Tag Archives: trying to conceive

She Says… The “F” Word (No, Not That One)

Fertility.

Sometimes I feel like having two beautiful, healthy children completely invalidates me ever talking about fertility problems again. Like I’m no longer a member of the group of people I once clung to when I was in the thick of the “trying to get pregnant” stage of my life, and again during the long, drawn-out miscarriage between my boys.

I am one of the lucky ones. But I didn’t know that was going to be the case when I was going through countless doctor’s appointments and rounds of testing and learning about things like hormone imbalances and polycystic ovaries and talking about treatment plans to do something inside my body that everyone else seemed to be able to do even when they didn’t want to. I never called myself “infertile” or claimed to be the spokeswoman for every woman going through fertility issues — I just told my story. Day by day. As it happened to me. And through sharing that journey I found websites and built relationships and connected with other people going through similar things. And it was exactly what I needed at that time to keep my head up and to keep moving forward in my own way.

Since then I receive emails regularly from women (and sometimes men) going through their own fertility story. Usually they are at the beginning of their journey, and they have questions for me about Clomid or when I decided to see a doctor or how I stayed positive when seeing negative test after negative test threatened to pull me down into an emotional spiral. Sometimes they are in the middle of their journey, and need support to keep going. Sometimes they are newly pregnant and are having trouble transitioning from the “struggling to get pregnant” crowd to the “I’m pregnant with twins and I didn’t even have to try!” crowd. Sometimes it’s people who have struggled for a long time and are thinking about options beyond pregnancy, and they just want a listening ear from someone who has faced some of those questions, even on a much smaller scale.

I respond to every one.

These emails remind me that even though I’ve “graduated”, struggling with fertility is still a very important part of my own story.

For those who are still in the struggling part of your story, I encourage you to find the resources that can act as your “village”. And try to think of stories like mine as images of hope, and not as a slap in the face. We’re all just taking it day by day. And though these days my Instagram feed is full of brotherly antics and chubby baby cheeks, it wasn’t so long ago that I was on the outside looking in.

Below are some resources from people who have reached out to me over the last few months that I thought I would share with you. I cannot vouch for the products and do not have any connection with the sites, and I know that there are thousands upon thousands of wonderful fertility resources out there. You just have to find the ones that speak to where you are in your journey.

Philadelphia Fertility Project Survey

The purpose of this survey is to learn about the social, mental, and emotional experiences of women with fertility problems. It will take about 10 minutes to complete. Your participation is completely anonymous. Women who are between the ages of 18-45, not currently pregnant, and have difficulty conceiving naturally through unprotected intercourse and/or carrying a pregnancy to term are invited to participate in this study.

In appreciation of your participation, two $100 donations have been made to the American Fertility Association and Resolve: The National Infertility Association by the research team to thank you for sharing your experiences and to benefit others who struggle with fertility problems. If you have any questions about this study, you may contact the Principal Investigator, Dr. Pamela Geller, Ph.D., or the research coordinator, Mona Elgohail, at 215-553-7121

Click on this anonymous survey link to participate:

http://tinyurl.com/PhillyFertility

 

Ferring Pharmaceuticals Heart to Heart Video Contest

The 6.1 million Americans facing infertility and their loved ones know the emotional toll associated with the diagnosis and the impact it can have on your life. A study of couples dealing with infertility found that half of the women and 15 percent of the men noted infertility as the most upsetting experience they’ve ever faced.

Last week, Ferring Pharmaceuticals announced the launch of its 2014 Heart to Heart Video Contest, which provides a look into some of the personal stories of families dealing with infertility and their journey to parenthood.

Details of this year’s Heart to Heart Contest can be found at  www.hearttoheartcontest.com. Highlights include:

  • Video: Contestants submit a creative video that captures their journey to parenthood and encourages others to ‘have heart’ through the difficult experience of infertility.
  • Theme: Have Heart, Share Hope
  • Timing: Now through August 31, 2014
  • Prize: Grand prize winner receives $10,000 and four runners up receive $4,000 toward their child’s education.
  • Website: Submissions will be collected through www.hearttoheartcontest.com.

For more information, or to view last year’s winning video and runners-up, visit www.hearttoheartcontest.com.

Key to Conceive

My name is Lindsey Elling-Thompson and I am the mother of a 4-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. It was over 6 years ago when my husband I started our journey in trying to conceive and it was a long, emotional, difficult and overwhelmingly blessed journey. I have a heart for other women who are on their own TTC journeys because I understand the emotional, mental and physical toll not being able to get pregnant takes on a woman and her partner.

I am writing to tell you about a new product because I believe in the product’s claims and what the company stands for…offering hope and helping couples get pregnant. The company is not just about selling a product, it’s also about providing new and helpful information on the infertility front, which is why the keytoconceive.com website contains videos, articles and other helpful information. I believe this information will be helpful for your blog’s audience and maybe for yourself.

I encourage you to check out the website (http://www.keytoconceive.com/).

She Says… Ships Passing in the Night

Last week Benjamin returned from a 10-day trip. He was home for two nights, and then had to take another 3 day trip almost immediately. After that we spent the weekend together, soaking up every second as a family (hence our lovely Sunday bike riding and doing totally mundane things like yard work and laundry, that felt surprisingly enjoyable simply because we were all together). Then on Monday morning I packed my bags and headed to work to spend 2 nights in a hotel while I ran (and am still running) an intensive week-long training event that requires me to cover late night dinners and early morning sessions and everything in between.

We are fortunate to be able to fit our schedules together like a very complicated puzzle to make our lives work. And not only do they just “work”, but we thrive on the together times and make the best of the apart times and we both get to have fulfilling careers while keeping our family happy.

But sometimes, when our schedules collide like last week and this week, we’re like ships passing in the night.

Not for nothin’, but you know what’s really hard when you barely see your spouse? Umm, making babies. Just sayin’. That whole “timing thing” is quite important, apparently.

She Says… Loose Ends

Time to tie up some loose ends. A few recent posts and comments deserved a little review and follow-up.

Post-miscarriage recovery: I’ve gotten some wonderful and thoughtful comments and emails over the last few weeks as I recovered from the miscarriage. First of all, thank you so much to every single person who took the time to write to me. And thank you to those who read my story and silently nodded along with me and sent me happy thoughts. You helped. A lot.

It has been 7 weeks since I miscarried and my hcg levels are still (STILL) not down to 0. A quick Google search tells me this is NOT NORMAL and SEE YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY, but honestly, my doctor is not worried and neither am I. (Lesson of the day: Trust your doctor and your instincts more than the internet). My levels have dropped steadily and the last test, 1.5 weeks ago, was 8. Anything <5 is considered “zero”, but since I was just on the cusp and they need to track you all the way to 0, I need one more blood test, which I will get today. After that, I fully expect to be 100% physically recovered and ready to move on.

Despite my hormone levels dropping a little slower than normal, my cycle has restarted normally. I just about threw a little party when my first post-miscarriage period started. Seriously. I am a crazy person. You would be too if your body had a history of NOT normally doing this on its own without the help of a fertility specialist.

Since I started feeling better I have been eating right and exercising a lot and generally working very hard to get my life back on the happy track. It worked! I feel emotionally recharged and ready to try again. The hardest part for me now is looking at the calendar and realizing how much time was lost. We waited until the perfect time to get pregnant, of course not knowing that we were about to spend the next 4 months tied up in doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds and blood tests. So here we are, thinking about trying again. But now even if we get pregnant the very first cycle we try, Owen and his little brother or sister will be much closer to 3 years apart than the 2 1/2 we had planned. It is amazing how long each setback takes and how much they change the idea of family planning.

Owen’s post-vacation bad attitude: You guys were right. It was a phase. It took a little over a week but I’m happy to report that he is sleeping better and his happy, flexible personality has returned. Hallelujah.

How to teach your kid to swim: One of my best friends, Erin (who is also a swimming rockstar who used to swim with Michael Phelps, a past swimming instructor and mom of an adorable 11 month old), sent me the following tip for helping Owen figure out how to float on his back. I thought I would include it in case others were in the same “I don’t know how to help you learn” predicament:

“Hold Owen with one hand under his chin (awkward at first but it gives you major control) and one under his back. Walk backwards (he is in front of you, head close to you, legs directly out). Tell him to put his belly button up to the sky. Lots of loud “belly ups!” since his ears may be under the water. Do it a lot. Get him to relax.

Slowly start removing your hand under his back. Then your other… BAM! Michael Phelps.
Side note: Michael hated to put his face in, so he learned backstroke first. You never know what’ll work :)”

Happy Wednesday!

She Says… Pregnancy #2 Journal: Part 1

If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, please do so before reading this one. This week’s blog posts will be back-dated journal entries of what I experienced over the last 11 weeks regarding a pregnancy that will end in miscarriage.

June 6th, 2012

I’m confused. Confused, but excited. At the end of April, Benjamin and I decided to pull the goalie and begin “trying” for a 2nd baby. It was the perfect timing I had planned all along (despite the fact that everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE I know with a kid Owen’s age is ready to pop with their second baby already). A 2 1/2 year age gap. Avoiding a Christmas baby. Winter pregnancy. Getting pregnant right away would have been totally ideal, but I was not putting pressure on us just yet. I was doing my best to “enjoy the trying” and put the troubles I had getting pregnant with Owen out of my mind. I was aware of when I would likely ovulate, but I wasn’t tracking myself closely or obsessing in any way. If it happened, it happened. If it didn’t, it was only our first month trying.

Around the end of May I took several pregnancy tests (starting far too early to actually get a positive… a bad habit leftover from my “will I ever get pregnant?” days!), and every time, I was a little disappointed when they were negative. After several negatives and a few days after my expected period, I put on a happy face and was ready to start again next month. It was only our first month “trying”, anyway. No rush.

A week went by. Still no period. I didn’t feel quite right. My boobs hurt and I got a spontaneous bloody nose (which happened a lot when I was pregnant with Owen). I felt a nagging feeling that I was pregnant, but was emotionally tired of taking pregnancy tests and feeling down about it. They had been negative even after my expected period date anyway. I convinced myself I didn’t ovulate this month and was frustrated that I didn’t know when to “try” again. Then, on a whim, I tested again on a Saturday afternoon before we had a party, just to check if there was ANY reason I shouldn’t have a drink.

And there it was. Or, it wasn’t. But it was. The faintest line I’ve ever seen on a pregnancy test. With Owen, the pregnancy test turned positive immediately and practically jumped off the stick screaming, “YOU’RE SO PREGNANT, OMG”. One second I wasn’t pregnant, and then one second I was. It hit us like a ton of bricks. With this pregnancy, the test whispered. So quietly I thought I was going crazy. So quietly I had to shove it in Benjamin’s face and say, “Do you see a line? Or am I making it up?”. He saw it, but it certainly didn’t feel like a cause for celebration. Weeks late, and only a barely-there line? That couldn’t be right.

It was the middle of the afternoon when I took it, so I chalked the light line up to the fact that I was well-hydrated. So I took another one the next morning. SLIGHTLY darker, but still very, very faint. Immediately I began to worry that something was wrong or it was ectopic or a chemical pregnancy or blah blah blah. My Google PhD in Fertility Issues was NOT helpful at this point. I knew just enough to scare the crap out of myself.

I scheduled a blood test for the next day. The hcg quant test came back pretty low. 108. Especially low if you consider that, counting from the first day of my last period, I was technically 5 weeks and 2 days along. Even lower if you consider that at only 14 days past ovulation my quant with Owen was in the 300′s. Instead of celebrating a positive pregnancy test, I was biting my nails over numbers and holding my breath for the second beta test (where the numbers should double… and if they don’t, it’s not a good sign). An agonizing 2 days later I got the second blood test, hoping against hope that it would be at least 216. The nurse said 350 (or something like that, I couldn’t hear her after the “3”) and I was relieved. Relieved, but I still wasn’t giddy. Why weren’t they higher? The second quant from Owen’s pregnancy was in the 1,000′s.

EVERYTHING feels different this time around.

Given that my dates are a bit funny, my doctor and I decided to do a dating ultrasound next week. If I am 6 weeks along, we should be able to hear a heartbeat. I think I’m still holding my breath for that moment.

She Says… Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

Deep breath.

Now that we know how this story is going to end, I feel like I can start to share it from the beginning. The last 11 weeks have been quite the roller coaster. I have had to turn around and walk backwards into territory I thought I had locked up and thrown away the key to on the day that I found out I was pregnant with Owen.

Apparently struggling with babymaking once wasn’t enough.

Here’s the short version of the story. I was pregnant. And while I still am at this minute, I won’t be for very much longer. This pregnancy, though it seemed to drag out for a very long time and felt for many weeks like it was going to grow into a sibling for Owen (a perfect little sibling with a perfect 2 ½ year age gap), is not going to. I’m sad. But I’m also relieved. The course of events over the last few weeks helped me see, over the many, many doctor’s appointments and tests, that this little life just wasn’t meant to be. Benjamin and I were able to come to terms with that slowly, little by little, as the information trickled in. And now we are at peace with how this has gone, and how it will, inevitably, end.

This blog began as a journal of my struggle with fertility. It was “anonymous” in the sense that no one in my life knew that it existed, even though I used my real name and even posted a few pictures. A couple of people found out about it along the way, but mostly it was my private (yet very public) place to cope with the struggle of getting pregnant. Once I got pregnant it became a place to share the joy of being a mother and the ups and downs that came along with that new title and our new life as a family of three.

Now that so many friends and family members and coworkers read the blog, it is nowhere near as anonymous as it used to be. While fertility used to be the main focus, it felt strange to announce that we were “ready to start trying” and to chronicle the timeline. To be honest I felt that doing so would add a pressure to this process that I didn’t want to deal with. I so very much wanted to get pregnant easily the second time around and be a beacon of hope for those who struggled in the past to say, “Look! This can happen to you too!”.

And I almost was.

We got pregnant the first cycle we started trying, without temping or ovulation predictor kits or crazy obsession with my internal organs. Which is pretty much the opposite of what happened with my first pregnancy. But something (ahem… that elusive Mother’s Intuition…) told me that I just wasn’t ready to share the news yet. I wasn’t ready to experience this pregnancy so publicly. I just… wasn’t.

But now, even though the “end” isn’t quite here yet, I’m ready to share it. I’m ready to talk. Because the absolute best thing that has ever come from writing this blog is the individual emails, comments, tweets, conversations and phone calls in which people have said, “Thank you for writing about this. I’m going through the same thing and it was so helpful to read your words. They’ve made me feel so much better.” If I can help even one person out there feel comforted or educated or understood, it is worth it to share this story. If I can open one person’s eyes to the fact that many more people struggle to get pregnant than they might realize, it is worth it to write these words.

Over the next few days I’ll share the journal I kept over the last few weeks.

She Says… Normal Again?

Something exciting happened yesterday.

Side note: If you are a friend or family reading who doesn’t want to know about the inner workings of my body, you probably want to skip this post.

As I was saying, something exciting happened yesterday. It was both expected and unexpected at the same time.

I got my 1st period since January of 2009. And if I ovulated (like a normal person), then I ovulated for the first time since I was, like, 17 (since the birth control that I was on made it so I didn’t ovulate for the decade that I was on it). That’s a LONG time.

I have heard that pregnancy can sort of “reset” your body after struggling with infertility. For the last 10.5 months since Owen was born, my fingers have been crossed that my period would come back. (For those who haven’t been reading long, I went off birth control in January of 2009 and my period never returned, so I had to see a slew of reproductive endocrinologists and take Clomid to force my body to ovulate in order to get pregnant).

Prior to January of 2009 I would’ve killed NOT to have my period (such a pain, no?). But this time, it was the most welcome surprise. Also, about 2 weeks prior I think I remember seeing some other signs that indicated that I was actually ovulating. Go, body!

It’s awesome, awesome news. Maybe the next time we try to make a baby we won’t have to try quite as hard. And I don’t even mind that it happened while I’m at the beach. Perhaps my fertility luck is changing, and I can be a normal babymaking person for the next round.

 

She Says… Staying Active with a Baby on Board

As you can see from my belly pics, I’m big. My stomach is quickly moving from beach ball to torpedo, and, for a petite person especially, this can cause quite a dramatic change in balance, general coordination and motivation to hit the gym. Yet still, I know how important it is to stay active and fit.

My workout schedule has varied widely throughout my journey to get pregnant and my pregnancy. In February of 2009 when I went off birth control, I was working out a lot. I had lost some weight and was very diligent about a weekly schedule of cardio and weight training. Once I realized I wasn’t getting my period, I did the first thing a lot of women in my situation do — I questioned if I was working my body out too hard and it was stressed. So I cut back. I switched some of my hard cardio sessions to yoga and skipped the gym a few days a week. I put on a few pounds, but I didn’t care, since it was all for the most important cause in my life at the time: babymaking. When the docs figured out that my missing period wasn’t a result of working out too hard, and I started fertility diagnostics and treatment, I kept my yoga-heavy schedule to keep my body and mind calm, cool and collected through the stress.

Once I got pregnant I planned to increase my workout schedule a little, but the complete and utter exhaustion of the first trimester took over, and I couldn’t do much more than walk to and from work each day without feeling like I had run a marathon. Then in the second tri I started feeling like myself again. Not just myself, but better than I had in months. I had more energy and a renewed sense of motivation to be fit and healthy. But this time I was working out to energize my body and prepare myself for an awesome labor; not just burn calories, so I had to change my workout a bit. No more intervals or running several miles at a time. I stuck to the elliptical, treadmill and recumbent bike (the regular bike caused me to knee myself in my stomach too much!). I kept my workout sessions to 45 minutes or an hour at the most. I watched my heart rate monitor carefully to make sure I wasn’t blasting too hard. I was not afraid to turn down the resistance and just “phone it in” on the machines if that’s what my body felt like it could handle on a given day. I lifted weights and continued strength training, but used only 5 lb weights or my own body weight. For the first time in a long time, it wasn’t about pushing myself, it was about enjoying my time being active, and “training” for a new kind of endurance event — birth!

Now I think I’m entering a new phase. I can only really handle the gym 3 times a week (max). More than that and my body starts to let me know I’m doing too much — I get pains in my pelvic area and my legs cramp. My body gets tired, and it feels like a chore just to hold my belly up. I walk every day with my dog, and/or commute to work, which means I generally walk about 4 miles even before I hit the gym. On non-gym days I try to find time (and energy) to do a quick prenatal yoga session at home, or at least some stretching and squats.

Little by little, though, I’m choosing to sit and put my feet up rather than lace up my sneaks for another walk. And you know what? At 33 weeks, I think that’s totally ok.

She Says… Ask Us Anything (Part 2 of 3)

More answers to more questions from readers! Again… in no particular order. If you missed Round 1, check it out here.

11. How long did you guys date before you were married?

Kate: We met when I was a freshman in college, and Benjamin had just graduated from college (an older man!). We dated while I was in college (except when we broke up for about 6-8 months, depending on which one of us you ask), and he proposed in the fall of my senior year. I had NO IDEA he was going to ask me, but there was no doubt in my mind when I said yes. We had a long engagement, though, because I didn’t want to be wedding planning while I was concentrating on finishing school, so we were married in the summer of 2006, which was 1 year after I graduated college (4 years after we met).

Benjamin: We met in 2002 when Kate was a freshman in college and I had just graduated from college. I was producing and recording an album for her college a cappella group. We were both dating other people at the time, but we hit it off. A few months later we were both single and hit it off again and started dating. I broke up with her after a few months, though (because I am an idiot), and we were broken up for about 6 months before getting back together. (Although I thought we were dating again after 6 months and Kate says we were “NOT” dating then.) I proposed to her in December of 2004 when she was a senior in college (with the help of her a cappella group) and we got married in June of 2006.

12. How long were you married before you decided it was time for children?

Kate: I would have been ready for children a lot earlier, but Benjamin kept saying “2 more years”. Once I finished my masters program I was really ready and he was beginning to come around too (not to mention we had the house and the dog, so what were we waiting for?). Lo and behold, after the 9 months of “trying” it took, we’ll have a baby 4 years and 2 months after we got married, so the timeline worked out pretty perfectly for both of us.

Benjamin: We started trying to have children in February of 2009. There was some time when I kept saying “two more years”, and that went on for a while until Kate said “it’s been two years”. I feel happy that we had a few years of not having or trying to have a baby.

13. What tradition are you most excited to do with your children?

Kate: Hmmm, this is a great question. I grew up in a house with lots of traditions, and I love the idea of passing some of those on to my kid(s). However, I think a lot of those traditions evolved because of me and my siblings (I’m 3rd out of 4 kids), so I imagine we’ll invent some of our own as well. I think some of the best traditions are food-related, so I’ll be making our special sweet rolls for Christmas morning, no question!

Benjamin: Another good question and I am not really sure what the answer is. While I would like to say that it would be our weekend ritual (when we are both around) of having oatmeal and sitting on the couch and catching up on episodes of “The Office” and “24″, I am guessing it will be several years before Piccolino can appreciate these shows. I don’t actually feel that we have a lot of traditions. I am sure that is not actually the case, but it seems that way to me. I am sure once we have a child, we will develop more family traditions.

14. How long are you taking for a maternity leave?

Kate: I get 10 weeks paid by my company (8 weeks for maternity leave, plus 2 weeks of “parental leave”). I’m very lucky, I know! Believe me, I looked into it back when we started trying and it was a big factor in my decision to stay with my company or look for a new position after I graduated from my masters program. Anyway, after those 10 weeks, I’m going to take until January 1st unpaid. That way, the baby will be 4-5 months old when I put him in daycare, which makes me a lot more comfortable than sending him off at 2 months. And I’m REALLY looking forward to having a New England fall with no work!

Benjamin: We are lucky that Kate works for a good company and they give her a good amount (for the United States) of maternity leave (10 weeks) and are supportive of her taking unpaid leave for an extra 2 months. I know it will be hard for Kate to go back to work, but as we’ve discussed on the blog before, it’s important (and necessary) to have her go back to work. We will each take 1 day off each week to take care of Piccolino, and he will go to daycare 3 days a week. I am happy with the idea of this setup.

15. Did you ever feel like some people just don’t “get” Infertility? I’ve got a good friend that just doesn’t seem to understand how it makes me feel, etc.

Kate: Yup! I think it’s almost impossible to understand the intricacies of dealing with infertility if you’ve never done it yourself. It affects every part of your life, and really makes you doubt your future. To people who are not at the babymaking stage of their life, they may not understand why it’s “such a big deal”. And to those who had no trouble getting pregnant, they may feel guilty that they don’t know how to respond or just think you “need to relax” (ha!) or that it just takes time and you’re being impatient. The most frustrating thing to me is how no one TALKS about struggling with infertility. That was one of my big reasons for starting this blog. I wanted to be able to start a conversation about it and remove some of the stigma. For some reason we can talk about cancer at the dinner table, but not infertility. I’m not sure why that is, but I think it needs to change, especially considering how many people are affected by it in one way or another.

Benjamin: I think it’s hard to understand if you haven’t been through it.  I think even we don’t understand the extent of it for the large number of people who have it much worse than we do.  The experience of struggling to get pregnant (especially through the blog) has opened my eyes to how widespread infertlity problems are.  I do still question how far I would feel comfortable going in trying to conceive a child if things were much worse, as I think the expense and heartache can be devastating, when adoption is a perfect alternative. 

16. If you could go back in time to when you were still TTC, what would you say to yourself now that you have been pregnant for 20+ weeks, and you know now what it feels like to be on the “other side” of the IF rollercoaster! I always wonder what I’ll wish that I would have known if I ever get to carry a baby in the future.

Kate: I would tell myself to stop trying to control the timeline, and that it WILL happen! Also, to trust the doctors. I spent so much time and energy doing research on my own to check and double check what my doctors were saying and doing. Don’t get me wrong, this was a very important process for me, and I’m so glad I worked so hard to be so well-informed, but if I could have loosened the reigns a little bit and trusted the process, I might not have stressed so much about each step of the way.

17. How do you plan to introduce the baby to your dog? Are you worried about how Schnitzel will react?

Kate: Introducing the baby to Schnitzel is one of the things I look forward to most. Schnitzel has been our “first baby” for the last 3 ½ years, so I know he will go through a bit of an adjustment playing second fiddle. However, he is SO sweet and SO gentle and such a lovebug that I have no doubts that the transition will be smooth. He adjusts so well to changing situations and environments, and I think he will not have any problem adjusting to our new baby-focused schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I expect he’ll be a little jealous! But Benjamin and I will try our best to continue to give him the most love and attention that we can.

Benjamin: I am very excited for Schnitzel with the baby. He is such a gentle, loving dog and I think he will be awesome with the baby. He has been around a lot of babies and he is initially VERY curious but then he calms down. I think our baby will get lots of doggie licks. I wonder whether Schnitzel will still sleep in his bed in our room or want to sleep in the nursery. I do worry about Schnitzel feeling neglected as he gets LOTS of love from us, but I really think of him as our first baby and I can’t imagine giving him any less attention.

18. Are you religious people? If yes, at what point do you want to introduce religion to your child?

Kate: I was raised in a Christian home, and although I don’t believe everything that goes along with being a Christian now, I feel strongly about instilling a strong sense of morals and inner strength in my child(ren). It’s important for me to teach our son about all different religions and let him choose what he believes in. That said, it’s a complicated issue, and I certainly don’t have it all figured out yet.

Benjamin: We are not religious people. I was never brought up very religious. One of my sets of parents is Jewish (sort of) and the other set is Christian (sort of) but neither are practicing. We celebrated Christmas at both houses and that was really the extent of it. My guess is that it will not be a big part of our children’s upbringing. I am sure we will go to church with Kate’s family if we spend Christmas with them, etc., but I couldn’t see us going to church or synagogue on our own. We certainly would not discourage our kids if they choose on their own to become more religious, but it is not something we plan to practice.

19. How do you feel about vaccines?

Kate: In general, I am a strong advocate for leading a naturally healthy life. I don’t take too many medicines, I eat very little processed food, I try to stay away from unnecessary or potentially harmful chemicals in the products I use and come into contact with every day. I take my vitamins, BUT I also get a flu shot every year, and this year I got the H1N1 vaccine even after I found out I was pregnant. And when I am sick enough to go to the doctor and they prescribe me medicine, I take it. I feel that vaccines have improved our daily lives by eliminating a lot of very scary diseases. And if parents decide not to vaccinate their children, they are putting their children (and others around them) at risk. I will discuss the options with my pediatrician, when the time comes, to make sure that the vaccines I am approving are necessary and well-tested, but I am not against using the power of modern medicine to keep my kid(s), and others, healthy. I know some people feel that vaccines are to blame for the rising rates of autism and other disorders, but in general, I feel that the advantages outweigh the risks.

Benjamin: I am pretty trusting of most modern medicine and typically trust doctors. However, I know lots of people who feel the opposite. My guess is that we will do the vaccines that our pediatrician recommends. It’s nice to have doctors in the family (Kate’s sister and brother-in-law) and we can get their opinions on the matter as well. I just don’t feel educated enough on the subject to go against what the doctors are saying. Maybe I am naive, but I think that works for me.

20. Are you considering more kids? And… what about adoption?

Kate: Yes! We definitely want more than one child. How many more than one differs between the two of us. I want as many as we can handle — I’m one of 4 kids and I love, love, love having a big family. Benjamin is one of 2, and he thinks that’s a good number. So… somewhere between 2 and 4 is the goal for now. But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from our struggle with infertility, it’s that you really never know what’s going to happen, and things don’t always go according to plan. I am not at all opposed to adoption, but it’s not something we’ve really discussed yet.

Benjamin: Yes we are considering more kids. I would like 2 total. Kate wants 3 or 4. I want 2. Just two. I have no idea what we will agree on. My guess is that either I will love having children so much that I will want more, or that Kate will feel like 2 is plenty.

 

Ok, that’s it for Round 2. Final questions to come tomorrow or Thursday.

She Says… Ask Us Anything (Part 1 of 3)

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget! We opened ourselves up to your questions a few weeks (months?) ago, and I promised we’d answer every one. And now, after many weeks of crazy travels and busy schedules, we’re finally ready to post our responses. Quick notes: There are about 30 questions (in no particular order), so I’ll post them in three segments over the next few days. If there were duplicate questions about similar topics, we only answered the question once. If you have more questions after reading these answers, don’t hesitate to email or comment away!

1. Any specific advice for coping with the disappointments along the way to getting pregnant?

Kate: I think the most important thing is keeping perspective. It’s amazing how all-consuming babymaking can become when you begin to have problems (and even for a lot of people who aren’t having problems, but are just impatient). I think one of the best things you can do is figure out what it takes for you to be able to take a deep breath and see the big picture. Having a baby is just ONE part of your life (although believe me, I KNOW how hard it is to think that way when you’re in the thick of it), and although it’s very important, it’s not worth losing the rest of your life over. I have seen a lot of people lose friends and perspective while struggling with infertility, and unfortunately that makes the challenge even harder when you have no one to turn to. The bottom line is that there are many, many ways to create a family. The hardest part is changing your own timeline or plan to accommodate the hurdles you come up against.

Benjamin: I think the biggest thing for me was knowing that there were always other options for us. We were lucky that our setbacks were relatively short and the diagnosis never seemed dire, so I was pretty upbeat through it all. In a way, the delay helped me adjust to the idea of getting pregnant. But I knew that if things did get worse there were other alternatives, like adoption. Prior to trying to get pregnant I told Kate that I felt strongly about adoption instead of spending years and years and tens of thousands of dollars on trying to get pregnant if that was problematic. She didn’t entirely agree. At the time, I felt like I didn’t understand how someone’s desire to have a biological child could be that strong that they would go through so many physical and financial struggles to achieve that when other options existed. While we never got to the point of thinking of adoption, during our TTC process, I did start to have a change of heart, knowing that if Clomid didn’t work, we’d try the next thing, and if that didn’t work we’d try the next thing. I tend to be pretty practical though, so I do think at some point (probably before Kate hit the point), I would begin to advocate for adoption. But I guess that it is good to know even if there are disappointments along the way, that there is pretty much ALWAYS a way to have a child. And I do strongly believe that adopting a child, especially a baby, makes that YOUR child.


2. What are you most afraid of, giving birth or the baby actually being here?

Kate: I am kind of waiting for the shoe to drop on this one. So far I’m not afraid of either of those things. I am sure that when the time actually comes that I turn to Benjamin and say, “It’s time. The baby’s coming.”, I’ll be scared sh*tless of what is about to happen to my body. But for now, I totally trust that my body was created to do this, so there’s nothing I really need to know or be scared about. Similarly, I’m sure that once we bring that tiny baby into our house for the first time and we’re alone and the baby’s screaming, I’m going to be terrified about not knowing what to do. But I have been around a lot of babies growing up, and I think I have good instincts. Benjamin and I are excellent problem solvers, too, so I think we, as a team, can handle anything the little guy throws at us. But really? Talk to me in August and I may be singing a different tune.

Benjamin: I am not too afraid of the birth itself, but I haven’t given it too much thought. I imagine that when the day comes, I will be pretty nervous. My biggest fear of having the baby is that we will be exhausted all the time. And from everything I have heard, we will be. But we’ll get through it. I am also a HUGE worrier. Like, it could be my job. I worry that I am going to over-worry. Obsess about every cough, every weird sound, every cry, etc. I hope that I do not drive Kate, our doctors, and our families crazy with my constant worrying.

I am also afraid of having a teenager, but that is a whole other story.


3. What would you say is the most difficult part of struggling with infertility? And what was the easiest part?

Kate: For me, the most difficult part was not knowing when it was going to end. I am very Type A. I like things in a list, in my calendar, with a deadline. The most difficult thing about just not getting my period at all was how there was no timeline. At least once I started treatment I could count days and know where I was in my cycle and how many days I had to wait until the next step happened. Without any timing I could count on, I felt very lost and frustrated. The easiest part, for us at least, was getting pregnant once I was diagnosed and treated. We got pregnant on the first cycle I actually ovulated (2nd Clomid cycle), and it has been smooth sailing since then. So, just goes to show, infertility does NOT necessarily mean you’ll have trouble in the baby department forever.

Benjamin: The infertility experience was much different for me than for Kate. I never really got to the point of feeling lost or hopeless. I don’t think Kate did either, but I know it affected her more, as it was her body that was going through the problems (not that I am placing blame). Not really the easiest, but definitely the best part of it was building a community through our blog. I am still shocked at how far-reaching our blog has become, and I sort of doubt that it would have done so had we gotten pregnant right away. Through the blogging process and dealing with infertility issues, I was introduced to so many people going through similar and harder things than us, and I was happy that we (read: Kate) could become a resource in helping other people. I have to say I am super impressed with Kate’s talent at taking on this blog, and I think that there is a future for her in something related to these issues. But I digress…


4. Well, you know I’m dying to ask what name you’ve picked… but I know it’s a secret.

Kate: Sneaky, sneaky, trying to figure out the name when I say “Ask Us Anything”! Let me rephrase. Ask us anything except the name! It’s still a secret. Surprisingly, neither of us has blurted it out to anyone yet.

Benjamin: Well, since you asked… it’s Kananinoheaokuuhomeopuukaimanaalohilo, which means “The Beautiful Aroma of My Home at Sparkling Diamond Hill is Carried to the Eyes of Heaven” in Hawaiian (thanks Wikipedia).


5. What are your feelings about breastfeeding? Do you plan to try it? If so, do you have a goal for how long you’d like to do it?

Kate: I am going to try my darndest to breastfeed. I’m realistic about how difficult it is, though, because I watched my sister struggle through it with her first baby. Her baby had a very tough time latching on, and the stress of having to work so hard to do something so “natural” began to have a negative effect on my sister’s relationship with her child. Once she switched to bottles and stopped stressing, everything improved. However, I would really, really like to try to make it work. The health benefits for me and my baby are undeniable, and I can’t think of anything that would strengthen the bond between us better. Also, it will help me get some of this baby weight off :) I’m going to keep an open mind, and recognize that it’s hard, while still trying my best to make it work for me. If I can make it work, I think I’d like to do it for about 6 months (based on the very little that I’ve read about it so far), but really I will play that part by ear. Once I return to work I’ll have to pump, so I think we will need to encourage bottles early on in the process. I know that can be tricky (nipple confusion… yikes!), but we’ll navigate it the best we can.

Benjamin: I plan to try breastfeeding but I doubt I will succeed.

But in all seriousness, I know Kate plans to breastfeed and hopefully that will work out. On the advice of some friends, though, we plan to try to incorporate bottle feeding pretty early on so that the transition from breast to bottle is not as difficult and so I can play a more active part in the feeding process. (By the way, I doubt anybody without a child has heard of the term “nipple confusion”. I had not until recently, and find it to be hilarious.)


6. I just got put on supplemental progesterone and I feel like I have “roid rage”! Are the high levels during pregnancy enough to make you lose your cool more often?

Kate: I’m pretty lucky when it comes to mood swings. As in, I don’t really have them. I THINK Benjamin would agree. If anything, I have felt a bit weepier than normal, but I think Benjamin appreciates seeing my “softer side” (since HE is usually the crier of the two of us). Even during fertility treatments, the hormones didn’t really affect me by making me angrier or more moody. Sex drive? Now that’s a different story. I get teary-eyed and completely uninterested in sex when my hormones were out of whack, but not moody — pick your poison, I guess!


7. Hmmmm…any weird cravings? How have your healthy eating habits changed during your pregnancy?

Kate: I wish I had something hilarious to say that I craved, but really my eating hasn’t changed all that much (except that I’m allowing myself a bit more sweet stuff than before!). In the first trimester when I was feeling kind of pukey, I just wanted carbs, carbs, carbs. Bagels, bread, crackers, chips, cereal… you name it. Since then, the only thing that is out of the ordinary for me has been condiments. Pre-pregnancy I ate sandwiches with hummus on them, and would steer clear of things like chicken salad because of all the mayo. Now I want a sandwich just because it INCLUDES mayo. Similarly, my grocery shopping while pregnant has been pretty funny — I come home with a lot of processed foods that normally I wouldn’t dream of (do you know what Benjamin got me for my birthday? Doritos. Among other things… but the Doritos may have been my favorite part). I think it’s because I am generally such a healthy eater that being pregnant has given me the excuse to relax a bit.

Benjamin: Kate is a very smart, healthy eater. She is also a great cook, so I get to eat yummy, healthy food when we are home. BUT, I was hoping that she would have weird cravings. She HATES tuna and pickles, and I was really hoping she’d start craving them. For no real reason other than that it would amuse me. For the most part she has been pretty normal with her diet and her food cravings. But last week when we had not eaten dinner at 10pm and were in the car, we stopped and got pizza and frozen yogurt (she ate the fro yo first). That is something that she never would have done pre-pregnancy, and I loved that she did it, enjoyed it and didn’t feel guilty. Although I don’t know what my excuse for eating all that was.


8. This is disgusting, but apparently it is actually a real thing: what do you think about placenta eating (see momversation episode from this week for more info: http://www.momversation.com/episodes/eating-placenta-mmm-mmm-good)?

Kate: Ummm, don’t know how to answer this. No comment? I don’t plan on eating my placenta. And I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Benjamin: I don’t need to look at that link to say that that is gross. But apparently people wash their hair with the placenta, too. I imagine we will not be leaving the hospital with any placenta. At least I hope not.


9. How do you and Benjamin plan to keep your marriage strong and healthy after the baby comes?

Kate: We are a great team. I think our relationship is bound to grow in ways that we can’t even imagine when we add a baby to our awesome little family. I also realize we will be challenged in ways we never have before. But we are both so committed to our life together that I think just working together to get through this new adventure will do wonders for keeping our marriage strong and healthy. That, and talking. A lot. About everything. Which we already do, but I imagine it becomes even more important when most of your daily discussion is monopolized by talking about poop. Also? Giving each other time to do the things that keep us sane. Like working out and traveling and seeing friends. Time apart always helps us realize how we really prefer to be together.

Benjamin: Good question. I am VERY lucky to be married to a wonderful person. We compliment each other incredibly well with our similarities and our differences. We rarely fight, and seldom argue. We are normal people, though, and we definitely bug each other from time to time, but as a whole I think our marriage is very strong and we really are each other’s best friends. I have to say that the pregnancy has really made my love for Kate even stronger than before. Knowing that she is carrying our son is such a powerful thought that I cannot help but love her even more, and I know she is going to be an awesome mom.

I know that a lot of stress can come from having children and I think we just need to not let it overwhelm us. It’s hard to know and to verbalize how we will continue to keep our marriage strong. It’s not something I worry about though, fortunately, as I know we will make it work.


10. You both travel a lot–do you have any plans for traveling with your son? Where would you like to take him?

Kate: I want to take him everywhere! Unfortunately most of our travel is done separately, for work. But we do travel a bit together, and I can’t wait to tote our little guy around with us. Remind me of that when I have a car full of baby stuff to bring along with him. Seriously, though, I’d love for us to travel a lot as a family, although we’ll probably wait for some of the bigger trips (Europe?) until he is old enough to appreciate them.

Benjamin: We DO travel a lot. For work especially (I am writing this now from a Red Roof Inn in lovely Trenton, NJ), and I would say that most of our trips in the last couple years (even if they have been together) have been work related for one of us. I am looking forward to NOT traveling a lot once our son is born. I am getting really tired of all the travel and just want to be home for a few weeks in a row. I know that it is going to be really hard to go away once we have a baby and it pains me to think of having to leave for work.

However, I do think it will be nice to travel with our son when he can appreciate it (or to travel to places that we can appreciate even with a young child). My parents have a nice house in New Hampshire that Kate and I love to go and it will be easy to go there with a baby. Plus Kate’s family recently moved back to the East coast, and there are (currently) 2 cousins that we hope Piccolino will be close with.


Ding! That’s the end of Round 1. More Q&A to come tomorrow.

She Says… Hi, Facebook friends!

Since we’re finally 12 weeks along, Benjamin and I thought it was an appropriate time to share our exciting news with Facebook (and, thus, almost everyone in our lives). So to all those coming to our blog for the first time… we’re pregnant! Want proof? Here are some pictures of my expanding waistline.

I say finally because, unfortunately for us, getting pregnant was not as easy as we expected it to be. We were surprised and saddened to find out that I have a condition called Lean Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which means my body doesn’t ovulate on its own. If you didn’t sleep through 6th grade Health class entirely, you know that makes it pretty darn hard for us to make a baby. We were lucky to figure out that there was a problem almost immediately after we started “trying”, and we were able to see a fertility specialist and take some magical drugs that forced my body to ovulate. After many months of frustrating diagnostic tests and trial and error of various treatments, we did it! You can see the timeline of events here.

When we started the blog, we thought it would be a fun way to keep track of the pregnancy and eventually become a place where friends and family could go to see pictures of our inevitably adorable baby. However, as things progressed without seeing that little plus sign, the blog became therapy, an outlet for the frustration that came from our struggle with infertility, and a window into an amazing community of young, healthy women going through the same confusing process. Since we decided not to tell very many people about our struggle (I was dead-set on it being a surprise when we told people we were pregnant… I figured we could tell them the sob story later), the blog was sometimes the only place we could vent or find support throughout the difficult process.

Somewhere along the line it became my personal agenda to share the news about how widespread infertility issues are, and raise awareness so that when women (and their partners) come up against these frightening odds, they don’t feel quite so alone. Which is why I’m willing to put my fat stomach and unattractive pregnancy symptoms on display for all of the internet (and now Facebook!) to see. I’m a success story for all the other women out there dealing with infertility in one way or another.

That, and I’m pretty excited to be pregnant after all that we’ve gone through.

Enjoy :)

P.S. We call the baby Piccolini, which means “Little One” in Italian.