Friday, May 9, 2014

11 Week Update

Today is my son's 11 week birthday. I'm sitting in his room, which I used to never go into. It was a dreaded empty room, waiting for years to have a baby for it. But now it might be my favorite room in the house. We've fixed it up cute, and though he doesn't sleep in here yet, I spend plenty of time changing him, dressing him, and rocking him in here. Right now he's happily gurgling away in the swing next to me.

After the heavy last entry, I thought I should give an update. To summarize: life is pretty good. It was a dark, dark time for many weeks there. As I wrote last time, his birth went differently than expected, and we struggled with major feeding issues. At around six weeks, I made the hardest- and best- decision of our brief acquaintance. I quit pumping. I quit breastfeeding. It just wasn't working, and I was becoming non-responsive to the pump. I dreaded every pumping session, because sometimes he would cry, and once I was hooked up, there wasn't much I could do. I'd pray he wouldn't cry, and if he did, I'd have to jiggle him on my lap, trying desperately to get enough milk for his next meal. At night, we were forcing him to get up on the pumping schedule, not letting him wake naturally for meals. I was barely sleeping more than 2.5 hours at a clip. I was exhausted, and still mostly having to use formula anyway. This arrangement was making me a really unhappy mama.

So, I quit. It took almost three weeks to wean from the pump, because my breasts are really... responsive? I don't know. I just am really prone to clogged ducts and so I had to take it nice and slow. But life is SO MUCH BETTER NOW.

In a way, I think breast pumps are a scourge of modern life. I know many women who exclusively pump, and while some are willing to do anything to give their babies breast milk, many of us are miserable and live guilty lives, thinking we have to keep up these unrealistic schedules, trying to pump and care for a newborn. And I am totally not convinced breast milk is really the be-all, end all anyway (article link here, if you care). My son is healthy and thriving on formula, and my bonding has increased in a major way since I made the decision to stop forcing the issue. He's happy with a bottle, I'm happy with not being chained to my pump, and we've made the best of it. I chose donor egg partially so I could breastfeed, but it didn't increase our bonding, it just stressed us both out. Perhaps it will be different if I am fortunate enough to have another baby. They seem to think it's related to his breech presentation, and there's not a huge likelihood I will have another breech baby (though with my luck, I wouldn't be surprised...).

Anyway, enough about pumping. Being a mom is about more than feeding.


I believe my postpartum blues clouded this for a while at the beginning, and it's only in the last three or four weeks that my love has fully blossomed, unclouded by the anxiety I struggled through at the beginning. I am now more deeply bonded to this little creature than I ever thought possible.

And you know what? This is weird, but he looks nothing like my husband. Okay, maybe his bad hair, ha ha (he has a weird receeding hairline at 11 weeks old- maybe the hair will still grow in!). He has my coloring, dark hair and olive skin, because we picked a donor who looks like me. But my son- he looks a LOT like our donor. He has her nose, for sure. My husband kinda has a big honker, and I have a medium nose, but my son has this cute little button nose that turns up at the end. And when I look back at the donor's photos, it's an exact replica of hers. It's unmistakable.

But this bears emphasizing: I do not care one bit. I see her every time I contemplate his features, and it matters not one bit to me. I really thought, while pregnant, it would be a bigger loss. But it's not. I remain grateful to her every day, and thankful we could pursue this treatment, but this boy feels 100% mine. I grew him, I sleep curled next to him every night, I cuddle him all day long, I feed him bottles while he stares deeply into my eyes and rewards me with the cutest, sweetest smiles. This boy is a true miracle child.

I go back to work in one month and I cannot imagine being apart from him. Unfortunately I can't quit, due to the expense of donor egg and also the scarcity of jobs in my field if I wanted to find a new one later. But I do hope I can cut my hours a bit so I can leave at 3 and spend some extra time each day with him. I'm not sure if I can, but I'll deal with it once I am back there.

And a parting word: postpartum depression is real. I'm not sure I had true depression, but certainly more than the regular baby blues. And having gone through infertility is a true risk factor for experiencing the dark places I went to. I think it's because we try so hard to have a baby, and then when it arrives and it's so hard, we blame ourselves for not only experiencing rainbows and unicorns. Add in a hard birth and some medical issues, and there's a recipe for trouble. I wish I had known this, and I plan to be as open with my hard times as I try to be about the struggle to get pregnant.

As a parting word, I'll say that this has been the hardest 11 weeks of my life. But when I wake up with the baby in my arms each morning, I know it was worth it. I'd do it again, I'd struggle through infertility and IVFs if I had to, but this boy is the best thing that's happened to me since marrying my husband. I thank the universe, my perseverance, and the donor a million times over. Thank you.