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
Today is a day of remembrance for so many in the infertility community, including myself.
Share, support, grieve, and celebrate with those parents who hold a child in their hearts instead of their arms.
Please join me in lighting a candle tonight at 7pm as we remember our little ones gone too soon. ❤
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.
“April is a promise that May is bound to keep.”
I’ve always loved springtime.
There’s just something about the smell of the earth and rain and new green things poking through the decay of fall; something about the symbolism of a colorful rebirth after a long, cold season of gray hibernation. Thunder and lightning burst open the skies and settle the earth, and warm rains wash the whole scene anew. The runoff from April showers wind their way in pretty little ribbons and streams down the streets and sidewalks. Birds and rabbits lend their songs and scampers to a blossoming seasonal backdrop in a state of perpetual forward motion.
There’s something about the spring that just makes me feel at peace in the midst of a great turbulence.
Spring gives me roots, just as it gives me wings.
It grounds me, and gives me hope.
Emerging from the cold darkness makes me appreciate the warm sunshine, and the happiness I feel this season helps me better understand the despair I’ve felt in seasons past.
Gratitude for a warm day or a stubborn crocus poking through the last of the snow does not come from a general appreciation of these beautiful things, however.
Gratitude comes from want, from need, from being without.
I’ve been without. I’ve struggled. I’ve wanted and needed and cried and pleaded for things outside of my control. I’ve been denied, I’ve been angry, and I’ve been on the verge of quitting so many times.
Once I was even given the gift of a wish granted, though it was a short-lived dream from which I was forced to awaken.
Mine was a dream that was meant to be fulfilled in April.
This month is not an easy one for me for so many reasons. While it may be a month of celebrating life, rebirth, and growth, for me it also symbolizes grief, death, and loss. The loss of a dream, of innocence, of hope, will stay with one for all of time. I certainly have not fully recovered, though time has passed by, and life has gone on.
Even being an eternal optimist does not shield a person from a lingering sadness and a strong association with a date, a month, or a time of year. Storm clouds may bring showers that help the whole world grow, but sometimes it can be so hard to see the silver lining for the rain driving into your eyes.
Spring is that time for me. Hope and despair marry, and one becomes the other; a tornado of contradictory feelings from which there is no shelter.
April always leaves me confused – sad and happy, hopeful and grieving, warm and cold – but one undeniable fact about this time of year is that it never fails to remind us of what could be, what may be, and what will be.
The rain and the sunshine gently clash, and though one could easily destroy the other, they sometimes strike a compromise and find balance. Out of that balance comes a rare beauty, a symbol of strength that’s meant to be appreciated, a promise that’s meant to be kept.
I may spend this month feeling like I’m being followed by a volatile spring storm cloud, but I know that hope is still alive, and that the sun will still shine. As time passes, and we hurtle on toward warmth and growth, the world will explode into a riot of color, I will find gratitude again, and I will know that peace may find me yet.
And if I’m lucky, maybe my dream is still out there in the breeze…
If there’s a chance that April’s promise can still be kept, I will turn my face to the wind, embrace every blustery day, and remain open to whatever the chaotic, ever-changing seasons of life blow my way.
And for all the wild and unpredictable weather of life, one thing is for certain:
I will flourish.
I will bloom.
My Dear Little One,
It’s been a year since you left, and I think of you every single day, but today especially.
You are a part of who I am now, as you have been since the moment I discovered your tiny existence… Since before that, really. You color my vision both of the past and of the present, and you will forever alter my outlook for the future.
Sometimes the thoughts of you come back unexpectedly, like when I’m digging for some trinket in my cedar chest, and your first photo catches my eye. There are times I think you have some control over my thoughts of you; it can’t just be coincidence that a feather will find me when I’m upset.
Other times though, I conjure images of what you might look like today, what your laugh might sound like. I know you’d be a funny little thing – that’s just genetics. I’d be so proud to introduce you to everyone I know, and many people I don’t know in person who hoped and prayed along with your dad and me. You’d be my absolute pride and joy today.
Still though, I am proud. Proud that I have the honor of being your mother, if maybe not in the traditional sense today. I’m proud that I carried you for however long I was able, and I’m proud that having loved you then exposed a whole side of me that I never knew existed.
I’m proud too that your loss broke my heart, but not my spirit. When you left, it forced me to rebuild, forced me to be strong in the face of so much grief and what felt like injustice at the time. Losing you taught me things about myself, and about your dad and me, that I could never have learned otherwise.
And I’m proud and grateful that you helped pave the way for those discoveries. A helpful child, just the kind any mother would be proud to have.
I hope that you’re proud of me, too. I know that things weren’t pretty at first; it took me a long time to really grieve you in a way that created any peaceful resolution. In fact, I am still working through that today. For the longest time, I put on a brave smile and went about my life all fierce and full of defiance in the face of tragedy, when in reality, what I needed was to truly feel, accept, and let go.
Once I wore myself out with all that bravado, I became fixated on getting answers as to why we lost you. To say that I was obsessed might be a bit of an understatement, and probably not my proudest moment. It took me some time to realize that answers wouldn’t bring you back, and that maybe you were part of a greater plan that I would never understand fully.
I’m living in that acceptance now. I understand that it wasn’t my body that rejected you, and it wasn’t you that failed either. You just weren’t meant to be my child on this Earth.
And that’s sad, but it’s okay.
You were meant to be my feather on the wind, my accountability, my hope. My angel.
You were meant to come and go from my life in a way that would teach me what it truly means to be a parent.
You were meant to be the inspiration for many changes that I would make, and some that I am still making in life.
You were meant to be my child – my daughter, I think – who will forever carry around a piece of my heart, while mine is still trying to mend itself.
I think that’s part of the amazing trajectory this journey has taken: a piece of my heart went missing, and you have it; yet somehow, I’m regenerating that loss. This only proves that becoming a mother, no matter in what way, causes your heart paradoxically to grow and become impervious to lasting damage, while also being more sensitive than ever.
Losing you broke my heart, but having you still has somehow mended it.
I’ll never forget you, dear one, for you’re imprinted in my heart, my soul, and my very skin. I only hope to make you proud by proving every day that I am worthy to be called someone’s mother, and to use what you’ve given me to be a better person in every way.
I love you every day.
Thank you for being mine.
I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.
It’s only fitting that National Infertility Awareness Week should coincide with what would have been my due date.
Nothing makes you more aware of your infertility than a baby you loved, but never got to meet.
Last August, the most amazing thing happened.
The pregnancy test strips I was using to test out the trigger from my first Femara/Menopur cycle started getting darker, instead of lighter.
I was pregnant.
It was amazing and terrifying and brilliantly exciting.
It was surreal.
In that moment, alone in my bathroom and surrounded by peed-on paper strips, I experienced more joy than I had in my entire life.
Our Gummy Bear was on his or her way, and I suddenly had everything I had ever wanted.
I didn’t know then that seven weeks later, it would all come crashing down.
The miscarriage was physically, emotionally, and psychologically the most difficult thing I have ever had to do.
The physicality of it only lasted a few days, but there are some aspects from which I may never fully recover.
I was a mother that night, and the next morning, I wasn’t any more.
I was empty.
Today is my would-be due date.
Today is the day that I was looking forward to, so intensely, and for such a short period of time; it’s also the day I have been dreading for so long.
Today is when I remember the tiny life that never got to be, and yet was loved so incredibly much.
I’ll never forget my first baby.
Gummy Bear gave me hope that I may one day hear that faint heartbeat, feel kicks and flips from the inside, and hold a wiggly, screaming new life in my arms.
Today, although my belly is flat, my heart is broken, and my arms are empty…
I am still standing.
I am a mother today,
and I will have hope, always.
Just as I will hold that baby in my heart.
I will remember.
Mourn and memorialize.
As long as I remember, my baby lives on.
Love lives on…
I don’t remember the day the husband and I decided to start trying for a baby.
I don’t remember when I started thinking about somewhat foreign concepts like ovulation and cycle length.
I don’t even remember talking to the husband about having children. I just knew that we would, and that we’d probably get started right away.
We got married when we were 28. The husband’s birthday had been a few months earlier, and mine was just a couple of weeks before our wedding in December of 2008. Two of my best friends (and bridesmaids) had gotten married in the late summer of that year, and I remember them both saying that they were waiting until after my wedding to start trying for babies themselves.
Having lost my job a month before our nuptials, I was an unemployed newlywed in January of 2009. I did everything I could to keep busy, spending hours and hours each day applying and interviewing for jobs, organizing our wedding gifts, and eventually getting us moved into a larger apartment where we had more room for our new accumulation of “married people stuff”.
By the time we had moved into a two-bedroom place in February of 2009, I had started formulating thoughts about what that second bedroom could be used for, aside from crock pot storage…
And so, in March of 2009, I started getting a little more serious about baby-making. At that time, I didn’t know much more than what I’d learned in high school health class, so I figured I’d just start trying to have more sex with the husband two weeks or so after my period started. It was never easy to do, as I had all the time in the world, but the husband worked a crazy shift that saw us apart for much more time than we were together. Often he would be working while I was awake, and by the time he was home, I was fast asleep.
Two ships passing in the night – or day – and all that jazz.
We didn’t get pregnant that month, obviously, but I wasn’t discouraged. I knew that it could take a month or two, or sometimes three, to get pregnant.
My best friend, and maid of honor, got pregnant the next month. I figured I would soon too, and kept along our merry way.
I got a job working in bridal retail, and expected to be a fat little bridal consultant in no time at all.
A few more months rolled by, and nothing. My other friend and bridesmaid who had married just before me found herself pregnant as well. Our first anniversary came and went, along with the births of a niece, a nephew, and my two bridesmaids’ kiddos.
I got a kitten.
I also started doing a little online research about speeding up this darn conception process. The first step seemed to be pinpointing ovulation, so I went out and bought ovulation prediction tests. The more I researched, the deeper in I fell…
I ordered a thermometer online and started temping. I learned all about cervical mucus and started charting that. I had been keeping track of the length of my cycles for a couple of years, and found it simple enough to just punch all the data into an online program, and thus my love/hate relationship with FertilityFriend was born.
From there, things moved quickly. I realized that I was rather underweight, ovulating late in my cycle with a short luteal phase, and having quite a few digestive difficulties I thought might be IBS or a thyroid problem. I went to my primary physician first, and then to my OB; I was turned away from both with no real answers, and the OB even had the nerve to tell me to have more sex and come back in a year.
I found a new OB quickly, and by the summer of 2010, she had me tested for all of the basics that would point out an obvious reproductive issue. She started me on Clomid for two months unmonitored, and after no pregnancy occurred, she referred me to an RE.
By this time, I had started a new bridal position, and was feeling very stressed out, both in work and in life. Three years ago, after having tried unsuccessfully for a baby for just over a year, I was feeling depressed and discouraged.
(…If only I had known then that this journey could – and would – go on so much longer and get so much worse…)
My first visit with the RE was in June of 2011. The preliminary testing done by my OB helped get me on the path to medicated cycles more quickly than I had anticipated, and I started Femara with an Ovidrel trigger just a few weeks later. I was monitored, and found to have a good response, but after several cycles of that protocol, we still weren’t pregnant.
At this same time, the husband and I had also made the decision to move. I needed to get away from my stressful bridal salon management job, and we were feeling that we needed to live closer to family and friends – whether mine or his, as we lived at least an hour and a half from any major support system. We felt that we may need the support as we got further and further into the treatment game.
August of 2011 found us moving to the Toledo, Ohio, area to be closer to the husband’s family, and many of our friends. We continued with the RE, sometimes monitored and sometimes not, through the fall, and by the time the holidays rolled around, I was ready for a break. The distance to see the RE was getting to be a problem, and I had started a brand new job that I didn’t want to be affected by my failure of a reproductive system, and I really didn’t want to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas all hopped up on meds.
After Christmas, I had intended to transfer to an RE that was actually in the area, and even had an appointment set up, which I cancelled twice. I think my heart just wasn’t in it, and our insurance wasn’t covering a dime of these treatments or any of the monitoring.
In January of 2012, I heard a radio ad asking for women in my age group with unexplained infertility to call if they wanted to inquire about a clinical study… Which I did. I started the AMIGOS study in February 2012, and had four medicated IUIs with a blind medication (it was Clomid), Novarel trigger, and monitoring. By June 2012, I was done with the study, and still not knocked up.
Obviously frustrated at this point, I called the local RE again and set up an appointment I would keep this time. In mid July, I met Dr. K and he was very confident that injectable meds were the way to go. I started Femara and injects that same week, and found myself pregnant for the first time just a couple weeks after.
I was impressed, and my faith in the process was restored. I still felt uneasy, however…
Nothing was exactly right with the pregnancy from the very beginning. My beta numbers were very low, and though they doubled, that wasn’t an encouraging sign. I had what I think was an anxiety attack one day at about five-and-a-half weeks, and was sent for an ultrasound. The nurses couldn’t see anything, but I was assured that it was too early. My subsequent betas came back lowish as well, and weren’t really doubling, though I was also assured that was normal.
By late August of 2012, I was feeling somewhat pregnant. I didn’t exactly have morning sickness, but I did have a mad case of the baby-bloat. The husband and I had some wonderful pregnancy announcement photos taken by some friends of ours who were also going through their own conception woes. We planned to announce our baby on board at 8 weeks, in mid September…
Our first ultrasound just before 7 weeks was not a pleasant one. There was little growth, no real formation of the sac, and no heartbeat to be seen. I was seen again four days later or so, and there was no acceleration…
We would miscarry two weeks later.
I spent most of the fall of 2012 devastated by the loss of our Gummy Bear, the baby that never got to be. By December though, I was ready to start trying again, even if I wasn’t very enthusiastic about our odds.
After unsuccessful injects cycles in December 2012 and January 2013, I broke.
There were no answers as to why I couldn’t get pregnant, why we had lost our only pregnancy to date, and why we had perfect test results all around. I spiraled into an anxiety-ridden state of frustration and panic, wherein I was on the phone with Dr. K’s office just about every day asking for further testing, and trying to pinpoint just WHY I don’t have a baby.
All of that brings us to today.
March 4th, 2009, is the first day of the first cycle I entered into FertilityFriend after our wedding. As previously stated, I don’t remember the exact date we officially hopped on the baby-train, but I suppose the first day of the cycle that I know we started getting serious about it is official enough.
Today marks four long years of trying to conceive.
Four years of hope built up, and hope dashed.
Four years of desperation, frustration, elation, and devastation.
Four years of watching the world go by without us.
Four years of engagements, weddings, first and second babies being born to people who didn’t even know each other when we started down this path.
Four years of being stuck.
Four years of picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off for the next round of pills, injections, and ultrasounds.
Fours years of somehow managing to have a shred of hope every single month.
Four years of dreaming of our take-home baby.
Four years of getting stronger every day, even on days we feel the weakest.
Four years of trying to conceive.
Four years of trying.
I never expected to be 32 and to be still trying to have my first child. I never thought it would take this long, be this hard, or cost so much, both financially and psychologically.
I also never expected to feel as though I’m coming through the darkness…
Every day is better than the one before, and while Year Four had its share of extreme highs and lows, I feel that it showed me how to focus on what I really want, and how I should go about getting it.
I feel more emotionally sound today than I have in three years. I feel strong. I feel like I can handle this.
I feel like there’s a light at the end of this tunnel.
I’m hopeful, but not in such a cautious way as I have been in the past.
Yes, we’re entering our fifth year of this journey to parenthood, and yes, we’ve seen some awful days come and go, but we’re still standing, and we’re still strong.
Bring on Year Five.
We’re ready, we’re tough, and we know this is our year.
Six months ago today, I finally saw that second line I’d been chasing for three years.
Six months ago today, I was scared and excited and had no idea how hard and far I could possibly fall.
I fell, though.
And then, nine weeks later, I fell into a hellish reality that included a life without my Gummy Bear.
A life of grief.
I fell again.
I’ve picked myself up since then, dusted myself off a bit and attempted to move on, but every day is still a struggle to remember, and a struggle to forget.
Six months ago I found my world, but it would be lost.
Six months ago I was a different person than I am today.
Where will I be in another six months?
Who will I be?
There’s no way to know for sure.
All I can do is crawl from one day to the next, trying to make my way to the other side of the sun.
Stars :: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
I lit a fire with the love you left behind
And it burned wild and crept up the mountain side
I followed your ashes into outer space
I can’t look out the window, I can’t look at this place.
I can’t look at the stars
They make me wonder where you are
Stars, up on heaven’s boulevard
And if I know you at all, I know you’ve gone too far
So I, I can’t look at the stars.
All those times we looked up at the sky
Looking out so far, it felt like we could fly.
And now I’m all alone in the dark of night
And the moon is shining, but I can’t see the light.
And I can’t look at the stars
They make me wonder where you are
Stars, up on heaven’s boulevard
And if I know you at all, I know you’ve gone too far
So I, I can’t look at the stars.
Stars, they make me wonder where you are
Stars, up on heaven’s boulevard
And if I know you at all, I know you’ve gone too far
So I can’t look at the stars.
I really need to clean out my purse more often.
I was just digging through looking for expired coupons and receipts from my trip to Atlanta (I really need to turn in that expense report!), and ran across a couple of crumpled old receipts from Labor Day weekend.
Lunch with my girlfriends, their little girls, and the husband in Frankenmuth. A day when the best friend and I talked about how fun it was going to be being pregnant together.
Dinner with a good friend at a barbecue joint that turned into me puking all over his house in my first, and only, morning sickness episode.
Just when you think you’re moving on, finally getting it together, crumpled paper ghosts come from the depths of your purse to haunt you.
There’s no running or hiding from the past, I guess. It shows itself when you least expect it, bringing you low from your busy, hectic life, and reminding you of what you once had, and the person you were.
The person I may yet be again.
My best friend is having a baby.
Have I mentioned this? I must have at some point…
Anyway, she found out she was pregnant about a week before I did in August, making her due date about 10 days earlier than mine was. It was exciting to be pregnant together, even though this was her second child and she and I had started trying at the same time nearly four years ago. We were even talking about having our ultrasound tech friend perform our gender scans at the same time so we could find out together what our babies would be.
And then I miscarried. My baby died.
Thankfully, hers is still healthy…
Now I feel like it’s hard to talk to her… Not at all because she makes me uncomfortable about her pregnancy – it’s quite the opposite, in fact. When we talk, she doesn’t bring up her pregnancy at all, and I feel like a jerk when I hang up for not asking how she is feeling, or what’s been happening in that regard.
I know she doesn’t think I’m a jerk, and I know she gets how awful the miscarriage was, and I’m sure that she understands how difficult it must be for me to hear about her milestones when I know that’s where I should be – would have been – too.
I got a text from her last night, letting me know that baby # 2 is another little girl.
I thought Gummy Bear was a girl, too. They would have been besties, just like us.
I was so sad last night… I try really hard not to have pity parties for myself, but that just caught me off guard. I know that Thanksgiving is going to go by in a blur because of the move, but I think that once we are settled in the new house, Christmas is going to be a little tough. Holidays that are all about children are difficult to navigate for us Infertiles, and even more so for recent miscarriage survivors.
I had plans for this cute pregnancy test Christmas tree ornament and everything. Ugh.
Maybe I’ll just gold-plate a Menopur vial and hang that on the tree…
At least December will bring back the cycling routine, and with it, the feeling of working toward that take-home baby once again.
To my friend, if she is reading: I love you, and I love your kiddo and that new baby girl you’re carrying. Life is hard, and you’ve known me for most of mine. I will get better, one day. Until then, please stick with me and know that I’m really trying.
Every day I walk that razor-thin line between “happy for you” and “sad for me”.
Someday things will be less bitter, and more sweet.
Someday… hopefully soon.