How do you do it? Parenting Link Up #21

Skip to this week’s links | Skip to featured posts | Skip to linkup rules

Welcome to the How Do You Do It? parenting link up party. Here, you have an opportunity to share your posts with other parent bloggers and the followers of How Do You Do It? and What’s up Fagans?.

How do you do it? is a community of mothers of multiples that believes in supporting each other, in sharing our experiences and questions, in friendship, and in encouragement. The link up is open to all of our readers, whether you have multiples or not, where you can share your wisdom, your favorite posts, your insights, with our online community here at HDYDI and What’s up Fagans?.

Each week, we pick some of our favorite posts and feature them the following week on our site! Plus, we pin them on Pinterest, tweet them on Twitter, and share them on Google+ and Facebook! Get some more exposure for your great content, and don’t forget to check out the featured posts from last week’s link up!

Plus, ldskatelyn of What’s up Fagans? is co-hosting our link party on her blog as well. One party on two blogs means double the exposure and community.

Each HDYDI parenting link up party accepts new links from Monday morning through Friday at noon.

So tell us: How do you handle conception, pregnancy, prematurity, birth, and postpartum recovery? How do you handle tantrums, diapering bills, stress, and potty training? How do you handle education and special needs? How do you balance the needs of several children with a marriage? How do you manage being a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a single parent? And how do you find time for yourself?

How do you do it?!


This week’s featured posts:

tips for expecting and new moms of twinsOur most clicked link from last week was from Christina of My Twin Lady Bugs. She shared part one of three about life with newborn twins, because it really is such a whirlwind that first year! Her tips for expecting and new moms of twins are spot on.

what-to-do-when-you-need-a-break-as-a-momBarb of A Life in Balance has been feeling stressed and overwhelmed by life lately. As moms, as women, that is just sometimes our reality, so I loved reading her awesome tips and advice for getting through those time when you just need to stop doing life.

20 fun spring activitiesSpringtime is here! What memories are you creating for your kids this year? The Lou Lou Girls are sharing 20 fun things you can do. Check it out and start having a great time with your family.

If you were featured above make sure to grab our featured button and display it proudly on your blog! How Do You Do It? Featured Post


Parenting Link Up Party

Rules for the How Do You Do It? Parenting Link Up Party:

  1. Follow and connect with HDYDI on the social media platforms that you use. Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Blog Lovin
  2. Follow and connect with What’s up Fagans? on the social media platforms you use: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+ | Blog Lovin’
  3. Link up to 3 great parenting posts below! Please, no recipes posts! Of course, link directly to a post, not your main page. Also, under “name” put the title of your post.
  4. Check out at least 3 other links! This is a party, so mingle!
  5. Leave an awesome comment for those you visit and tell them you found them at the HDYDI link party! And pin them/share the posts that you really like.
  6. Tweet: Add YOUR #parenting #advice to @hdydi's #linkup! Tell everyone #howdoyoudoit! http://ctt.ec/LRfWz+ #motherhood #momwisdomTweet about the link party, pin our link party badge, share it on Facebook, or otherwise promote this party! The more the party grows, the more exposure your posts will receive, the more fun you’ll have, and the more encouragement and ideas we’ll all receive!
  7. HDYDI Parenting Link Up PartyPut How Do You Do It?‘s Parenting Link Up badge on your site! Put it in your side bar, at the bottom of the post you shared, or on a party page!


Sadia’s Perspective — On the Outside Looking In: What Infertility Means

Infertility from a fertile woman's perspective. You can't really understand if you haven't been through it.

I don’t really know what infertility means. I know the science and biology of it. I’ve witnessed the emotion and pain of it. But I’ve never experienced it. I don’t really know.

When we at How Do You Do It? decided to put together this week’s posts, to lay bare how infertility is a very real part of mothers of multiples culture, I volunteered to coordinate things. Because that’s what I do.

As I sat down to write the post calling for submissions, however, I found myself stumbling. Instead of the smooth way in which the words usually pour out when I’m blogging, I found myself writing in pained spurts. I was pondering the right words, getting up close and personal with the Backspace key, even folding laundry, hoping a break would bring me the right way to phrase what I was trying to say.

I needed words that acknowledged the uniqueness of each infertility experience, the sense of kinship within the infertility community. The fact is, though, that I’m not part of the club and will never really understand. Then I realized that it’s because I’m not part of the club that I don’t have the words. As a mother of multiples, terms like “singleton,” “NICU,” “mono/di” and “fraternal” just slip off my tongue, but I’ve never really lived in the infertility world.

So I did my best as an outsider.

“… many of us have suffered from infertility.”

No, that’s not right. Suffering is a passive state. I know many of these men and women. They’re fighters.

Backspace. 

“… many of us have fought infertility.”

That doesn’t work either. Do you fight infertility? Treat it? What about parents who went straight to adoption after trying to conceive didn’t take? They accepted infertility for what it was and came up with a Plan B.

Backspace.

“… many of us were infertile.”

Ew. No. Being infertile isn’t a core human characteristic, like being blonde or short.

Backspace.

“… many of us walked the path of infertility.”

Okay, Sadia. You’re a wordy kind of girl, but this is getting ridiculous. And is the past tense even appropriate? Do you really stop living with infertility when you finally have your child? Do you begin to consider yourself to be in the fertile camp? Are “parent” and “infertile” opposites? I imagine that for some parents, they are. For others, they’re not.

Backspace.

“infertility has been part of the journey.”

 

That’ll have to do. It gives infertility too much agency, but perhaps that’s right. Perhaps infertility becomes the third wheel in the relationship. And “journey” is good. It doesn’t require an end to have been reached yet, but allows for it.

Walking around the world as a mom of twins, it’s impossible to be unaware of infertility. Even if I never hung out with other MoMs, the strangers on the street would never let me forget. “Are they natural?” they ask, so often.

It’s such a loaded question: “Are they natural?” I know it comes from a place of curiosity. I know it comes from a vague knowledge that fertility treatments have led directly to an increase in multiple births. I know they don’t mean to ask whether I’m part of the Infertility Club. If they knew anything about the Club, they would have chosen different words.

Because children conceived with medical assistance are as natural, as miraculous, as extraordinary as my spontaneous little ones.

I don’t even know what to call myself. I don’t know what those of you in the Infertility Club call those of us on the outside. What do you call those of us who conceive spontaneously, easily, some even by accident?

I can love you. I can support you. I can cry with you. I can even lend you my womb. But I will always be on the outside looking in.

Infertility Terminology

It seems so simple at first blush. Infertility means that a couple who wants to get pregnant just can’t. As soon as you start to dive a little deeper, though, the acronyms and jargon start flying. Secondary infertility. IVF. IUI. PCOS. TTC. Now you have to wade through both infertility and alphabet soup to have your baby.

In this post, I try to shed a little light on these terms, especially since you’ll see a lot of them here on How Do You Do It? over the next week.

Infertility Terminology

Non-Medical Terms

Hop onto any (in)fertility-related message board, and you’ll see these acronyms in use:

  • TTC: Trying to conceive. When a couple is TTC, the woman will often…
  • POS: Pee on a stick. Take a generic pregnancy test. A lot of women do this many times before seeking help from a fertility specialist. And that brings me to…
  • BFP: Big fat positive pregnancy test, whose less popular relative is the…
  • BFN: Big fat negative pregnancy test.
  • You might also wonder what secondary infertility is. I did. It’s an inability to get pregnant after delivering one or more kids without…
  • ART: Assisted reproductive technologies. ART covers pretty much all methods of conception beyond sex without contraception.

Medical Terms

Infertility, from a medical perspective, is defined as:

  • An inability to get pregnant after 12 months of trying (regular unprotected sex), 6 months for women over 35 years old. OR
  • Two consecutive miscarriages, or pregnancy loss in the first half (20 weeks) of the pregnancy. The death of a baby between 20 weeks and birth is called stillbirth.

12 ovulation cycles with no pregnancy to show for it can feel impossibly long, but that’s the official definition. Plenty of couples know there’s something wrong well before the 1-year mark, and kicking off the process of diagnosis doesn’t have to wait a full year of TTC. And the loss of one pregnancy can bring you to your knees, forget about two.

Diagnosis

The first step in seeking out assisted reproductive technologies to overcome infertility is to get a diagnosis. This involves a lot of testing. The first step is to narrow down whether one or both partners is infertile. When the infertility diagnosis is the woman’s alone, this is called female infertility or female factor infertility. When the male is diagnosed, it’s male infertility or male factor infertility. Not infrequently in infertility testing, both partners are diagnosed with some reproductive problem. Unfortunately, even more frequent is unexplained infertility, where doctors can’t identify the source of the problem. The symptoms of unexplained infertility can be treated, but since the underlying cause isn’t understood, it can’t be specifically addressed.

The Process

Some of the tests include:

  • A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is an X-ray of the inside of a woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes.
  • A hysteroscopy is a way to look at the lining of a woman’s uterus. The viewing tool is inserted through the vagina and up into the uterus.
  • Laparoscopy is surgery that allows a doctor to insert a lighted tube into a woman’s pelvis through an incision to look around. This is commonly used to definitively diagnose endometriosis.
  • Pelvic exams are standard, and most women are encouraged to have one every year. The doctor examines your vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries visually and by feel.
  • Semen analysis is the examination of a man’s semen for how many sperm there are and how they move.
  • A sperm penetration assay (SPA) checks whether a man’s sperm can join with an egg.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound allows a doctor to see a woman’s ovaries and uterus. The ultrasound wand is inserted in the vagina. This procedure is also common early in pregnancy when abdominal ultrasounds don’t provide a very good image.

The People

A number of different medical specialists can participate in diagnosing and treating infertility

  • An andrologist is a doctor who specializes in male fertility.
  • You probably already know your obstetrician/gynecologist (ob/gyn), the doctor who specializes in women’s health, especially pregnancy, childbirth, and reproductive disorders.
  • Reproductive endocrinologists (REs) are specialists in the hormones related to reproduction.
  • A urologist, or genitourinary surgeon, is an expert in both male and female urinary tracts and male reproductive organs.

Results

Common diagnoses for infertility include:

  • Endometriosis is a condition in which a woman’s uterine lining tissue (endometrium) grows outside the uterus. This tissue can cause blockages. There can be huge variation in how and where the tissue grows and exactly how it contributes to infertility.
  • In an ovulatory disorder, a woman’s ovaries do not consistently release eggs. Clomid is a common medication prescribed to encourage ovulation.
  • PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a condition in which a woman grows small cysts in her ovaries and has hormonal problems. PCOS can have a wide array of health consequences in addition to infertility. A low estradiol or E2 level can indicate PCOS.
  • A varicocele is an enlargement of a vein in a man’s scrotum, kind of like a varicose vein.

Treatment/Procedures

  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the placing a man’s sperm inside a woman’s uterus. This is a relatively straightforward and simple approach to tackle infertility.
  • In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is the fertilization of a egg in a laboratory, followed by transfer into the mother’s uterus. Several steps are involved.
    1. Controlled ovarian hyperstimulation with follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) encourages a woman’s ovaries to produce multiple eggs ready for fertilization. The trigger shot is the final dose of medication that sets ovulation in motion.
    2. Egg retrieval uses vaginal ultrasound to locate the eggs and aspiration to remove them from the woman’s body.
    3. Sperm retrieval usually takes one of two forms.
      • Most often, the man provides his own sample through ejaculation. I don’t think I need to explain that here.
      • Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE) is a surgery to retrieve sperm directly from the testes.
    4. Sperm washing separates sperm cells from seminal fluid.
    5. The sperm are mixed with the eggs in the lab and allowed to fertilize them.
    6. Laboratory staff examine the fertilized eggs after they’ve divided a few times for embryo quality. Each embryo is given a grade between 1 and 4, where 4 is in the best shape to grow into a baby.
    7. In embryo transfer, promising embryos are placed in a woman’s uterus , in the hope that at least one will implant in the uterine wall and grow into a bouncing baby.
    8. Viable embryos that are not being immediately transferred can undergo embryo cryopreservation, being frozen for future use.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) involves the direct injection of a man’s sperm into a woman’s eggs. This is done in a laboratory in place of just mixing the eggs and sperm and letting them do their thing.
  • Sometimes, the mother isn’t a good candidate for embryo transfer. In this case, the parents-to-be may opt to use a gestational surrogate, a woman who will accept the embryo transfer, go through the pregnancy of behalf of the mother, and give the baby to his/her parents after birth.
  • Parents with frozen embryos in storage may decided that their family is complete or otherwise choose not to transfer their remaining embryos. In such a case, the couple can choose to participate in an embryo adoption, where they give their embryos to another parent to transfer, gestate and raise as her own.

After the Procedure

As you might expect, after working this hard to help an infertile couple become pregnant, doctors monitor the woman very closely to determine whether she has, in fact, become pregnant.

  • Clinic pregnancy tests are far more sensitive than the home POS kind. Medical staff will draw the woman’s blood and measure her human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) level. An hCG level of over 100 is considered to be positive test result. You may also see hCG test referred to as beta hCG or just beta.
  • Multifetal reduction is the controversial practice of decreasing the number of fetuses in a woman’s womb to increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy for the remaining fetuses. This is usually considered in higher-order multiple pregnancies, of triplets or more, due to the high chance of premature delivery and related complications.

What other terms have you encountered in fertility clinics?

From the Archives: Infertility

This week isn’t the first time we’ve touched on infertility on How Do You Do It? Check out these posts.

General Thoughts on Infertility

Personal Stories that Feature Infertility

  • 10 Week Newbie: felt increasingly marginalized as she was suck deeper and deeper into infertility treatments, but on finally achieving pregnancy with twins, the MoM community felt like home.
  • Recovering from Infertility: Even as the mother of 16-month-old twins,  feels the sting of infertility. This is her infertility tale. In Random Ramblings, she thinks about what it would take to grow her family further.
  • On the other hand, has put infertility behind her, she tells us in Am I a Fraud?
  • In Inseparable, Carissa tells the story of how her boy/girl twins joined her family through international adoption, following years of failed attempts to conceive.
  • Triplets: Angela’s Story:  conceived triplets after 3 years of infertility and two miscarriages, only to lose her son Carter as a newborn.
  • On the Clock: compares the cyclical natures of infertility, pregnancy and parenting infants.

Infertility Blog Link Up

Have you blogged about infertility on your own blog? Please share your links so others can know your story.

Please feel free to add our theme week badge to your post or sidebar:

Stories of infertility on How Do You Do It?

Infertility Link List

Welcome to Infertility Tales 2014

We have an amazing week of posts lined up, all on the subject of infertility.

Why, you might wonder, is a mother of multiples blog hosting an infertility event? After all, all the writers here have a bunch of kids already.

Stories of infertility on How Do You Do It?It’s because a number of us have lived with infertility. Most still do. Having a baby or two doesn’t usually render a couple suddenly fertile after years of struggle. And those of us who conceived our children spontaneously may not know much about how infertility feels, but we have to answer questions about it all the time. Much of Western society assumes that all multiples are the result of fertility treatment.

Infertility is a touchy, even taboo subject. Fertility is equated with masculinity and femininity. Being diagnosed as infertile can be like being told that you are incomplete, even incompetent. Infertility on the part of one partner in a couple can strengthen or devastate a relationship. Infertility is an intensely personal experience that must be tackled in view of medical staff or adoption agency personnel. As with almost all aspects of parenting, there’s a tendency to think that there’s a right answer, when in fact different answers are right for each person. Bring differences in moral opinion into the picture, and infertility becomes an even more difficult topic to discuss.

Infertility doesn’t just affect the parents-to-be. It can also have deep impacts on the children that eventually enter the family. At what point do you explain to your children what strangers mean when they ask if they are “natural”? How do you handle telling the child who happens to be adopted that they are in your family as Plan B, after conception didn’t work out?

We ask you to be sensitive to the individuals who have braved taboo and laid their hearts and stories bare to us here this week. They may not have made the same choices you would have in their shoes. And that’s okay.

The very personal nature of reproduction is also why you will see a number of stories this week written by anonymous authors. Whether to protect a spouse’s privacy or a child’s, or because friends and family have never been privy to the details of infertility in the author’s life, some contributors have chosen to remain unnamed. Their stories speak for themselves.

We’ll have stories of infertility with relatively easy and fast resolution as well as drawn out tails of failed IVF after failed IVF. You’ll hear about joyful conception that tragically ends in miscarriage or stillbirth. We’ll talk about healthy higher order multiples, infant loss, and selective reduction. Behind each of these stories is a woman who wanted to be a mother.

While infertility can often seem like a lonely path, there is strength in knowing we are not alone in our travels.  While some of the stories may be hard to read, we look forward to sharing our voices this week in support of infertility awareness, as part of (the National Infertility Association) Resolve’s annual Awareness Week.

Bye Bye Blankie

Blankie
My daughter J is the snugglier of my twins. She’s sought tactile comfort more than M starting at a few months old. She’s always had two lovies, a simple flannel blanket with a satiny border named Purple Blankie and a little bear blanket named Green Bee. Never mind that Purple Blankie has no more purple in than green, yellow or blue.

On our move to El Paso 3 years ago, Green Bee got lost. I waited it out for a while, hoping that J would realize she didn’t need her lovey any more, but she begged for a replacement every day. After several months, when Daddy announced our divorce, I decided that this was not the time to break my child of her comfort objects. Enter Fuzzy.

The green one is Fuzzy.

The green one is Fuzzy.

About a month ago, I noticed that Purple Blankie and Fuzzy haven’t been appearing in bed. In fact, I’m not quite sure where Fuzzy is, and Purple Blankie is hanging out in J’s stuffed toy box.

It may have taken nearly 8 years, but J seems to be growing out of the need for comfort objects. Maybe this explains her anger of late. She may be working on new ways to channel her stress.

Do your little ones have comfort objects or loveys?

Last Call for This Year’s Infertility Awareness Week Contributions

We asked for stories of infertility to honour Infertility Awareness Week, and you guys have delivered! We’ve got a great week of beautiful, varied and sometimes difficult posts coming up.

The door’s still open, though, if you’ve been thinking about contributing. Just email us your contribution, whether it’s text or a link to a post you’d like re-published here.

You can see more details at our Infertility Awareness Week 2014 page.

Stories of infertility on How Do You Do It?

Toddler Thursday: When Your Toddlers Aren’t Toddling Together

We’ve all heard the common question, “How do you do it?” That is how we got our name. Another common phrase I have heard over the years, as many parents of prematurely born twins do is, “They’ll catch up on their own time.” I hate to say it, but sometimes this phrase is like a Band-Aid trying to cover up a bigger “owie” than it can. Sometimes it’s the only thing people can think to say to try to make the mother feel better, when she is wondering if there is a bigger problem to be addressed.

Take my little guys, for example. Growing and progressing a little more slowly than the average baby, but also born much earlier than the average baby. We always take their early arrivals into account. We don’t want to overshoot and stress them out during their development, yet, as a mother I don’t want to undershoot their capabilities by overprotecting or making excuses for them. I believe mothers of premature children may be a little more likely to overprotect their children at times, and that’s okay. Everyone has been through a lot! I also believe there is a balance and it can take a bit of time and self-reflection to understand your parenting style.

My twins are about to turn 4 and when I think back to two years ago, I remember twin b was not yet toddling. Meanwhile his twin had started motoring around on his own. Twin b was able to walk everywhere on his knees, but not his feet. Alarm bells were going off in my head, but I tried to ignore them and give my son more time to figure it out. We shouldn’t compare our twins, as they are individuals and they often do learn things at different times. I kept watching him closely and mentioned it to a few people now and then. I often heard, “he’ll figure it out on his own time.” Hmmm…Are we sure about that?

After lots of watching him in silence, assessing and reassessing; working with him one-to-one to try to get him to walk, I finally trusted my instinct. Something was NOT right. As he approached 24 months corrected/27 months actual we looked at his feet closely. I knew he was able to walk if he had the right support for his feet. I had inspected his feet closely, compared them to his brothers (sometimes comparing twins IS helpful,) watched what he was doing when he tried to toddle and cruise along the couch. I put 2 and 2 together when I realized he could cruise without a worry, but as soon as he tried to stand in the middle of the floor or walk, he’d collapse. His teeny tiny feet just couldn’t keep him standing upright because his feet were very flat and one was practically turning over. We weren’t seeing it because we were trying to promote his walking by keeping him in supportive shoes most of the day, which was supported by his physiotherapist. Once I realized his feet were likely the problem, I contacted our PT and she said my instincts could be correct and he was seen later that week. She yanked off his little shoes, assessed his feet and confirmed that his feet would benefit from the use of orthotics. He was fitted with a custom pair of ankle-foot orthotics (AFOs).

The day we picked up his custom AFOs, the physiotherapist helped him put them on as the orthotist watched. First we had to dig through a box of extra shoes at the centre to fit the larger sized AFOs. Once the AFOs and shoes were on, twin b was set in the middle of the floor…and…HE STOOD…and then…HE WALKED! ALONE. It was amazing to see unfold. One moment he’s a non-walker, the next he’s toddling around the assessment room on his own! I could not hold back my happy tears! They were also likely tears of relief, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

The moral of this story? Trust your instincts and if you feel something isn’t making sense or you’ve said and heard, “he’ll catch up on his own time,” maybe a few too many times, it’s okay to put your foot down (pardon the pun) and ask LOTS of questions to get the answers you need.

Twinfant Tuesday: Loving My Babies Differently

Quality time with my son.

Quality time with my son.

Before I had kids, it was hard for me to understand how or why parents would play favorites with their kids. My relationship with my future hypothetical kids was going to be one of mutual respect and lots of unconditional love. It’s worth noting, perhaps, that my future hypothetical kids were good-natured, agreeable, and their thought processes aligned with mine remarkably well.

When my actual babies were born, I was dismayed to find out that they weren’t altogether agreeable, and that, especially with two babies, bonding wasn’t an immediate, natural thing.

This is part of twin parenting that I don’t see mentioned often; I don’t think it’s unique to my experience. Parents of one baby have time to really get to know that baby, feel comfortable to varying extents with spending time alone with that baby, and are, I think, able to bond more quickly with that single baby thanks to that individual focus. With twins, I found myself constantly having to give each baby just enough so that I could meet the needs of both. It was harder for us to spend the quality time it took get to know one another and build our relationships with one another.

Early on, I felt a very strong bond with my daughter, spunky and independent and favoring her mama in the looks department, but I had to work on my bond with my son. I had always envisioned having a daughter someday, and I felt like I knew what to do with girls. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with a boy. My son was needier in the early days; he really wanted to spend all his time with me, snuggled up to me or nursing, while my daughter was willing to be held and fed by someone else, and to an extent, I resented the time that I couldn’t spend with my smiling, inquisitive daughter while I soothed my fussy, needy son.

I worried a lot that my daughter would feel less loved or wouldn’t bond as well with me because I spent more time with her brother. Likewise, I worried that my son wouldn’t socialize as well because he was bonding only to his mama. I worried for his relationship with his father, that they’d never really become attached, that the way we were dividing most baby duties, assigning one parent to one baby, wasn’t normal. Obviously, I’m a worrier – and post-partum hormones certainly accentuated that trait.

Over time, I reconciled myself to the idea that the time I was spending with my son was time that he really needed, and that the idea of “equal time” was something that would have to work itself out in the long run. And all that time spent one-on-one with my son really did help me to bond with him over the first few months. My needy newborn son turned into a generally laid-back, chill little guy who loves his mama fiercely, and I feel a lot more secure in my role as his parent as we navigate the waters of toddlerhood.

My daughter wound up being the baby who struggled more when they started daycare. I was surprised by that at the time; she was so much more social in home settings. But ultimately, she’s an intense little thing who requires more time to adapt to new situations than my breezy little boy does. She builds stronger relationships with people, but it takes her longer to do it. And thanks to several mama-centric phases in her later infancy and toddlerhood, I’m fairly sure that the “time spent” scale is much more balanced between the two these days.

Over time, I’ve come to find that bonding with my babies is a lot like falling in love. It doesn’t always happen at first sight – though it can happen that way. Sometimes chemistry kicks in quickly, but sometimes, love starts with a friendship and blooms over time. I’m still surprised every day at how different our relationships are, and at how they change constantly.