Monday, November 12, 2012

Infertility, Politics, Religon, and the Tough Stuff.

I have decided to write about something that I have never publicly discussed on my personal facebook and to many others. Only my closest friends and family know, although I am sure others have suspected. The reason I did not talk about this before is for fear of being judged by people I care about, however, I have come to point where I can no longer be silent and am feeling hurt by the words of others although not directed at me, in directly it affects me. I have come to a point where I am willing to risk your judgment and stand up for what I believe. My life is full and if after this blog post, you think I am evil or a moron, or whatever else, I don't need you in my life anyway.

Some of you might think I am taking the subject of politics and the comments that were made by others way too personal. But who you vote for is a very personal decision and so yes, I do take those negative remarks personally. If they were constructive and polite while expressing a different opinion, satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the results, that would be different, but the comments I read the days leading to the election and after the election were not. And I read them coming from both political parties. So, I start by telling you that I voted for Obama and I did so for several reasons, although I will not discuss all of them here. I really don't want to get into politics at all but it is the issues behind the politics that stings. I wish the two were not interconnected but they are and so I cannot discuss one without the other. I would also like to point out that in contrast with what most people believe about those that voted for Obama, I have a college education and have worked very hard most of my adult life to get to where I am today in my career. My husband is a doctoral candidate and is set to graduate this coming Spring. We both work full time to provide for our family. Honestly, neither presidential candidate was that appealing to me, and just like I am sure some of you voted for Romney because of all the reasons you didn't want to vote for Obama. I voted for Obama because of all the reasons I didn't want to vote for Romney and it is in part because of his Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan. You see, Ryan and Todd Aiken (known for his comments on rape) co sponsored a bill that essentially limits a persons ability to utilize InVetro Fertilization. It also bans various forms of birth control. I also do not believe the government should legislate the way people live, like when two people of the same sex decide to get married. I have many friends that are members of the gay community and they are some of the most loving, giving and selfless people I know. I am a christian (although after my previous statement some of you may disagree) and I go to church on Sunday and I try to do the right thing and decent thing every day. The mission statement of the United Methodist Church I go to is "To create disciples of Jesus Christ who touch and inspire people through an open an diverse community". We do not judge others based on their sexual orientation, nor is it our place to do so.

3 months before I got married I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, and underwent a pretty invasive surgery. I will not get into what Endometriosis is here, you can google it if you don't know. I was told at that time, the chances of me being able to have children was slim. Unfortunately, this does not only affect me, but my future husband at the time. Luckily, knowing this, he still chose to marry me. :-) Both of us dreamed of having children and what I would have done to just have one. It did not seem fair to me, why I could not be a mother but others could, others that beat and neglected their children, but not me, a productive member of society, a good person at heart. So to no fault of my own, I was told the only chance I could have kids was through in vetro fertilization and so that's what we did, in hopes we could have a child. Now, we transferred two embryos hoping that at least one would implant, but both of them did and one of them split which in turn led to our three beautiful babies that you see pictures of every day. If it were not for modern medicine and that procedure, you would not see me posting any cute and cuddly pictures that most of you "like" and comment on every day. Our babies are flesh and blood, they are not robots and they are not abominations. They were born out of love from two people who were married and wanted to start a family but for health reasons could not do so on their own. I believe my children are a gift from god and that God was with those doctors and nurses the day they were conceived. To me, the lord was working through the doctors and nurses.

So, you see I voted for the candidate that I believed would provide the most opportunity for my kids, I voted for the rights of my girls, so they are free to live their lives and make choices about their bodies, and not have someone make those choices for them. Endometriosis can be inherited and I want them to have a choice if they need it. I voted for my friends that are gay, because they are good people, just like you and me, a lot of whom go to church every week, and the government should not be able to tell them whether they can or cannot be married.

I realize there are other large issues at stake here, taxes, foreign policy, the economy, Obama care and I know that I could be wrong about a lot of things, including who I thought was the best person for the job of running our country, meaning I don't see my opinion as the only right one, but I don't think this is the beginning of the end for our country or for our world, I think it is only the end if we continue to tear each other apart. I would not have voted for someone if I felt they were a danger to my family or to our country. I would like to reiterate while although Romney may have been a good presidential candidate in some ways, his Vice President was not. As I mentioned before I am not going to get into all of the reasons for  my vote. Just as all of you did, I had to go with someone that shared some of the same values I do. I am not brainwashed by Obama and I do not worship him. I am not sharing this with you to try and tell you that you should agree with me, or think what I think, or believe what I do, I am not trying to push my beliefs on you, I am simply asking you to not judge me or anyone else because I have a different opinion than you, and for doing what I believe is the best for my children. Please don't insult our intelligence or call us stupid because of who we voted for. It hurts, especially coming from people I love and people I consider friends, I would think would at least respect a different opinion other than their own. Regardless who I voted for or who you voted for, we are all Americans and we need to stick together, especially if you really do believe our country is in trouble, lets not destroy our country with hate, but respect and embrace our differences. A team of people, whether at work, or in a family unit, or group of friends move forward by working together while each individual has something different to contribute from the others. All those different opinions and ideas are what creates progress. If everyone thought the same way, nothing would ever change. We are all a team in this country. Lets start to act like it.

Call me a dreamer, maybe I am, but I believe in people and in this country (despite the evil I have witnessed) and I believe we are capable of more than we are allowing ourselves to be.

Every year 60,000 babies are born via In Vitro Fertilization and 15% of couples struggle with infertility.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jolynne Marie - Then and Now

Our tiniest baby (when she was born), Jolynne turned one year old on October 26th 2012. She was born exactly two minutes after her sister Georgia and 1 minute after her brother Mickey. All 3 of our babies are miracles in my eyes, but Jolynne beat the odds more than once. While I was pregnant, after we were told I had TTTS and the chances of her surviving were slim. Her and Georgia were sharing nutrients and Jolynne was not getting what she needed to grow. Then, 3 days after she was born, we were told she had a hole in her intestine and she needed surgery right away. They said given her tiny size, they did not know whether she would even be able to survive the surgery but it was her only chance. Without the surgery she would die. But not only did Jolynne survive that surgery, today she thrives. Here is how much she has grown:

Then: 2 pounds, 6 ounces
Now: 20 pounds, 3 ounces

Then: 14.5 inches long
Now: 27 inches long

She is in the 35th percentile for her weight and the 5th percentile for her height. Jolynne made it through that first surgery, the scariest day of our life I think, then she waited in the hospital and grew until her second surgery when they were able to put her belly back together. At one point she went without food for 10 days, she was starving for 10 days until we knew her stomach could handle food again (she was given IV fluids during this time). She continued to struggle gaining weight because her intestines were not able to absorb the nutrients properly from her food. It went in and out without the body having a chance to soak in the good stuff. This extended her hospital stay as they wont let her leave until they see she can gain weight on a consistent basis.  We also learned she had a milk protein allergy before she left the hospital so she had to have special formula by prescription only.

At 32 weeks gestation, she was almost 3 weeks old, but still should not have even been born yet, we were told by the therapists in the NICU she was the most alert 32 week baby they had every seen and that they could not believe she had already been through what she had. It was every impressive.

Today Jolynne weighs more than her brother. She eats anything and everything without any troubles. Her intestines have healed and recovered completely. She has also overcome her milk protein allergy and can even drink regular milk. Jolynne is our little explorer. She is very smart and inquisitive. She will watch and study everything and gets into everything she can. She tries to squeeze through tiny spaces and then gets stuck, but she does not like being held captive behind baby gates. She will often sit on the other side and just look out through the bars, like there is whole world out there being kept from her. Jo also likes to follow her brother Mickey everywhere. Those two seem to have baby races and chase each other and laugh at each other and make squeals at each other. Jo also likes to take her siblings toys. She is very good at it to. She is quick, was our first baby to crawl despite her size and she will take your stuff if you are not careful.

Jolynne is probably the happiest of all 3 babies. She is always smiling, like a ray of sunshine. She has the most trouble sleeping of the 3 and we will still occasionally have to get up at odd hours to console her at night, but during the day, she's all smiles! I love how incredibly smart she is, and I love her curiosity. But mostly I love how extremely positive she is even though she has already had two surgeries and spent the first 3 months of her life in the hospital. We could all learn something from her.

I love you baby girl! Thanks for fighting so hard and proving everyone wrong. We can't imagine our lives without you!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mickey Aaron - Then and Now

On October 26, 2012 Mickey turned one year old. He was born exactly one minute after his sister Georgia and 1 minute before his sister Jolynne. When he was born he was not a happy camper. I think he was comfortable where he was and I will never forget the look on his face the first time I saw him. Mickey had to stay the longest in the NICU and he was our last baby to come home. Here is how much he has grown:

Then: 2 pounds, 11 ounces
Now: 19 pounds, 3 ounces

Then: 15.5 inches long
Now: 28 and 1/4 inches long

Mickey weighs less than both his sisters but he is also the tallest. He is in the 5th percentile for his weight and the 10th percentile for his height. He could benefit by gaining a few pounds but the doctors think he looks healthy and they are not concerned at this point. Mickey has 8 teeth already. 4 on top and 4 on bottom. When he was born he had a lot of trouble breathing. He was on an breathing tube for weeks and then a C Pap machine for many more weeks. There were times the doctor would call us at 5 in the morning to tell us that he had stopped breathing on his own and we worried if he would ever be able to breathe without the help of machines. He struggled with eating and aspirated his food, meaning it would go into his lungs, so we had to feed him thickened formula and there were days he hardly kept anything down due to the severity of his reflux. You know what they say sometimes, boys are slower to develop than girls, and even though he was bigger than them, his lungs and his digestive system were just not ready to work on their own.

I am happy to say that Mickey is doing 100 times better. He no longer requires extra oxygen or any assistance breathing. He also does not aspirate or have any issues with acid reflux. He is not on any medications at all. Mickey is not only crawling but he is walking with assistance. He does not sit still for a second. From the beginning, he has had a bad temper. When he doesn't like something, he lets you know it. He probably has the loudest laugh of all 3 babies, its so stinking cute! But he also has the loudest cry. He definitely needs to be held and cuddled with the most. Mickey's smile will melt your heart though. As he was in the hospital, he is at day care, very popular with the ladies. They are like puddy in his little baby hands, just like his mom is too.

Watching Mickey is highly entertaining. He likes to act like he is an only child and crawl over his sisters like they aren't even there, or push them over and laugh like they are one of his many toys. I have a feeling that is going to come back to bite him in the you know what someday. His newest thing is that he likes to shake his head at us or after us. I guess he is already understanding the word no? Not exactly. He thinks its funny. Mickey also likes to talk a lot. The difference between him and Georgia is that while Georgia is quietly conversing to herself or to us, Mickey is yelling gibberish at us as if we might have a hearing problem. He also loves it when I sing to him and he just stares back at me with a huge grin and those big baby blue eyes. I could sing to him forever. Happy or sad, I love that he expresses himself so well.

I love you my son! Daddy and I are so proud of how far you have come.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Georgia Dawn - Then and Now

On October 26, 2012 Georgia turned one year old. She is our oldest born 1 minute apart from her brother and two minutes apart from her sister. Not only is she the oldest, she was the first one to come home from the hospital and always our best eater. While the other two took their time learning to eat, Georgia did not. She wanted to get big so she could come home as soon as possible. At least that's what I tell myself. Here is how much she has grown:

Then: 2 pounds, 9 ounces                
Now: 21 pounds, 6 ounces

Then: 15 inches long
Now:  27.5 inches long

At one year old, Georgia weighs more than both her siblings. She is now in the 50th percentile for her weight and the 10th percentile for her length which is great considering she was born 2 and 1/2 months early. She now has 5 teeth, 2 on bottom and 3 on top. She just recently started crawling a couple weeks before her first birthday. We think maybe her weight, weighed her down a little. Technically with an adjusted age of 9.5 months, since she was born early, she is right where she should be. Georgia is also our little chatter box, she has conversations with herself all the time, during dinner, during play time, during diaper changes, and in the car. I have no idea what she is saying but it sure sounds interesting. I'm sure she and I will have lots to talk about very soon.

Although we did not see this originally she is definitely a little more independent than the others. I guess it makes sense since she did not need much help even in the NICU. She is happy playing with her toys in a corner by herself. Really the only time she is upset is when she is hungry. She loves to peek at her sister through her crib. They laugh at each other and seem really close already. Her newest thing is that she loves to clap. I love her giggles and listening to her talk. Somewhere along the way she has also picked up a new name, Peaches!

I love you Peaches! Daddy and I are so proud of you!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NICU Reunion - One Year Later

Saturday, October 27th, one year and one day after the babies were born there, we returned to Banner Desert Medical Center to attend our first NICU Reunion. The NICU reunion is a once a year event where alumni who have graduated from the NICU can come back and see the nurses and doctors and other staff that took such good care of them. It is something we have really been looking forward to for awhile.

Georgia was in the NICU for 5 weeks, but Jolynne and Mickey were there for almost 3 months. Dare I say there were times during those months, I did not know how things would turn out or if we would ever be able to bring all 3 of them home. While we were there, we got to know the nurses that cared for the babies on a daily basis. I spent every day and a lot of nights with them during that time, the babies spent every night with them. There is no way we will ever be able to re pay those doctors and nurses for not only caring for the babies, but saving their lives and keeping them alive when their tiny bodies were simply not ready to sustain themselves on their own.

I was excited for them to see how much the babies had grown and how well they were doing, without needing all of extra therapy or treatments which was our life for awhile even after the babies came home. When they came home, they were averaging about 3-4 doctor appointments per week between the three of them and all the specialists. I realize there are still some challenges and obstacles ahead but the fact that the babies are happy, healthy and they overcame what they did, what would have been impossible maybe even 20 years ago, is amazing and I have those doctors and nurses to thank for that.

We arrived in costume, Mickey as Winnie the Pooh, Jolynne as Tigger and Georgia as Piglet. They were the cutest babies there. I am not exaggerating. We immediately saw Nancy, one of our primary nurses, who came over and gave us a big hug. She was in awe with how much the babies had changed. We got to meet her son and it was so touching to see her reunited with the babies, especially Mickey who I think she had a soft spot for. But really Nancy has a soft spot for all babies. She is a wonderful person with a big heart! We saw one of the doctors, the one who gave us the news that Jolynne may not make it two days after she was born. She remembered all the babies but mostly Jo and was happy to see them doing so well. Towards the end we saw, Erin, another one of our primary nurses,  who said "Are you kidding me right now?" when she saw the babies. I almost cried. She just couldn't even believe they were the same babies. She said "where is your runt (Jo)" and we told her we didn't have a runt anymore. Of course, Jolynne will always be our runt in some ways even though she now weighs more than her brother. There were a few people missing, a couple of the nurse practitioners who were very involved in the babies care and another one of our primary nurses. We missed you Tammy!

It was a pretty special moment to walk into the place my babies were born one year later, after all the time they spent there and say we made it, and thank you to those that helped us through what were the most pivotal months of our lives. It could have gone either way, and we are very lucky, all three of our blessings are home with us now. I will be forever grateful to all those people and that place. We'll see you again next year!