Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nine Months

One of the things that people always told me while I was pregnant turned out to be true: The nine months that you spend pregnant will seem to take forever, but the first nine months of your baby's life will go by in a flash. It's amazing how true this is.

I can't believe how long Lily has been with us, and yet at the same time it's hard to remember what it was like to not know her.

Quite a bit has changed around here lately, so I'll jump right in!

Lily turned nine months old a whole week ago, and I'm kinda glad I'm late writing this post because of all the new things she has learned in the past seven days. It's like she hit that milestone and suddenly figured out how to do a bunch of new things! I'll get to that later, though. First things first:

At her nine month checkup last week Lily weighed 19 pounds 2 ounces and was 28 inches long. Month after month I'm grateful for a healthy, growing girl who has been free of any major or minor illnesses. She's doing so well and I'm so thankful. And she and I both were very happy that this trip to the doctor did not include shots, although now those four she'll have at twelve months are looming.

Eating: Our big change in eating this month has been the introduction of table foods. Actually, I just started making this a part of her regular meals this week. Lily is on the same food schedule as last month, but now I'm trying to replace some of her baby food purees at lunch and dinner with table food. She still has her oatmeal with applesauce or another fruit for breakfast and she still has cereal in the evenings, but lunch, dinner, and snacks have a little more variety. So far we've tried mashed potatoes, cooked baby carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, and a little bit of chicken. She seems to like all of it, but her favorite by far has been the tomatoes. (Of course, they are fresh from her granddad's garden and are particularly delicious!)
I have found that she likes real table foods better than the stage 3 baby foods even though she loved the stage 2 purees, which is just as well if we can just skip over a step. For example, she really likes to eat (steamed) broccoli from our plates, but she hates it out of the baby food jar.

Over the past month Lily has gotten really good at feeding herself some finger foods. She really goes to town with the little Gerber snacks (Puffs and Lil' Crunchies), Cheerios, and pieces of toast, and she enjoys eating fresh bananas and strawberries very much right now although she can't pick up slippery things by herself quite as well.

Lily still nurses about 3-4 times a day and I've introduced a sippy cup of formula once a day. She also has little sips of water and sometimes juice (she's still not crazy about it) here and there with meals.

Sleeping: I'm so glad to report that sleep has returned to our house!

It's not unusual for Lily to wake up once or maybe even twice a night, but we are just so relieved to have gotten past that awful stage we were in a little while ago that you won't hear us complain. She has started sleeping through the night again pretty often, which is a huge relief for all of us. Her nap times are now very regular -- around 10 AM and 2 PM, for about an hour each. Bedtime is still between 7:30 and 8 PM, and we start the day between 6:30 and 7 each morning (still an adjustment for her night owl mommy).

Milestones: Now for the fun stuff! Honestly, if I had written this post on time a week ago, I wouldn't have much to say in the way of big milestones. In fact, I had just been talking a couple of weeks ago about how Lily was nowhere near crawling. She really wasn't. She's still not crawling, but she is so much more mobile lately. She will pull herself all the way forward onto her hands and knees to get a toy, then she either rocks back onto her bottom or falls onto her tummy. Sometimes I think she is right on the verge of taking off.

On the day that Lily turned nine months old, she said her first word! She was in her high chair right after breakfast and she dropped the toy she'd been holding. I was on the phone with my sister, but I said "uh-oh" to Lily and she repeated "oh." We did this three times and I was pretty sure she was trying to say it. Later on in the day I tried it again and heard her say both syllables, plain as day. So, "uh-oh" is her first word! I think she is really close to learning "mama" too.

For months I've been trying to teach Lily to clap her hands and wave bye-bye. I don't know why, but they both clicked this past Sunday while we were at my mom's. In the same day she picked up both of these new skills, and it's really cute to watch her little hands move with purpose. I also use the signs for "more" and "all done" every time she eats, and today I felt like she was really trying to do the sign for more.

All in a week's time, my big girl has learned so much. This stage is a lot of fun and we're really enjoying it. As always, we're so thankful for the opportunity to be her parents.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Celebrating Father's Day

For the first time in my life I got excited about Father’s Day this year. I ordered a special gift weeks in advance and had a hard time keeping quiet about it. I couldn’t wait until the day arrived!

I don’t recall ever spending a Father’s Day with my own dad. It’s possible that I did before the age of seven (when my parents divorced), but I’m pretty sure I never have since. I usually send a card, which I’m never quite sure he receives, and almost always talk to him on the phone on that day for a few minutes. I’m not incredibly close to my dad, but of course I do love him. He’s not perfect, but he is my dad.

My husband’s not perfect either, and I know that as parents we will make mistakes. But, with that being said, he IS pretty amazing! I’ve had a lot of years married to this man to speculate about what kind of daddy he might be if ever given the chance. I knew he’d be great, and it does my heart a world of good to see his relationship with our daughter. It does make me mindful of something I’ve missed out on for 34 years, and it makes me sad for the little girl I was. My daughter, thankfully, has a dad who is sweet, gentle, thoughtful, kind, and loads of fun, and above all, loves the Lord and is completely devoted to his family.

I’ll never have to explain to my daughter why her daddy is never home to spend time with her. It won’t be necessary to explain that alcohol makes her dad do and say things that he shouldn’t. I won’t have to fill the void that has been left in her heart because he abandoned her. I’ll never wipe away tears because she felt like her daddy didn’t care about her or didn’t love her. And by God’s amazing grace, I won’t need to raise her on my own and try to explain to her at the tender age of seven that her daddy is leaving us because he has a new family.

Unlike her mommy, my little girl will spend every day of her life knowing that there is a man who considers her his precious, treasured gift from God. He’ll know her favorite color and which foods she doesn’t like to eat. He’ll know which is her favorite bedtime story, and he’ll never, ever forget her birthday. She is the apple of his eye, and she will always know it. She will go to sleep each night knowing that her mommy and daddy love each other, love her, and will be there for her for as long as we live.

I am beyond grateful this Father’s Day that my daughter has what I didn’t. I’m thrilled that we have a wonderful guy in our lives and that we get to celebrate him on this day and every day. I plan to make sure year after year that Lily Rae knows how incredibly fortunate she is to have the daddy that she does. But I have a feeling she’ll already know.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Just Lucky?

Thanks for the encouraging comments on my last post. It's good to know that I'm not alone in my feelings, but at the same time I always hate that others are struggling with some aspect of infertility, too.

We had a lovely anniversary. It was on a Monday this year, so it was a regular work day for my husband and a regular day at home for Lily and me. That evening the three of us went out to dinner together to celebrate. We weren't at all sad that we weren't able to go out alone on that day. That's nice to do, but it was really great to be together. We had 12 anniversaries without children and were so happy to have her with us for the occasion this year.

Two days later we had our follow-up visit with our RE. We have to drive into Houston to get there so we dropped Lily off with her aunt (my sister-in-law), who was very excited to spend some one-on-one time with her. (That evening Lily stayed with her aunt again for a couple of hours while we went out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary... again. We had a very nice time but we sure did miss our girl! It was so sweet to come back to her smiling face.)

It felt very strange to be back at the doctor's office. There was a couple in the elevator with us on the way out who looked nervous and uncertain, and we both wondered what kind of news they had gotten or what they were facing. We said nothing to them, though, because we know there just aren't any words that help during that time. Still, our hearts were very sensitive to those around us who were still waiting on their babies. And while I would have liked for Lily to have met Dr. G, I was glad she was happily playing at Aunt Allie's house instead of in the waiting room with us, just in case it might have caused anyone additional sadness or hurt.

As I wrote in the last post, I was unsure what to expect from this appointment going into it. I was not expecting that it would be treated as my well-woman exam. Frankly, I thought I was going to remain clothed during the visit and was a bit surprised when we were led to an exam room and I was instructed to undress from the waist down. No harm done, of course -- I'm used to those appointments by now. And I don't have to worry about having another well-woman visit for a whole year, which is always good.

The checkup didn't take long and we did have a little bit of time to chat with the doctor. My main question that I wanted to ask was whether he thought that using Femara and Ovidrel was what made the difference for this pregnancy. Did it help our chances because we started with a really good egg? I had, of course, hoped that the answer would be yes. Unfortunately, his response was that we had either started with a really good egg... OR we had just gotten lucky this time.

Now, I know that you know that I attribute Lily's existence to God and His power. That won't ever change! I won't dwell on the whole matter of God or luck in this post because I think it's clear to you what I believe. And I don't think that the doctor was trying to discount that either. I think that, in his medical opinion, he simply can't determine medically whether the fertility meds aided in the success of our seventh pregnancy, or whether it was just the one that worked.

To be honest with you, it was the answer I feared. It would have been great to know that we could identify exactly what to do to increase our chances of another successful pregnancy. It would have been so reassuring to know that we had a solution -- a way to avoid going back to where we've been so many times in the past when we've gotten pregnant and lost the baby.

If/when we do try again, we will have to make the choice of either trying on our own or doing what we did last time. Either way, I know it will be in God's hands.

I'm thankful that we do have Lily. I'm grateful that God intervened and gave us a beautiful daughter to love here on earth. I'm confident that He knows what my future holds even when I feel scared to move forward.

And, no matter how it turns out, I'm relieved that I can trust Him instead of relying on luck.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Starting Again

I know you can read a lot into a title like that. No, it doesn't mean that we are trying to have a baby again. Not yet, anyway. I have no idea when that might be, but we would love to have another baby someday if the Lord should allow it to happen again. At this point, the thought of trying again still scares me.

Starting over is a tough thing. I've been thinking about it a lot this week for two reasons. First of all, last Sunday was cycle day one. That means that I got my period... for the first time since December 21, 2009. It was the start of my first cycle since the baby was born, and I'll admit it came as a bit of a surprise. I guess I wasn't completely shocked -- I am still nursing, but only about 3-4 times a day now that Lily is eating mostly baby food. I'd started feeling kind of crampy a couple of days before and wondered if maybe...? Then Sunday morning I woke up and there it was.

Starting again.

I had mixed feelings. Mostly I felt sad because it feels like my baby is growing so fast. But I also felt sad because of all that this monthly visitor signifies. It reminds me of months and years of heartache and disappointments. And in a way it means that my "time off" from not obsessing over infertility/miscarriage is over. Having a break from that has been... wonderful. It has been incredibly healing for my heart that the subject hasn't been at the forefront of my mind for the past year and a half. It's not that I haven't worried. Oh, I have. Being pregnant after six miscarriages was absolutely not worry-free for me. Once the baby was here, though, I was able to focus all of my energy on taking care of her, and that's what I've done for the past eight months. That's what I'll continue to do, of course, but now I feel those questions and concerns creeping back in.

The other reason that starting over has been on my mind is that we have an appointment with our RE (our fertility specialist, Dr. G) this week. We haven't seen him since the end of my first trimester with Lily. We were supposed to schedule a visit with him when she was about 3 months old, but it just never happened. Her 3-month mark was right around Christmas and time just got away from us, so here we are 5 months later, finally making the appointment. I really don't even know what to expect from this visit or what we'll discuss. It's not that I feel pressure to jump right in to trying again or anything like that. I'm fully aware that the ball is in our court here. The only pressure I feel right now is time. I know that if we do have another baby, it's best to try sooner rather than later. Certainly I realize that having this appointment doesn't mean we have to start that timeline immediately.

And maybe it sounds funny, but I even feel kinda ridiculous talking about having another baby sometimes. Not because we don't want it. We really, really do. We talk about it often and imagine it regularly. A sibling for Lily...

Still I can't forget that it took six babies in heaven before we ever had one to keep on earth. What might it take to have a second? Will we have to go through loss again before we have another successful pregnancy? And like the last time, I know that we won't know those answers until we try. That's the scary part.

But like the last time, and every time before, I'm trusting the Lord. He knows IF and WHEN and HOW. Those are the big things that I wonder when I entertain thoughts of having another baby -- If it will even happen at all, and if so, when? More importantly, how?

I don't know what the next steps are right now. I don't know what starting again will look like or whether I'm even ready to think about it yet. For now I just want to be right here where I am, looking back on how far we've come and enjoying the here and now.

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. Thirteen years married, and so much has happened since our wedding day. Those 13 years include 6 years of recurrent pregnancy loss followed by 3 years of infertility. And finally now, almost a whole year of parenthood. I feel so fortunate to have this man that God gave me walking beside me through all of it.

Happy anniversary to the sweetest, kindest, funniest, and most supportive man I know!