Planning My Parenthood

Six weeks after Rex was born, I got a prescription from my OB for birth control pills.  I asked for the prescription because I was not going to allow my husband to touch me unless I had that heddy concoction of hormones swirling around my bloodstream fearlessly defending my fort of womanhood.  I was so damn paranoid that my body, which up until very recently had refused to play along with the whole pregnancy thing, had finally gotten the message and was ready to be a baby-making factory. And I was not.

Photo Via Creative Commons M. Markus

Because for as many stories I heard before we had Rex about women getting pregnant after adopting or swimming in magical waters, I heard just as many after we had Rex of former infertiles who poo-pahd the warning to use birth control after having their babies because hellooooo, they were infertile, and then they got pregnant merely months after having their first baby.  I was in over my head with one infant and so I was not going to play the male factor infertility card for birth control. I was going to get the 100% Grade A effective birth control*.

Fast forward one year.  Rex is still a handful – why are children required to teethe at night? – but we’ve got the hang of the baby thing (just in time for the steep learning curve of the toddler thing) and we’re in a pretty good place.

And, I’ve been thinking about ditching the birth control pills.  Part of it is because I’m cheap. Part of it is that I’m tired of being the responsible one and having to remember to take a pill every night and then pick up a new pack each month.  Part of it is that I’m now 35, the age about which birth control pill commercials start writing warnings in tiny letters on the screen.  Part of it is that this particular birth control pill seems to be wanting to stretch things out longer and longer each month which is a real d(rag).

But, what about birth control? Mr. X has told me on multiple occasions that he wouldn’t mind an oops.  There is not an insignificant part of me that would be so thrilled to be able to spontaneously get pregnant. Just the two of us! No doctors! No drugs! But, what if the pregnancy worked and we actually had another child? The pregnancy lasts nine months, the parenting lasts a lifetime.  I can do another pregnancy, but another baby? That’s a totally different matter.

Via Creative Commons by IIGS

I know that while Mr. X would like another child, I would not.  So, I’m looking into other methods of birth control that don’t require much thought on either of our parts.  I’m really intrigued with Essure.  I actually saw posters for it at my OB’s office when I was visiting her pretty regularly while pregnant with Rex.  At the time, I didn’t pay much attention – birth control was so far from my mind – but once I did find out what exactly it did, I thought it was pretty interesting … and ironic.

Basically, they insert little pieces of plastic in your fallopian tubes and get the body to envelope them in scar tissue to prevent egg and sperm from meeting.  In other words, I would be getting back the blocked tubes I had before when I was diagnosed as infertile and for which I had surgery to correct. I wonder if my insurance company would be bright enough to figure out that I am asking them to pay to re-do what they paid to fix.

Essure seems like it would be ideal for me.  I would have reliable, hormone-free birth control without having something stuck in my uterus and without making Mr. X get snipped (seriously, what happened if I died and he wanted to have more children with another woman? I couldn’t cheat him out of that).  It would also allow me to still carry a child if I wanted to be a gestational surrogate (which I’ve thought about) or even through IVF again, if we decided that we had to have another one.

I haven’t made any decisions yet.  But, I really want to get off the hamster wheel of daily birth control and I don’t want to rely on Mr. X maintaining a low sperm count to keep Rex an only child.  And yet, this just seems so existentially wrong to be seeking out the very built-in birth control I worked really hard to get rid of. What to do?

*when taken properly, natch.

Rex’s Dollars and $ense

It’s rare that I mention or speak about how much money we spent to have Rex, either here or with people outside of the computer.  Part of it is because we didn’t really have financial issues in trying to have him, hence no drama.  But the other part is that I think it’s a little tacky to talk about the gargantuan wad of cash that we spent over the course of our five year epic saga to have a real live baby when so many couples in similar situations don’t have the means to take their journey as fas as ours went.

I will break that silence today, though, because those nifty ladies Lori and babysmiling asked me (and everyone else) to answer some tough questions about finances and infertility.  What is the effect of finances on the path that we chose to take in building our family?  What will I tell Rex when he’s older about how much money we spent to have him?

For us, finances were a consideration, but not a deciding factor in terms of how far we would go to have a baby.  This was partly because my tubal surgery, 6 IUIs and 1 IVF (including meds for most of those) were covered by insurance.   Between the write offs that my insurance company was able to negotiate with Dr. Uterus and our generous lifetime benefit, we didn’t feel the full financial heat until IVFs number 2 and 3 with Dr. Salsa.  Even then, though, Dr. Salsa had very competitive rates for IVF.  I even got him to give me a discount for IVF number 3 that resulted in Rex.  So, money was an object, but it wasn’t the only object.

With each additional cycle, and disappointment – either with a negative or worse a miscarriage – the question that we would ask ourselves was did we have the emotional resources to continue on, not the financial ones.  We had about hit the wall when we decided to do IVF #3.  We both knew that if it didn’t work that we were probably done.

Of course, since it was IVF # 3 that produced Rex, are we going to tell him how much he cost?  No more than we are going to give him a bill when he turns 18 for all of the food and expenses he’s cost growing up.  It’s part of doing business.  The reality was that we were not in that fortunate group of people who got pregnant for free.  I won’t lie and say that this didn’t bother me greatly because it did.

I will tell him, though, how fortunate we were to be able to afford all of the treatments because (insert Hallmark Channel music here) they resulted in him.  The baby I wanted for so long and who turned out to be even more fantastic and amazing and every other superlative adjective in the English language.   We wouldn’t have had HIM – not a baby, but HIM – if it hadn’t been for all that we did and to me, that’s priceless.

This doesn’t mean that we won’t joke to him every once in a while that we spent his inheritance trying to have him.  It will be just like the time when I was in college and received a post card from my parents in Europe that simply said: “Study harder. Inheritance fading fast.”

Grace in Small Things 3/19/2011

Rex’s birthday party day!

  1. I can’t decide what was more hysterical about Rex’s birthday party: the dog drinking my margarita out of the glass or the fact that Rex had two green poops within 15 minutes of each other.  But, everyone had a good time, had good margaritas and enjoyed themselves and the kid took in a major HAUL.  Lots and lots of toys!
  2. Doorbell, gate and towel bar in the bathroom have been fixed thanks to my father-in-law.  All hail handy people!
  3. Rex’s birthday cake was super yummy. Tomorrow we might even give him some.
  4. Had a lovely lunch with Mr. X and Rex during which not one but two grandmas came up to praise Rex for his adorable good looks and blonde curls.  They could not keep their granny hands off of him!
  5. Rex is feeling soooooooooo much better than he was yesterday.  Happy Rex makes for happy parents.

Onwards and upwards, always.

Happy Birthday, Baby!

St. Patrick’s Day in years past was either celebrated mildly or not at all in my household, despite our Irish heritage.  It just wasn’t that big of a deal.  We might have worn some green, drank some green beer and that would have been about it.

No more.

St. Patrick’s Day now is and will always be for me a momentous day because it is the day that Rex entered the world.  It will always be first and foremost his birthday and then St. Patrick’s Day.  It will be a day of raucous celebration or at least a lot of green icing and shamrocks.  It will be the day that we serenade our little shamrock with the obligatory song and dress him in green.  It will be the day that I will be so amazed that we finally reached.

 

First Cupcake

Green Hands

Green Beard

The Aftermath

Grace in Small Things 3/15/2011

  1. Mah Jongg last night was fabulous.  Despite having been out of practice for several weeks, I managed to win two games much to the consternation of my fellow players.  It was also a lovely evening of wine, catching up and evening breezes from the open windows.
  2. I scored a free $15 iTunes gift card just by getting ink toner that I already needed.  I’m thinking of using it on the new Adele album.
  3. My mother has returned from Back East bearing gifts (in our family known as “sussies”) of a crab onesie for Rex (OMG, SO CUTE) and awesome chocolate cookies for the adults.  She graciously pointed out that she and my father limited our ability to over indulge by leaving us just two cookies.  Isn’t she nice?
  4. Got a question on FB from an old high school friend who with his wife will be welcoming their first child in May.  He wanted to know what kinds of restrictions we placed on people having access to Rex those first few weeks home, i.e. who could touch him, etc.  I was frank with him and explained that at the time, I had a raging case of PPD and practically begged other people to hold my baby, and regardless of who held him, he ended up getting his first illness at daycare, so their mileage may vary.  I told him about my PPD because I wanted him to know, subconsciously, that if his wife has the supreme misfortune to have PPD, I can help.   I really, really hope that she doesn’t.
  5. Looked at pictures of Rex when he was first born, almost one year ago, and I’m tickled at how much he has grown during that time.  It’s so hard to remember now when he was an infant and couldn’t even hold his head up when compared with the singing, squealing, whirling dervish of activity that he has become.   What will this next year have in store? I’m so excited to find out.

Onwards and upwards, always.

My (So-Called) Purpose Driven Life

If you had asked me before we had Rex whether or not having a child would give my life purpose, I would have answered with a resounding YES with multiple exclamation points.  But, if you would have looked closer, the yes would have had a giant asterisk next to it and underneath, in small print, it would have read: “Note that above statement is based upon experiences of others and the author in fact has absolutely no clue whether or not this will be the case for her.”

Via Creative Commons by Steve Snodgrass

Now that we’ve had the much awaited and longed for and wanted child, I feel more of a completeness than I have in quite a while.  But, utter and total fulfillment? Nope.  And I want you to know that this is ok.  For you and for me.

But, it got me to thinking.  What would make my life fulfilling because apparently, being a mom and a wife and a lawyer is not completely doing it.  Which lead to the even more loaded question of, what is my life’s purpose?  Perhaps due to the cosmos’ perverse sense of humor, it was exactly last week in fact that I spent the better part of four days meeting with many different people who all had found a very specific purpose for their life.  While I didn’t share this particular purpose, I still was in awe of the fact that they had found something that they believed in and they dedicated their lives to it.

I know women who feel that way about mothering.  I know women who feel that way about lawyering.  I’m sure there are even who feel this way about being a wife.  But, what would make me feel this way?  What would make me go to the ends of the earth to know or do because it is my purpose in life? Unfortunately for you, dear Reader, I’m going to try to figure it out here.

In advance of this intense navel gazing, I give you a pass to skip this entire series of posts.  Really, don’t thank me.  Go find your own purpose.  Better yet, tell me about it when you’re done.  I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

Grace in Small Things 2/26/2011

Skipped 2/25 in favor of a real post and then got too busy yesterday, so here’s yesterday’s today!

  1. I’m the one traveling for business this week.  Weird.  I actually cried when I had to leave Rex.  He didn’t help matters by reaching out from daddy to have me hold him.  Oh, sweet baby love!
  2. Southwest rocks!  Flight wasn’t full, it arrived 15 minutes early and the peanuts were quite yummy.
  3. Adele.  This song is simply fabulous.
  4. Charlie Sheen quotes by cats:
  5. Finally being able to share photos of my child with others after so many years of nothing to show in the child/grandchild show off game.

 

Honey, Hand Me the Vinegar

I had heard that the first year of a marriage after a child is born can be tough.  I didn’t give it much thought at the time.  We were too busy trying to have the kid, so I wasn’t going to worry about what would happen when we had the kid.  I also figured that our marriage had already been Tested by so many things – a full house renovation, a hurricane, two kittens, five years of infertility, two miscarriages, a rescue dog – that having a baby, something that we wanted so badly, couldn’t possibly put us asunder.

Then we had Rex.  And my husband went from being my partner to being  another child constantly needing something and not helping.  At least, that’s how it felt at the time to my PPD-addled severely hormonal whack jobbed brain.  As the sleep deprivation and depression worsened and the laundry and dishes piled up, what had worked in our marriage before as an equitable distribution of the chores turned into an exercise in score keeping and endless events in the Most Tired Olympics.   It drove me crazy that he would come home from work and go on and on about how hard his day was and (I perceived) wanted my sympathy when I had been taking care of our son all day, which was the hardest thing I had ever done in my entire life, thank you very much.

Via Flickr Creative Commons by alsjhc

I see now that we were both thrown for a terrific loop when Rex was born which should not have come as much of a shock as it did.  We dealt with the curve ball in our own ways, which for all other major tests had worked fine, but for this one didn’t work at all.  One problem, of course, is that I wasn’t coping hardly at all with the loop and Mr. X was left trying to cope for both of us.  When I did try to cope I turned to keeping score on who did how many chores, how many hours of baby care, how many night wakings, etc. so that I didn’t feel like I was the only one doing anything.  I would build these ‘babycare points’ and try to redeem them for chore duties such as taking out the trash (yay! something easy that doesn’t scream!) or grocery shopping just to be able to do something that I knew I could do and do well.  I also desperately wanted to feel normal, at least for a little while.  How awful is that?

And, I felt like Mr. X was contributing to the problem, not helping.  I began impersonating a snapping turtle when I was around him.  I had an over abundance of frustration, anger and just sheer angst fueled by PPD and sleep deprivation that I would take out on him.  I couldn’t (and never had even a whiff of desire to) take it out on Rex.  In the 20/20 rear view mirror, I see that he did the absolute best that he could considering he had a hormonally challenged wife suffering from PPD, a job to hold down (including a job transfer that was foisted on him the day he got back from his paternity leave) and a newborn who did the usual typical baby things like screaming, explosive pooping and erratic sleeping.  And, bless his heart, he loved me anyways.  He must have been just as frustrated as I was but he kept holding us afloat.

Even in those dark days, though, I never told Mr. X how I felt.  I could see nothing good coming from that and I knew deep down in that tiny little sane place in my brain that I was really, really out of whack and not seeing things as they really were.  But, I did a lot of thinking and soul searching.  I addressed a lot of my long standing issues, issues that had been around long before Rex arrived on the scene but that I could ignore and still have a relatively easy life.   Now, though, everything was on the table, including how I would treat Mr. X.  I decided to make a conscience effort to just be kind to him.  No matter what.  No matter what question he asked, no matter what he messed up, no matter anything.  And, it’s been working.  It’s also been coming back to me.   I can tell he’s thrilled to have his wife back.  I’m so glad I could get back to him too.