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. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Endometriosis and a Laparoscopy | Didn't see that coming

    It's been a couple months since my LAP and dang. People need to stop calling it a 'minor procedure'. A stomach scope is a 'minor procedure.' LAPs may be less invasive but they are far from minor. I had no idea that recovery would be this difficult. First of all, they thought I had mild to moderate Endometriosis, but once they had me open they realized that I had Stage IV, or severe, Endometriosis. She said it was everywhere, and that's almost certainly what contributed to my miscarriages and pelvic pain. It also wasn't just in my left ovary like she thought, it had even made it's way into my lower pelvis. Another source of severe pain. I've felt pretty overwhlemed with everything going on but I feel so relieved to have had this caught and taken care of. While it's hard to be diagnosed with something like this, you also feel a huge weight lifted off when you realize that you weren't overreacting, being weak, or just imagining things. I think a lot of times, especially as women, when we have pain associated with our periods or hormonal cycles, or even sex, it's socially understood that you just deal with it. Everyone else hurts on their period so take some Tylenol and deal with it. That's not true. Your period, ovulation, and sex should not be painful (discomfort is not the same as pain. You will have cramps on your period and sometimes during ovulation just like sex is not always comfortable. If you can't tell what is normal discomfort and what is pain it's ok to ask). I didn't realize that the pain wasn't normal. The pain didn't keep me from functioning day to day, so it's not a big deal, right? Wrong. If you are experiencing pain talk to your doctor. I really wish that I would have known how abnormal my discomfort was.

    Anyway, here is a summery of my experience:

    I was 'diagnosed' and scheduled for surgery the same day, and my surgery was performed about a week later. Luckily I didn't have a lot of time to think about it, so I didn't get too worried. I freaked out a little bit the night before but one of my best friends helped calm me down (Thanks Holly!). The hospital, St. Vincent's Women's Hospital in Carmel, IN, really was wonderful. The staff was great and as soon as we checked in they had us in a private pre-op room where they took my vitals, gave me an IV, etc. We didn't have to go sit in any labs or waiting rooms. They took me to surgery and Tyler paid bills (I'm not sure who had the raw end of the deal on that one). The only complaint I really have is that I woke up with zero pain meds so I felt everything and it HURT. When I asked the nurse for some pain management she told me that, when drugged, I had told them not to give me any pain medicine because I would throw up. I don't know why I said that because it's not true. I've been on several different kinds of pain medicine and been fine. The frustrating thing was that they took the ramblings of a drugged patient as fact. URG. Anyway, the nurse gave me some of the good stuff and I felt a lot better in just a few minutes. Once I was more awake she took me to my post-op room where Tyler was waiting and we watched HGTV for a couple hours, then drove home. Once we got home I went upstairs and my IVIG nurse hooked me up and I spent the next four hours getting my infusion. I thought it would be too much in one day but I just slept the whole time so it actually worked out really well.
    Tyler went back to work the next day so my friend Holly came and spent the day with me. If you ever have a LAP done and your spouse can't be there with you for the next few days you really need to find someone to come hang out. You'll be in a lot of pain not only from your incisions but also from all of the gas they pump into you so that they can see. It rises to your shoulders and chest and makes it so painful to breathe. Moving is all but out of the question. The pain from the gas was worse than any pain I felt from my incisions.
    I was doing really good on the pain medicine they gave me but the second night (early morning) I took some on an empty stomach and spend the next 4 hours dry heaving. Not fun after your abdominal wall has just been cut through. I was able to get a prescription for Zofran and after that all was well. Some wonderful friends brought me meals and my recovery went very smoothly from there.
    I'll probably have to have this surgery again. I don't enjoy thinking about that but it is what it is and I'll live. My life's motto recently.
    To sum all this up, pain isn't normal. Don't deal with it just because someone tells you to. Find out what is normal and abnormal. I wish I had known about this a lot sooner.