Saturday, May 8, 2010

Breastfeeding, PCOS, and fertility

I am a proud La Leche League member, and (eventually) future LLLI leader. Apparently it is common to not start cycling again until more than a year post-birth if you're still breastfeeding, especially if the baby is not sleeping through the night. (My son isn't, unfortunately, even at approaching 10 months...) I had issues with getting my period anyway before getting pregnant, thanks to my PCOS. We are still breastfeeding, and cautiously introducing solids. (There are a lot of allergies in the family, so we need to watch for possible reactions, especially when introducing foods that commonly cause allergies. I also agree that breastmilk is the best basis for nutrition through the end of the first year, and that solids are more for acclimation and learning than actual nutrition before a year. I would rather give our son a variety of foods in smaller quantities instead of lots of the same few foods. So, we're not rushing the solids.) So yeah, I'm not cycling yet, and odds are at this rate, it'll be at least another 2-4 months before we even have any chance of getting pregnant. Plus, I had a reaction that could be termed an allergy to Clomid (one of the easiest and cheapest fertility drugs to try), so I can never take it again. So if I have to do fertility treatments, we would almost certainly have to go straight to injectables, and maybe even straight to injectables plus IVF.

So, where does all that leave me, as far as any chance of getting pregnant without significant interventions? Who knows... it's frustrating. I just keep hoping that somehow I have a "suitable ovulation" (sometimes with PCOS you can ovulate, but have the egg not form correctly, so it's very unlikely to fertilize), we actually do the deed at the right time, the pregnancy "sticks", etc. Given my challenges, the odds seem long. But then again, I know women with half a reproductive tract, or were told they were in premature ovarian failure years before, or who did fertility treatments that didn't work, etc. who managed to get pregnant on their own and carry a baby to term. So I keep hoping that somehow it'll work out for us without treatments, but who knows. And at our ages, we can't wait forever before going back to the doctors.

Breastfeeding is known to reduce fertility, especially in the first 6-12 months. But I value breastfeeding for the first year or more, and don't want to rip off my son by forcing weaning on him, when given my fertility challenges it may not significantly increase my odds of getting pregnant.

That said, we're working on getting our son to sleep better at night, without doing cry it out methods. We're trying to get him to be better at settling himself when he wakes up at night by putting him down when he's half asleep instead of fully asleep. Since he's teething, it also means having to make sure we address his discomforts more aggressively so we have better odds of him staying asleep. The next step - whenever that comes - is to start limiting his nighttime feeds, and eventually eliminating them. My loose plan is to try to help him to sleep better (and as a consequence, feed him less often at night, hopefully only 1-2 times most nights), and by around a year, hopefully eliminate night wake-ups entirely. But we'll see what actually happens. Once he sleeps through the night (around the same time as his solids intake will be increasing), my husband and I can try to sleep better ourselves, and have more time for activities that could lead to another baby. :)

Gratitude & desire

I am so endlessly grateful to have my son. Even as he can be frustrating at times these days - being too distracted to nurse consistently, thinking chewing on power cords is fun, pulling everyone's hair (mine, the cats', etc.) - he is just so amazing. As I've said recently, watching him become an active agent in his own little life to an ever-increasing degree is simply amazing.

But - it's *because* our son is so amazing that we want to have another baby. We have a nickname related to what we called our son while I was pregnant already picked out for the hoped-for new baby. We thought of that one even before our son was born. Growing him inside me, feeling him squirming, and then being able to give birth to him (as much as that was a challenging process), and then breastfeeding him, has just been incredible.

As I pack up some of the baby items that we don't need for our son anymore (small receiving blankets, outgrown clothes, etc.), it's definitely more than a little sad. I hope to need these items again for a second baby. I even hope to have the dilemma of figuring out what to do with the most boy-type things, should we have a girl for a second child. And our son is increasingly a toddler, not a little baby anymore. The idea of never having some of those little-baby moments again makes me quite sad and makes it harder for me to let go of the moments when he is still a small, vulnerable little one.

Having lost my first husband to cancer, I really want my son to have a sibling. My husband and I won't live forever. While my own sister and brother are married (or almost married) and likely hoping for kids, who knows what will happen. Hopefully if my son has a sibling he has a good relationship with, they can support each other in life. If he has cousins he's close to, that would be amazing. At least last I knew, my brother-in-law from my first marriage was close with one of his cousins. That is great, since he lost his only sibling (my late husband), and he already had some issues in some ways. But I am hoping my son will have a sibling eventually... and my husband and I can have more of those little-baby moments.

Reviving my blog!

April 27, 2010
I’ve been saying for a while that I was going to get back to blogging. Here we go! After going through fertility treatments, I am a mom, and an educator by both training and interest. We live outside New York City, in a condo. I am married to my second husband - I was widowed by cancer in my late 20’s. Even after getting remarried, it took a while (and assisted technologies) to get pregnant due to my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Since Mommy-hood took a while to come to me, I am continually grateful to finally be a mom. However, I’ve found that both for a little additional money, and for my sanity (and resume), I would like to find work that is hopefully interesting and leaves me with a few bucks after independent-contracting taxes are taken out and we pay the babysitter. Since we live in an expensive part of the country, and I’m finding that something that actually meets those criteria is quite difficult - more difficult than I’d expected. But I keep trying, and I’m sure I will be writing about it!

Who is the little guy? I have a fabulous 9-month-old son who thinks he’s already a toddler - crawling, pulling up, cruising, generally getting into everything. He is NOT a consistent sleeper, so that has been a challenge, particularly over the last few months as he’s gotten more active. We are breastfeeding, and plan on continuing until 12 months and possibly beyond. I’m a strong advocate of breastfeeding, and am actually just starting the process to become a La Leche League leader. At least that will be good for my resume!

Since I am not 25 anymore (and my husband isn’t even 35 anymore), we’ll be trying to get pregnant again soon... although it will almost certainly be a challenge with my PCOS issues. We’re open to adopting, but after being able to be pregnant and breastfeeding my son, I’m really hoping we can get pregnant on our own. (Plus, the older we get the harder it will be for us to qualify for adopting, especially in the current climate surrounding international adoptions...)

I hope my blog will be interesting enough for people to read - at least now I’ve gotten started!