Category: articles

Thursday
November 1, 2012

What Is The Best Month For A Baby To Be Born In & Why?

What month should a baby be born in? For many, that’ll be a completely individual answer, relevant to the mother and father and no one else. A lot of people won’t give it a lot of thought either way but if a couple did take the time to plan their pregnancy, there are certain aspects that can provide a family with advantages based on when their child was born.

There are a collection of whimsical theories on when a child is born and the effect it will have on them in later life. Those born in October and November will apparently live longer whilst those born in August will be less academically successful than their September counterparts. But at the end of the day, a pregnancy will have its toll on both the mother and the father and whenever you plan for the child, it’s important that you prepare beforehand.

Avoiding Summer
This may be a strange suggestion, but giving birth in August can be largely unsatisfying for all those involved. Considering the mother will be at her biggest in June and July, the hottest months of the year, eating and drinking for two, it’s likely that the heat will take an extra strain on the expectant mother and so perhaps it’s better to plan around the summer months. However, being born in this time means the mother will have soaked up a lot of Vitamin D from the sun and could prove to be beneficial for the child in the long-run in terms of their general health, although they’ll be more likely to suffer from asthma and have different allergies.

Spring Months
With the previous argument against August and indeed all the summer months, many mothers decide that the spring months, such as April, are the ideal months to have their baby. This means that they miss out the summer months completely and need not worry about the excessive sweating and discomfort. They’ll be able to keep warmer through the winter and by the time spring comes, everything will be looking beautiful and may just contribute to the perfect time of having a baby. Also, the flu and cold season is over by March/April so if the child is born in May then they’re less likely to get ill during their first few weeks.

Potential Illness
Scientifically speaking, it’s also claimed that women pregnant during the winter months are less exposed to the sunlight, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, which could manifest itself as certain illnesses such as eating disorders and MS when the child is born. Most scientists agree that it’s good for a mother to expose herself to Vitamin D levels provided by the sun’s light. Babies born in this time of the year also seem to get more colds and flu-like symptoms whereas those born in the Spring/Summer months are far more likely to have certain allergies. At the same time, it’s difficult to pinpoint the time of birth to this as much of it will be down to lifestyle and surroundings.

In conclusion, having a baby requires a lot of thought between the parents and decisions will have to be made. For those that do care when their child is born, there are a lot of factors to take in. Overall, it’s different for everybody and for every disadvantage of a certain time of year, there will be a collection of advantages as well. At the end of the day, a family is going to be started and perhaps that will be all that matters.

About this article: This article has been written by Mary Murphy, the communications manager for Irish based website EUMom.ie – Ireland’s largest online community website for mothers with over 100,000 members. The website publishes regular articles and guides on pregnancy and articles about parenting. Feel free to visit the website and join our happy community – www.eumom.ie

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Thursday
July 5, 2012

How Much Do Bloggers REALLY Make?

I hope you all had a fabulous 4th of July. Our’s was low key/relaxing– we spent the day at the pool watching our little fishies grow stronger. This afternoon I got motivated to start working on blogging goals for the next year.

My 3 year blogging anniversary was in April. I feel pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished since then, but I still have a long way to get to where I’d like to be! Last week I was researching how much money bloggers really make and was surprised by all of the statistics. (I’m not sure of accuracy, but so far the stats are pretty similar in every article that I’ve read.) (more…)

Categories: articles, blogging tips
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Tuesday
May 8, 2012

Why Do You Blog?

The photo above is my motivation for blogging. I often daydream about the flexibility a really successful blogger has. Making money while sitting at the pool on a tropical vacation, or even spending a year in a faraway village, just to learn about a new culture/language.  A blogger has the ability to work ANYWHERE that there is an internet connection.  So, if I can make enough money doing this, I can live anywhere I want.  Not sure where that would be, but it sounds exciting, RIGHT?

I began blogging while pregnant with Harper. If you don’t know me personally, you probably don’t know that THIS was my first blog. It was a pretty simple blog.  Including details like my pregnancy weight gain, pics of my belly growth, a sad memory of the loss of our dog Rocket, and some of the details about the birth of our baby girl. Looking back on it is kind of funny. I used the most basic blogspot template, with nothing unusually interesting/creative about it.  I was a newbie to the blogging world and had no real SKILLS!   Eventually I added a few ads to the blog and would get really excited when I’d make up to $0.33/day!  It was this blog that gave me the inspiration to start a blog with a different purpose…TO MAKE MONEY!

When Harper was 4 months old I decided to start Spearmint Baby. The idea was to somehow inspire other Mamas & attempt to make a living while doing so. I knew that this would take time, hours in front of the computer writing posts/driving traffic/selling ads, etc.

I had NO MONEY to invest in a pretty logo/fun design & if you’ve been on this journey with me, you remember my original/simple blogspot design:

I was pretty proud once I figured out how to manipulate HTML code into a 3 column template, was able to sell ads, and include clicky links! Making money was SLOW & tedious! BUT, it did happen.  I finally saved enough money  to have a professional redesign Spearmint Baby.  I approached Jo Klima, my designer of choice and things ultimately became more beautiful.

So, at this point in my blogging career (yes, I consider it my job, even though most people are confused when I tell them this!) I bring in a few substantial paychecks/month. They make me smile/proud.   I’m not supporting my family YET, but I know that the potential is there.

WHY DO YOU BLOG? Do you have an online store, a business, or is it just personal?

P.S  My blogging 101 series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Wednesday
December 14, 2011

Paint! Finally!!

After many weekends of work, my husband finally finished flattening the walls in the baby room. He also installed  new insulation in the attic, which is accessed through the baby room closet, so our house will be toasty warm (and nice and cool in the summer) just in time for baby’s arrival.

So… colors. About a month ago, we went down to a local paint shop that carries Benjamin Moore paint. I like their selection of colors the best, but their prices are quite high, so we just wanted to get swatches there and then take them to Home Depot to be color matched.

After debating and consulting friends, we settled on Glass Slipper, Polar Ice, Summer Shower, and Lily White (from House Beautiful Magazine) all by Benjamin Moore. Then, I headed to Home Depot to get some little $3 sample jars so we could paint swatches on the wall.

The room isn’t primed yet, and it will take several coats of primer and paint because the plaster used to skim the walls sucks up the paint like a sponge, but here’s an idea of what the colors would look like on the walls.

I wore a heavy duty mask, so as not to inhale paint fumes. Sexy, huh?

We painted little abbreviations of the colors under each swatch so we’d remember which was which.

 

Watch out!

Ok, so here they are. From left: Summer Shower, Lily White, Glass Slipper, and Polar Ice.

And the verdict? We ruled out Glass Slipper right away because it was much too gray. Polar Ice was next to go because it was too dark. Now, we’re left with Summer Shower and Lily White. We both keep going back and forth between those two. They’re very different, but we like something about both of them. We have to decide soon, though, because we’re hoping to get it painted before Christmas (oh please oh please).

So, what do you think?

Here a picture of just those two without flash.

Wow, you can barely see Lily White in this one… maybe that’s a sign?

Tell me what you think. And we don’t have time to go get more samples, so it has to be one of these.

Categories: Amy, articles
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Wednesday
December 7, 2011

I miss my friends

Read all of my posts here.

My online friends, that is.

When I started blogging about our struggles TTC, so many women reached out to me who were also facing similar challenges. I bonded with these women over the internet and still follow their stories, as documented online. A few of them are now pregnant, but many are not and my heart aches to think about the pain they must be feeling.

Now that I’m pregnant, I know many of them no longer read my blog. How could I blame them? I remember I didn’t unsubscribe from any blogs of pregnant women during my year + of TTC and I hated myself for it. Every time I’d see a post by yet another pregnant woman, so many emotions would flood through me: longing, anger, jealousy, despair. This goes for social media, as well. I even wrote a post about how hard it was to see status updates about the aches and pains or even the joys of pregnancy. I always thought I’d be different when I was pregnant – I wouldn’t be like them. Haha… well, I’m sure you see what I’ve turned into…

I do try to be mindful about things I write in posts and status updates, but this is my life! It’s impossible to censor everything while still being honest. Plus, I want to document this time in my life so I can look back years down the line and remember how it felt to be pregnant for the first time. Also, I have every right to experience the joys of pregnancy, just as all women do. I have to remind myself of that everyday: it’s ok to enjoy this. It’s ok to feel so happy inside I might burst. And it’s ok to write about those feelings.

Right?

While I’m sad that I no longer have these connections with other women who are still struggling with infertility, I am happy that I’ve made new ones with other pregnant women and even moms. And I know one day my old friends will join me on this new journey.

Categories: Amy, articles
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Friday
December 2, 2011

Intersect

Intersect lets you capture your most important moments — your wedding, your baby’s first smile, your family vacation — on interactive storylines with maps. Think of us as a digital scrapbook, journal and travel diary rolled into one.

Luckily Lily’s mom saved some of her important moments, from her first pint-sized squawk to her high school graduation party. Scroll through Lily’s digital journal on Intersect.

“With Intersect, I am free to tell the tiny stories of my life, and the lives of my children, in a series of small vignettes. These personal little snapshots don’t have to stand alone because they are part of the timeline- they’re the color in the patchwork quilt of my life.”

Patti Aro (Check out Owen’s baby book)

Genieve starts chronicling her day with her first cup of coffee and continues until the last rays of sunshine disappear from the sky. To see some of Genieve’s favorite moments.

We know your lives are busy so we’ve made it easy to get started. With just a click of a button, you can import your Facebook or Instagram photos onto an Intersect storyline. We also have an iPhone app so you can post on the go. It’s your life…tell it with Intersect.

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post by Intersect.com
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Wednesday
November 30, 2011

Gender Reveal

Did you hear? It’s a BOY! We are so excited. I’ve been having a hard time working the past couple of days because all I want to do is look at baby boy clothes and toys. Read all about how we told our families here.

There are some things I learned from our little gender reveal weekend that I’d love to share with you all, in case you’d like to do something similar one day.

1. If baking isn’t your specialty, leave it to the pros. I had a great experience with Crumbs, but I’m sure other bakeries would accommodate similar requests.

2. Skip the cupcake flags or any other decoration that might accidentally reveal the filling early. Cute it theory, but not practical.

3.Choose dark colored frosting. I wanted chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and frosting so people had a choice, but the white frosting didn’t hide the blue filling that well. I’d do all chocolate if I could go back in time.

4. If possible, get both sides of the family together for the reveal. It was fun to be able to do it twice, but it was hard to keep the secret for the side of the family that had to go second (and friends who were dying to know). It would have been so much fun to have both families find out together – the more, the merrier, right?

5. Enjoy yourself! Any time I plan something like this, I have a hard time relaxing and enjoying the moment once it arrives. If you’re anything like me, try to take a deep breath and remember what’s important – celebrating with family and friends!

Would you ever do a gender reveal party or gathering?

Categories: Amy, articles
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Wednesday
November 23, 2011

What do YOU think?

Read all of my posts here.

Can you believe we haven’t peeked inside our envelope yet? In a short 24 hours, we will know whether our little nugget is a boy or a girl and I CAN’T WAIT!!! I might have to go out and buy something for him or her right away…

Unfortunately, I can’t share the sex of the baby online until Monday because my husband’s parents won’t find out until Saturday. My Friday bump post is going to be tough to write because I will know, but I won’t be able to share quite yet.

Care to take a guess, though? Let me know in the comments and we’ll see what the majority thinks!

For the record, my husband thinks it’s a girl and I have no clue, though every baby dream I’ve had it has been a boy…

Categories: Amy, articles
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Wednesday
November 16, 2011

12 Jobs for Kids in the Kitchen

By Ashley Grimaldo

Ask stay-at-home caregivers what the toughest time of the day is and you’ll hear a universal response: dinnertime. This is the hardest segment of the day when moods turn to the dark side and tummies begin to growl. Not only is the food-prepping parent responsible for getting dinner on the table, but must concurrently keep the kiddies relatively calm. And hum a joyous song while doing it, a la Snow White.

Expect that, especially during cooking-heavy holidays, you will orbit the kitchen much of the day with tiny tots and testy teens trailing close behind. Embrace this obvious reality now or prepare to pull out every hair in your swiftly graying head. Get cookin’ with the kids–even the youngest ones! This does not mean you hand the torch to Junior to put the finishing touches on your holiday crème brulee. Is does mean, however, that you plan ahead to integrate the whole family into mealtime preparation.

Toddler Time
Developmentally, toddlers pose the toughest challenge for a cooking parent. Carol Williams, a registered dietician at Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, tells parents that, “Touch is a sense used to help get unfamiliar foods closer to a child’s mouth,” which means that your picky toddler may be more willing to eat your slaved-over meal by cooking with you. Don’t expect to keep a tidy workspace, she explains in an article for Baby Zone, but take advantage of her enthusiasm to help.

  • Sanitary Specialist: Wash hands, put on an apron and discuss how to correctly measure ingredients. Continue to remind Junior not to eat the ingredients as you prepare them.
  • Super Scooper: For ingredients that don’t need to be measured perfectly, let him scoop the measuring cup and dump the goods into the proper place. A simple green bean casserole is tough to mess up. Avoid doing this with baked goods, which need to be precisely measured.
  • Can Opener: Electric, safe-edge can openers make life so much easier, plus you can help your little one learn how to safely open cans with it. Let Junior open the condensed milk and pour into the pumpkin pie puree himself.
  • Relish Tray Artist: Letting your little one put carrots, celery and olives onto the relish tray gives him great sorting practice. It’s helpful to have a segmented tray for the task. Try out this Good Housekeeping Relish Tray recipe for some inspiration.
  • Utensil Utilizer: It’s just more fun to stir the squash casserole with a colorful Head Chefs spoon than with a boring stainless steel one! Since it’s a hefty splurge, grab a coupon code before ordering.

 

Elementary Kids
Older kids have more muscle control and ability in the kitchen–and are still enthusiastic to help! Not only can they learn simple cooking tips, but also reinforce key concepts they’re learning in school. From adding fractions and experimenting with properties of liquids to reading and following directions, cooking is academics in action.

  • Meat Monitor: Help your child learn about the meat thermometer–stick it in several foods and liquids of varying temperatures. Then explain how hot it should be inside the turkey so that it’s completely cooked (180° deep in the thigh). Have her check on the turkey as it cooks to watch the temperature rise.
  • Cookie Decorator: Elementary-aged kids have a blast icing sugar cookies (plus it takes them a long time so you can make good progress on other dishes). Bake, cut and cook the cookies ahead of time, then help your child learn how to hold the icing bag so it doesn’t squirt out of the end. Pick up detailed tips on decorating with kids at Real Simple.
  • Mix Master: For simple foods like stuffing or mashed sweet potatoes, let your child dig in with their hands to mix the food. Help him use the rubber scraper to incorporate all the ingredients as well.
  • Recipe Reader: Give your child free access to gather goods–especially larger items in the pantry. Sharpen their literacy skills with new food terminology and turn ingredient gathering into a scavenger hunt.

 

Teens
Award-winning Chef and author of father-daughter cookbook Rick & Lanie’s Excellent Kitchen Adventures, Rick Bayless advocates total transfer of control to older kids in the kitchen (within good reason, of course). Give the responsibility of preparing an entire dish to your teen and watch him step up to the plate. “Kids will do just about anything, if they’re in charge, ” he says. If your child isn’t interested in food prep, here are some other ways to make him feel included.

  • Home Decor Hostess: For the kiddo who doesn’t care to be in the kitchen, recruit his or her decorating and cleaning sensibilities elsewhere. Let her arrange the place settings with fancy napkin folding and put her on post-cooking clean-up duty.
  • Coupon Clipper: Get your older child on board with saving money! Challenge him to use that smart phone for something other than excessive texting, and have him use a mobile coupon app from sites like CouponSherpa.com to save on items in your Thanksgiving shopping list. Incentivize savings by giving him the difference on the retail cost of the food items and the amount he actually spends. The more he saves, the more he gets back in cash!
  • Cake Kings and Queens: For the uptight cook who just can’t let go, give your teen a dessert recipe (or let him pick his own). If it bombs, it’s just one of many desserts.
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Wednesday
November 16, 2011

Halfway There Photo Shoot!

Read all of my posts here.

On Monday, we went to get our second trimester screen with a perinatologist. As of that same day, I’m 20 weeks pregnant! Halfway! I seriously can’t believe it. At this time last year, I thought all of this would never happen for me.

At the appointment, the ultrasound tech did a lot of looking and measuring and it was so incredible to see everything. We could even see the blood pumping through the cord and into the baby! We have two ultrasound pictures so far, one at 7 weeks and the other at 11 weeks. We walked away from this appointment with about 15 photos, though!

Want to see a few? I hope so!

I think this is 3D (or 4D, as it on the upper right of the picture), which is very cool because I wasn’t expecting to get that fancy with my $10 copay. Can you see the face? It’s sort of smushed into the placenta (I think) and there’s cord floating around so it’s a bit hard to see.

Here’s a nice profile shot. Love it!

My favorite – a little foot!

Here you can see the hand with five fingers!

This one is strange, but I think it’s pretty cool. You can see the lens of the eye. It’s a small circle and the little mouse hand is pointing to it. See it? Looks like the Terminator.

And here’s a view of the face from straight on, which looks like a sideways skeleton.

We told her we wanted her to write down the sex for us, so at the end she had us look away while she looked at the genitals and filled out the cards I made. After she was done, she gave us the envelopes and said that she printed out a picture and put it inside for us! We didn’t even ask for that, but I’m so glad she did because we were a little sad to be missing out on seeing the genitals. That seems strange now that I’m writing this, but it’s our baby and we wanted to see everything that we could!

I took one of the sealed envelopes to Crumbs Bake Shop today and ordered the cupcakes we will use to tell our families over the Thanksgiving. Our envelope is hidden because I don’t trust my husband to not peek before his birthday (I trust him with important things, don’t worry). I have a feeling we’ll open it the night before his birthday/Thanksgiving because we won’t be able to sleep! Come to think of it, I probably won’t be able to sleep either way. If we open it before bed, all I’ll be thinking about is baby clothes and nursery decor and imagining what our little one will look like.

While it’s hard to wait an extra week to find out the sex of the baby, I’m really glad my husband and I will have the moment alone to share. It’s less pressure this way and we’ll really be able to enjoy the moment without thinking about what everyone else is feeling. Only 8 more days!!

Categories: Amy, articles
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Wednesday
November 9, 2011

Baby Binder

Read all of my posts here.

My husband is the king of the library. He has a long commute to and home from work each day, so he likes listening to audio books in the car. Once we saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound, he started checking out audio and regular books on all things baby. It’s pretty adorable to see his latest read about fatherhood in the bathroom with his page marked.

Around the same time my husband went baby book crazy, I read a post on Bee Kim’s blog about how, with her first pregnancy, she wished she had prepared less for the birth and more for dealing with a newborn and breastfeeding. So, on my husband’s next trip to the library, I tagged along and picked up some books I had heard about and some I thought would be worthwhile to check out.

Some of the books had some information I knew I would want to refer to later, when the baby arrives, but since they were library books, I decided to make some copies and put together a binder with all the most important info I think I’ll need later. I put some extra dividers in the binder so I can add to it throughout my pregnancy and I think we’ll also use it for the baby’s important information like doctor’s visits.

Here are the books I liked best:

Baby Wise is a popular book all about scheduling. While I would really like to avoid being one of those parents who freaks out over my baby’s schedule getting disrupted, I do see how important a consistent schedule can be for the baby and the parents. This book claims that 8 week old babies can sleep through the night! I know this idea is controversial and many people think babies that young need to be eating in the middle of the night, but I’d like to try it out as long as my baby is gaining weight appropriately.

The Happiest Baby on the Block focuses on calming baby’s cries and keeping him or her content. It outlines a method using the 5 S’s: Swaddling, Side/Stomach (not for sleeping), Shhhhing, Swinging, and Sucking. This method is supposed to help the baby feel the comfort of the womb and they emphasize matching the baby’s vigor when doing one or more of the 5 S’s. For example, if the baby is crying very loudly, the Shhhhhing should be just as loud. The book doesn’t advise using these methods to put the baby to sleep, just to calm the baby.

The Nursing Mother’s Companion is just what the title suggests. While husbands may giggle at the illustrations of engorged breasts, the visuals really help someone like me who has never breastfed (and is terrified). I’ve heard that reading books about nursing isn’t enough to prepare a new mother for the challenges (a lactation consultant coming to the house seems to be the best thing to do), but I like to be prepared and reading about it now helps me get my mind ready (I had a dream last night about nursing and it came very naturally to me).

The New Natural Pregnancy is a bit granola for me, but it has some really great exercises that my favorite prenatal yoga teacher does and since she’s in South Africa for a few months, I copied some of the pages so I could do them myself. It also has some good illustrations for massage, hint hint hubby.

What are your favorite books on pregnancy and infant care? I’d love to add to my binder!

Categories: Amy, articles
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Friday
November 4, 2011

Coping With Kids and Daylight Savings Time

By Ashley Grimaldo

Back before you were a parent, the end of daylight savings was a welcome relief to pitch black mornings. An extra hour of sleep is more valuable than gold, especially post parenthood. Enter Sweet Bundle of Joy who doesn’t share your affinity of snoozing and also has a set, circadian rhythm that doesn’t magically readjust over a weekend. Your baby doesn’t care that Uncle Sam dictates a useless time adjustment every six months.

As if parenting weren’t already the hardest thing anyone has ever done in the history of doing things, we must deal with the time change and our children. Here’s what will happen, if you’re new to fall-back with children: they wake up after the same number of hours of sleep. So if Junior typically wakes up at 7:00 am, you’ll now have a 6:00 am early riser after the change. Start gearing up for that adjustment now with these six easy tips.

1. Extend bedtime a little later each night.
Folks who prefer to rip the band-aid off may just push through a few tough days and move bedtime forward a full hour immediately. Older children can handle a change like that a bit easier. But if you you have a baby or toddler, I recommend pushing bedtime back by ten or fifteen minutes for a few nights. This will take some discipline, but establishing a solid bedtime routine and sticking to it is not only important for your sanity, but for your child’s health, too.

2. Expect grumpy toddlers for up to three weeks.
Again, the younger the child the longer it will take to adjust. According to multiple studies, poor or inadequate sleep causes irritability, stress and anxiety. No big surprise there. Pile on top of that an inability to verbally communicate and you’ve got a cranky young child on your hands for days, if not weeks. Just brace yourselves and prepare to expect some rocky terrain.

3. Reduce other variables to focus on sleep.
Kids do really well when they have time to hone in on one skill or hurdle at a time. If you’re potty training, pull back on the reins for a while to let the lack of sleep pass. Trying to concentrate while sleep deprived makes you ineffective and irritable — and the same goes for Junior.

4. Get room darkening shades or curtains.
Kids sense morning like sharks smell blood; the tiniest crack of daylight can wake even the hardest young sleeper. Keeping it dark in your child’s room will encourage more sleep in the morning, something you’ll want all year round. If you’re not a fan of drapes, grab online coupons for custom blinds from sites like CouponSherpa, and outfit your windows with tailored dressings on the cheap.

5. Consistency is key.
It’s tempting to give in to Little Darling when she pitches a fit for candy at the grocery store. If you give in to her demands, she’ll just ratchet up the decibels on your next visit. That same principle applies to adjusting your clocks back. Stick to later naps and a later bedtime to avoid prolonged pain. According to Kim West, social worker and sleep coach, children will adjust to your age-appropriate sleep requirements when you are consistent. This means having the exact same routine every night and responding in the same way to your child’s testing.

6. Minimize exposure to artificial light.
There’s solid evidence that exposure to artificial light limits the production of melatonin, a key hormone in regulating the sleep/wake cycle. This goes for TV too. Cut the pre-bedtime cartoons and opt for relaxing, sleep-friendly activities like reading or puzzles.

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Wednesday
November 2, 2011

The SAHM Fantasy

Read all of my posts here.

I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom, or SAHM. My mom worked a lot as a restaurant manager when I was a kid and I always wanted her to be home when I was done with school. She often had to work on Christmas and Easter and I’d spend those holidays with family and sometimes eating at her restaurant. It was hard for us and I always knew I wanted something different for my family.

See the date in the corner? That would’ve made me about 7 months old.

When choosing a career for myself, I decided to become a teacher not only because I loved it, but because I knew the schedule would be ideal for raising a family. However, now that I’m faced with the reality of going back to work after having a baby, I’m realizing it isn’t as ideal as not working at all.

Unfortunately, we are not in the position financially to lose my income. I know that I’ll have to go back to work in August when the baby is about 4 1/2 months old and I’m very aware that I’m lucky I get so much paid time off (6 weeks will be a half pay and the rest will be full pay since it will be summer break). However, I know it’s going to be very challenging for me to leave my baby at daycare or with a babysitter and go back to work. Any time someone asks me what our plans are for childcare, I tell them I’m not ready to think about that yet. We have time, I know, but I’ll also admit that I’m in a bit of denial.

I am actually 18 weeks now, but this is the last weekly photo I took.

I have this fantasy that my husband will get some incredible promotion or job offer where he’ll suddenly make enough money to replace my income so I won’t have to work. I dream that maybe some fantastic opportunity will fall in my lap where I’ll be able to work from home and still make the same amount of money without needing childcare.

Earlier today, Marissa wrote about how Harry Potter didn’t know his mom, but still loved her and it got me thinking about why I want to be a SAHM so badly. I realized that I’m not worried as much about the baby handling me working as I am about me handling it. I know that our child will be just fine growing up with two working parents. I only had one working parent and I think I turned out alright. Sure, I wanted my mom home more, but I didn’t love her any less because she worked. It’s possible that I loved her more because of everything she had to go through to raise me!

Image by The Caldwells Photography

I do know that it will be really hard for me, though. Every time I come home exhausted after teaching teenagers all day with stacks of essays to grade, I think, “How will I be able to do this with a baby at home?” I honestly can’t imagine being able to give a baby the love and attention it needs when so much of my time and energy is devoted to my job.

For now, though, going back to work is the plan and I had better start getting used to the idea because the way time has been flying by lately, August will be here before I know it!

Categories: Amy, articles
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Wednesday
October 26, 2011

Nursery Paint Colors

Someone wonderful got me a subscription for House Beautiful magazine recently and I get so excited each time I see a new issue in the mail. In the latest issue, there is an article about paint colors that look beautiful in every light. I had an idea of the direction I wanted to go for paint colors in the nursery, but this article came at the perfect time to solidify two great possibilities.

One thing I wanted to keep in mine while choosing paint colors was that they should go well with the rest of the house. Remember our living/dining room color? It’s a dark purple. Our entryway is now a light gray and our kitchen and hallway will be the same color. Our master bedroom is staying white, due to the paneling, and my husband can’t stand painting another room, so our office will stay sage green. I remember when we were looking at houses to buy and there was one with a PINK room, a BLUE room, and a YELLOW room. Each one screamed it’s designated color and the whole effect was a bit nauseating. I’m hoping to avoid that same vibe, but I still want to have fun decorating.

For a girl, I wanted something with a peachy-pink hue, but I didn’t want it too girly. This is one color that was featured in the House Beautiful article and I really love it. It looks a bit different in the magazine, so I hope the name is correct!

Benjamin Moore’s Sheraton Beige

For a boy, I wanted something light with a grey-blue hue. This color could easily work for a girl as well, but since I’m going gender neutral with so many baby items, I’d like the paint to be a bit more feminine if we have a girl. This color is so calming and serene – it would be perfect for a baby boy’s room.

Benjamin Moore’s Lily White

I’ve also decided that we’ll use the cowhide rug from our dining room in the nursery, since it is a bit small and awkward under the dining table – the chairs catch on it all the time due to it’s curvy shape. Cowhide rugs are everywhere lately, so I feel like it will bring a fresh modern feel into the space.

Now I need to start making inspiration boards! I’ve tried polyvore, but does anyone know of a better site for making interior design inspiration boards? I don’t have photoshop, so it has to be something free online.

Do you like the colors? What about the cowhide rug idea?

Categories: Amy, articles
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Wednesday
October 5, 2011

Another Acronym: BLW

Read all of my posts here.

Have you heard of Baby Led Weaning? Here’s a quote from the website:

“Based on a paper written by Gill Rapley, Baby Led Weaning just means letting your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning.”

That’s right, no baby food, no purees, no mush. The argument is that babies who eat purees from a spoon fed by the parents learn how to swallow before they learn how to chew. They don’t get used to the texture of food and as a result can become picky eaters later in life. Babies between the ages of 6 months and 1 year get all the nutrition they need from breast milk or formula, so the food they eat is just for learning and exploring. No need to force them to eat, just give them a tray full of a variety of soft foods (cooked carrots, beans, fruit, etc) and let them go at it.

Our adorable niece Ava

The downside? First of all, it’s really messy. You can’t give a baby a bath every single time they finish a meal, but that’s what wipes are for, right? Feed them in nothing but a diaper and wipe them down after. Secondly, they might choke. The website says it’s better to learn what to do when a child is choking than to constantly worry about it happening. They say to make sure that risky foods are cut up properly (grapes cut in half), but really since they’re learning how to chew/gnaw before they learn how to swallow, they won’t choke as much as a baby food fed baby might.

I plan on trying out this new method of food introduction. I’m not saying it’s the best way or the only way to do things. I do think it seems a whole lot easier than buying or making baby food and spoon feeding it to a squirmy baby.

What do you think? Have you tried BLW? Would you?

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Wednesday
September 28, 2011

My Top Five

I’ve been researching all things baby since long before we started TTC. While I don’t claim to know everything about parenting, I do know what baby gear is at the top of my list.

Here are a few items I’m hoping we’ll snag before the little one arrives:

The First Years Wave Stroller has a seat that transforms from a bassinet to a regular baby/toddler seat and can swivel in any direction at the push of a button. It comes with an infant car seat adapter for those times when baby falls asleep in the car on the way to… wherever. It is stylish and affordable and I just love it!

The Ikea Antilop high chair encompasses my key requirements for baby gear: cheap, easy to keep clean, and not hideous. Actually, we just bought one of these last weekend. Too early? Yeah. But we were at Ikea and got a little excited. We got the tray too, which brought us up to $25 for our first baby purchase. Big spenders!

The Puj Tub seems like a stupid choice, but it is more than a piece of foam for $40. It is a space saver, a baby bath time cradler, and a parental posture preserver. Some people might not mind bending over a tub to bathe a newborn, but I’m not one of those people, especially if a bath becomes a part of our bed time routine. This allows us to bathe the little one in our pedestal sink and hang the tub flat on the back of our door.

The Moby Wrap is the ultimate hippie mom baby carrier. Perfect for grocery shopping, dog walking, or any other activity where your hands need to be free (Jenna loves it for traveling), the moby keeps baby close and secure with nothing but comfy fabric.

The Summer Video Monitor is perfect for anxious new parents. I fell in love with video monitors when I started babysitting for some friends when their little girl was a year and a half. Even when she was old enough not to need it, I would still turn it on if I heard a strange noise or just to watch her sleep. It’s extremely comforting to be able to check on the baby without risking waking her up. I knew I would be adding this baby to my registry when it was time.

What do you think of my top five baby items? What are yours?

Disclaimer: none of these companies paid or perked me to say these things, but if they decided to send me free stuff, I wouldn’t be sad.

Categories: Amy, articles
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Wednesday
September 21, 2011

Induction… to Motherhood?

Before my last doctor’s appointment, I talked to my aunt who lives in Arizona about where I would be giving birth (in a hospital) and why (it is 100% free with my insurance – yes, that’s one reason to become a teacher). She shared her daughter in law’s birth experiences with me (two natural births in a birthing center with a midwife) and when I told her I had some pretty strong preferences for how I wanted to give birth, she advised me to talk about it with my doctor sooner rather than later.

So what are these preferences? Well, I hesitate to share because I know how passionate people can be about birthing choices and I don’t want anybody to think that I’m trying to say that my choices are the best or better than anyone else’s. I’ve come to conclusions based on things I’ve read and people I’ve talked to and I think these preferences are best for me. Not best for everyone, just for me. So please be gentle in the comments, ok?

Photograph by Emily Weaver Brown Photography

If I had a bunch of extra  money and didn’t have amazing healthcare benefits, my ideal birth would be at home with a midwife. I would go through as much preparation as possible to avoid interventions and after the baby was born, I would eat birthday cake and drink champagne in my own bed with my husband and our new addition. I do know all the risks involved with home births, but I believe the benefits outweigh the risks, for me.

Since our funds are limited and a hospital birth wouldn’t cost us a dime, no matter what interventions were necessary (no extra for a c-section), a home birth that could cost over $2,000 if my insurance decided not to cover it was out of the question. Instead, I’ll give birth in a hospital which makes me a little sad, but makes my husband and our families much more comfortable.

Knowing that interventions are more readily available in a hospital, I’m realizing that it is going to be much more difficult to avoid them than if I was at home or in a birth center. The first of these interventions I wanted to discuss with my doctor was induction. I let him know that I’d rather not be induced unless it was medically necessary. I know that when I’m nine months pregnant, I’m going to want that baby out. I’m going to be uncomfortable and anxious to meet the little one, but, if I can, I’d like to go into labor on my own without pitocin.

Photograph by Shot in Vancouver

My doctor’s first answer was that I’m the boss and ultimately I would make the decision, which was a decent answer. Then, he asked why I felt that way and when I expressed my concerns about the counteractivity of pitocin and an epidural (which I would undoubtedly have due to the intense contractions that pitocin creates) and how it can often lead to a c-section (something I’d really like to avoid), he told me that the whole process was an art and seemed to allude that he had mastered this art. While I trust that he’s a very competent OB, I know that he can’t guarantee that an induction won’t lead to a c-section – to be fair, there’s no guarantee that a natural labor won’t lead to a c-section, either, but I feel that inductions increase the chances.

I also told my doctor that I anticipated being late with this pregnancy because my mom was two weeks late with both me and my brother. Then he got into size and I started getting nervous. See, doctors can supposedly tell how big the baby is going to be from ultra sounds and fundal measurements late in pregnancy. However, I’ve known several women who were induced because their doctors thought their babies were too big and they ended up having small to average sized babies. Well, I was 9 pounds 12 ounces when I was born. Yep, I was the biggest baby in the hospital and when my family would look for me in the nursery window, I was easy to find because I was so much bigger than all the other babies. When I told my doctor this, he said I’d probably have a 10 pound baby. While I don’t doubt that my genes will play a part in the size of our baby, I am a little concerned with how he jumped to that conclusion so quickly. Isn’t that a bit presumptuous? Since my husband’s family has small-ish babies, couldn’t that even things out for us?

Photograph by T. Lawrence

While this whole conversation has raised a red flag for me, I’m trying not to worry too much about it yet. I plan on taking things one day at a time and if induction comes up, I’ll deal with it then. For now, I’m starting prenatal yoga next week and hope to sign up for birthing classes soon. I’m still deciding between The Bradley Method and Hypnobirthing (anyone have experience with either? or something better?), but I do know I want to start early as I tend to have a problem with anxiety and relaxation techniques can only help!

Did you have an idea of your preferences early in pregnancy or did you start thinking about it much later?

Categories: Amy, articles
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Monday
September 19, 2011

10 Child Safety Products You Don’t Need

Thanks to the folks over at babysittingjobs.com for contributing this article. I do agree with a lot of these unnecessary items, but could NOT live without my cribs! My kids would have never stayed put in twin beds with safety guards! What do you think?…could you/did you live without these items?…

by Paul Taylor

So you have a baby. Congratulations. Now you have to buy all the stuff that goes with them. The diapers. The clothes. The plug covers and drawer latches and corner covers. And about a thousand other things. But do you really need all those things? Here are ten things you DON’T need to buy for your child. In fact, both your child and your wallet will thank you for avoiding them.

  1. Shopping cart cover – Yes, I know: those icky germ-infested shopping carts that absolutely EVRERYONE touches! Your baby can’t possibly sit in that! Yes, yes they can. Most supermarkets these days have sanitizing wipes for the carts, just wipe and go. It’s not like you need to be carrying one more thing around with you! Maybe if it is winter and you go to one of the (rare) markets that keep their baskets outside… Or maybe you could use a towel?
  2. Baby bathtub – Ever hear about that wonderful invention –the sink? It’s just the right size, it’s at the right height, and, best of all, it has a drain! If you don’t want to wash your baby in the same place you wash your dishes, try a plastic container. It’s a lot cheaper, and when they grow up, you can store all their bath toys in it.
  3. Baby detergent – Costs a lot and has just as much fragrances, etc to make your baby break out. Try All/Tide/Purex Clean and Clear. Any detergent that is free of dyes and fragrance will work, and they’re a whole lot cheaper.
  4. Wipe warmer – One would think that the relief of having a clean rear would negate any discomfort from chilly wipes.
  5. High chairs – Do you really need a new piece of furniture? A clip-on chair allows the child to actually sit with the rest of the family, and, when they get old enough, a booster seat works equally as well. Besides, have you tried to clean those things? I’d much rather run a rag across the table, thanks.
  6. A crib – When they’re too little to sit up, they’re probably with you all the time anyway. When they get big enough to crawl around, they’re either screaming to get loose or trying to climb out. What’s the point? Use a bassinet when they’re tiny and get a twin bed with a roll guard when they’re older. Don’t waste your money.
  7. Changing table – Another waste of space. If you have a dresser the right height, put a pad down and use it. If not, a towel on the bed, the floor, or the counter works just as good, and doesn’t take up anymore room in your doubtless cluttered place.
  8. Baby monitor – If the kid’s not crying loud enough to wake the dead, then you don’t want to know anyway. Unless you spend a lot of time far away from your baby, (they’ll let you?!) you really don’t need anything more than normal hearing. Besides, jumping at every strange noise will make you and your baby a stressed-out wreck.
  9. Toddler helmet – Learning to walk may be dangerous, but surely you don’t need to buy a helmet for your toddler. Yes, they look unstable, but they’re so close to the ground when they fall that it’s hardly life-threatening. Besides, don’t you already have all the sharp corners covered? Then chill, they’ll get the hang of it soon enough.
  10. Kid leash – When they get old enough to walk, please don’t put them on a leash. Holding their hand works better, plus they get actual contact with you. If you have to go far enough that they complain about their arm hurting (children are shockingly sturdy, by the way) then you can grip the back of their shirt or carry them. Face it, if you’re walking that far, you’ll end up carrying them sometime.

There you go. Ten things you can scratch of your to-buy list. Remember, children have been around as long as people have (ironic, isn’t it?). You survived without a lot of ‘necessary’ things, and so did your parents. Every family is different and needs different things, but the most important thing any child needs is love. Everything else is just a bonus.

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Wednesday
September 14, 2011

Positively Negative

Read all of my posts here.

I can be a bit of a Negative Nelly. Readers have emailed me who don’t know me in real life and have said they love my positivity, which always catches me off guard. Is that how I portray myself online? If it is, I’m glad, because I don’t really think I’m like that away from the computer.

Yesterday, we had a doctor’s appointment. I was excited to go so that we could make sure everything was going well, but I was also really nervous in case it wasn’t. While I don’t feel like I’m always panicked about this pregnancy, I do have a constant dull fear that something bad is going to happen.

First, the doctor tried to listen to the heartbeat with a doppler (that’s what it’s called, right?). I knew he would try this first and I knew that it was possible that he wouldn’t be able to find it, but that didn’t mean anything was wrong and he would do an ultra sound to make sure. Of course, he couldn’t find it and while I didn’t panic, there was that dull fear present.

That ultrasound was the most amazing moment of my entire life. Right when the baby appeared on the screen, it started waving! Last time it looked like a sea monkey. This time, it looked like a real baby. We could see it’s profile and arms and legs and everything. My husband almost didn’t make this appointment, but we were really glad he did.

After the baby show, my doctor asked me how I was feeling and when I said I was always nervous that something bad was going to happen, he said he could tell and that made me sad. I don’t want to come across as negative, but it’s hard for me to put on a happy face all the time and pretend like I’m worry-free.

That comment from the doctor did make me want to change, though. I’m going to make a conscious effort to think and act more positively about this pregnancy. We have wanted this so bad for so long and it would be a shame to waste all the joy with worry.

For those moms and pregnant ladies out there: how did/do you handle the fears and worries? To those those future moms: do you think you’ll be a worrier like me or will you be worry-free?

Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Wednesday
September 7, 2011

Thank You and Playing Catch-up

Thank you all so much for your kind words on my last post. It’s funny how blogging/facebooking/tweeting about it makes the pregnancy feel so much more real!

Week 4

I wrote this on July 29, 2011 during my fourth week of pregnancy.

My period was due Monday, so I took a pregnancy test on Tuesday morning. It was positive. I had been feeling some tenderness in my breasts and some light cramping for a few days, but didn’t put much stock in it because those can also be symptoms of PMS. Once I got the positive on the digital test, I called the doctor and made an appointment for the following day. I took another test the next morning, which was positive again, but this time it showed up really quickly. I continued having cramping and after some googling knew (even though I already knew this it helped to confirm it again) that it was a completely normal and a sign that implantation was occuring and that my uterus was preparing for pregnancy.

The doctor confirmed everything and calmed any fears I had. He reminded me that the chance of a miscarriage is about one out of every five pregnancies, regardless of previous history. We discussed progesterone suppositories and decided against it, together. He said he didn’t see any reason that I needed them and I was a bit reluctant to use them due to the cost and hassle.

He gave me orders for two blood tests, one for that day and one for the next Monday, to see how everything was progressing. We also made an appointment for an ultra sound in two weeks. Something about having that appointment in the books made me feel so much better. It was something real and tangible to look forward to. I left feeling relieved and a bit excited, but still guarded. I’m not sure I will ever really let my guard down until I’m holding a healthy baby in my arms and even then I’m sure I’ll have plenty of worries.

I continued feeling cramps for the next couple of days and each trip to the bathroom was a bit terrifying. However, I knew that the more symptoms I felt at this point, the better. Last time, I didn’t really feel any symptoms. I definitely didn’t have cramping like I did this time and I wasn’t as emotional. Since Sunday, I have cried a million times over the tiniest stupidest things.

Week 8

I wrote this on August 22, 2011 during my eighth week of pregnancy.

Last week, after my first day of school, we got to see the heartbeat. It was incredible and I cried. A lot. The baby is measuring a few days behind schedule, which probably just means I ovulated a few days late. My husband likes to joke that the baby takes after his side because his family is pretty short.

I have been having a little bit of sickness, not really in the morning, but mostly in the afternoon and evening. I haven’t thrown up and the nausea is nothing terrible. I’m thankful, but I get nervous when I don’t feel sick because I think that something could be wrong. I try to stay positive, but I have a lot of worries/thoughts that something bad will happen. It is hard to be care free after more than a year of trying and an early miscarriage.

I already had to buy bigger bras! Granted, mine were a little tight to begin with, but they were becoming unbearable. I was busting out! I’m not used to that as I’ve always been pretty flat-chested. My husband is happy ;)

I also already have a little bump. It is probably just bloat and all the extra food I’ve been eating (I’m always hungry and not usually for the healthiest foods), but it is making it hard to find things to wear. Pants are way too uncomfortable, so I’ve been wearing dresses only and am starting to run out! I like to go two weeks at work without repeating an outfit, so I may need to go shopping again soon.

Week 9

I wrote this on September 3, 2011 at the end of my ninth week of pregnancy.


I’ve fallen into a habit of worrying on the days I don’t feel nauseous. Two days ago, I didn’t feel sick all day and I was really concerned that something was wrong. Then, yesterday I felt sick all day long. It didn’t really let up until I went to bed.

The nausea doesn’t stop me from eating a ton of food and lots of stuff that isn’t so great for me. I know I need to be careful because I’ve already gained weight and it’s still so early. I need to save some pounds for the second and third trimester!

I have to wait three more weeks until my next doctor’s appointment and I’m not sure if I can do it. I might call tomorrow and try to get an appointment a week early. **I did call and got it pushed up a week! I get to go on Monday!!**

My husband is way more paranoid about things I’m not supposed to eat or do than I am. I’ve been loving cold cut sandwiches lately and he gets mad at me for eating them (not mad, more of a teasing disappointed). I don’t eat them frequently, so I’m not worried about it. My doctor hasn’t said one word about avoiding any foods, so I figure I’m ok.

As each week passes, I feel less scared of losing the pregnancy and more excited for the future. I am so thankful for this blessing and am savoring each and every moment. It is already flying by too quickly!

Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Wednesday
August 31, 2011

It’s a… cute little blob!

By Amy from dandelion paperweight
Read all of my posts here.

Let me start by thanking my dear, sweet, incredible husband for writing not one, but two posts on his own fertility ordeal. Weren’t they great?

Ok, I know some of you have been waiting for this announcement and I’m sorry for all the hints (on my blog) lately. It’s so hard for me to keep such a big secret, but I’m glad to finally be writing about it!

We’re pregnant! I’m nine weeks along and everything is going very well so far. We got to see the heartbeat two weeks ago, which also happened to be my first day of school. It was incredible and I cannot wait for my next appointment. I’m not sure if I can make it three more weeks, though!

I have had a bit of sickness (not typically in the morning), but nothing crazy. I haven’t thrown up at all and usually I can make it go away by simply eating. I feel lucky that I don’t constantly have my head over the toilet and that I can eat more than saltines. However, some days I don’t feel sick at all, and that worries me because I know that symptoms mean things are moving in the right direction. I try to stay positive, but it is really hard with the year I’ve had.

Want to know how it all went down? Well, I took clomid for the second time and we took a little trip to Big Sur and San Francisco. I’m pretty sure we conceived while camping (tmi?), which I think is pretty cool. I didn’t test until the day after my missed period because I know how crazy early testing can make me. I called my doctor that day when I got a positive digital and they made an appointment for me to come in two days later. I was nervous that I wouldn’t get a positive there and that I’d have another chemical pregnancy or early miscarriage.

Remember what I wrote about my new doctor? He’s great. The nurse said they didn’t even need to do a urine test because the doctor would do an exam and would be able to tell by the size and shape of my uterus if I was indeed pregnant. I was, and then we discussed progesterone suppositories. I told him that my (our actually, my husband felt the same way) inclination was to go without them. My doctor didn’t think they were necessary at all, so that was that. I left with paperwork for some blood tests to ensure that my hCG levels were increasing at the correct rate and was cautiously optimistic.

Every blood test came back with great results and we got to go in for an early ultrasound at just 5 weeks. All we saw was a blob, no heartbeat as is was too early, and we scheduled another one for about a week and a half later. Yay! A heartbeat! And a more shapely blob! I said it looked like a sour patch kid. Maybe that was a craving talking?

I know how lucky we are. Many couples struggle for several years and go through much more invasive treatments before finally being blessed with a child. It only took about 14 months and two rounds of clomid for us. Thank goodness, because I’m not sure I could handle or afford much more.

I have a couple of posts that I wrote over the last five weeks to share with you guys and I’m going to start taking bump pics this week. I’m excited to share this journey with you all!!

 

 

Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Thursday
August 25, 2011

Testing the Swimmers Part 2

Read all of my posts here. (by Amy of dandelionpaperweight.blogspot.com)

My husband is back for part 2 of his exciting adventure getting his “swimmers” checked out! You don’t want to miss this one!!

In case you missed last week’s post I had gone into the doctor’s office to get my sperm checked and was anally violated and was given a cup to take home and give a sperm sample. So I left the Doc’s office with my trusty specimen cup in its nondescript brown lunch bag and all I could think about was the pressure of getting it back to the lab within 20 minutes. The doctor was very specific about having to get it back within 20 minutes or I would have to do it all over again. I assumed he meant just the sperm sample and not the probing but I wasn’t about to take a chance. I decided that I would go down to the lab that was in the same over-sized one stop shop medical building to see what time they opened so I wouldn’t have to wait in line. I also wanted to make sure I knew how to get there so I wouldn’t have to wander around the place with my little brown bag that every nurse, doctor, and janitor in the place must know is not a lunch but in fact a bag full of baby batter. The lab opened at 9:00am. I planned out the next morning carefully as if I was going into battle. If I only had 20 minutes to get to the lab I would have to get everything ready before I got down to business. I had all my clothes and everything I needed for the day laid out with surgical precision so I wouldn’t have to search for car keys, wallets, etc.  I then laid out everything I needed to get down to my business and took a shower.  This pregame shower isn’t a normal routine or anything; the doctor said to be as clean as possible to not contaminate the sample.  I got out of the shower and it was time for the games to begin.  The only problem it was no fun.  It was the least fun I have had masturbating in my life.  It felt like homework or something.  All I could think about was the science of it all and my imagination lacked all its normal pizzazz.  I did my deed and once I was finished I went immediately into overdrive.  I washed up, threw on my clothes and ran out the door all while making sure my cup was perfectly vertical.  It had a lid on it but I didn’t want it shaking around and compromising the results.  I sped back the 10 blocks or so to the lad and I was 10 minutes early.  I rushed down the hall to the lab only to find five incredibly old people already waiting there.  They didn’t have any bags so I was hoping the line would be a breeze.  When it comes to old people nothing is a breeze.  Despite the 3 signs on your way to the counter not one of them had their insurance card and ID out.  I was freaking out.  Didn’t these people know I had a ticking time bomb of sperm with only minutes left?!  I finally got to the front of the line and I was already 5 minutes over the golden 20 minute rule.  I practically threw my insurance card and ID at the lady and was about to do the same with my bag when the nurse saw the bag and her eyes lit up with half surprise and half disgust.  “Sir,  I don’t want that!  There is a specimen drop on the other side of the room.  Just leave it on the counter over there please.”  I did as I was told and later the next day I received an email with the results.  My boys downstairs are working overtime to produce. Thank goodness! The Doctor called me later to let me know that although I all of my numbers were in the average range I was on the higher range of  “slow sperm.”  He told me not to be concerned and to call him for more tests if we still haven’t conceived in a year.  But I know he really just wants a second chance to get a piece of the best feeling prostate he has ever felt!         …gross                                                                

Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Wednesday
August 17, 2011

Testing the Swimmers

Read all of my posts here.

My dear husband has written a very personal (and hilarious, in my opinion) post for you all today! Isn’t it great to hear the husband’s perspective? Give him some love in the comments!

When we had been trying to get pregnant for about a year to no avail, I started to get nervous and thought that maybe it was me.  It was the first time in my life that I had questioned my manhood and thought that maybe I wasn’t functioning properly.  I should mention that I wasn’t the healthiest kid growing up.  I had a good time in High School and College and got all of my partying out of my system pretty early, so who knows, maybe all that partying before I even had hair on my chest ruined me downstairs.  So I swallowed my pride, manned up and made an appointment to go get my boys checked out; make sure my swimmers are swimming so to speak.

All I knew about going to the doctor to go give a sperm sample is what I’d seen in movies.  The uncomfortable exchange between nurse and patient as she hands you a plastic jar and leads you to a room full of magazines and videos – everything covered in thick plastic of course.  And then the even more horrifying exchange when you have to give her the jar back full of your “sample.”  I also wasn’t thrilled about a strange man examining my package.
So I went into the office and the nurse lead me straight to the exam room.  I was  trying to look in the other rooms as nonchalantly as possible as I was being led to the exam room but I couldn’t find the porno room.  I was left alone in the exam room to stew in my own nerves.

The doctor came in and was nice and very easy going.  He asked the questions and I was expecting and I answered them with complete ease and was getting more and more confident as I breezed through them.  How long have you been trying?  Do you have any history with impotence?  Have you have any experiences where you were hit in the groin where you had to go to the hospital?  Does either family have a history of trouble getting pregnant?”  Everything was going great but then came those inevitable words I was waiting for.  “Okay now please stand up and drop your pants.”  I did as I was told and promptly had my member inspected from base to tip.  Inspected is a gentle word.  It was pinched, rolled over, stretched, and the tip spread, all a couple inches away from the Doctor’s face.  Oddly enough it was kind of amusing.  I don’t know what he was looking for but he had a very serious look on his face.  I guess that’s better than him having a big grin now that I think about it!

“Everything looks normal,” he said as he stood up and I started to pull up my pants when I was interrupted by him saying, “I wish this was the end to but I still need to check your prostate. Please turn around, bend over and grab the bench.”  I stood there frozen in fear.  I tried to reason with him.  “I don’t have a problem with my prostate.  What about the sperm check?  Can’t we wait until the sperm results come back before we do this?”  I was seriously sweating at this point.  In case you don’t know the way they check your prostate is by stinking a finger up your butt and feeling around.  I have heard and can now testify that is not a fun experience; in fact if it hadn’t been in a doctor’s office I’m pretty sure I would have pressed charges.  I bent over and I swear to God I thought he was reaching for my tonsils!  He went deep.  Very deep.  I was trying to crawl away from him but no luck.  And wouldn’t you know it, it was all over in just a few short hours! (probably seconds but it felt like hours).   The doctor then broke the good news and told me that the nurse would give me the cup for the take home sperm test and to make sure that I get it back to the lab at the hospital no longer than 20 minutes after “collecting the sample.”  That is a whole other story in itself.

Now don’t laugh men.  Even if you don’t have to get a prostate exam now, at some point you will and it is every bit as horrifying as you can imagine.  I just hope your doctor has smaller hands than mine did…

Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Wednesday
August 10, 2011

Fur Babies and Real Babies

Read all of my posts here.

Our dogs are our babies. They have always slept on our bed and used to be allowed on the couch, until our room makeover. We spoil them rotten and aren’t ashamed to admit it.

Ruby is a puggle, which is part pug and part beagle, and Jackson is a labradoodle, which is part lab and part poodle. We didn’t intend to own only fancy hybrid dogs, but that’s what happened. It’s embarrassing when people ask what they are when we meet at the dog park or on a walk.

We’ve known since we starting TTC that we would have to make some changes with how we treat the dogs before adding a baby to the mix. It took us over a year, but when we got back from our trip up to San Francisco last month, we finally kicked them off the bed.

Here they are on night number two of no-dogs-on-the-bed. They took some time getting used to it, but now they’re doing great! I have to admit, sometimes they jump up on the bed uninvited and sometimes I let them stay up there when I’m taking a nap alone, but for the most part, we’ve broken them of their, I mean, OUR bad habit.

So, what else should dog owners do to prepare for a baby? Here are some things I’ve read and heard about on the matter (I can’t remember my sources, so don’t call the MLA police, please):

1. Ignore the dogs in the months leading up to delivery.

I’m not talking about neglect here, but it is important to pay less and less attention to the dogs as it gets closer to baby time. This is most important for the mom, as she will be the primary caregiver for the baby, at least at first. This way, the dogs don’t blame the baby for the lack of attention they’re receiving because it started before the baby got there.

2. Get a crying baby doll and hold it while it makes noise.

This will help get the dogs used to the sound of a crying baby and used to you having something cradled in your arms. Keep the baby in a safe place and never let the dogs play with it.

3. Arrange for someone to take care of the dogs during labor, delivery, and recovery.

You can have someone on stand-by to pick up the dogs for a few days or have someone come by your house to feed, walk, and play with the dogs when you’re gone. Be sure to prepare instructions ahead of time so you’re not worrying about relaying information over the phone while laboring.

4. Bring baby clothes home from the hospital/birth center/etc.

After the baby is born, have someone bring home something that the baby has worn. Let the dogs smell it, but don’t let them play with it. No tug-of-war with the baby’s shirt, ok? Tell them to be gentle as they smell so they know that they are to be on their best behavior.

5. Don’t keep the baby room door closed all the time.

If you decide that you never want the dogs in the baby’s room, put up a baby gate to keep them out, but that allows them to see what is going on inside. If you decide to let them go in and out of the room, give them their own spot to lay down and teach them to respect the baby’s things. This can begin before the baby arrives so you don’t have to worry about training the dogs while you have a screaming baby in your arms.

Overall, remember that this will be a huge adjustment, not just for you, but for all the members of your family, human or not. Have patience, but be firm as you introduce a new member to the pack.

Did I miss anything? What has worked for you when introducing a real baby to your fur babies?

Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Wednesday
August 3, 2011

Baby Shower Strike

Read all my posts here.

Before we started TTC, I used to love going to baby showers. The games, the cute gifts, the decor… they were fun and I used to imagine what my own would be like. However, once we started having trouble getting pregnant, baby showers seemed more torturous than dental appointments.

Over the past year, I’ve been invited to a couple of baby showers, but have declined. I just couldn’t bring myself to put on a happy face an coo over baby clothes. If one of my really close friends had invited me to a shower, I would have definitely sucked it up and gone, but it would have been tough.

On Saturday, I went to my first baby shower in over a year. Luckily, it was a shower for my husband’s friends and wasn’t just for women. Also, I got to bring my little brother so I had plenty to keep me distracted. Major plus: they didn’t open gifts! They saved that for when they got home.

They called it a baby fiesta and held it at a park! They had beer, tacos, and really delicious cupcakes.

While the adults mingled, the kids had fun feeding the ducks and playing on the jungle gym.

Apparently ducks don’t like corn tortillas. Bummer…

I loved the colorful banners. I think they would look really cute in a nursery, don’t you?

I actually had a great time and didn’t feel awkward at all. I’m glad I went and that it was a coed shower so I could ease into it. I think I can safely say I’m over my baby shower strike!

Have you declined an invitation just because you couldn’t bring yourself to celebrate?

 

Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Tuesday
August 2, 2011

Car Survivial Guide | 10 Driving Tips

Hello from vacation! Yes, we are in Delaware enjoying beautiful weather and beaches. Before we left I gave my airport travel tips, this week I’m sharing my car survival guide.

Even though we do a lot of traveling (see cool Caroline above!), our trip to Delaware was probably our worst yet. Henry (17 months) was not keen on sitting still for an hour and a half plane ride and let us – and all of the other passengers – know it.

Then during the three-hour car ride, Henry developed a short-term case of infant bulimia. We pulled over twice for Exorcist-level vomiting. It was horrific. And as soon as it was done, he was as perky as could be.

Even without illness, car rides are tough. We broke down and got a minivan this year, but it’s still never easy. Here’s how we survive a long ride:

Prepping & packing

1. Map out the entire trip so you know where every rest area and Panera/healthy fast food restaurant is along the route. We’ve been burned too many times by thinking, “Let’s just go 10 more miles and see what we can find.”

2. Pack lots of paper towels and wipes. Always have them at the ready. We tend to demolish our car about one hour into the ride. And you never know what might happen….

3. Go to Target before the trip and buy some stuff from the $1 bins. Then you can bring out something new every few hours.

4. Stock a cooler with easy snacks. Let your little ones pick their favorites for the trip. This will save a ton of money, time and hassle.

Passing the time

5. Don’t pull out the mini-DVD player until a few hours into the trip. Doing it right away tends to make them want it for the duration of the ride.

6. Pandora Radio (toddler and kid’s folk stations) makes for cute singalongs

7. Play I-Spy. An oldie but still a goodie.

8. Dry erase markers are great for van windows and wipe off instantly.

9. Break up the trip and let everyone stretch their legs – and go potty. I find it helps if I just plan the stops into our travel time. Then I’m not stressed about when we’re going to get there.

State of mind

10. Try to stay positive. Getting upset with the kids or the hubby can make for a really long car ride.

11. Finally, roll with the unexpected. While I was freaking out about Henry, my calm mother-in-law proceeded to find dry wipes, clear the car seat and get us ready to go again. Bless her heart!

What are your car ride tactics? Or do you just fly? :)

Henry Happened

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Wednesday
July 27, 2011

Protecting My Feelings

Read all of my posts here.

The other day, I was reading a friend’s blog who recently suffered a miscarriage. Her posts express her deep sadness and she writes about how it is taking her weeks to get back to her normal self.

Peonies at Fiori in San Francisco

As I read her story, I start questioning my own feelings about my miscarriage. I cried for about an hour, took one day off of work, was a little introspective for about a week, and then I was basically back to normal. I was on to the next cycle and ready to try again. I don’t think about it like I lost a baby, I think about it as another bump on our road to parenthood.

Golden Gate Bridge

Maybe I’ve become desensitized to the pain and disappointment. Maybe after more than a year of negative home pregnancy tests and blood tests and crying in the doctor’s office, it just doesn’t come as a shock when something doesn’t work out in the baby making department.

Leaving the city on the ferry.

I know that I wasn’t very far along when I lost my pregnancy – most women who have a miscarriage that early never even knew they were pregnant. But shouldn’t I feel more like she does? Does that mean I didn’t love my unborn baby as much as she did? Will I ever let myself go when I get pregnant again, or will I always remain guarded?

What do you think? Do you protect yourself from disappointment like me or do you allow yourself to get excited and feel deeply?

Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Friday
July 22, 2011

Airport Survival Guide | 10 Travel Tips

Tomorrow our family of 4 heads out on vacation. Getting to the family beach house involves one flight (direct, thank goodness) and a 3 hour drive. Caroline is not yet 4 but has flown more than a dozen times (that’s her first trip above). We’ve learned a lot – and most of it the hard way!

Since I’ve been dreading planning all week, I wanted to share some of my tips for arriving in one piece. Because, yes, we have been that family on the airplane. Because if all else fails, hide in the bathroom.

Before you go:

1. We start playing ‘airport and airplane’ a few weeks before the trip.  We talk about what you do, how you act, etc. Caroline loves to play this game and it just gets better and better each trip.  She now is a professional traveler and loves the snack portion of the flight!

Day of:

2. DON’T RUSH – slow is fast in this case. Everyone tends to lose their head in the airport. With kids, you just can’t do that or else you look like the traveling circus.

Boarding:

3. You might want to try to board last (if you don’t have many stow away items). Less time on the plane = less time for you (and fellow travelers) to get annoyed in tight quarters.

4. Divide and conquer. If you’re traveling with your spouse/significant other, sit across the aisle from each other and divide up the kids. It’s easier to entertain one-on-one, and you have more space if the flight isn’t full.

In flight:

5. Bring new toys or ones your kids haven’t played with in a while. Polly pockets are a fun game for preschool girls. I’ve spent an entire flight blowing up a balloon and letting the air out over and over.

6. Use your iPhone. Download favorite shows or find new apps to play in-flight.

7. Nurse those babies as much as you can during take off and landing. If you’re nervous about nursing (my guy never ate well in public) have a back up bottle and paci.

8. Take a well-stocked diaper bag. My kids inevitably have some sort of explosion mid-flight. And, surprise!, most planes don’t have a changing table in the bathroom. So make sure you’re prepared to change diapers and clothes on your lap.

9. LOTS OF SNACKS – Let go of worrying about healthy snacks, and let the kids eat what they want (within some sort of reason). It means less whining and gets everyone into vacation mode. Then pick it back up when you get home. And never pack whole bananas. They turn black and mushy in no time and inevitably make a huge mess.

Landing:

10. It’s always easier to just let everyone else off first then take your time getting off. This way your stroller is waiting for you from gate-check!

What travel tips work for you? Do share!

Henry Happened

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Wednesday
July 20, 2011

Social Media Faux Pas?

Read all of my posts here.

With the explosion of social networking sites (dude, what am I supposed to do with Google+ ?), our lives are constantly on display. I know what my friends ate for dinner last night and they live in another state. It is easy to paint a rosy picture of your life through your mobile uploads and status updates, but sometimes what you share effects others more than you know.

The view from our tent on our camping trip last week.

I have come to learn that I can’t control what others say and do, I can only control what I say and do. When I become pregnant, I know I won’t complain about it on facebook or twitter. I won’t pretend that everything is always wonderful, either, but I don’t need to update my status with every little ache and pain that I’m going through. On my blog, I might share some of my gripes, but people can easily avoid that if they want to. It is hard not to read someone’s facebook status if you’re friends with them.

Camping flower arrangement.

On the same note, what hurts more than the complaints is the really over the top lovey dovey stuff: women posting that feeling their baby kick is like kisses from heaven or how seeing the heartbeat on the ultrasound sent them into fits of giggles. Those are the things that really sting and while I don’t expect people not to share their joy on various social networking sites, I do expect their support and sensitivity when dealing with me directly (like in a email or personal conversation).

For example, if someone knows I’ve been struggling to conceive for over a year, I’d hope they’d know not to talk to me about every detail of their pregnancy. I hope they’d understand that I’m there for them, but don’t need the play by play because while it may be wonderful for them, it is terribly difficult for me.

A walk through the wildflowers.

On the other hand, I don’t want people to walk on eggshells around me, either. I felt really bad earlier this year when one of my friends told me she was pregnant, but that she was so nervous about telling me because she knew how hard it would be for me. However, it was nice to know that she thought about my feelings.

I’ve learned that people are going to say what they’re going to say – be it on facebook, twitter, blogs, emails, or in real life and the only thing I can control is how I react and what I choose to say. I can’t expect people to be sensitive, but I can work on the best way to react, which is usually to just not.

What do you think? Do you have any social media pet peeves?

Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Thursday
July 14, 2011

The Day We Switched Pediatricians

I had a to do list.

I was checking it off.

I was pregnant, and nothing was stopping me from having every nook and cranny cleaned, prepped, and ready for The Tiny. (Can you say, nesting?)

“Honey, it’s 2am, you should come to bed.” -the hubby.

“I know, I know, just let me finish sewing these curtains for the nursery, I have to get them up before it’s too late!” -I responded, while pushing that fabric through even faster, because heaven forbid our nursery not have a 1 foot valence before we brought our bundle home, who wouldn’t actually sleep in his nursery for the first 1.5 months.

One of the items on my list was to interview pediatricians. Because that’s what my friend mentioned doing. THAT one sounded kinda complicated, and like I was already over it.

I asked around, and settled on one a couple of my friends liked that is close to our home. (Bonus) Five days after The Tiny was born, we went in for our first big check up.

They had us strip him down, his teeny newborn body still a dark red hue, as he cried from being awoken, and the sudden coldness on his body. I tried holding him close, his naked boney butt on my lap, the dark circles under my eyes a clear sign that I had given birth 5 days prior and hadn’t quite slept since.

In walked our stout doctor. I was excited, here was someone who would care for my Tiny, to assure me that in the past 5 days we hadn’t done something detrimental, or if we had, he would quickly catch it and tell us what we could do to make up for lost time.

We exchanged niceties, and he took The Tiny and looked him over, much to his protests and wails.

“You’ll have to bring him back in a few days to weigh him since you’re breastfeeding. That’s the great thing about formula feeding, you know exactly how much the baby is getting each day.”

“Oh really…” I said slowly. I was surprised he said that, and was almost expecting a, “Wow, good job sticking to it even though you feel like your nipples will fall off,” from someone like a pediatrician.

“He could be losing weight each day and you wouldn’t even know it until it’s too late. Also, be sure you don’t take him out too much, or he could catch a cold and die.” -Dr.

“Oh my gosh! Oh, ok, yes!” -Us, wide eyed.

“You BOTH need to get the flu shot, and the whooping cough shots, because if he catches either of these, he will die. There are 5 reported deaths of children under 5 from Whooping Cough in this area.”

It was at this point, just five days after giving birth, where you’re not quite sleeping and you’re suddenly responsible for this teeny, fragile life that you love and your hormones aren’t quite done riding their roller coaster since your baby vacated your womb’s premise, and you’re almost convinced that your baby might just die under your care so hearing a doctor say repeatedly that under many circumstance it is more than likely your baby “will die,” that despite the fact that you are trying to look and act professional, and you want “just the facts” for your baby’s health, you just can’t quite fight the itching feeling in your cheeks, the the sticky sensation in your throat, as your eyes begin to prick with tears, even though you try not to break eye contact and are nodding solemnly. “Holding it together,” means not totally crying, but just letting some renegade tears jet down your face, as you whisk them away, and continue saying, “uh-huh,” to this guy with the stethoscope around his neck, clutching your Tiny close with your spread hands making up for his lack of clothes.

“Did you get your Hepatitis B shot in the hospital? -Dr.

“No. We are going to immunize, but the more we researched this shot, we just decided that we don’t want to get it for him.”

Insert unsupportive doctor. “I have been giving the Hep B shot for 18 years, and have never had a bad outcome. I even know some of those 18 year olds–healthy and thriving. I strongly recommend getting it, there are no downsides. I’ll have the nurse bring it in. It was nice to meet you both, I’ll see you for his follow up when we can weigh him,” And he left.

Then we were alone, and waiting for a Hep B shot? How did this happen all of a sudden? We felt in a panic. Our thumbs wildly scrolled through random medical sites on our iPhones, looking up what we had felt so comfortable with before. Searching Hep B, Hep B, trying to begin the lengthy dissertations written about it that we had, wait–already read.

“Why are we stressing out right now?” -Hubby

“I don’t know, and don’t want to talk about it. I am seriously about to cry right now.” -Me

“Why am I researching this again, when we already did and we told him we didn’t want it. Let’s just refuse it again and leave. I don’t want to be bullied into this.”

I felt instant hope. Instant relief from the fear of maybe acting like a crying crazy mom who would have to be escorted out on a dolly.

“Ok,” I whispered loudly as I perked up, the deluge temporarily at bay, “Should we tell him, or should we just leave? Let’s just go quick. Wait, you tell him, I’ll start walking out.” (Such a wimp, I know. Not usually, but that day, yes ;)

In walks the nurse with a small metal tray with a not so small orange needle.

“Actually, we aren’t going to be getting the Hep B shot today,” said hubby as he hoisted the diaper bag strap over his shoulder, and I finished buttoning the Tiny’s outfit. I then wrapped a blanket around him, and started down the long hall, out towards the waiting room, which I knew wasn’t too far from the door.

“Thank you Dr._________,” I heard my hubby say from further behind me into his office.

We got out into the fresh air and it felt like freedom. We hadn’t realized how much stress and pressure we were feeling until we were outside, and got into the car.

“Let’s get out of here! That guy was intense!” We were smiling as we snapped our now drowsy and sweet Tiny into his car seat.

We drove away, sharing all the things we had been feeling, but couldn’t share at the time. At the top of that list was the fact that we both knew we wouldn’t be bringing The Tiny back anytime soon. “Seriously, how many times can one person say, ‘will die’ in a 15 minute interval?” “Or how he apparently wished I was formula feeding,” I grumbled.

And although we were happy that we escaped, never to see him again, we realized we were again pediatrician-less. And he was already 5 days old, and things needed to be lined up.

That’s when I started kicking myself for not doing those stupid interviews. I kinda thought pediatricians were all the same, all good–I mean they are doctors who work with kids, you gotta be great, right?

Now it was too late to interview, and what if we find another dud and we’re back at square one…..uuuuuuuuuuuuuuughhhhh…. Mommy fail.

That night we met our friends for burgers at Ruby’s on the pier, The Tiny tucked away in the Moby wrap. They had retro pricing that night, so we dined on $1.50 burger and fries. We shared with our friends our story about the pediatrician and our current predicament, now laughing at all of his pushiness and oddities.

“Why don’t you see mine, he’s still practicing, and he’s amazing.” Said our 29 year old friend.

“Oh yeah, he’s the best! My brothers and I all went to him. He comes in singing, and is so kind and gentle,” said our other friend.

“How old is he? He must be pretty old…” -Hubby

“Yeah, he’s not going to recommend Cod Liver oil or something, is he?” -Me

“No he’s great, he is so kind and gentle.”

Well, there you have it. Those are some of words I would have written down as important to look for in a pediatrician if I had taken the time to interview. Kind and gentle, and obviously very experienced and I looked at my two healthy friends sitting across from me, both entered adulthood without dying.

A couple days later we were in the office. He did in deed come in singing. He sang to The Tiny as he gently looked him over, The Tiny staring, no screaming, at him in wonder.

“This baby is healthy and thriving, and he’s going to live to be 100,” he said. I don’t think you could have gotten the smiles off our face with a crowbar, my heart actually felt like it was soaring (What? Seriously)

He supported our decision to refuse Hep B, and suggested others that weren’t necessary in the line-up. He sat and listened to all the questions, and even about why we switched pediatricians.

“Hmm, no this baby will not be dying any time soon, like I said, he will live to be 100.”

“Let’s see how much this baby is getting in each feeding, ” he said. He weighed him, I fed him, and then he reweighed him. “Wow! This is excellent! He is getting just enough milk. Great job mom!” A new kind of tears loomed, happiness on my face.

Each time we’ve seen him since, we have loved him. In the office, our Tiny is famous for his hair, and the nurses come out from behind the counter to come stroke his cheek and fluff his hair as he coos back at them.

If any of you mommies are worried about your pediatrician, don’t be afraid to make a switch. Andrew and I are so at ease and happy each time we bring him in. Our doctor supports our decisions, but we trust his opinions as an experienced professional. He has time for our questions, and encourages us as parents.

If you are pregnant, make a list, it can even be as short as 5 things you would like to have in the doctor you entrust with your baby’s health. Even personality wise. You will be seeing this person frequently in the next year and for some of the most important situations of your baby’s life. Ask around, make a list, call them up and go in and meet these people. Ask them some questions. You will be so glad you did.

Amy

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Wednesday
July 13, 2011

What a difference a doctor makes

Read all of my posts here.

I knew my insurance was changing on July 1st and I purposely chose a new doctor when I signed up for my new insurance because I wasn’t too happy with my current medical group. My previous OBGYN wasn’t bad, he just wasn’t great.

The first thing that bothered me about him was that he had a really thick accent. Sometimes I couldn’t understand what he was saying, especially over the phone. He would have to repeat things over and over and I think he thought I was stupid. He was really a nice guy and very funny, which helped relax me, but he wasn’t easy to talk to and I found myself just shutting up and saying, “ok” instead of pressing for more information.

The second thing that bothered me was that he wouldn’t explain things as completely as I would have liked. For example, after my miscarriage a couple of months ago, I told him I was worried that it would keep happening to me and asked if I would be able to use progesterone therapy. Without any hesitation or explanation, he told me it wasn’t necessary. Well, I know that many women use progesterone in many different ways when pregnant. One of my friends got shots every week of her pregnancy to help prevent a miscarriage and I also knew women could use suppositories to help a baby stick. Instead of explaining t reasons why he wouldn’t recommend it, he just said no and since I don’t feel comfortable with him, I didn’t press the issue.

This is Stella, miracle baby to our friends Marcus and Caren.

The last thing was the office. When I began my previous job, they assigned me to a medical group and I never changed it. I should have, but the office was on the way home from work and easy enough as everything was in one building. If I had to get blood work, I would just go downstairs and take care of it right there. While it was convenient, it wasn’t a nice place to visit. The waiting rooms were huge and dirty and the receptionists weren’t always helpful.

I picked my new doctor based on reviews online and proximity to my house and new job. I was nervous that he wouldn’t be that great and I wouldn’t be happier than I was, but I was pleasantly surprised.

My new doctor is Ah-mazing. The office is the nicest doctor’s office I’ve ever seen. It has a fountain and is decorated like a spa. The receptionist and nurses were very nice and friendly. Most importantly, the doctor is easy to understand and he explains things thoroughly and completely. He is very kind and I can tell he is already looking out for my best interest. When I left, I felt SO relieved and happy and couldn’t wait to tell my husband all about it.

In the sunshine outside the Staples Center.

He explained that progesterone therapy is risky because it can trick you body and delay an inevitable miscarriage, so you’re living your life thinking your pregnant while your baby is dead or dying. He also said that the suppositories, which is the treatment I would use for early pregnancy, can be very messy and expensive. Apparently they’re made by hand in the pharmacy, so they can charge whatever they want. He assured me that if I did decide to use progesterone he would monitor me very closely to ensure I wasn’t ever carrying a baby that wasn’t going to live and said that we could discuss it more when the time came.

I know that a doctor can’t change everything and make all my problems disappear, but it is an incredible feeling to have a new doctor who I trust and like. It makes me excited to go back!

Have you ever had a less than stellar experience with a doctor? Did you change immediately or put it off like I did?

Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Thursday
July 7, 2011

7 Tips for Making Mom Friends

A few months before my second child was born, I stopped working. When the little creature (we call him Henry) arrived, it wasn’t as scary as the first time around and after a few weeks of infant-induced seclusion, I was ready to show off my new bundle of joy.

As a mom new to the stay-at-home parenting gig, I suddenly realized I didn’t have anyone to show him off to other than my ob-gyn. My old co-workers had these things called jobs and most of the mom friends I already knew also worked.

Why didn’t anyone warn me that being a stay-at-home mom literally means you will rarely leave the house? Trying to get out of the house around an infant and a toddler’s schedule was impossible – someone was always sleeping! (And it wasn’t me.)

I was lonely. I felt isolated.  My little girl was just starting preschool, and the school runs were my only social outlet. I would chat up parents, teachers, other kids (this is a great way to learn your kid’s classmates, by the way) while waiting to pick up my daughter.

We had no roster of gym, music, dance, whatever classes. So getting a birthday party invite made my day. I was psyched for those little email invitations.

While it felt like I was the only mom without an established play date network, I forced myself to be outgoing and ask other moms to get together. I started with the moms of my daughter’s friends. I joined a mom’s play group. With time I relaxed about the whole situation and it got easier.

Here are 7 more put-yourself-out-there tips:

1. Be shameless. You will probably have to do the asking if you want a playdate. I took the roster from Caroline’s preschool class and pretty well emailed the entire list.

2. Go to a park close to your house and get chatty. Talk to the mom pushing the swing next to you. Seems like most moms do the I-don’t-see-you-even-though-you-are-right-next-to-me thing. Which totally drives me nuts. If you do connect, odds are they live close by.

3. Take Mommy & Me class or become a library storytime regular. It was hard for me to make this work with two kids, but if you can, it’s a great way meet other outgoing moms.

4. Weekend brunch is great for socializing. It usually doesn’t interfere with nap time (unless you have an infant) or early bedtimes. Bonus: people come to you!

5. Don’t take it personally. If I got the brush off twice, I moved on. On a side note, if someone asks you to get together, SAY YES! You may be one of those moms with the oh-so-packed schedule but you can make time for another mom.

6. Meet up with moms without the kiddos. It’s much easier to have an actual conversation when you aren’t putting someone in time-out. Stop feeling guilty about getting a babysitter and go to a Moms Night Out, grab coffee or make a date to go thrifting.

7. Find a playgroup. I mentioned this earlier but chances are there’s one close by on meetup.com. Or get involved in your church’s Sunday school.

Finally, remember that friendships take time. Deep breath. I’ve done a lot of playdates and birthday parties over the past year and now feel lucky to have two close friends.

Now it’s your turn to give advice! How do you deal with this? What tips or tactics worked for you in making new mom friends?

Henry Happened

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Wednesday
July 6, 2011

Before and After

Read all of my posts here.

BEFORE

On our honeymoon in Mexico in May 2009

About three days minutes after returning from our honeymoon two years ago, I started planning for and obsessing about having babies. I was ready, but I had this idea in my head that we should give our marriage a year before we added pregnancy hormones and diapers to the mix. Also, my husband wanted more time. He has always loved kids and was  so great with them (I have a little brother who was only 4 when we started dating and he was amazing with him), but he wasn’t quite ready to have some of his own. So, we waited a year and I added baby blogs to my reader.

One of the biggest influences on my beliefs about pregnancy and birth at that time was That Wife: a blog by Jenna, a Mormon and photographer who was planning a natural home birth (she now blogs about life with her baby and husband). I also remember visiting one of my friends and her new baby and being amazed that she had her baby naturally with no drugs. The more I read, and not just blogs, I did some ‘real’ research as well, the more I believed that natural childbirth was the best for both mom and baby.

Another thing I was dead set on: I wanted a girl first. I love all things girly: ballet, doll houses, frilly dresses, and lots of pink. My husband, like most men, wanted a boy first. I remember saying that no matter what we ended up with, one of us would be disappointed. People always say that they’re just happy with a healthy baby, but I was sure I would be disappointed if I found out we were having a boy.

AFTER

At a movie premiere last weekend

After we starting trying and continued trying for a year, I have come to realize one very important thing: I have no control. I have no control over when I’ll get pregnant, I have no control over whether I’ll have a boy or girl (or both… twins are very possible with fertility drugs), and I have no control over the type of birth I’ll have. Sure, I can make a plan and go to the classes and prepare my mind and body (and husband) as much as possible, but that doesn’t mean everything will happen the way I want it to.

And that’s ok. After trying to get pregnant for a whole year, all I care about is carrying a pregnancy to term and having a healthy baby. I don’t care if my birth plan goes out the window the second I enter the hospital. I don’t care if I have a girl, boy, or both, all I want is to grow our family.

As for an update on the TTC front, Clomid is going well this cycle and we’re hopeful that this will be the one for us. You’ll know when I know!

What about you? Have your opinions about babies and birth changed since you became pregnant or started trying?

 

Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Wednesday
June 29, 2011

I want my mommy

Missed something? Catch up here.

This cycle wasn’t the one, but the good news is my doctor has already prescribed me Clomid for the next one so I don’t have to worry about my insurance changing over. I’ll start taking it on Friday and about a week later the terrible side effects will ensue while I try to feel sexy enough to do the baby dance.

Mommy and baby birds on our front porch

However, today has made me think about what having a baby is really going to be like. At about 2am, I woke up tossing and turning and with a terrible sore throat. I wasn’t feeling great yesterday, but I thought it was just my period making me feel gross. Nope. I was wrong.

From about 2:30am to about 10am, I threw up ever hour. I had the worst head and body aches and my throat was killing me. As I was moaning in misery, I kept thinking about how I would be able to handle being sick while caring for a baby. Sure, I’ll have my husband to help, but how will I be able to be the mommy when all I want is for my mommy to take care of me?

What about those times when the whole family is sick? What happens when the kids are puking and wanting you to comfort them, but you’re too sick to sit up?

I’ve taken care of my little brother when he has been sick and I can handle it if I’m healthy (my mom used to have to run the vacuum in the other room while I threw up in the bathroom when I was little because she had such a terrible gag reflex, even when she was healthy), but if I’m also sick, I don’t know how I would be able to handle it.

What about you? How do you handle being a parent when all you want is someone to parent you?

Amy Carter

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Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Wednesday
June 22, 2011

My doctor is the next Oprah

Missed something? Catch up here.

I called my doctor when I got the visit from Aunt Flo that Wednesday morning and he told me to come in that afternoon for a blood test. The next day, he called me to tell me the results were kind of weird (not a good thing to say to a hormonal woman) and he wanted me to come in for another one two days later at the same time of day. When I went in that Friday, he said that the “weird” thing was that my hCg level when I came in on Wednesday was at a 3.2. If the hormone measures over 5, a woman is definitely pregnant. Under 2 means definitely not pregnant. I was in this grey area.

On the way to Huntington Beach to celebrate Jackson’s birthday with his brother Marlowe!

He said that this strange level could be one of two things: either I was pregnant and was in the process of losing the pregnancy on Wednesday when I came in for the blood test (duh) or the lab techs made a mistake. I already knew what had happened; I wouldn’t have gotten 8 positive home pregnancy tests over the course of 5 days if I wasn’t pregnant. Also, Aunt Flo had definitely stopped in for a visit that Wednesday morning, no doubt about it. This was not spotting due to implantation, trust.

During the meeting with my doctor, we discussed what would come next. He wanted me to wait a month to do Clomid again to ensure that my body fully recovered from the pregnancy and early miscarriage. I asked if we should try on our own without Clomid for the next cycle and he gave me an unenthusiastic “sure.” He didn’t seem confident that we would be able to conceive without the help of a fertility drug as my body had responded so well to it the month before (not sure if I shared, but when you’re on Clomid you get a blood test on cycle day 23ish to see how the medication worked – my levels were spot on perfect with just the lowest dose, so we knew it did it’s job). He said I would take this month off and resume Clomid the following month.

Jackson and Marlowe celebrating their first birthday!

My next big question came out along with a flood of tears, “what if this keeps happening?” My doctor is not super warm and fuzzy. He’s funny and likes to tell jokes to lighten the mood instead of coddle the crying hormonal mess of a woman sitting in front of him. He fully admits this and even made a joke about how he’s not like Oprah, though he is taking over her show (it was the same week it went off the air). He told me not to worry about all the what ifs and to just hope for the best. This wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear. I knew a few women who had taken progesterone during their pregnancies to help prevent a miscarriage. I wanted him to tell me that we would do that next time and everything would be fine.

If I was a pushy person, I would have demanded progesterone therapy if I got pregnant again, but I have a really hard time asserting myself to people who I feel have more authority than I do – doctors, lawyers, financial advisers, etc. Plus, I knew that my insurance would be changing soon (new job) and I would be switching doctors, so I tried not to worry about it.

My husband and I decided that we would do the exact same thing we had done the month before. We followed the same schedule (if you know what I mean) and hoped that maybe we could make a baby without the help of fertility drugs. I read up on ways to thicken my lining to help said baby stick and started taking 1500 milligrams of vitamin C every night with my prenatal vitamin. I also tried to eat as many sweet potatoes as I could.

*Note: I am not a doctor and you need to do your own research before taking any vitamin supplements*

You know I’m a scheduler, right? I love to plan and time everything just right. If we got pregnant this cycle, it would be PERFECT timing with my teaching schedule. I would be able to take the last 12 weeks of school off and have the whole summer off giving me about 5 months home with the baby before going back to work. However, I’ve learned that some things just can’t be planned perfectly and I have to surrender and let it all happen when it’s supposed to happen.

Laura, me, and Roxanne all dressed up for a friend’s birthday dinner.

I’m right at the end of my cycle now (these posts have caught up with real life!) and so far, I’m testing negative, but no Aunt Flo. With my insurance changing July 1st, if AF doesn’t get here soon and I’m not pregnant, I might not be able to do Clomid again next month, which would be very disappointing. I’m really hoping that I’m either pregnant (obvious first choice) or that AF comes very soon so I can get my prescription for Clomid before my insurance changes over.

One more thing: I have gotten so many comments and emails from women who have been reading that say how much they identify with my story. I want all those women to know that you’re not alone. Infertility is such a taboo topic and it makes women feel so alone because nobody talks about it. I’m hoping that my posts over here help those women realize that there are tons of others out there just like them and that it’s ok to talk about these issues. If pregnant women can complain about how hard it is to be pregnant, we can certainly vent about our struggles trying to get pregnant, right?

Up next week: how infertility changed my opinions about pregnancy, birth, and raising babies.

Amy Carter

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Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Wednesday
June 15, 2011

Fun while it lasted…

Missed something? Catch up here.

Was I mean to end my last post like that? I’m sorry.

I got the BFP and then I went to work. Working is funny when you’ve just learned you’re pregnant. I was pretty much thinking only about pregnancy and babies the whole entire day. It’s a good thing my students were testing because I wouldn’t have been able to teach them anything valuable that day. I called my doctor and the receptionist said to come in that afternoon before 4:30pm to take a urine test and set up my first prenatal appointment. I was so excited that I left work early – the students were dismissed at 2pm, but the teachers were supposed to stay until 3pm (don’t worry, I got permission to go) – and headed over. I peed in the cup and waited for my results and then they called me in. It was negative. I was confused. I told the nurse that I had taken a digital test that morning and it was positive and she said that it was probably just too early for the tests they have in the office to detect the hormone. She told me to wait a week and come back if I was still testing positive at home.

I was freaked out, but I had to get ready for my friend’s rehearsal dinner, so I went home, changed, and headed out. I met a couple of the other bridesmaids at a friend’s house and she had a non-digital test and made me take it. It was positive. I took another digital test the next day: positive.

From left: Roxanne, me, Laura, the beautiful bride, and Michelle

Since I was pretty sure I was pregnant, I didn’t drink at the rehearsal dinner or wedding reception. It was great to be able to think about being pregnant without feeling like I was imagining it.

The next night, we celebrated our second wedding anniversary (we celebrated one night early) and went out for a really fancy dinner.

I will never forget that night. We were so excited and happy.

On Tuesday, I left work and had a little bit of time before I had to be at my new school for a meeting, so I stopped by Babies R Us to just walk around and look. It was fun to think about registering and having a baby shower and decorating a nursery and I enjoyed every minute of it.

However, the high didn’t last long. On Wednesday, I woke up to pretty bad cramps. I remember laying in bed thinking that I was probably about to get my period. I tried to visualize the embryo sticking as I laid there and I waited a long time to get out of bed because I just knew what was coming.

During those five short days that we thought we were pregnant, my husband and I had discussed that if we lost the baby due to a miscarriage, we would still be happy (ish) because we would know that we can make a baby. Plus, there are things that can help with the sticking part and when we got pregnant again, we would do whatever we could to help it stick.

So, when I did get my period that morning, I was sad, but no more sad than I had been before we ever got pregnant. My husband and I both stayed home from work that day and I cried for maybe an hour. We went out to breakfast and played with our dogs outside and comforted each other.

Oh, and we sent texts to all the people we had told too early. Oopsie. Our bad. Not that I mind over-sharing. I mean, who am I kidding? I write about my period on my blog. But I think the problem with telling people too early is that they feel awkward when you tell them you’ve miscarried. I don’t have a problem with it, but maybe other people do, so I’ll try my best to keep the secret next time.

Next week: awkward doctor visits and the next cycle.

Amy Carter

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Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Wednesday
June 8, 2011

Best. Week. Ever.

Missed something? Catch up here.

In my last post, I made it through my first cycle of Clomid, all while interviewing for jobs and working extra hours (I taught Saturday school and after school intervention classes to make extra money just in case I didn’t get a paycheck in the summer). It was a lot to handle all at once, but it was SO worth it.

I was due for a visit from Aunt Flo on a Wednesday. According to the box of early result home pregnancy tests I had purchased the previous week, I could start testing 4 days before my missed period, but I decided to wait until Tuesday to take my first test. Now I have taken many MANY pregnancy tests over the last year that we have been TTC. I know what a negative result looks like and this one was slightly different.

Sidebar: Every time I use the word slightly, I think of my grandmother who used to order her bagels slightly toasted at our local bagel cafe. My mom and I used to roll our eyes when she did this in front of us, but now it makes me smile because it was so HER.

Anyway, this test that I took just before I was due for my period had a verrrrrry faint line where I had never seen any sort of line before. It was SO faint, in fact, that my husband couldn’t even see it.

Sidebar numero dos: Someone commented on one of my previous posts over here asking about how my husband is handling all of this and I wanted to address that. He is AMAZING. He is so incredibly supportive and tolerant and it seems like every time we are making a decision about something – whether or not to start Clomid while I’m interviewing, for example – we are always on the same exact wavelength. We are a team and he does a great job being my partner in all this.

Sorry about that. I bet you’re wondering about that faint line, huh? Well I was, too, but I tried to put it out of my mind. I didn’t want to build up hope only to have it knocked down when I got my period a few days later. Actually, I was so hopeLESS that right after my friend told me she was pregnant that same exact day I wrote this post.

Then, a couple of days later, I got an email from the school that was my number one choice offering me a job! I was ecstatic!! This school is amazing and so close to home. I have always wanted to teach there and soon I will. It was such a relief to know that I had a job for next year and would be paid through the summer.

On Friday morning (remember, Aunt Flo due Wednesday), I decided to take a digital pregnancy test because I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding that weekend and I wanted to be sure I wasn’t pregnant before I got tipsy at the rehearsal dinner and reception.

Well, guess what people??

Yep. That’s a BFP – BIG FAT POSITIVE!!!!

This is me, curling my hair, right after I saw the result. I was screaming in the bathroom and yelled at my husband to come in there. He later told me he was really annoyed because he thought I wanted him to kill a spider or something and he just wanted a few more minutes of snooze action. When he realized why I was losing it, he gave me the biggest hug of my life. Then I cried.

This was the dogs’ reaction after we asked them if they wanted a little brother or sister.

It happened to be one of the best weeks of my life.

But don’t congratulate me yet…

Next week: So THIS is why you don’t tell people you’re pregnant right away!

Amy Carter

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Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Wednesday
June 1, 2011

Bloated Baby Dance

Missed something? Catch up here.

When I left off last week, I started looking for a new job and we decided to start Clomid. The timing was pretty ridiculous and I kind of felt like I was in a blender for a few weeks. Let me break it down…

Me being silly while wine tasting for my 28th birthday in March.

I didn’t get a visit from Aunt Flo when I was supposed to in April, but that was nothing new for me. My doctor wanted to get me in for a blood pregnancy test before he prescribed Provera to start my period and then Clomid to stimulate ovulation. I’ll never forget sitting in the office waiting for my  blood work order from the doctor and a young couple came in for a urine pregnancy test, which was positive. They didn’t have insurance and didn’t seem prepared for a baby, but here they were, on the road to parenthood while I was starting fertility treatments. It was really hard to not break down into a sobbing mess at that moment.

Lucky for me, I got my period before I got the blood work results back, so I got to skip the Provera step. I thought that was the worst part because I remember how terrible my skin looked after I took it in December. Pimples? HA! I was in for quite a surprise with Clomid.

At Justin Winery in Paso Robles.

You start taking Clomid on day 5 of your cycle and continue for 5 days. Well wouldn’t you know, my first and most important job interview landed right in the middle of those 5 days. I made it through and was asked to move on to the next round of the process which was to teach a demo lesson. I was really excited for the opportunity, especially since this school was my number one choice. It is really close to my house and the students are very high achieving. If I got the job, I’d definitely be moving up in the teaching world.

On day 12, you start doing the baby dance every other day for five days. That is also when the intense pain and bloating kicks in. Oh yes, just when you need to be feeling your sexiest, your stomach inflates to the size of a woman who is already five months pregnant and your jeans no longer fit. You have to wear mumus to work and the cramps keep you from walking from your office to your car without a break. I’m not exaggerating. It was BAD.

The beach at Morro Bay, where we stayed the night before our wine tasting adventure in Paso.

The best part was that it only lasted four or five days. I remember thinking, in the middle of the worst of it, “I cannot do this again next cycle.” But once it was over and I knew there was an end to the pain and bloating, I realized I could if I had to. And can I say that the baby dance was better than ever? Something about knowing that you’re potentially making a baby that makes sex so much better. It is an incredible connection between two people that nothing else comes close to.

The following week, I NAILED my demo lesson. I rocked it. And I don’t usually talk about myself in such a flattering way.

Next week, some incredible news!

Amy Carter

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Wednesday
May 25, 2011

Distractions are Divine

Missed something? Catch up here.

After the holidays, we had an amazing distraction to get us through the first part of the year. We were selected to be on a new show on HGTV called Secrets from a Stylist with Design Star winner Emily Henderson. You can watch our episode, titled Mantique Minimalism, here.

Our living/dining room before:

And after:

Photos by Laure Joliet. See more here.

The anticipation of filming was the perfect thing to get me through all the worries I had about getting pregnant. I just sort of ignored it for a while. I got my period in December with the help of Provera, but didn’t get it again for two months. Then, in March, I got my period all by myself. I have never in my life been so excited to get my period. My husband and I jumped up and down in the kitchen, that’s how excited we were to see Aunt Flo.

We decided that we would start clomid in April and we were hopeful that this would be our year. Then, I got some terrible news. I received a RIF or reduction in force letter that said I would be laid off at the end of the school year. I was also RIFed two years ago, but it was rescinded right before the end of the year and I was able to keep my job. However, this time my school’s enrollment was projected to decrease, so even if the RIF was rescinded, I would not be able to stay at my school and could be placed anywhere in the district. Even though I’ve worked for the district for four years, I still have the lowest seniority in my subject area because they have laid off everyone below me.

So, I began the job search. In addition to teaching full time, everyday after work I went to as many schools as I could to submit my cover letter and resume. I had a couple of good leads and was ready to interview and land a job.

We wavered back and forth trying to decide whether or not to move forward with our plan to start clomid. I felt kind of stupid trying for a baby when I wasn’t sure if I would have a job after June. At the same time, we felt like if we waited, we’d never make any progress in the baby-making direction.

After discussing it with my therapist, she advised that we see the job situation and the baby situation as two separate issues. She told me not to think of one as dependent on the other and to make a decision on the baby thing without thinking about the job thing. So, with that in mind, we decided to move forward with clomid in April!

Next week: clomid sucks. For real.

Amy Carter

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Wednesday
May 18, 2011

Bad days and sunshine

Missed something? Catch up here.

When I left off, I had been late two cycles in a row, but wasn’t pregnant. I was learning how to deal with it all by seeing a therapist and taking yoga and I thought I was just fine… until I didn’t get my period for two whole months. And it turned into three.

I went back to the doctor to see if I could take something to start my period because I thought that three months with no period and no positive pregnancy test was not going to work for me. He said that not only would he give me Provera to kick start my period, but he’d also prescribe Clomid to stimulate my ovaries. When I was in his office, I agreed, but by the time I got home, I decided I wasn’t ready for Clomid. I had read about the side effects and increased chances of twins and was terrified. I decided to just take the Provera, get my period, and hope that my cycle went back to normal on its own.

As the holidays approached, however, I became very depressed. When I had planned out this year in my head, I thought I’d be pregnant and showing by Christmas and that we would know the gender and people would buy us gifts and… and… and… Then, all of the sudden all of the women I knew (or at least 5 of them I knew on facebook) announced they were pregnant. I’d have days where I was fine and then BAM! I would feel like my world was ending.

This was about six months ago and I still have days like that. Actually, I’m having one today. I feel like I want to go away to a deserted island with no internet and no cell phones and just disappear for a while. I want to stay away until I get pregnant and come back when I know it’s safe for me to live in a world where I find out my friends are pregnant and can be happy for them. I feel like my life is meaningless without being a mother. I feel like this is all just wasted time and nothing really matters until I have a baby growing inside me.

I also have wonderful days. I had one of those on Sunday. I declared it “Wanna be a Mother’s Day.” My husband cooked me breakfast and I got all dressed up and we went to a museum exhibit I’d been dying to see, Art in the Streets at MOCA.

Then, we went to my new favorite restaurant, Bottega Louie, for lunch. And we totally pigged out.

When we got home, I rode my bike to the store to pick up some peonies, my very favorite flower.

It was the best day.

So, when I have days like today where I feel like there is no end to the pain I feel, I try to remember days like Sunday. It helps me realize that there is sunshine right around the corner.

How do you get through the bad days?

Amy Carter

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Wednesday
May 11, 2011

Shrink Me!

part 4 of Amy’s story… read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.

I’m a teacher, so every September, I get to start over. It is no nice to have that change every year. Remember the first day of school? New haircuts, shoes, and pencils… the optimism of a fresh start. It is one of my favorite parts of my job. Well, as summer ended and a new school year began, I realized I was late for my period. Oh, who am I kidding? I didn’t just realize it. I had been counting the days and when I didn’t get it on day 28 of my cycle, I was convinced I was pregnant. Never mind that the home pregnancy tests I was taking everyday were negative. They must be wrong, I thought. I’m never late! I’m either pregnant, or something is very wrong with me.

image from here

The second week of school, I was one week late and losing my mind. I called the doctor and the office said he wasn’t in, but that I could see his partner. I was such a hysterical mess that I left work (being a teacher, that is much easier said than done – I had to find someone to cover my classes and come up with a lesson plan, but it worked out) and went to see this other doctor before she left for the day – she only works in the mornings. I had never met her, but I thought I might like her more than my own doctor since she was female. Boy, was I wrong.

Yes, I was overreacting. Yes, I was crying for no reason. But that woman was a piece of work. She looked at me like I was a bug she needed to squash. She told me to… deep breath… relax… and that she would never prescribe fertility medication until I had been trying for over a year. Did I ask for meds? No. I wanted a blood test to tell me if I was pregnant and if I wasn’t, I wanted to know why my period was late. At the time, I didn’t really understand how little doctors know about women’s health. The most common infertility diagnosis? Unexplained infertility. Oh, thanks. That’s helpful.

After drying my tears, I headed down to the lab to get a blood test. The next day I got my period. All of that drama for nothing. That afternoon, I called my insurance company and asked about my mental health benefits. I researched therapists online that were covered under my insurance and found one that seemed to be a good fit.

image from here

Why did I need to see a therapist? Well I’m not new to therapy. I have some daddy issues (abandonment, verbal abuse, neglect) and I used to see a therapist when I was in high school. Also, my grandma was a therapist, so I was never afraid of it like I know some people are. Before we got married, my husband and I went to a few pre-marital counseling sessions, not because we had problems, but because we wanted to be one step ahead of the game. This time around, though, I knew that my emotions were out of control and I needed help to work through them.

I knew from the first appointment that I had made the right choice. My therapist is great and she sort of reminds me of my grandma, which is a plus (I was very close with her, but she died 7 years ago – much too early). She has helped me learn how to calm myself down and not dive right into the deep sadness I sometimes experience when something isn’t going according to my plan. Therapy is a journey, it doesn’t fix you over night, so I still have a lot of work to do and sometimes I still get carried away and convince myself that the world is ending tomorrow. I’m getting better, though, and that’s the important thing.

I was late for my next cycle, but I was more prepared that time around and I didn’t lose my mind. I didn’t even take a pregnancy test because that obsessive testing is what got me into trouble the previous month. I was almost two weeks late that cycle, but that was nothing compared to what would happen next.

Amy Carter

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Wednesday
May 4, 2011

Telling the Family

we are currently accepting guest contributors on Spearmintbaby.com. this post is by Lorean of my hodgepodge

A friend of mine recently found out she was pregnant and shared the video of her telling her family. It was so cute and I loved seeing everyone’s reactions. It made me think about when we told our families that we were pregnant last year so I thought I’d share the video with all of you lovely readers! It seems like just yesterday. I can’t believe that we already have a 6.5 month old!

A little backstory: We hadn’t told anyone that we were “not preventing”, if you will, so my family was definitely not expecting this! I found out that I was pregnant on Tuesday, January 19 and of course told David that day. We were both a little shocked but excited.

I was going out of town the following Monday for a week on a business trip (to the Grammy’s, but that’s another story!) and I knew it would be while before we could tell our families if we didn’t do it that weekend. Luckily both of our families live in the same town so we were able to tell them at the same time. That Monday, the 25 was my mom’s birthday so we decided to head to Durham on Sunday and surprise my mom for her birthday. She didn’t even know we were coming in town. We arranged to meet at a restaurant and invited my grandmother, aunt, and David’s parents.

We had stopped on the way out of town that morning and bought a new digital camera (which we were planning to buy anyway for my trip) and two bibs that said “I Love Grandma”. We wrapped them up and decided to tell our moms that the gifts were just a little leftover present from Christmas that we had forgotten to give them.

Sorry the camera’s a little shaky. David was trying not to be too obvious at first that he was videotaping!

Telling the Family from Lorean Stanfield on Vimeo.

Lorean, my hodgepodge
Hodgepodge

Categories: articles, Video
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Wednesday
May 4, 2011

OPKs and other fertility acronyms

part 3 of Amy’s story…read Part 1 here & Part 2 here.

Before I started on my journey trying to conceive, or TTC, I didn’t know I’d have to practically learn a new language. OPKs, IUIs, CD1-28 (or more), AF, BBT, AO, BCP, BFP*… it’s quite a learning experience, but one I hoped never to have to go through.

Comic found here.

My aunt told me that with her second pregnancy she used an OPK, or ovulation predictor kit, so that she’d know exactly when to do the baby dance (another fertility nickname for… you know). When we got back from Australia, I decided to try this method so that we could time the baby dance just right and give us a better chance of conceiving before summer was over. I bought the cheapest one in the store and went to work, peeing on the sticks everyday for a week, but I never got a positive. I thought maybe it was because the cheap tests are hard to decipher – you have to determine if the color of the first line is darker than the second and it is a very slight difference that can be dependent on the time of day you take the test, among other factors. I decided to splurge on the pricey digital test for my next cycle, but again, no positive. Then, I started to panic. My cycle was still regular, but I couldn’t figure out why those darn tests said I wasn’t ovulating, so to the doctor I went.

Image from here.

This was the first time someone told me to just relax and it would happen. No, it wasn’t a well-meaning friend or relative, it was my doctor. Now, I like my doctor. He’s really funny and smart and he makes me feel at ease, but the worst thing anyone can possibly say to someone who is TTC is, “Just relax and you’ll get pregnant!” That comment makes us feel horrible about ourselves and while I’d love to just press my relax button and magically become a baby-making machine, it isn’t that easy.

I got a blood test to make sure I had ovulated and I had, but my hormone levels in the luteal phase (between ovulation and the start of the next cycle) were lower than normal. My doctor said that this would make it more difficult for me to get pregnant and, even if I did, it might not “stick”. While this was a little hard to hear, he assured me that there were plenty of things we could do once I got pregnant to help my hormone levels (shots, yay), so I was optimistic for the next cycle.

I guess the universe thought I needed a distraction because one of my husband’s friends decided to give us a labradoodle puppy that month, who we named Jackson.

Even though I didn’t really want another puppy after we lost Teddy, Jackson has been the best addition to our family. He is so gentle and smart, while still keeping us on our toes with his boundless energy. We just adore him.

Next Wednesday, I’ll share the experience that led me to finally make an appointment with a therapist. Yes, Amy gets a little bit crazy…

*Want to learn more fertility acronyms? Check out fertilityplus.org for a long list!

Amy Carter
from
Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Thursday
April 28, 2011

Let’s Get Physical

part II of Amy’s story…

In my last post, I said that we were just about ready to start trying to get pregnant and we had some exciting news. Sometime in May, my husband found out that his company was sending him to Sydney, Australia to do some training at their office over there that July. I was so happy for him and proud that he was selected for this amazing opportunity, but I really wanted to share the experience with him. We discussed it and decided that we’d find a way to buy a plane ticket for me no matter what because this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we had to go for it.

While I checked out every Australia travel book in our local library, my husband did some hunting of his own at work. He looked into his company’s travel policy and found something about bringing spouses on business trips. It said that an employee could trade in their business class ticket for two coach seats in order to bring a spouse. He asked his bosses about it and if it applied to him and guess what??? It did! I was able to travel with my husband halfway across the world for FREE!

We were so excited for the opportunity and decided that we would wait a month to start TTC so that I wouldn’t be in that horrible sick part of pregnancy while we were down under. We romanticized about conceiving in Australia and choosing a name that held meaning from our trip. It was going to be winter there, but I was happy to leave the heat of the valley for a little while and get out my boots and coats. We were ready to go, but something terrible happened.

Ruby (left) and Teddy (right) a few days before we left

Our dog Teddy, only a year old, stopped eating and drinking about a week before we were supposed to leave. We had plans for both of our dogs to stay with my husband’s parents for the two weeks we’d be gone, but Teddy was definitely not ok. We knew that there were probably some whole socks stuck in his stomach, as he had Pica (though we didn’t know the term until after the ordeal) and we frequently found whole socks in his… droppings… no matter how hidden we kept them. After numerous x-rays and attempts at getting him to pass the blockage, the vet determined that there was nothing we could do. Surgery would be too risky as there were several blockages and the fabric was very hard to see and if we let him go much longer without food and water, he would suffer. I had to have him put down by myself while my husband was at work. We left for Australia two days later.

We tried our best to enjoy our trip, but a cloud hung over us and, though we gave it a good try, I got my period right before we left to come back home. I was pretty sad, but this was only the beginning.

Coming up next Wednesday: OPKs and another surprise.

Amy Carter
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Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Wednesday
April 20, 2011

Let’s start at the very beginning

the next few weeks we’ll be having some new guest contributors on Spearmint Baby. here is Amy’s story...

I’ve know that I wanted to be a mother forever. I chose a career that allows me to be home in the afternoons and on weekends as well as all the usual school breaks like summer and winter, not because I want a bunch of time off (don’t get me wrong, that is awesome), but because I want to be home with my (future) children as much as possible. My mom, as a single parent, worked very long hours and most holidays when I was a kid and I hated it. I always wanted to have one of those moms who baked cookies for my after school snacks and chaperoned on field trips. My mom did an amazing job and was always there for me, but I always wanted more. So, I made a conscious decision to chose a career path that would allow me to be with my kids as much as possible, short of not working at all (or working from home, which I’d love to do one day).

We are so totally 80s!

When I started dating my husband, we talked about what we’d do “when we have kids” all the time. It was clear that we were both on the same page about wanting to have kids one day. We talked about parenting styles and made promises about what types of parents we would be. When we got engaged, I was over the moon excited to start our lives together and grow our family.

Our first big trip together to Maui.

During our engagement, I was terrified of getting pregnant. I had been on the pill since I was 21 and was never really afraid of becoming pregnant until I had the image of me with a belly in my wedding dress. I had nightmares about having to order a new dress or delivering the baby the day of the wedding. It was scary.

Sittin’ in a tree – photo by The Caldwells

We decided before the wedding that we would wait one year to start TTC (trying to conceive) to give our marraige some time to breath and make sure we had a solid foundation. I’m not saying this is best or better or any of that, but it was the right choice for us. However, I had already been bitten by the baby bug, so we got a puppy to keep my mind off of babies for a little while. HA! What a joke.

Newly wed – photo by The Caldwells

Being a teacher, I knew that I would get 12 weeks of half pay maternity leave when I had the baby. I also knew that if these 12 weeks were right before summer vacation, I’d get a whopping 5 months off after our baby was born. Of those 5 months, 3 would be at half pay and 2 would be at full pay as we get paid over 12 months (which means we get a regular paycheck each month even in the summer when we’re not working).  Anyone who knows me know that I love to plan things to death, as I did with my wedding, so I devised the perfect baby-making plan. Get pregnant in July-ish, have the baby in April-ish and have through August to be home bonding with and caring for my bundle of joy.

With our niece Ava

I went in for my yearly exam at the end of the summer after we got married and asked my doctor when I should go off the pill if I wanted to conceive during the following summer. She said that it would take a couple of months for my body to go back to normal and that if I went off in March, we could start trying in June. She also said that I could just start taking prenatal vitamins when I went off the pill, so that’s what I did.

At a silly Christmas hat party

Going off the pill wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and my period became regular right away. I was scared of breaking out really bad or having really long and heavy periods, but everything was great!

Next Wednesday, some exciting news… and no, it’s not what you think.

Amy Carter
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Categories: Amy, articles, fertility
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Tuesday
November 16, 2010

Should You Let Your Baby Cry?

i am working on establishing better sleep habits with Rexford. right now he LOVES to fall asleep and cuddle in my bed – i want him to LOVE his crib. i have started using CIO (he is 6 months). he is doing ok with it, but sometimes he gets hysterical so i go back into the room to soothe. it only took my daughter about 10 days with the CIO method so hopefully he will be the same. i am posting this article by Elizabeth Pantley because i feel like it is supportive without being bossy!:

How to cope when your baby won’t sleep through the night

Baby Sleep Schedules

  • Evaluate whether your baby’s sleep schedule is a problem in your eyes, or just in those of the people around you.
  • Is your baby’s nighttime routine negatively affecting your marriage, job, or relationships with your other children?
  • Most children sleep better and longer when they go to bed early, ideally between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.
  • The length and quality of naps affects night sleep–good naps equal a better night’s sleep.

Does it takes forever for your baby to fall asleep? Does she only fall asleep if you feed, rock, carry, swing, take a ride in the car, or perform other elaborate rituals? Does she wake frequently throughout the night? Here’s what you need to know.

Perspective is everything

You may have one – or many – people telling you that you should just let your baby cry to sleep. You are probably frustrated and confused. To gain that perspective, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where will I be five years from now?
  • How will I look back on this time?
  • Will I be proud of how I handled my baby’s sleep routines, or will I regret my actions?
  • How will the things I do with my baby today affect the person he will become in the future?

    Once you have some perspective about your baby’s current sleep issues, it’s important to be realistic in determining your goals and to be honest in assessing the situation’s effect on your life. Some people can handle two night wakings easily, while others find that the effect of even one night waking is just too much to handle. The key is to evaluate whether your baby’s sleep schedule is a problem in your eyes, or just in those of the people around you.

    So now ask yourself:

    • Am I content with the way things are, or am I becoming resentful, angry, or frustrated?
    • Is my baby’s nighttime routine negatively affecting my marriage, my job, or my relationships with my other children?
    • Is my baby happy, healthy, and seemingly well rested?
    • Am I happy, healthy, and well rested?
    • What is a reasonable expectation for my baby at her age?
    • What naptime and bedtime situation would I consider “acceptable”?
    • What naptime and bedtime situation would I consider “pure bliss”?
    • Why do I want to change my baby’s sleep patterns? Is it truly what’s best for me and my baby, or am I doing this to meet someone else’s expectations?
    • Am I willing to be patient and make a gradual, gentle change for my baby if that means no crying?

      Once you answer these questions, you will have a better understanding of not only what is happening with regard to your baby’s sleep, but what approach you will feel most comfortable using to help your baby sleep better.

      In the meantime, here are five things you can do to help her be a better sleeper:

      1. Establish a consistent bedtime. Most children sleep better and longer when they go to bed early, ideally between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.

      2. Dim the lights during the hour before bedtime to help set your child’s biological clock.

      3. Daily naps are important. An energetic child can find it difficult to go through the day without a rest break. Also, the length and quality of naps affects night sleep–good naps equal a better night’s sleep.

      4. Follow a soothing pre-bed routine that creates sleepiness, such as story time. A child who is listening to a parent read a book or tell a tale will tend to lie still and listen.

      5. Encourage them to stay in bed. Just before your bedtime routine begins, explain why you want your child to stay in her bed by saying something like: “When you come in my room during the night, you wake me up and then I’m tired the next day.” Communicate that you want her to stay in her bed all night long.

      My children have taught me how quickly babyhood passes. I struggle now to remember the difficulties of those first years and I am proud that I didn’t cave in to the pressures of others to do what they felt was right; instead I followed my heart as I gently nurtured all of my babies. That time is long gone for us, but those memories remain. And now, all four of them sleep through the night. And so do I.

      justthefactsbaby.com

      Categories: articles
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      Thursday
      November 11, 2010

      Flu shot at Target


      did you know that you can get the Flu shot at Target this year? no appointments needed, while supplies last! i have been so sick this week with a head cold and the thought of the Flu on top of this just makes me shiver. i’m stopping in tomorrow after i drop Harper at preschool!

      Categories: articles
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      Wednesday
      November 10, 2010

      pregnant Miranda Kerr poses nude


      seven mo. pregnant Miranda poses nude for the latest issue of W. (i censored the pic since a lot of you are reading this at work :) it is a bit more revealing than the Demi/Britney/Cristina pregnacy photos since she is completely topless! Miranda and Orlando are keeping the baby a surprise. i love this idea (i was way too anxious with my first 2 but if i have a 3rd it will definitely be my “surprise baby!”)

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      GILT