LEAPS AND BOUNDS

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John Luke has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few weeks and is in to everything!!  He is pulling up in his crib, crawling all over the place, and even saying momma.  It sounds more like ma ma ma, ma-ma.  Josh and I will talk to him and say ma ma, or da da.  We’ve had this joke going to see which he would say first.

He is learning to clap his hands, and loves to clack his tongue.  He is definetely learning his voice.  When he gets really happy he will screech and scream excitedly.  He’s even been a little hoarse lately discovering all the sounds he can make with that little voice box of his.

We’ve had to drop the crib twice already.  We noticed one day he was trying to pull up in his crib, so we dropped the mattress.  It’s a good thing.  The very next day he figured out how to pull up all the way.  We decided to drop the mattress to the lowest level to be safe.  He was already peering over the side trying to figure out a way to get out!

We had kept the camera for the monitor hung to the side of his crib.  He got curious about it one day and pulled the camera into the crib, then started using it for a teether.  I kept hearing a noise from the nursery, so I looked at the monitor and saw his eyeball staring right into the camera.  He had pulled it into himself and started gumming it.  The camera has since been moved to the dresser.

He is fascinated with opening and closing drawers and cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms, so we put safety locks on this week.  We left one cabinet with Tupperware so he will still have a cabinet to play in.

I think he’s going to like camping in tents someday.  He loves to crawl under things.  One of his favorite things to do is crawl under his swing, or under the coffee table to play.  Since he has outgrown his swing (we boxed it up this week), and he keeps hitting his head on the coffee table, we bought him a play tent with a tunnel for the family room.

People tell me we are getting to the fun age.  I love watching his personality develop and seeing what he likes and doesn’t like.  Hearing his words for the first time, etc.  Josh and I noticed tricycles at a department store the other day, and talked about how much we have to look forward to in the coming years.  The fun (and trials) have only just begun…pic1 pic2

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AMERICAN GIRLS (AND A BOY)

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John Luke and I went to Atlanta for a “girls getaway” this past weekend with my sis-n-law, mother-n-law, and two nieces.  Before the trip, I was excited to see my family, but nervous at the same time.  I often get panicky driving in heavy traffic such as Atlanta.  I also know that if I succumb to my fears, I will never go anywhere, and John Luke will miss out on exciting adventures like traveling to different places.

So with determination and resolve, we headed off to the big city.  I live in a small town with a population of about 5,104 people (2011 census).  It’s on the outskirts of a larger town with a population 63,815 people (2011 census).  You can get on the other side of town within 20 minutes.

I’m glad we went despite my fears.  I was nervous about the thought of him getting fussy as we got into Atlanta traffic.  We ended up getting lost, but the important thing is we arrived alive and made the effort to see our family.  We ate dinner at the hotel Friday night, then spent some time in our room catching up before going to bed.

The next day we had brunch at the hotel, then my family went on to the American Girl store while John Luke and I stayed at the room to do my motherly duties (pumping).  I met them later at the store, and was quickly amazed at the craze of the American Girl phenomenon.  I guess it’s like the frenzy of the Cabbage Patch dolls which were popular when I was a girl.  My nieces even had personal shoppers to help them pick out their purchases.  I think I’m in trouble if I have a girls next time around!

Saturday evening we did some shopping at the mall, then ate at the American Girl Bistro.  My nieces were so cute dining with their dolls.  The waitress even brought John Luke a boy doll to the table.  It was so funny, I think J L thought the doll was real.  J L kept babbling, and trying to touch him.

Back at our room, John Luke was fascinated with the floor length mirrored closet door.  He kept “talking” to the baby in the mirror.  I’m not sure if the thought it was someone else, or if he was just amused by his reflection.  He even kissed himself a couple of times.

We had a fun weekend.  We’ll see them in Alabama in two weeks.  Here are some pictures from our trip. ImageImageImageImage

WEANING 101

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This week has been trying to say the least.  I had this bright idea that I would wean from pumping.  John Luke has practically weaned himself from the breast.   Once he figured out his surroundings were pretty interesting, it’s been hard to keep his attention at the breast, except in the middle of the night or early morning.

We had latching and supply problems in the beginning.  As a result, he was introduced to the bottle very early.  It’s been a struggle to keep him on the breast every since.  I am still pumping 3-4 times per day, but the supply is getting less and less.

I’ve spent hours pumping trying to “build up” my supply with very little results.  I am only producing about 6 ounces per day now.  I have been starting to wonder if the benefits outweigh the time spent, now that he’s almost eight months old.  I realize any amount of breast milk is better than formula; however, starting to question whether time spent stimulating his mind with reading and being outdoors would be more productive.

Recently, we had a busy weekend with fourth of July activities.  I thought I would eliminate a pumping session over the weekend and see how it goes.  I pumped less at the other three sessions as well.  I usually pump right before bed at least one hour.  Thirty minutes on each side to empty the breast as much as possible before going to bed.

After eliminating a pumping session, and reducing time spent pumping per session, I have spent a lot of quality time with my pump making up for it.  I found myself with a clogged milk duct.  And it’s been a dud.

I have spent HOURS this week trying to get the duct unclogged.  I’ve pumped about an hour at each session, several times per day.  I’ve taken hot showers and expressed the milk in the shower.  Total waste.  The kid gets no benefits from it that way, but the heat from the shower helps get the duct unclogged.  I have massaged the affected breast with a hand massager before pumping.  Slept with the plugged breasts on a heating pad, and spent time researching how to get the duct unclogged to prevent mastitis.

I have a friend who pumped four times per day and eventually dried up without having to wean.  I do get a little sad at the thought of not producing anymore milk.  It’s good to put on his oatmeal and rice cereal in the morning, and occasionally he gets a full bottle of breast milk.  I think I will go back to pumping and let nature take care of itself.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF TAMARA

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Being a new mom, I have recently been intrigued by the book ‘If you give a Mouse a Cookie’ by author Laura Numeroff, and a poem entitled ‘If you give a Mom a Muffin’, by Beth Brubaker.

Whatever age your children, or whether you’re a “mom-to-be”, we all have days like the one that inspired this poem.  I love when people can express their vulnerabilities and imperfections.  It reminds us that we can find humor in the mundane tasks of life.

Sometimes this poem is totally my life.  I think we can all relate.

IF YOU GIVE MOM A MUFFIN

If you give a mom a muffin,

She’ll want a cup of coffee to go with it.

She’ll pour herself some.

Her three-year old will spill the coffee.

She’ll wipe it up.

Wiping the floor, she’ll find dirty socks.

She’ll remember she has to do laundry.

When she puts the laundry in the washer,

She’ll trip over boots and bump into the freezer,

Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper.

She will get out a pound of hamburger.

She’ll look for her cookbook. (101 Things To Make With a Pound of Hamburger).

The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail.

She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow.

She will look for her checkbook.

The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two-year-old.

She’ll smell something funny.

She’ll change the two year old.

While she is changing the two-year old the phone will ring.

Her five-year old will answer and hang up.

She’ll remember that she wants to phone a friend to come for some coffee.

Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.

She will pour herself some.

And chances are,

If she has a cup of coffee,

Her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF TAMARA

Tamara goes to pay bills.

As she pulls out her wallet,

She is reminded that she needs to clean out her purse.

She cleans out her purse which doubles as a diaper bag.

She finds a dirty diaper from yesterday’s shopping trip to get groceries.

She goes to throw away the dirty diaper.

She is reminded that she needs to empty the trash.

While taking out the trash, she sees she needs to pull weeds.

While pulling the weeds, her shirt gets dirty.

She goes to put the dirty shirt in the laundry room.

She is reminded that the clothes she’d washed yesterday still need to be put in the dryer.

She will put them in the dryer, and decide to fold them after paying the bills.

Oh yeah, the bills…better get those done before starting dinner.

Funny thing is.. Josh will come home and ask, “What’d you do today?”

I think to myself, “Well, I’ve really done a lot. Really, I have..”

LETTER OF SUPPORT

As a recipient of donated embryos, I was recently asked to write a letter of support to help continue funding for education and awareness of embryo donation and adoption. It was my honor and privilege to help support this cause.  Knowledge about this option of third party reproduction is what brought my son into my life.

I was first introduced to embryo adoption, many years ago, by my former doctor.  He’d become suddenly ill, and had passed away from Leukemia very quickly.  Before his illness, he’d discussed third party reproduction with Josh and me, as a viable alternative to building our family.  As he spoke those words for the first time, it was like a punch to the gut.  Realization set in:  I could no longer be in denial that we would probably never have a biological child.

At one of our first appointments, he’d given us an about an 80% chance of pregnancy.  Sitting in his office, almost three years later, he’d said our chances of a biological child had dropped to 10%.  I’m not sure where he got his percentages.  Maybe it was the 14 unsuccessful IUI’s, and the two failed IVF attempts, that got him thinking along those lines.  Josh and I were not thinking along those lines.

With what felt like a stab through the heart, he had said,“You are both attractive and have good genes, but so do other people.  I think we need to discuss third party reproduction….embryo adoption”.  I had been fighting back tears when our percentage dropped to 10%, but holding on to every last bit of hope, I was waiting to hear what options we had left to maximize our 10% chance.

After hearing the words embryo adoption, I felt like my world was crumbling.  Tears streamed down my face.  I could no longer hold back the floodgate that was erupting inside my mind.  My dreams were being dropped on me like a wrecking ball to glass, being shattered to pieces, in one 30 minute appointment.  My doctor had a reputation for being blunt.  He didn’t sugarcoat things.  It wouldn’t be kind to do so in the infertility business.  You would only give people false hope.  He wasn’t giving me any false hope that day.

The thought of not having a biological child was devastating.  Adopting was NOT EVEN CLOSE to being on the radar.  Traditional or otherwise.  The concept of embryo adoption was totally foreign to both Josh and me.  We couldn’t grasp the idea of carrying a child, from someone else’s genes, in my body, and giving birth to a child not of our blood.  But time wears you down.  And procedure after procedure wears you down even more.  It took Josh a bit longer than me, to warm-up to the idea of third party reproduction.

Fast forward to today

Awareness and education about ED/EA is how we got our son.  After trying procedure after procedure, Josh finally accepted, that if we were ever going to have a child, it would probably be through third party reproduction.

If you read my first blog, ‘Acceptance to Elation’, you’ll know we had a close friend who offered to be a donor for us.  While researching donor IVF, we came across the NEDC blogs and website.  It wasn’t until after a failed IVF cycle with our donor, that we decided to pursue embryo adoption through the NEDC.

My heart, John Luke Foster, was born November 26th, 2012….

All thanks to the information and awareness obtained through the NEDC website and blogs.  Thanks to a loving couple who sacrificially donated their embryos.  And initially, thanks to a very sweet man, Dr. Samuel Thatcher, who passed from this life much too soon.  He had the boldness to tell me words that I didn’t want to hear.  But words I needed to hear for my own good.

Words that would forever change my life…embryo adoption.