All the Sun For You

A mom, two boys, a husband, and a whole lot of adventure!


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Photograph

As I scurry to put the most important memories of M on this new blog, so that I don’t forget too many things, I find myself walking down memory lane.  The birth photos I posted just a bit ago had not been looked at, in their entirety, in months.  It was so fun to go back and look at them all again.  So many memories are packed into those 305 photos, it’s amazing.  I actually don’t remember too much about M’s birth because I had a scheduled C-section (breech baby) and as the drugs wore off, my memory apparently started to fade as well.  I remember everything up until being wheeled out of the delivery room – and that was when it all went blank (or rather – very, very foggy).  I honestly couldn’t remember holding M for the first time.  I knew I’d done it, but I couldn’t remember anything about it.  His birth photos brought it all back for me, and I am so grateful for them.  I am grateful for our photographer, Denise, who told me stories about each photo so that I could remember even more of the most important day of my life.

Photographs are very important to me.  Obviously, right?  I hired a photographer to attend my birth for 9 hours!  Denise and her girls have become like family to us, and we see her weekly.  A week without seeing Denise is a very sad week for me.  We are two peas in a pod – and M LOVES her.  He talks to her in a way that he does not talk to anyone else.  I truly think he knows that she was there when he was born – I think the sound of her voice is burned into his memory from that very first day.

Denise is a phenomenal photographer.  I have nothing but wonderful things to say about her and her business partner, Lindy.  They, in my opinion, are the premier baby/child/family photographers in the Central Iowa region – and you would likely agree with me if you checked out their site.  I am so lucky to have found her!  She puts us all at ease and can get photos of M that are priceless (well – they do have a price – but I’m willing to pay it!).  Denise and Lindy have their own blog and they document many of their sessions there.  M has been the topic of many a White Linen blog!  I am so grateful for this because it allows me to share M’s photos with everyone without having to post them to FB or attach them to emails, etc.

Here are M’s newborn photos.  These were taken when he was just a week old.  Breathless!  I just love them!

We had 4 month photos takes, and a few of them are actually on White Linen’s home page.  M won a contest to be on their home page – makes me very proud  😉

We had 6-7 month photos taken a while back right after Christmas, and they’re the ones up on Denise’s blog right now.  The session in her studio (teal background) could not have gone better!  I learned that the trick to wonderful, smiley baby photos is to keep your baby up until they’re over-tired and WILD.  It made for a very rough afternoon, but the photos are the best we’ve ever gotten of M!  When Denise came to the house a couple of weeks later to take the photos of M on the bed (we use that bed as our “ages and stages” prop – meaning we take his picture there at each milestone to show his growth), she pulled out her camera and took photos of him and me playing and just enjoying each other in the house.  The candid photos are by far my favorites!  I can’t stop looking at them!

Denise has offered to take “lifestyle photos” of M, B, and me.  I have always wanted a photographer to just follow me around and take photos of my favorite moments (hence the birth photos), and that’s exactly what she’ll be doing!  She wants to capture M’s bedtime routine so we’re starting with dinner (there will be split pea soup or the quinoa to capture his “I hate this food” look!) and then going into bath time, book time, and bedtime.  I CANNOT WAIT!

Denise has also offered to do the same thing for when we do our next round of IVF for M’s potential sibling, and if our RE says OK, we’ll be taking her up on this (she is such a great friend to us!).  I think it’s really important to capture the process, the tears, the joys, the heartache, the EVERYTHING that has to do with the IF struggle.  As much as I hated our IF process, I would not trade it for the world because it brought M to us (not to mention that it taught me so many things).  We are infertile – it’s part of who we are as a family – so why not document it in pictures?  Most people’s pregnancy journeys start with good old-fashioned s-e-x and a positively pink pee stick.  Yay for them (truly!)!  They may take a photo of said pee stick and then move onto fun stuff like ultrasound photos and belly measurements.  We started with blood draws, and tests, and drugs, and needles, and unpleasant ultrasounds, etc.  I want it all captured next time, even if we fail.

I’ll leave you with our family photos, which I have permission to post.  They are sprinkled with a couple of shots here at the house, as well as two in his Halloween costume.  The family photos were taken on a rather cold day in November, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at them.  As I write this entry, I am surrounded by these photos in my living room.  They make me so very happy and warm  🙂

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Birth Story

I could write all about M’s birth, but our photographer, Denise, at White Linen Photography did such a great job describing it from her perspective, that I’ll just link to her blog entry about it instead.  🙂

http://www.whitelinenphotography.com/blog/2011/08/matthew-lewis-birth-photography/

M’s birth photos (which are not at all too “up close and personal”) are used for her sample birth photos, so they are all loaded here:  http://www.whitelinenphotography.com/site/#/galleries/birth-photography/1/

Here’s a sneak peak at them:

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I Do Cook!

I may not be good at making babies, but I sure am getting good at making baby food!

Prior to M’s arrival, I committed myself to making all of his food from scratch – which is amazing because I don’t even make food for B and me.  The reason behind this is that we really wanted him starting out in life with good, natural things.  He is perfect the way he is, and as B says a lot, “why mess that up?”  So homemade baby food it is for our boy!

I do not make everything organic – simply because if I’m taking the skins off, I’m comfortable with him having regular fruits and veggies.  It’s not easy to find organic versions of everything he eats – like asparagus.  Even though he’s eating every last bit of that veggie, I buy regular asparagus because regular asparagus is better than NO asparagus.  And the boy LOVES asparagus (we do not love the diapers they produce).  The one thing I won’t be swayed on though is his meat.  He must have all-natural, hormone-free meat.  We prefer it to be grass fed as well.

Tonight, I made turkey.  We will see if he likes it.  I’m not sure he will – he’s starting to be very independent with his eating habits.  For instance, I served him split pea stew today (which was so, so good!) and he fought it like he’s never fought a serving of food before.  I was stunned and humored by his reaction!  He actually refused it, which he has never done.  I can usually coax him into eating anything by serving a bit of fruit in between bites, but not this time.  After he refused me for the final time, he made this hilarious face, leaned forward, opened his mouth, and threw it up all over his high chair cover (yes, we were out in public).  I should have been horrified, but I laughed so hard (and so did my lunch friends, thank goodness) that it hurt!

Tomorrow will be a real test, because I’m presenting him with turkey and its texture is very strange.   I think I’ll do this at home though – JUST IN CASE!

The recipe book I use is “Cooking for Baby” from Williams Sonoma, but it’s also on Amazon.com with a different cover (which makes me wonder how many other “WS” cookbooks aren’t really exclusive to them).  I have made so many things for M that it really excites me!  When you cook for your baby, they are trying so many different things much earlier than if you’d just buy prepackaged food for them.  This kid’s palate is amazing!  Here is a list of what I’ve made and his reaction to each.

 

Carrots – loves, loves, LOVES carrots!

Sweet pea puree – took 3 tries but now loves it! (Why, then, does he not love my split pea stew?!)

Spaghetti squash – no, no, no (I didn’t make him try it more than once because I tried it and thought it was awful)

Butternut squash – LOVES it!

Sweet potato puree – This is his comfort food – it is his favorite veggie.  If he’s having a rough day (few and far between), he gets sweet potatoes

Pear puree – LOVES pears of all varieties – and I love them because they fix his constipation in no time flat!

Apple puree (applesauce) – LOVES it, but we limit it because it can be binding.  I use 4 different apples in one recipe and it’s so good that I also make it for B and me

Asparagus puree – Likes it an awful lot – I dare say he loves it.  We do not love the diapers afterwards because it’s hard to tell from smell if it’s #1 or #2

Green beans with mint – Just so-so, which is too bad because we have a lot of it

Baby’s turkey – We don’t know yet

Whipped cauliflower – Loves this now that he’s used to it.  We treat it as mashed potatoes because of the texture (we are limiting potatoes)

Whipped broccoli – Just so-so

Blueberry sauce – Meh.  We need to mix it with pears to get him to eat it (which is just fine).  I used frozen blueberries and will try again but with with fresh berries

Cherry puree – Meh.  Again – we mix it with pears to get him to eat it and I made it from frozen cherries which I wouldn’t do again

Peach puree – Loves this if I don’t overcook it!

Nectarine puree – Loves this if I don’t overcook it!

Plum puree – LOVES IT!

Avocado – Did not like it, but we’ll try it again because I really want him to like it (I don’t like avocados and I know I’m missing out!)

Potato and butternut squash stew – This is his favorite food that isn’t a pure fruit.  B and I love it as well – it is awesome!

Split pea stew – HATED it (and I don’t like the word, ‘hate,’ but that’s the only way to describe his reaction)!  We will try it again later in the week

Amaranth and plum swirl – No idea because I just made this tonight.  I’m not crazy about it

Squash and quinoa pilaf – No idea because I just made it tonight.  I thought it was awesome!

Baby’s stock – We don’t serve this to him.  It’s used to make his stews and other things.  It smells really good!

 

As you can see, I do try everything I make for M.  I just don’t think it’s right to make your kids eat foods that you won’t at least try yourself (and that goes for jarred food as well.  If we were feeding him prepackaged food, I would certainly try it before giving it to him).  What I have found from trying his food is that there are things that I like as well, that I would never have tried if I wasn’t making M’s food for him.  In fact, the potato and squash stew is so good that I will make it for all of us over the years – he’s lucky I didn’t hold some back for myself  😉

I am done with his 7-8 month foods now.  When he turns 9 months old, things will get more difficult because most of those meals are not appropriate to freeze.  I will need to be cooking daily for him which is not what I’m doing now.  But – I love doing it so I’ll keep it up!


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Note of Cuteness (NOC)

As M does cute things that I desperately want to remember, I am going to post them here because after all, this blog is for him.  So here’s the first “Note of Cuteness,” or NOC for short.

M loves bath time more than anything.  He knows the minute you start taking off his outfit, that it’s time for a bath.  I was so sad the other day when he threw up all over himself, and I had to change his entire outfit and he thought he was getting a bath.  He looked so disappointed when I took him into his room to put on new clothes.  Had we not been walking out the door, I would have given him an extra bath!  But this is not my NOC tonight.

M has learned to crawl, and he’s quite efficient at it which came very quickly.  I stripped him down in his room tonight after I’d drawn his bath water (which he hadn’t seen, but had likely heard) and he immediately rolled onto his tummy, was up on his hands and knees, and took off for the bathroom.  Buck naked.  He was moving so fast that he left me behind as I put his clothes in the hamper.  I thought, “surely he isn’t headed for the bathroom.  He can’t know where he’s going.”  But he did.  He turned corners like I’ve never seen him turn corners before – he was so excited!  He’s a fast crawler for being so new at it, and this was like the ultimate race!  I wish I had a video of it.  I will strip him down in his room tomorrow night with a camera in hand!

For memories sake, here are some old bath time photos:

M with his trusty pal, Janie! She's even by his side at bath time!


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Welcome Back, My Friend!

I registered for a half marathon in Duluth (the much-loved “Grandma’s Marathon”) and found out today that I didn’t get in.  They run it as a random lottery and there were 8,200 registrants for 6,300 spots.  I’m disappointed.  I ran this half two years ago in 2010 when we were between cycles.  It was my sanity during such a crazy time – running was the one thing in my life that I had control over.  I didn’t run while we were cycling because – well – I don’t really know.  I know there was my unfounded concern about my ovaries getting all twisted up because they were the size of grapefruits (because I was quite the little hen) and quite honestly – I think I was just plain depressed.  No – I know I was just plain depressed.  But the bottom line is that when I did run, those runs were the happiest moments of my days, weeks, and months.  Running the half at Grandma’s gave me something to focus on (besides getting pregnant) – something to train for – SOMETHING TO CONTROL – and it made me HAPPY.

This year, I clearly do not have control over getting into the best half marathon in the Midwest.  This pains me just a little  😉

This all reminds me of the most important thing I learned from our IF struggle.  I am a control freak (no – I did not learn that while dealing with IF.  I already knew that!).  I.must.control.EVERYTHING.  I very vividly remember our wonderful RE talking to us from behind his desk, saying, “Courtney, I get the feeling that you need to be in control.  You’re not in control here.”  Whoa!  I knew he was right, but I was a little thrown off by this.  No one had ever said that to me before about something so important, or at least that I could remember.  And honestly, when he said that, I thought to myself, “well, I’m going to control what I can.”

I need a plan for everything.  I need a road-map.  I kept asking our RE, “but what if this cycle doesn’t work – what then?  I need to know what the plan is.”  He was very obliging to my craziness and did work out a very, very detailed plan for us and made promises I held him to after our FET cycle didn’t work (and thank goodness I did because that plan then led to our baby boy!).  Nothing we hoped would work worked – and this is hard for a controlling person to accept.  If I put my mind to something, and I KNOW I can do it, then I succeed.  It’s that simple.  I don’t put my mind to things I know I can’t be successful at because I think that’s a waste of my time.  Well – I thought I would be successful at getting pregnant – so I put my mind to it.  And I failed.  Time and time again – I failed.

All of those failures made me a better person – a less controlling person.  I learned very quickly to accept the fact that I can’t control everything in my life, no matter how hard I try.  I apply this to my everyday life, and this is a huge development (improvement) for me.  I went from pretty much controlling everything I possibly could, to not even having a desire to control the types of things I used to crave control of.

So today when I got rejected by Grandma’s, I let it roll off my back.  I mean – I did know there was a chance I wouldn’t get in and that it would have nothing to do with how hard I tried.  I didn’t even pre-book a hotel room like I did back in 2010 because I figured I probably wouldn’t get in since I’d been successful (lucky) already once before.  The odds, like IVF, were in my favor, but not strongly in my favor.  I accepted that and just hoped and waited.  I even found another half marathon in MSP to run just in case I didn’t get into Grandma’s.  I had a backup plan because I knew I had no control over my primary plan.  This type of behavior would not have occurred prior to my IF struggle.

Today, I registered for the MSP half marathon and I’m really excited about it!  It won’t be Grandma’s, but it will be fun and who knows, it may be better!  The one problem is that it’s two weeks before Grandma’s, so I’m already behind on my training.  I have some work to do – and it starts tomorrow.

Ahhhhh…. good old control…. welcome back, my friend!  Please keep your distance unless it has to do with my running schedule!


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Over the Hump

When you go through infertility for years, there is a very real chance that you may become a “bitter infertile,” and there’s an even bigger chance that once you become one, you won’t recognize it and will insist that you’re not one!  I certainly didn’t want to become a “bitter infertile” – but it happened.  I won’t lie – and I won’t sugar-coat it.  I was bitter – so very, very bitter.  Pregnancy announcements would completely ruin my week, I took every FB pregnancy post personally, and I about lost it in the parking lot of Sears when my husband informed me of an acquaintance’s easily acquired pregnancy.  I was in the trenches, and I was miserable.  Misery turned into bitterness.  What else can I say?

I always thought that once I finally got pregnant, that the bitterness would go away.  It didn’t.  While pregnant, I would read others’ blogs and would be so happy for them when they’d finally get their BFPs.  However, if a person wasn’t infertile and I heard of their pregnancy, I would feel those old feelings of jealousy creep up.  What in the world was wrong with me?  There I would be, with the grand prize kicking up a storm in my uterus, and I was still hung up on other people’s easily acquired pregnancies.  These are not my proudest memories of myself.

Even after my son was born, I couldn’t shake those feelings of jealousy and bitterness.  I wondered if I was always going to feel this way, even after we were done building our family.  And then… then my younger sister had a surprise pregnancy.  The woman who birthed two children in less time than it took me to get pregnant with ONE was pregnant again and standing in front of me in tears (holding her 8.5 month old daughter at the time).  Really?  REALLY??  How could this be happening to ME?

And that’s when the bitterness ended.  Her pregnancy wasn’t about ME.  Her fertility had nothing to do with my infertility (I believe it was my mother who actually said that to me).  She didn’t get pregnant AT ME.  She got pregnant.  End of story.  I used to always say, “I see no humor in, and have no sympathy for, people who accidentally get pregnant.”  That all changed when my baby sister had an unexpected pregnancy and was worried about what it would do to her relationship with her current baby.  I got to hear about all the things that this pregnancy was going to rock and I realized that as much as I wish I could accidentally get pregnant, that it could be a pretty hard thing to deal with if it actually happened.  (My sister is just fine now – and very excited about her new baby due next month!)

I was over the hump.

But was I?  I have always thought about blogging, because it’s important to me to track my experiences as a mother and a wife, and most importantly, as a member of this wonderful team that I am privileged to call my family.  But I never started a blog because I wasn’t sure where I fit in.  I certainly wasn’t still in the trenches of IF (even though I’ll likely be in them again soon), but I also wasn’t one of those new mothers who is lucky enough to think that baby-making and family building is all flowers and sunshine.  So I just dreamt of blogging and never did it.  Until now.

There is a new blogroll/community called PAIL – which stands for “Pregnant or Parenting After Infertility and/or Loss.”  Ahhhh… a place where I fit in!  It’s amazing how quickly the blogroll grew and how easy it is for me to now find others with similar experiences.  I think I’m going to enjoy it a lot!

So here I am – writing my thoughts and experiences on the internet.

And I think I’m finally over the hump!


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The Most Positive Time of the Year

It’s pre-spring – not quite spring, but definitely moving out of winter.  Living in Iowa, you usually brace yourself for an awful winter full of cold, wind, and snow.  This year has been different – it’s been warm, it’s been sunny, and it’s not been snowy.  I usually find my mind wandering to happy spring planning around early March, but given our mild (and I dare say, pleasant!) winter, I couldn’t help but start my spring planning in early February when I was out walking with my son in 65 degree temps.

This is the most hopeful time of the year for me.  I am a gal who laments the winter months because I don’t like darkness.  I crave sunshine and I need bright lights on wherever I go.  We burn through a lot of light bulbs at our house during the winter months.  It can be 0 degrees outside, but if it’s sunny, I’m a happy gal!  When the winter months show signs of fading away, I start planning – and I plan big!  I think of all the things I’m going to do during the spring, summer, and fall months.  I plan my race schedule, I plan our weekend trips, I plan a big vacation, and I plan outdoor activities for my family.  I’m a planner – and pre-spring is my busiest and most hopeful time of year!

My family used to consist of just my husband and me.  We were two peas in a pod who were extremely physically active.  We ran countless races together, did adventure races together as a co-ed team (and won one!), hiked, traveled, etc.  All of it, we did together.  Then we decided to have a baby.  For a couple who persevered at everything we tried, the family building process was hard on us.  It didn’t work.  We fought through a couple of years of infertility and after 2 IUI’s (both BFN’s), an IVF cycle (BFN), a FET cycle (very early miscarriage), and another fresh IVF cycle, we were finally pregnant.  Whew!  Two years and 3 months of hard, emotional work paid off and we were on our way – and we were blessed with an easy pregnancy and an even easier baby boy.  So now?  Now I plan activities for three!

I love this time of year, and I love it even more now that we have a baby.  My son, M, is 8 months old and is the happiest baby I’ve ever known.  Wherever he goes, he’s happy and engaging everyone around him.  He does not fuss and his attention is easily diverted if he gets a little squirmy.  He goes easily to strangers and loves to interact with everyone.  He’s EASY – and he’s FUN!  And now I’m planning our life and activities around him, and I LOVE it!  I get to plan activities for our family that involve other kids, the outdoors, and laughter!

Let the planning begin!