Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The beginning of the end

It started earlier this month. Following HFMD, the Beats weaned themselves from breastfeeding and my milk production took a hit after I became sick too. Originally the plan was to continue pumping, expressing breastmilk until they were 12 months age-adjusted. But then reality caught up with me and those middle of the night pump sessions became harder and harder as I was no longer riding them out on the blissful moments from the nursing sessions. Ad in the fact that the pediatrician okayed transitioning to cow's milk (which they've been rocking), the fact that they are drinking less milk in general, a change in work coming in September and that He-Beat has decided that the pump station is FILLED with previously undiscovered toys otherwise known as pump parts, and the decision was pretty much made for me.

It's time to wean from the pump.

I'll be honest, I'm having mixed feelings about this transition. On the one hand, there's some major benefits that are just around the corner: regaining time during the day, no more pain and discomfort associated with pumping, less dishes and (the BIG one) having extra time to spend with my family instead of secluded in a room with the pump. At this point, just the idea of regularly sleeping through the night seems so delicious.

But there's also a sense of loss. After a crazy delivery and month spent in the NICU, breastfeeding became the one thing I could trust my body to do right. As the Beats were hooked up to feeding tubes and monitors, knowing that I was lucky enough to be able supply them with the nourishment they required to grow helped give me a sense control in an otherwise powerless situation. Later on, after they had mastered drinking from bottles, training them to breastfeed helped me bond with them and overcome some of the pending depression that was hovering. The fact that we've made it one full year of them consuming breastmilk truly is something I'm in awe of. After all, my supply, though good, has never been excellent and constant pumping as well as supplementation with formula has been required just to meet the daily demands for feeding two babies. Still, there's pride there that we have been fortunate enough to be able to have all the tools needed to make this happen. Knowing we're at the end is bittersweet.

Yesterday I started doing research on how to reduce milk supply and have worked out a schedule for reducing pump sessions. Grey practically cartwheeled when I outlined the plan, offering to buy every material needed to help move this transition along. Currently I pump 7 times a day (I know, it's a crazy schedule). The plan is to drop the midnight pump session and then the one at lunch. Based on how I'm feeling, we'll figure out the order of the next two, but I'm hoping by the end of August we are completely done. The big problem I'm worried about it the pain I experience when I don't pump. With Raynaud's syndrome, I get shooting breast pain if I don't drain regularly, so I'm hoping this transition will work.

So many emotions come with just thinking about this. So much trepidation that I know Grey and the Beats aren't experiencing. I know it's time; the beginning of the end of this phase. And that it is the right thing for my family. But it doesn't make this any easier.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Dear H and E,

Today is your 365th day of life. One year ago, amid the fog of magnesium, the wires, the tubes, the IVs and the plastic, is you both entered the world. Though that time is still a blur and you both certainly had a rougher start than most children, I do remember very well the moment I first held each of you. The surreal, dream-like moment that will forever be etched into my heart.

So much has happened and you've both changed so much since that first day. You have both grown so much in so many ways. I marvel now at how easily you both finish full bottles as I remember clearly you both learning how to even feed from one. At how strong you each are when I remember clearly how small and fragile you seemed. Watching you interact with the world around you, you both inspire me daily.

H, my little man, I still smile as I remember you taking your first steps using the push toy this week. You are a gutsy little boy, fearless about trying new things. Through you, I'm learning how to more brave during moments of uncertainty and be less afraid of failing. Your curiosity about the world around you has turned you into quite an explorer and your bombastic nature draws so many to you. Not a day goes by were I don't hear a story about your shenanigans and I know you have already touched so many during your short time on this planet.

E, my sweet and thoughtful little girl, you remind me how important patience is in this life. Just a few days ago, you stood up on your own and I still smile when I remember how proud you were in that moment. During moments where I've worried so much about whether you were okay, you always showed me that it was needless and wasteful. Through you, I am learning that the prescribed milestones we all face can don't need to be met in one way and that patience is truly a virtue. I am in awe of your attention to details and your patience with seemingly small things. And my heart lights up when I see you smile, especially in moments when you reach those milestones, are snuggling with your daddy and even when Jaxson and Daisy walk into the room. Your love for those two furry ones is unbridled and without boundaries and I hope that all of you have many more years to grow more in love with one another.

Today, as I reflect back on this first year with you in our lives I reflect also on all that has happened to bring you here. I know that though our stories are intertwined, my journey through infertility and loss is not yours. You will each have your own challenges in life; traumas that you will face. All I can do is do my best to teach you about the world around you, hoping that these lessons will provide the foundation for you to thrive in this world. But I can promise you this: no matter what those traumas and hurts may be, your father and I will be there for you. To support you and love you unconditionally, especially in the moments where you feel like this world is against you.

Happy first birthday, my sweet miracle rainbow babies. Looking forward to so many more.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I remember the first troll that left me a comment. It was about 3 years ago, when I had just started blogging and there was someone trolling the ALI blogosphere leaving anonymous nasty comments that were meant to tear down the authors. As I had set my comments to moderation and remove Captcha, this author wrote three different versions, each more angry than the last as they were assuming that Blogger was eating them. But the goal was laughably clear: to hit with hatred in order to silence. To spread bitterness to a group of women who were pouring their hearts out online as this individual wanted to make others feel the way they felt about themselves.

Thought policing isn’t a new concept. The idea that people need to be monitored and corrected for expressing ideas or feelings that are undesirable has been around since before the written word. There’s something desirable about this concept, with establishing rules and guidelines for a community in order to serve the greater whole. Be sensitive, support those in kind, don’t complain needlessly or compare pain, etc, etc. After all, there are narcissists and incredibly selfish people who would otherwise suck a community dry with the black hole that is their self-centeredness and inability to empathize. But thought policing can also be dangerous, with a minority quickly shutting down anyone who shares thoughts or emotions that they deem unacceptable. In a way, it is a form of fascism, with a blood-lust that can develop for attacking anyone who deviates even in reasonable ways.

Recently Josey wrote this post where she talked about this vocal minority and how damaging they can be.

In the Infertility community in particular, it becomes an issue when the vocal minority shuts down long awaited joys, tough conversations and legitimate feelings with cliché statements and judgmental tirades.
Just be grateful…
I’d never complain if *I* had a kid…
Can you believe she posted a picture of her [pee stick, belly picture, ultrasound pic, etc]?
The problem comes when the quiet majority ends up sitting by on the sidelines feeling afraid to share everything from jubilant thoughts to frustrated feelings, simply out of a fear of facing loud criticisms and hurt feelings from the vocal minority.”
Reading this post brought up some mixed feelings and emotions. On the one hand, I have encountered blogs where the author seems to be so incredibly unhappy with life, even after finding themselves pregnant or parenting. In these cases, I’ve found myself so annoyed that continuing to read, let alone comment, was a form of self-punishment thus unfollowing was a far better option. But the flip is that there have been and continue to be bloggers I follow who have the posts that ALWAYS start with them apologizing, then writing carefully about difficulties they are facing either with their pregnancy or while parenting. All the while peppering their posts with the required statements that they are grateful for their children and their current situation and ending their posts with some self-deprecating statement. Even then, there are moments where the thought police descend, ripping into the author for being so insensitive and thoughtless as it’s clear she just can’t appreciate what she has or that somehow she is defective as a human being for daring to think or feel that way.
The reality is, every person in this community will find themselves at the end of their TTC journey one day. Biologically, it’s impossible not to. In addition, most here will resolve (though there will be the few that never will). Because of this fact and because of the fact that we live in a diverse world, there needs to be a general understanding that the next steps aren’t always filled with moments of sunshine. There will be moments of fear and uncertainty, pain and despair. Reality, as it usually does, will find fun new ways to smack you in the face. That’s part of life and is true in all aspects.
During my pregnancy with the Beats, I found myself growing more and more silent as time went on. There’s no doubt that I was over the moon to final find myself carrying two rainbow babies after all our losses and uncertainty how to even resolve. But the truth was that pregnancy was very high-risk and scary. While my babies were growing and doing well, my body was crashing with the Beats being delivered early due to me going into both liver and kidney failure. After that, there were 4 weeks of NICU, were I went to bed nightly praying that they would be alive in the morning. I cried daily for a month. Though I know we were lucky and that there were others who were in a far worse situation, with me having to watch parents lose their children as a reminder. But a year later, all of this still haunts me.
Yet I felt like I couldn’t talk about any of this. That by doing so, I believed others would see me as ungrateful. I even had people tell me that I was lucky to have my babies come when they did because I actually got to hold them and no longer worry about having to be pregnant. Never mind the fact that it was general knowledge that they needed more time in the womb and that without the technology we have today they probably wouldn’t have survived. Instead it felt like I needed to be unilaterally grateful because I knew others who weren’t holding their children or would never have the chance to experience half the joy I did.
There’s a problem that emerges when one is silenced. For most humans, voicing worries and frustrations is a way to process what is happening. A form of problem-solving. By being heard one feels less isolated. By putting it out there, we give the experience/trauma recognition and allow for it to be addressed, which, in turn, allows for processing and healing. In some cases, simple acknowledgement is enough, bringing peace to even the most vocal complainer. Silencing takes all of that away, leaving the person instead involved with a growing shapeless form that tortures and torments. It also instills a sense of shame and guilt, all the while destroying.
I struggle with in all of this because there is a need for sensitivity in this community. My experience with individuals like Angie taught me that boundaries need to be established as otherwise there will be a free-for-all will otherwise allow for the leeches to take over and suck everything dry. In addition, we all need our safe havens. We need those places where we won’t be blindsided when we are our most fragile. Hence the need for general understandings and rules to ensure that community stays in tack.

But on the other end is that silencing someone when we feel they’ve overstepped when they really haven’t. Making it so that once someone goes past point X, they are no longer allowed to speak freely because a random person might take offense. There will always be people who eavesdrop, but that doesn’t this mean that we need to apologize every step of the way.
The thing is, how does one address this? For me, I find that in the cases where I have said something, it's usually because I've developed a relationship with the person. But even then, I do so privately and try to express concern gently. I find calling people out in a public way to be far more telling about the person bringing the issue to light, especially since we are usually only getting one person's version. Sure, there are times for debate and conversation, but when it devolves into a screaming match I rarely find it useful. There are also times where I've defaulted with silence when I see someone venting in a way I don't agree with. I respect their right to speak and use their space, but I also know that I can exercise my right not to read.  All that said, I also know that many don't agree with me as blogging is seen as an ongoing conversation. So the question is, how would you handle it? Is there ever a right time to silence someone?
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