Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Back Story: Infertile Myrtle

My husband and I had a difficult time becoming pregnant with Rae. When we finally decided it was time to start trying, we had no idea that it would take us a year and a half to get the desperately desired positive pregnancy test. It was a grueling, emotional, roller coaster with more downs than I care to remember (the worst part is knowing there are people out there that have been struggling longer than we did)!

During that time I was an emotional basket case. One week I was hopeful, the next week I was angry and resentful, and the week after that I was mourning the life I believed would never be. Every where I went I saw pregnant women or newborn babies. Close friends became pregnant and I had to pull up my big girl pants, put on my happy face, and sit through shower after shower (one of which I actually hosted). It was torture! My own, not always so private, hell! Don't get me wrong I was happy for my friends because I don't wish that kind of pain on anyone, but it totally sucked.

In order to increase our chances of conceiving Rae, I monitored and recorded my temperature daily (keeping it in a notebook nestled in my nightstand drawer), with hope of discovering my bodies particular (more like peculiar) pattern. As informative as that was, it didn't really help because I discovered my body didn't really have a pattern. It seemed to do whatever it wanted and there was no such thing as "regular" in my world. I took pre-natal vitamins, quit drinking (for a while), quit smoking (easier for me than others), and made healthier food choices...sorta (we have a horrible Taco Bell habit). But still no bun in the oven. I wept. I raged. I bargained. I tried to envision my life without my desperately desired child. Nothing helped and I felt betrayed by my own body. I am a woman after all. I'm built for just this occasion. So, what's the deal?!?

Eventually, I had a procedure, called a HSG, done to make sure my tubes weren't stuck together. While laying on a cold exam table, my legs suspended in air by stirrups, I was given one of the most bizarre "compliments" I have ever heard, "You have a picture perfect uterus." (Seriouly! What in the world goes through an OB's mind when they say crap like that?!?) So, my "picture perfect uterus" received a clean bill of health and left me with no answers to my infertility. Out of fairness, (and not ruling out other possibilities) my husband was also given the once over. Everything was "normal" (story of our lives at this point). So what was the deal?!?

The next step was a medication called Clomid, which causes hyper ovulation, (meaning multiple eggs are released during one cycle), and side effects may include multiple births...DUH! The thought of that petrified my husband and every month I was on this medication I think he feared we'd end up having triplets. If this didn't work, I was going to (very) bitterly give up the dream of being a Mom. I just couldn't see how we could afford in vitro fertilization (IVF) where prices range from 10K to 15K each round and most insurances usually don't cover the costs.

By the beginning of 2010, it was decided that if I wasn't pregnant by the beginning of summer we were going to move on without having a child (which meant going back on birth control). It wasn't the easiest decision to make, but it was the one I felt was the best. I keep using the term "I" because this was really my choice, my husband would have continued because he wanted to give me what I desperately wanted (he always does)...I just couldn't keep riding the emotional highs and lows. Another factor I had to consider was that we are a May December Romance. It wasn't just a matter of my emotional health, it was also a matter of our respective ages and our future together.

It was time to wait out the remaining fruitless (or so I thought) five months and move forward with our lives as D.I.N.K's.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Finding "The One"

When I first learned that Rae was a little different from the rest of the babies her age, I started becoming delusional. I began thinking there was something I could do or buy that would make everything better. I desperately walked up and down every toy aisle in every store, dug through every toy bin at local consignment shops, and google searched till my eyes were red looking for "The One." Before you ask, "The One" is a special, magical, cure all toy that would motivate my little girl to roll over, sit up, army crawl, use her arms/hands, lift her head up, crawl, or walk (I have gone through a similar pattern searching for bottles and sippy cups). Basically, "The One" would cure Rae of all that ailed her.

My daydreams of tiny retro kitchenettes, mini shopping carts, and a pink roll along musical pony were quickly fading into the distant unknown. The siren song of the toy aisle no longer sang sweet promises of fun waiting to be had by Rae. Instead, it only hummed a bitter tune of anxiety and anguish over my disappearing dreams and inability to find "The One."

While repeatedly pushing my cart up and down the same two or three aisles, I talked to myself, played with every toy, or burst into tears for no obvious reason to onlookers. I swear I must have looked like an escapee from a mental institution. On a few occasions, the uncertainty of a particular toy's magical properties required a second opinion and I would call my mother. I would rattle off a detailed description of the toy in question, along with the pros and cons of the purchase, and often ended with quiet sobs (I was in a public place after all). On the other end of the call was my mother's soothing, encouraging voice saying, "You're putting a lot of pressure on a toy. Don't buy it right now. We'll go shop for a toy together this weekend. We'll find something. She'll get there in time. Now leave the toy aisle."

She was right. I was placing a lot of pressure on a single, tiny, toy. It was ludicrous to think that Fisher-Price. Playskool, or LeapFrog held the key to unlocking Rae's physical development. "The One" doesn't exist. It never did and never will. The sooner I emerged from my delusion, the quicker I was able to start pragmatically looking at the toy lined shelves with a better grip on reality. I began evaluating them by what Rae WAS doing instead of what the toy might MAKE her do that she currently was unable to do. As a result, I have found a few l toys that have turned out to be "The One" of the moment.

This ONE:
Made by VTech: This Rhyme and Discover Book was a steal for $3.50 (I think) at a local consignment shop. Rae likes turning the pages and it is easily activated (of course Mommy gets tired of hearing B-I-N-G-O over and over, the sacrifices we make...).

This ONE:
Made by Fisher-Price: The Kaleidoscope Monkey is part of their newest collection. The "tail" is very easy to manipulate (much easier than the See 'N Say)  and Rae just lights up when the monkey says, "Ooh-ooh-ah-ah."

This ONE:
Made by Lauri: It's a peg board set that helps develop fine motor skills. You can find it online, but I found this one at my local Jo-Ann Fabric store and it was cheaper to purchase it there since they offer 40% off coupons (gotta save those pennies, they add up to dollars).

This ONE:
Made by Fisher-Price: This nifty little thing, called an Apptivity Case, safely encases Daddy's i-phone and allows Rae to work on her fine motor skills by playing with her apps. We don't leave the house without it tucked in her diaper bag.

Once I left my delusion behind me, I was able to keep my expectations in check and walk the toy aisles without having a complete mental breakdown.  Besides, they're just toys, not magic cure-all's...right?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Getting AFO's: Part 1

Today was an exciting day, not that every day doesn't contain some form of excitement, but today was just a bit different. We had our appointment with the local  Hanger Orthopedic office and Rae was measured for her first pair of Ankle Foot Orthotics (AFO's) this afternoon.

This was probably the quickest appointment I have ever had with Rae. Once I signed in at the front desk Ben, a Licensed Orthotist Certified Orthotist (seriously wouldn't Licensed Certified Orthotist be sufficient?), promptly greeted us and showed us to our room. He confidently explained how the casting would be made, offered suggestions about color options, and made sure I was at ease with the entire process. Unfortunately, Rae was not at ease which resulted in squealing, whining, and screeching during most of the appointment. True to form, I took my camera to her appointment and photographed the process:

Here is a diagram of her AFO's. They didn't have an example in the office so I figured this would suffice.

These are all the swatches I had to choose from, which included: Superman, Spiderman, butterflies (2), hearts (2), camouflage, and the American flag (to name a few). After sending pictures to a few friends and family, I ended up choosing a purple butterfly print, purple foam padding, and purple straps (I was going to use pink padding and straps, but Ben said it gets dirty looking quicker than the purple).

Rae was fairly quiet at this point, but that was before Ben started putting socks and a wet gauze like casting material on her legs.

Ben slipped socks (one to add room for her actual socks and one to attach to the casting material) onto her leg along with a tube that helps keep the scissors from touching her skin when he cuts the soft cast off.

Then it was time to start wrapping.

The right leg was done in no time and here's the finished product. It will be used to mold the plastic used to make the AFO's into the shape of her leg.

Then it was time to cast the left leg (it's pretty much the same as the first).

It was at this point that Rae became fussier. Ben had to push on the bottom of her left foot to set the cast in the proper position. She was not a happy camper (see video below). The muscles in this foot are tight and at times it is uncomfortable for Rae when we try to stretch them.

The left cast was cut off...

and now we wait for 3 weeks before picking up the finished product...on Rae's 2nd birthday.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!