Thursday, October 30, 2008

View from the other side

If you're wondering where I've been lately, the answer is sleeping. For the first time since Eggbert was born, I now have a reasonable expectation of 7-8 uninterrupted sleep every night. It doesn't happen every night, but it happens more often than not. Several times in the last two weeks or so, I've caught myself thinking "what is this feeling, I feel great!" and then realizing that this is what it feels like not to be sleep-deprived. Now I've never been one to take sleep for granted--I've always had a healthy respect, nay, love, for the stuff, but I am still finding myself astonished at how much of a difference a good night's sleep makes.

Yes it's true that I'm still bf rather a lot, despite the closing of the all-night bar. I had originally planned to exclusively breastfeed until age 6 months, wean by 9 months, and be doing another IVF cycle by now. It kind of cracks me up to think about it. I clearly had never met myself, or Eggbert, if I thought that was going to fly. It might have worked if Eggbert had been a different baby, actually. I do have a spine somewhere under all of the mush, but I just wasn't equipped to deal with denying the boob to a baby that was (well, actually, is) absolutely passionate about it. I expected that she would like it, but I had never expect that she would love it so much. To this day, she cackles with glee when the boob comes out, and dives on it, making little happy sounds, whenever she sees it. Every. Single. Time. It doesn't matter if she just ate 3 seconds ago. The boob always fills her with delight.

I did try to get things under control earlier. I tried night weaning in August, and it was a disaster. The first time she woke up at night and a boob wasn't forthcoming, she screamed blue murder for what felt like an hour. She never really seemed to settle down, she just finally seemed to collapse with exhaustion. I was holding her and trying to calm her for much of it, but she was just so angry and upset that nothing that I could do helped. It was awful. I really think that even the staunchest CIO supporter would have been shaken. I held out for three nights, counting the minutes until the sun rose, so it would be "morning", and I could give her the damn boob already. After the third awful night stretched into the third awful day (she was horribly cranky, I was horribly cranky), I decided that maybe for whatever reason, she just wasn't ready. Since then I have felt like a terrible wimp, so it felt really validating to my instincts as a mom that this time, she whined a little for five minutes the first night, was easily soothed, and that was pretty much that. I don't think she's even woken up at night in a week, and when she does, it's just for a quick cuddle and then back to sleep (and let's face it, that's almost better than uninterrupted sleep).

So here we are. These days, I'm nursing her in the morning, and then not again until about 7 pm, then again at 8, and occasionally again when I go to bed, if she happens to wake up. I stopped pumping over a month ago, and will finish my frozen breastmilk stash early next week, so she'll soon be on cow's milk throughout the day. There are still no signs of my period, but I'm trying not to stress about that. In a while, once I'm sure she's doing well with the cow's milk, I'll work on phasing out the 7 pm feeding. After that, well, I don't know. We'll have to see.

That wasn't even what I was going to post about. Last weekend I spent some time with a friend from my Korean language class that I hadn't seen since the week that Eggbert was conceived, because she no longer lives in Korea. She is now 15 weeks pregnant with her first child. I realized that this was the first time that I'd had a friend be pregnant for the first time after me. All of my friends had their first kids years ago (mostly about 10-20 months after I started trying to conceive, as if to torture me), so it was my first time being the one in a position to offer advice. I'd love to say that I was graceful about it, and carefully kept from spewing assvice, but honestly nothing could be further from the truth. So many words spilled out of me on a huge number of topics from birthing and breastfeeding to how to choose the right stroller/pram, that I thought I might drown in my own verbiage. It wasn't pretty. Luckily, my friend had the patience of a saint. I hope that she understood that I was just excited for her.

The most interesting thing about this encounter, though, was seeing how nervous she is about this pregnancy. She conceived easily, and has never suffered a loss, yet even at 15 weeks, she can't stand to buy anything, or plan anything, because she's so conscious of all of the things that could (but probably won't) happen. She could barely even mention the due date without saying something like "if we make it that far", and she admitted that she had tried to arrange an ultrasound during her four-day visit in Korea, just to reassure herself that the baby was OK. Hearing all of this really challenged my own stereotypes about "fertiles", and the difference between "fertiles" and "infertiles". It turns out that there are nervous types on both sides of the fence, and that conceiving easily doesn't necessarily guarantee peace of mind. Who knew?


Sarah said...

what a nice post sara. Kudos to you for following your instincts and figuring out what works for you and E. I wouldn't worry about your period, I was down to just a few minutes of nursing a night for months before mine showed up.

WaterBishop said...

Congrats on a successful full night sleep. I guess now was the time.

Anonymous said...

BRAVO Sara for getting some sleep and being so sensitive to Eggbert's needs.
For what it's worth, here is La Leche League's take on the return of menstruation while/after b/f:
I have a friend who is now at the point where IVF is her only option and she would like to discuss it with me. I am nervous, as I don't know how to approach the subject. She is still in the trenches, as it were, and it feels so raw to me still, but the reality is that I have an 8-month-old now and I just don't want to come across as smug or anything.
I think your friend is very lucky to have you there to support her. And if this breaks down the perceived barrier between "fertiles" and "infertiles", then all the better.
Rose xx

Thalia said...

Sounds like you have a lovely relationship going, very attuned to eggbert's needs as well as looking after yourself (occasionally!)

Lut C. said...

I just advised a friend of mine it was her decision and hers alone when to cut down on BF. Seems I've gotten it wrong. :-)

Kami said...

Without rushing these days - because they are wonderful - I am looking forward to sleeping through the night.

Hmmm . . .my friends who breastfed exclusively for 6 months and then supplemented for 2 years or so started got their period around 8-9 months. I was kind of counting on it. Although, my RE said we can do a DE cycle while nursing and not having a 'natural' period. I guess one of the benefits of DE.

Jana said...

Dear Sarah, reading your post -while on search on in/fertile information- I was hoping you could give me an answer regarding your success of finally getting pregnant after a long period of disappointment / failure.
I went through 3 IUI (natural / no hormone treatment) myself + several tests with my husband. Outcome..everything seems fine. We are now standing in the position of trying IUI with hormone treatment or IVF or..just giving myself a little pause.
Is there anything you think helped you to finally get pregnant, have you been changing your lifestyle (avoiding stress, going for yoga class, occupy yourself with other things to not think about pregnancy, living a more regular lifestyle,...), did you finally started to not thinking to much about all that fertilizing circus anymore (kind of 'healthy ignoring') or the pure medical IVF treatment just finally worked out?
It will be our first baby, and we are trying for 2 years now, I am 37+..time is running.
We are also living in Asia, Hong Kong. Which is pretty much exp. in that regard. IUI with hormone treatment would be US$ 1'950.--. How much are the average costs in Korea?
Thanks for your help / your advice / your thoughts. Jana

Sara said...

Jana-I can't really put my finger on why IVF#2 worked when nothing else had. I didn't do anything extra. In fact, I tried a bit less hard the second time, in terms of healthy eating, etc. My exercise levels were the same as always. I'd love to be able to give you an answer, but honestly, I have no idea why it never worked before or why it finally did. I'm inclined to think that it was a success of the medical treatment, but clearly there's at the very least an element of luck and timing as well.

An IVF cycle costs about $3000 USD in Korea. An IUI with injectible meds would be ~$1000.

Good luck! Come back and let me know how things are going, and feel free to ask any more questions that you want.

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