Siblings

Sarah

When I began the journey of embryo adoption, I never thought much about the other embryo’s that may not be used after the first transfer. I had been told at the clinic that they encouraged parents to use the leftover embryos for siblings. At the time, my mind was so concentrated on having just one baby. I had experienced so many failed attempts to conceive over the last six years that just having a successful pregnancy was the big dream of accomplishment. After my daughter was born, I immediately felt a great emotional weight as to what would be the fate of the last two embryos. This was neither something I nor my husband had expected. In fact, with the miscarriages, money spent, and disappointment we were still carrying a lot of emotional baggage after years of trying to conceive. We both had similar levels of emotions and mentality regarding another pregnancy.

As I came to my check-up six weeks after the birth, I was feeling so distressed about the decision of keeping our last two embryos. I tried to put it off as long as possible. We decided that we would wait to make a decision on the embryos that were in storage. As adopting parents, I was surprised that we would be so emotionally attached to the remaining embryos that were not biologically ours. I feel that time helped us make the best decision possible. This is defiantly a hard subject to offer an opinion on, as every family has to be in a healthy place to have more children that are wanted and can be cared for. I do feel that there is a level of guilt that can be attached to giving up sibling embryos. That is one of the reasons that I felt we needed to wait on this decision. I really wanted to make sure the decision was right and was made without obligation or guilt.

My daughter was a year-and-half when we finally decided to use the leftover siblings. We were also timing out with our combined age limit. One of the biggest fears that haunted me was that I would not be able to conceive and would feel damaged by wanting “that baby all over again.” I really had to get myself emotionally ready to go through another transfer. My husband was scared we would have twins and have to take too much on at one time. It was a challenge for both of us in different ways. In the end, we are thankful for a sibling for my daughter and my husband is thankful we are having just one more. I feel very relieved to emotionally bring closure to our adoption as we have used all the embryos from our group and feel we made the right choice for our family and my adopted daughter. I am very blessed to achieve two pregnancies and bring these two beautiful babies into the world. It will forever be my greatest accomplishment!

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Back to Work

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A few weeks ago, I started back to work.

Although this was my third maternity leave, and actually a much longer leave than I had with Brae or Sienna, it was still excruciating to return.

I love my job, and I love the people I work with. But they cannot compete with the sweet boy’s face that I would snuggle with each morning.

I am grateful that I had the extended leave with Graem, especially after his sudden (and scary) entry into this world. I am grateful that I was able to be at home when Brae started kindergarten, and I could walk him to the school bus. I am grateful that I was able to keep Sienna home from preschool on certain days, and just have “girl dates” with her.

I am grateful that I got to watch summer turn to fall, and fall turn to winter, each from my home window. I am grateful that in a season of tremendous transition for our family, I was able to be at home for many months.

The first day back was chaos. I was prepared – or so I thought – for it. What I was not prepared for, however, was who would be the source of the chaos.

Brae. It was going to be his first day in morning extended care at his school. Up until then, he had been able to take the bus to kindergarten. Well, since his bus doesn’t come until 8:45, and I need to leave for work before then, the plan was for me to drop him off around 8.

He did not support that plan. The first day, he ran around the exterior of the school, as I’m lugging Graem, and trying to keep track of Sienna. Brae was crying hysterically, refusing to go in. Eventually, the teacher came out, and coaxed him in. My heart broke.

The drop off for Sienna and Graem went much more smoothly. Sienna took comfort in the fact she now got to watch over her little brother, and Graem, well let’s face it, the kid is just easy. I called his daycare a couple of times for the first few days, and then stopped. I kept getting the same report – he doesn’t cry, he’s a great sleeper, etc. That mended my heart a little.

Being back in the office itself has been a bit shocking. Kind of like jumping into an ice-cold pool. Eventually, you warm up, but it takes a while.

There were four of us coworkers who all had babies (boys!) at the same time, and so were all on maternity leave at the same time. One gal decided to not come back at all. Another gal, and a dear friend of mine, took a different job. Then there were two.

It is hard being a working mom. But, it’s also hard to be a stay-at-home mom, I’m sure. As a sweet friend told me, she considers me a “working stay-at-home mom.” I like that. My heart is definitely at home, and when I am home, my time is invested in my kids. I feel very involved, and I’m grateful that I have a profession, and a job, that allows me to do that.

And I just pray that my kids come to understand, and respect that decision.

Britney

My Eyes

I looked into my own eyes. I never thought I would do that. But while brushing Maria’s teeth, I saw my own eyes. Green. The same shade. The same dark ring. Neither genetic parent has green eyes.

It made me stop. I told her to look in the mirror. We looked at each other’s eyes. She agreed we had the same eyes. “I have green eyes like you, Mommy!” I don’t know how to describe the feeling. But it was certainly God-breathed.

I don’t know the exact scientific explanation of her green eyes. Maybe it’s epigenetics at work – the impact of my blood on the expression of her genes. Maybe it’s the combination of genetic parents’ hazel and blue eyes. Maybe it was a random genetic mutation. I don’t know. But I don’t think I need to know.

We get told that Grant and Maria look like “ours” often. Strangers comment. It always makes me pause. I’m learning to accept the comments. Embrace them. It used to make me uncomfortable. Like I was hiding something by letting the comment slide. But I’m learning that the comment needs no explanation or correction. Like the comment this weekend that Maria has “good hair like her mom.” My hair takes a lot more work to get that smooth, but I let the comment slide. I took it in. “Like her mom.” Me. Mine. I’m so thankful these two children are mine.

Halfway

Sarah

I am 20 weeks and I can’t believe I am halfway done! Already with this pregnancy, I have been so much more relaxed and I have done nothing to prepare! I am feeling a little behind now. I am feeling the baby move more each day. I received my spinal bifida test and it was normal. Thank God! I am so relieved things are staying healthy at this point. Next week, I get an anatomy scan done and, yes, I am running behind on that, too. Basically my doctor and midwife friends have all left so I have been interviewing people to take their place. It has been a struggle to find a perfect fit. I am working through my birth-plan and trying to decide how to proceed with all of that. I feel buying anything for the baby has been the last priority. I have been more concerned about having the birth I really want in the end. I live in a smaller city with fewer options and providers for health care.

I did schedule my newborn photos and am trying to decide if I want to do the 3-D ultrasound pictures of the baby. I didn’t do them with my daughter as I was unsure of the exposure risks. However, while I know there are people who feel this may be an unsafe exposure on the baby, I am still looking into this and working out my feelings on getting these done (as this will be my last pregnancy). There seems to be so many more tests and interventions than ever before related to pregnancy. I do feel women have to really educate themselves on all tests and stand strong for what they don’t want or is not necessary.

My husband and I are currently talking over all the newborn interventions at birth. As a pediatrician, it has been emotionally challenging for him to stop and evaluate policy over my wishes and feelings. As a mom, I have challenged him to give me information on what is necessary and defend himself over policy and what he believes is good for our baby. This was definitely the monster in the closet I was waiting to bring out way before the birth of this baby. I have looked back at the birth of my daughter with questions of why we did some of the interventions that were policy at the hospital and am not feeling so comfortable with all of that! I will be blogging more about those interventions after our discussion.

People tell me I am so lucky to live with a baby doctor!! My response is- not always- as it can be educationally and emotionally challenging in debating heart issues verses policy and medical interventions. In the end, my husband has a lot of respect for mommies and their babies, especially me!

Graem’s 6 Month Check-Up

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Graem is now “officially” 6 months old. Yet, with his prematurity, the doctor still considers him more like 5 months.

A silver lining to having a premature baby is that I really do feel like I’ve gotten to experience the “baby” phase perhaps longer than others.

That said, I find myself vacillating between wanting him to start scooting around, and relishing in his immobility. I find myself thankful that he seems to be slowly weaning off nursing, and yet grimacing that these precious days are at their sunset.

I will him to be a “normal” 6-month-old baby, and yet scared to death for him to be so because I know physically he is not ready.

His 6-month-appointment was typical. He’s 75th percentile for height (over 27 inches) and 25th percentile for weight (16.8 lbs). He can roll over from his tummy to his back, although not consistently. He has not rolled from his back to his tummy. His only real method of moving around is that he “shimmies” on his back, to and fro, using his heels as traction to propel his little body backwards and sideways.

He loves food, any kind of food. He has yet to turn his nose at any fruit or vegetable I’ve given him. For that reason, he is easily distracted when nursing, and really doesn’t care for a bottle. But he starts panting the moment he sees the food come his way.

Apparently, the doctor says this is a good thing.

His eyes have remained a dark blue. Since neither Tygh nor I have blue eyes (each green), this must be the recessive genes coming through (both our moms have blue eyes). The doctor says it is unlikely the color will change at this point, but I’m less optimistic. Brae had blue eyes still at 6 months, and now they are hazel. Sienna also had dark blue eyes at this time, and strangely, hers lightened to a sky blue/grey.

He remains the easiest, most chill baby ever. We are constantly getting comments like, “Is he always like this?”

Yes. Since he was about 2-3 months old, he’s been like this. He takes after his dad.

In fact, the only evidence that he belongs to my gene pool is his ears. They are small.

That’s about it. Everything else is all his daddy.

He and Brae have a very special, unique bond. Brae is the only person that, to this day, can get him to really belly laugh.

He and Sienna also share a remarkable relationship, but I’d say it is more like pet and owner than brother and sister. Sienna notices him occasionally, pets his head, and moves on, as he gazes longingly after her.

I went back to work last week and Graem also did superb. In fact, I stopped calling the daycare after the second day because I kept getting the same report. “El es muy tranquilo. No llora. Muy facil.” (He’s very calm. Doesn’t cry. Very easy.).

Yup, that’s just Graem.

We’ve come along way since the NICU.

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Graem and Sienna at his check-up. Sienna helped console him after his shots.

Birthday Blessings

Sarah

Our sweet Vivienne turned two this weekend! What a celebration of life it has been in remembering our journey with our miracle baby who was born January 9th, 2013. Her birth was an awesome event that has changed our lives. Words can’t describe the anticipation and pining that I had for this sweet baby! As most Mom’s on here can know so well, there was a lot of pain before her life was connected with ours. These memories have impended my heart and I continue to pray and advocate for all the frozen embryos that need those moms with open hearts to receive these miracles.

My pregnancy with Vivienne was not easy, nor the birth and recovery after my C-section, but every time I look at her face it melts my heart to feel chosen to be her Mom. I could have never imagined that I could feel so connected to her. Even in adoption the bond can be just as strong as a biological child. This was not something I thought was possible before I went through my transfer. I thought that this baby not looking like our family or having a connection to us, it would feel strange and something I would have to work on, but that was not the case. It was an immediate loving connection. Her life is truly a celebration each day. Attached are pictures at birth and on her second birthday.

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Johnny 5

Does anyone remember the 1980’s movie called Short Circuit? The main character was a robot named “Johnny 5” and he craved input. On some days, Grant is our Johnny 5. For the last year I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading and research on sensory integration issues. I’ve long wondered if Grant might be a bit of a “sensory kid” and, when it took us forever to potty train in part because he liked how “comfy” his diapers were, I became more convinced. Between his need to be swaddled until he was almost a year old, his army crawling, and need to touch everything, it is apparent that he craves a certain type of sensory input that includes deep pressure and some “rough and tumble” play. I discussed with our pediatrician and he agreed that Grant likely has some mild issues as it’s not uncommon for preemies, but he was reluctant to refer us for a formal assessment. He didn’t want to label Grant and, while I don’t disagree, I also want to be able to provide tools to help him be as successful as possible as we go to school in the fall.

With the help of one of my best friends who is an occupational therapist, we’re working on strategies to help his brain function best. When he’s having a “sensory day” he’s incredibly difficult. He’s moody, obstinate and a general pain in the butt. One strategy I implemented recently was building an obstacle course in the living room. This included jumping, tumbling, hand stands, crawling and even some weight lifting. After only a few minutes of play, Johnny 5 left and Grant returned. I now had a settled and more agreeable child.

His sensory needs definitely played a role in our school decision and how we structure our time. This benefits not only him, but Maria as well. Routine is important, as well as properly preparing for transitions. The timer is a great tool for us; I let them know they timer is set and, when the timer goes off, they generally are agreeable to switching gears. We also don’t overly schedule our days as that can be overwhelming and cause a sensory meltdown, which is not pretty. We had one in Costco recently and nothing causes a mom to sweat like hauling your screaming kid out over your shoulder.

Are we labeling Grant? I hope not. Everyone of us has different sensory needs….some are just more pronounced than others. I think it’s imperative for parents to research as much as possible and pursue all avenues to help our children be able to function at their best in this world. Sometimes it means quiet time in the rocking chair snuggling and sometimes it means flipping a kid upside down to get the neurons to reconnect. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last almost 5 years of parenting, it is that there is not a one-size fits all approach and we must do what works.