Posts Tagged ‘hope’

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Becky and Mabel: The epic struggle

September 9, 2009

Pregnancy discussed.

Lately it feels like I have multiple personalities, and they don’t get along. There’s Becky. She has two ponytails laced with ribbons and wears a pink cheerleader outfit. She has two giant pom poms and loves daisies, springtime, and kittens. Then there’s Mabel. She wears black, paints her fingernails purple, smokes cigarettes in the girls bathroom. She loves beating up freshmen, killing bunnies, and glaring. A typical day:

Becky: Nausea! I have nausea! This is good!
Mabel: Uh yeah, sure. If you didn’t eat so fucking much you’d feel fine.
Becky: The ultrasound will be so exciting!
Mabel: (Yawn) Because seeing a heartbeat means something right?
Becky: Ooh I’m getting stretchy feelings in my uterus, it must be growing!
Mabel: Or you’re about to have a miscarriage, you idiot.
Becky: Katery put up pictures of her crib. I can’t wait to crib shop.
Mabel: You are not her. You have no business dreaming.
Becky: But this could be it!
Mabel: But it’s probably not, so burn the damn pom pom before I stuff you in a locker.

For the past two weeks I’ve been doing pretty good about keeping Becky stuffed in the boys locker room. But Jack, he’s so hopeful lately and as much as I try to resist its contagious. He’s named it sunflower. He’s figured out the approximate due date. He talks to it. He didn’t do this last time. After we lost Speck he said he’d never do it again so I don’t get why he’s doing it now. I don’t want to tell him not to because seeing him excited fills me with so much warmth, but at the same time the fucking pom poms come out and I actually start looking at the gerber ad on TV and think I’m gonna hand make my baby food. These thoughts are always followed by a quick reprimand to Becky to stop this silly hope business. I’m fine with you sitting in a corner emitting gentle rays, but to leap up and start doing the macarena? No! No! No! You’ve had two losses and you’re at higher risk for a third. Protect your fucking heart. What the hell is wrong with you?

So yes, it seems that multiple losses leads to multiple personalities. I’m doing my best to manage both sides of myself, but if you see Becky jumping rope or flashing a toothy smile, trip her down the stairs, m’kay?

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Disjointed thoughts on the path towards healing

August 6, 2009

If you are struggling with loss and infertility you should read Peggy Orenstein’s book Waiting For Daisy. Not only is her book awesome she’s awesome. After my first miscarriage I wrote to her thanking her for telling her story and she wrote back with wonderful words of encouragement and perspective. We wrote back and forth for a while and then after miscarriage #2  I e-mailed her  again asking for advice on how to get through this tough moment. She responded with great advice but one thing she said truly affected me: Treat yourself as you would a super close friend who was going through this. That one statement threw me. If I treated a friend the way I’ve been treating myself I’d have no friends. Cruel and hurtful thoughts even if towards oneself constitute emotional abuse which I don’t deserve.

Yesterday I came home early from work and flipped on Oprah for the first time in two years. The episode was about people coping with serious health issues. One person, a former ice skater, talked about surviving testicular cancer years earlier and then finding out he had a brain tumor. He said the first thing that came to mind was God, haven’t I done my time? I nodded  as so often this thought comes to me. Wasn’t the infertility struggle enough? You have to shove my lollipop into the dirt after I worked so hard to get it? Twice?! Yet the man who is certainly in a more difficult situation than I am, is coping, dealing, living. I must learn to accept the waves of grief and uncertainty surrounding myself but I must teach myself to float and not sink to the ocean floor.

One of our friends almost got divorced recently. It was horrible with the little boy dragged into the mix in ways that will certainly yield therapy bills when he’s older. They’re back together now. They still resent one another but they don’t want to leave for the sake of their son. Another friend of ours is divorcing after fifteen years of marriage and four children. Through tears he told us, In the past ten years there is not one memory I have of a happy or peaceful moment with my wife. I looked at Jack and considered his recent words where he told me he wanted his wife back. He missed the girl he married. Life is difficult, but I must appreciate and not push away the only things keeping me afloat. Even walls crumble if left unmaintained.

I’m lucky for many things. More things than I can name. Just as lucky as I am to have those good things, I have to accept that the flipside of lucky also exists in all our lives including mine. Yet even in the misfortunate of infertility and miscarriage I’m lucky to live in a day and age where infertility treatments, and medication exist to diagnose and possibly treat what ails me. I look at blog rolls like Baby Loss Directory and Stirrup Queens and am overwhelmed with the fact that the majority of listed links are those who are now parents. The odds are in my favor and yours that we will be successful one day and get the thing that feels more dear to us than anything. I must tunnel vision towards hope with the determination to block out darkness as best I can. I know there will be times of darkness to come in this road but at least I’ve made some realizations that will hopefully help me bounce back faster when I stumble and fall.

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Solving puzzles and fighting bitterness

August 3, 2009

A friend likened my struggle to solving a puzzle. First there was the puzzle pieces of actually conceiving which appear to have fallen in place (knock on wood, throw salt over shoulder, any and all superstitions go here). Then we ran into the next obstacle of actually, you know, keeping the child ticking in my womb. We might know the answer to this puzzle and be able to kiss our third baby. [Which, by the way, for others who have miscarried multiple times, does it ever get less surreal when doctors ask you “how many pregnancies have you had?” to answer them with multiples when you have nothing to show for it? It blows my mind to tell them two, surreal]

I’ve decided I can’t wait to solve the puzzle. I’m still bleeding from my miscarriage so I won’t get my period until the end of August so September we try again.  I’m nervous because my job ends in September, the month we plan to try and I don’t know what that means as far as insurance, but as long as insurance stuff can be worked out and I can keep my doctor it will be September. I’m so nervous about losing my doctor and having to start this all over again with someone else. Hopefully it will all work out.

In the meantime I’m fighting bitterness which is threatning to close around me like a hollow shell. We went out to Target and as I passed the baby section filled with prams and baby seats I felt a tangible bitterness like biting into a mango peel. I had to literally look away. I saw my mother smile at a small white frock and run her hand over the lacy material and felt my insides turn. Every baby I see sends a hollow echo through my womb. The news of baby genders from people who conceived when I did the first go around are pouring in and they are frankly suffocating me with grief. Not bitterness towards what they have, just bitterness about what I do not. My therapist raises his eyebrows when I say I shouldn’t have miscarried. He says life has its own ways of working, we can’t say what should or should not happen. Should rings of entitlement which leads to hurt and bitterness when one does not get what they think is their right. But fucking hell, I do feel I’m entitled to carry the child I conceive to full term. I think that is my right. If I miscarry I think its a fucking crime and I think it shouldn’t have happened and if I could arrest someone and prosecute to the full extent of the law I sure as fucking hell would.  Still, though my feelings are understandable I need to fight this bitterness.  Bitterness is like the vines that wrap around abandoned buildings blocking the windows from light, cracking the walls, hiding all beauty. If I stand still and allow the seeds of bitterness to take root they will take over leaving me a shell of who I am. I don’t want this and I’m determined to fight the feeling that threatens to take me hostage.  How do you fight bitterness? How do you keep yourself filled with hope and joy despite the seeds of bitterness that fall every day against your doorstep?

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My doctor and the plan

July 30, 2009

I’m still recovering from having passed out as I did. I’ve passed out before but never like this. Jack acts like he’s seen a ghost. I’m worried about some chest pains I’m having, I wish I knew when its serious enough to seek immediate help. I have a mild heart condition (Mild mitrovalve prolapse and Type I AV Nodal Block) so I’ll certainly call my cardiologist tomorrow, I just hope its nerves getting to me and nothing more.

I went to see my OB-GYN today, and we talked about coming up with a plan. I told her that next go around I want progesterone as soon as I ovulate but I never know when I ovulate. She read my mind and offered the following two plans:

a) TTC naturally again and as soon as I get pregnant start lovenox and progesterone.

b) When I’m ready, as soon as I get my period I will go in for her to check my ovaries, and then start me on estrogen meds,  and then Clomid and then progesterone. This will ensure that I will have the progesterone from the get go and will be able to get a positive pregnancy test in a reasonable TWW so I can start the lovenox ASAP.

We’re still waiting for a more complex battery of tests that should come back in a week or two which may mean I will need more meds or more evaluation. Right now I’m leaning towards plan B. Jack wants to start TTC in October. I kind of want to start in September, but maybe two months off is not a bad idea. We still plan to see the RE in September and see what he has to offer.

I am feeling very hopeful. A feeling that’s coming of its own accord without my prodding and reasoning my way into it. I grieve the loss of my miscarriages and the babies for whom I held such dreams and hopes. I will always miss them. Still, I am grateful to know why it possibly happened. Next time we will have more knowledge and perhaps this knowledge will result in a baby I can hold in my arms and cherish. Perhaps. It is this word within which all hope and prayers hinge on.

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Getting through the day

July 28, 2009

I thought going to work would do me some good. I wondered if immersing myself in work would help me escape. Today as I got out of the car in the parking lot I saw a baby seat in the car next to me and suddenly my breathing was so painful I thought a rib cracked. I couldn’t believe this is me, standing next to my car going pale trying to breathe in and out. Keeping the tears at bay is impossible business when there is a leaking dam behind your eyes. I have never had to take it one step at a time. I stood in the elevator and said just make it through this elevator ride. I got out and said good girl, now get to your office unlock it and get in. You can do it. I’ve never felt this fragile before.

Last night Jack and I had a very intense conversation. We really talked for the first time in months. For so long he’s been my rock and he told me sometimes he feels like that’s all he is, a rock for me while I deal with loss and infertility. He said he sees me obsessed with children and the fear of never having children and he wants to go back to how it was the first five years of our marriage when we were more than two organisms set on this planet to reproduce. He feels like I don’t care about him anymore, that all I care about is having a child. That I don’t appreciate our relationship anymore. I couldn’t believe he could think this. I thought how much I loved him was a given to him. I guess that’s the problem, I’ve let it become a given. I’ve taken it for granted. He said me focusing on this one area in which we lack spits on all the areas that are good and beautiful in our life. It’s not your fault, he keeps telling me.

How can I explain that I feel like a failure as a woman. At my basest core what sets me apart from a man is my ability to bear life. My breasts are to feed a child. My hips are to hold them and help their passageway into the world. I never imagined a life without children of my own. I feel I’ve failed at the most basic level of being a woman sometimes. I know this is logically not the case but sometimes it feels very much this way. He says not to blame myself but people never realize how subtly they do put the blame on me. The nurse in the ER said you didn’t wait long enough to try again. The ultrasound tech said you must stress out a lot, stress causes miscarriages. Well meaning friends say relax and it will happen. Simply saying this is all your fault you know? would be simpler and more to the point.

Jack says not to lose hope but to start focusing on other things in life, to let go of this obsession. I think maybe I need to do a little less hoping. Maybe I need to go into the darkest part of myself and face what life would be like without the one thing I thought with certainty I would someday have, children. Jack says if I do that then I’m giving up. I feel like I’m facing my darkest fear to put it to rest so that perhaps I will have peace. I’m not sure which way to go.

But Jack’s right, I am obsessed. I can’t focus on all the other great things in my life. I know them, I can list them out but I don’t feel them in my heart. He told me you’re a writer! you love to cook, you scrapbook, you work out, you read, you have more going on in your life than just this one thing. This is why he wants to take a break for a few months. We’re definitely taking a break until someone can tell me what’s wrong with me, but he said take a mental break from all of it, try to find out who I am again. Infertility and grief has been so all consuming this year in particular I dare say I really have forgotten who else I am besides a miscarrying infertile.

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Climbing

July 28, 2009

Cupcakes are a comfort in times of grief. Finishing off the last of our cupcakes, Jack turned to me and asked, do you want the ring on top of the cupcake? I smirked ofcourse! He raised his eyebrows and brought it to me, the little plastic ring with an Ice Age logo. I’m kidding I said. You know, he said looking at the ring, when we have kids and buy cupcakes, they’re going to wake up in the morning and see their parents ate them all. I responded, well maybe they won’t like cupcakes and just be happy with the trinkets on top. And there, I felt an imperceptible gasp as I dared consider our future children, and the cupcakes they may someday eat.

I feel lost at the moment but I have faith that one day I will find my way. I’m seeing an RE September 1. Days before my 30th birthday. Jack urges me to put away the past and look to the future. Take my thirtieth birthday as a fresh slate, to start a new decade with better understanding of my conditions and perhaps hope, hope against hope, that we will find a way to make sure it won’t happen again.

My journey in infertility and loss feels like a climb to the summit of Mount Everest. Every few steps a strong wind shoves me down, but each shove, each fall arms me with more knowledge of the patterns of the wind, the slipperiness of the slope. One day I will reach the summit. I might need to take a break as I learn more about my journey and there will be days I will doubt I have the strength to continue, but I see my little girl or boy at the top of the summit and I know I will continue climbing.

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Notes from the roller coaster, doctor updates

July 23, 2009

Stalking works, it seems. My doctor called me back after an e-mail message and two voice messages. She said she is very confused by the falling HCG but the developing on schedule fetus. However, she said this is good.  I am pregnant and the HCG dropping means diddly squat in light of my heart beating fetus. She does not think I need to retest HCG anymore and we should just monitor the fetus on ultrasound. So to summarize: I am not miscarrying. Yet. I hate saying the word yet but I’ve been down this road before and I know that though they tell me a heartbeat reduces my risk of a miscarriage to 2%, I’ve been the 2%er before. I will remain with bated breath until that child is in my arms.

I called my maternal fetal specialist to get my labwork transferred to my OB’s office since my insurance won’t pay for work done at the specialists. The specialist wants to re-test me for Lupus Anticoagulant and a host of other clotting related issues. If present I’ll be put on heparin/lovenox. Here’s my issue, the tests take about two weeks to come back and that will put me at 8 weeks which is around the time the baby died last time (though I miscarried week 11). I asked them if they could just start me on lovenox and then take me off if the tests were fine, but they said they can’t do that.

They drew my HCG yesterday and so here is how its reading so far: June 16: 3,500; June 20: 3,000; June 22: 3,014

The specialist said the results are meaningless and from now on lets just go by what the ultrasound shows us and not worry about the HCG levels.  He scheduled one for a week from now. I might be harsh here, but easy to say when its not your baby.  I thought HCG levels rise to maintain your pregnancy so if mine aren’t, how am I supposed to shrug and laugh that off? I don’t understand it. How is this meaningless? What if they fall?

Jack has been so strong for me through this whole ordeal. Yesterday though, as we sat over dinner just staring at each other in befuddlement, I said to him our little one reminds me of you. He laughed, oh yeah? how so? I said, she’s a fighter. She doesn’t care about those HCG levels she’s too focused on growing. She’s stubborn like her dad. He winced and went slightly pale. What’s wrong? I asked him. He shook his head When you say things like that it makes it so much harder for me. To know that the baby is fighting to stick around . . . if this doesn’t work out I’ll be crushed. It was surprising to see how emotional he got. Sometimes I forget he is dealing with a lot too.

After my crushing heartbreak on Tuesday, I never imagined I would tell anyone that it seems I am not miscarrying after all, but that seems to be the case. There is still a long road ahead. I have six more excruicating weeks of a first trimester to get through and as any of you IF sisters know, we can’t breathe easy until we’re holding our baby in our arms. I just have to say I never thought my sunflower miracle would really be this miraculous. If this pregnancy succeeds her nursery is going to look like a field of sunflowers. Even if its a boy! Wow, just writing that makes me tense up. To imagine a future nine months from now frightens me. I’m so scared to dream because I’m so scared to fall.

Finally, thank you again so so so so so much for your support and your prayers and your thoughts. Like I’ve said before, no one really knows in my real life and had I not your support and your encouragement and advice I would feel all alone. Thank you for reading and for commenting and for sharing my burden with me. I cannot thank you guys enough, you will never know how your comments kept me afloat as I feared sinking to the bottom of the ocean floor.