider yourself a mother? Should I get you something?"
    There are those that acknowledged me as a mother before, it's not as if no one cared or no one realized or understood. But in society you're not one of the "Mother's Day Moms" until you have a big belly or a living child. There are so many more moms than we realize, because so many of those mom's never got to meet their baby. For PGAL (Pregnant After A Loss) moms, Mother's Day will always be bittersweet. There will be chubby hands with flowers and a big breakfast and wet kisses. There will also be sets of hands missing, flowers that didn't get picked, and empty spots at the table.  You struggle with aching for your missing baby, or babies, while knowing that if they had lived the one you have probably wouldn't be here. It's a mix of emotions and some days it's easier to forget than others.
    This was the first Mother's Day that was bittersweet instead of sad. There was joy mingled in my grief, and though my heart aches for my little ones that were lost, I wouldn't trade my life for anything. Money, naivety, health, or control. Because I treasure who I've become and how I've changed and where I am in God. I treasure those moments we had with our babies. The moments, however fleeting, that we were a family. If I could speak to them now I would tell them, "I'm glad I knew about you." 
    To my sisters, the mothers that don't get recognized on Mother's Day, know that you are mommies. As much as anyone else. Fighters and warriors and the bravest women I know, your struggle is not forgotten, and neither are you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Repost | Why National Infertility Awareness Week Should Matter To Moms

    This article popped up on my newsfeed and I felt compelled to share the link here and give it even more exposure! It was really inspiring and heartfelt and true. I can't tell you how much it means to me when my friends shares posts about infertility and changes her cover photo to support NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week). They don't struggle with infertility but they still supports me because they're my friend and their hearts break for others who struggle with infertility. I think it's so important for us as women to stand together. Mothers with non-mothers, and vice versa. 

"When more people understand the impact infertility has on people, we will finally see real change happen. For us, we want to see infertility covered by health insurance like any disease, we want to see more empathy for those living with infertility, and we want to see more awareness and education. If moms everywhere raised their collective voices and pronounced that people with infertility matter, we would finally see that transformative change we so badly need."
- Barb Collura, President and CEO of RESOLVE

This makes an infertility diagnosis doubly difficult. Outside of the physical and deeply emotional somersaults required to reconcile that pregnancy may not happen easily or at all, we're also on the hot seat to explain why we don't have children — as if it justifiably detracts from our worth or contribution to society."
- Pamela Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority and an advocate for the child-free community

"Tsigdinos believes that a woman's worth shouldn't be defined by parental status. When women of all roles — mother or otherwise — take an active part in raising awareness about infertility, they stand together in feminist solidarity for the value and worth of all women, no matter their roles, stations, and paths in life.
And, for women who have never experienced infertility, I hope they never do. But that doesn't mean that they can't take a moment right now during National Infertility Awareness Week to help raise awareness, spread the word, and make a difference for millions who want nothing more than to be a mom, too."
- Keiko Zoll

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Work of A.R.T. | Our Rainbow Baby

    I know what they'll say. They'll say, "See! You just needed to relax." or "I told you it would happen someday." or "Too bad I couldn't give you my own fertility!" or "I'm so glad you don't struggle with infertility anymore!" and so much more. Many will never understand, never see, and never know how wrong and hurtful these words are. We're some of the lucky ones. It only took 4 years, 3 miscarriages, depression, 107 hormone injections, one surgery, two procedures, over 100 suppositories, and several thousand dollars to get our baby. You might ask how I say that we're lucky. We're lucky because we get to have a baby. So many women don't. Even more go through multiple rounds of fertility treatments to get their baby.
    We will always have infertility. It doesn't matter if we have all the children our hearts desire. Each of those children will take one surgery, 107 shots, two procedures, over 100 suppositories, and several thousand dollars. At least. If we're lucky.
    Our baby doesn't erase years of loss, depression, hopelessness, pain, tears, and crying out to God. Our baby doesn't replace the babies that were lost years before. The twin that was lost, or our eight tiny embryos that just weren't strong enough to make it to our transfer and freezing. Our eight tiny babies. Each and every one of them. They were people. But with our infertility we just couldn't make them strong enough. It's bittersweet, our little one that is in me now. This baby had nine siblings that aren't here. Just like the three before them. This is infertility. There aren't blessings in infertility. There are blessings in spite of infertility.
    What our baby does do is fill us with a love and joy and gratefulness that I never knew possible. When I look at that ultrasound my heart actually skips. For years I lived never knowing if I would ever have an ultrasound photo hanging on my fridge. If I would ever have a bump or see that coveted stretch mark on my belly, or if the baby clothes I bought for friends would ever hang in my own home. If life would ever grow inside of me. And against all odds, it does. I'm so in love I can hardly stand it. There will be hard days, I know. We've longed for them for years.
    I will never be able to say enough of the blessing of science. I praise God every day that He gave people the knowledge and skill to design the technology it takes to remove my eggs from my body and fertilize them under a microscope. To grow our tiny people in a petri dish 104 miles away. To give them a better chance at thriving than they ever could have had inside of me, and then five days later putting them back, where we wait to see if the impossible [for me] has happened.
    I feel like I'm trespassing here in the world of pregnant women. The world of fertility. I don't belong. I've stood on tiptoes for years, peering over the fence to see what it's like. I'm here, but my heart is still with my sisters. The ones left behind. The ones who have walked with me for years and still they wait. My sisters who are happier for me than anyone else could ever be, because they know the pain first hand. This post will hurt them. My pregnancy, my baby, my joy, it will hurt. It's a guilty kind of hurt (though it shouldn't be), because you can't understand why you're so happy for your friend, but so utterly broken for yourself. I know because I've been there, and while I have this precious one now, in many ways I will never leave. The baby in my belly, soon in my arms, will not dull the pain of the next pregnancy announcement or baby shower or birth. They will always remind me of my struggle. Past and future, because I know this struggle doesn't end. But to every single one of my babies, the one who made it and the ones who didn't; you were worth it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Why Hire a Birth Photographer?

    I get this question a lot. Having a baby is a big (and expensive) life change, so when someone tells you to hire a birth photographer, you want to know if it's worth it.
   I wrote down some of the top reasons why having a professional photographer at your birth is worth it and why I've never met someone who regretted having one.

1. Did you hire a wedding photographer?
    [Nearly] everyone who has been married hired a photographer for their wedding day. Let's face it, we spend hundreds for wedding photos because we don't end up remembering much from that day. It goes by so fast and we want to make sure we have evidence of all the important events. Why would you treat birth any differently? You probably won't remember much, and after a year, 10 years, or 20 years, most of the details will have faded. That child will never be born again, and none of those moments will ever happen twice!

2. A professional knows what they're doing.
    The cameras on our phones are great for getting snippets of day to day life, but when the only light is from a lamp in the corner of the room, or dad comes running to see his baby for the first time, or when baby opens her eyes for only for a second, your phone won't be capable of capturing that moment. Birth photographers know how birth and labor works, we know what moments to prepare for, and what settings our cameras need to be on to get every detail without blurs. A professional is also able to convey the emotions in the room through a photo, something an iPhone simply can't do.

3. Free up dad/your birth team.
    Some of my favorite photos are of dad seeing his baby for the first time. Those photos won't exist if he's the one taking them. Everyone is so excited and busy when the baby is born that no one other than your photographer is worried about taking photos when you see your baby for the first time. Dad also can't hold your hand or rub your back if he's focused on attempting the same shots that your photographer would get. We need dad's full attention and support! He'll be far more concerned about you than getting a picture while you push or baby is being cleaned off.

4. Convenience. 
    New moms are busy and tired! You don't have the time or energy to go through hundreds of photos and delete the duds, edit properly, and organize your favorites. A birth photographer will do all of this and deliver them ready for you to enjoy.

5. Fresh 48.
    Birth is a private time when you can feel very vulnerable. Not everyone is comfortable with having someone snapping photos of them while laboring and giving birth. If you don't want photos of the laboring and birthing process, but you still want photos of those precious first moments with your baby, look into a Fresh 48 Session. Your photographer remains on call and arrives to photograph your newly expanded family within the first 48 of birth. By this time you are able to dress, eat, and have some private moments with your partner and new baby.