Happy Halloween! / At Least I Tried

We are happy to showcase just a few of the adorable Rainbows and Unicorns in our community this Halloween. For many, it is their first Halloween and the beginning of a holiday season that is loaded with hopes and expectations. Personally, I am hoping that we all are able to enjoy whatever life is throwing at us at the moment, if only for a second, as we watch food fly across the room or a toddler wake up on the monitor that we swear just went to sleep only 15 minutes ago.

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“Maleficent of our hearts 😍”. ©anairmanandadoctor 2015

 

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“My superheroes.” ©KAmama2013 2015

 

Halloween 2015 Copyright Willbabymake3 2015
“Halloween 2015” ©Willbabymake3 2015
Coming to get you Copyright Willbabymake3 2015
“Coming to get you!” ©Willbabymake3 2015
Mommy's Little Monster Copyright Willbabymake3 2015
“Mommy’s Little Monster.” ©Willbabymake3 2015
A baby koala for Halloween night copyright Willbabymake3 2015
“A baby koala for Halloween night.” ©Willbabymake3 2015

 

"RAWR!" ©Samantha K
“RAWR!” ©Samantha K
"I can eat this, right, Mama?" ©Samantha K
“I can eat this, right, Mama?” ©Samantha K

 

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“Mommy’s Heroes.” ©Dreama 2015

 


At Least I Tried…

– written by Bex

A few years before the girls were born, I was making baby blankets. This was my attempt to keep busy during college football season and contribute to baby showers without actually attending them. I ordered some pink minky fabric—the fabric that is soft and plush. Instead, I received this…pink fur.

Copyright Beckdogenator 2015
Copyright Beckdogenator 2015

My husband said I should send it back. But I had a vision of future Halloween costumes for babies hoped for—but yet to be born.

Last year at Halloween, unbeknownst to me, my girls were 10 days away from joining us out in the fresh, cold air. Hunkered down in the warmth and chaos of a house enveloped with the love of newborn twins, we did very little for the holiday season in general.

The dust has settled now. A specific bedtime and sleeping in cribs was implemented so, in part, I could do things like work on Halloween costumes. Far from being a Pinterest mom, I know enough of my way around a sewing machine to make something decent. I created a pattern out of cardboard and cut pink fur and pink minky fabric so that I could make a double-sided tunic that looks like it was doused in a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. I envisioned a pink Muppet! Two adorable little fuzzy, furry pink monsters and, of course, everyone would be able to see my vision.

Copyright Beckdogenator 2015
Copyright Beckdogenator 2015
Copyright Beckdogenator 2015
Copyright Beckdogenator 2015

Or not. My sister suggested that they looked more like characters from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Others suggested cave people. The more I looked at them, the more I saw Jon Snow and the Night’s Guard from Game of Thrones—or perhaps a faction that separated over the wall and found their own pink monsters.

Since I had made them double-sided, I posted a picture of one of the girls and a good friend suggested that I made a great 1950s bathrobe. I am hoping to get several years of costumes and play out of these (and it appears that, with a little imagination, they can be multiple things), but since they are a little young to smoke, drink, and do not have enough hair to put in rollers—that 1950s idea will need to wait until they are at least 5 years old.

Copyright Beckdogenator 2015
Copyright Beckdogenator 2015

My sister tried to help us achieve our vision of “monsterdom” by sending, on request, some fabulous green and yellow squeaky dog toys (she owns a pet supply store) that match their outfits perfectly. These are also their first birthday gifts.

My goal is to celebrate the holidays, ghoulish and festive alike, and make them special for the girls. I might not always achieve these goals, but I want the girls to know that—despite successes or failures—I always tried.

Defining the Stork

This is the second installment in a series by author Kendra on her experience as a surrogate. Please see below for the first installment(s):

Part I: The Stork Theory: An Introduction


As I write this post, Facebook is reminding me that one year ago today was the IVF transfer date for my surrogacy. So much has happened in that year, and a beautiful baby with a loving family now exists in the world. So, I feel today is the perfect day to look back on where it all began.

Looking back on the process of becoming a “stork,” my metaphorical term for a gestational surrogate, I remember being completely overwhelmed. What is the first thing we do when we are overwhelmed? We search and scroll, we rummage through articles and forums, we hunt for answers, and we hope to find someone who has been where we are now.

Unfortunately, the internet can also be pretty overwhelming. Remember the first time you were scrolling through parenting/pregnancy/fertility forums? The acronyms alone! DS, DD, BFP, BFN, BBT, LMP…and my favorite, POAS (pee on a stick, in case you were wondering). Well, I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised that surrogacy forums have a seemingly endless amount of acronyms all their own. I learned quickly that IP stood for intended parents, GS and GC stood for gestational surrogate and gestational carrier, respectively, and that if you put the word traditional in front of either of those terms it means something completely different (a traditional gestational carrier has a genetic connection to the child, unlike the gestational carrier that has no genetic connection).

When I began this journey I quickly realized that I was stepping into a whole new world, and I had a lot of learning to do. In all of the research that followed, however, I noticed something. Many of the forums, posts, and articles I read through were written by intended parents, doctors, and agencies. There was little I found written by carriers themselves. Looking back on this whole experience, that was the one thing I was missing from day one until delivery: a fellowship of women who were sharing the same journey. This is something I wish I had to this day, and something I hope to someday change (but that’s a topic for another day).

Once I muddled through the terminology of surrogacy, I came to learn about the insane discrepancies in surrogacy law from state to state. Surrogacy is a fairly new practice, and what is legal in one state is probably not in the next. I could write a whole post on this alone, but what it comes down to is that many families have to look outside of their own state for a carrier due to some of the strict laws against surrogacy in our country. Thankfully, Massachusetts is one of the most surrogacy-friendly states in the US. Many families seek carriers who live in more liberal areas, so I discovered that I could potentially be carrying for a couple in another state, or even another country. During this early stage of my surrogacy process, I decided I wanted to carry for someone locally. I knew that I wanted a family I could connect with. I wanted them to be able to come to doctor appointments with me, maybe an ultrasound, and to potentially grow a connection with them. This was probably the most important decision I made, and there were plenty of decisions to think about.

You would be surprised how many things you have to decide early on. In a way, you have to define yourself as a surrogate. There are opinions and beliefs you have to prepare and mold for yourself that a surrogacy agency will also ask about. Would you carry for an older couple? Would you carry for a same-sex couple? Would you terminate the pregnancy if your health were at risk? Would you terminate if the baby’s health were at risk? Would you reduce in the case of multiples? Would you carry multiples? A lot to think about, clearly, and I did think about all of it. But for me, it came down to one thing—those were mostly all questions for the parents. Yes, it was my body carrying the baby, but it was their baby. I decided pretty quickly that I didn’t really care about age, sexual orientation, or any of that. I also decided my role would be carrier, not parent. The only thing I wanted was to make a difference, to make a connection, to bring a life to a deserving family.

Once I made that decision, it didn’t seem all that overwhelming anymore.

With love,

Kendra
the stork

The Light of My Life

They say it goes by fast. I smile and look down at the giant baby—an almost-toddler—in my arms.

You don’t say! 

One of the strangest things about being a parent after reproductive trauma is adjusting to a new space–time continuum. When you’re in the thick of pregnancy loss and infertility, time slows down to a dense fog occasionally pierced by glowing ultrasounds, gleaming needles, and eye-watering medical bills.

Once pregnant, I hardly dared say the word. The relentless blows from the preceding year—the whole of 2013, in which I miscarried, received an infertility diagnosis, and then discovered that genetic children would never be possible—still glared at me, and I was too mistrustful to plan ahead. So I counted off the weeks and the half-weeks. It was hard to trust there was a living baby growing inside me, but feeling her kicks helped. At 20 weeks, time resumed its pace. Every Sunday night, I’d still cross off the half-weeks, but I began the countdown to the 24-week milestone of viability; then the 28-week milestone of 95% chance of survival. When, at seven months pregnant, I was finally able to enjoy my pregnancy, time began to speed up.

And then she was here. Tightly swaddled and placed next to my face beneath the dazzling lights of the operating theatre. Everything was perfect—until she and my husband were whisked away because, without warning, I began to haemorrhage. My months-long hunch that I had an undiagnosed placenta accreta proved correct. Lying on the table, it was clear that things were very serious. It was the closest I’ve ever come to dying and the most quietly frightening hours of my life. You might wonder if I saw my life flash before my eyes, or if I passed the time thinking about my friends and family, or even reflected on what I’d accomplished with my life so far—but, no. I was surprisingly calm and very much focused on the present. Alert to the medical teams on either side of the blue curtain working quickly and quietly to keep me from bleeding past the point of no return. Mesmerised by my incision reflected in the overhead lamp. Grateful to the people who donated the blood that was snaking its way into both my arms. Those were the two longest hours of my life, so impatient was I to hold my daughter, and I was determined to leave that bright, sterile room alive—with or without my uterus.

And then she was really here. A living, breathing, crying baby with a mop of silky hair the colour of a shiny peach. Then she was a week old; then another week older, in a larger clothing size, in a bigger diaper size, growing longer and heavier, filling out with a marshmallow-like chubbiness.

This year, the nights have been long and the days short. This, her first year of life, has gone by in a flash and now there’s this little person. With opinions. Gone is the snuffling, rooting newborn; here is a robust toddler whose pudginess is turning to muscle, who wriggles out of my arms to investigate all sorts of things I’d rather she didn’t.

Wait. A toddler?

This year has been the brightest in several, but the loss- and infertility-stricken year still haunts me from time to time. Now that she’s one, I can cross off SIDS from my list of fears, but I—we—still get caught up in the fear of, Is she breathing? I catch myself in vivid ‘anti-fantasies’ of what ifs. The more immediate and banal risks of the stairs, the car, the dog; the distant fears of bullying and falls in the playground; the more far-fetched worries of kidnappers; and, worst of all, What if there is never a fall in the playground because… There I interrupt myself. I will not—cannot—imagine life without my daughter.

In these challenging moments, I practice focusing on my breath and consciously dropping my shoulders. I’m learning to trust my maternal instinct—the ability to distinguish the feeling of something being wrong versus being flooded with anxiety. I’m figuring out how to respond when a chirpy mom asks when we’re having another, where my daughter gets her red hair from, or why she looks nothing like me.

I guess I’m doing an okay job at balancing the demands of motherhood with all that comes of being a loss and infertility mama.

I remind myself of what a friend (also a loss and infertility warrior) said: The hardest part is over. It’s not that motherhood isn’t hard work but even when I am scraping through the day on splintered sleep, nothing seems as bad as losing the baby you already loved, or being told you’re reproductively broken, or wondering if you’re going to die as you lie, bleeding, on an operating table.

One day not so long ago at the place I buy my coffee beans, the young barista blurted out, ‘Can I just say, you are one of the most relaxed moms I think I’ve ever seen. When I have kids some day, I hope I can be like you!’

Her words took me by surprise and I felt my face light up. I’m a fairly intense person, but I want my daughter to have a mom who is calm and loving, and who remains even-keeled even when she is upset by something. My daughter is a sunny, sweet-tempered girl most of the time, and it’s my responsibility to keep her that way for as long as possible.

I may have had a lot of things taken away from me on the journey to motherhood, including the first precious hours of my daughter’s life outside my body, but I know this much now: I am a better parent than I otherwise would have been because of this journey. On the day of my daughter’s birth, I learned one of the most profound lessons of my life: that Life is beautiful, and I am no longer scared of the dark, because without it I wouldn’t see the light.

So I thanked the barista for her kind words which are etched on my heart. They’re a badge of quiet pride, a reminder of the calm and whole-hearted mom I want to be to my girl, the light of my life.

I am forever indebted to all those people who saved my life in October 2014. Thanks to them, I get to be all the things I was already—wife, daughter, sister, friend—and the thing I had been fighting to be for so long: a mom.

If you are able to, please donate blood and help save a life.

Letting Go of the Guilt

There’s a lot of guilt that comes along with parenting a child. There’s guilt about how you feed your baby, how you diaper your baby, how your baby sleeps, what your baby wears, even how you transport your baby. In fact, anything about your baby can lead you down a long path to feeling guilty, especially when you bring your choices up to other people.

I’ve finally decided that I will not be bound by guilt for the next 18+ years of my son’s life. I’ve decided that I am going to unabashedly parent the way that I feel is necessary. I will do what’s right for my family, whether that is bed-sharing (we do proudly), breastfeeding (also do proudly), disposable diapers (because rinsing poop is not for me), baby-led weaning (mixed with purées—and they’re not organic, the horror) and babywearing (#wearallthebabies).

When people ask about his sleeping (which is not their business anyway) and I tell them that he sleeps great, snuggled up next to me, they look at me like I have three heads! “Don’t let that become a bad habit.” Exactly what bad habit am I creating? Is he going to nurse to sleep until he’s 12? I highly doubt it. Will he still want to be in my bed every night when he’s 8 years old, or 10, or 25? Probably not. Am I creating bad habits by not teaching him to use a spoon at 8 months old? Will he eat with his hands for the rest of his life? No, he won’t.

These things that people are trying to make me feel guilty about last for only a very short period of time, so why do we tell mothers that the babies who need them are manipulating them? Why are they told that their babies are going to learn to cry to get what they want? Isn’t that what being a baby is about? How exactly are babies supposed to communicate with us before they learn to talk? I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of things to say and a lot of things that need to be done during the day. Luckily for me, I’m 30, I have a mouth and a large vocabulary at my disposal, and I’ve got two good legs and two good arms. I can do things for myself—with the exception of getting the crock pot off the highest shelf. I still need my husband to do that. But I can ask him to do that and he will and I don’t have to scream at him (most of the time). And until my baby learns to say, “Mommy, I want cuddles. Can you please pick me up?” I’ll deal with the fussing as it won’t last that long.

Imagine having a really bad day at work—terrible—your coworkers were jerks, you messed up on a project, maybe your boss yelled at you, and all you want to do is talk to a friend, have them listen, give you a hug, eat some ice cream. Then imagine someone says to your friend, “Don’t listen to her right now, she’s just trying to get what she wants. If you take her for ice cream now, she’ll always need you to take her for ice cream when she’s having a bad day. Do you really want to set that up?” That thought process doesn’t work, so why would we put that same mentality towards an infant who can’t say, “Hey guys, I’m having a really bad day, I just need some extra love”?

Imagine being tiny in a world where you don’t speak the language (don’t even understand the language), you can’t lift anything, you can barely get anywhere on your own, and no one will help you. The people that are supposed to be taking care of you are not, because they’re worried that you will rely on them. So until my child is old enough to do it for himself, he can rely on me because that’s my job. As his parent, it is my purpose to help him with his emotions, to help him get the things he needs and wants (within reason—nobody is buying him a pony for Christmas).

So I’m not going to be guilty anymore. I’m not going to let anyone tell me that I’m creating bad habits, because at the end of the day the consequences of these “habits” are mine and mine alone, and frankly I’m okay with them. I’m okay that my son will love me and need me and want me to help him. I’m okay with my son knowing that he can come to me and say:

“Hey Mom, I’ve had a really bad day, can I snuggle with you?”

“Hey Mom, I’m really angry, can we scream it out a little bit?”

“Hey Mom, the dark scares me, can you hold my hand?”

“Hey Mom, I just miss you, can you hold me?”

“Hey Mom, I hurt myself, can you make it feel better?”

Because right now, those are all the things he wants to say, but he doesn’t have the words.

Sharing Stories

My husband always laughs about how I retell events: they are not a basic frame of starting from point A and ending at point B, but rather a rich labyrinthine web of intrigue that could just be about a trip to the supermarket. He jokingly calls them “Sarah Truths” as they’re not lies, as such; instead they are a reflection of my love of reading. On my, ‘Meet The Teacher’ sheets given out to new students at the start of the academic year, I announce myself as an eater of books as I do truly devour books—sometimes nibbling and other times gorging myself!

We all know that the more you read, the more knowledgeable you will become, but reading with your child isn’t just about trying to turn them into Red Brick or Ivy League scholars. It’s about strengthening that loving bond between them and you. Think back to your childhood. What do you remember about books? Furtively fumbling under the covers with blinking torches? Snuggled on the sofa whilst the rain poured outside? Sat side by side with a beloved relative as you were read to? I can remember the book my mum read to me when my brother was born. We sat in a Laura Ashley armchair, squished together, entranced by Long John Silver and Jim’s adventures in Treasure Island. I was too big to sit on her lap at almost seven (I was a very tall six year old!) but those chilly nights after he came into the world, we had this wonderful time together when it was pitch black outside with the two of us bathed in yellow light. A swashbuckling time for just the two of us together.

As a teacher, I live for the reading times in class. There was a time when a child refused to leave the classroom at the end of the school day after I didn’t tell him what happened to Zach in Goodnight Mister Tom. Those moments are the times when you see quite hardened characters become lost in someone else’s words. When sometimes, the class bully falls fast asleep and awakes with that soft stickiness that children do. Reading develops imaginations. It creates links. It allows children (and adults) an understanding of worlds they do not inhabit.

So how do you do it?

  • Time

    Find somewhere quiet without any distractions—turn off the TV/radio/computer. Candy Crush can wait!

  • Choice

    Sharing books children have chosen shows you care what they think, that their opinion matters, and they are more likely to engage with the book. Leave books at their level so they can reach and look at the books themselves. Board books are fantastically strong for tough-wearing toddlers and teething babies.

  • Snuggle Up

    Encourage your child to hold the book themselves and/or turn the pages whilst you sit close together.

  • Pictures

    If there are illustrations, relate them to something your child knows. Ask them to describe the characters or situation or what will happen next. Encourage them to tell you the story by looking at the pictures. Picture books are so incredibly important—books like The Snowman by Raymond Briggs or Tuesday by David Wiesner are very important to a child’s development of storytelling.

  • Encourage

    Talking about the characters and their dilemmas helps children understand relationships and is an excellent way for you to get to know each other or discuss difficult issues. Give your child plenty of time to respond. Ask them what will happen next, how a character might be feeling, or how the book makes them feel. There are a multitude of books about emotions—for example,  Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae deals with humiliation, not only through the rhythmic language but also through the sympathetic illustrations.

  • Fun

    It doesn’t matter how you read with a child, as long as you both enjoy the time together. Don’t be afraid to use funny voices; children love this! Children do not care how accurate a voice is; to them, it is more about a funny time with their parent. I find animal voices hilarious, even if Beans is a little too young to appreciate the effort in them!

It is also never too early to start reading or singing to your baby. Initially, it doesn’t even matter if you read Hello Magazine or The Spectator; babies, both here and unborn, love hearing your voice and it’s important that you use it with them. Sing rhymes, chat to them about your shopping. From around 18 weeks’ gestation, babies are aware of your voice and they will recognise it before they’re even born. If you’re in the UK, speak to your Health Visitor about your free Bookstart pack as there are a couple of free books in there. Although it is incredibly important for your baby to own books, make sure you join your local library, not only for the free messy mornings but also for the wealth of stories and free books to enjoy with your child.

As Rainbows & Unicorns is a worldwide effort, we have decided to create a Vimeo channel of stories for our babies. Between us, we will create a story library read in a wide range of accents.

Here’s one of the first, Mister Magnolia by Quentin Blake, a childhood favourite of mine.

If you are interested in adding some beloved stories to our library, alert us to your Vimeo account and we will add your videos to our stream!

Check Her Sperm Count

This is a piece written for us by a member of the infertility, loss, and adoption community.


Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the efforts of the Maryland State Legislature in passing the new IVF equality law. If you’re not familiar with the legislation, the intent of the law was to guarantee equality when it comes to reproductive assistance by requiring insurers who offer IVF coverage to heterosexual couples to also offer IVF coverage to lesbian couples, like my wife and me, who want to start a family.

But if we’re being honest, the law is fundamentally flawed. The problem is that the law still requires lesbians to prove that reproductive assistance is “medically necessary” by establishing infertility before their insurance will cover IVF.

One, no form of reproductive assistance (whether it be IUI or IVF) is medically necessary. Giving birth does not cure disease. And that’s not why we do it. Sure, you could argue that some people reproduce for the sole purpose of creating organ donors. But that practice is morally/ethically questionable at best and hardly the norm. And of course, I understand that infertility can be the result of a disease or medical condition. In addition to not having a male partner, I also have an underactive thyroid and endometriosis (neither of which were a real problem until I wanted to conceive).

Two, the method by which a lesbian couple must establish infertility remains fundamentally unfair and, in some instances, far more costly by comparison. In reviewing my own policy with a major insurance company, most straight couples can establish infertility by having unprotected sex for one year without a pregnancy if the woman is under 35 years old. The wait is only 6 months if the woman is over 35. This can be done in the privacy of their own home without medical supervision. Most straight couples can also establish infertility based on the male partner’s low sperm count.

Guess what? My wife and I have been having unprotected sex for 18 years without a pregnancy. As for sperm count, test her. I’m sure you’ll find it’s low. And yet, we had to spend over $20,000 out-of-pocket and go through six unsuccessful IUI cycles to prove what everyone already knew—we (as a couple) are infertile and need reproductive assistance.

I also understand that there are straight couples who don’t qualify for insurance for equally unjustifiable reasons. For example, I know of straight couples who don’t qualify for coverage because the male partner doesn’t have sperm or the female partner does not have a uterus. Making those couples prove medical necessity would be futile and unnecessarily stigmatize them as sick. I would argue that they, too, deserve insurance coverage for reproductive assistance.

That may be what I find most insulting. I’m not sick—I’m gay. Or, fill in the blank: I’m not sick—I was born without a uterus, sperm, and so on.

If the legislature really wanted to guarantee equality, they would structure a bill that acknowledged the fact that infertility is not a disease but rather a frustrated desire to conceive. For many, this desire is inherent in our DNA, whether straight or gay. Having children is not medically necessary. It is a choice that we, as a society, have said we support and encourage in married couples as a matter of policy. Now that marriage equality is the law, infertility support should be extended to gay couples on an equal footing.

Wear All the Babies

International Babywearing Week, an annual outreach event sponsored by Babywearing International and hosted from October 4-10, is “a week-long opportunity to celebrate, promote, advocate for, and focus media attention on the many benefits of babywearing.” Find out more on Babywearing International’s website.


My friend gave her Moby wrap to me when I was pregnant. I thought it looked pretty handy and was excited to try. I watched a few videos and put it in the closet to wait for “Nugget” to be born. When we brought O home, I wrapped him up the first day. I was still exhausted and swollen from labor.

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I nursed him in it.

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I slept with him in it. 

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When he was upset, it was a sure way to calm him; when he was tired, he would fall asleep snuggled close to my heart. It was easier than holding him all night long when we went through the roughest nights of the newborn phase.

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I wanted to know more! I went to a Babywearing International meeting and tried out a woven wrap. It was beautiful; same concept as the Moby, but not stretchy, so it was more supportive of my growing chunk. There are a ton of carries you can do with a wrap!

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It still was a lot of work, though; tying takes time and a lot of practice.

I went to the next month’s meeting and checked out a Sakura Bloom ring sling.

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It was awesome, and so much faster than the wraps. I could easily pop him in and out quickly. I knew I wanted one for myself! I jumped onto the swap on Facebook and found one in an amazing yellow.

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We walk in it.

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We nap in it.

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It’s perfect for quickly getting him around, and no more dragging that giant infant seat around with me, just leave that sucker in the car!

We parked the stroller and I haven’t used it since!

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I picked up a SSC (soft structured carrier) called a Tula because I was really interested in wearing O on my back for our vacation. It’s been great! Getting him on is much easier than you’d think. With a little practice, it’s pretty quick, too! It doesn’t hurt my back and I can carry him around for hours, like when we spent 6 hours at our local zoo.

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He even fell asleep in it.

 

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It’s pretty easy to adjust for nursing, which makes doing so a breeze when we’re out and about.

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There really is nothing better than having your baby snuggled up against you. It’s comforting for both of us. If you haven’t tried babywearing, I strongly recommend it. Find a local BWI chapter near you, start trying them out, and find what works best for you!

Do you babywear? What’s your favorite way to carry?

Backwards

This is a piece written for us by a member of the infertility, loss, and adoption community on Twitter.


“I bet you’ll get pregnant now.”

Those six words, most of the time spoken jokingly, stung like a hot poker in my gut. They were said more times than I can count, by more people than I care to count. Those who said it knew that we had done fertility treatments and we so desperately wanted to add children to our family.

Without thinking, and failing at trying to be funny, they completely dismissed the entire journey it took to bring Robbie into our family. Like adoption was a cure for our infertility woes. That maybe adding a child to the dynamics would magically heal the endometriosis that was covering my abdominal cavity, wreaking havoc on my hormones, not to mention the recurrent cysts that would grow in my uterus and, without surgery, prevent implantation and carrying a child to term.

We spent years trying everything except IVF to get pregnant, from medications to acupuncture to IUIs. IVF was our next step. We went through the meetings with the doctors, we looked at the costs, and we looked at our hearts. We were the family that would say, “No matter how many children we have biologically, are still going to adopt,” but I’m not sure of the validity of those promises if things had been different.

It didn’t matter; we couldn’t get pregnant without help, and we were tired of the doctors poking and prodding us. I was tired of the mood swings the medications were giving me. My husband wanted his wife back. So the night after we had our second opinion confirming IVF was our only option, we decided to quit focusing on getting pregnant. We decided to uphold the promises made about adoption. We hit the ground running, and I dove deep into researching how we were going to add to our family. We decided a domestic adoption would be best since, after all, we were only 25 and most countries would laugh at us if we tried to send in our dossier to adopt. Family prayed for us, we signed mountains of paperwork (killed about 20 trees), and in May 2012, we were on a flight to Arizona to meet our son. He was already 3 months old, being discharged from the NICU, and needed his Mommy and Daddy with him.

Although the process seemed easy, there was still turmoil. Nobody other than his birth family can understand why they chose to put their baby up for adoption, and we don’t have the answers, either. So when family and friends and co-workers stated that I probably would get pregnant because we adopted, it just felt like all that didn’t matter. Yes, he’s ours now, but his story still matters. He still has a birth family that’s out there thinking of him. And why did we want to have more children right away? Shouldn’t we focus on him? And we did; we spent two years focusing on him, on therapies and doctor’s appointments and procedures, and fighting for whatever he needed to get him where he is today.

Plot twist.

We did want more children. We didn’t want him to be an only child. I dreamed of large family gatherings with tons of children for our parents to spoil. So we discussed adding to our family. The emptiness of infertility was still there. Even though I was upset that family would say those words, I still secretly wanted them to become true. We discussed, and bickered, and researched. We decided to give IVF a try.

I joined a support group to help work through the feelings I thought I had dealt with that came creeping back up the moment I put that call into the doctor that were going to try this again. It felt weird telling my story. I already had a child through adoption after infertility. Adoption is what you do when you’re done having kids, right?! I was never judged by the gals in the support group, never heard a word of judgement from family (only concerns about spreading myself too thin with more children after Robbie), but I did judge myself. Why was I abandoning all those children that we could adopt for a silly desire such as getting pregnant? Your body has already told you it doesn’t want to be, why mess with that? If IVF was going to work, I needed to deal with those issues. A friend told me, “This is your family, your children, your decision. Who in the world actually said that you couldn’t do IVF after adoption? The adoption agencies want you to come to terms with your infertility, they want you to be committed to the adoption as a whole, not just the baby that was going to join your family.”

We went through with the IVF; 7 eggs were collected, 4 embryos made it to day 5. We transferred 2 and froze 2. It worked! We now have 7-month-old boy/girl twins, our son’s brother and sister. No, they are not biological siblings to Robbie, but they are still siblings. We are still family, we still have three children, and hopefully will have at least 2 more in the future. If you see us walking at the mall, you probably won’t even notice us. A younger-looking couple, with three children. You’re not going to walk up to us and ask us why we adopted then had biological children, because you won’t know. Even if our oldest was a different race, most don’t really care and wouldn’t bat an eye.

Our family is still a family; we’re all loved by our extended family. Of course there are some wonky family members that say stupid crap every now and then. We have bonus family through adoption that we love and who love us as well. There’s no directional path to becoming a family; all that matters is that we are family and we love each other.

Now I get, “Oh, you better watch out, now that you’ve been pregnant once, it’ll be easy to get pregnant again!”

Even though things are good now, it’s still not okay for anyone to say “I bet you’ll get pregnant now,” because it’s not true. Yes, miracles happen, but there’s a reason why that situation is called a miracle. The statement negates the journey by the family to become a family. It stings, and it hurts. Just don’t go there!