Raising a Blended Family


Pax took his first steps tonight! I can’t help but be happy that they were towards me. He was cruising on a chair and then he let go and took two steps towards my outstretched hands. YAAAY! He then took his second set of first steps towards his Mama, who cheated and enticed him with a pudding cup. 😉 We got the second set of first steps on video, below:

I can’t believe that this particular milestone has been accomplished, just eleven days before his first birthday. So happy that both of his moms were there to see it though- after about a month of each of us leaving instructions to “push him over” if he looked like he was going to take those steps while we weren’t there. Luckily it never came to that! 😉

Second item of business today- this first wonky postpartum cycle of mine. Still no period, but here’s what’s going on:

  • First +OPK CD11
  • Entered luteal phase
  • spotting 7DPO-10DPO
  • Nothing since. Negative HPTs (last one I took was about 15DPO).
  • Not temping anymore- too many night wakings with babies to get accurate temps.

So I started to wonder about that spotting. I had read that the first few postpartum cycles a woman has are infamous for having very short luteal phases, so when I started to spot at 7DPO I had thought it was the beginning of my period and I had been the victim of a short LP. When actual BLOOD never appeared, just dark brown spotting, I wasn’t sure what to think and the cycle rolled on… CD40 today.

Still trying to figure out what was going on with my cycle, I began wondering if those 4 days of dark brown light spotting were, in fact, some sort of shoddy quasi-period and the start of a new cycle. That would make me CD22, not CD40 as previously supposed. It would also mean I would be due to ovulate again, so today I started taking OPKs again, thinking that even if this was a second cycle it would still be to late to catch ovulation.  However, I immediately got these two tests:

Top is from 1pm, bottom is from 8pm

Top is from 1pm, bottom is from 8pm

I can’t decide if they’re positive or just almost-positive. Either way, they seem like confirmation of my theory that I am, in fact, on my second PP cycle, though it seems odd that the day I start testing is the day I get a +OPK… just a weird coincidence?

Like I talked about in my last post, I have ordered and started taking Vitex, in order to help regulate my cycles and elongate my LP. I’ve read that vitex is a type of natural clomid, so hopefully it will help.

Do you guys have any thoughts on this?  Do the tests seem positive and does my theory seem plausible? I would definitely appreciate input here.


Right Now- A Hodgepodge of Our Lives

Right now, we are moms to two and foster moms to two. Right now, life is crazy and hectic and cash-strapped but also full of sweet smiles, lots of cuddles, and sweet baby moments.

Right now, we are in the land of a thousand “be nice’s” and “gentles” and “uh-ohs!” as we navigate a world of babies becoming toddlers and learning to interact with each other. Right now, we are trying to figure out how to let the babies play safely together, as we have had a number of incidents of biting, hair pulling, and scratching. Although our new 15mo girl has mostly been the one causing the hurt, we’re not blaming her. From everything I have read and everyone I have talked to, biting is a pretty normal 15-month-old expression of frustration, and not necessarily a scar left on her by DCS. So, right now we are trying to teach her to be nice, be gentle, no biting, and naming emotions. Hopefully she will learn.

Right now, Pax is so so close to walking. We are at the stage where every time he lets go and stands on his own, one of us will whisper excitedly to the other to LOOK, QUICKLY in case he goes from standing to walking and so that we do not miss it. Thus far, he has accomplished one step and then falling, but one of these times he will have it and then he will not stop. Right now, I am so excited to witness this next “first” of his!

Right now, we are savoring sweet, sweet moments of nursing and cuddling the boy as the number of nursings we have left becomes so obviously fewer and fewer. He is weaning himself, not something I ever thought would happen at only twelve months, and right now I feel simultaneously sad that he will be done and that period of our relationship will be over, and looking forward to having my body back again (at least until the next one!). He only nursed twice yesterday, and that counts the bedtime nursing, and I am finding that oftentimes even when I offer, he will only nurse for a few minutes and then wants to be down and exploring the world (yes, this happens even in quiet rooms with minimal distractions). He does, however, still happily nurse at night (mostly a comfort thing- I don’t think he’s actually getting much milk) and would nurse all night long if we let him (luckily he no longer sleeps in our bed)- so right now, I don’t see our nursing relationship completely disappearing yet.

Right now, Thing One is starting to struggle in school again. She did so well last year that I had hoped it would be smooth sailing from there on out, that maybe what she needed was just a “restart” button. But she’s starting to struggle hard with language arts even with the extra help we give her at home, and right now, I am starting to worry a lot about it. Other than this, right now, Thing One is doing well- socially and in other school endeavors. She is coping beautifully with the new babies and loves to be a helper.

Right now, we are savoring autumn outings, pumpkins, apple orchards, and chances to catch up with friends over cups of hot cider. Right now, I can’t believe that it’s already Autumn again.

Right now, I am looking forward to my mom’s surprise visit in two weeks. She literally just booked the plane tickets tonight, and the whole purpose of her visit is so she can be here for Pax’s first birthday celebrations. I am so happy she will be here for it- it is a huge milestone and I was a little sad that the time and distance factor were going to make her miss it.

Right now, I am remembering two autumns ago, when we first got started using my body to TTC, and last Autumn when Pax arrived. Right now, I am holding a bottle of Vitex, ready to start taking it in the hope that it will help to regulate my cycles postpartum and get the TTc 2.0 show once again on the road, because my period still has not arrived and yet every test I have taken says not pregnant. I am blaming the postpartum hormones and hoping vitex will help with that. Right now, I am trying to be optimistic about the process but also realistic that it could take my body awhile to get back to normal- and that using Shorty’s body is no longer an option because

Right now, she is on the verge of having the new job she interviewed for! She received her conditional offer letter, pending background check (which we both know she’ll pass). Right now we are both excited and impatient to end this long, drawn-out interview process and just freakin’ have her START already. I am so so proud of her.

And finally, right now, I have to pause and reflect on mine and Shorty’s marriage. We have been through so much together and had a lot of upheaval in our lives- some of it uninvited (Addie, L, and Bubby were pretty much just dumped on us) and some of it invited (we chose to move, we chose to stay foster parents, we chose to have Pax!) and through it all, we have remained steady. This is not to say that we haven’t had our rocky moments- we definitely have, but we have worked through them, talked them out, committed to getting past them. We have remembered to say “I love you,” to cuddle when we can (meaning, when there is not a baby in between us), to try to forgive each other for little things and to make time for us- even if it’s just an hour here or there. We are making it through and even though our lives are crazy crazy crazy right now, it is not bad. She is by my side and I am by hers and right now, that feels like a huge blessing.










Almost One

The days are flying by, the air is turning crisp, and the leaves are changing colors. Pax is about to be one and rather than looking forwards, I find myself looking mostly back.

This time last year I was huge and done. Oh, so done. On this day last year I was two days from my due date and taking naps with Addiekins, This time last year, Pax had yet to grace us with his presence. We didn’t yet know his smiles or his cooing or his sweet, sweet snuggles. We didn’t know he would be a self-assigned cosleeper or that he would scare the crap out of us so many times or that it would feel like our hearts were walking around outside our chests 24/7. I didn’t know I would be in labor for so long or that it would go so very differently than we had all hoped and yet still turn out just perfect. 

We just didn’t know.

This year, I am surrounded by two toddlers and yet another not-exactly-mine infant. We are two weeks (tomorrow) from Pax’s birthday party, and rather than the excited elation of getting to meet baby boy and the tired doneness of nine months pregnant, I am instead feeling slightly sad.

I feel like it’s all gone by too fast and like I am losing something as he completes his first year here on Earth. I’m feeling nostalgic for all the times that were and all of his “firsts”- even though there are so many firsts we have yet to see. I miss the baby that he was even as he turns into an amazing little toddler.

I know we have some amazing times ahead of us and on his day, his birth day, I will be the one celebrating, grinning from ear to ear, caught up in the joy that is our son. For now though, I am looking back on his first year… and what an amazing year it was.

Many more to come.

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Last year, when Shorty and I became licensed foster parents, we did so only because we had to in order to keep Baby Girl. It wasn’t something I had thought of before, which seems strange now, considering that looking back through my childhood, I actually wanted, for most of it, to be a social worker and work with children. I quickly realized, or thought I realized, as I grew into adulthood that the realities of constant heartbreak, impossible caseloads, and mandated return of children to untenable situations in the name of the law was something I couldn’t deal with on a daily basis, and turned away from social work as a career.

However, the desire to help and at least ATTEMPT to make some sort of difference in the lives of so many uprooted remained. I just wasn’t sure how to fulfill it and so I ignored it.

Then I met my wife, who had always wanted to be a foster mama.  Addie came into the picture and she got her wish, as we rushed to get licensed thinking only of the immediate need to keep Addie out of “the system” and safely with us, instead. We got L and Bubby later that year and the rest is history… until, of course, they were returned to their mother. An untenable situation, in the name of the law and “fulfilled parental requirements.” Bullshit on paper, in other words. Exactly what I was running from.

And yet, I learned so much in my first year as a foster parent. I met a lot of other foster mamas. I heard a lot of fosterbaby stories.  I learned that there are so many more foster children out there than people realize- and that a lot of times, what looks like an ordinary, biological family in a grocery store is actually a foster mama and a sibling group, or a foster mama and her own children plus fosterlings. I learned that the need for parents to step up and BE foster parents is huge, that the demand for safe and loving homes for abused and neglected children is sadly much higher than supply. Foster children are everywhere, walking around invisible, and because they aren’t wearing signs on their necks that say “I’m a foster child and this is what happened to make me have to be put in The System,” the public at large is free to generally ignore the problems these children face. The public at large doesn’t feel called to be foster parents.

But I do. Now, I do. After this past year, I couldn’t turn away and go back to how I was. I’m not the public-at-large anymore. Our original plan- “just put us down as relative-only foster care,” we said. “No unrelated children please. We’re just doing this for our niece”- is completely out the window. How could we not continue to help?

Shorty has felt this way all along. She was just waiting for me to catch up. And so, last night, we accepted our first placement post- L, Bubs, and Addie… we received a baby boy (two months old) and his sister (15 months), to love and care for until The System sees fit to remove them once again. That could be a few days, a month, or a year- there aren’t any guarantees, but we are excited that they are here and will make the most of our time with them, no matter how long or short.

We’re gonna do this. We’re gonna be real life, bona fide, foster mamas.


Not pregnant (probably)

So, we are at 15 DPO and no period yet.

No positive test either- although admittedly, I haven’t tested today or yesterday.  I got my last negative at 13 DPO and that was enough for me. I figure I’ll wait a few more days and if she doesn’t show, then we’ll test again. I really don’t think I am though.

No other tests have shown even the slightest hint of a line, except for the one I posted, so I’m assuming that was an evap line.  Mean ole nasty evap line!  Other than that test, I’ve just had the regular symptoms of AF showing up- cramps, etc. Nothing exciting.

I’m not discouraged. We would have been ridiculously lucky if it had worked first try. We can try again next cycle.  I just wish that if next cycle is going to start, it would START already.


Evap or BFP?

This is why one should never walk away from a test.

I took one this afternoon- just a cheapie, just to get it out of my system. Wasn’t expecting anything and indeed, as I watched the test develop for about a minute, there was nothing.

I thought “okay,” and walked away. An hour later I had to pee again and happened to glance at the test still sitting there next to the toilet… And wouldn’t you know it, there was a faint, faint, faaaaaaiiiint line there. FAINT. And colored.

But of course, it was outside the testing window, so now I have no clue as to whether this is a true BFP or a cruel, cruel EVAP.

What do you think? Any at home tried-and-true methods for telling them apart? I’m going crazy over here! Either way is fine (obviously one way is more fine than the other) but limbo land is not a place I like to visit.




Things I didn’t know I didn’t know

This is my chart from this cycle:


It ain’t pretty, inspiring, or particularly logical. The temps are erratic and go up and down like a yoyo. Yesterday I didn’t even HAVE a temp because when I read the thermometer (stupid thermometer) it flashed something at me that was either 97.18 or 97.78 and then it went to its default reading and wouldn’t go back. I have no idea which it was (it was six AM and I was blurry eyed and not awake) and there is a huge difference between the two. Fertility friend is basically saying “maybe you ovulated here, maybe you didn’t.” Convincing.

In short, this chart and this cycle are nothing like my pretty pretty, perfect Clomid cycle that got me pregnant with Pax:


So, I’ve been kind of down.  I want to see a second line on a test (for the record, tested this AM at 10 DPO and BFN. Early days, still in it, yadda yadda yadda, there I said it for you.). I want to see the line connecting the dots turn green. I want to be PREGNANT.

I know there’s nothing that says I’m not yet. I still could be. But my chart is not inspiring, and neither is the spotting I’ve had for a few days now. Just a bit of spotting. Every now and then. Some brown CM here and there.  It has no rhyme or reason to it, and being someone who likes rhyme or reason, this is a source of frustration for me.

Which is why I was very relieved when I finally thought to google postpartum period. And even more when I googled breastfeeding and BBT. If you want, you can google those yourself, but I’m about to sum them up for you:

First, I learned that erratic temperatures are common. Apparently, postpartum means lots of hormones, and lots of hormones mean temperature fluctuations. Go figure. Also apparently, breastfeeding does not help the situation. Not only does it contribute more hormones of its own to the hormone party, it also means that I am up at sporadic times of the night to feed the boy. Which messes with my temp due to the sleep loss, etc.

So, in other words, you have to take my chart above with a grain of salt or hell, maybe the whole damn salt shaker. I’m not sure how helpful the actual temps are, other than for the knowledge that even though the overall pattern is erratic, I never never never get temps as high as a few of those unless they ARE post-ovulatory temps.  This, combined with my smiley face OPK (which I also never get, for reference see June-December 2011 and my anovulatory/whacked-out cycles), convinces me that I did in fact ovulate. Whoohoo!

The second thing I learned is that a shortened luteal phase for the first cycle or two (or more, though please please not more) is also very common. And that pregnancy is still possible with these shortened luteal phases, and breakthrough bleeding is common. In other words: the spotting I am having now may or may not be the beginning of AF, because I may or may not be pregnant. And if I”m NOT pregnant, it is not at all remarkable that I started spotting on CD freaking EIGHT (which, before I knew all this, got me excited that it could be implantation bleeding, because of course AF wasn’t going to show up a whole week early! or not.). But, if I am pregnant, this spotting is also not remarkable.

SO. The bottom line is I’m still in limbo and have had one BFN test.  I could be pregnant or I could not be, but I am very comforted by the fact that in either case, at least my body is acting the way it is acting for a reason. It makes sense now and it’s doing what it can in the face of my postpartum hormone storm. I’ve also read about things I can do to help the situation: I can wait, for one thing. In time, it will become clear if I am preggers or not, and then we can go from there.  If I’m not, I can take vitex and vitamin B6 to address the luteal phase issues, and also continue charting. Over time, my cycles should regulate themselves, it just may take a cycle or two. Comforting, indeed.

For now, we will start with the waiting.


Eleven! Months.


Dear Baby Boy,

You are eleven months old now- only one more month to go until you have completed a full year on Earth. How time flies.

You now weigh in the neighborhood of 20 pounds, though I don’t know your height. You have long hair in the back and on the sides of you head, but not up top- leading us and other to call you our Little Old Man or sometimes, The Professor. You eat regular food now- pretty much whatever we’re having, you have, too! You still nurse three-four times a day and once or twice at night, but nowhere near what you used to do. You’re still wearing 12 month clothing, as anything that is 18months is huge on you. You shot through the first few clothing sizes and now you have been in twelve months for what seems like half your life!

You are doing and learning so much every day.

First and foremost, you are getting closer and closer to walking! You cruise everywhere now and will stand on your own for a few moments at a time (basically, you will stand until you realize that you are standing, at which point in time you will slowly sit down or grab onto something) and the other day, you allllmost walked. Mama was eating candy and you wanted some, so you let go of the couch to set off towards her chair… but you tripped over something on the floor and down you went. If that object had not tripped you, you would have walked! You’ll do it soon, I’m sure.

You are climbing everything these days. We have a climb-and-slide combo toy in the playroom that you adore. Mostly, you climb up the slide, but a few times you will actually climb the climbing portion of it. You’ve made it plenty of times on your own, too- there is a steering wheel up there that you love (mostly to chew on). You’ve fallen off the climber plenty of times too- it always scares Moms but you don’t seem phased*. We’ve started putting pillows at the bottom of the climbing portion so that when you do fall, you land on something cushioned. Falling (and the accompanying bumps and bruises) are just a part of toddlerhood, I’m told, but it doesn’t make it any easier on Moms to watch you get them! You love climbing the stairs, too (and you don’t particularly care if there’s a Mom around to make it safe for you!) and the couch too, if there’s something to help you up. Basically, you love climbing! *(as I’m writing this, you’ve fallen off the climber twice. Both times backwards. No tears, you just get yourself up and try again as Mommy cringes…)

Dressing and diapering you has become a challenge. You do not like to hold still, notevenforonesecond, and as you twist and turn and crawl away we have to chase after your little naked butt in order to get pants on you. Silly boy.

You ADORE your sister. You absolutely love her. She likes to pull you around in a homemade “go-cart” (read:laundry basket) and you will laugh and laugh and laugh. She makes funny faces and you shriek appreciatively. She plays in your playroom and you crawl around the room following her. Often, if you are crying or upset, she is the one who can get you to laugh and stop your tears in their tracks. I love seeing the two of you interact and I look forward to you two spending the rest of your childhoods together.

Temperament- and personality-wise, little one… you remain our happy-go-lucky little boy, but you have learned to throw a temper tantrum. If we do something you do not like (for instance, if we leave you in your pack n play and you wish to be OUT) you will SCREAM at us. Not cry, SCREAM- angrily. And you will look right at us while you do it. Such displays of temper are a bit off-putting since you’re so happy and silly the rest of the time… I think we were hoping you would be the one baby/toddler in history to not throw temper tantrums. Guess not! The rest of the time though, you are a joy to be around. You laugh and you make funny faces and you enjoy life, it seems. You know our names (or your name for us, “mamama”) and will look right at us and use it, or crawl over to us and pull up on our knees while exclaiming “mamama!” It’s adorable. The other night, you were being a bed hog and so Mommy got up to put you in your crib. The second you felt yourself being put down you woke up just long enough to cry a little, so Mommy scooped you back up and you went right back to sleep on her shoulder. However, when she went to put you back down in Moms’ bed, it was dark and she must’ve misjudged the distance… she put you down a little harder than she meant to and you woke up with a terrified sob and immediately cried “MAMAMA!” looking for us. It was heartbreaking. Mommy quickly grabbed you to cuddle you and you settled down, but she felt very bad for scaring you so much!

You don’t really have any other words yet, though you babble a ton and I’m sure there are words in there that we haven’t yet recognized as such yet. You’ll get there!

I love you so much baby boy and I cannot believe you are growing so fast. Slow down a little, will ya?

With all the love in the world,











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Just kidding

We are, in fact, in a TWW.

Shortly after that last post I wrote, the one declaring us well and truly out for this cycle, we decided to be spontaneous. The kind of spontaneous that involves cancelling other plans in favor of contacting our donor (“hey can you meet in a few hours? yes? great!”), booking a hotel room (thank you, ho.twi.re, for cheap same-day rates), and (literally) going for it.

Thing One was already at her dad’s for the weekend, so that worked out. And, well… Pax doesn’t need to know that he was present for his sibling-to-be’s possible conception (what child would want to know that anyways?). We took a nice ride up there, met that night to do an insem, and then met again the next morning . The timing is a little iffy because we actually insemmed ON ovulation day (and the next morning, which we’re pretty sure was useless but hey? why not), but at least we actually have a chance this cycle, as opposed to no chance.

After we checked out of the hotel, we took a nice family walk along the shore of Lake Michigan and had a leisurely lunch at Sw.eet Tom.atoes (we don’t have one where we live and I freaking LOVE that place!) before heading home again. It was actually kind of a nice little one-night getaway.

Thus far I have had a feeling of bloating and stretching that I am trying not to read too much into, and some minor twinges. Hunger? Maybe? But as I noted last time around (and yes, I actually went back to check my own notes- helpful, those) hunger could be either a sign of a BABY, or just a sign of PMS. Either or. Same with the tired (and it could also be a sign of oh hey! your 11 month old is reverse cycling at night and would like unrestricted access to the all night boob bar all night every night, thankyouverymuch).

My chart shows a clear ovulation pattern, minus the fact that my temp last night dipped low low low, as in below-coverline-low. But since it’s too early for an implantation dip and I do recall waking up shivering in the middle of the night (we had the AC running and the fan directly above our bed running on high, it was only 50 degrees last night and I had no covers), I’m going to go ahead and explain that one away as hey- I was cold!, rather than, say, an inexplicable blip on my chart that might otherwise confuse the hell out of fertility friend. Yep. Disregarding any data that does not support my current desired conclusion. That’s not a flawed plan at all.

So anyways.

Surprise! Hello, 4 DPO.











The cycle that wasn’t meant to be

Folks… this one just clearly wasn’t meant to be.

First there was the uncertainty created by planning to get Shorty pregnant and having her have a possible new job opportunity at the same time. Fine, we said. We’ll wait and see what happens with her interview- maybe use my body instead. Shorty’s OPK turned positive and we ignored it, choosing to wait for the outcome of the interviews.


Then, she had her first interview (which went well) and had the second scheduled for later the same week. We were looking forward to her completing the interview and to having a better sense of where we stand, and so she drove to the interview… only to find out that, because of some internal fuckaroo at the new job, she would not be able to interview that day after all. She was sent away with many many apologies and the interview has been rescheduled for this Tuesday.


Fine again, we thought. I’m not due to ovulate until later next week and even then I’m usually a late ovulator (CD19 was the cycle that got me pregnant with Pax!), so we still may know something and be able to go ahead with this cycle by then.


And then the damn pee stick turned positive last night, on CD-freaking-eleven. And we are in NO position to be able to inseminate today. And since when the hell do I ovulate so early anyways? Ugh.


Cycle cancelled. It’s probably for the better. In a month we will DEFINITELY (better have, damnit) know where we now stand and will be in a better position to know what to do.  It’s just so hard to wait.


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