ON PREGNANCY, FERTILITY, AND WAITING

IMG_5091.JPG

We’re expecting again! We are so thrilled. I know that everyone’s road to pregnancy is unique so I wanted to share a little backstory since our experience this time was so different than with our first.

Before we got pregnant with Trey, I had never even experienced a negative pregnancy test. He was as planned and as textbook as possible. At the same time, we knew of a few stories of infertility. We were about to turn 30, and about half our friends had kids and half didn’t. It seemed like that year, for whatever reason, it quickly became baby season for nearly everyone we knew. We also quickly learned that not everyone who seeks a pregnancy is guaranteed to get it.

As the months and years went on and more of our friends started trying, we started to hear more stories, and we became familiar with an entirely new territory. We knew of all kinds of things that were once foreign to us: the differences between IUI and IVF, the side effects of Clomid, and what the sequence and timing of seeking medical help looks like. Even further, we walked through baby loss for friends of all kinds, from early to late losses, miscarriages and stillbirths, scary news and diagnoses, all of it earth shattering, all of it devastating. In the span of two years, we were invited to three infant funerals. Just yesterday I got another text, “we lost the baby.” It’s heartbreaking, every single time.

I held all this, and knew what I was signing up for, and yet, since our first round was so textbook, I think I assumed it would be easy for us again. When we decided we were ready for our second baby, all I knew was my first experience, which was a recipe for very high and unrealistic expectations. I experienced my first negative pregnancy test, which was a shock. Then a couple more. A few months in I was texting my friends who I knew had walked this road, asking “When should I be concerned?” meanwhile googling “secondary infertility.”

As the summer went on, so did life in our thirties. As many friends as there were experiencing long waits and losses, just as many were getting pregnant easily and naturally. Friends revealed all kinds of announcements: long awaited pregnancies, perfectly planned pregnancies, and most annoyingly so, their “oops” pregnancies. I rejoiced with them, and deep down I was happy for them, but I really had to work at it, because when you're in the middle of your own unknown territory, it's difficult to share joy with someone else when they get their (even surprise) good news.

Trey turned two, and well-meaning friends and family would ask, "So, when will you guys have your second baby?" My go-to response became, "Not today!" as I clinked my wine glass. I liked that it was vague, funny, and truthful, without revealing all that was going on beneath the surface, the anxiety of, "Will this ever happen again for us?" brewing just under my words.

I'm writing this blog post draft in the messy middle, right in the center of the waiting. We are a few months in, and I haven't gotten a positive pregnancy test yet. By the time this post is published, I certainly hope so. But we so rarely have all the answers in life and this is one of those times. I think that's a good place to write from, we're you're in it, not beyond it.

We are all waiting for something, none of us have arrived. And I think when we're so focused on the end game we miss what's here for us in the messy middle. I know there’s good here too: patience, perspective, growth, a sense that it really is all out of our control anyways. I'm learning things here, and I don't want to miss it. If this post is published, I am assuming we will have gotten pregnant and announced publicly, and what a happy day that will be. Until then, I'll chart, and I'll wait, and I'll continue to watch and and pause and look for the good here too.

________

Update: We got our positive pregnancy test, and in the big picture, we didn’t have to wait that long, especially compared to some of our friends. I learned that the average couple in their 30s only has about a 20% change of conceiving on any given cycle, so it really does seem like such a miracle when it does happen.

When I decided I needed a little more help, I reached out to Fairhaven Health to try their Fertility Monitor. I tracked all my ovulation signs like a little scientist, and they have a helpful team online that can help you interpret your charting. For me, I found that knowledge was power, and when everything felt out of my control, this was the one thing I could control. This device also turned out to be more accurate for me than temping or OPKs. I know that for some people, maybe tracking ovulation wouldn’t be helpful and might instead be stressful. For me, it helped, but I want to be mindful that no device or prescription is “one size fits all” when seeking a pregnancy. Everyone is different. We are so glad we found something that worked for us, and I am so thankful to be pregnant again, even among the sickness and all the pregnancy symptoms. I’m not taking any of it for granted this time.

Shared in partnership with Fairhaven Health, who makes a variety of products to help with fertility, pregnancy achievement, and nursing. Their BFP Early Pregnancy Test Strips were the first to let me know I was pregnant, and their Milk Saver was an early nursing favorite.

2018 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE FOR BABIES & TODDLERS

It’s time… the busiest week of the year for holiday shopping. If you’re looking for ideas for your kids or wish lists for the grandparents, here are some of our favorites.

FOR BABIES

7D425EF7-6377-4C44-83A2-745888B7C11D.JPG

Bannor Toys makes these beautiful, wooden toys for babies that I just adore. The cars are limited edition and from their Holiday collection set, and I especially love that they offer personalization on many items. It’s hard to see on the keys, but I had “car,” “house,” and “my heart” (can you even?!) engraved on them. The memory game is so cute as a entry level game that can be easily modified for young toddlers.

FOR TODDLERS

Click the arrows in the image above to see commentary on each item, and click on the image itself to be taken directly to the product page.

Untitled design.jpg

Overview here. A few pictured but not linked above that we have and love: Cuddle and Kind dolls, Strider bike, and Magnatiles.

1A9DF58C-73D7-40C5-B5E9-8B672F7FA48E.JPG
37965CB7-3E56-41DE-82BB-EC5C3111998F.JPG

FOR THE BATH

A8D7A601-9F5E-477E-89A8-7216F59E850A.JPG

If you’re taking any mid-winter sunny trips, I love this spray on zinc sunscreen as a stocking stuffer. The stick and face formulas are also pictured, all with a EWG rating of 1, 2, and 3. The Lavender bubble bath scores a 3 (clean!) on the Think Dirty App.

More fun stocking stuffers: if you’re looking for specific holiday scents, Tubby Todd has a holiday trio of hair and body wash, lotion, and bubble bath that all smell amazing and are so festive and fun.


FOR PRESCHOOL/KINDERGARTEN PREP

The Kindergarten Toolkit is a workbook of activities and ideas for parents to teach kindergarten readiness. It has ideas along with cards of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and shapes, for teaching recognition early. I like that the toolkit presents simple lessons plans and an introduction to core concepts.

FOR TEACHING THE SPIRIT OF GIVING

The Giving Manger is a wonderful holiday tradition I just discovered and am already implementing with my family. It’s a set that includes a book, a beautifully crafted wooden manger, baby Jesus, and hay. The concept is, when children do something nice for others, they get to put a piece of straw in the manger. On Christmas, the manger is full of all the pieces of straw representing the gifts of service, and baby Jesus in placed in it. I am really loving this tradition already and am so glad to have found something to help me shift the focus of the holidays from getting to giving.

MORE CHRISTMAS BOOKS

I love adding seasonal books to our collection. These four are just released titles from Candlewick Press. Little Christmas Tree (beautifully illustrated), Where’s Santa Claus (lift the flap), The Christmas Eve Tree (sweet story of hope for a boy without a home), and Christmas, a perfect first book for babies with soft, crinkly pages and a hook to attach to a stroller or play gym.

SOMETHING TO WEAR

Tea Collection has a holiday line out, perfect for Santa photos and other events this season. I love that they’re ethically made and give back, right now contributions are going to the Wildfire Relief fund, helping with all the fires in California. They’re running a Black Friday sale this week, with many styles under $15.

Shared in partnership with most companies, selections are my own, affiliate links in post.

PARENTING RESOURCES

19FB2864-B402-4A01-B4CC-7ECCF507F2F7.JPG

Parenting. There are a million opinions here, but I’ve found some general guidelines that have helped guide my parenting so far. From the research I’ve seen, connecting with your child and developing a strong relationship even from infancy is the greatest contributing factor in fostering development across all areas. Here are some resources I like:

zerotothree.org. Provides a variety of researched based articles on early learning and parenting topics.

Positive Discipline For Today’s Busy (and Overwhelmed) Parent. By Jane Nelson, Kristina Bill, and Joy Marchese. This book is the latest in a series of Positive Parenting, there are also books specifically for birth to three, preschoolers, teens, and a variety of other populations. This one is specifically for working parents, which I learned, are 75% of moms in America. I liked that the book takes the unique perspective of the working mom into account, and addresses issues such as mom guilt, limited time, and also gives kind of a roadmap for positive discipline, making the point that connected and really good parenting also exists for the working mom too. I loved it.

No Drama Discipline. We know from research that connection and attachment are the basis for all kinds of areas within child development, and this book recognizes this concept. There is a great metaphor for "flipping your lid" in this book, with the brain like the palm of a fist and then all finger extended like you are making the number "4" sign. When your "lid is flipped," you are in flight or fight mode, and similarly in marital argument, you can't make decisions clearly or act rationally when you're in that state. You need to get your body and brain calm again before being able to work through something. Similarly with a child, when they get to that state, (tantrum, etc.) the first priority is helping them (and yourself) regulate and calm down, before addressing the cause of the situation.

More books:

The Emotional Life of the Toddler

Parenting From the Inside Out

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk

The Whole Brain Child

One piece of encouragement I wanted to include was that I learned that we don’t have to be perfect parents 100% of the time to have good outcomes for our kids. I have heard this statistic cited multiple times, although I cannot find the source, but I’ve heard that mothers who respond to their babies in 30% of opportunities are linked to good outcomes for development. We try to meet all the needs of everybody all the time, and yet, we are human and we cannot. Doing our best, connecting with our child, offering empathy and compassion, will go a long way in sending the message that our children are seen, known, loved, and belong. I can think of no greater gift for a child.

Shared in partnership with the publicity team for Positive Parenting. I received a copy of the book for review, although all opinions are my own.