July 02, 2015

On How the Battle with Infertility is Never Over

God has blessed us with the best little man we could ask for.

We are so blessed that we were able to conceive him on our first round of IVF.

We are so blessed that we were able to freeze four embryos.

We are so blessed that God provided the money we needed to conceive Cai when we needed it.

We are so thankful for the amazing ways God has worked in our life as a family.

Our battle with infertility has changed so much because of what the Lord has chosen to do in our lives, but I'm quickly realizing that it is not gone.

We have four frozen embryos. In other words, we have four frozen babies. We plan to attempt to conceive all four of these babies by doing two frozen embryo transfers (FET) with two embryos each. These will cost around $5,000 each, give or take a thousand.

We originally planned to do our first FET when Cai was just over a year old, approximately five or six months from now. Then life happened. Steve lost his job (through no fault of his own), and although he has found a new one (praise the Lord), our income is less than half of what it was when we did IVF. This means that we really have no idea when we will be able to do a FET. It makes me anxious as I turned thirty this year and can feel that internal clock ticking.

On the other side of things, despite the fact that I am still breastfeeding (side note: breastfeeding and cloth diapering have been a huge blessing with the lack of income we dealt with for awhile. Basically, we didn't have to spend anything on Cai!), my cycle has returned. This is nearly miraculous as I never had a normal cycle ever and was wondering if it would ever even bother coming back. And not only has it returned, but it is more normal than it has been since I was in high school. Kind of crazy.

So now this presents a new dilemma. If pregnancy has helped to kick start my body into being closer to normal (apparently pregnancy can help with PCOS), and because we will not be able to afford a FET for at least another year or more, do we consider trying to get pregnant naturally?

Again, that clock is ticking and the younger I am the easier conceiving could be, so if we were to try to conceive naturally, now would be the time.

But what if we do get pregnant, then do to FETs and end up with six children? Are we okay with that?

Or what if we don't try, wait to do the FETs, and end up not getting pregnant with any, and miss any possible window to conceive naturally.

I mean, I know that ultimately God has a plan for the size of our family, and he will give us the strength to handle whoever comes our way, whether it be just Cai, five more, or a gaggle of adopted kids.

But these are things we have to think through that the average couple does not.

We can't just say, "Let's see what happens," and throw out the condoms, and that's it. We have four little lives waiting in limbo and one already in full swing who need to be considered.

I don't know.

Please don't get me wrong; I'm not complaining. We have been blessed beyond our imaginations with Cai. I guess I'm just amazed with how much infertility still weighs on us. How much it still affects us despite four babies waiting for us, despite the fact that our infertility issues could potentially be disappearing, despite that fact that there is a precious little man napping in his crib right now.

June 21, 2015

Cai's Daddy

I sat down to write this post and couldn't get it out quite right. It ended up sounding forced and strange. So, instead of using words to convey my thankfulness for my husband and what a wonderful father he is, I'll thank him through sharing some photos that perfectly illustrate what an incredible father Steve is.

This photo by Kristen Fuest Photography

This photo by Kristen Fuest Photography

This photo by Kristen Fuest Photography

This photo by Kristen Fuest Photography

This photo by Kristen Fuest Photography

Cai Alexander: Seven Months

How in the world do I have a seven month old? A few months ago I remember watching a friend's seven month old (I think Cai was three months), and thinking, "Wow, I can't even imagine Cai being that old!" And now he is! It blows my mind how much he has changed this month!

New Things
Cai can...

  • Go from laying down to sitting on his own. 
  • Belly crawl, with a smidge of real crawling. And he's REALLY fast.
  • Fall asleep on his own without the swaddle. You DON'T EVEN KNOW what a a big deal this is. It took two horrible naps with lots of screaming and crying and sweating, but I can now lay him down awake, leave the room, and know that he'll fall asleep. It's so cute to see the different positions he sleeps in now!
  • Blow raspberries. 

  • Understand "no." He doesn't obey most of the time, but he clearly knows what it means.
  • Swallow more of the food he puts in his mouth. Before it was mostly just tasting things, chewing them and then spitting them out. Now he swallows most of it.
  • Eat; new foods include:
    • Oatmeal
    • Cucumbers
    • Yogurt (we're going to wait on trying that again...we think it gave him MAJOR gas which is rare for him)
    • Grilled cheese
    • Ciabatta pizza (made entirely with ingredients from the farmer's market and local milk store)
    • French toast
    • Scallions
    • Plum Organics Super Puffs, super purples
    • Organic teething cookies
    • Apple sauce
    • Tomatoes
  • Climb up small steps.
  • Grab Finn's bone.

Sleep: Six months has been the hardest so far. We had some nights where he was up every hour. Other nights were he was up for two hours at a time. And some where he was up around 1:30, went back down, and then would wake every ten minutes, giving Mama just
enough time to get in bed and get comfortable before screaming again. We've also had some where the only way he would fall asleep is snuggled on the couch with Mama. It's definitely improving. Three of the last four nights were pretty good, five over the past eight were pretty good. I've learned that I am a MUCH nicer person when I sleep well.

Likes: Cai's favorite things right now are:
  • Chasing Finn around to try to steal his bone.
  • Chasing Finn around in general, especially if someone is carrying him around. He laughs SO HARD.
  • Getting into EVERYTHING.
  • Mama singing "Skinamarinky Dinky Dink"
  • Necklaces.
  • The wood stove. This little stinker chooses the most dangerous spot in the house to play.
  • Mama's dirtiest shoes.
  • When Finn walks in front of the stroller on walks.
  • Being on Mama's back in the Beco carrier.
  • Uncle Tyler's computer.
  • Spending extra time with Daddy. Steve was out of work for six weeks+ and the extra time they had together was wonderful.


June 15, 2015

Things I've Learned about Cloth Diapering Six Months In

In January, I made a post about what cloth diapering looks like for us. I've learned A LOT since then. Cloth diapering is still easier than most people think, but it's not as easy as I was making it. I feel like I need to correct some of the things I THOUGHT I knew back then, by explaining what I've learned.

1. Using half of the recommended amount of detergent is just stupid.
I honestly don't know why most cloth diaper companies recommend this, but it doesn't make any sense. I can call it stupid because I believed it for a long time. Many websites and blogs will tell you that you may experience detergent build up, but that's not true. If you think about it, why would you wash your DIRTIEST laundry with LESS detergent.

2. Hard water is what really causes build up.
It's no the detergent that causes build up but rather minerals in your water. I have pretty hard well water, so I was dealing with ammonia smell because of mineral and bacterial build up. I now use Calgon water softener and add it to my prewash and main wash.

3. Extra rinses aren't necessary and can be harmful if you have hard water.
If you washed your diapers properly, there is no need for an extra rinse. Your washer already does a rinse at the end of a wash cycle and an extra rinse can deposit more minerals.

4. Not all detergents are created equal.
So, apparently a lot of the "cloth diaper safe" detergents are not even really detergents, but rather soap based and do not get diapers clean. Also, free and clear and plant based detergents (which I use exclusively) require more detergent because they aren't as strong. This is an area where I won't bend though. I feel very strongly about using fewer chemicals and perfumes on all of us, but particularly Cai, especially on such a sensitive area.

5. Adding wet towels to your load is not necessary.
HE washing machines use the amount of water needed to wash. As long as you have enough diapers in there to agitate against each other, your load will be fine. In addition, adding a large bath towel can actually keep your diapers from getting clean because the diapers can get wrapped up inside the towel and not agitate well. It is okay though to add small items to your main wash, after your prewash to increase agitation and do fewer loads.

6. Cloth diapering gets harder when baby starts eating solids. 
We're getting to the point now where I'm going to need to start rinsing poop off diapers, and I am not looking forward to it. So far we've gotten away with just liners and tossing what they catch, but that's not going to cut it much longer as Cai starts actually swallowing more of what he chews up.

7. Cloth diapering is a lot of trial and error. 
You learn as you go. This diaper fits better than that one. This one is good for over night. Oh, wait, he pees more now, so that doesn't work anymore. I only like pocket diapers, oh wait, flats and covers are pretty nice too.

So in my last post about cloth, I shared my wash routine, and, since I've found that it doesn't work anymore, I thought I'd share my new one. I actually had to do a strip and a bleach soak because of our ammonia problems due to our bad routine, but now things are going pretty well, although I think I need to find a cheaper natural detergent because Seventh Generation is pretty pricey right now.

I wash every 1.5-2 days (that's how many diapers my wet bag will fit).

  • Cold quick wash (30 minutes) with a capful of Calgon and line 3 of Seventh Generation detergent
  • Main wash (1hr 30 min.) on hot with a capful of Calgon and a full cap of Seventh Generation detergent.
  • Hang to dry (except my natural fibers which dry stiff on the clothes line) or toss in dryer on medium.
For more help with your wash routine try these links from Fluffloveuniversity.com

Do you cloth diaper? What have you learned? Is it easier or harder than you thought?

June 13, 2015

I Love Tie Dye

If you've been following my blog for awhile, you know that I love color and tie dye. Lucky for me, God blessed me with a husband who wishes he was a hippy and loves tie dye. So when I said last week that I should make Cai some more tie dye, Steve wholeheartedly agreed. Also lucky for me, I turned thirty last week and was gifted a gift card to Hobby Lobby!

Of course, I had a great little helper who laughed every time the dog walked past his stroller (said dog ended up with the white fur on his paws died different colors from walking through the grass where I was working).

I dyed three onesies for Cai, one of my white v-neck t-shirts, one of Steve's t-shirts, a blue oxford shirt from Steve's former job (that's a story for another day), and another of Steve's t-shirts that I planned to cut up to make headbands.

I like a simple burst look in the middle, so for most of the pieces, I grabbed a point on the shirt that I wanted to be the center of the burst and twisted from there, then wrapped it in rubber bands or yarn. For a few of them, I folded them accordion style, then twisted and tied. The kit came with five colors (fuschia, orange, yellow, lime, and turquoise), but I had two extra squirt bottles, so I took some of the extra dye packets and created a blue green color and an indigo. After dying, I wrapped them in plastic wrap to keep them wet while the dye set. I had to take a picture because they looked like big logs of rainbow poo. Yeah, I'm weird.

I was pretty happy with most of the results. I wish I had let the dye sit a little longer (I did about six hours) because some of it faded a little more than I wanted after the wash. My favorites were Steve's tshirt and Cai's blue and rainbow onesies. I think my shirt was a little too worn, so the dye absorbed really well and blended more than I wanted it to. I didn't share any pictures of Steve's old work shirt because the store's logo is still on it. I originally thought I'd be able to just tear off the applique, but it wasn't just sewn on by the edges, but rather embroidered directly onto the shirt. That means I either need to take a buttload of time ripping it off stitch by stitch, or find a way to cover it up.

For the headbands, I just cut the shirt into strips and used them to tie on my head. I also cut off the shirt sleeves and used those as headbands. I took some awkward selfies to show a bit of my shirt and the headbands...

I felt so awkward taking them, that I just a goofy face so that it didn't seem so vain. 

I wanted to show how Cai looks in his onesie, but he's napping right now. This is the only picture I could find that I took this week. He's eating a coaster. Cai putting strange things in his mouth is basically my life right now.

Anybody else love tie dye? Do you wear it or make it or both?

May 27, 2015

Cai Alexander: Six Months

So it's a week late, but here is Cai's six month update:

New Things: I can't believe how fast Cai is learning. He seems to change every time I turn around.

  • Roll over both ways, consistently. 
  • Grab things without difficulty and throw them (occasionally).
  • Touch things gently, for a few seconds. My favorites are when he gently runs his fingers through someone's hair (not mine...he's never gentle with mine, but his daddy's and Aunt Katie's) or pet the dog.
  • Get up on his hands and knees and even more often on his hands and feet like he's planking. He is so close to crawling. He does this stair climbing move, but he can't figure out that he needs to move his hands too. 
  • Stomp his feet.
  • Scream and whine. He does a lot of whining right now. He sounds like a morning dove.
  • Eat. He loves food. We are doing Baby Led Weaning and he loves it. He doesn't swallow all that much of it, but he enjoys every food we've given him. So far he has had:
    • Peppers: red, yellow, and green, roasted and raw
    • Onions, roasted
    • Lasagna
    • Pierogies
    • Carrots, steamed
    • Asparagus, roasted
    • Green beans, steamed, roasted
    • Celery, raw
    • Grilled cheese fingers
    • Grilled chicken leg
    • Apples
    • Bananas
    • Avocado
    • Baked oatmeal, made with steel cut oats, breast milk, apple sauce, and an egg
    • Potatoes, roasted with herbs
    • Mango
    • Strawberries
    • Celery
    • Ice cream and raspberry sherbet
    • Pancakes
    • Garlic bread
    • Oranges and clementines
  • Splash in the bathtub or pool.

Sleep: Cai is still napping pretty wonderfully. Most naps are between and hour and two and a half hours. If one is shorter, he usually takes and extra fourth nap. We are still struggling with weaning him from the swaddle though.
Nights are a different story. He is waking up frequently, usually to eat. He eats for about twenty minutes and will not go back down unless he passes out fully first. The past two nights have been especially hard. He woke up five or six times to eat both nights and a few other times without eating. It pretty much sucks. I have to keep reminding myself that this doesn't last long, for good or for bad, and that he's not doing it to make my life miserable. I'm doing my best to treasure these moments while they last. 
I'm pretty sure this lack of sleep phase is because of the fifth leap or wonder week or whatever it's called. The timing is exactly what it should be for that. If that's the case, it should get better in the next day or two.

Likes: Cai's favorite things right now are:
  • His dog. Not all dog's, but his dog. When we got home from vacation, Cai lit up when he saw Finn again.
  • His star mobile over his crib. It's been there since he came home with us, but he just seems to have noticed it. He likes to touch it when we're laying him down for a nap. Sometimes spinning it before we leave the room after laying him down helps him to fall asleep watching it.
  • Peek-a-boo. This is new this week, so technically I guess it should go on the next update.
  • His lion teething toy (the cheap version of Sophie Giraffe because we couldn't justify spending TWENTY DOLLARS on a teether, a blue rubber ducky, and a wooden teething ring.
  • Animal noises. I've been "teaching" him what noises different animals make and he loves it. It's a way to distract him when he's whiny.
  • Reaching for EVERYTHING. 
  • Trying to drink water from Mama and Daddy's water bottles and cups.
  • Rolling all over the floor. It's amazing to me how mobile he is without crawling yet. We've actually moved the coffee table and temporarily made it an end table (my idea, but it kills my sense of style) because the area rug in the center of the room is the only comfortable place for him to try to crawl.
  • Being tickled.

We went on our first family vacation as a family of three last week (which is the reason I didn't post right away). We had the privilege of going with Steve's parents, my parents, my grandparents, and Steve's grandfather, as well as both of our sisters and brothers. It was such a neat thing to be able to do. In some ways, it was a great break because there were other people to hold Cai when he gets restless and whiny, but in other ways it was difficult for me. Nobody said or did anything to criticize our parenting (except maybe Granddad who was amazed that we picked things up off the floor and gave them back to Cai without washing them :o) but it is so easy to feel like everyone has a different opinion than me or thinks
there's a better way for us to do things (even if they don't really). I was also hormonal at the time and didn't get as much sleep as I needed. It's just a weird feeling when Cai starts fussing and instead of just dealing with it like I would normally (most likely by letting him cry for a bit) and everybody jumps up to hold him or stands around watching to see what you will do, haha. I'm sure I'm not the only super sensitive first time mama around.
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