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.