Last week, our family lost the most amazing man. He was a caring Father, Son, Friend and Great-Grandfather to my children. He never spoke unless spoken too and never spoke ill of anyone he knew or encountered.
This is a man who immigrated from Italy when he was just 12 years old with his Mother and Sister back in 1933. He was the son of a shoemaker in New York. His younger sister went off to college and Grandpa-Joe went off to war in the US Army Corps Search and Rescue for downed pilots. This is a man who served 2 consecutive terms with the search and rescue team only to be relieved by another radio-man who never returned from his tour.
Grandpa didn’t have cancer, heart disease, or even a headache. He turn 94 years old less than a week before he passed, and died at home, with family.
In Italian tradition, as I am learning, you have a wake/viewing, service and burial for each member of your family. This was worrisome to me, as my daughter suffers from Social Anxiety and Sensory Integration Disorder. This means, that any new situation or change in routine, typically tends to send her into a full physical and physiological panic attack. I was worried about having her see Grandpa in the casket, worried about the crowds of people, worried about questions she may have at the burial.
There were lots of questions; “Why is Grandpa sleeping?” “Why are his hands tied up?” [Rosary] “I thought Grandpa went to Heaven, why is he still here?” “Mom….IS THIS HEAVEN?”
As my two-year old ran around shouting ‘Wake Up Gam-pa!” My 4-year old pondered the concept of death. To her, people were crying because Grandpa was tied up in a box and no one could wake him up. To her, adults were sad because they missed a man who was actually right in front of them. To her, this man of faith, was simply sleeping because he was tired. To her, death was an easier concept then to most adults.
Bean wasn’t scared, she wasn’t worried. She wasn’t confused. She simply asked questions out loud and we as parents, hoped we had the right answers. A good friend put is perfectly when she said, “There is no fear in death but only an understanding of Heaven.” Perfectly stated if you ask me.
I learned that my child’s simplistic view on life is one we should adopt as adults. I learned that the way she was comprehending death was the same way Grandpa lived his life; in the moment. Bean woke the morning after Grandpa passed telling me she was angry because he went to Heaven before she could give him the card she had spent the afternoon crafting….I had not told her that Grandpa had died. The days following she woke with multiple dreams of Grandpa and short but vivid visits from a man she only got 4 years with.
Do not fear facing death with your child, but instead take away some of how they do it and apply it to your life.
Be childlike in your faith but mature in your thirst for an understanding and history of it.
Defend those you love with passion, courage and consistency and without reservation or fear.
Love deeply and without boundaries
Mourn those you lose without losing yourself
Find the ‘happy’ in any and all circumstances
You see, this opportunity to ‘face death’ and ‘teach’ my daughter about death was really about me, learning from her. It is not something to fear, but only a part of life. Eternal life.
Today is one of those days when I feel like I got parenting all wrong.
I lost my temper, a lot. I did enough yelling to make my voice hoarse.
I carried my son out of a store this morning, screaming in an under-arm, football hold. I didn’t leave the store as he started his tantrum, but instead, put into my cart what I came in for and held him under my arm, screaming and kicking, as I waited in line, paid and loaded the shopping cart.
I still had to run into the grocery store to get a few necessities….tantrum #2.
I continued through the store and tolerated not only my son’s screaming and kicking from the top seat of the cart, but I also endured the stares, nasty comments and pointing from onlookers. I walked as slow as I needed too, continued to check my list and compare it with the items now in the cart and head to the checkout lane. As we waited for the cashier to finish the customers purchase in front of me, I handed my 4 year old a bag on M & M candies. She had been an angel during this morning of torture brought on by her younger brother and deserved an unexpected treat.
Kicking and screaming, my son, continued as we loaded the car, buckled and drove home.
Upon arrival, I took off his shoes, kissed his face as he swatted at mine and told him he needed to rest. I placed him calmly and quietly into his bed, shut the light and closed the door.
A well-deserved silence followed.
A nice afternoon on our bikes, leaf pile jumping, playing with our dogs and in the neighbors hot tub and we headed home for dinner.
The tantrums ensued just in time for a bath and continued as I washed his body, his hair, put on a diaper and his pajamas. I combatted the pinching and the face smacking with a yell or a quick tap on the rear. Deservedly I think.
Instead of leaving him in the room this time I shut the door, left on the light and I sat on the floor; watching as his screaming continued. I didn’t try to talk to him, or to calm him down. I didn’t worry about how loud he was or how badly it was paining my eardrums. I sat and waited.
When he was ready, and not a second before, while still screaming, he made his way to me still criss-cross-applsause on his floor and he placed his arms around my neck. One big breath and he collapsed into my lap, eyes already closing and needing to rest.
I kissed his sweaty forehead and realized that through it all; the yelling, the punishment, the structure, the screaming, the kicking, the pinching… he still knew that I loved him. And that was a win for me.
You see, our kids may not always get the best of us as parents, but they deserve it every minute of every day. We all struggle and we all have those days when nothing seems to go right. We tend to beat ourselves up every time our child doesn’t measure up to ‘normal’ instead of celebrating how they are unique. My son is usually very easy-going, kind-hearted and loving….what did I do to make him so angry today? Our internal monologue only deepens the knife we used on ourselves.
But – It’s ok.
You see, in those moments when you think your child doesn’t deserve your love, is when they possibly need it the most. Be kind to yourself and take comfort in the fact that you are not the only one out there having THIS day. There are other parents burning the midnight oil because they need a moment alone after a long day or they simply like to revel in the quiet after bedtime.
No one ever said that being a parent is an easy job, in fact I most often hear the opposite. You can only do what You believe is right for your family and for your children.
Be thankful that you have each other. Period. No matter what kind of day it has been.
It was Christmas morning, Day 14 Post IUI and I was determined to deliver good news to myself and my husband on this day. I knew that I could get a false + if I took an at Home Pregnancy Test, especially because we took the HCG (trigger shot) injection, but after a trusty ‘google search,’ I decided it was worth the risk. It was 6:00am and although I had to squint, I finally saw that vertical line. I remember distinctly, placing my left hand over my dropped jaw and my eyes welled with tears as my stomach turned and heart skipped a beat.
It was positive.
I cannot explain to you the innate feeling you get when you want something or have wanted something for so long and it is finally right in front of you. The physiological reaction is inexplicable other than through emotional correlations such as happy, excited, terrified, nervous, shocked, scared, and in awe.
I had told my husband after we exchanged gifts that morning and he walked around all of Christmas Day checking on me more often than usual. His protective instincts kicked in immediately at the thought of being a father.
As with any fertility process we still needed to go for blood work on Day 16 post IUI and we did to confirm our already confirmed news. The blood test was also positive and we started to ‘settle down’ with the thought of becoming parents.
When receiving a positive pregnancy test via blood work they look at 2 specific numbers (among others of less importance). They look at Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG = the pregnancy hormone) as well as the Progesterone level (helps build and support lining of the uterus in order to sustain pregnancy after embryo attachment).
According to www.AmericanPregnancy.org there are a few important factors to keep in mind in regards to HCG levels in early pregnancy:
Key things to remember about hCG levels
In 85% of normal pregnancies, the hCG level will double every 48 – 72 hours. As you get further along in pregnancy and the hCG level gets higher, the time it takes to double can increase to about every 96 hours. Caution must be used in making too much of hCG numbers. A normal pregnancy may have low hCG levels and result in a perfectly healthy baby. The results from an ultrasound after 5 -6 weeks gestation are much more accurate than using hCG numbers.
An hCG level of less than 5mIU/ml is considered negative for pregnancy, and anything above 25mIU/ml is considered positive for pregnancy.
The hCG hormone is measured in milli-international units per milliliter (mIU/ml).
A transvaginal ultrasound should be able to show at least a gestational sac once the hCG levels have reached between 1,000 – 2,000mIU/ml. Because levels can differentiate so much and conception dating can be wrong, a diagnosis should not be made by ultrasound findings until the hCG level has reached at least 2,000.
A single hCG reading is not enough information for most diagnoses. When there is a question regarding the health of the pregnancy, multiple testings of hCG done a couple of days apart give a more accurate assessment of the situation.
The hCG levels should not be used to date a pregnancy, since these numbers can vary so widely.
There are two common types of hCG tests. A qualitative hCG test detects if hCG is present in the blood. A quantitative hCG test (or beta hCG) measures the amount of hCG actually present in the blood.
Our first blood test revealed to have HCG levels within the normal range of 5 – 426 mIU/ml.We were roughly at 325 mIU/ml. It was December 27th.
As usual, we needed to return for More blood work in 4 days to confirm everything was going and growing normally. We wanted to see our HCG levels grow right along side our Progesterone levels. We had been directed by the Doctor to continue our ‘progesterone inserts’ as a precautionary measure, as there is no specific research to support or to disprove their ability to aid the progression of a pregnancy.
December 31 came quickly as we had company in town and were expecting about 40 people over that evening for a New Year’s Eve Party. I ran out of the house as early as possible as I didn’t want our family in town to question where I was headed. The last thing I needed was questions or gossip about a process no one knew we were going through.
A side note – with every listening ear, comes a running mouth. If you decide to be open about your fertility process then understand that you WILL be questioned. Even when you specifically ask family members to reserve conversation about it with you and only with you – you will discover that ‘they had questions’ and as a result went to people uninvolved in your life and rambled about your fertility problems to have them answered. Do not be fooled by the label of ‘family’ or ‘friend’ as with many of those that fall into this class there is NO respect for your privacy OR your pain. (Yes – I learned this lesson the hard way and am slighted because of this experience).
I went in as planned and expected a call later that day.
The lasagna was in the oven and my husband not yet home from work when the phone rang. I took the cell phone and ran into the garage, avoiding our house guests who were in the kitchen and TV room.
“I am afraid your numbers have dropped significantly since last week.”
Silence. You know that feeling when you know someone delivers bad news but you haven’t yet wrapped your brain around what it was they said. Sweaty palms, heart pounding, knees weak, vision blurry…..
“What does that even mean?” I was stunned at this awkward conversation and beginning to get angry at the poor Nurse Practitioner on the other line as if she was at fault for this in any way.
“It is not good news.” Pause. “We do not believe, at this time, that this is a viable pregnancy, due to where your levels have dropped too.” Pause. “We need you to come in for more blood work in 4 days.”
“Ok. Thank you.” I didn’t know what else to say….or what to do. So I hung up.
With my mind still racing and not knowing what to do, I called my mother who had struggled with fertility issues multiple times. When I relayed the news to her and she went momentarily silent and then started crying…..I knew all hope was gone.
Our baby was going to die. Before we get to meet her, see her or hear her heart beat she was going to die.
It was 3 hours before 40 guests showed up for New Years Eve and I had company upstairs that had no idea we were suffering from infertility or, at this point, miscarriage and I was more than overwhelmed. The level of emotional strain on my body was too much to handle all at once so I fell. I dropped onto the cold, damp, cement garage floor and I wept.
I wept for a time long enough for people to start wondering where I was. I wept till my stomach hurt and my eyes were puffy.
I watched the snow fall through the garage door window while I caught my breath and wept even more.
No one prepares you for what I was feeling. No one tells you that there was a higher chance of miscarriage when you use fertility drugs. No one tells you how bad it would hurt when you have the best news of your life taken back. No one tells you how bad it would hurt. No one tells you that you carry that lost baby with you emotionally forever. No one tells you that you would start to despise those around you who are pregnant.
What do they say? Everything you don’t want to hear; The Baby wasn’t strong enough. There was something wrong so your body got rid of it. It wasn’t meant to be. It will happen again. At least you know you CAN get pregnant.
I had, in my womb, a baby. Everything in my heart was telling me to protect my child and everything in my blood stream was telling doctors she was going to die. All we could do was wait.
Sometimes the path you have laid out for yourself is not the path He has chosen for you.
So, with the HSG gone and done with we waited. Again.
My Prince and I sat at Dr. O’s desk, just waiting for whatever news he had to give us this time. The results were in and he opened with a stinger: As a couple, and after reviewing both your files, I have determined that you have less then a 5% chance of conception without fertility assistance. Your diagnosis, ‘Unexplained Infertility.’
What the crap is ‘unexplained infertility?’ I thought we were here to figure out why we cannot conceive, not so you could tell us what we already figured out! I removed myself from an instinctual daydream in which I jumped over Dr. O’s desk, placed my hands around his neck and shook him violently as I yelled. Yoga breath in……….
He continued, “I suggest starting with a drug called Clomid. This is a very commonly used drug to treat female-related infertility and will help us in verifying that you are ovulating. There is about an 80% success rate in female ovulation with this treatment. We would also use an IUI or Intra-uterine insemination along side this treatment to increase your chances of conception.” He took a breath as he realized my Prince and I were silently staring at him…likely with fire balls coming out of our eyes. “Without treatment, you have less then a 5% chance of getting pregnant. A couple without any fertility issues has about 20% of conception every month and Clomid will give you about 10% chance. We have found that pairing the IUI with the Clomid increases those chances by about 5% more so you would be at about a 15% chance. “
I didn’t know if I wanted to hear any more. I wanted a 100% chance….a guarantee for a baby. I wanted to go home and forget this every happened, and wake up one day to two little lines and react with ‘oops’ instead of being in awe at a miracle. I wanted simplicity in life. Wanted my ducks in a row with no bumps in the road. I hate being a statistic.
I felt my Prince’s hand squeeze mine a little tighter then before in order to bring me back from my daydream sob-story. It did.
I wanted a baby; no matter how we got there.
We nodded at the Doctor, don’t remember uttering a single word actually. Got our papers, prescriptions and a cute little red folder from the office to keep all of our ‘fertility’ stuff in. Guess we are in it for the long haul now…..We picked up our little white pill the next day and reviewed the schedule of Day 3, 5, 7 internal ultrasounds and blood work, seman samples and impromptu HCG injections and ovulation testing. We began treatment as soon as we were allowed.
My husband and I didn’t tell anyone we were going through fertility treatments. We were still in the ‘ashamed’ stage of the process and I frankly didn’t want the continued questioning. It was bad enough I had family members who made assumptions of a pregnancy anytime I said ‘guess what.’ I wanted to protect our privacy from gossip, from conversation and from rehashing what we were going through as word spread. It was no one’s business – no matter what role you played in our family.
Just an aside – If You are going through a fertility process of any kind, please remember that you don’t owe ANYONE an explanation! Don’t be afraid to say ‘back off’ or ‘it is personal’ or ‘it is none of your freekin business.’ Sometimes people believe that because you have their last name, that everything you go through requires public disclosure. It does not. Do what is right for You and stop worrying about the consequences.
So let’s talk facts; the most common dosage of Clomid is 50 mg, taken for five days, on days 3 through 7 of your cycle, or days 5 through 9 of your cycle. (With day one of your cycle being the first day of real menstrual bleeding, and not just spotting.) The drug, though useful in treating some fertility issues does come with a LIST of side-effects:
Possible side effects of Clomid include:
Enlarged and tender ovaries (14%)
Hot flashes (11%)
Abdominal tenderness, due to enlarged and tender ovaries (7.4%)
Lets focus on the last one…MOOD SWINGS. Yup – they aint kidding! My poor Husband was living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all over again – poor guy. I would cry when he stepped on and killed ants and laugh when he had a bad day at work….terrible……but a little hysterical looking back.
Well worth is all in the end I guess.
Month 1 – Clomid with IUI. Here goes nothing.
(Source on CLOMID – www.infertility.about.com “Clomid Treatment 101”)
Results? A Clean bill of health…..yup…..there was absolutely nothing in our samples that would lead the doctors to believe we would have trouble conceiving. So now what? I was even more frustrated at this point because I had no answers!
I am not getting pregnant and now they are telling me that I there is no reason for it! Do they think I am doing something wrong?
The Nurse on the phone continued politely and spoke softly, “Dr. O would prefer if you have what is called an HSG (hysterosalpingogram). This test will show us if you a have a blockage in either of your tubes by injecting dye into your abdomen and taking an x-ray photo.”
She paused, obviously sensing that I was both terrified and frustrated. She spoke to break the silence, “Why don’t you talk to your husband and think in over tonight and if you decide to do it we will schedule in the morning. OK?”
A brief silence. “No. Schedule it now.” I was ready for anything they were going to throw my way as long as it meant we would have an answer as to why we did not have a family of our own.
The HSG, or hysterosalpingpgram, is a photograph (x-ray) of your abdomen to include your uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and the areas surrounding them.
There is a balloon placed in the cervix and inflated slightly in order to place the contract material through the narrow space and into the reproductive system. Once set up, x-rays are taken as the dye enters and travels through the fallopian tubes. This allows the scan to detect any blockages in fallopian tubes which could prevent travel of egg, travel of sperm to the egg or both. This scan can also help in detection of issues within the uterus which could hinder blastocyst implantation. The dye in this test is also sometimes used to clear small blockages that my exist. (Paraphrased from WebMD.com)
The day comes for the test and I get ‘admitted’ to the hospital. This is a necessary process for paperwork, but completely unnecessary for your anxiety level. They send you up to x-ray, give you a changing room behind a curtain and tell you that you must be stark naked before putting on your ‘gown.’ Now if I may say…a hospital ‘gown’ is the most poorly named article of clothing in all of history. Most definitely not “a long dress, typically having a close-fitting bodice and a flared or flowing skirt, worn on formal occasions” (oxforddictionaries.com).
ANYWAYS….I digress. I do as asked (there is a lot of that in fertility testing and infertility treatments; just doing as you are told to do).
I am walked into the x-ray room by an x-ray tech where we meet up with Dr. O. He is sitting in the corner of the room reviewing papers. God I hope those are not directions….
He explains the process, “Ok, I am going to have you lay on this table and place your legs in the stirrups.” I did so, without question at this point. He talked to himself more than he did me at this point and every now and then when I thought a direction was meant to be heard; I followed.
The balloon catheter went in and he stopped, “ok, now I am going to blow some air into the balloon and dilate your cervix. This will allow me to get the larger catheter through in order to inject the dye. I need you to tell me once the level of dilation get uncomfortable so that I can stop. Ok?” I nodded.
TIP: Don’t try to be a hero in infertility. If the doctor tells you to say STOP once you are uncomfortable than DO IT! Don’t try to bite the bullet and let him get your cervix open enough to deliver a child and then say STOP. I WISH someone was there to give me this advice…
I waited too long before saying STOP and I was in more pain then I had felt in longer then I can remember. Dr. O reached over to the button under the x-ray bed to get it to move up and in position for the x-rays. There was a click and Nothing. The bed was broken. The Doctor looked up at me with fear in his eyes and after he spoke I realized why, ‘uhm, I am going to need you to lift yourself and scoot up higher on the table so I can get the right angle on the x-rays.
So, cervix artificially dilated, speculum in place, catheter hanging, in a glorious hospital gown which was now lifted over the waistline baring everything I wanted to hide and in massive pain…I did as asked and without protest or complaint.
In 30 seconds it was over. The, dye injected, x-rays taken and balloon deflated and withdrawn. One deep, yoga-breath later, Dr. O was gone and the x-ray tech was back to make sure I didn’t pass out as I sat up.
“Everything looked good from what I saw,” she said kind while she waited for the color to come back to my cheeks. I smiled at her, but didn’t have the energy to speak.
I went behind my curtain down the corridor, changed into public appropriate attire and headed home. I waited. I waited for a reason why I didn’t have a baby yet. I waited to find out what was wrong with me. I waited for what I thought was the answer I was actually searching for.
In infertility, you want nothing more than answers and reasons for why you are facing what you do, but something the journey teaches you more about yourself and your partner. It will grow you together or grow you apart. Force it to grow you together. The journey is not easy and you will need each other.
Doctor O said “Ok, we will need samples from both of you before you go home today so that we might have a baseline. This will allow us to compare results from future samples as well as let us know if there is something hormonally abnormal for you [Me].” My Prince and I nodded and said our good-byes with standard hand-shakes. With wide-eyes in anxiety we headed to the lab (which was actually within the same office).
I sat in the chair of torture, reminding myself of that time in High School when I passed out getting routine blood work. I smile, facetiously as I felt my heart begin to beat harder with fear of history repeating itself. I HATE needles….but I knew it was a necessary part, for US, towards becoming a family. I offered my left arm, with the good vein, and found my Husbands eyes to distract me. She poked…..
“Hum…” The plebotomist shrugged as she pulled out the needle, “I really thought I had you there.” She looked up at my face as an apology, “I am going to have to stick you again. Sorry Hun.”
My mind immediately went into a fury. Hon? What the crap is that, some kind of an apology? Does she not understand that we are here because we cannot conceive on our own? A little freekin sympathy would be nice!
AN ASIDE: What is difficult to understand about getting and going through fertility assistance of any kind, is that there is instant shame in those experiencing it. There is some kind of unexplainable embarrassment for couples who cannot do things the ‘normal’ way and it makes us extremely defensive over everything.
“Hey,” My Prince whispered as he lifted my chin back towards his gaze as a distraction. Then he silently mouthed ‘relax’ with a half-grin. I listened.
Baseline testing for fertility requires a number of very specific tests. I will try not to go into too much detail as the risk of boring you, however, I believe it is important to know some of this stuff.
FSH – Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) helps to control a woman’s menstrual cycle and more specifically the production of eggs.
Estradiol – This is an important form of estrogen and it measures a woman’s ovarian function and helps in the evaluation of the quality of eggs the woman will likely release during this cycle.
Luteinizing Hormone Level – (LH) This hormone is linked to ovarian hormone production and egg maturation. The LH test measures woman’s reserve (egg supply).
Serum Progesterone – Progesterone is a female hormone produced by the ovaries during ovulation. It causes the endometrial lining of the uterus to get thicker, making it receptive for a fertilized egg. A serum progesterone test is used to determine if ovulation is occurring.
Prolactin – The hormone prolactin is made by the pituitary gland and causes milk production. This test is done to find out why woman are not menstruating, or why they are having infertility problems.
Androgen – Testosterone is probably the most well know androgen and it affects function of both men in woman in the conception process. For woman this test is used to determine the cause of irregular periods or a low libido.
(Paraphrased from www.fertilityauthority.com)
After a third poke and 12 vials of blood, I was finished. I took a deep cleansing breath and sat up. My husband took the seat of torture. I spoke as an effort to convince myself I was not going to pass out, “Your turn for torture!” I pointed at him like a gossipy teenage girl. The plebotomist turn to us “Oh no. I am sorry they were not more clear. They do not need a blood sample from you, they need a specimen sample.” My husband and I looked at each other in confusion and then back to the now red-in-the-face young girl. “They need a Sperm sample.”
My naïve mind pictured how the heck they were going to get that and I felt my head tilt to the right as my eyebrows scrunched together. The young woman, whom we would get to know very quickly as Elizabeth, pointed down the hall from which we had just walked. “I will get someone to take you.”
My husband and I joined hands, sweaty palms and followed the Nurse Practitioner. I felt more like I was walking the Green Mile then I did a Doctors Office. She stopped in front of a door with a window, bordered by dark brown faux-wood, vinyl blinds closed. She placed a sterile cup on the counter with a brown paper bag and started her rehearsed speech as she pointed throughout the room like a seasoned flight attendant.
“There are magazines in the lower cabinet as well as videos in the upper cabinet. Please be sure to fill this form our completely so that you can turn it in with your samples today. You can turn it in at the checkout counter.” She left the dungeon without a salutation.
My Prince and I looked around the room in disbelief. There was an IKEA made brown ‘leather’ love seat in the corner of the room nestled next to a small end table with a Walmart-priced lamp. In the corner, between the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ cabinets there was a stainless steel sink with a hospital grade paper towel dispenser. The focal point if the room however, was the chair in the center of the room…..looked like a dentist chair more than some kind of chair which would make one feel more ‘at home’ for what we were required to do in here. My eyes glanced towards the door imagining myself abandoning my husband, but my gaze caught some sort of religious statue on the table next to my escape route……I guess to pay our pennants for what we were asked to do in this dungeon of shame.
We looked at one another and just started laughing….seriously, if you cannot find the humor in all of it, then what were we going to do?
My husband and I did as asked, walked the hall of shame to drop off our brown paper bag, placed on our sunglasses and bowed our heads as we exited the lobby.
I wept in the car from sheer embarrassment…..for some reason my husband seemed very proud.
We wait for a phone call.
PS There is a lot of waiting in fertility testing and fertility treatments. Get used to it.
Upcoming Blog Post: Fertility Testing for the Ladies
We are starting a segment on this blog in the coming weeks called ‘Everything no one tells you.’
It will start with a segment on conception; the truth, insane as it may be, on what we do and do not truly know about the conception, growth and birth of a baby. It will then move into Everything No One Tells You about Pregnancy and Birth. We will laugh as fellow mothers, cry as friends in loss and rejoice in holding our children for the very first time.
It will walk you through a 7 year journey to parenthood. A mother’s first pregnancy loss as well as first successful pregnancy and birth. You will endure the physical and emotional struggle with her as she journals the events.
The Blog is going to cover what no one tells you about these events in life, both medical and emotional as well as open your eyes to the honest, and yet sometimes raw, truths about becoming a parent.
Please share with anyone you know who is struggling to get pregnant, or maybe a friend who just suffered a miscarriage because we will work our way through these events in laughter, tears and joy. Healing is on the horizon my friends!
So Bean and I went through a number of different types of carriers and had found a few temporary solutions, but nothing permanent. It was back to the books – and the Dr. Sears Baby Book Bible for me. He discussed an adjustable carrier called a ‘Ring Sling.’ It sounded more to me like something for a broken limb, but after some research I would discover different. At first, I was reminded of the Standard/Non-adjustable sling that I tried for free, which was unsuccessful (www.sevenslings.com), but the more I read about this Ring Sling carrier the more I wanted to try it. First, a Bing search; Mya Wrap, Bibetts, pure cotton, linen, quick-dry etc etc. I was already overwhelmed with the choices. I elected to start with name-brand carriers since I had little knowledge of this style. I got Girasol, FrogMomma, Mya Wrap, and more and although I was learning more about the Ring Sling style, I was becoming very overwhelmed with the pricing….most were almost $100 and many were more then $50. I had already spent more then this on my Ergo and that was a failed attempt. I was so discouraged…and tired…because it had been days since I had worn Bean and she was back to her 2 hour feeding intervals. On a whim, I did an internet search for “DIY Ring Slings” and came across a number of YouTube videos! I have never had formal training in sewing as I was more if a ‘learn-as-you-g0’ type gal. I was however, willing to give this a try. My journey to JoAnns Fabric (TM) was that same morning and I stood in every isle, inspecting every bolt of fabric for touch, stretch and quality, finally selecting a Flannel Giraffe print; stylish and cute. I then went over to the crafting section to look for my rings….what would a ring sling be without rings? I found a 3″ wide pair of unstained wood rings and grabbed them. I felt as though the wood would be strong enough for hold and the unstained wood, would be the healthier choice if Bean ever decided to use them as a chew toy. After cuts, mistakes, re-stitching, measuring and stitching yet again….and again…..I had finished it. My first Ring Sling….I was ugly, but I was confident this would work. I ran upstairs, where Bean was screaming to be fed and after her routine, 40 minute feeding, I tried getting her into it……FAIL. I may have been able to sew this sucker together but it was a whole new monster to thread it and get her into it….Back to YouTube. After a little ‘research’ and I only use that term loosely, because I don’t know how credible many YouTube videos actually are, I figured it out. In two rings and out one….threaded. I pulled the tail of the fabric tight enough so Bean would sit right at chest-level and I could easily pull the tail again to adjust. We stood over the bed as recommended in one of the videos….just in case. Bean was in…..tail pulled……fabric tucked under her rear-end and face/nose clear from fabric for oxygen. Check. Check. Check. She was quiet as I tried desperately to adjust the Sling so that she sit more taut against my body. Then….a crack. At first I thought it was the hardwood floors because Lord knows they are squeaky in the Winter…but then I felt Bean’s body pull from mine. CRACK! as I pulled the sling taut again. I was lucky enough to have had my left hand under her rear end when the wooden purse handles snapped in half from the ‘all of 15lbs’ my daughter weighed. They broke, she almost fell and I was back to square one. I believed in this style Sling. I just needed the right tools. So after more research, I found accompany that made Rings specifically for Slings and took a risk ordering a few pair. Best risk I ever took. The rings were a success, as were the 4 more Ring Slings I made that week. I became a Master Threader, could get my child into it without thinking through the process and never had another ‘sling break’ again. She could sit at my chest, with her ear over my heart. I could cover her head with excess fabric in order to keep strange people from rubbing her hair. As she gained head control I was able to sit her on my hip and she could see the world as I carried her. She LOVED it! I mean I think she actually preferred the Sling over her own mother….lol. She was sleeping better and consistently fed in a minimum of 3 hour intervals (this was success for us). I thought to myself….there HAS to be other mothers out there who have dealt with situations like mine! I cannot possible be the only one going through these kinds of struggles! There in lies the birth of Flip & Bean LLC (formally called Slings and Things). I started a small, home-based business which targeted the idea that a good quality Ring Sling should be available to all parents and at an affordable price. I joined the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) and read everything I could find of safety, quality affordability and market for Ring Slings and launched a small Etsy shop. It took me almost 6 months to sell my first Ring Sling, but after that, there was no turning back. We are a 100% word-of-mouth, family and faith based business that I run out of my own home. In under 2 years we have gone from selling Ring Slings to becoming a full fledged LLC and now offer not only carriers. but Patent Pending Carrier Covers! (Kiddie Kloak line). Last fall we also launched our personal URL! (www.flipandbean.com) SOOOOOOO….in order to celebrate our LOVE for baby-wearing and our LOVE for the Ring SLING we want to share the LOVE with YOU!!!!!! After visiting our website www.flipandbean.com and tell me your favorite pattern of Signature Ring Slings…..I will pick a comment at random and GIVE ONE AWAY for FREE!!!!!! You have all day to comment and first thing Sunday February 15th, EST (when I get up) I will select one of you, at random, to received the free sling that you selected – FOR FREE! Thank you for following us, supporting small business and a working SAHM and HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! -From Flip & Bean!
After all the research I did on the benefits of Baby-wearing I just knew this would be the answer to our sleepless nights. I was determined to find the best carrier for Bean and me.
I started with a free Sling from Seven Slings (www.sevenslings.com). Well, I paid the $12 shipping and got a free sling. After a number of attempts, I just did not feel like my daughter was safe in it. If I put her in the newborn hold (like a nursing or feeding position) her chin would rest in a deep slouch on top her chest. I felt like she wasn’t able to breathe in this position and because this particular carrier is not size adjustable, there was no other position that worked for a 15lb, 4 month old. I tossed it to the back of the closet.
Next, I pulled out a strap carrier. It was one I found in the local Walmart clearance section while I was pregnant. I don’t remember the brand, but it was the same style as a standard Strap Carrier, with soft cushioning all around. The upside, was that she could sit in front and rest her head on my chest, which is what I was looking for. The downside, was that the straps were not meant for a person my size and I never got it to fit well enough to wear. There was also no head support in this one, so I continuously had to hold her head while I wore her – which in the end, kind of defeated the purpose of wearing her.
At my baby shower, before my daughter, and thanks to technology, I had received 3 Moby wraps. If you have never heard of this type of baby carrier you can learn more about them here – (http://mobywrap.com). However, as a brief summary – they are about 6 yards of 95% cotton/5% spandex fabric that you contort around your bodice and hips in order to hold the baby. It took me a number of attempts as well as a lot of You Tube videos in order to figure this one out….but when I did….magic. I felt as though it held Bean safely, her head laying on top my chest so she could hear my heart. According to my Dr. Sears ‘bible’ if I wore her for 3 or more hours every day she would rest better at night….well….I think I wore her for 8 hours that first day….and for the first time in her 4 months of life, she slept a full 3 hours between feedings! I was in love! I worn Bean as often as possible; cleaning the house, vacuuming, washing floors, in the bathroom, walking to get the mail, walking the dogs, talking on the phone, grocery shopping, at church, at restaurants, and schools. Bottom line; she loved it, she was safe in it and I could simply pull the fabric over her head in public places so no creepy strangers would try to touch her. Heaven.
So, I know what you are thinking – this is too good to be true. How could the answer to this ‘high-needs” baby just be in a baby carrier? Well, you are not wrong unfortunately. Although the Moby was my saving grace for those first few months, she outgrew it quickly. I tried to DIY a wrap with more fabric, or wider panels, but it was a flop. The Moby found its way to the carrier graveyard with Dr. Strappy and Mr. Seven Slings.
I had a $200 gift card to Babies-R-Us…so shopping I went. I had been eying an Ergo a friend had for sometime but was waiting to buy it. Well, with ‘cash’ in my pocket I took the plunge. I knew nothing about the Ergo carrier before I bought it, other then the fact I had 2 or 3 friends who’s children lived in it. I bought it in black, with the infant insert. (http://store.ergobaby.com). I went straight home and took it out of the box and started trying to figure it out. My first impression, “holy crap – this is huge!.’ Bulk, it had a LOT of bulk to it and even if Bean liked it, it was not going to be easy to fit it into my diaper bag or purse.
Moving on. I got her in it. Then, I walked.
You know the ‘walk.’ That walk that every parent does to soothe their crying child. You go in circles, or up and down the hall. Anything to make the crying cease…..am I wrong? Aren’t you smiling right now because you ‘remember those days’ or crying because ‘today are those days.’
As I walked, I realized that I must have put it on incorrectly because it began to hurt my shoulder blades. I ignored the pain and continued my walk….until she fell asleep. I reached up behind my head and unclipped the strap to a euphoria similar to the one where you unbutton your pants after Thanksgiving Dinner. I sat, or plopped, onto the couch, sleeping baby on my chest, Ergo strapped to my hips and started crying. Was I ever going to find a carrier that worked for us?
So when the sleep ‘training’ failed epically, I decided it was ‘back to the books.’ I used Dr. Sears’s “The Baby Book” most often as it seemed to understand what I was going through. It actually has a section called ‘High Maintenance babies.’ I felt like I wasn’t alone in this and most mothers would agree, that is an important part of surviving the first year.
My husband and I had previously taken a 12 weeks birthing course entitled ‘The Bradley Method.’ In one of the weeks we went, there was an entire lesson on baby wearing. They brought in all sorts of contraptions; some of which I thought might carry laundry or groceries better, at the time. Mei Tai, Ring Sling, Ergo, Baby Bjorn & Moby. My brain was on fire and retained almost nothing from the class that night. (Besides the fact that the class was during dinner time and I was 8 months pregnant).
Next, I did what any desperate mother would do; I googled it.
Hundreds and hundreds of links to carriers and opinions and rules and regulations and recalls only left me more confused. So instead of focusing on a style of carrier I began to research the benefits of carrying.
According to Baby Wearing International the following benefits are true for children who are carried.
“• Happy Babies. It’s true … carried babies cry less! In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that babywearing for three hours a day reduced infant crying by 43 percent overall and 54 percent during evening hours. [43%? I would give my left arm for 10% less crying!]
• Healthy Babies. Premature babies and babies with special needs often enter the world with fragile nervous systems. When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes—walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses. Research has even shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not. [This would conquore more then one battle for my first-born; we need a steady weight gain in order to keep the pediatrician quiet AND my daughter was considered a preemie, being born before 37 weeks. These words were music to my ears]
• Confident Parents. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our babies’ cues successfully. Holding our babies close in a sling allows us to become finely attuned to their movements, gestures, and facial expressions. Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction deepens the mutual attachment between parent and child, and is especially beneficial for mothers who are at risk for or suffering from postpartum depression. [I desperately longed to ‘get to know’ my daughters cues more confidently. I was beginning to beat myself up as a mother and slipping into a introverted state of depression].
• Loving Caregivers. Baby carriers are a great bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, adoptive parents, babysitters, and other caregivers. Imagine a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby isbecoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements, and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Baby carriers are beneficial for every adult in a baby’s life. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you! [Being able to have my husband soothe our daughter would give me a well deserved 10 minute break!]
•Comfort and Convenience. With the help of a good carrier, you can take care of older children or do chores without frequent interruptions from an anxious or distressed infant—which helps to reduce sibling rivalry. Baby carriers are also wonderful to use with older babies and toddlers; you can save those arms and go where strollers can’t. Climbing stairs, hiking, and navigating crowded airports all can be done with ease when you use a well-designed baby carrier! [Okay – lets not even discuss future siblings.]”
Dr. Sear’s book mentioned that a worn baby will grow to know, love and trust their caregiver enough to start sleeping longer periods of time. Well, with a 3 month old who was still feeding every 2 hours….and taking 40 minutes each feeding…..I was willing to try anything!
STEP ONE: Research baby wearing. DONE.
Now it was on to finding a carrier that worked for me…..