Come Visit the NEW Baby Dust Boutique + SALE!

Hello readers!  Thanks so much for always visiting my blog and saying hi through the years!

If you’ll remember I started an Etsy shop a few years ago with stuffed animals and some baby items.  It was fun but never really went anywhere.  This year one of my new year’s resolutions was to be a stronger voice for infertility.

Hmmm, maybe these two things could go together?  I’d always wanted mother’s jewelry that honored my kids’ unique entry into this world.  My IVF miracle and Snowflake babies!  Out of this the NEW and IMPROVED Baby Dust Boutique was born!

I have all things Infertility, IVF baby, and Pregnancy After Infertility related.  Most importantly I have mother’s jewelry with a twist for alternative family building!

Get a good luck vial of baby dust.

Or a greeting card for an infertile friend (they are so funny!)

Or a mother’s necklace with a snowflake for your FET babies or a ribbon for your rainbow baby.

Check out some of the great stuff:

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Best yet, to thank everyone for checking out my new shop I’m offering

20% off EVERYTHING- no code needed, everything is already marked down

now through Saturday! Think about Mother’s Day which seems SO FAR off but is really right around the corner! Most items are custom so order early!

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The Oxymoron of “Personhood” Legislation

I am one mad mama right now!  Watch out!

The ongoing list of atrocities to woman-kind that is the “personhood” movement is astounding.  Personhood is the name given by its proponents to legislation intending to circumnavigate the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision by granting full rights to a two-cell, microscopic zygote only moments after sperm penetrates egg.

North Dakota, Mississippi, and Oklahoma currently have personhood legislation in the pipeline.

These thinly-veiled attempts to curb the legal right to abortion have bled over into a litany of other anti-woman interpretations.

You see, if an embryo is a full-human, then what does that mean for the woman whose body the embryo is living in?

Well in some cases that woman has her personhood taken from her with forced abdominal surgery, murder charges for stillbirths, and forced pregnancy after rape. Sadly, many of these cases are possible through the perversion of laws meant to protect women from domestic abuse while pregnant, called Fetal Homicide Laws, which have been enacted in 38 states.

It couldn’t be more clear that the role of the woman in these situations is as publicly owned uterus with legs. For the 40 weeks you are carrying a fetus your rights are subsumed to the fetus.

But that’s not all!

This next part that really hits me in the heart. Personhood also affects infertile couples who are creating embryos through IVF (in vitro fertilization).  Embryos that, if personhood passes, have full rights.

See this?

This is my daughter* at 3 days old.  She is only 8 tiny cells and she isn’t even a “perfect” embryo (she was grade 3 out of 4 due to the extracellular bubbles you can see). The idea that she is a full and valuable life deserving of rights feels right in my heart.  Especially since I know what an amazing person she is today.

See this?

This is one of my twin sons at 5 days old.  Here he is hundreds of cells and the cells are even differentiated so that the clump you see in the bottom will be him and the rest will be the placenta.  Today he, and his twin brother, are happy and cuddly 2 year olds.

He, however, does not have full personhood rights.  You see, he was frozen (cryopreserved) at 3 days post fertilization and some personhood laws outlaw embryo freezing – I guess they’d call it “people freezing.”

This makes me feel so, so angry.  That a law could be passed that would make his way of coming to be illegal just feels insulting.  Not that they are going to make it retroactive and round up all the kids born from frozen embryos (oh my, they aren’t are they?) but still my sons’ birth story would forever be an anomaly, a thing that is now illegal and therefore must be wrong in some way.

So, in the name of personhood you would make my son a pariah?

I could remind you that studies show that cryo-embryos have a higher success rate because the woman’s body isn’t as overtaxed during a frozen cycle.  Or that babies born from cryo-embryos are healthier at birth. Or that criminalizing embryo freezing will force women to make more risky choices by putting back more embryos during their IVF resulting in higher numbers of high-order births and putting mother and babies life at risk (not to mention increased cost).

I could probably write up a nice little unemotional, very research-driven brief on the economic costs of personhood bills.

Nah, I probably couldn’t.  I’m too MAD!

I’d rather march my boys and the other nearly 9,000 babies born from frozen embryos in 2011 right into a state legislature and let them tell the kids that they don’t represent personhood.

‘Extra’ Embryo Options

When I had my oocyte (egg) retrieval back in 2008 they harvested 29 eggs.  Of those 17 fertilized.  Of those 12 arrested by day 3 or 5 (stopped growing).  That left me with 5.  We transferred 2 fresh on day 3 – one was Aellyn.  Asher and Boston were both frozen on that same day as 3-day embryos.  They grew the remaining embryos to day 5 to see if we had any strong ones.  We had one make it to blastocyst which was then frozen on day 5.  In 2010 we thawed Asher and Boston, grew them to blastocyst (day 5) and transferred them.  We have one remaining embryo in cryopreservation.

Having extra embryos is common in IVF.  What does “extra” mean?  Any embryos left over at the end of your family building are extra.  Some women have zero left to freeze, some women have few (like me), and other women have a dozen or more frozen embryos.  Remember a “fresh” (egg retrieval) cycle is expensive and very hard on a woman’s body.  Clinics want to get enough good embryos to freeze some.  A frozen embryo transfer (like with my twins) is much easier and much cheaper than going through a full, fresh cycle again.  I’ve mentioned before that some countries make it illegal to freeze embryos.  I am personally offended by this as my beautiful boys were frozen for 2 years and 2 months.  In some cases frozen cycles are getting better outcomes than fresh – because the woman’s body is less stressed (see citation in the link in the proceeding sentence).  My point: freezing isn’t a bad thing.  It can be a very life-giving technology.

The problem? There are often left over embryos.  Couples have 4 choices when it comes to these extra embryos.

1.  Have a bigger family than you planned and transfer them anyway.

I’ll talk about this below.

2.  Destroy the embryos – they are thawed and discarded as biowaste.

I include in this category a bizarre practice of some “pro-life” people where they intentionally transfer embryos in a non-fertile stage of a woman’s cycle.  This is somehow seen as providing more “dignity” than discarding as biowaste.  I feel this is absurd.  And embryo implanted in a uterus without a lining has no chance of life.  Yes, God creates life but he does it through the reproductive cycle he created.  DUH.  Using a uterus as a garbage can is just all kinds of stupid.  Sorry.  I call ’em like I see ’em.

3.  Donate them to science.

Here they are also destroyed (they aren’t grown into some science fiction lab experiment) during use.  Uses include training new embryologists and geneticists and stem cell research done to cure diseases like cancer and Parkinsons and injuries like spinal column regeneration.

4.  Donate them to another couple.

Sometimes this is called Embryo Adoption because it can be open or closed but it is not legally an adoption but a tissue transfer like sperm or egg donation.  The embryos are thawed and transferred to another couple hoping to achieve pregnancy.  It is illegal in the US to pay for an embryo (or a live child) but sometimes donors are compensated for 1 year of storage costs.  There are for-profit donor/recipient matching sites, private arrangements, and most clinics have a donation program.

Most couples choose what their plans are BEFORE their first IVF, however, you can change your mind and nothing happens without your express consent.  I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that cryopreservation costs the couple money each year.  My clinic is under $500 but some are as high as $2000 per year.

Making the Decision

[box type=”warning”] Trigger Warning: If you are currently struggling through infertility you may want to stop here. I’m going to “complain” about the “agonizing” decision of what to do with my “extra” embryos after having 3 live children. Yeah. I would have wanted to stab myself for saying that just a few short years ago too.[/box]

Our original plan was embryo donation/adoptions.  We liked the idea of helping another couple struggling as we were through infertility.  We imagined having  6 or more extra embryos which would be impossible for us to continue family building with that many.  Donation seemed like a wonderful option for us.

We never imagined two things: One, that we’d be 3 for 4 with IVF!  I’ve transferred 4 embryos and had 3 children.  That’s just…beyond luck.  An embarrassment of riches.  I was in tears when we only had 3 frozen because I thought it drastically limited the chance we’d have siblings.  Oh to have my problems, right?  Secondly, we now have only one frozen embryo.

How is that a problem?  Well, first off, if you are looking for embryo donors you want at least two embryos.  The cost alone makes adopting one embryo kind of silly.  I’ve found that the general consensus is that people would not want my one embryo.

More importantly is how I feel about embryos.  I think this is personal but, for me, those embryos are my children.  I believe life starts at conception.  That’s my baby girl in there (no, we don’t know the gender but I hate “it”) and I could never just destroy her, even for science.  It feels like a part of my family.  I guess if I had 15 embryos I’d feel less specifically attached but I don’t.  I have one.  One little potential-baby.  One brother or sister to Aellyn, Asher, and Boston.  I don’t know if God intends us to have a fourth child (and let’s face it to be 4 for 5 is just beyond imagining) but if he does I’m not going to turn away and not try to bring her home.

My biggest issue is the cost.  We are on a tight budget now and the embryo transfer would cost $2000.  If we don’t get pregnant I can think of lots of other uses for that money!  Using it for the kids I have now.  But I have to give her a chance at life.  If it’s not meant to be then ok but I can’t not try.

So there you have it.  We are going to do another FET.  Not now.  But soon.  I’m 37 now and I like having my kids close in age so probably in 2013 sometime.  I’m sure if I don’t get pregnant I’ll be able to deal with it because I’m so, so blessed with three beautiful kids.  But, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t mourn the loss.  I mourn the loss of Aellyn’s transfer “brother” and my 12 embryos that didn’t make it.

Do you have snowflake babies? What do you plan to do with your “extras”?

Quiz: Should You Wean for Fertility Treatments?

Welcome to the Carnival of Weaning: Weaning – Your Stories

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Code Name: Mama and Aha! Parenting. Our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles about the end of the breastfeeding relationship.

One of my most popular posts of all time was Breastfeeding Through Infertility Treatments IVF and FET which was really my own research and decision making process regarding the topic.

It is really a very difficult decision and most of the “experts” in the field are simply ill equiped to help you make this decision.

Lactivists and other breastfeeding advocates will simply tell you how important breastfeeding is. The answers I go when I asked on natural parenting forums was wait, wait, wait. Nothing is worth early weaning.

Reproductive endocrinologists and other infertility patients tend to have the opposite opinion. They say having another baby is way more important and you should wean, wean, wean. Nothing is worth jeopardizing your cycle.

Neither of these viewpoints work for a mother who is undergoing infertility treatments AND is an avid child-led breastfeeding advocate. Honestly, in my opinion you can simply NOT get a good opinion from any of the above. Only a fellow infertile would understand the needs of a cycle and only a devout breastfeeder would place the same level of importance on your breastfeeding relationship.

Please read the research on my original post so you understand the possible risks to you, your breastfeeding child, and your cycle. With that knowledge (and a good dose of thinking, talking with your partner, and prayer if you choose) take the following quiz to help you identify your feelings on key issues.

Should I Wean for Fertility Treatments?

Choose the best answer for each;

  1. My menstrual cycle
    1. has returned and been regular for at least three months with signs of ovulation (using Natural Family Planning methods)
    2. has not returned since giving birth
    3. has returned but has been sporadic or I don’t have signs of ovulation
  2. My nursling
    1. is over 12 months old
    2. is under 12 months old
  3. My nursling
    1. nurses less than 3 times a day
    2. nurses 6 times a day or more
    3. nurses 4-5 times per day
  4. My infertility diagnosis is
    1. completely male factor or female factor due to Fallopian tube blockage
    2. unknown or female factor with ovulation, luteal phase defect, or other hormonal issues
  5. I am preparing for a
    1. frozen cycle where I will only be using estrogen and progesterone
    2. fresh IVF cycle where I will use drugs to superovulate
  6. I can lie to my RE if asked if I am breastfeeding
    1. yes
    2. no
  7. If I did not wean and my cycle were to fail
    1. I would feel grateful that I still had my breastfeeding relationship with my child
    2. I would feel that I should have weaned my baby to give my cycle the best chance
  8. If I weaned my child and my cycle failed
    1. I would feel I had taken something away from my child
    2. I would feel I had done everything I could to make the cycle successful

If you answered mostly A:

You might be a good candidate to continue nursing through fertility treatments. The success of your cycle is less likely to be determined by any increased prolactin.

If you answered mostly B:

The success of your fertility treatment could be jeopordized by the increased prolactin due to nursing. And/Or your child is still highly dependent upon nursing (due to being under 12 months or nursing frequently) and weaning could be difficult or traumatic for your child. You may want to delay your treatment until your fertility returns or your child is more ready for weaning. If you do decide to nurse through treatment at this juncture be sure than you are comfortable that you have done everything you needed to give your cycle its best chance.

(the “c’s” are in the gray zone so count up your a’s and b’s and see where you stand.)

If you do decide to wean here are some tips on doing so gently use these tips to help make it a gentle transition for you and your nursling.

This is not meant as medical advice and should not be used as such. This tool is simply a way to look at some of the issues involved. Please do your research.




Thank you for visiting the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Dionna at Code Name: Mama and Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (and many thanks to Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch for designing our lovely button):

(This list will be live amind updated by afternoon May 21 with all the carnival links.)

  • Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship.
  • Memories of Weaning: Unique and Gentle — Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife shares her weaning experiences with her two sons, each one unique in how it happened and yet equally gentle in its approach.
  • Weaning Aversion’Gentle Mama Moon shares her experience of nursing and unplanned weaning due to pregnancy-induced ‘feeding aversion’.
  • Three Months Post-Mup: An Evolution of Thoughts On Weaning — cd at FidgetFace describes a brief look at her planned (but accelerated) weaning, as well as one mamma’s evolution on weaning (and extended nursing)
  • Weaning my Tandem Nursed Toddler — After tandem nursing for a year, Melissa at Permission to Live felt like weaning her older child would be impossible, but now she shares how gentle weaning worked for her 2 1/2 year old.
  • Every Journey Begins with One Step — As Hannabert begins the weaning process, Hannah at Hannah and Horn‘s super power is diminishing.
  • Reflections on Weaning – Love Changes Form — Amy from Presence Parenting (guest posting at Dulce de Leche) shares her experience and approach of embracing weaning as a continual process in parenting, not just breastfeeding.
  • Weaning Gently: Three Special Ideas for SuccessMudpieMama shares three ideas that help make weaning a gentle and special journey.
  • Guest Post: Carnival of Weaning — Emily shares her first weaning experience and her hopes for her second nursling in a guest post on Farmer’s Daughter.
  • 12 Tips for Gentle Weaning — Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting describes the process of gentle weaning and gives specific tips to make weaning an organic, joyful ripening.
  • Quiz: Should You Wean for Fertility Treatments? — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries talks about the key issues in the difficult decision to wean for infertility treatments.
  • I thought about weaning… — Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World shares her story of how she thought about weaning several times, yet it still happened on its own timeline.
  • Celebrating Weaning — Amy at Anktangle reflects on her thoughts and feelings about weaning, and she shares a quick tutorial for one of the ways she celebrated this transition with her son: through a story book with photographs!
  • Naturally Weaning Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses the gradual path to weaning she has taken with her preschool-aged twins.
  • Gentle Weaning Means Knowing When to Stop — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes about knowing when your child is not ready to wean and taking their feelings into account in the process.
  • Weaning, UnWeaning, and ReWeaning — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy discovers non-mutal weaning doesn’t have to be the end. You can have a do-over.
  • Prelude to weaning — Lauren at Hobo Mama talks about a tough tandem nursing period and what path she would like to encourage her older nursling to take.
  • Demands of a Nursing Kind — Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares her conflicted feelings about nursing limits and explores different ways to achieve comfort, peace, and bodily integrity as a nursing mother.
  • Breastfeeding: If there’s one thing I know for sure… — Wendy at ABCs and Garden Peas explores the question: How do you know when it’s time to wean?
  • Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Two, Three? — Zoie at TouchstoneZ discusses going from 3 nurslings down to 1 and what might happen when her twins arrive.