Sunday, June 24, 2007

Great Cake Day!

I sort of cheated. I didn't make my cake. It's from a celebration/shower that my church had for Rory this Sunday. We joined this church towards the end of my pregnancy and several sweet ladies have been dying to have cake and punch ever since. Neither Mr. Mandolyn nor I had been to church regularly in well over ten years, so finding somewhere that felt like home seemed like it would be a near-impossible task. Except that it wasn't. We only tried one church in our great quest, but we like this place a lot. It's a good fit for us. It's pretty small, and very close-knit without being pushy or overwhelming. We found out recently that our minister and his wife have Clomid twins, after four miscarriages. It's not like I consider infertility experience a requirement, but it sure makes things more meaningful then to hear our baby introduced to the congregation as an answer to prayers. We've heard over and over again what a blessing she is and how they love to celebrate babies. Amen, folks.

Happy Great Cake Day!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A View From the Infertile Window

A few days ago I had a feeling of "I'm really not entirely sure how I truly feel about that" lurking around. We found out that my husband's cousin is pregnant. Not much out of the ordinary there (that we know about)- they wanted to have a baby and -poof- got pregnant. Good for them. But the weird part is that they have a website set up with several couples from their church. These people all got together and decided that they wanted to have babies this year and set up a joint website to follow everyone's progress. They use it as an open diary for each other and the world in general to view. Now, I can see to the non-infertile how this sounds like a fun, innocent idea. To me, it sounds like pure Internet Hell. Can you imagine? What if one of the couples has trouble conceiving? Or miscarries? Or they get to look at how nicely everyone else in their little circle is coming along with their pregnancies while sitting at home in a pool of tears wondering what is wrong with them and why can't it work for them like it does for everyone else. And then they can go to church and see all the couples in their little baby club, and try to pretend that everything is perfectly fine. It's not unlike what happens every single time infertility strikes, but I can't imagine that kind of gestational innocence. I don't remember it. I wish that I weren't so cynical about their. I wish that I thought is was cute. For their sake, I hope that it all works out for them. I hope all of their group members end up with a baby at the same time. How ridiculously adorable. How perfectly nauseating. I hope they never have to realize how close they are to the edge.

We watched Apocalypto a few nights ago. Well, "watched" is kind of a loose interpretation. I snoozed through most of the middle, which had nothing to do with the entertainment value and everything to do with the fact that it as after midnight. Mr. Mandolyn and I were both radio-tv-film majors and sometimes rent movies because we feel like we're supposed to. I realize the rationale is mostly ridiculous, but we do the rent movies through the mail thing so it doesn't cost extra to pretend that we got more out of those film criticism classes than we actually did.

At any rate, one of the story arcs didn't sit well with me. One of the characters is made fun of in his tribe because of his inability to produce a child. And not merely called names or made to feel like an outsider, but cruel, physical jokes. And everyone joins in- his peers, his mother-in-law, his elders, the children in the tribe. It took my breath away. I guess we've all kind of felt like that on the inside. Infertility makes you feel like you're the butt of a horrific joke. But to see it played out on screen so openly...and in ancient times...made it rumble around in my stomach.

It's not a new realization, but one that seems to be a recurring theme. Things are just different from the perspective of an infertile. Not worse. Just different, and it's a little shocking now and then to discover the view from another window.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Rory Story- Long Overdue

At 7:30am on May 11th we checked in on the labor and delivery floor. I wasn't nearly as nervous as I thought I might be. I was induced shortly after and realized that the cute little adorable tightening sensations that I'd felt prior to that moment were not in fact actual contractions. I decided on an epidural sometime around lunchtime (which for me was a tasty grape popsicle...who knew it could taste so good?), called my dad, who is a nurse anesthetist, and personally thanked him for every woman he's ever numbed. Mr. Mandolyn wanted to watch, which was apparently only allowed if he sat down. My doctor came in to check on my every couple of hours and it seemed like everything was progressing...sort of. He and the nurse had a hell of a time checking me out because of the placement of my cervix. Who me? Anatomical issues? Anyone surprised? I came in at almost 2cm dialated and progressed to 3, then 4, then 5. Then 5. Then still 5. The baby's head seemed to really enjoy the -2 position and didn't seem interested in engaging any further. Still, both my doctor and I preferred to have this baby without a c-section and she was never in distress, so we forged ahead until 7:30pm. My cervix was swelling, I was still at 5cm, Baby's head still hadn't come any farther down, and my doctor could feel a 5cm lump on my baby's head from her 12 hour effort. At 7:30, we decided to prep for a c-section. I was disappointed for a few seconds, but the whole staff was so incredibly great about making me laugh and feel comfortable and at ease with the process that it didn't last long. Mr. Mandolyn got to watch this process, too, but interestingly enough, was allowed to stand. Needles mean that men must sit to watch, but cutting his wife's flesh and retrieving a small human? No chair necessary. We were amused. It went very smoothly and very calmly and at 8:16pm I got a quick glimpse of Rory Leigh, the most beautiful baby girl in the whole world (yes, there is a bias there). We realized that her big ol' head wasn't going to fit through my inadequately sized pelvis. My awesome CRNA took our camera and took picturs for us and pulled back the big sheet that was in front of my face to give me a view of the nurses and Mr. Mandolyn cleaning up my daughter. They brought her over and the three of us just stared at each other and I forgot all about whatever was going on with my body beneath the sheet curtain. I heard "What a Wonderful World" playing on the OR speakers as I was wheeled into a recovery room. At that moment, everything was wonderful. It still is.

I did really well with my own recovery and we had Rory in our room every second that we could. Surrendering her for an hour or so in the morning (pediatrician) and evening (bath, weight check, etc.) was really difficult. I think most of my nurses wanted me to have her in the nursery overnight, but I just couldn't do it. I had to stare at her little face. Sleep, schmeep. I don't regret losing any sleep because I was marveling at my daughter. Yeah, I'm still a little guilty of that, too. My mom says it fades. I don't know, I have my doubts.

We've only had to overcome one major hurdle thus far, and considering what it took to get to this point, I've decided that we're still in the lucky category. She started out at 7lbs 120z. Breastfeeding was starting out as a nightmare. She latched on great, I wasn't cracked or sore or anything, but milk wasn't coming in. And my daughter was HUNGRY. I completely broke down in the hospital when Rory was so frustrated at my boobs and they're lack of nutritional content that she was screaming and shaking her little head back and forth. All the feeling of womanhood that I'd spent nine months delighting in fell apart in three seconds. It was awful. Helpless. Horrible. An angel of a nurse came to help out as two of the three members of our little family were in hysterics. She gave us some glucose water to try sprinkling on my nipples to get Rory to keep suckling and encourage my milk to come in. It sort of worked in that it ceased tears for a while. The nurse also brought some formula, "just in case we want to use it." "You don't have to," she said, looking at my red puffy eyes, "but I want you to have it here in case you want to try it, sweetie." Barbara. She was such a sweetheart. I knew when she told me not to blame myself that she was right, but I still broke down at the thought of not being able to provide the simplest need for my child on my own. I just wanted my body to do something that might redeem itself as an actual functioning female. Rory was discharged at 6lbs 15oz and we were instructed to see our pediatrician the following day. At home later that afternoon, we decided to resort to the formula. She was starving, poor baby, and I still had no milk. No engorgement. No soreness. No heavy feeling. No confidence in my womanhood. Lots of love for my tiny human, though, so through a fit of frustrated tears, my husband helped me realize that seeing her happy and calm with an actual full feeling was worth anything. She got down to 6lbs 11oz before slowly and steadily climbing back up. My milk finally has come in, although in pathetic supply. (Never any engorgment or other signs of a plentiful milk supply.) For now, I give her whatever she can get from me and supplement with formula. And I've also come to realize that it isn't about me, it's ultimately about my daughter and her wellbeing. I've done a lot of thinking about a Stirrup Queen's post that stuck with me. Mel says that "natural is nice. But any method that helps you reach your goal is best." And she's absolutely right. I know this. I try to consider that since we had to trick my body hormonally into getting pregnant, the fact that my boobs work at all is somewhat of a miracle. My doctor's wife had the same milk production issues with their kids, so I feel like he understands where I'm coming from. And hey, he knows Rory really well now, since we're in the office every few days. But it's all ok. Today at the doctor's office she weighed 8lbs 2oz, one day shy of four weeks. She's doing great and starting to be more and more aware of everything around her. And it's absolutely wonderful.

Half of the time I have no idea what day it is, what time it is, where my wallet is, and if my cell phone is charged, but I love this. I love all of it. I love her smile (even if it is just gas), watching her sleep, little fingers clinging to mine, the way she scrunches up to get comfortable, the sounds she makes and the smell of her breath. I love the way she screams during diaper changes, the funny faces she makes when she farts, cleaning her face after she spits up, waking up after a few hours to take care of her and trying to figure out what her cry means. I will never tell people that they don't want this, that parenting is something to be feared or unwanted. This is exactly what I longed for. I hope with all of my heart that everyone who wants to experience this so badly gets their turn. It should be fair. I feel a little like a cheater for having it so good lately. Surely I don't deserve this. I love it, I love it, I love it. I love her. It's a wonderful, wonderful world.