Sunday, September 2, 2012

6,419 obnoxiously orange cones

I have a friend who has a theory that the city has a limited number of construction cones with nowhere to store them, and so the solution is to simply move them around major roadways at regular intervals. Myself, I've noticed whatever I eat or don't eat at breakfast, I'm going to make it up calorically by the end of the day. And regardless of how carefully I plan ahead, I will be exactly three minutes late getting out the door. Without fail.

What I mean to say is, the law of averages rules, and those averages - whether it's the existence of traffic-inducing construction cones, a certain number that just stays put, or the panic I feel every damn day as I frantically search for an outfit that doesn't have spitup on it - those averages just 'aint changing.

I find this holds true in parenting, as well. Having two kids? Well, it seems like there are a gazillion fewer seconds in my day, and there are, there really are, but my response to that reality - i.e., the stress I feel? Yeah, that's pretty much the same.

When I was pregnant I flipped out about what the pregnancy would do to my ability to support my family (i.e., my career). When I wasn't thinking about that, I was concerned about my blood sugar, financial stuff, and plenty of other issues that can only be described as having debatable worthiness for my rapidly diminishing emotional energy. Now that the baby is here, I'm not perseverating on those "silly" topics anymore: I've got bigger fish to fry. I spend a lot of time feeling anxious that I'm spending enough time bonding with little Wes. And then when I feel good about that, I worry that I don't have enough time for Jack. Once I've decided that's all set, it's an existential crisis that my own person (the creative / interesting / diverse person I used to know) has simply ceased to exist. And then I notice that I'm spending a lot of time worrying about all of this crap I can't change, when instead I ought to be soaking up my newborn baby and appreciating that my life is pretty good - shame on me.

Once I settle on the idea that life is good, I realize that nothing stays that good for very long, and I start feeling anxious that I'm not appreciating what I've already got.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Anxiety isn't necessary, but it's there. Every day.

So when I have to get two kids out of the door instead of one? Yes. Difficult. Very difficult and will only get more difficult when kid #2 turns from a lumpy potato to something slightly more mobile. But the anxiety I feel in the moment with two kids is roughly the same as it was with one (and I mean come ON that was so freaking EASY with one!). That sensation? Yeah, it can be summed up by a single word: "PANIC". And when Greg and I are trying to eat dinner out at a restaurant with our children and without disturbing the other diners? Yup, much knee bouncing, I-spy pointing and flashing my boobs to the world (nursing in public). That particular sensation can be summed up by a different word: "HUNGRY".  

So whether it's two or one, it's all Panic, Hungry, Worried, and Tired. And when it was none, I'm pretty sure it was Panic, Infertile, Worried, and Tired. 

Don't get me wrong: I don't have a moment to spare most days (literally I don't have time to pee, and you think I'm joking). I'll post about that sometime, too. But what's amazing about having two kids is realizing that even though I had it really good - and really easy - before, the things that are stressing me out feel more or less the same... stressful.

So that's just it: whether I have two kids or one, the cortisol spike is just the same. After all, those orange traffic cones are going to have to end up somewhere.

Happy Two-Month Day, Wesley!

Dear Wesley,

You are two months old today! My, how time is flying*.

It simply amazes me how focused you are. You like to gaze at things for long periods of time. Sometimes you'll pick out a pattern or a texture and just look... and look... and look. This reminds me of myself a bit. It makes sense to me now that I did not feel much kicking when I was pregnant with you: you do like to be stationary. Sometimes when I hold you, I pretend I am you for a moment, and I just focus on a single spot in my field of vision. I like staying still, too. I can easily see how you are fascinated by even the smallest details around you - a fold of the blanket, the light bouncing off the back of the leather couch, or the smooth surface of the skin on the arm that holds you. The world, even a single still image of it, is a miraculous place, baby boy, and I never tire of it myself. I think you are observant, Wesley.

One thing that is very endearing is how much you like to look at our faces. You will stare right into my eyes for a long time. You especially like to watch my face when you are calm and falling asleep. I wonder what you are thinking. I wonder how you are thinking. Do the emotions simply pass in and out of your consciousness with no warning? Do you feel love yet? When I see your eyes focus so contentedly like that, I feel so sure that you do. I certainly love you. I hope you know that already.

You have many different moods; with the exception of "tummy troubles" and "tired", they are all various iterations of "generally content". You are getting more active, though, and spend some time every day kicking your legs and swinging at toys. Your brother was a very fast kicker and never stopped moving. You strike me as more of the intermittently determined: left, right, left right, stop. Sometimes you stop kicking for no reason at all, and then you lie perfectly still, gazing up at the toys on your mat or our faces as we hold you.

You are held so much, little one. You are almost always in someone's arms. You taught us that early on - that being held really is the best - and now I suppose we're so in the habit of having you in our arms that we've forgotten to ever put you down. 

You are still a very sleepy guy... but you have a more predictable schedule with long awake periods in the morning and evening and a few long naps in between. Sometimes you'll sleep for three hours in one go, during the day. (This is amazing to me, because I am used to a baby who got up after 40 minutes... every single time). I know so clearly when it is your bedtime - there is a very specific shout you give every night, and it is even different than how you ask for a nap. It seems crazy of me to say that I understand you so well, but I just do. I know what you are saying when you start that little special cry: "It's too bright and loud! Holding me is not enough. I need to be wrapped in a blanket". And then I go in the bedroom, dim the light, and swaddle and rock you, and you are so happy with that. I think you are pretty smart, because you calm down as soon as I turn the lights low. Once you are swaddled up, you lie perfectly still and gaze up at me as your eyes begin to blink and get heavy. I never knew a baby could be so quiet and calm at bedtime.

You are smiling more, but we have to work a bit to get the smiles out of you. Your brother liked to be surprised and have big, loud things happen. You seem to like gentle tickles and familiar faces. You definitely like big smiles, though, and happy sounds repeated over and over. Your dad is the best at that. We can tell when you are getting ready to give us some smiles, and it is so much fun to try to work one out of you. My favorite, even more than the smiles I think, is the cooing. I thought because you are so calm that you might not be very chatty as you got bigger, but that does not seem to be the case. You have a great repotoire of lovely baby sounds, and we have conversations every day. "Arrooo!" "What's up?" "Eh!" "Oh yeah? "Rrrrppp" "Uh-huh". And so forth. I am convinced you are giggling already, as you make this cute little in and out breath when you get very excited. I can't wait for the real laughs and giggles.

Time is passing so quickly these days, and I am doing my best to soak up every single minute I can with you. Just so you know, even though I am back at work, we are velcroed together when I am home. I wish I could take you everywhere with me, but I know your dad is holding you during the day, and those are some good hands.

Love, mama

*Sorry for the lack of pictures - really - and the ones that are here are pretty bad (my fault). I went back to work full time a few weeks ago so it's been a little hectic. But things are settling down and I am determined to get more photos of you in the next month!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What I know now

Dear Wesley,

Tomorrow is what feels like my first 'real' day back at work, and it is just awful. I really don't want to leave you. You're going to be with your dad and your grandma and grandpa, and I've been gone for short periods of time before, and I've even sat at my desk, and I've even pumped milk before. You'll probably nap through most of it, tomorrow, but... I really don't want to leave you. I really, really don't want to leave you.

I've written about this topic before. There are a few differences between this time and last time that I left my baby to go back to work. The last time, Jack was 13 weeks old and I'd been on full maternity leave for 13 weeks. This time, you are only 6 weeks old and it was not possible for me to abandon work completely. The last time, Jack went to daycare. This time, you will staying with your dad instead. The last time, I'd all but given up on my profession interests. This time, I can't give up. The stakes are much, much higher.

The last time, I didn't know how it would feel. This time, I can anticipate exactly. I know how painful it will be to think of you and not hold you. I know how much I will hate pumping instead of nursing you. I know that the pain will be physical, that I will feel it, feel my breasts fill with milk that you need and my arms empty of your weight. I know that I will want to spend every single minute looking at photos and videos of you and googling things about your development and planning things for your future, and that will be silly because it will be time wasted at work that I could be at home. I know that I'll feel guilty for that. I know that I'll feel guilty for the minor fulfillment that I get from work and for the minutes of personal time that inevitably happen when you sit at a desk all day - for chatting with someone in the hallway, for a daydream or a quick check to the news. I know that I will be upset and the analysis of the situation will distract me from work; that loss of productivity will upset me even more. Like how it's midnight now and perhaps if I was working on grants instead of working on my emotions, perhaps then I could spare some minutes at the computer screen tomorrow for minutes of holding you in my arms.

I wish I could write an honest resolution here. I could come up with something. I could write about why the alternative mom/dad work situations would not work for us, rationalize that you and I will not be emotionally separated by the physical separation, mumble a thing or two about how we will be just fine, just fine, because everyone does this. (I'm really scared those things are true). It wouldn't be hard to make it sound good. But it also wouldn't be honest.

Because, honestly? There's nothing to say to make this any better. That's what I know now.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Happy 6-week day, Wesley!

Wesley! You are 6 weeks old today!

You are just the sweetest, cuddliest little baby I could imagine. There are very few problems in the world that a good cuddle won't solve for you. You like to snuggle your little head right under my chin, and then you can look out to the left with your curious eyes. You are awake so much more, now, and you want to be held close all of the time. I don't mind - really, I don't, not a single bit, not when your hair smells so sweet and your skin is so soft and your little hands wrap around my shoulder. I think I could hold you for the rest of my life and do nothing else and be happy. You are growing so quickly, Wesley, it does make me sad to think of the time passing... but I'm so excited to see what kind of person you are.

Your yawn is my favorite expression so far. It is so darn cute, with that little pointed face and scrunched up nose!

One aspect of your personality that has come out very quickly is that you rather like things to be comfortable and constant. You don't want to shift position and you are not a fan of unexpected events, like the loss of someone's arm pressing against your side, a change in elevation, or startling sounds. You don't mind going in the car seat, but you also don't settle down from the motion of the car - in fact, the few times you've had extended crying jags have been while you're in the car seat and we can't get back there to comfort you. Another example of your desire for constancy is how much you dislike diaper changes. (This is in direct contrast to your brother, who found diaper changes nearly as entertaining as nursing). You get quite hysterical when we change your diaper, hugging your arms forward like you're being dropped and crying so hard that the tears start rolling down your cheeks before I can even get the new diaper underneath you - tears from the start, over diaper changes, from the baby who hardly cries about anything. It is really sad to me. The thing is, though, after a good cuddle, you always calm down. I just wish I could convince you that it will be OK so that you didn't have to be so upset during the diaper change.

You LOVE the Moby Wrap (Jack did not)

Here are a few things you like: being held tight, being swaddled, going in the ergo, going in the moby, wearing comfy clothes, being sung to, looking at patterns (the blinds behind our couch are a particular favorite), having a little massage, seeing happy faces, walking around, swaying, jiggling, gentle bouncing on the exercise ball, singing, nursing, and sucking on the pacifier. In some ways this seems like a short list, but I guess that's just because you are so darn easy to please. Really. Everywhere we go, we get comments about how unbelievably content and calm you are.

This onesie is so cute that I nearly can't stand it. And you've nearly outgrown it, already!

You hardly cry. I'm just going to put it here, for the record: we figure you cry for fewer than 15 minutes a day, maybe even less than 10. For a while, I actually wondered whether something was wrong, but our pediatrician assures us that you are simply a very content little guy. If I left you alone, I'm sure you'd cry more... and you've had a few "tough" days involving an upset belly ("tough" for you is "easy" for another baby)... but for the most part, if I just pick you up and take you with me - and don't change your diaper - there doesn't seem to be anything to complain about.


Here's the big news. Guess what, Wesley? At 6 weeks, you are smiling! It started right around 4.5 weeks, when your dad and I both kept commenting that it seemed like you wanted to smile... like, you'd get this little expression on your face that reminded us of a smile. We were pretty sure the small smiles we saw a few days later were real smiles. And then your grandpa Jim came in from Connecticut a few days ago and you started busting out some ear to ear grins for him. You really, really like your grandpa Jim. You smile more easily for him than for anyone else. My dad - your Papi - also got some good grins out of you.

This is as close to a smile as I could get on the camera! I know the ear-to-ear ones are coming soon...

We are counting our lucky stars that you have been a good sleeper so far! You slept from 10pm to 4am last night. 6 whole hours! 6 hours at 6 weeks! I can't believe it. So far you've tended to sleep one long stretch and then have a fussy period. Your typical schedule goes something like this... 10pm-2:00am, 2:30-4:00am, 4:30-6:00am, and then sort of fussy for a while after that (fussy meaning that you aren't sure whether you want to sleep or nurse). You sleep really well during the day, probably because I hold you most of the time. You have two very defined periods of awake time, one in the morning and one in the evening. I get the sense that you are going to like routines. You even seem to poop on schedule - nothing at night, and then right after your fussy period in the morning, you poop. I think that's why you're fussy in the early morning.


Sorry, Wes. Most baby-conversation revolves around the topic of poop.

We think you might be a blond. Your hair was black and curly when you came out, and then once we gave you a bath, it changed to a light brown. Except... your eyebrows and eyelashes are so blond! Your coloring is similar to Jack (who has light brown hair now), except he always had dark eyebrows and eyelashes. So, we are very curious. Your skin seems a bit on the yellow side, like mine is (as opposed to more of a red tone, like your dad).

Game time!

Here are a few other firsts in the last month. You went to your first baseball game! It was a diamondbacks game. You wore a special red onesie and slept or nursed through the whole thing. You've been spending loads of time with your grandpa Jim and grandma Nancy. You've taken a bottle - three times now. You've really started kicking your legs now, and you are just barely starting to bat at toys on your exercise mat.

You really like the pacifier

By the way, your big brother, Jack? He thinks you're pretty nifty. Jack is a busy guy during his day, but he always finds the time to come over and see what you are up to. If you are upset and we can't get to you, you know what he does? He comforts you. He tells you it's OK, that we'll be home soon, to please stop crying. He calls you "Wes" or "Wes-wee" and is careful and sweet to you. He shows you his toys and asks to hold you. I think you two are going to be buddies.

Well, now it's time for me to go to sleep, and what that really means is that I get to cuddle you more and kiss the top of your head and nurse you. Waking up at night isn't such a bad deal when you are involved.

There 'aint nothing that a good cuddle won't take care of

Love always,
Your mama

For every minute of tummy time, there's also time to relax and take a nap. I couldn't agree more.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy two-week day! (Wesley)

Dear Wesley,

You are two weeks old today! Two weeks old! What an incredible two weeks you have had. Do you know how loved you are, even at two weeks? I simply adore you. 

This experience is so different, the second time around. I'm going to try my best to not compare you to Jack too much (you are your own person and I'd like you to know what I think of you independently from your brother)... but I do have to get this clear off the bat: you have some similarities to Jack and always will, but you are so very much your own, wonderful, unique person.

Here's the thing: you don't cry. Like, ever. You snuggle. You cuddle. You sleep. You wake up and nurse a little bit, watch us intently. And then you go back to snuggling and your eyelids start dropping and you are asleep again. You definitely know what it feels like to have arms around you, and should we forget how much you like to be held close, you will remind us with a little shout. But as soon as our arms are around you again, you will melt into peaceful slumber. If you want to nurse, you will give a shout, too. But if I can't get there right away, I just tell you that I'm on my way, and you calm down when you hear my voice. It's really quite adorable. There is something so sweet about how you give your little shouts. It comes out of nowhere, loud and quite clear, but short-lived, like "Hey! Guys!"

Your face is shaped like a heart, with a tiny little chin and beautiful, blue-jean-blue, almond-shaped eyes. Your little ears and shoulders still have some fuzz on them - I hope I don't notice when the fuzz goes away, because it will make me sad! Wesley, we've been velcroed together since you were born. I don't mind a single bit. I hold you close and kiss your soft, silky hair. I wish I could keep you velcroed to me forever.

We named you Wesley Knight for a few reasons. First, we picked Wesley because we really like the sound. We also love the nickname, Wes, and figure you could go by "Lee" if you want to. Wesley means "Western Meadow". You are here because we moved out West, and when I think of your name, what I really think of is "Western Eden". Or "Western Paradise". Not that Phoenix is Paradise. But... I think of you, I think of arriving at this place in life, where we are, a family and together, with nothing holding us back from happiness... and Western Meadow is perfect. Your middle name is Knight. People are going to think your parents had a thing for Medieval times or something, but you'll have to explain to them that Knight is in fact the name of your daddy's mommy's daddy. That would be your paternal great-grandfather. FYI, to Jack you are simply "Wes-wee". In case you wondered, yes, we did consider a different name - we picked Wesley because we felt it fit your personality best.

You love to look at faces and we swear you are already starting to smile at us. You are cooing just a little bit! I can't believe you are already making sounds. It is really cute. It seems that your first priority (before milk, even), is simply to be near us. You were so funny during your first bath. First, you liked the water. Then, it got a little chilly, and you made a face and gave a disappointed shout:

And in typical Wesley fashion, that was that. About three more seconds passed and you were perfectly content again, not a peep to be heard until the bath was done. Oh, and you really liked the towel part.

You are an absolute sweetheart, Wesley, and we love you already. I can't wait to learn more about you as you grow.

Love always,
Your mama

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Well, well, well

Introducing one Wesley Knight, born 7/1/2012 at 6:56am, nearly three weeks early, frank breech, and 7lb9oz! This little fellow will definitely be approaching life on his own terms :)

Wesley looks so much like Jack that I've caught myself saying the wrong name a few times

Even though I had very good control of my blood sugar in this pregnancy, Wesley is one big baby! At first I thought I might have gotten the dates wrong and perhaps he was closer to term... but really, I am so, so certain when I ovulated. Everything always matched up - ultrasound prediction, fundal height, and what I knew was going on. My doctor and midwife both thought he looked exactly like he should for being early (vernix, proportions). So, he would have been a very big baby had he baked for a full 40 weeks.

Wesley had some minor issues in the hospital - tachypnea (a fairly common breathing issue), heart murmur (that went away within a few days), and jaundice (that does not require treatment... but is making him very sleepy!). But he is healthy overall and we are so grateful.

Jack is beyond thrilled to be a big brother. I can't wait to write about their introduction! Truly one of the most special moments of my life.

We are home, now, and Wesley is doing great. He is unbelievably chill and quite content to spent all of his awake time looking around with his big, beautiful eyes.

We are adjusting to life with a toddler and a newborn! It is easier, I think, than life with a toddler and toddler. We will be finding out about that soon enough :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Not losing any sleep over it

Isn't it always the case that when something that was very stressful stops being stressful, you just sort of stop talking about it? Sometimes I wonder if the 2-3 people who actually read this blog stay up at night, dying to know how the whole "Jack Sleeping Situation" has been going in the - eegads - 6-9 months that it's been since I last wrote about it.

Don't worry, I don't lose any sleep about this either. Because guess what? My child is now the BEST sleeper that ever existed!

He sleeps for 11 hours every single night! He takes a 3 hour nap every single day! Three HOURS every day, at 21 months old. We can put him down anywhere and with minimal fuss and he'll fall asleep! He ASKS us to put him in bed ("Go bed now").

Yup, I've got it good. Part of me feels guilty - I know plenty of parents who are still dealing with sleepless babies well into their second or third year - and then the other part of me tells the first part to be quiet and enjoy it while it lasts.

So, how did all of this happen? Well, I hate to admit it. I weaned Jack. I weaned Jack at 16 months because I was pregnant with baby #2 and my fertility doctor told me to do it to reduce the risk of miscarriage. I knew ahead of time that the doctor would recommend it. I knew it was a bullshit opinion based on nothing but old-school bias. But I was pregnant naturally, we were nearing time to wean anyway, and I decided I would not have been able to cope with miscarriage if I chose to continue nursing Jack.

It would take me a bit of time to completely eliminate daytime nursing, but I weaned him from night-nursing cold-turkey. We decided that completely stopping my nighttime parenting would be less stressful than a slow withdrawal of comfort. When Jack cried, Greg went to him. And Jack continued to sob hysterically. He called my name. He used the new word I taught him: "Cuddle mommy cuddle cuddle please". He was not to be consoled. It was terrible, just terrible for everybody. But it was over in a week, and he never looked back. He went from waking 1-3 times per night to sleeping from 7:30pm-7:30am, straight through.

And I truly, honestly believe he is a happier child for this extra sleep. I would never - ever - recommend weaning for sleep issues before a year of age. But at 15 months, it was clear to all of us that Jack no longer needed the milk OR the comfort. He was hardly opening his eyes, much less actually nursing. It was just routine at that point. And once we broke the routine, he did just fine on his own.

Here are our nighttime routines.

Pre-weaning: bath, cuddling, nursing, rocking, ~40 minutes total time, down to sleep, back up every 3 hours or so with about 20 minutes of nursing and rocking to get him back down again

Post-weaning: bath, books, lights off, cuddling, singing, rocking, ~40 minutes total time, down to sleep by 8pm, up around 7:30am.

Post-weaning + pregnant belly: shower with mamma, books, lights off, a quick hug, wait for Jack to say "go bed now", ~20 minutes total time, down to sleep by 8:30pm, up around 7:30am.

Jack doesn't like to cuddle and sing anymore because my belly is too big for him to get comfy. That makes me sad, but I can't help it. Once I put him in his crib, he spends the next 10-60 minutes talking to himself. He likes to do this. He doesn't want us back in the room. And then he finally falls asleep. And then he tells us to "go away" and "turn light off" when we try to get him up in the morning.

Greg repeats the book/cuddling routine for naptime, which is generally from 1:30-4:30pm. I don't know what we would do if Jack was in daycare and they forced him to take a shorter nap. He definitely needs that time to sleep, and if we wake him up too soon (uhm, yeah, so often we actually have to wake him up at the end of three hours), he will be upset and cranky for the rest of the evening. We are actually that family that works their whole day around their child's nap schedule, but I don't regret it for a moment. He is one un-cranky kid.

So do I think anything we did had anything to do with this? Not really. I need loads of sleep - loads of sleep - and I was a terrible sleeper as a baby, too (up every 2 hours for the first year, just like Jack). Do I think we did some things that were consistent in letting him learn good sleep habits? Absolutely. Here are a few things I will definitely do again:

1) Co-sleeping. Co-sleeping did not cause our problems, and it was the only thing that gave me any relief. Let me repeat: co-sleeping was the only solution to dealing with a child that was up every 1-2 hours in the worst of it. It got both of us - me AND Jack - more sleep. He told ME when he was ready to leave the bed (at about 9 months), by simply refusing to sleep there anymore. He was sleeping in his crib full time at 10 months and has been ever since.

2) Night-nursing. If there's one message I wanted to send to my child, it was that nighttime was for comfort and calmness. I believe that nursing helps teach a baby that. He was never left to cry, and so when the time came for him to be on his own at night, he had the skills to calm himself. He knew that it was a time to calm himself and settle.

3) More on calming ourselves at night. When Jack woke up at night, we only ever nursed or gave him a bottle. Night time was not for books, lights, talking, or playing. Night time was and is for sleeping, and only sleeping.

4) We never wavered from our nap routine. Jack naps every single day. He has only not-napped once, and it was a disaster of a day, and it took him two full days to recover his good sleeping pattern after that. I am a big believer in the "sleep begets sleep" theory. It's worth rearranging our daytime schedule to make sure he has a consistent place to lay his head at the same time every day, and I see plenty of evidence that this routine helps him sleep through the night.

Let me reiterate that I take zero claim for Jack's propensity to sleep a lot. I have little doubt that is genetic. The children that I know that sleep poorly have parents that are light sleepers, too. But I do think if we had treated Jack differently - if we had let him cry, if we had denied him comfort, if we had not shown him a consistent night time and nap routine - he wouldn't have learned good sleep habits. Clearly our choice to co-sleep and not let him cry in his first year of life did not prevent him from being a wonderful sleeper later on. I do not know what kind of baby Baby #2 will be, but I will try to be consistent in nurturing that baby back to sleep.

5 months into this whole "sleeping through the night" business, and I think I could do it forever.

Baby #2? Please sleep. Please sleep. Please sleep a lot, OK?

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Jack loves giving hugs, which is part of the reason that I don't want him to get a single day, a single minute, a single second older than he is right now. I'll take this age forever :)

For some reason, he often adds "a" before the object of his hug: "Hug a mommy", "Hug a daddy", "Hug a baby" (and he is very into hugging the baby, i.e., my belly). "Hug a baba" (stuffed bear). "Hug leg" when I'm cooking. "Hug arm" when I'm sitting next to him in his car seat. "Hug family" now that we taught him what "Family" means.

Here, he is hugging Tori:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The cat is out of the bag, and now I can actually blog

My first pregnancy was a very different experience from my current pregnancy. First and foremost, my current pregnancy was a complete accident, whereas it took several hundred needles to get into and get through my pregnancy with Jack.

We moved through the infertility process quickly. With a combination of hypothalamic amenorrhea and polycystic ovarian syndrome, it was very obvious that there was no potential for natural pregnancy. See, I simply don't ovulate. Ever. Like, even when I was a teenager. And when you don't ovulate, all the sex in the world 'aint going to get you pregnant.

But I was pretty clueless about the fact that I couldn't get pregnant. See, until I went off the pill, I didn't know anything was wrong. And the longer I was off the pill, the worse my hormones got and the more impossible ovulation became. I tried diet. I tried exercise. Lower my blood sugar and the hypothalamic amenorrhea gets worse. Raise my blood sugar and the PCOS gets worse. I scoured primary literature until my eyes were red. I tried herbs and supplements and learned "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" front to back. Other than going on the pill to regulate my hormones and hoping for a fluke ovulation off of it, there was no hope - and I'd already found that the pill didn't suppress me enough to make ovulation happen. I could have waited until I got close to menopause in the hope of a hormonal sweet spot, but that was not a viable option. I didn't have a flicker of response to the highest doses of minor fertility treatment, and my response to the stronger treatments nearly made me a penta-mom. (Literally. I ovulated 5 eggs all at once, a hazard of PCOS).

We were not willing to risk higher order multiples, so we turned to single embryo transfer IVF within a year. It worked. It worked beautifully. We had Jack, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

We were incredibly lucky. My infertility had a name, and it had a treatment, and we had access to some of the best reproductive endocrinologists in the country. I used to work for the doctor that performed our IVF, and he fast-tracked me straight from a useless OB into the fertility clinic. I don't regret this speed of action for a single minute. Our priority was to minimize the emotional pain of the process, and so we moved quickly to our solution. The movement made me feel good. At least I was doing something.

But even in our good fortunate, it was difficult. The dark part of the journey is one that I don't talk about. I don't share it because I've learned that the only other people who can understand are ones who have been through it themselves, and when I try to share, it usually just hurts. There are no analogies to describe the physical and emotional pain of infertility. It is just awful. It is more awful than it rationally should be - but then again, the desire to procreate is anything but rational.

And so this pregnancy? This pregnancy, this incredible, most wonderful surprise? It is just so damn different.

I mean, we picked Jack. We literally picked him out of an embryo lineup. It was between #14 and #11, and we picked #14. Even though you, the reader, were not a genetic participant in that process - doesn't it just boggle your mind?

It sure boggles mine. Jack was the last egg out of me and the first embryo back in. I knew Jack when he was several hundred cells old. I knew him by sight before he even existed.

To get pregnant the first time, I swallowed toxic pills and injected myself with hormones for 2 months. Bloodwork and ultrasounds for 14 days. I endured an indescribably painful egg retrieval, for which my anesthesia did not work. Greg contributed his "sample". We weren't even present for conception. I received daily updates on the embryo growth. We picked Jack. A plastic catheter shoed him back up into my uterus. I spoke about this process on an hourly basis to my IVF message board. I felt him implant exactly 36 hours after he was placed in my uterus. I still remember where I was standing and what I thought ("Holy shit. Was that what I think it was?"). The pregnancy test was positive and that was just the start. Weekly ultrasounds, blood draws, constant monitoring and communication with medical staff. 1cc shots of progesterone in sesame oil in my butt (sorry, it is what it is) every night for WEEKS (and I had a latent allergic reaction to the sesame - ugh). All of that, every little bit consuming my every waking thought for weeks, months. All of that, necessary and central to my experience.

The knowledge, the control over that pregnancy - it was immense. The joy, at least initially, was absent.

And this pregnancy? It was the most wonderful surprise. It was terrifying. It was pure shock and happiness and fear all rolled up into one. It was hope, more hope even than with Jack - because with Jack, we had feedback, and this we had nothing but our hope. There was no action to take, just a miracle to ponder. Was our little embryo doing OK? Could I really go 16 months without a period and have a healthy uterus? How was my body actually able to do this on its own? It was a gift I never, ever, ever thought I could receive - the gift of a natural and perfect mystery.

How could something so accidental, so incredibly capricious, how could it change our life so much? This wasn't supposed to happen to us. This was unimaginable to me.

And yet here we are. We've hit the 12 week mark and I have calmed down. I trust that Baby #2 is doing OK. We didn't get many ultrasounds. We didn't get much bloodwork.

We just got pregnant.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

ETA, 7/18/2012

I promise, this will be a good story, if you can get to the end.

First there was 16 months of this:

Which made my many screwy hormones go like this:

That helped my ovaries, which looked like this:

Start looking a little more like this:

But I didn't know that at the time. So when I did this:

I wasn't doing this:

And I shouldn't have been surprised that it resulted in the right hormones doing this:

But I was very surprised when, well, when... when there was this:

I looked something like this:

Greg looked something like this:

We both did a lot of this:

Plus plenty of this:

And at 12 weeks into the pregnancy, we got to see this:

My body is starting to do this:

And so it is finally starting to be very...

28 weeks from today, on Jack's second birthday, 7/18/2012, we will be hoping for a very special delivery indeed: