Tuesday, May 10, 2011

You're invited...

To follow me on my new blog Abiding Andrew. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The anniversary

Today is the anniversary of the day that changed my life -- the day that three tiny embryos were thawed and the two that survived were transferred to my uterus. One of those embryos became my son, who is sleeping down the hall as I write this. He is dressed in a baby blue footed pajamas, he is lying on his back -- deep in sleep -- with his little chubby arms up over his head as if he has surrendered to sleep. He is making tiny little sleeping noises as he breathes in and out. He is the most beautiful, wonderful, magical little person I've ever met.
It is almost unfathomable to think that a small group of cells that were frozen for three months grew into this precious baby. It is nothing short of a miracle and I am reminded daily as I marvel at Andrew at just how close we came to never knowing him, to never being parents, to never living this life that we have now.
My memories of that day are now colored by the happy outcome. Still, I remember feeling less optimistic than in the past. I felt -- resigned. I was pretty sure we'd come to the end of the road as far as our infertility was concerned. We'd gambled three times on IVF and came up empty handed each time. The frozen embryo transfer was sort of like a formality. We had to give those three embryos a chance before we could decide to move on to embryo donation or adoption or, gasp, living child free. On the day of the transfer, I remember watching the ultrasound screen. In all my previous IVFs I had willed my body to welcome those tiny embryos, I would think "hello, my babies, I hope you'll stay. I love you very much." But during my FET, I didn't think these thoughts. I just thought about all the times I'd been there before and how I hoped I'd never be there again.
The most poignant memory of that day is when my husband quietly sang to me as we waited in our curtained room. "Here we go again on our own, going down the only road we've ever known." It struck me as insanely funny at the time. But, Greg was right. Heartbreak was all we'd known at that point. Now, we have such joy. There is joy in the middle of the night when Andrew wakes and I can hear him stirring in the next room. There is joy early in the morning before the sun is up and we lie in bed listening to Andrew "talking" his happy morning jabber. There is in taking care of his needs, joy in knowing that he is happy and healthy, joy in seeing him learn new things and unbelievable joy when he fixes his eyes on my face and smiles.
But, of course, I couldn't have dared imagine all this one year ago.
I was hopeful. Hope springs eternal for infertiles, it seems. Why else would we continue to put ourselves through such horrible procedures and treatments? Even so, I did not have the kind of hope I'd had during my third IVF, when it seemed everything was going right.
Little did I know that one year later, I would be a mother and my heart would forever be changed. Believe it or not, I now cry more easily than I did during those heartbreaking years of TTC. The difference is that now, most the time the tears are joyful. I cry when I listen to the radio. I cry when I think of how Andrew came to be. Sometimes, just looking at my baby's sweet face is enough to bring on the waterworks. I am just so swept away by this child. It's like falling in love -- only better. Even some of Andrew's books make me cry. Yesterday, I finally made it through "On The Night You Were Born" without crying. I still can't read "God Gave Us You." I told Greg that would have to be the book he reads to Andrew since Mommy is such a crybaby.
This is a birthday of sorts. It's sort of difficult to classify this day now that I think about it. It's not the anniversary of the day Andrew was conceived -- that was back in January. It's not the anniversary of the day I became pregnant, because as we all know, pregnancy doesn't begin immediately after transfer. Still, it is the anniversary of the day that changed my life -- the day that started this journey. I am so grateful -- eternally grateful -- for the precious gift that is my son.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A work in progress

So, the new blog is under construction. I'm actually having someone design it for me so that it will be exactly what I want. I'm so excited about it. And, yes, I will definitely let my readers know where to find me once it's ready.
Andrew is doing great. He is now three months old. I can hardly believe it. He smiles a lot, has laughed out loud a few times and has twice managed to roll from his tummy to his back unassisted. He is very motivated to roll this way because he HATES being on his tummy. We go for his three month appointment tomorrow. His reflux is under control most days and though he is a cat napper, he is sleeping well and letting mommy get a lot of rest most nights.
He is such a little wonder to me! I cannot believe how much he has grown and learned over the last three months. And, I cannot believe how much I have learned. I am becoming an expert on all things Andrew and it feels good to be able to interpret his little cries and motions. I feel more and more confident as a mother as each day passes. I love the fact that most of the time when he wakes up and I lean over his crib, he is smiling back at me. His smile is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. I know that for as long as I live, that will remain true.
We are quickly approaching the anniversary of our embryo transfer and I hope that I can write a post that encompasses all the emotions I'm feeling about this special day. Until then, I'll be working on the new blog and playing with my miracle boy.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I've been thinking....

perhaps it's time to end this blog and start a new one. The support I found from my readers out there in blogland was very helpful to me during the last rounds of our infertility struggle and throughout my pregnancy. I am thankful to each one of you who ever offered me a word of encouragement or advice. I pray that you get the miracle you are waiting on. However, I find that I am not always being authentic in my writing on this blog for fear of hurting readers who still struggle. So, perhaps it's time for a new blog. I'm envisioning a blog that is blatantly and unequivocally dedicated to my precious baby and this new life we have as a family of three.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Show off

One of the problems with living so far away from family and friends when you have a new baby is you don't really have anyone to ooh and aah over him. Everyday, Andrew learns something new or accomplishes some new feat (yesterday he managed to get his fist in his mouth, which is not a new trick, but he was able to keep it there, which is new). And, of course, I have no one to witness this particularl little feat. Greg is working crazy hours -- leaving before Andrew wakes up and getting home after he's gone to bed. So I am left alone to revel in every smile, every movement, every dirty diaper.
I long to be closer to my family because they will make such a fuss over my boy that both Andrew and I might both be a little overwhelmed. After a lot of consideration, I decided to make the trek to NC without Greg. So it will be me and Andrew flying home next month.
I am a little nervous about flying with him for the first time without an extra set of hands, but I keep telling myself that it is only 6 hours travel time and we will get through it just fine, even if we have to ask a stranger to help us out.
I can't wait to get there. I can't wait for Andrew to meet his Aunt Renee' and all his cousins, to see my 92-year-old grandmother lay eyes on Andrew for the first time. I can't wait for Andrew and my great nephew Wyatt to meet -- they are only seven months apart and I predict they will be the best of friends for the rest of their lives.
I look forward to seeing my parents with Andrew again now that he has emerged from his state of newness to become this observant, interactive little wonder. I can't wait to see my Aunt Betty -- so sick, in Round 2 of her battle with breast cancer -- with Andrew in her arms. So many prayers she has prayed for this perfect little miracle. She has asked my mother when we will be home every day. When my mom told her April 21, she said "that is still a long time away." I suppose your perspective of time shifts when you are fighting for your life.
I anticipate so much joy in our homecoming. We'll be there for Easter and I plan to take Andrew to church -- the church of my childhood where every face is familiar and everyone who occupies a seat in the pew is linked either by blood or by friendship. My family still attends services regularly and this church has prayed for us to become parents for as many years as we've been trying. I can't wait to show them our answered prayer.
We'll be there for 19 days, plenty long enough for me to miss Greg and my home. Long enough for Greg to really miss us and wonder why I stayed so long. But it won't be long enough. I look forward to the day when I am surrounded by the people I love the most. I'm sure when we make our last move home and get settled I will ask myself why in the world we decided to move so close to all these crazy relatives, but then I will remember this isolation and this particular brand of lonliness and I will know that whatever my family does to get on my nerves is a small price to pay for having a whole host of folks who love you nearby.
Basically, I am looking forward to "showing off" my little guy. He is absolutely perfect, afterall!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Have you ever hurt your knee or your ankle and just when you least expect it that old injury will flare up and remind you of the pain you once endured?
Well, that's a little what parenting after infertility is like. There you are, moving right along with your day, happy as a pig in mud because you've finally got your little one in your arms and then -- that old familiar sting.
I experienced a flare up of that old injury of infertility yesterday. Andrew and I were out for our daily stroll -- I was hoping he'd slip into a little nap as he used to do everytime I'd put him in his stroller. But, there's just too much out there in the world to see! Now he spends his time in the stroller drooling, cooing, shaking his favorite rattle and taking in the big, big world.
We were only a few blocks from home when I saw a young girl standing near the street waiting for a friend who was walking on the opposite sidewalk. From the back, this girl looked a lot like my niece Emily, with her long red hair and her athletic build.
Emily is a rare girl -- unbelievably kind and smart and funny. Her laugh, her smile, well, it's just infectious. You cannot help but fall in love with my niece.
This girl was about the same age as my Emily -- the one that brings you to a state of flux -- not a child, not a woman, just stuck somewhere in between. I could sense her enthusiasm as she greeted her friend and the two locked arms and started chatting and went inside. I thought about all the girl drama they are bound to stir up and I felt a little catch in my throat. Why on earth was I about to cry?
Because I had one thought -- I will never have a daughter.
Damn you infertility. Even in these happiest days of my life, with my smiling, cooing, perfect little son finally here in my arms, you manage to bring me to tears.

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patty's Day fun

Here's a picture of me and my little guy in his silly St. Patty's Day socks.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sleep, baby, sleep

I haven't really talked about our sleep issues on here before other than mentioning the reflux was affecting Andrew's sleep and to say that he had grown accustomed to being soothed to sleep by either Mommy or Daddy. Now that we have the reflux issue under control (much better! Thank goodness!), we are working on the other issues.
Two nights ago, after a day that featured very little napping on Andrew's part -- I found myself standing over his crib once again for the fourth time -- he was waking every hour and I prayed out loud -- "Lord, send an angel to soothe this baby so that I can get some rest!"
Well, yesterday Andrew napped like a dream -- 2 hours in the morning, 3 hours in the afternoon and one 30 min. power nap in the evening -- and then a miracle happened. I had given him his last bottle of the day, did our little bedtime rituals -- lullabys, a little rocking, kisses goodnight and put him in his crib fully expecting to pat and shhhh him to sleep like always. Well, after about 10-15 min of pat shush, my boy was still wide eyed and just making his little baby noises. I decided mommy needed a short break, so I went into the living room and sat down on the couch. I could hear Andrew on the monitor -- he was not crying, just cooing and grunting. Greg wanted to tell me something so I listened to his story and by the end of it, the grunting and cooing had stopped. Silence from the monitor.
I told Greg to go in there and make sure Andrew was OK. Greg came back and said Andrew was fast asleep.
What? My babe put himself to sleep? Hallelujah and thank you Lord for that angel!
So, when Andrew awoke at 1:15 a.m. for a feeding, I wasn't sure what to expect. After a feeding and a diaper change (the midnight pooper strikes again) I decided to try my luck again -- I did our ritual (sans lullabyes) and placed a drowsy but fully awake Andrew in his crib. I patted his little leg a couple of times and told him I'd see him in the morning, sweet dreams.
At 6:30 this morning, I woke up in the bed alone -- Greg was already up getting ready for work. I came into the kitchen, made me some coffee and had a nice little chat with my husband before Andrew woke up at 6:45 a.m.
He also put himself to sleep for his first nap of the day (though it was only about an hour) and then again for his second nap of the day, which is going into the second hour as I type this, fingers crossed for a 2 hour nap!).
I cannot say how relieved I am at these recent events. Greg said it might be a fluke, but I am hoping that since we have Andrew's feeding and reflux issues under control -- maybe his sleep issues are resolving themselves as well.
A well rested baby means a well rested Mama! So, sleep, baby, sleep!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Should be interesting

My mother-in-law is coming to visit. This is big news at our house because my mother-in-law has never visited us. She didn't come to our wedding more than eight years ago and she has not visited Greg in 19 years. We have not seen her in more than two years and all totaled, I have probably only spent about 8 hours face to face with her since I met Greg.
It's not that I have anything against my mother-in-law, I really don't know her. And, I guess that's what makes me nervous. Usually we communicate through e-mail and Greg talks with her on the phone. The only time I've ever talked with her on the phone was one Thanksgiving when we lived in Italy. The phone rang, I said "hello" and a woman's voice said "Is Greg there?" and I said "yes, hold on just a minute," and I put him on the phone. I didn't even know it was her!
I don't think I'm the only one who is nervous about her visit. Greg has been asking me repeatedly if I have thought of things we can do while she's here. I think it has been so long since he spent time with her that he's worried she will be bored or they won't have anything to talk about.
But, I've been so busy with Andrew that I haven't had time to put much thought into what we will do. I suppose she will want to spend a lot of time with Andrew, because that is the reason she is coming. So, I guess I will try not to worry about it too much.
Speaking of worry, last night, I dreamed that I was shopping at Target and talking to my mom on the phone. My mom said "where's Andrew?" and I said, "He's at home asleep but I have the monitor with me." Oh goodness! What a crazy person I have become!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A new direction?

Andrew had his two-month check up on Thursday. He weighs 12.6 pounds and is 24 inches long! He's a big boy!
I feel like we're finally moving in a new direction. Dr. S has diagnosed Andrew with reflux, which I had suspected since we made the switch to formula. He has many of the symptoms of reflux.
1. He fusses after feedings -- which I had interpreted as a sign that he wanted more but most times he wouldn't take more or he would spit it all back up.
2. He spits up A LOT. He spits up during his sleep, even if it has been hours since his last feeding. This usually wakes him up and he doesn't get the rest he needs.
3. He constantly makes this noise in the back of his throat -- I call it a grunt but Dr. S said it is really a cough, caused by the reflux.
4. He still has the hiccups several times a day.
5. He has a terrible amount of gas. I've watched him in his sleep pull his little legs to his chest and then pass gas, waking himself up.
6. He cries out in his sleep. I can't tell you how many times I have gone to his bed thinking something horrible has happened to him only to find him sound asleep.

So, we have made some adjustments according to the doctor's orders.
We are doing smaller, more frequent feedings. Instead of 6 oz. every 4 hours, he's getting 4 oz. every 3 hours. We burp him every ounce and we hold him up on the shoulder for 20 minutes after each feeding. We have elevated one end of his crib. We are putting one tsp. of rice cereal per ounce of milk in each bottle to weigh down the milk in hopes of keeping it from coming back up. And, perhaps most important (or controversial) Andrew gets two doses of Zantac in his bottle everyday.
Since we started these things, the amount of spit up has decreased significantly. Andrew can put himself to sleep without the endless soothing we were doing. A swaddle and a few pats seeem to be all he needs now. His sleep is more sound and though we have heard the little cough a time or two, it is not constant like it was. He has only cried out in his sleep once. He seems to be napping better.
We had hoped the rice in the bottle would help him sleep through the night, but it has not. But that is OK. That will come with time.
I really hope these new measures will make Andrew more comfortable. I now understand that he has been in quite a bit of pain and discomfort, which is something that I could not fix for him. His crying made me feel like I had to be doing something wrong, but the cause of his crying was something that I could not fix.
It is a terrible feeling when your baby is crying and you've done everything in your power to soothe him and nothing works. Here's hoping those days are behind us.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Let me tell you about my baby

I want to tell you about my baby -- not the screaming baby who wasn't getting enough to eat during the first month of his life -- not the "colicky" baby who had a problem with his old formula -- not the baby who suffered from the side effects of "accidental" parenting. I want to tell you about the baby who is napping soundly in his crib in his room down the hall as I write this post.
I don't know what has changed. Maybe it is the fact that Andrew is nearly 8 weeks old. Holy crap! How'd that happen? Or, maybe it is his mom who has changed. Everyone says taking care of a newborn is a guessing game -- and I finally feel like I'm getting better at guessing.
I am taking the advice of my sister, my cousin and my friend -- don't worry so much about schedules. In fact, my friend sent me an email after reading my last couple of posts and told me to post it on the refrigerator, which I did.

This is what it says:

You are a great Mom.

Use your instincts. Rock Andrew and let him sleep on your chest - in a very short time he will be too big for this kind of snuggle.

Don't stress over schedules - Andrew will eat, sleep, poop, and play when he wants to.

Don't compare your child or your life to anyone! We all have our own unique situation. Embrace yours!

Focus on what you did accomplish today.

It will not be this way forever - it does get easier!! I promise!

Express yourself - cry, scream, cuss, or laugh your way through the day! Remember - you are not yourself - you are sleep deprived and physically and mentally exhausted.

If these don't get you through - call me!!!! Anytime!! I mean it! I am here for you -I wish I could be there with/for you....but right now I am just a phone call away.

My sister said "I didn't worry about scheudles with my babies, we were just on baby time." And, so I started to shift my perspective. While I'm still hoping to get Andrew to bed at roughly the same time each night, I am happy to say that I'm just taking things as they come.
We've reached some pretty big milestones over the past few weeks. First, right after my birthday, I moved Andrew out of our bedroom and into his own room just a few steps down the hall. This helped me sleep better because even though I had the monitor on, I wasn't tempted to jump up everytime he made a little noise during the night (he is a noisy sleeper). Second, Andrew has started to smile. Sometimes, it's only once or twice a day. Sometimes, it's more. No matter how often I see that smile, it never fails to make my heart melt. Another big milestone is that as of this weekend, my little guy is no longer sleeping in his bassinet. I tried moving him to his crib early last week because he was clearly outgrowing the bassinet. But, it didn't go so well and I ended up putting him back in the bassinet. Well, by Saturday it was clear that arrangement wasn't going to work any longer. His little feet were touching the sides of the bassinet! So, we have made the move to the crib and it is going just fine. It was a bittersweet goodbye for me. The good part about it is though he looked giant in the bassinet, he looks pretty small in his crib.
Andrew can now grip a rattle in his little hand and he can follow an object if you move it in an in front of him. He seems to respond to the sound of my voice or the sight of me when I walk into the room. He "talks" to me with little grunts or coos and Greg swears he can say "hey." lol
He is a chubby little guy with the bluest eyes and the pinkest lips and hair that looks red or blonde depending on the light. He is the most beautiful baby in the world.
My neighbor saw him yesterday and said "he's about to come alive," and though I wouldn't have put it in those words, I think she's right. Everyday brings more awareness and more interest in what's going on around him.
They say that at four months babies enter one of the most enjoyable stages -- when they smile and laugh and interact with people but still can't move around on their own. I am looking forward to that time, but for now, I'm trying to enjoy every day of the stage we're in.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Back when I was breastfeeding and Andrew was not gaining weight -- Dr. S said we'd have to start supplementing to put some "chunk" on him. He was thin then. His little fingers and toes were sort of skinny and his legs and arms were too. Thankfully, those days are gone. Our little guy is a chunk!
I know I am biased beyond belief, but isn't he just the cutest thing ever? This afternoon, after a long week of working 12-hour shifts and hardly seeing Andrew, Greg snuck into Andrew's nursery to watch him while he napped. I snuck down the hall to watch Greg watching him. When Greg caught me watching from the door, he said "he looks like one of those dolls you see in the store. He's just perfect."
I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If I could do this thing over...

If I could go back just two months in time, I would do a few things different. Number one, I would have read a couple of books about parenting strategies. Honestly, I was so concerned about labor and delivery and breastfeeding that I mainly spent my time studying up on these two topics. I figured I knew how to take care of a baby -- I've been around babies all my life!
As it turns out, I didn't even need all that information about labor and delivery or even breastfeeding, for that matter. What I really needed was a guide to how to make sure this new little person in my life was given all that he needs to be a happy, well-rested, well nourished baby so that I could be a happy, well-rested, well nourished mother who didn't absolutely lose her mind.
Granted, I know all new mothers go through the "baby blues" but I think my "blues" have lasted a tad too long. It seems that the waves of self-doubt and inadequacy keep crashing ashore and by the end of each week, they build to a crescendo. I had hoped to have Andrew on some sort of daily schedule by now but we've been working on it and have yet to even come close.
I talked with my doctor about it on Monday when I went for my six-week postpartum visit. He gave me a prescription for an antidepressant. I took it that day and felt nauseas the rest of the day and then was plagued with insomnia that night -- which is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a new mom because she is so tired!
So, I haven't taken it since. I felt fine yesterday. I feel OK today. But I know the end of the week is coming and I'm not sure how I'll feel on Friday.
I used to think post-partum depression was a crock of poop. Then, I had a friend who had it and wound up in the hospital and I realized that maybe there was something to it afterall. Now that I've experienced the waves of emotion and mood swings for myself, I know that it is a real condition. I'm not sure I have PPD. I think I'm suffering from the normal hormonal shifts that all women feel after having a baby -- add that to my unplanned cesarean -- factor in my failure to breasfeed -- and then layer on the "colic" problems -- pile on the lack of sleep --top it with the fact that I don't have a support system here and all my loved ones are far away and you get -- well, you get one crazy Mama.
I remember reading about PPD and the baby blues in my pregnancy books and thinking --that will never happen to me because I've waited so long for this pregnancy and I have wanted to be a mother for so long I will just be happy no matter what. I've learned that's not quite the way it works. Andrew is a miracle. He is the most precious gift I've ever been given and I love him more than I can say. I want to be the best mother I can to him, but many times I feel like I'm failing him.
In an effort to become the mother I want to be, I've busied myself during the past week or so reading books about parenting during any spare moment that I have. What I've learned is that one book will say you can't possibly spoil a newborn baby so rock your baby to sleep if you like and the next book will tell you rocking your bably to sleep is bad because you teach him he can't go to sleep any other way. According to this book, Andrew is suffering from the effects of "accidental" parenting.
What is a parent to do? I don't know. Greg, who rarely ever says a cross word to me, even when I'm at my worst, told me in a very loud voice "stop reading books and let's just figure this out on our own."
And perhaps he is right. I just wish I had entered motherhood a little more prepared to take on such challenges. My newborn care class told me how to meet the physical needs of a baby -- feeding, changing, bathing. It didn't teach me how to deal with some of the less obvious but perhaps more important facets of mothering. Maybe these things can't be learned in a class or by reading a book. Maybe it's just trial by fire.
For now, we are taking it one day at a time. I feed Andrew when he seems hungry. I try to help him go to sleep when I think he's tried. I talk to him, play with him and try to make sure he's getting all that he needs to learn and grow. But somehow it doesn't seem like enough.
It would be easier for me if we had a daily routine. I don't know if babies know anything about that. I've been trying to do things at roughly the same time every day so Andrew and I can know what's coming next, but it isn't easy. One day, he's up at 5 a.m. the next he sleeps til 6:30 a.m. and that first feeding pretty much determines how the rest of the day is going to go.
Meanwhile, I am constantly comparing Andrew to my great-nephew Wyatt who has been on a very regular schedule since he was Andrew's age and has been sleeping through the night -- by that I mean he was sleeping from 9:30 p.m. until 6 a.m. since he was two months old. Now, he's 9 months old and he sleeps from about 7:30 - 8 p.m. until 7 a.m. All his mom has to do is put him in his crib, turn out the light and walk out of the room. While, it's taking us about and hour (or more) to get Andrew down for the night. We are still waking at around 1-2 a.m. for a feeding and then we're up again between 5-6 for another. I keep telling myself that Andrew is not Wyatt and he's going to do things in his own time. I beat myself up for wishing Andrew would sleep like Wyatt or eat and nap on a routine like Wyatt.
My mom says give it time. I hope she's right.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A fine line

A while back, in the midst of our breastfeeding woes, I mentioned that I would like to write a post about my breakdown in the greeting cards at Walgreens. As a reminder, I had left Andrew with my parents to go to the healthfood store in search of miracle herbs that would increase milk supply. On my way home, I stopped in Walgreens to purchase a card for a friend.
Months ago, I posted about how my work friend had become pregnant almost instantly after having her IUD removed. This is the friend who took me out for dessert when I found out I was pregnant because she knew Greg was away from home and I had no one here to celebrate with. She's very dear to me because she has always been so steadfast in her belief that my attempts to become pregnant would eventually work. She was so excited about my pregnancy and so excited about her own.
Tragically, in the days before my pregnancy culminated in the birth of my precious son, her pregnancy came to an end at 21 weeks. As I labored, she texted me every few hours offering her encouragement and love though she already knew her baby was dying.
In the days that followed, my friend gave birth to her stillborn son -- Chase Matthew. Meanwhile, I plunged into mothering my healthy baby. So I found myself in the sympathy card section of Walgreens that day -- I stood there and was nearly swept away by the two emotions that swirrled in my heart like two gigantic waves. I felt grief so profound and yet I also felt a tidal wave of gratitude that my own pregnancy had a happy ending and that my Andrew was safe and sound.
I cried there in the store as I read sympathy cards -- none of which were appropriate but how could they be? How could mere words and images on a piece of paper ever be adequate when someone is grieving the life of a child?
I found a card that was simply stated and made my way home. My thoughts were all over the place -- a million little things could have gone wrong and Andrew simply wouldn't exist and yet there he was when I got home, perfectly formed and perfectly healthy. I must be the luckiest woman in the world, I remember thinking.
Later, my friend texted me a message that basically said "I want to come visit and I want to meet Andrew but I can't right now. It just hurts too bad."
Yesterday, I called her for the first time. As I pushed Andrew in his stroller around our neighborhood enjoying a spring-like day and chatting with my friend, I heard the hurt and pain in her voice but there was also hope. The doctors say a future pregnancy could be successful and in three or four months, my friend says she'll probably try again.
The fact that my friend and I are experiencing the most opposite of emotions is not lost on me -- she is mired in grief over her son's death while I am overjoyed with my son's life. And perhaps even more profound in my mind is how even though these scenarios seem so opposite, it is the fact that life is so precarious that strikes me. There is the finest of lines between the life she's living and the one I'm living. The growth of a fertilized egg into a living breathing baby can be altered in an instant. I could be the one in mourning and I know that just because Andrew is healthy now doesn't mean he always will be. Each moment is so precious for that very reason. That's why each day I look at my son and try to express just how much he is loved, just how grateful we are that he exists and how every little breath he takes is a miracle to me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Sweetheart's Day from me and my little sweetheart.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beautiful Day

On Saturday, I celebrated my 34th birthday. Other than the fact that I am so far away from my family and friends, it was a perfect day.
I remember my birthday last year -- right after our third failed IVF -- when Greg tried his best to make it special for me. We went to Dallas for the weekend and right there in the Stonebriar Center mall, I saw a T-shirt in the window at the Motherhood store and burst into tears.
But this year, I only have tears of joy. I have spent birthdays in London and Paris and Florence. I've seen wonderful shows, gone to fabulous concerts, dined in gourmet restaurants, shopped til I dropped. Over ther years, I've been treated to scrumptous desserts, breathtaking views and been surrounded by family and friends, I've been given thoughtful gifts and spoiled rotten with pampering. Still, this birthday was the best of my life -- though we didn't do anything extravagant or even anything out of the ordinary. We went to breakfast at Cracker Barrel and we did a little shopping. But, it was a great day spent with my loving husband and our precious son.
Greg asked me last week what I wanted for my birthday. I told him I didn't want any gifts, but a full night's sleep would be nice. So, Friday night, after feeding Andrew and settling him in his little bed, Greg tucked me into our bed and went to the guest room down the hall, where he pulled night duty with Andrew.
I would say I slept like a baby, but I've learned that babies tend to be restless sometimes -- making all kinds of noises and movements in their sleep. So, I'll say I slept like a dog -- because Brody can sleep anywhere through anything. I awoke around 7:30 a.m. feeling like a new woman.
Greg had made it through the night relatively unscathed. When I opened the guest bedroom door, Andrew was lying on Greg's chest being a little wiggle worm and poor Greg was trying to keep his eyes open. I took Andrew and got him to sleep and spent the morning dozing in my husband's arms. It was a great way to start my birthday.
The miracle is that last night, after a great day, Greg decided to do the whole thing over again. And I let him. I figure I've got five long nights ahead of me. I should take advantage of Super Dad while I can. So I got another full night's sleep. What a difference!
My birthday was filled with so much love -- phone calls and e-mails and facebook messages from friends and family -- gifts from my family (my sister got me a Nook!), flowers from my dear cousin, a visit from my neighbor Sara, and at the end of the day -- my very first card that said "Mommy" and a sweet gift from Andrew. I told Greg -- I said no gifts! His response was that the gift wasn't from him it was from Andrew.
I had a personality bead necklace and bracelet when we lived in Italy, long before they became so popular here in the states. I filled them with charms that I purchased on our travels -- there's a Union Jack flag for our trip to London, the boot of Italy, a bunch of grapes, the Eiffel tower, a German edelweiss flower, an abstract one that represents the wave in Malta that nearly swallowed Greg and took him out to sea, a lemon representing Sorrento and there are many others -- all special and all reminders of wonderful memories. When Andrew was born, Greg gave me a new charm -- a mother and child -- and last night, Andrew gave me another. It's a heart that says "best mom." Of all the charms on my bracelet, these are the most precious.
Since Andrew was born, I've spent a lot of posts talking about the practical things -- like feeding problems and fussiness. Perhaps I've failed to give voice to the tender small moments that are so filled with joy and love. Everyday, I look at Andrew and something will jump out to me -- the perfect little peaks of his top lip, the two dimples that dance around his mouth or the yummy little folds of skin on his neck.
I held Andrew in my arms last night as he drifted off to sleep. I tried again to memorize his tiny little face. I was paying particular attention to his tiny little eyebrows and eyelashes -- most of the time they are so blonde that you can hardly see them. But last night the light was hitting his face in a way that made his eyebrows and eyelashes look like shiny threads of copper. My Rowan -- literally meaning "little red one" -- lying there in my arms. Complete joy. My cup runneth over.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Colic schmolic

Nearly had a nervous breakdown earlier this week, when after three horrible no good very bad days, Andrew had slept hardly a wink and neither had I. I started writing down all his symptoms -- dry skin around his eyebrows, baby acne, screaming in apparent tummy pain, redness on his little hiney, infreqent bowel movements and the inability to sleep soundly and I decided that my little guy couldn't take the formula he was on. He would also fall asleep while eating so that he rarely finished a bottle, but then would wake up a few minutes later very hungry and very upset only to repeat the cycle when offered another bottle. So I called his doctor and the nurse I spoke with said to switch him to a different one made for fussiness and gas for a week to see if it would help. If he became unbearable, call her back.
So, on Wednesday morning after another terrible night of Andrew sleeping in fits and starts -- crying out in pain in his sleep and being a very unhappy boy -- I called back in what must have sounded like total desperation, asking if there was anything they could suggest to help my son sleep.
The nurse called back and said it probably wasn't the formula making my boy so cranky -- and told me that he probably had colic and there's not really anything you can do to fix it and that it usually doesn't last past the two or three month mark. Are you freaking kidding me? I was at the end of my rope, exhausted from the previous three days and trying to figure out how in the world I would survive until the two or three month mark when these symptoms are supposed to magically disappear.
Greg came home from work early that day so that he could take care of Andrew and I could try to rest. But I didn't really rest because I was so upset over the prospect of trying to cope with a colic baby and thinking how absolutely miserable Andrew must be. While I was trying to rest, my dear husband fed and changed Andrew and figured out that the new bottles I had bought were simply not working. Andrew was sucking so hard for hardly any reward -- so he would tire and fall asleep before finishing his milk. Greg switched him back to his old bottles and he drank it all down and promptly went to sleep and slept soundly.
So we think the nurse was wrong. Since we changed his formula and went back to the old bottles, Andrew has been relatively happy. He sleeps well without crying out and his other symptoms have disappeared.
So this week, we learned that despite their best intentions, those in the medical profession don't always know best. Mom and Dad know a thing or two as well.
I don't want to speak too soon, but I don't think our boy has colic. Thank goodness!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Reality bites

Here's Andrew at four weeks. I cannot believe my little guy is a month old already. Sometimes it seems like it's been a very short time since we came home from the hospital, but other times it seems like it's been a very long and difficult four weeks.
There were times in the past four weeks that I felt like I was losing my mind, when I had thoughts that I would not dare give a real voice to by writing them here. Suffice it to say that I have grieved both for the carefree, easy life we left behind. And, I have grieved the loss of the fantasy I had in my mind of what life with baby would really be like.
Because I spent so many years longing and aching to be a mother, I had created a whole picture in my mind of what kind of mother I would be and what my life would be like. It was all warm and fuzzy and I had endless amounts of patience and my wee little one was a perfect baby.
Reality bites.
The reality is -- I'm not as patient as I want to be but I'm working on it. My baby is perfect, but not in the way I'd fantasized and my warm and fuzzy life I'd anticipated has included a lot of frustration, tears and even anger along with all those warm and fuzzy moments. Reality is that the cloth diapers I planned to use leak and disposables are so much easier. Reality is breast might be best but not for every one. The reality is nighttime feedings suck (no pun intended). The reality is showering is now a luxury. The reality is motherhood is mind bendingly difficult and completely foreign from anything I've ever known. The reality is I still sometimes wonder if life will ever feel "normal" again.
Finally, I feel like I'm turning a corner. Since we began to feed Andrew formula, life has become much easier. I am getting more rest. Andrew doesn't cry nearly as often and sleeps more sound. Instead of 12 or more feedings in a day, we're down to about 6 or 8. That makes a huge difference. I can finally see a bit of his personality beginning to emerge. After all those weeks of watching him dissolve into ear piercing screams hour after hour and not wanting to believe it was because he was simply hungry, I continued to try to breastfeed and wore myself down to a nub. And, in the process, I sort of started to wonder if this little red and purple faced screaming being would always be so cranky and irritable.
In the first days after we brought Andrew home, I would stare at him and cry -- overwhelmed by the miracle that he actually existed and was there in my arms. Last week, after feeding and then pumping for 48 hours straight, I looked at him and cried because I felt like I was failing him, because I didn't know how to make him happy and because it was just so damn hard.
Even now, I feel like I'm guessing at this mother thing much of the time. My mom told me that's normal -- it is a guessing game, she said, and it's a lot of trial and error.
I feel like I've made so many errors already. Thankfully, Andrew seems to be a very forgiving little soul. Every morning, I begin again -- determined to do it better than I did yesterday and excited to see what surprises the day might hold. Earlier this week, Andrew laughed out loud in his sleep. It was the most beautiful sound in the world.
I can imagine if I had read a post like this in the midst of our infertility struggle, I would have been angry at the writer. Just be thankful you have a screaming baby, you ungrateful hussy! And, who knows, some of you who read this might feel that way too. But, I think it's important for me to be honest in my writing and this is the reality. I guess no matter how long you waited to meet your baby or how desperately you wanted to be a mother, the reality is that motherhood is difficult and I think that is a truth that is universal -- whether your baby was conceived through an unplanned pregnancy or a modern day medical miracle.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The end

Sadly, we're nearing the end of our breastfeeding journey. Somewhere between my last post on Saturday and Sunday morning, the thought struck me that Andrew's existence had been reduced to three modes of operation -- eating, sleeping or screaming. My life had warped into a state of such utter and total exhaustion that I cried on the phone with my mom, my sister, my best friend. I was so completely drained that I didn't even brush my teeth on Saturday and the sad thing is I didn't realize it until I fell into bed that night still wearing the same clothes I had on the night before. And, I was simply to tired to get up and brush my teeth.
Somewhere in the night, I decided that I was not being fair to my son. Unless he had some sort of stomach disorder (reflux or colic maybe?) it was not normal for him to cry so much for so long. He should be cooing and staring at lights, not screaming until his face looked purple and his cry morphed from simple crying into something Greg was calling "the goat." So I got out of bed Sunday morning with one goal -- to feed my baby.
I nursed him like normal and then I presented him with a four ounce bottle of formula. He guzzled it down and then the most amazing thing happened. Our babe was content. He wasn't sleeping, eating or crying -- he was just happy to be in my arms, listening to me talk. He even started to coo.
So we started giving him two ounces of supplemental formula not just at three feedings like we'd been doing, but at every feeding. The result is that we got our baby back. Andrew emerged from his hunger a satisfied, happy baby. He is now content to sit in his bouncy seat and stare out the window. He likes to watch his mobile. He stares at my face as I sing or talk to him without a trace of discomfort. He is finally happy.
Today, we saw Dr. S and told her about our choice. She is a very comforting presence. Instead of chastising me for giving up -- she said something like "you have done everything you could possibly do to nurse this baby. There comes a point when it's just not working and you need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of him."
So, that's where we are. I am still breastfeeding and then giving Andrew a bottle, but I can tell already that my milk is dissapearing. And, that makes me sad.
But, it's OK because Andrew is happy and content and finally satisfied.
I remember during my pregnancy, thinking how if only I were determined enough I would be successful at breastfeeding. While determination is certainly a part of the breastfeeding puzzle, there are many other factors that play a role in whether a mother will be successful. They say it's simple supply and demand and I believed every word that I read. I now know that simply isn't always true. I may never know why my body didn't produce enough milk for my son. I do know that even though it brought me to the point of utter exhaustion, I wouldn't trade those tender moments with my son for anything in the world (except maybe the ability to keep breastfeeding). But it's time to move on, however heartbreaking it might be for me.
Each time I nurse my son now, I wonder if it is the last time and I try to fix the picture of him at my breast in my mind -- his little face, his wispy baby hair, his tiny hand on my chest. I try to memorize that feeling because I know that it is unique in this world and I am not likely to ever experience that particular type of joy again.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Small steps

I can't say no one told me how exhausting having a newborn can be. I guess at some point one of my sisters, cousins or friends must have given me a glimpse into the total and utter exhaustion that has come over me in the past week. But I probably wasn't paying a lot of attention back then. Maybe I should have. Maybe then I would have been more prepared for this new life. Or perhaps you can't prepare for something so absolutely different from what you knew before.
Last night was the worst so far. We woke Andrew to nurse at midnight and despite all my coaxing and a couple of feedings, he did not go back to sleep until 4 a.m. He slept exactly one hour. I am a zombie today. I don't even know what I'm doing writing this post. Disregard anything I write!
We did get some welcome news yesterday when we met once again with Brandy, the lactation consultant, and Andrew weighed in at 8 lbs. 12 oz., his birth weight. We were thrilled.
Yesterday morning, I had decided to give up on breastfeeding. Andrew seems hungry all the time, he eats constantly and I'm exasperated much of the time. I cry when I think of him being hungry. Yet I also cry when I think of giving up breastfeeding. There are no easy answers here. Though I had made my decision and I felt OK with it, we still went to have him weighed because Tuesday, when we go see our pediatrician again, seemed so far away. The weight gain, which was substantial -- 9 ounces from Tuesday to Friday -- was enough to make me continue on with breastfeeding. Next Thursday, Andrew will be one month old and I feel like I can at least make it until then. I'm not sure what I will decide to do at that point, but one month of breast milk is better than none and I feel good about being able to give him that. And, I feel like I've given 110 percent in my attempt.
In other news, Liz brought over our birth pictures on CD yesterday. The photos are so beautiful and tender. I can't describe the emotions they stir in me. So, I thought I'd share one of my favorites here with you. This was taken while I was in recovery and Andrew is at my breast for the first time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My little monkey

Here is a picture from our newborn photo session. Isn't it beautiful? But don't let this peaceful sleeping little monkey fool you -- this one was taken at the very end of our three-hour in home photo shoot. Poor Liz did everything she knew to do and I did all the soothing and rocking and nursing I could do and he still refused to go to sleep. And, he peed on every blanket she put him on and then, he pooped! Andrew was awake from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day. I don't know how he was still holding on but he was. Andrew finally gave up and Liz got some beautiful shots. She even took some with my parents.
You can see more pictures from our session on the photographer's blog.
My parents left on Sunday and I think I speak for all of us when I say it was time for them to go home. Not that it wasn't nice having them here, it was. My mom cooked nearly all our meals while they were here and that was a big help. But, at the same time, having two extra people in the house was a little unnerving. Greg is at home with us this week and though we miss Granny and Papa, it is nice to be back to "normal."
I put that word in quotation marks because nothing is normal at our house anymore. Andrew has changed everything. Life as we knew it is over and a new life has started. We are still trying to work out our feeding problems. Andrew has gained up to 8 lbs 3 oz as of today. We were hoping for bigger numbers, but we will take whatever progress we can get. The herbs and tea may have made a slight difference in milk production, but not enough. So, when I went for my check up with Dr. Carter yeseterday, we discussed my options and I've decided to take Reglan to try to get to where I need to be.
My little hungry hungry hippo is still eating very often, but today seems a little better as he's gone for two three-hour spans already. That means I got to take a nap and write this post.
Every morning I wake up (after several night feedings) and feel like I can do this -- I can wait for my milk to catch up. I can continue nursing him every two hours (or less) and I will win this battle! Then, by late in the evening, when only an hour after a feeding my son is hungry again, I feel so defeated and I want nothing more than to wave the white flag in surrender. I feel like I need to set some sort of deadline -- perhaps another week or two and if Andrew is still hungry all the time, and his mommy is still absolutely exhausted, we will have to make the decision to give up on our goal of breast feeding. I hate to do it, but I am so weary and my boy needs more than what I am able to give right now. Here's hoping the medicine works and it won't come to that.
Though exhausting, life with Andrew is a million times better than life without Andrew. Every day I look at his little face, his hands, his feet, his tiny little ears and I marvel at the miracle of it all. He makes us laugh every day with his funny little faces or his funny actions. Just yeseterday he managed to pee over his body and the changing table into the trash can sitting on the floor. Greg was so proud.
It is hard to believe that on Thursday, Andrew will be three weeks old. It seems like we just brought him home from the hospital. I think I am beginning to understand that wistful look my mother sometimes gets when she says to me, "honey, it seems like only yesterday when you were born."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Welcome to the island

I have so many ideas for posts floating around in my head, but so little time to actually sit down and write them. I barely have time to bathe. Since my last post, things have changed a lot in the breastfeeding department. Andrew went from nursing every three hours to every two and now it seems we're down to one and a half. For those of you who aren't familiar with how this works, it means that from the time a feeding starts until the next one begins is an hour and a half, which might sound like enough time to pound out a brief post or take a shower, but believe me it's not. When a feeding takes 30 minutes at least and then another few minutes to settle Andrew down in his bed for a cat nap, well, I find myself looking at the clock and wanting to cry.
We went back to the pediatrician yesterday. I was hopeful, since Andrew has been in this feeding frenzy mode since last weekend, that he would show a remarkable weight gain. I undressed him and placed him on that scale and waited for my reward -- the weight gain that would show that all my hard work and sleepless nights were paying off. My heart sank when I saw that he still weighed 8 pounds. That means he had not gained even one ounce over the past week.
While last week if Dr. S had told me to start giving Andrew a bottle, I would have probably cried my eyeballs out -- yesterday, her advice to add two bottles a day came as somewhat of a relief. It doesn't get me out of any feedings, mind you. We give him the bottles after a regular feeding. But, it does mean that my baby will finally be satisfied and perhaps he will begin to "thrive."
It's more heartbreaking for me to think that he has been suffering from hunger all this time than it is for me to think of the possibility that I may not be able to continue breastfeeding. I just want him to be full and content and to grow.
Dr. S thinks I have a supply problem. And contrary to all the books I've read, this problem is not related to demand. We have plenty of demand. But, it seems I'm just not making enough milk to meet the demand -- despite my best efforts to guzzle lots of water and eat healthy.
So, she sent me to the health foods store for some herbal supplements which have been known to increase milk supply and told me that if those don't work, Dr. Carter could call in a script for Reglan. But I wanted to try the natural route first.
So after Andrew settled in for a nap yesterday, I left him with my parents and ventured out into the world for the very first time without him.
I was only gone a few minutes -- the health foods store is just outside of our subdivision. And, when I got back home he was sleeping like a rock. But, I felt so lonely out there without him -- like I'd left part of my body at home.
Later, my mother presented Andrew with a bottle of formula and my son guzzled the milk down like a little pig -- a pig who didn't care that the nipple was different. My mother was possibly the happiest grandma on earth at that moment. I, on the other hand, had to leave the room. Last night, Greg fed him another bottle and once again, I couldn't bear to watch. Dad and baby seemed to both enjoy their time together, though, and I know it's a blessing that Andrew took so readily to those Medela bottles. Welcome to the island, Daddy and Granny.
I want to write another post about my outing -- to tell you about the breakdown I had at Walgreens in the greeting cards. But that will have to wait, because the clock is ticking and I need to try to shower at some point today.
If anyone has any advice for how to increase milk supply, I'm all ears.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The magical, maddening island of two

Our first meeting was far too short. After a few minutes of me talking to him and kissing his face, Greg had to take him away while I was stitched up. The drugs had caused me to tremble all over during surgery and this continued into recovery. In fact, during my surgery, Greg assumed I was trembling out of fear or because I was cold. He kept rubbing my arm, my face telling me it would all be alright.
I was in recovery when Greg and Liz, our birth photographer, came to tell me about our small wonder. Greg was at a loss for words. He just kept saying "he's awesome." Liz, showed me pictures she had taken and repeatedly told me how beautiful Andrew was. Then, my labor and delivery nurse asked if I wanted to nurse.
They brought Andrew to me and even though I was still trembling to the point of my teeth chattering, I held him in my arms and my son began to suckle at my breast. And, in a few moments, the trembling stopped.
Thus began this new relationship that is so different than any I've ever experienced. Inside the womb, Andrew was solely dependent on my body for all his needs and oddly enough this remains true even though he is no longer inside of me. It is a seemingly overwhelming task, but one that I feel like I can achieve. While some women cringe at the thought of their baby nursing, I find breast feeding to be completely natural. When I was pregnant, I would dream of nursing my son. Now that he is here, the reality of being my baby's sole source of nutrition has set in. The responsibility is so great.
The breast feeding is at times magical -- sometimes it seems my son and I are the only two people in the world. It's as if we are on an island of two, floating along on a wave of joy and love and comfort. And, then there are moments when worry takes over, when I fear my body isn't providing what he needs -- when the doubts and the exhaustion seem insurmountable. There are times when I feel like surrendering, days like today, after a sleepless night and a difficult day -- when I feel like giving him a bottle might be better for both of us. But we just try to take these days one feeding at a time. When I look down at my precious boy at my breast I am sometimes moved to tears.
For a woman who has never particularly been fond of her breasts -- they are far too small and lopsided and not particularly special in any way -- I am simply amazed that they are doing what they are supposed to. I feel a sense of pride and deep emotion that my body -- despite it's flaws -- is working as it should.
In those first days in the hospital, I lovingly nursed Andrew until he fell away from my breast or went to sleep. But my nipples became so sore and we started to worry he wasn't being satisfied. On the day he had his circumcision, I could only convince him to take my breast twice and that night, he screamed in hunger. A nurse showed us how to use a tiny syringe to drop formula into his mouth. He lapped it up like a puppy or a small bird. That is when the doubt began to set in. When we left the hospital, Andrew weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces, down from his 8 pound 12 ounce birth weight. We came home that Saturday without having met with a lactation consultant because she wasn't at work on Friday. By Monday, my concern had grown because my milk still hadn't come in. Even though I've read all the books that say colostrum is enough to sustain and satisfy your baby, I wasn't sure. Andrew seemed hungry, his eyes looked weak and perhaps more telling, his last dirty diaper was at 5 a.m. on Sunday.
I called the hospital and the consultant told me to come over so that she could weight Andrew and take a look at our technique. Once we got there, we learned that Andrew weighed even less. I was upset, but Brandy, the lactation consultant, said my technique and his latch were good and the only thing I could do was wait for my milk to come in. She told me it would be like I had gotten implants overnight and that my breasts would be engorged and I would have a great desire to nurse Andrew to relieve the pressure and pain.
I went to bed Monday night praying that I would awaken Tuesday morning to a new and improved bust line. It didn't happen.
I cried that morning because we were heading to the pediatrician and I thought for sure she would tell me to start supplementing with formula or even worse, switch to formula all together.
Andrew was down to 7 pounds 13 ounces when they weighed him at the pediatrician's office. While we waited in the little exam room, I cried again, angry with my body for letting my child down and mourning what I was sure would be the loss of my breast feeding experience.
But our doctor wasn't really phased by the weight loss. She said it was still within range and that in a couple of days we'd come back to have him weighed. If his weight hadn't started to go up by then, we would revisit our plan but for now, she wanted me to continue feeding him. And, then, she told me a most amazing thing -- my milk was in. Relief rushed over me. I felt stupid for not already knowing this, but Dr. S said that some women don't experience engorgement and that I was doing everything right. By Thursday, Andrew was up to 8 pounds and we go back later this week to make sure he is still gaining.
The poopy diapers haven't been as frequent as the books say they should, but our doctor said that sometimes, breast milk is so nutritious it is eliminated from the body as urine because there is so little waste. I am still nervous that I'm not giving him what he needs. My mom is here and she is watching him like a hawk -- trying to keep her thoughts to herself, but not doing such a good job. I know she thinks he is in a constant state of hunger. My sister, on the other hand, is also here and she is the angel on my shoulder telling me to keep going, that my body is providing enough and that Andrew is just fine.
My desire to continue to nurture my son through breast feeding has not waned. At the same time, I want him to thrive. So there is nothing else to do but continue to feed him when he's hungry, eat healthy, drink lots of fluids and wait for the doctor to tell us where we stand on Thursday.
Either way, it has been an honor to nurse my son since his birth. I can't describe the feeling of love that comes over me when I look down at his precious face as he suckles. And, the joy and satisfaction when he falls away and puts his arms over his head like he's just scored a touchdown. These are the moments I will treasure always.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

At last we meet

This is the moment I'd waited for all my life. My earliest memory of wanting to be a mother is from kindergarten when we had to dress up for career day. What did I want to be when I grew up at the tender age of five -- that's right, a mommy. So off I went to school with my hair in a bun and a baby doll in my arms. Twenty-eight years later, I find myself with a real baby in my arms.
This picture doesn't look the way I'd planned it in my mind. In the hundreds of times I imagined what Andrew's birth would look like, this picture never occurred to me. But Andrew is here and nothing else seems to matter.
In this moment, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I want to remember this moment forever, to tuck it away in my heart so that I can always visit it, always cherish it. But it is hard to find the words. Sometimes, there are not enough words, or perhaps the words I have are inadequate. How do you describe the moment when you first see your child -- this little being that has been growing inside of you for all those months -- a baby you've dreamed about, yearned for and hurdled unimaginable obstacles to create.
I remember feeling relief wash over me in that moment -- relief that Andrew was healthy, relief that after what seemed like an eternity to me I was finally getting to see my boy.
More than that, I remember feeling indsecribable joy. It's a happiness I am not likely to experience again in this lifetime. I looked at Greg, tears running down his cheeks and I knew that for us, this was it -- the pinnacle of happiness. Our long awaited child was no longer an abstract idea or a wish or a dream or even a flutter in my belly. He was a real. I remember thinking "he's real. He's real," over and over in my mind.
But the feeling that I want to remember most from that moment was the sense of knowing. For me, when I looked at Andrew for the first time, with his blue eyes looking back at me and his funny little squishy face with his wrinkled forhead and his pink skin, I felt like I was meeting someone I had known all my life. "It's you," my heart said. "Of course, it's you. Who else would it be?"

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Andrew Carter Pierce

Our son, Andrew Carter Pierce, was born Thursday, Jan. 6 at 4:39 p.m. weighing in at a hefty 8 lbs. 12 oz. and measuring 21 inches long.
He is everything I ever dreamed and so much more. I am absolutely head over heels in love.
His birth didn't go as I or anyone else had planned and he was born via c-section after a series of extremely scary episodes where his heart rate plummeted and it seemed nothing could be done to stabilize it. Andrew's little head, which was in the birth canal for so long that he was born with quite the cone, was positioned wrong and the cesarean became the best option for ensuring Andrew had a happy birth day. As disappointed as I was at not being able to push my baby out into the world (and believe me, my heart was broken and I cried and cried) the only important thing now is that he did arrive and he's happy and healthy.
The one thing that did go as planned, our photographer (who I will now refer to as my friend because she certainly acted with the love and kindness of a friend during the heartbreaking and joyous moments of that day) was there to document Andrew's arrival. Her talent amazes me. Here is a link to her blog where you can see some of the photos she took.
We came home yesterday and are as happy as clams.