Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sibling Cycle Dilemma

I can't believe I'm typing the word "sibling", but it is definitely something that has been on our minds and hearts lately.  We know that we want Georgia to having a sibling close in age and we know we definitely want at least one more child, if not two more.  Although we've been discussing this quite a bit lately, we also want to relish in fact that we finally do have a baby after 5 years of infertility and we do want to enjoy her as much as possible since she is such a blessing, however, we are in a little bit of a predicament and I'm feeling very torn and unsure about what to do next.

A little background first—at this time I currently have infertility coverage through the private insurance that my work offers which is administered by Anthem BCBS.  I have amazing deductibles and coverage and have been so lucky that all of my infertility treatment has been covered over the last 3-4 years.  I am also a union employee & insurance is a negotiated item that is part of our contract.  To make a long story short & without going into too much detail, if our next contract passes, I will be losing the infertility coverage portion of my existing insurance and will be moved to a different plan still administered through Anthem, I'm about 99.9% sure this WILL happen as of January 1st, 2018.

In addition to that, I still have 2 embryos frozen that are made up of my own eggs.  I know most people would probably wonder why I didn’t transfer those first before moving forward with donor eggs.  Here is why…I was tired, so unbelievably tired, of the failures.  I felt like we were just doing the same thing over and over again (6 times to be exact) and expecting different results and it was never happening.  So we kept those frozen and tried something truly different and it worked. 

Here is where the dilemma part comes in—storage for our 2 OE embryos is $500 x quarter, realistically I could do a transfer in November which would still be covered by insurance but the storage alone would cost $1000 for the next 2 quarters.  The storage for our DE embryos is only $435 x year & these embryos are clearly the better choice of the 2 batches that we have left (we have 5 frozen in GA).  The other part of the dilemma is that I have to be 100% done nursing before I can start a cycle which is not something I want to do by November, I want to nurse Georgia for a year which puts us into 2018 and the loss of the infertility treatment coverage insurance. 

I know this all sounds kind of confusing and maybe a little bit like a pity party on my end since most people don’t even have a lick of coverage to begin with, so I apologize if it comes off that way, that is not my intention.  I am just so torn on what to do.  Do we try another cycle this year so that we can get one more in that is covered but sacrifice the breastfeeding goal I was hoping for?  Do we discard the OE embryos have left and save ourselves $500-$1500 over the next several months since the odds are NOT in their favor?  What about trying naturally again?  Our bodies can go through some amazing changes from pregnancy and we were hoping to maybe give natural conception another (short) shot. 

This is where infertility continues to suck even when you get on the other side of it.  Is this the worst situation in the world to be in?  Heck no!  It's just really putting me in a place where I am kind of lost.  If we weren't losing the insurance here is what the sibling cycle would look like to me: Nurse Georgia until February 2018, try naturally for 3-6 months, if no luck (which I am NOT holding my breath for anyway) then plan a transfer for August 2018 when Georgia would be 1.5 years old. 

So from all of this here is what I know

-my 2 OE embryos that are left are inevitably going to be the worst of the 7 that we had originally. 

-if we do decide to do a transfer this fall it would be of an OE embryo

-I will only transfer 1 embryo at a time so if we chose to cycle this fall and it failed we would still have one OE embryo left to continue paying the $500 x quarter storage fee on

-any transfer after Jan 1st, 2018 will be 100% out of pocket

-DE embryos work (this is a biggie)

-I have no emotional attachment to my 2 OE embryos, after having Georgia I have learned that I don't care if I ever have a "biological" child of my own.

I thought typing this out might make it easier to figure out what to do, however it actually might just be more confusing now.  There are A LOT of factors to take into consideration and we need to make a decision by Friday on the 2 OE embryos that we have left here in Illinois.  I hate that we have to make this decision and it does kind of make me feel bad that we are considering discarding 2 potential babies, but I think that is something that many of us are faced with when it comes to left over embryos.  This also is just a reminder of how infertility continues to have an effect on our family building plans and that it seems to be something that will continue to have an impact on us for the next few years.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Georgia June - 4 Months

Our baby is 4 months old today!  This age has been so fun.  I definitely miss those newborn days and I am just now realizing how truly fast those days and that phase goes by.  Georgia is the happiest baby I've ever known, she LOVES to flash a flirty little smile and bat her eyes.  She has recently discovered her hands and is always putting them in her mouth, I think she will probably start teething soon!  She is finally able to hold her own pacifier in her mouth now too.  I decided to give her a Lovey because she was constantly putting her dresses and burp clothes in her mouth.  She's also discovered her voice.  She coos and makes all sorts of cute noises, I call them her stories and she loves to tell them often. 

We've been very blessed with a good baby.  If she's crying it means 1 of 2 things, she's hungry or she's tired.  She is still eating roughly ever 2-3 hours and is gaining weight like a champ.  She will go on Tuesday for her 4 month shots and we will get her current stats at that time.  We recently took the body support out of her car seat which means she's definitely a big girl now.  I also put away all of her long-sleeved 3 month clothing which was tough.  If we don't have another girl some day all of those cute clothes will either be saved or sold or donated and its kind of hard to imagine. 

Georgia is a very social butterfly.  We bring her just about everywhere with us.  She's been to 2 weddings so far this summer, she's been to the winery, she's been to New Glarus Wisconsin, she loves the grocery store because there is so much to look at.  We bring her to dinner at least once a week with us, sometimes more.  She got to go in the pool for the first time on my birthday and she loved it.  She was so content and the water was perfect.  In another 2 months we can bring her to the Y to the water babies class which I am really excited for.  She behaves so well wherever we go so it's easy to bring her with us.  She likes to be carried in the SSC and in the Solly and usually falls right to sleep in either of those.

Watching her grow continues to be an amazing experience.  As much as I want her to stay little, seeing her evolve into a tiny person with a personality is pretty awesome.  We are really enjoying the summer with her and we cannot wait to continue to take her on adventures and do all sorts of fun activities with her!  Happy 4 months to our peach!

Friday, June 16, 2017

All Things Breastfeeding

So I am roughly 4 months into breastfeeding Georgia and so far it has been going really well.  Aside from the issues I had in those early days and a clogged duct I had a few weeks ago when she decided to sleep through the whole night, I have had no issues whatsoever with breastfeeding and producing milk.  I'm so thankful that this newest journey has been easy and very rewarding. 

If you follow me at all on Instagram then you know I'm somewhat obsessed with Instagram stories (sorry Snapchat) and I often post videos and photos of my pumping sessions, pictures of how much milk I've frozen for the month, and anything else breastfeeding related I feel is important to share.  I guess I've become somewhat of an advocate (surprise, surprise) for breastfeeding just like I did with infertility.  I get several questions a week in regards to my breastfeeding posts and I am always glad to share my tips and tricks that I've discovered or learned from my own resources that I rely on. 

I thought I would compile a blog post of the questions I get asked the most so it will always be available as a reference for anyone who is looking for some answers.  Those Insta-vids disappear after 24 hours unless you save them so they're pretty much useless after you've viewed them a time or two.

1. Nursing and Drinking
This is the most asked question.  I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not.  If you have some kind of negative judgment towards me about it, keep it to yourself, however, if you're like most & you just want to enjoy a guilt-free drink without worrying if your kid is turning into an infant alcoholic, then here is my advice--use your best judgment...use your mommy instincts to know if you're safe to nurse, if you feel like you don't have any mommy instincts after a few drinks then you probably shouldn't nurse, but if you can safely find (yes, I said find) and care for your baby, you can safely nurse.  I often refer to this article (amongst MANY others) from which states that studies show 1-2 drinks does not harm the baby & that less than 2% of the alcohol actually collects in the milk.  This is what has worked best for me and I am comfortable having 2 drinks and then nursing.  Again, USE YOUR BEST JUDGMENT.

2.  Pumps
So my insurance covered the Ameda Purely Yours double electric pump and I got it for free.  A friend of mine sold me her Medela Pump In Style Advanced, and I ended up buying a Spectra S1 used from a friend of mine.  I've used all 3 pumps enough times to have a pretty good opinion about them and I can honestly say, they're all good pumps.  I do like the Spectra the best because its the quietest, it has a night light, a timer, and it has a rechargeable battery so it's portable.  The Medela and the Ameda are both really great pumps and I did the majority of my pumping so far with the Medela until just recently.  I was able to buy adapters for the Medela bottles (I needed a smaller size flange) from Amazon to use my Medela flanges/bottles with the Spectra pump.  I would recommend making the investment in the Spectra if that's something you're on the fence about.

3.  How do I make so much milk
I honestly don't make "so much" -- I make what is needed by Georgia to keep her satiated and gaining weight.  I do this by nursing her on demand which means when she is hungry she gets to eat, this is roughly every 2-3 hours.  When I am at work I pump every 2-3 hours and some days that means 4 times a day.  It is A LOT of work and it's a commitment.  It helps that my boss and co-workers are supportive and understanding because I have to take so many 15+ minute breaks.  I take what I pump for the day and bring 12oz of it to the sitter the next day, anything left over gets frozen.  Remember milk production is a supply/demand system, your supply will boost if you increase your demand.

4. How did I build my stash
As I stated above, anything over 12oz pumped goes to the freezer, but in order to start my stash and have a well-built supply before returning to work I started early.  One month prior to returning to work I started pumping once a day about 30 minutes after her morning feeding.  It's said that milk is most plentiful between the hours of 1 and 5am so the first couple days I would pump after that first 4-5am feeding, then I pushed back to pumping after her 7am feeding once I felt like I was getting the hang of things.  I would pump maybe 2oz or so which would go in the freezer, well 2oz x day x 30 days equaled out to 60+ ounces frozen in 1 month which I felt was a good back up.  Note: do not start pumping regularly until about 6 weeks after your baby is born unless you are exclusively pumping.  It takes about 6 weeks for your supply to adjust and build once your baby is born and you don't want to create an oversupply by pumping on top of nursing. 

5.  Favorite supplies
May favorite breastfeeding accessory are Lily Padz,  hands down, the best invention ever.  They're silicone & they're sticky, I wear them at night so I don't have to wear a bra & nursing pads.  I do recommend the wash & the wipes with these because regular soap is not recommended for cleaning.  They are the best at preventing leaks!  I love the Target Up&Up storage bags, they're easy, cheap, and freeze well.  I lay them flat in the freezer then I use the 12 pack soda "fridge" packs to store them upright in my freezer upstairs.  Each month I take them all and put them into gallon freezer bags (about 20oz x bag) and put them in the deep freeze.  I highly recommend the Bravado Click & Pump hands-free bra that attaches to my Bravado bra & these that I got from Amazon.  I also like the Simple Wishes hands-free bra.  To carry my pump & cooler I use this Stella & Dot Day Tripper bag which can expand.  I can carry everything I need in this bag & it's super cute. 

6. Favorite resources
I love for all things breastfeeding and parenting, I've found lots of helpful articles and almost always head straight to their website when I'm looking for specific advice.  One of the best books I was recommended was The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding which was written by Le Leche League so it's seriously tops as far as being THE go-to breastfeeding bible in my opinion.  Other than that, the best breastfeeding resources are others who have been successful!  Ask questions to your friends who are currently or already have breastfed or find a facebook group to join, there are several out there. 

I hope this can be helpful to anyone looking for advice or  has questions about breastfeeding.  I've been lucky that I've had some amazingly supportive mamas helping me through this journey since I got pregnant and I am a very firm believer in researching and educating yourself to become an expert at something that you really want to be successful with.  And as always, contact me with any questions, I'm an open book and am always happy to help!
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