Three. You might have been three years old today. We planned and wished and prayed and worked hard for you, but you couldn’t stay. You were gone before we ever had a chance to know you. We miss you every day. You’re inked in our skin, and written on our hearts. You have a sister
I’ve been working on this post in my head for two weeks now, but time really does get away from you when your whole focus is on a tiny little being that depends on you for her every need. I seriously don’t even know what day of the week it is sometimes, which is not a complaint, but a commentary on how completely my life revolves around hers…
Clara is six weeks old today. In some ways, it seems like she’s always been here and there was never really a life before she arrived, which is of course far from the truth. In other ways though, it feels like just yesterday that they were placing her in my arms for the first time. I’ll share with you all how exactly that came to be in this post. Just fair warning, I was in the hospital for a full five days, so this is a looooooooooong post detailing all that occurred.
Oh, and as a reward for sticking it out, there are also lots of pictures. 🙂
The husband and I checked into the hospital on the evening of Thursday, December 4th to begin the process of inducing labor at 37 weeks pregnant. Our doctor with University of Michigan’s Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic suggested inducing between 37 and 38 weeks because of some intrauterine growth restriction, and because due to the CMV infection, it was deemed safer to see how baby was doing once she was on the outside than to risk any more time not knowing what she was up against on the inside.
Once we were in our hospital room – a really nice room where we were told we could labor, deliver, and recover all in one space – a nurse came to place my IV and hook me up to the baby monitor. We were told that it was a very busy night in labor and delivery, and that as soon as a doctor was free, they would come and place the cervical softening agent that would start my induction.
It ended up being around 1am that a doctor was finally free, so once the Cervidil was in place, I was allowed to get some rest.
Rest is a very kind term for what happens when you close your eyes in a hospital, by the way. There is some sleep that happens out of exhaustion and necessity, but it’s not ever really restful. There are nurses and doctors and residents who come into your room every hour or so – sometimes more – to check your vitals, get you beverages, monitor the baby’s heart rate and your uterine contractions, and sometimes just to introduce themselves at the beginning of their shifts. It’s necessary I suppose, but I don’t think I truly rested the entire time I was in that hospital.
The next morning, my MFM doctor came by for a visit. She checked in to see when the Cervidil had been placed, and then checked to see if I had made any progress in dilating. I was dilated to 3 by that point, and she was happy with that. She gave the nurses permission to feed me (before then I was on a liquid diet, slowly starving to death on broth and jello), and said she would check back on me in a few hours.
By the time the Cervidil had been in place for 12 hours, I had not progressed any further than a 3, so once the Cervidil was removed, the doctors started me on the IV Pitocin to get my labor moving. Some contractions had begun toward the end of my round of Cervidil, but once the Pitocin kicked in, I started feeling them. As the Pitocin level was turned up hour by hour, the contractions got progressively more noticeable. Some of them started to become painful by Friday night, but my dilation to 3 still had not progressed.
At this point, the doctors gave me a break from the medicine. It was probably 3am on Saturday morning when I took a shower and bolted down a cold sandwich, yogurt, and some fruit that the nurses managed to rustle up for me. I felt much more human by the time I got back into bed, and the doctors restarted my Pitocin drip, hoping that the break from the meds would kick my body into a more active labor.
Spoiler alert: They didn’t.
I spent all day Saturday with my Pitocin level being cranked up hour by hour, and every cervical check would yield the same results: dilated to 3. I was tired, hungry, in a tremendous amount of pain, and my nerves were frayed to say the least.
Around 6pm, my MFM doc came back to see me before the end of her shift. She was happy with the progress I had made, but unhappy that it had sort of plateaued. In a very calming and reassuring voice, she talked to me about how she thought the next 12 hours would go, all the while gathering up an assortment of instruments from a cupboard behind a curtain. When she emerged, she told me it was time to have my water broken.
It’s funny how often you hear that someone has their water broken, like it’s no big deal – and really, in the grand scheme of things it isn’t – but when it actually happens to you, it’s a very different set of thoughts that run through your mind. Panic, to start…
It took literally less than a minute for the doc to break my water, and then she was off to enjoy her night. She said she’d be back in the morning to see me, and she thought I’d have a baby by then. Funny, because she probably hadn’t even reached her car in the parking garage by the time my contractions started getting REALLY painful.
I mean, I’d been contracting for a solid day and a half at that point, much of the time in a great deal of discomfort, but a few minutes after my water was broken, SHIT GOT REAL.
Now I’m not totally granola crunchy, and considering the high level of medical intervention I’d already required with this pregnancy, it’s not like I could object to medications, but I was really hoping to avoid pain meds with labor.
That resolve crumbled within a half hour of my water being broken, and I sent the poor husband scurrying out of the room to get that epidural lady NOW.
Ain’t nobody trying to be a hero.
The epidural turned out to be just what I needed. I was numb from the waist down by 8pm, and finally fast asleep fifteen minutes later. I slept soundly for the entire time the husband was watching a football game. The game ended around midnight, and a few minutes later, a doctor came in to check my cervix.
Oh, side note: “Check my cervix” is another one of those terms that is taken far too lightly in my opinion. It’s not like they just look up there with a flashlight… oh no. You’re basically being fisted by a trained professional, and some of those resident docs have less training than others. There was one doctor I called Dr. Sausage Fingers that was particularly lacking in experience… She was not my favorite.
Anyway, at around 12:30am on Sunday, December 7th, a doctor checked my cervix which had been at a 3 only four hours previous. She checked, checked again, pulled the sheet back over my numb bottom half and said, “How about we go have a baby?”
It was go time, apparently. The combination of my water being broken and the epidural had done the trick, and not only was I fully dilated, but the baby’s head was engaged and ready for me to start pushing.
Things moved quickly after that. A whole brigade of nurses and doctors came in and started rearranging the room. The poor husband just stood out of the way and waited for instruction. Within minutes, a nurse was heaving my dead legs into the stirrups and they were coaching me on how and when to start pushing.
I pushed clumsily through the first contraction. The baby was moving around too much and the monitors kept losing her heart rate. The second contraction they lost her completely, and she had moved into a transverse, or sideways position in the birth canal – they want babies to come out face down, apparently. The nurses moved me onto my side to encourage baby to rotate, and I stayed that way for a couple more contractions.
Once she had rolled to the proper position, I started pushing again. This time, the doctors were more concerned that not only were they losing baby’s heart rate on the monitor, but also that what they were able to see appeared to be dipping quite low while I pushed. They placed a monitor on her head to help them keep a better eye on things, but it was apparent rather quickly that her heart rate was dipping dangerously low when I pushed.
The doctors started rushing around the room and talking to me about possible “manual intervention”. I was covered up and moved down the hall to an operating room in case it was necessary to perform an assisted delivery with suction, forceps, or surgery. It was a total chaotic whirlwind, and in the midst of it all I remember was yelling at the husband to put on some damn shoes as he stood there in his pajama pants with a mask and gown in his hands, and a look of absolute disbelief on his face.
The operating room was only a few doors down from my room, so I was in there and being moved to a table rather quickly. There had to be fifteen doctors and nurses present, and it was overwhelming. Someone put an oxygen mask on me, and the husband was nowhere to be seen. Eventually he came in, wearing a gown, mask, and hairnet, and stood by me while a doctor asked for my signature on different release forms in the case of surgical intervention.
I was in position to start pushing again a minute later, and after maybe three contractions, a squishy, tiny baby was placed on my chest. It all happened from the first push to the last in less than an hour.
At 1:15am on Sunday, December 7th – Pearl Harbor Day – Clara Noelle arrived.
There was a whole lot of crying after that. Her, me, the husband… More the husband and me, really. Clara was relatively stoic about the whole thing after her initial entrance into this world.
Of course I was thrilled to finally have my girl in this world, and I was happy to be done with the whole labor thing, but I was terrified of how the CMV infection would impact her. I knew that there would be some initial examinations right there in the delivery room, and it had been made clear to me a few times that there was a chance Clara would need to go to the NICU.
One of the delivery doctors was talking to me about having to place a stitch because my stubborn little miss turned at the last second and came out face UP, thus tearing a rather sensitive part of my nether region. (Yikes.) I only vaguely registered that conversation because I was trying to hear and see what the doctors and nurses were doing with my baby on the other side of the room. I had sent the husband to go with her wherever they took her, and he was taking close to a thousand pictures, but no one was relaying anything to me. Finally, a nurse yelled over that she was measuring five pounds, two ounces, and 17.25 inches long – a petite little lady, but a very healthy one!
I was in so much shock that I barely understood when they told me we were going back to our room – all of us. From there, we were left alone to spend some precious moments together as a family.
Things after that started blending together into brief moments of activity. A nurse came in to help me attempt to breast feed for the first time. Someone gave me some yogurt to eat, which I promptly threw up. The husband called his mom, crying his face off, to tell her that her newest granddaughter had arrived. I couldn’t keep it together, so I texted my parents, my brother, and my best friends.
Considering nearly all 2am texts are typically drunken texts, it was a great pleasure to be able to send that one after so many years.
We slept a bit here and there. Eventually I was able to eat solid food. A nurse helped me to the bathroom, and considering I had very little control over my legs and urinary tract, it was a harrowing experience for all involved.
By the time visiting hours rolled around, our families started arriving. I don’t remember who was there first… I know that my parents and sister had stayed at a hotel in the hospital since the place we delivered was about three hours from their house. Oh yeah – U of M has a hotel IN THE HOSPITAL. What the what?! It was nice knowing they were close by! My best friend had stayed close by as well – she lives in my hometown, too – and she was there that morning to see us. The husband’s parents came up from Toledo to visit and fawn over our girl. Another of my besties drove FIVE HOURS to see us, too! Clara has had a fan club since long before she was born (or even conceived!), and it was so nice for her to finally meet some of them!
Despite the happy visits and surreal firsts that happened all day long, there was still a lingering tension over our little family, knowing that we needed to see a few specialists to determine if the infection had injured any part of our girl’s brain or central nervous system. Urine testing from her first few hours of life indicated that the infection had passed into her system, as we thought it would, but how that would impact her was yet to be determined.
The eye exam was first, and she passed with flying colors. We will still need to see an ophthalmologist regularly to be sure her vision isn’t deteriorating, as can happen sometimes with CMV, but initial testing on her first day, and a follow-up visit two weeks ago showed no visual involvement from the infection.
Next was her hearing. Again, we will need to monitor this regularly as she grows to ensure that she doesn’t lose hearing as can happen with CMV, but her hospital testing was perfect.
Hearing and vision – check.
The last specialist we waited for was from neurology. Because Clara came on Sunday, there was no one available to perform the necessary cranial ultrasound immediately, so we were told they would come by to see us on Monday morning instead. The sonographer was not able to give us any results of course, so we would need to wait until the doctor could interpret the findings and come back to speak with us.
When a resident from neurology did come back, we were told that they saw some calcifications in Clara’s brain. What that would mean for her was yet to be seen, and we weren’t given much information right away. The resident said that the head of pediatric neurology would come back to speak with us more, so until that point we had to just wait and try to digest the information we were given.
It was late in the day on Monday when the neuro attending and his team came to see us. The nurses had arranged for our discharge that day – for BOTH of us to be discharged, together! – but because of the lateness of the neuro visit, we opted to stay one more night to avoid driving home in the dark and snow.
The visit from the neuro team was surprisingly relieving. He told us that the calcifications seen were small, few in number, and in an area where there wasn’t a whole lot of very important things happening. All in all, a best case scenario for that particular finding. He said that he’d seen pediatric patients with worse findings than ours who he had finally had to discharge from his care because there was absolutely nothing wrong with them that they needed to see a pediatric neurologist.
It was recommended to us by our pediatric infectious diseases team that we start Clara on an oral antiviral medication that’s been shown to have really wonderful results in congenital CMV babies. The newest study shows the benefit of a longer treatment with the medication, so we’ll give this antiviral twice a day for six months, with blood work monitoring throughout that time to ensure the medication isn’t affecting her immune system at all.
An amazing relief, and an excellent treatment plan, although we know that only time will tell if our girl has any lasting effects from the infection and the calcifications. We have been set up with a full roster of follow-up appointments for the next six months, and we know that we are in excellent care with Clara’s team of doctors.
Finally, on Tuesday, December 9th, the three of us went home as a family.
Since we’ve been home, it’s been a whirlwind, as they tell you it will be. Having a baby during the holidays is especially crazy, but we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. So far, Clara has had her first Christmas, was there to celebrate our sixth anniversary with us, rang in the new year, celebrated her one-month birthday, and enjoyed her first MSU basketball game (on TV of course) with her dad.
They won, in case you wondered.
Most of our time has been more low-key, though. A whole lot of this.
All in all, things have been amazing. We have no way to know what the future holds for us or for Clara, but we’re optimistic that our girl will have a full, happy, and healthy life.
A few things are certain, however…
We are so incredibly blessed, and so incredibly in love.
I mean, how could you NOT be? 🙂
Pregnancy is a state of flux, and understandably so. So much is changing that sometimes it makes my head spin. The night-and-day differences in my life now versus my life a year ago are cuh-RAZY. Sometimes I can barely comprehend it all.
As an infertile, there was this thing pregnant moms did that always annoyed me – more or less from jealousy, I suppose. You know when a pregnant lady is in mid conversation and then suddenly her face goes blank? She takes on this inward gaze, and maybe her hand travels to her belly of its own volition. It’s just a fleeting moment, and then she’s back with you, but it’s there. You don’t know where she just went, and it hurts when it’s not you and you can’t understand what just happened.
Now I understand.
There’s this movement inside of you that feels like a little fish swimming around (or sometimes, like a nice hard kick to the spleen), and you subconsciously reach out to still this little being, or feel more intensely so as to be more a part of your child’s movements. You aren’t seeing what’s before you, but what’s within you. You aren’t looking at the present, but the future, when that child will be in your arms.
It’s one thing I’ve grown to love, and yet another way that life has changed so immensely for me. I tell you about that so that I can next tell you about this…
I sometimes think about those dark, intense moments of frustration, sadness, disbelief, anger, fear, and grief during the thick of infertility. During those times, I would think to myself about the future where I had a child of my own in my arms, and I’d wonder if future me would ever look back at those dark moments and remember what it was like. Those thoughts were what kept me going. The thought that in the future, I could be happy and complete, and that the past wouldn’t have impacted me the way I worried it might.
In those dark moments when all seemed hopeless, the future – THIS future – was what kept me putting one foot in front of the other for one more day, one more month, one more year.
And so I say to all who still wait – there is hope.
I can’t tell you that your future will definitely see you with a child in your arms, or if it will, how long it might be, or that you won’t struggle and suffer and grieve on your way to that future, but I can tell you that the old cliché is right: it’s always darkest just before dawn.
I used to hate hearing that… It’s almost like your great-grandmother’s version of “everything happens in its own time, honey”. It was annoying to think about, but from here I can see how true it is.
The problem with the statement is that we have no idea how close to our journey’s dawn we are at any given moment. In the first couple of years we tried to get pregnant, I thought I was a month away EVERY MONTH. I figured one month must equal one hour ticking by on my journey’s clock.
I was wrong.
So maybe each hour that ticked by was a year, but I had no way of knowing that back then. It was dark all those years, and it got darker as time went by. The problem is that when it’s dark all around you, how can you really tell if it’s “darkest”?
The truth is that you can’t. You lose sight of lighter days with which to compare your current state. It’s all objective anyway, right? The only way to really know if you are currently in your darkest days is to come out the other side, into the light. Hindsight. Ugh.
And so I say to all who still wait – the light is out here, and you’ll find your way through the dark.
I just wish I could tell you how long.
And the truth is that I can’t.
But you know what? Each of our journeys is unique to us. I needed to wander in the dark for five years. Maybe you can do with less, and maybe it will be more. Maybe your journey won’t end with a baby, but a new take on what a complete life can be for you. Maybe a child will come to you in a way that you never expected, shining a blinding light in your darkness and rocking your entire world to its core.
The awful beauty of it is that it’s not for us to know. We each have to live it for ourselves.
All I can tell you is to live. Survive. Fight, advocate, and strive for better treatment in whatever way works best for you.
Hope, dream, and don’t let go of that lightness inside of you that still believes. Ever.
None of us can know what is right around the next corner, nor how the next day, month, or year in our journey will play out. What we must always remember, however, is that we are more than the paths we’ve walked.
And so I say to all who still wait –
You are more than your circumstances.
You are defined only by the actions you take.
You are strong enough to not let this turn you hard.
You are capable of doing more and being more.
You dream for a reason – do not ever give up on those dreams.
You can choose hope or hopelessness,
but you, your dreams, and your future,
are worth so much more than giving up.
You are worth your hope.
And so I say to all who still wait –
Let your hope shine as a light in the darkness.
It won’t tell you where you are on the path, but it will allow you to put one foot in front of the other for one more day.
And really, every step forward is one step closer to our dreams.
And so I say to all who still wait –
Keep moving forward.
Don’t ever stop.
July 10th, 2014. 16w 0d.
***This is obviously a pregnancy-related and detail heavy post.***
***If you’re not in a place to read this right now, then this is your friendly warning.***
I know that there are those who probably want to know some of the down ‘n dirty details of this pregnancy, and those people are about to be either 1. very happy, or 2. very grossed out.
Here comes the TMI, ladies and gents.
I’m guessing we should start at the beginning. In the first days, I didn’t feel like I was the walking embodiment of the miracle of life or anything. The fact is that my only real “symptoms” were pretty much exactly what I would have been feeling had Aunt Flo not missed her bus that month.
Breast tenderness, check. Wee bit o’ cramping, check. Bloating, check. Fatigue, check. Normal stuff.
The only things that were different from what I’d usually experience happened well after I’d confirmed the pregnancy with the doctor’s office and eleventy thousand peesticks. One was a very real and apparent need for food in the morning. I was never nauseated per se, but if I didn’t get something – even liquid – into my stomach shortly after getting out of bed, I’d have a killer gag reflex and just feel sort of woozy until I rectified the situation.
The other fun little gift was far less talked about in the world of early pregnancy symptoms, and came in the form of an ungodly amount of cervical mucus. I’m talking flash flood warning levels here. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooo GROOOOOOOSSS.
I had a couple of teensy bouts of not-quite-spotting that were like beigey-orange mucus that happened at random times, and of course these occurrences sent me into anxiety spirals from which there was little escape. I was constantly terrified in that first trimester, and things like this didn’t help.
And while we’re talking about gross things that have evacuated my body, let’s talk about gross things that refuse to evacuate my body. Around 9 weeks, the doc told me to start taking an iron supplement, because I was slightly anemic. No biggie, and I figured I’d work on upping iron in my diet as well. Ever since then, I’ve basically been on Poop Watch 2014. It’s like a blessed event when it does happen. I figured out that cherry season (thank you, Michigan!!) is my friend, so that’s been helping. Prunes? No sir. Apricots are just overkill, and we shall never speak of the events that occurred after my last consumption of that devil fruit. Just let it go.
Around week 9 or 10, we went on a trip to California for a wedding. In wine country. Where the vegetarian menus were composed of lovely delicious things covered in OMGDANGER!! soft cheeses. So that was an adventure, ha. Flying was a little nerve-wracking for me, as I wasn’t sure if I’d suddenly develop debilitating nausea on the plane, or if flying would cause me to spot… or worse. It all turned out to be fine, however, and I managed to have plenty to eat at the veggie-events.
Sometime around 1o or 11 weeks, I dug the home fetal doppler I ordered a year and a half ago out of the bottom of my hope chest. It had never even been opened, sadly. I watched numerous videos online of women finding their babies’ heartbeats at like 9 weeks, so I was confident that I could do it, too.
I was wrong. I failed the first time I tried, and gave up on the grounds that it was too early. Maybe a week later, in a fit of frustration, I tried it again, and was surprisingly, almost immediately successful. It was such a great sound to hear – one we hadn’t heard since Jelly Bean’s first ultrasound at 7 weeks.
I’m now a pro at using the doppler at home, and while I know I shouldn’t abuse it, I often listen to baby’s heart before bed as reassurance that he or she is still in there, growing away. I think that once I’m feeling regular movement, I’ll need the doppler less and less… Until then, it’s my crutch, but it’s helping my anxiety like you wouldn’t believe.
So really, that was it for the first trimester. The fatigue got worse for a while, and then it got better around maybe 11 weeks. The weird morning gaggy thing disappeared sometime around then as well, so I’m guessing that was the beginning of my transition into that fabled Second Trimester Honeymoon Phase that people talk about.
Oh, wait. I mentioned the bloating earlier, but didn’t go into enough detail, clearly.
From about 7 weeks until probably 12, I was so bloated that my pants wouldn’t button – granted, many of them were getting a bit snug before my uterus started to expand, but still… It was ridiculous and nothing I did changed it. I was dressing to hide a bump that no one knew about yet. I felt like it was obvious to EVERYONE, although the handful of people that knew later on never said anything.
Around 12 weeks, the bloating faded a bit, but by that point my uterus had started its ascent into my abdomen. By 13 weeks, simply unbuttoning my pants was no longer a comfortable option, and zipping them was becoming laughable as well. I picked up a Bella Band around 14 weeks, and that’s helped a bit…
Yesterday, just shy of 16 weeks, I bought maternity pants.
Shit’s getting real up in here, folks.
Honestly, I think this little front-pudge looks like more burrito than baby, but I can tell that it’s on its way to a discernible bump. Soon. Very soon.
As for the next few milestone moments, what I’m looking forward to most is a tie between finding out this little Bean’s gender, and feeling regular movement. I’ve noticed a few odd sensations at inconsistent intervals that have felt a bit like rolls I guess, but I have no clue if that was baby movement or sluggish bowel movement. It’s a little early for that quite yet anyway, as I hear many don’t feel movement until after 20 weeks.
What will be nice is that we should be able to find out baby’s gender before the 20 week anatomy scan. I had a cervical procedure many years ago, and because of this, I’m being monitored by ultrasound for cervical shortening every two weeks from 16 to 24 weeks. My first scan in that series is this Friday, and they’ve said that there’s a chance they’ll be able to tell the gender then.
I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I’m really, REALLY hoping this kid cooperates and shows the goodies. I NEED TO KNOW.
So anyway, that’s about it. I’m not really letting myself get carried away with all the weekly updates and bump pics and that kind of thing because it’s not really me, and because I’m just not in a place yet where I feel I can let myself go with that kind of completely unbridled excitement.
I did check out a due date website that emails me things I apparently need to know, and they say that Jelly Bean is approximately the size of an avocado this week.
…Which is appropriate because if one more person asks me what we’ll name this kid, I’m going to tell them Avocado because it’s gender neutral, walk away, and leave them to wonder if I’m serious.
July 8th, 2014. 15w 5d.
I’ve been asked – more than once – and I’ve wondered myself for some time now what exactly will become of this blog now that I’m on my way to the “other side” of the infertility struggle.
In many ways, I just don’t know how to answer.
Yes, I want this to remain a resource for those who are struggling – and an outlet for myself, as I still struggle as well.
No, I don’t want to lose readers who just can’t bear to hear about pregnant life at this point in their journeys.
Yes, I want to continue to tell my story, the same way I always have – no holds barred, TMI ablaze.
No, I don’t want to stop writing… nor do I want to start a whole new blog at the moment.
Yes, I want to become a mommy.
No, I do not want to become a mommy blogger.
So that’s where I am. Halfway between where I’m headed and where I’ve spent the last five-ish years.
Limbo is a sucky place to be.
I don’t want to turn away anyone who isn’t in a place to hear pregnancy updates, and I understand that some will have to back away from my posts for exactly that reason. I do understand, truly. I’ve had to do the same at points in my journey as well… It comes with the territory, and I can only hope that my story offers some light at the end of the tunnel for those who are still in the trenches – even if they’re not in a place to read it.
I also don’t want to stop blogging details of my life, because the infertility struggle doesn’t just stop when you become pregnant. If anything, it can come crashing back as hardcore as it ever was in the beginning, and the need for support and an outlet is even greater than before.
An Infertile once is an Infertile always, despite success or resolution.
I do feel a large amount of survivor’s guilt as well. I feel it when I post something on my personal Facebook, knowing that I have friends who are struggling. I try to remain sensitive to that and not blast my news feed with ultrasound or bump pics. I tried to be sensitive when we officially “came out” a couple of weeks back, emailing those friends I knew were struggling before posting the announcement photo. I wanted them to have a heads-up, as I know I’ve appreciated having one in the past.
I feel badly that I am allowing myself to be happy. I have been such a steadfast and reliably infertile confidante for so many over the years, that now when I’ve sort of crossed over, I worry that those who relied on me won’t have the same support I was able to offer before.
Part of this worry comes from being fiercely protective of my support group, and worrying that I won’t be able to carry the torch for them for much longer… at least not without an obvious and growing abdominal-area distraction which could cause discomfort for all in its presence. I want them to continue, and to be well taken care of by whoever comes forward to take over hosting (or co-hosting) duties. Most of all, I don’t want to be a drain on the complete openness we’ve managed to accomplish at our meetings and in our little online group.
Basically, I’m a woman stuck between two worlds.
My heart still leaps to my throat when I see a pregnancy announcement. I feel dread and fear and jealousy before I am able to tell myself that it’s okay, and that I’m there too now.
I worry more now than I ever did in the past. I have this precious thing now, and I feel like every time I do something that’s considered a big step in a normal pregnancy journey (like starting a baby registry… YIKES), I feel like I’m tempting fate and waiting for that other shoe to come down on my head. Hard. With a pile of bricks in its wake.
I have two baby name books in my possession. My mom bought me one, and I picked up the other… I’ve wanted to have one for years, but always felt it too jinx-y to actually own one. Now that I have them, I can’t bring myself to highlight them. Any step like that feels like a step toward a permanence I’m terrified to look forward to.
People want to plan baby showers, and they ask me about nursery colors and bedding designs and baby names, and it’s all I do to quell that inner voice that’s screaming “OH MY GOD STOP! THE MORE WE TALK ABOUT THIS, THE MORE I SPIRAL INTO INCAPACITATING WORRY THAT IT WILL NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPEN!!!”
Infertility is terrifying.
Miscarriage is terrifying.
Pregnancy is terrifying.
Those two pink lines do not in any way solve every problem infertility causes. While I thank God every single day for the reason that I’m so damn terrified all the time, and while I know how unbelievably lucky I am to be here right now, I still struggle.
I think I always will.
And that’s why I need this space. Badly.
I need to write, and I need all of you.
I want you to know that if you need to back away at this time, I completely understand. I’ve done it, too. It’s what you need, and that’s perfectly fine.
As for me, I will be here. I will be sharing what I can without blasting pregnancy crap down your throats. I will struggle and I’ll take you with me, and I will (hopefully) triumph and you’ll be there too.
So there it is. I’m staying here.
Steadfast, terrified, confused, worried, and so happy in those small moments in between.
You can be here, too. If you want, and when you want.
I’m here for me, but I’m here for you as well.
Stick around if you can… I get the feeling that this ride’s just getting started.
Today’s blog post is brought you by things in my life that are good (spoiler alert: it’s ALL THE THINGS), and Liz Lemon.
Why? Because I’m happy, and because it’s my damn blog, and because Liz Lemon is my spirit animal.
So I know I haven’t posted in a few weeks, and it’s mainly because I’ve just been so darn busy.
Yeah okay, some of that busy-ness has been in the form of catching up on my dvr-ed programming, eating whatevathecrap I feel like, and generally carving out a deeper ass-indent in my couch, but some of it has actually been productive, yo!
But really, I’ve been up to some things in my regular old life these days.
THINGS, you guys.
Firstly, I’m like 98.56% sure that I ovulated on cycle day 15 last month.
WHAT? Like, without drugs??
Uhh… apparently so. The new herbs McStabby has me taking seem to be working some kinda miracles down-unda, and I’m hoping the miraculous normality continues into this month.
So yay for functioning girly-bits!
Also, McStabby totally went all bitter renegade Infertility Advocate on me at my last appointment. Seriously. He was all like “UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY IS SUCH A BULLSH*T NON-DIAGNOSIS, GOD!”
It was crazy, and awesome, and I almost would have laughed, but I was too impressed. Basically, he is like SO OVER hearing about unexplained infertility as a hard and fast diagnosis. He wants some of his UI patients to start looking more into other causes of infertility, like immunological issues and bacterial infections.
There are really no reproductive immunologists in this area, so he wants me to start with my OB rather than my RE. He said that the OB may be more receptive to requesting some of these tests, and less likely to blacklist me from the office for even asking.
Because, you know, I see an acupuncturist, take Chinese herbs, and want to talk about antibiotic therapy and testing for immunological disorders, and I guess some fancy doctors don’t like that stuff.
So I’m trying to decide if this is a path I want to explore, or if I want to just want to keep on keepin’ on with the whole “infertility on the back burner” thing.
It’s a conundrum, to be sure. I have no idea what to do here.
Aside from that, another cool thing happened:
I made a friend on Facebook. A FRIEND WHO LIKES BOOKS. I ran into her a while back in the comments section of a book blog I read, and she and I bonded over our shameful love of Bar Rescue marathons (don’t judge me). I recognized her name as a news reporter for a local station, and lo and behold, she is also on the Facebooks and is totally friends with another blogger I love.
It was sorta meant to be, you guys.
Anyway, I sent her an email letting her know about the new RESOLVE support group I was looking to promote, and asked whether she thought the station would be willing to share a flyer on their website or via social media or something, and she was like “why don’t you come on my Sunday cooking show and we can talk about it on the air?”
And I accepted.
I was nervous as all get-out, but I think I actually spoke in coherent sentences (without any accidental swearing, yay!).
One thing did happen that I feel badly about, but I didn’t realize it until well after the show had already aired…
Prior to the taping, I was talking with my interviewer and a few other people in the room about infertility, and about people they knew that had struggled to get pregnant. One of the women mentioned her sister, who had had years of trouble conceiving, and we talked about her sister’s stories of a coworker who was an unhealthy drunken chain-smoker that had magical Duggar-like fertility. We’ve all heard stories like this, and it’s enough to make a compassionate infertile roll her eyes at the injustice of it all.
During the interview, I said something like “why can the girl at work who drinks and smokes get pregnant, and not me?”, generalizing, and referring to that bit of conversation we’d had off camera. Apparently, some people I work with may have thought I was actually talking about someone specific in our office who is pregnant (and not a drunken chain-smoker at all, by the way)… which came to a bit of a shock to me, because OMG I WOULD NEVER!
I feel like such an a-hole, even though it was a completely innocent comment that had nothing to do with anyone I actually know.
So, you know… Tracy – 0, Tracy’s Foot-in-Mouth – 68,759.
Oh right. Here’s the link to the video… I’m after the Fitbit segment at about 2:40.
And you know the best part of that day? I spent two days prior deciding on what to wear, ultimately coming up with a navy sweater over a coral shirt and some light khaki pants.
You know what happens when you wear khakis, right?
Yep. Tracy – 0, Scumbag Uterus – 159
Okay, so I guess that was a good thing with some bad undertones… but ultimately it was a good thing, so it still fits within the parameters of this good-things-and-Liz-Lemon-themed blog post.
YESSIR. Still counts.
The last good thing I want to talk about is my RESOLVE support group.
We met for the first time last night, and while I can’t discuss specifics, I can tell you that we had a pretty nice turnout for a first meeting! Six women attended, and I feel like it was a great mix of people in different stages of their journey to parenthood. We had some lively conversations, there were a lot of different topics thrown out for further discussion at upcoming meetings, and I feel like the women who attended really wanted to be there.
This group means a lot to me, both in the sense that doing the legwork to make it happen is very fulfilling, but also in the sense that I have really been missing being a part of a group that exists because of a shared passion.
Also, we’re kind of like the really sassy Island of Misfit Toys, and I kind of love that.
So it’s all good right now.
Like, ridiculously good.
DVR capacity? Good.
Bring it on, life. I’m pretty happy accepting only good things from you for a change.
Let’s keep up the good work, eh?
Soooo… Here we are.
Five years deep.
Five l o n g years of trying, failing, struggling, treading water, and just… waiting. Waiting for our turn, waiting for our two lines.
Waiting for our family to happen.
Year One was the picture of a happy-go-lucky newlywed with all the time in the world.
Year Two saw me attempting to combine Clomid with crinolines, in a sweaty scene straight out of a TBS sitcom.
Year Three had me unhappily (and soberly) awaiting the results of what would be yet another failed IUI cycle.
Year Four ended full of retrospect, acceptance, wisdom, sadness for what could have been, and an amazing amount of hope that Five would most definitely be THE YEAR.
Yesterday was the end of Year Five…
And today? You’d think today was the first day of Year Six…
…But today is actually the beginning of something completely different.
Some things have changed recently.
Actually, I don’t know if it’s more that things have changed, or that I have, but my direction has clearly been altered of late.
At my most recent acupuncture appointment, I spent some time talking with Dr. McStabby extensively about stress in my life, and the emotional toll infertility can take.
“Infertility causes infertility”, as Dr. Randine Lewis says. While I agree that infertility has been a major stressor in my life, especially in the past few years, things have improved for me recently in that department. I’m no longer as stressed as I used to be, and I think acupuncture and TCM has helped greatly.
But… so has time, honestly. We’ve been at this thing for a long time. We’re kind of getting used to disappointment after five years, know what I mean? It’s become so regular that it’s not like it’s a big shock any more.
We’ve been trying to get pregnant for our entire marriage, essentially, and the husband and I have put a lot on hold to pursue this life that we have been so desperate for. He and I talked recently, and at great length, about where we want to go from here… We finally had that talk that I’ve been afraid to have for a long time.
He is ready to get back to being a married couple instead of a TTC couple.
*cue deep sigh of relief that he doesn’t straight up want to divorce my crazy ass*
More than that, he says he won’t resent me if we can’t get pregnant, and he won’t resent me if I decide to hardcore pursue Western treatments again (although, I’ll be honest, the odds of that are slim). Basically, I have the husband’s blessing to move in whatever direction I feel comfortable, even if that is just varying degrees of backing off the whole TTC thing completely.
We may move onto just being a healthy couple who lets whatever happens, happen. We’ve both accepted that we may be that couple who doesn’t have kids. Maybe we’ll be the ones who can travel at the drop of a hat, or we’ll adopt (even more) furry creatures, or we’ll be the best gosh-darn aunt and uncle EVER. Maybe we’ll adopt a child someday, if the situation is right. Maybe we won’t.
And you know what? We’re okay with ALL of those situations. Truly.
At this point, IVF is not in our immediate future. We just don’ t feel right about some aspects of it at the moment. Part of the decision is financial, and part is just that I don’t feel like there’s anything physically SO WRONG that we can’t conceive on our own (and neither do any of the SEVEN doctors I’ve seen over the years…). I just cannot justify forcing my body to do something that it doesn’t seem ready to do. Maybe that will change someday, and maybe I’ll regret not going all-in while I still have some remnants of youth on my side, but honestly? It just doesn’t feel right to me today.
It’s a lot to process, I know.
One thing that’s stuck with me though, is a conversation I had with McStabby recently. He asked me, “Do you feel like you deserve a child?”
I was taken aback a little. I honestly had to think about it.
He asked because, in his line of work, he sees women who have certain emotional hang-ups that he suspects can prevent them from conceiving, whether it’s a past trauma, a lack of confidence in their marriage/family life/maternal skills, or something else. Regardless of his motives for asking, it’s a jarring question to be asked, for sure.
After a minute, I came to a conclusion. Yes. I do. I deserve a child.
Does that feeling mean that I will necessarily have one? No. Because life’s not always fair, and sometimes the harder we squeeze a handful of sand, the more of it slips through our grasp. Just because I believe that I deserve a child, doesn’t mean that I’m going to force my body to submit to my timing.
Soo… I don’t want to just come out and say that we’re taking the “Just stop trying…” non-approach, but in some ways, we kind of… are.
Wait, wait. Before you freak out and tell me I need to rename my blog, let me ‘splain.
We’re not saying “just stop trying and a BABY will magically happen”.
What we are saying is, “just stop trying so HARD and LIFE will happen… and whatever blessings come along with life, we’ll take those too. And if a baby happens to be one of those blessings? Even better. Icing. Gravy. Time for a parade.”
It’s a strange – and strangely freeing – place to be…
For the moment, we’re just kind of bobbing along. Living life. Being married people who don’t have to inject themselves with things or ejaculate into cups.
I’m still going to continue acupuncture treatments for now, and I’ll continue taking the herbs even if I stop the actual acu treatments, just for general health and balance; honestly, I like how I feel, even if I don’t like the taste of the herbal “teas”. Between the husband and I, the door is open for me to go back to the RE if I so choose (I would be interested in seeing if there have been any changes in my blood work in a year’s time), or maybe for a possible medicated cycle one day, but likely nothing more than that.
I’ll also keep working to maintain the healthy habits I’ve gained through TCM, but I will likely stop temping someday soon.
I KNOW. Don’t freak out, or I might freak out and lose my resolve on that
little gigantic decision.
I may never be able to ignore the quality of my cervical mucus, but my body temperature, the chemical content of my urine, and what’s in my underwear will no longer have complete control over my entire life.
So that’s where I am right now… I know I’ve been quiet here lately, and I wanted to provide a little update and insight into why that has been.
I do have some exciting things on the horizon, including my Resolve Peer Led Infertility Support group venture – which should start meeting this month (!), and being invited to attend Resolve’s Advocacy Day in Washington DC, where I will have the chance to speak with members of the House and Senate on the political issues surrounding infertility treatment and coverage in the US. The husband and I are also traveling to San Francisco for a wedding in late May, and are looking forward to that little getaway opportunity as well.
All in all, life is not perfect, but it is most definitely still a good life. I’m appreciative for all I have, including all of YOU, and I’m ready to focus on what I have, instead of beating myself up for what I don’t.
I don’t know exactly what this new outlook will mean for me, my life, and this blog, but I know I will continue to be here, rooting you all on, and hoping and praying for each of you, every day.
I’ll still likely be holding out some far-fetched hope that my own body will miraculously get its shit together, too. I mean, some things will never, ever, EVER change. 🙂
So that’s it.
Year Six isn’t really a thing. Like, at all.
This is just March, just a few years into a great marriage, just a drop in the bucket of a great life.
A life I’m going to be actively living again.
My hope for you is that wherever you are in your journey, whether your life is completely saturated with the details of TTC, or whether you too are at a bit of a crossroads, that you are able to slow down from time to time and appreciate what you do have.
My hope for you is that you live that little life of yours in a way that makes a difference, impacts others, and allows you to look back fondly one day, free of regrets.
My hope for you is that you live.
…And first of all, let me calm those of you who dread blogger pregnancy announcements by saying that NO, I am most definitely NOT PREGNANT. The rest of the story is a little harder to explain, however. I’ll be honest, I’ve felt very strange lately. I mean, I’m still part of the infertility community, but