An Open Letter to Infertiles: Let’s Have Our Own Day

To Whom It May Concern:

I want to talk to you the day after Father’s Day. Let me start by saying, well done. You did it. You made it through. There are no more “parent” holidays for the next 11 months. As a bonus, wedding season is almost over; you won’t have to sit through a bridal shower as well-meaning old women pester the soon-to-be bride about starting a family, knowing first-hand that for many, it isn’t as simple as a matter of choice. You have until the next baby announcement or Thanksgiving, whichever comes first, before you suddenly feel like you’ve been slapped in the face, again, with the fact that you’re not the like rest of the fertile world.

Holidays shared with extended (or immediate) family are hard, I know. It usually means you see so-and-so you haven’t seen in ages, and looky there, they’re starting a family and glowingly happy about being pregnant (and they usually go on about how they ended up “miraculously” pregnant even though they “weren’t trying,” cue facepalm). Or, you get asked, again, for the 237th time when do you plan to have babies. Or, you hear last year’s pregnant couple complaining about the sleep deprivation that comes with their new bundle of joy while on the inside you’re nuts enough to be dying for such a reason to never sleep again.

And the “parent” holidays usually mean family dinners and an overwhelming number of social media posts all about how wonderful it is to be a parent and parent with [insert partner’s name].

Hey, you, over there, feeling like you’re not allowed to be in the “infertile club” because you “only” suffer from secondary infertility. Let me tell you, I’m in the same boat. Maybe there are some infertile people in the world who want to tell you to suck it up and be happy with the one living child (or two?) you have, but there are way more out there who understand the complete mind duck (that wasn’t autocorrect, but you know what I mean) that comes with not being able to conceive or carry a baby to term. You’re part of the club. I bet Mother’s Day and Father’s Day was difficult for you, too. This is the day where everyone asks when you’ll have another little one so your child doesn’t end up being an “only” child (as if that’s the worst thing in the world, or if by being an “only” child they are somehow less; terrible label). Father’s day may be the day where you berate yourself for having a failure of a body that can’t provide your partner with another child. Or, maybe it’s the day you try to convince yourself how great your life is and that you should learn to be content and grateful, and let the positivity carry you to a better state of mind (as you pray you can run by the store super quick for a bottle of wine without anyone noticing). Whatever those days mean to you, I know there’s still some sting in there that’s maybe even followed up with a reminder to be grateful.

Worse again, maybe these holiday is the day where you get the feeling that everyone is walking on eggshells around you, trying not to upset the poor, sad infertile in their lives. That’s very thoughtful of them, but it isn’t quite what you’re looking for either.

And “former” infertile over there, who isn’t sure if you will ever again “try” for another child but still feel the sting of the parent holidays, this is for you, too. I don’t care if you have a child or two or three now, or you never got there. I do know that going through infertility changes a person and their perspective.

So, infertile, I’m declaring today, the day after Father’s Day to the be official. . .I don’t want to label it “Unhappy Infertile’s Day” because that implies that no one with infertility can find any joy or happiness in their lives. I don’t want to call it “Happy Infertile’s Day” because that makes light of the pain and struggle felt by those with infertility. I think I’ll go with “Dealing with Infertility Day.”

Happy Dealing with Infertility Day to you! I hope it’s a great day filled with no pregnancy announcements (unless it’s your own), no curious well-meaning strangers asking when you’ll be putting a “bun” in your “oven,” and no feelings of deficiency.

When we’re not sure what it is we want from those around us—do we want to know about the pregnancy announcements, do we want them to be quiet about all things reproductive, do we want them to tiptoe, or do we want them to treat us completely normal—what I know is that an acknowledgement that we’re different and that it isn’t easy will always be welcome. Find your own way to acknowledge your differences, or use mine. I know I will be wishing all my friends a happy Dealing with Infertility Day today.

Sincerely,

Mindy

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The First Review is Live

In my last post, I mentioned something new I had started called Reviews & Interviews. Since the beginning of February, I have been distributing the press release and ebook of a new author to the bloggers that signed up for Reviews & Interviews. This week, the very first review from one of those bloggers went live, and I have to say it’s a great review.

If you would like to take a look and read about the book we’re focusing on this month, take a look.

Book-loving Bloggers

ri-1Hello ladies and gents! I’m about to merge my real life and my blog life a little bit with this post (scary!).

I have started a new venture that is bringing bloggers and authors together to reach more readers. It’s called Reviews & Interviews. I distribute ebooks and author information to the bloggers who have signed up and then it’s up to them whether they are interested in that specific book or author. Each blogger can choose genre preferences so they are only informed of news within that genre.

Many of the authors authorize me to send an advance copy of their ebook so bloggers can read and review it. Other authors are only interested in being interviewed. Either way, once the blogger writes the post it is then shared across my social media and that of the author as well. So, it’s added visibility for both the blogger and the author.

If any of you would like to sign-up, then check out http://reviewandinterview.xyz. It’s completely free for the blogger, and I won’t sell your information or even hand it out to anyone. I won’t spam you, either. I only work with authors who have put in the post-writing work of hiring an editor, formatter, cover designer, etc., so I only distribute information for those who have relatively error-free books. No one is obligated to give a favorable review. The only expectation is honesty.

 

11 Reasons Why My Baby Is Really A Cat In Disguise

  1. He knocks anything and everything off any surface he can reach. Holding him on my hip while passing by the kitchen counter is guaranteed to result in a broken dish, food scattered across my floor, or the immediate need for a mop.
  2. He likes to sleep in the sun. His favorite napping spots have been warmed by the sun through the window.
  3. He destroys blinds. Enough said.
  4. Did I mention he “cat naps”? There are no really long naps like most babies. No. He prefers the 15-minute approach.
  5. He’s obsessed with strings. If there is a string hanging off of anything, he is immediately entranced and determined to grab it and rip it off.
  6. The movement of shadows across a surface spurs him to immediate action to “get” the shadow.
  7. He follows the beam of a flashlight with pinpoint accuracy. He wants to attack it as well.
  8. Some moments he can’t get enough snuggles and pats. The next, he wants nothing to do with those around him and would prefer we all stay outside of his personal space bubble.
  9. He would really prefer to be most active at night. His mommy won’t let him, though.
  10. He treats long hair and necklaces the same as string. Beware!
  11. If his water isn’t cool and fresh, he isn’t interested.

 

Now, if I could just teach him to use a litter box…

I Can’t Seem To Resist

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I have a moment, and I felt the urge to share.

My baby is almost six months old. That seems so crazy to me. Seriously, crazy. If I thought my husband could handle another one, we would already be on our way to another few years of trying and maybe a baby eventually. But, we’re not.

So, we are taking a middle road approach to feeding solids. We have been giving him purees and solid chunks of food off and on over the last month and a half when he has seemed very interested. This week, he has been consistently interested every evening at dinner. The plan is to go the baby led weaning route, which if you haven’t heard of it before really isn’t about weaning.

Baby led weaning is all about letting baby feed himself real food. It helps with hand-eye-coordination and he gets a wider variety of flavors, textures, and healthy eats. My husband wasn’t sold on this approach because he was convinced our baby would choke. I explained to him that kids don’t chew with teeth until they’re around two because they don’t have molars until then. He still wasn’t convinced, until he saw it in action.

Tonight, he had his first real table food (I know, it sounds like I’m talking about the family dog, but I don’t know how else to say it) other than a piece of fruit or veggie. He had some chicken, and he LOVED it. His big sister loved watching him enthusiastically eat it as well. Morgan, my baby, hasn’t figured out how to get the food from his tray into his mouth yet except by happy accident.

Here is a photo of him eating the other day because I can’t resist:

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As for his sister, she is still so in love with her brother. He is so happy to see her every day after school, and I can see how much it means to her every time he smiles at her when he fusses at everyone else. Or when she is the only one who can get him to laugh.

Eva loves to collect trash. By trash, I mean things like cardboard boxes and junk mail and random bits of things I don’t want to find in my house. The other day, I found this on one of her boxes:

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It’s reassuring. I can’t be doing too terrible of a job if I’m “the best”.

I know it sounds like things have been all rainbows and butterflies, but we have had our rough patches. She had a rough summer because she didn’t get to see her father. It’s a long story, and it’s really her story, so I won’t be sharing it. But, I almost sent her to counseling (again). We got through it, and she is powering her way through second grade like a boss.

Money is still an issue, but I’m a lot more zen about it all. My business is picking up every month, and really even if it wasn’t then that’s life. I know I’m supposed to be here with Morgan and available for Eva. Everything else will work out.

I have a nanny/sitter that comes for a few hours a week and watches (well, holds nonstop) Morgan while I get some work done. He likes her and it’s obvious she adores him and I get to keep an eye on them both and still be productive.

That sums it up for now. Here are a couple more pictures because I can’t resist.

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A Ghost

I’m blogging. Truly, I am. I’m just not blogging here. I am a ghost these days, blogging for others.

I am going to be shutting this blog down. It makes me sad, but I no longer have the time to write here. All of my creative muscles are being flexed for someone else now that I am writing consistently for my business.

I feel like I am losing some friends by shutting down this blog. I can’t let this sit here taking up server space somewhere in the world, being completely neglected, though, either.

If any of you would like to continue to keep in touch with me, please leave me a comment and I will send you an email. 

If not, then this is goodbye. I wish all of you the very best!

Everyday I’m Hustling

Hello everybody!

I have been pretty silent for the last couple of months. I am working on figuring out this whole baby, work, life balance. It will get easier once 7-year-old Eva is in school again in a couple of weeks.

I have also arranged for a babysitter to come to me for a couple of hours, a couple of days a week once school is in session. I plan to use this opportunity to build my business. I can always complete my work in the evening or on the weekends, but that doesn’t leave time for much else. So, having someone come to me to watch my son while I work is going to be a big deal for me, my business, and my family.

It’s time to get back to work. I leave you with a photo of absolute adorable-ness; my son on his 4 month birthversary.

A baby with a mustache...why not?
A baby with a mustache…why not?

Working From Home: Tips For Working With A Newborn

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Many days, this chain of events happens in my house:

I say a prayer thanking God for the chance to work from home. About 30 seconds later, I dream of babysitters and working surrounded by adults.

I have learned, the hard way, many things that may help others working from home with a newborn. Here’s the lowdown:

First of all, everything I am about to say is based on my time working from home while Eva was still in school or spending time with grandma. Once summer break began, things changed significantly. Anyone interested in knowing how we do it with a seven year old and a newborn, let me know in the comments.

The most important thing to remember is what I am about to say, so listen up.

Pretty much everything is a craps shoot until your baby is about six weeks old. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Now that we got that bit of disappointing news out of the way, let me explain and let’s cover some basics. Our pediatrician cited a study as she informed me that newborns on average cry for 50 percent of their awake time every day. EVERY. DAY. Babies do sleep on average 12-20 hours a day at least. But that leaves 6-2 hours of crying. For the first 4-8 weeks, realistically expect to manage to work about an hour a day. I know this sounds extreme, but this is a great time to A.) recover if you had the baby, and B.) SLEEP! Sleep as often as possible. There is an adjustment period; adjust in increments. It will help everyone if you cut yourself some slack, sleep as much as possible, and try to be Super Woman only 50 percent of the time. The rest of time, settle for a Princess Leia level of bad ass-ed-ness, or something like that. Try not to kiss your brother, though, because that’s just weird and wrong.

A newborn’s fussiness reaches its peak around six weeks old. For us, it was like someone flipped a switch at the six week mark and I suddenly had a much happier baby.

For my son, the morning is his happiest, most content time of the day.  As soon as we wake up he eats, I eat, and then I shower. By shower, I mean a super fast 7 minute shower. I sit him in his bouncy seat by a mirror that’s on the bathroom door right inside the bathroom so I can look at him and talk to him randomly to keep us both happy. By the time we are done with these tasks and he has been changed, it’s time for a nap.

Around 8 weeks old, I started rocking him until he was almost asleep and then I would put him in his crib (I suggest using whatever you want him/her to sleep in at night so he/she associates this specific thing with sleep). It was hit and miss for about a week, with him screaming at me when I would set him down. But, once we established this routine, I could start laying him down when he was ready for a nap without rocking him for more than about 2 minutes. You’ll know when you have the best chance of getting him/her to cooperate with this plan of action by two things:
1. His/her body will be very relaxed, still, and eyes will be drifting.
2. You will be able to move around without triggering any movement or increased alertness in baby.
The reason getting your baby to nap independently is important: the less time you spend getting him/her to nap, the more time you have to use both hands to work.
A formula fed baby of average weight will go about 3-4 hours between eating. Breast fed babies go about 2-3 hours. So, once a baby is fed, they usually stay awake for about an hour. That leaves about 1-2 hours before it is time to feed that breast fed baby again, and 2-3 hours before that formula fed baby needs fed again. For babies two months and younger, expect them to only stay awake for an hour straight, max. Then it is nighty night time again.
If you have a baby who is dependent on the binky to sleep, expect that baby to only take cat naps. Plan on baby sleeping for 20 minutes at a time. Baby sleep cycles only last 20-30 minutes. Some babies wake up at the end of each cycle, while others will stay asleep and begin a new cycle. If a sleep cycle is interrupted, expect a very fussy baby who will need help falling back to sleep.
Early evening is a baby’s fussiest time. I don’t know why, it is like Sundowners for infants. For the first 6 weeks, this will be your worst time of day. I know for my son, I could count on him crying and fussing from 5 pm until I put him in his bath at 8 pm. Then I would get a reprieve for about 15-20 minutes before it continues, pausing only during feedings. From about 5-7, plan on not working during this time and take turns cooking if there are two of you.
After the six week mark, my son became more predictable and less fussy in the evening. My little guy now likes to take a nap at 7. I can practically set a clock by it. He gets unreasonably fussy and won’t stop no matter what I do until I cave and rock him to sleep. He will sleep about 45 min.
After his late nap, I give him a bath every single night. I only use soap on him every other day or so to prevent his skin from drying out too much. I am a firm believer in baths. It is so incredibly soothing for babies. We begin this once the cord stump was gone. I know people think it is a bad idea to bathe your baby every day, but really 10 minutes in some warm water is not going to hurt him. At worst, I have to slather some lotion on him (all newborns I have ever met need lots of lotion but it gets better once all the dry skin has sloughed off). After his bath, I use this time to set him in his bouncer or swing next to me and get about 20-30 minutes of work done. I couldn’t do this without a bath. He is so incredibly relaxed.
Once your baby hits about 6 weeks, patterns should start to emerge. You will notice times that he needs to nap longer, eat more frequently, stay awake longer. If you are having trouble figuring out his natural routines, download a baby tracking app. Similac and Gerber both have apps. You can time naps and enter every feeding. After a week, a pattern should emerge that will help you plan your days.
Now that we covered the basics, here are some practical tips:
Prioritize your work. Pick two things every day that MUST get done.
Put your work into two separate lists. One list consists of work that requires two hands. The other list is all work you can do one handed, with a baby that might possibly be screaming in the other arm. Save the one handed tasks for awake times. Use nap times for the two handed tasks.
Plan to work in 20-30 minute increments during nap times. If he/she sleeps longer, then you can keep at it.
Invest in an exercise ball (like the 65cm size) to use in place of a desk chair. My son is very cooperative with one handed work if I am sitting on the ball bouncing slightly. Also, holding him tight against me, belly to chest/belly with a binky in his mouth, his body swaddled, and me bouncing on the ball is sometimes the only way he goes to sleep if we are having an especially bad day (usually a day involving gas bubbles…he has the gas bubbles, not me, ha). He has pretty much given up the binky completely these days, though.
Plan to only get about 3 hours total a day that you can use both hands simultaneously for the first 3-4 months.
Check out the Ingenuity automatic bouncer seat (best part is it was only $40.00 at Target). It is the only bouncer that actually bounces…the rest just vibrate and make noise. Swings are amazing. These handy tools keep him entertained while he is awake as long as I can talk to him and smile at him every couple of minutes.
Don’t forget to try just setting the baby on his/her back in the floor next to you while you work. Sometimes babies just need space and a little freedom to move. It is usually the last thing parents try out of complete frustration only to discover that the baby quits fussy and starts looking around instead.
Talking to him constantly when he is awake and a little fussy usually keeps all-out crying at bay. Work out loud.
For the baby 0-8 weeks, a baby wrap or carrier may be your best bet at keeping the little one happy for about 30 minutes. This could be a great option if you need to make a phone call and keep the baby from screaming. My son really likes his carrier as long as I am moving…a lot. Like outside taking a walk, or in the grocery story shopping type of moving. So, I downloaded an app for my phone to automatically record phone calls. This has eliminated my need to take notes. I schedule my phone calls for times that either I will have someone else on hand who can take a crying baby or when I can strap on the baby carrier and take a walk. Luckily, I live on a relatively quiet street, and I’m in shape enough not to huff and puff while walking and talking.
Word of warning: I find it impossible to focus on the task at hand when my child is screaming in the other room, completely safe and cared for by anyone that isn’t me. I know intellectually that Dad or grandma or my friend is doing everything I would be doing and he is just upset, but I still can’t make my mind shut the sound out. I have quit fighting it and just go get him usually. So, even if you get help a day or two a week or in the evening, be flexible and do what comes natural. It will work out much better for all of you in the end.
If you know another work from home parent with a newborn, band together. Take shifts. Usually both babies won’t be fussy at exactly the same time. Take shifts. At the very least, cooperative working, or working in the same space with your babies, with someone else in the same situation will provide some encouragement and adult conversation for you.
Never underestimate the power of getting some intelligent conversation. Or caffeine. Caffeine is pretty amazing, too.
That’s all I’ve got! Good luck to you working moms!
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