May 28, 2013

My Pregnancy & My Truths.

Last week, or the week before (I don't remember) I wrote a post about the results of my IUI. This week, I will be eight weeks pregnant.

So there's that. YAY!

We are incredibly excited, although a little nervous about having two children (just one babe in there, we checked!) but excited none the less. The post has since been removed because, well, it was kind of depressing. As excited as we are, it was a tough pill to swallow, knowing that I have hurt some people that I love who are still very much in the trenches of infertility.

And then I got no response. Not even one congrats. Which, you know, is fine. It's not about that. But I poured my heart out in that post as well, about the guilt I was feeling, and I didn't even receive any thoughts on that, either.

So, it is what it is.

When I broke the news on twitter, as gently as I could, it was mostly positive responses. But there were a few. Some harsh words were spoken. Words that hurt. Words, honestly, I can't get past. They are in the throws. The very ugly throws of infertility. They hurt. They are in pain. I understand this. But it sucks, mostly, when I have been so supportive of others, through good news and bad, no matter how hard it has been to me in the past, to not receive that support in return.

So, I threw in the towel. I deleted the post, because I'm growing weary apologizing and feeling guilty. Does this make me a horrible person? Maybe. But right now, I'm focusing on me and the ones who HAVE been there for me. Whether some like it or not, there is this mentality in the infertility community (not among everybody, but among some) that your struggle does not count if it is not the same as their struggle. Many seem to forget that pain is pain, no matter what form it comes in, but if it's not the same level of pain, if you haven't gone through the same treatments, then sympathy or support is not required. It's expected to be received, but not given. It's also unfortunate. 

And as somebody on the bottom rung of the infertility treatment, I fall often into the category of having to give, but never receive. As somebody who has gone out of my way to send love, strength, hope, care packages, gifts, cards, words of encouragement and all the hugs the virtual world can offer (and sometimes in real life) sometimes I want that back when I am feeling down. Or scared. Or worried that this pregnancy might just not continue to go well (the permanent worries of some one who has survived a miscarriage). Instead I feel like I cannot talk about such things without the catalyst of anger that is received.

Plain & simple? I will continue to give support to those that I can, to those that are close to me. But yes -- I would kind of, sometimes, like a little support in return. I'm only human. I am blessed with an amazing child, one that I cherish & am grateful for every day, and I am even more blessed that we are lucky to have a second one on the way. But that doesn't mean I live a fearless life. Or that there are tough days. Or that I still get irritated with the amount of over sharing some individuals chose to do about their pregnancy situations. Every single day, I worry. I worry about my lack of symptoms (the ones that are basically non-existent). I worry about the fact that I am just about 8 weeks pregnant and still feeling like I'm not pregnant at all. No nausea. No belly bloat. Nothing. The way I am feeling, it would be very easy to FORGET that I was pregnant. I don't have many reminders (something that is very welcome, I promise) that things are going well. I just ... am. These may not be a big deal to some, but it's scary to me. I constantly worry that things aren't going well. But when I see others complain of this, again while mostly positive, there usually are some harsh words that also follow from others. Why put myself out there if I know that's what will follow?

I've searched out some new moms to follow -- those who have had success with IUI's. I'm hopeful that I will find a new group to fit into, one that I am better accepted in and who is more understanding of the life I live now with a child but also the life that comes with having to use IUI's as a way of conception. I know that others feel this same way, because I have talked to them, but while there is a mentality of "your struggle isn't as hard as my struggle" there also seems to be a mentality of "my struggle isn't as hard as your struggle." A struggle is a struggle, is it not? I'm not saying that I ever intend to post every single detail of every single day (trust me -- it annoys me when others do it). There needs to be a level of humility & a desire to be humble about your experience. But keeping mum out of fear of others isn't the way to go, either. There can be a middle ground.

So a little word of advice -- if someone reaches out to you, reach back out to them every once in a while. The internet is an easy place to hide how we all feel. But as a community, we should love & support everyone who is going through this or HAS gone through this. No matter what direction their treatments took them in. Because you never know who is struggling.

May 15, 2013

Accidentally Obsessed: Cloth Diapering [Part One]

**Note from Brittany: Initially, I intended to do one big blog post on our cloth diapering experiences. And then it got long. So now it's a two-parter. This first part covers our reasons for cloth diapering & what brands we use. Part two will cover how we wash them, the system we use & night time diapers. So come back!

Dear internet: I love cloth diapering. Like, LOVE cloth diapering. SO MUCH. In fact, I have become sort of obsessed with it. I wish I could buy all the adorable cloth diapers that are out there, but my husband won't let me. Rude. But I really do love them. We like to consider ourselves semi-crunchy kind of people in our household. We recycle more than we throw things away. I am completely supportive of anybody who wants to nurse, even though it didn't work out for us. I am making my own baby food [even though we are still totally in the beginning stages]. I carry my kiddo around in a ring sling or our Ergo when I can.

But, you know, I used to drive a gas-guzzling SUV. I am also horrible about remembering to turn off lights in the house, which drives M crazy. I don't always buy organic when it's just for M & I. So as green as we try to be, I kind of suck at it other times. Eggs, milk and meat always -- everything else organic when we can budget it.

Long before M & I had Lucas, when we were just talking about maybe having a baby, we knew we wanted to cloth diaper. Neither of us had done a lot of research into it, but we knew this was the route we wanted to go. There wasn't a lot of debate. No back and forth of which was better, cloth or disposable, the pros and cons to each. In fact, our conversation sort of went like this:

Me: What do you think about cloth diapering?
Him: I think we should do it and think it's a great idea when we do have a baby.
Me: Really?
Him: Yup.
Me. OK then. Cloth diapering it is. 

And that's what we stuck with. It was honestly the easiest parenting decision we have ever made. When we thought of cloth diapering, we had prefolds in mind. That's what we both instantly thought of when the term "cloth diapering" came up. There were discussions of diapers and pins and laundering services because who wants to stick poopy diapers into your washing machine? It wasn't until I started researching cloth diapers that I realized how far things had come since M & I were wee little tots. Not only far, but CONFUSING. Suddenly we had so many choices. Prefolds. Pockets. All-In-Ones. Fitted's. Covers or no covers. Then there was the topic of washing -- how did we do it? What did we wash with? I was overwhelmed. I only knew one other person who used cloth diapers at the time, and even with her giving me the best description she could, I didn't know which way we would go.

I picked the brain of my friend & listened to her experiences. I visited our local cloth diapering store and felt every diaper they had. I asked the owner question after question. I researched online until I was blue in the face. This was my baby's cute little booty! I wanted to make sure that his skin was as protected as it could be. I also would like to say that I am in no way an expert. These are merely my experiences with cloth diapers. I have read other accounts of what people do, and it varies drastically [and sometimes not so drastically, but still different] from what we do. What we do and what we use is not the end all. It's just works for us. As with everything in parenting, do what works for you! I just really, really love cloth diapering.

There are a lot of detailed reasons why we chose to cloth diaper, and why it is generally better for baby and the environment. There is a great list of diaper facts over at the Real Diaper Association that can go into the details a little more.

But our reasons were a little more simple. It's just better. Better for baby. Better for the environment. Better for our pocket books. We are not contributing additional waste to our already full land fills, and we are saving, literally, thousands of dollars by using cloth diapers instead of disposables. On top of that, disposables are full of so many chemicals. Our  kiddo is already going to be exposed to so many things in his life, so why not do what we can and keep the thing touching is little private parts TWENTY FOUR SEVEN as natural as possible.

The initial cost if cloth diapering can be hard to swallow. It's a huge expense up front, which can be hard for some families to do. We did not start off cloth diapering right away. In fact, we didn't put the first cloth diaper on our little guy until he was about 8 weeks old. Every mom knows that those first few weeks you go through so many diapers. We were changing 10-12 diapers a day, which means that I would have been doing laundry every single day. Plus, newborn cloth diapers can vary in size from the standard brands that you have probably heard of. So, we sucked it up and used disposables for those first few weeks.

On top of that, chunky legs wear cloth diapers differently than skinny newborn legs. I have found that with certain brands, as Lucas has gained weight, the diaper has not fit as well as it did when he was a little lighter. Diapers that don't fit well lead to leaking, and nobody wants to deal with that. If you want to cloth diaper from the beginning [and I know people that have done it!] check to see if you have a local cloth diapering store that does a rental program. Some places will have a stash of newborn cloth diapers that you can rent for those first few weeks, until you find a brand that fits well with your baby. We chose not to do this, but our cost output is still significantly less than what it would be if we were only using disposables.

I should first start out by saying that we use one-size pocket diapers. When we were doing our research, we decided that pockets was what was best for us. I wasn't overly excited about using prefolds, and All-In-Ones were a little out of our price range. So pockets it was, and they are just that -- diapers with pockets in them, which requires stuffing an insert inside [see above!] All of my advice/experiences come from using pocket diapers [with an exception of using fitted's, which I will get to eventually!] with no experience in anything else. We also went with one-size diapers because we wanted something that would last through our diapering years, without having to continually update our stash with different sizes. I have a couple of guest bloggers lined up who use prefolds & AIO's -- I have asked them to share their experiences so that we can fully represent all types of cloth diapers here. So be on the lookout!

When we first started buying cloth diapers, we bought a couple different brands. Since we hadn't met our kiddo, we didn't know what would work best for him and we wanted to make sure that if we were going to drop $300-$500, that we were spending it on diapers that best fit our baby. I have found that people can be VERY committed to one brand over another, or they buy strictly on what their friends have. This is totally fine! But we weren't afraid to try some different things out to figure out what worked best for us. Initially, we bought a couple of Bum Genius 4.0's [snaps and velcro], a couple of SunBaby diapers, and a KawaiiBaby Heavy Wetters. Ultimately, the SunBaby diapers were sold to the highest bidder. I REALLY wanted to like them because they are on the cheaper spectrum when it comes to pocket diapers but they just didn't work for us. I had to have the snaps fixed on two of them within the first couple of months of use, and I found that due to the type of material they were made with, it made stuffing difficult [it was almost like the inside was "sticky." Weird.] The KawaiiBaby Heavy Wetters were used at night, and I will write about those later.

When I was getting rid of my SunBaby diapers, I was looking for something else to replace them with. I stumbled upon GoGreen Diapers on Pinterest, of all places, because they had a super adorable giraffe print that I decided I had to have. Not because it was a brand I knew [it wasn't] but simply because it was cute. When I got the diaper, it worked so well that I fell in love and ordered a couple more. I highly recommend this diaper. It is thinner than normal pocket diapers, but we have never had any problems with leaking. And despite it being less than $10, it is extremely well made. I am a fan.  

[*Update* GoGreen has since got rid of their cheaper brand and is selling a slightly more heavy duty diaper. I have not used this and cannot speak to it's quality.]

I also bought some KawaiiBaby Bamboo Minky's. I LOVE these diapers not only because they are incredibly soft [SO SOFT!!] but they fit Lucas so incredibly well. These & the GoGreen's have the same kind of fit, and we are able to get them really snug around the hips without cutting circulation off around legs. Also, a very good price. We only have three of these, but I am in love, love, love.

But 75% of our diapers are the Bum Genius 4.0 Pocket diapers [which are the diapers at the introduction of this post!]. I love these diapers. They area functional. Reliable. Easy to keep clean. They fit extremely well & we have had no problems with leaking. All of our diapers, including the BG's, are snaps. We bought one BG velcro, and I sold it. I didn't like the way it fit, and the velcro was already starting to wear out after a few uses. Snaps are harder for baby to get undone themselves [when the time comes] and I feel like they have a better hold on keeping the diaper secure. But I love our Bum Genius diapers. With any diaper, you want to remember to change frequently. If the insert is full, the diaper will leak. That's just common sense. This will also help cut back on diaper rash. We have only had one diaper rash, and it was when we were using disposables. Sometimes his front will get a little red, but I use some California Baby cream & it clears it right up.

PHEW. That was a long intro to cloth diapering. And we still have a ways to go. The next installation will talk about how we wash them, the system we use for storing & overnight diapers. So come back!

May 14, 2013

So this is happening.

So. This happened last week!

Yes. My photography website is now up & running. This is a HUGE huge step for me. I mean, BIG STEP. With our impending move to Augusta, GA, I decided that I needed to take some time for ME. To figure out what I want to do. To be creative. To do the things I LOVE. The desk job thing? I'm sort of over it. Call it a midlife crisis of sorts (god, I hope I'm not dead by 64!) but I needed to make a change in my life.

This is the first of many.

I am so proud of this site & the work I have done so far. I am far from the greatest photographer in the world, but I LOVE what I do, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to do some more of it. Doing this full time will also give me the opportunity to stay home with Lucas & spend more quality time with him, while also pursuing some other creative aspects that I would like to make more of a permanent fixture in my life.

So if you are in the Augusta, GA area and are looking for a photographer? I'm your girl. If you know someone in that area? Please share my site!

Yay for big life steps!

May 6, 2013

Let the Chaos Begin

This past week, the husband & I cracked down on the home projects before our move. Because of a necessary school for his new assignment, M will be gone the entire month of June. That really only leaves us a couple of weeks after he returns before our move (at least, that's our hope).

So, in preparation, we have a very lengthy list of big projects that need to be completed before he leaves us those four weeks, leaving me with a much more manageable "to do" list with a crazy but lovable toddler. We've really stepped it into gear, and I am so happy with the progress that we are making. A couple of years ago, we took out our deck with the intention of replacing it with a concrete patio. We found a bunch of wood rot & water damage to the house, which resulted in having to have all of our siding replaced. We never got around to the patio due to the cost of the siding.

BUT -- this past week, we finally got the concrete poured. and we have a nice lovely patio now that we won't really have time to enjoy (but somebody else will!) Over the weekend, we tackled the garage which was a HUGE undertaking. I mean, it was a monster. Our garage has sort of become our catch all room, where things we didn't feel like dealing with were tossed. To the point of not really being able to even walk through the garage. It was an embarrassment!

But, a LOT of hard work, and it's just about there. Things up on shelves, packed away neatly. A LOT of things thrown out. One pile taken to a friends for a garage sale on Saturday with an even bigger pile ready to go later this week. A new rolling tool chest purchased for the husband to help organize the insane amount of crap tools that he owns. All in all it's coming together.

Tomorrow we get new kitchen floors in. Something that I have also wanted to have done for years (it was on the pre-baby list. Yeah. That never happened.) but just never did. So, of course, now that we are getting ready to rent out the house, everything we've wanted to do is being done last minute. But that's fine -- it will help with renting out our house. New carpets is also on the list, and they have been picked out & decided on, but won't be installed until after we move out.

Then there is paint in a couple of rooms, new ceiling fans in ours & the baby's, and a few large pieces of furniture to hopefully sell.

It sounds like a lot, and when we first started coming up with this list, it sounded very overwhelming. BUT, I am feeling so much better & so much less STRESSED knowing that all of this stuff is taken care of before M leaves. The rest is easy for me to tackle -- going through rooms, purging & trying to sell what I can on the facebook groups. Possibly a second garage sale, if I can find enough stuff. All in all, a much, MUCH needed purge of our home with some necessary updates. I really can't wait.

Next up on the list is finding a rental company (which we have a lead on thanks to a good friend) and getting our home listed. I think we are going to take the chance of listing before our orders arrive but our orders are going to come last minute, as they usually do, and I'm concerned about our home being rented out in a timely manner. If things fall through, then we've been wanting to move to a larger home anyways. Hopefully that won't be the case.