Monday, November 28, 2011

Vaguely Familiar

I mentioned in my last post that I would share more about our weaning plans.  On Thanksgiving, my husband woke up with Ella and offered her a sippy cup of milk in place of her normal routine of nursing for the first time.  She seems to be transitioning pretty well, though she did do the sign for milk when I joined them at the table the first day, and tried to pull up my shirt on the second day.  I had to eat breakfast with her on my lap this morning to keep her happy enough, but I think she'll adjust.

I, on the other hand, am finding it a bit odd to adjust--both emotionally and physically.  I need to readjust my schedule to fit in an early morning workout and figure out when to eat breakfast, do my bible study, and get her fed, but I'll get there.  I miss the snuggle time with her, but I still get to look forward to our evening feedings (at least for the time being).  But physically speaking...I'm perplexed.  On Saturday (so Day 3 of just one feeding), I noticed that my breasts were tender.  It didn't quite feel like engorgement; if anything, it was reminiscent to how they felt when I was pregnant with Ella.  They still hurt on Sunday, so I took a test this morning.

It was negative.  I was actually surprised.  I wasn't expecting anything last week at the doctor's appointment, but this sensation is vaguely familiar--no, make that exactly like--what I experienced when I was pregnant with Ella.  I even had a dream last night about a positive test (granted, I had to read the results with a magnifying glass in the dream, so maybe that should be some sort of indication...that dream was then followed by another dream of stealing a sports car from a hotel...don't know what that one was about).

They still hurt today.  I'm wondering if this is some sort of indication of perhaps a new cycle, or maybe even ovulation.  I can only hope that something is happening.  After my previous experiences with anovulation and long cycles and PCOS, I admit that I'm a little anxious to get back to "normal" again.  All I can do is wait and see.

Today's blessing is that Ella is now holding our hands when we say grace at meals.  She knows that we hold hands and pray before our meals, and it's just so sweet that she will hold our hands while we pray.  I really pray that God give me wisdom as I lead her to Him.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Wait! Wait! Come Back!"

It's a good thing that I've had three--make that four--years of dealing with the ambiguity and roller coasters that come along with trying to build a family.  If not, I don't know how I would have reacted to the nurse when she yelled "Wait! Wait! Come back!" down the hallway after she initially told me that the test was negative.

Let me rewind.

On Monday, I had my annual appointment with my OB/GYN, though I actually ended up seeing one of the other doctors and a resident in the clinic instead.  The nurse initially thought I must have gotten my years wrong when I told her that my last cycle was December 2009, but the doctor assured me that it's perfectly normal to not get a cycle until even up to six months after I stop breastfeeding (more on that later).  But they felt that they wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't at least give me a pregnancy test before I left.

So I downed my water bottle, and filled up a cup for the nurse.  I waited as she added the necessary drops, and we both watched in anticipation as the liquid started moving up the test strip...past the "T" (test")...then up to the "C" (control).  The line popped out when it reached the C, so we both figured it was negative.

I really wasn't expecting anything different.  I would have been beyond thrilled if the second line had appeared at the T, but I know that would be almost too easy, having not even had a real cycle yet.  So that's what I said--"that would have been too easy"--and then turned to walk away.

But before I made it to the door, the nurse called after me and asked if I saw a faint line.  What?!  My first thought:  Really God?!  Again?!  What's with the mixed results?!  The nurse was still holding the test, so I never really got a good look at it.  The doctor, hearing the commotion, turned to look from the other side.  A few more anxious moments of them looking and me wondering, and in that time, whatever the nurse had seen slowly vanished. 

So like I said--it's a good thing that I've found a peaceful way of handling the "am I?" ambiguity and the "what if?" roller coasters.  Am I disappointed that I'm not pregnant?  Well, yeah, it would definitely be amazing.  Am I surprised?  Well, no, given that I still haven't had a cycle yet.  Am I hopeful for what the future holds?  Yes.  Undoubtedly yes.

Today's blessing was the chance to nurse Ella this morning.  I think that today might be her last morning feeding (assuming all goes well).  I'm actually really sad about it, and I'm really going to miss the snuggle time with her as she wakes up.  But I also feel like it's the right time to wean her back a little bit more.  This will leave us with just the nighttime feeding, which we'll continue through the holidays and into the start of the new year.  But I cherish the times that I had with her in the mornings, and will always remember the joy she brought me (and continues to bring me...just no longer at the breast) with the start of each day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Every Little Girl Needs a Dollie"

Ella loves babies.  LOVES them.  There is a new baby at church, and Ella got to meet her when she was just a week or two old, and she does the sign for baby every time she sees her.  Lately, she has also fallen in love with the baby dolls at her daycare.  Whenever I pick her up in the afternoon, she is always walking around with a baby doll in one hand and a blanket for her baby in the other.  It's gotten to the point that she's more interested in playing with the baby dolls at daycare than in going home with me.

I had to work late yesterday, so my husband came into town to pick her up.  I had mentioned to him that she was in love with the baby dolls at daycare, but he finally got to witness just how much Ella enjoys playing with them. Apparently her devotion won him over, because he promptly brought her to the nearest Target on the way home and let her pick out her very own baby doll to bring home.

She loves her doll, and it makes me excited to think about the possibility of seeing her with a sibling. I think that she will be a great big sister--if that is God's plan for our lives. But I'm also so impressed with my husband for buying the doll for Ella, on his own accord. He's been okay with whatever purchases I want to make for her, but this was the first time that he has taken the initiative to buy something for her--not to mention that it's something on the "girlie" side. It's so sweet to watch their daddy-daughter relationship develop.

My blessing from Friday was meeting the guys who helped me get my wallet when it fell off my car a couple weeks ago. They had a recognizable car with personalized plates, and it happed to be parked near where I work! So I boldly left a note, asking to repay them in some way. He came intoy office on Friday, an happens to be a student in my college. He agreed to let me make him a cheesecake.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ella-isms (Vol. 1)

I just wanted to capture a few of the sweet and silly things that Ella has been doing lately.  My intent is two-fold.  First, I want to be able to remember her at this fun age.  And second, I want to be able to share the joy that she brings me through these antics with those of you who have helped and supported me along the way to where we are now.

Snack Stack
She is getting really good at stacking things...including her banana slices.  Yesterday at breakfast, I caught her stacking the little round discs of banana one on top of the other.  She had gotten to three slices before she got hungry and decided it was better to eat them.

Sock Hop
Now that it's cooler (at least by Arizona standards), I have retired my flip-flops and have been wearing socks and shoes.  Ella was quick to pick up on the sign for "shoes", but now she also does it for "socks" (despite our attempts to teach her the proper sign).  She is fascinated by socks, and wants us to put our socks on her feet, sometimes even over her shoes.  They look more like leg-warmers, coming up to above her knees, but she's happy to run around the house like that (we have yet to take her out in public with them).

Part Billy Goat
When we were in Hawaii, my husband observed that my family must be part billy goat, because we climb everything--trees, rocks, you name it.  Well, Ella must have gotten the same billy goat genes from me, because she tries to climb anything she can--the back of her little chair, the footrest, the ottoman, her activity table, and even into the dishwasher.  The girl is fearless, and I hope it lasts.

Sharing is Caring
After she started feeling better from this most recent bug...I started feeling not-so-good.  Sure enough, Ella shared her germs with me.  But that wasn't all she tried to share with me.  While I was laying on the ground, she kept coming over to me and sticking her teething cookie in my mouth, as if to say "this makes me feel better, I want to share it with you to make you feel better too".  I've noticed her sharing at other times too--especially with snacks that she enjoys.  She'll often take a few bites, and then hold out a piece for me so that I can have some too.

Pity Party
I'll admit it--my precious baby throws tantrums when she doesn't get her way.  But she does so in a very careful and calculated way.  She ends up laying prostrate on the floor, but she doesn't just throw herself down on the ground.  Oh no--she very carefully leans back--first on her hands, then her elbows, then her shoulders, then finally her head...crying her "woe is me!" cry the whole way down.  But she's smart enough to know that it would hurt if she threw her fit any other way.  We can get her smiling soon enough, but it's pretty dramatic in the moment.

Big Girl Potty
We are teaching Ella baby signs, so when I bring her in the restroom with me, I often show her the sign for potty.  It's not that we're trying to potty train her at 13 months, but rather, I'm just simply telling her what I'm doing throughout the day.  A couple months ago, I was pleasantly surprised on a trip to the restroom when I hadn't made the sign, that she looked right up at me and did the sign herself.  The next morning, while I was nursing her, she farted...and made the sign for potty!  The morning after that, while my husband was still in bed, he farted...and sure enough, she looked up at me and made the sign for potty.  Sounds cute, right?  Well, fast-forward a couple of hours to the end of the evening when I was putting her in the bath, and sat down to use the facilities myself.  In doing so, I showed her the sign for potty--meaning that mommy was using the big girl potty.  And what would you know--she stood right up and peed as well.

Okay...that's probably enough little Ella-isms for now.  I hope to share more in time--especially when she really starts talking.

Today's blessing was working with my husband during Ella's nap to finish one side of our rock wall in our back yard.  My parents started the project when they were here for Ella's birth (her actual birth--not her birthday, so it's been a year in the progress.  We still have a long ways to go before it's truly "toddler friendly", but it's coming along, slowly but surely.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sick Child Program

Ella got quiet on the way in to work yesterday.  Somehow I just knew that something wasn't quite right.  Sure enough, before I even left her daycare, she threw up all over the place.

Of all days on which to get sick, yesterday actually wasn't all that bad.  Her timing has definitely improved since the first day of the academic year.  I had a miss-able meeting in the morning, and only four appointments in the afternoon--three of which could be seen during our on-call hours.  So I brought her to my office (where she puked again in the parking lot), packed up my laptop, and headed home.  After another round of vomit, I knew that daycare wouldn't want me to bring her in today, and since my husband had a day full of meetings scheduled today, I started looking for other options.

I remembered chatting with one of our instructors at the beginning of the year after I went home with Ella on the first day of classes, and she had shared with me that our University offers a "Sick Child Program", where they will pay for a nanny to come to our home and care for Ella when she is sick and can't go to daycare.  Sounds too good to be true, right?  But sure enough, I started looking into it, and yes--our University will pay $21 per hour, and we pay a $2 co-pay, for a finger-printed, background-screened, references-checked, CPR-certified nanny to come to our home up to twenty days out of the academic year to care for Ella when she is sick and I need to be at work.

It was quick and easy to register for the program, and the nanny showed up this morning as scheduled, and seems to be great so far.  I just chatted with her a few minutes ago (during my lunch break), and she assured me that aside from Ella not having much of an appetite (of which we were aware last night when she preferred to throw her food on the ground), she seems to be just fine.  

I know that I've complained about how our benefits cut out any infertility consultations or treatments of any kind (and I do still think that this is very unfortunate), but I am very impressed with the Sick Child Program service.  It really is a blessing to be able to work for an institution that values my contributions and helps me care for my family.  (And I promise that I'm blogging on my lunch break...not while I'm supposed to be working.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Delays and Denials

Every morning on my way in to drop Ella off a daycare, I pass a church with one of those changeable signs out front.  They change the message about every other week or so.  Sometimes they are reminders about events, and sometimes they have little play-on-words messages. 

I typically just drive by without giving the message too much of a second thought, but this week's sign read:

"God's delays are not always God's denials"

This time, the message really resonated with me, because I have totally experienced this truth in my life.  We started trying to build our family in July 2007 (and by "we", I mean my husband said we could take it easy and see what happened...and I interpreted that to be a green light, and left him in the dust...which I found doesn't really work when you're trying to get pregnant).  It was more than three years of waiting--including three losses--until we met Ella.  But in that "delay" time, I grew and changed and developed into the person I am now.

As we look ahead to trying to bring Ella a brother or sister, I need to keep this little message in my head and in my heart.  I need to not rush things.  I need to not get discouraged.  I need to not resent the time that I have now.  I need to find a way to embrace the delay.

Today's blessing is the chance to go to the homecoming football game with my husband and Ella, and see a lot of my former students as well.  We have season tickets, but all of the games have been in the evenings, so my husband has been going with his friends and I've been staying home with Ella.  Now that the weather is finally a bit cooler (and our team has totally fallen off any sort of radar so no one wants to air our games on tv), they scheduled an afternoon game, so Ella will be able to enjoy her first football game.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


My husband and I spent Saturday going through our closets and the garage and purged a lot of stuff that could be either donated, trashed, or recycled.  I ended up working on our guest bedroom/multipurpose room, where my husband leaves his Army stuff and I leave my random assortment of craft supplies (and no, I'm not really all that crafty, especially compared to some of the projects that I've seen from other bloggers).  I stumbled upon a pile of sympathy cards that I received from friends and family after our first loss, back in September 2008.

I don't know how I felt.  I was a little sad, a little appreciative, a little nostalgic, a little grateful.  So much has changed in the three years since that first loss.  I'm not the same person that I was when I first received those cards.  Having Ella changed my life; but going through the experience of losing three pregnancies also changed my life--both for the better, I believe.

And so I fingered through the cards, rejoicing for the people that God put in my life who helped me along my journey at a time when I needed them the most, but didn't let myself go back to that dark place of loss and despair that I experienced back then.  I then placed them in a box with other items to be recycled, and tossed them into the recycling bin.

I don't need to keep the cards, do I?  I am so appreciative of those people who came alongside me to encourage me and pray for me, but I don't have to physically hold onto something that my heart is emotionally healing from, do I?  It's okay to remember and reflect, and yet move forward, isn't it?

It's not that I'm trying to rid myself of any reminders of those losses.  I will always remember, and they will always be a part of who I am.  But I think it's okay to...let go.  I think it's okay to be happy for what I have now, while remembering that there was a time when I was so unbearably sad.  (Gosh, even just writing this brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat).  But at this point, those emotional scars are exactly that--just scars.  They aren't open wounds that hurt day after day...they're just remnants and reminders of a pain I endured.  But I did endure, and I don't hurt now the way I did then.  The cards served their purpose--they helped me heal. 

Loss sucks.  Loss hurts.  Loss breaks you down and changes your life.  But life after loss can still be beautiful.

Enjoying a cupcake at Silas' birthday party.
My blessing today is the chance to spend the afternoon with my very-dear friend and her son, Silas.  They are back from Florida for the week to celebrate his first birthday party with his grandparents and friends, and it's been so wonderful to catch up with them.