Catching Our Rainbow

Hoping for a rainbow after the storm…

Forward Motion

For months I wrote about how I was stuck. It felt like we were in a constant state of waiting and facing a huge expanse of unknown, and I didn’t know how much longer I could handle the lack of resolution.

When we lost Tup, I was heartsick and angry, but there was also an unexpected emotion: relief. I felt free. I didn’t understand it, and it made me feel like a terrible person who obviously didn’t deserve the child she lost–like I wasn’t properly honoring him. But I’m finally starting to understand that this feeling of freedom and relief has nothing to do with my grief for Tup, it has to do with the huge weight of the unknowns that I had been carrying for months.

The truth is that my life finally has forward motion, and even if I don’t like the results, even if I hate them, I have found some resolution:

  • Hubby didn’t get the fire job. After months of anticipation and hoping, he was not chosen. It sucks, but he started a new job last week that he really enjoys, and he is content working there while he continues to add to his certifications so that he will be a better candidate next time.
  • I got into graduate school, and I was awarded a teaching assistantship that will allow us to (barely) afford it. After months of sitting on a waitlist and trying to figure out how we could possibly pay for school without the assistantship, I finally got the letter.
  • Hubby is feeling better and will not be having surgery right now. This could technically change any day because Crohn’s is a horrible and unpredictable disease, but we are now sitting on the “well” side of the unknown (which is infinitely better than the “sick” side of it).
  • We lost Tup and my RPL panel came back normal, which means we are stepping back from the TTC world for awhile. There is no timeline on this–we will start trying again when we both feel like it–so there is no pressure and no anxious waiting. No waiting until we are allowed to try again (surprisingly, we weren’t given any restrictions), no waiting to POAS, no waiting for test results, no waiting for appointments, no spending hours each day wondering if it will work this time.

I no longer have panicked moments where I worry about the fact that I have no idea what will happen in the immediate future. I no longer try to stare into the unknown and decipher some sort of answer. Sure, things could change and we still don’t know what things will look like long-term, but at least we know what the next couple of months should look like.

I miss Tup and it makes me sad to think about what could have been, but I’m also excited about the things to come. I feel like I finally have something to look forward to and get excited about. I have goals to work towards, goals that I actually have some control over–having a baby was a goal, but it wasn’t something I could work towards because I couldn’t affect the outcome of my pregnancies. Studying and working hard can get me through graduate school, and training consistently can help me finish the triathlon.

I can improve and grow. I can work towards something tangible. My life can finally move forward.

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My Coping Strategy

Today is a beautiful day in small-town, East Tennessee. It’s amazing what some sunshine can do–I’m feeling peaceful and hopeful, and I don’t want to write about grief today. Today, I want to tell all of my blog friends about one of the good things in my life. As I said in my last post, hubby and I are training for a triathlon in August. I actually found it online the day of my second ultrasound and made up my mind then and there that we would participate in it (I say participate because I’m really not good enough to say we will compete). I know that exercise is a good way to keep depression at bay, and the only way I will actually get motivated enough to exercise everyday is to set an optimistic goal and find a training program that will keep me from looking like a fool in August. Plus, I figured exercise will help me sleep at night and help me keep up a healthy appetite (some people eat too much when they are sad, I stop eating when I’m sad). So training for this triathlon is basically a preemptive strike again the sadness that completely overwhelmed me and pulled me under after my other losses.

You can check out our training program here. We are on week four, but we skipped week three because it is an eleven week program and we decided to start training 10 weeks before the triathlon. We try to follow the schedule as closely as possible and also do weight training two times a week (right now it’s on bike days). I won’t lie, it’s been hard. I’ve never exercised regularly before (in fact I hated exercising), so I’m basically starting from nothing, but I’m already amazed at what my body can do. So far, the workouts aren’t necessarily getting easier, but I’m recovering so much more quickly when we are done. I’m getting better at controlling my breathing, and yesterday, I could actually feel myself bringing my heart rate back down so that I didn’t feel so much like I was going to die. The moment only lasted about 30 seconds, but it was there which encourages me that there will be more moments like it.

This process has been good for my body image, and it is teaching me to be kind to myself. I’ll never make it through this program if I constantly tell myself that I can’t do it or think of my body as a failure. It’s also been good for hubby and me to have something to work towards together. It has been a great way for us to support one another and complement each other on a good workout or the progress we are making.

Basically, I’m so glad we chose to do this, and the whole process is exceeding my expectations. If you had told me a few months ago that I would be working out five days a week and participating in a triathlon in August, I would have looked at you like you had two heads. It’s amazing how much a life can change in a year, and as much as I grieve for what was and what could have been, I am thankful that things don’t always turn out as we plan them.

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Rambling

I’m still here. I keep wanting to post, but I can’t seem to sort through my emotions enough to make a coherent post. Last night in bed, I realized that I was composing a post in my head before I went to sleep, and I did the same thing on the way to work, so obviously I need to write. So forgive me if this isn’t too coherent.

For the most part, I’ve been ok. I don’t know if this is denial or if I’m still numb, but I haven’t sunk into that deep sadness where I can’t function or care about anything like I did with my last losses. No sitting in the shower crying until all of the hot water runs out, which is probably good because we put in a tankless water heater last fall so we have endless hot water and who knows how long I would sit in the shower. I’ve had some guilt about how well I’m doing (which isn’t really that great, but compared to my last losses, it’s sunshine and rainbows), but the truth is that I miss Tup. I miss my baby. I miss talking to him. I miss feeling like everything I did was something that we shared. And while there is still plenty of time for me to have a complete breakdown, I think this calmness is self preservation. I don’t think I can go there again. I refuse to go there again. I’ve already wasted too much of my life in that place and I just can’t. I’m not strong enough to pull myself back out again. So I’m sitting in this strange place that I don’t recognize–one where I have a deep sadness in my heart but it doesn’t consume me–I can compartmentalize it. I don’t know if that’s healthy, but that’s where I am.

I’ve been trying to stay busy, and I know that exercise is supposed to help keep depression at bay, so hubby and I have started training for a sprint triathlon in August. It’s hard and tiring, but I’m really glad we are doing this. Whenever we add another mile or two to our bike ride or I run for a longer period of time before I run out of breath, I feel better about myself. I can feel my body getting stronger and more fit, and that really helps fight off the self-loathing that comes with my body’s failure to nurture and grow my child.

I got a call yesterday about the results of my RPL blood tests. They were normal–nothing to suggest repeat loss. Normal thyroid, no major clotting disorders. The doctor did suggest that I take a baby aspirin every day once we start trying again because it might help and it couldn’t hurt. I’m getting really tired of people suggesting that I take baby aspirin while holding my chart that says I have an anaphylactic allergy to NSAIDs. When I told her that I am allergic to aspirin, she asked if I am sure that I’m specifically allergic to aspirin and have I ever taken actual aspirin. I responded that, yes, I have taken aspirin and I had a reaction–that’s how I know I’m allergic to it. Then she said that even though I’m allergic to regular aspirin, I might be able to take a small dose without any adverse effects and that it would be worth trying. The last time I took an aspirin, I was a sophomore in high school. My whole faced swelled up and my throat almost closed, so I really don’t see the logic in taking a baby aspirin because I “might not react to a smaller dosage.” She did suggest I go to an allergist and see if they can desensitize me to it, which might be something to think about, but at that point, I was so annoyed that I just wanted to get off the phone with her. Really, I can’t understand why a doctor can’t take my anaphylactic allergy seriously.

To make the whole thing worse, she said the words. If you have had multiple losses, you know the words I’m talking about, “If it makes you feel any better…” I’ve gotten to the point now that whenever I hear a sentence that starts with that phrase, I sigh and roll my eyes. I can’t help it. Anyway, she told me about her friend who just had a baby after seven unexplained consecutive losses. Everyone has one of these stories and I can’t for the life of me figure out why people think these stories are supposed to make me feel any better. Obviously, she has never had a loss and does not understand the grief that comes with it. Because if she did, she would not think that a story about someone who lost seven children before having her first child would encourage me. If anything, it makes me feel even more bitter towards the assholes who get pregnant on the first try and have a baby nine months later while some of us suffer loss after loss after loss with nothing but the hope that one day, after enough of our babies die, we might actually get to take one home. And at what point do you stop? At what point do you say enough is enough, I’m done?

For us, that point is now. At least for the time being. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t just sit helplessly while my children die inside of me. I can’t subscribe to the “keep trying and hope it doesn’t happen again” plan. I know this will pass, but even the desire to have children and be a mother has left me. I have children. Four of them. They are all dead. And I don’t want any more dead children. I’m tired of this cycle. Even now, we’ll take some time off to focus on other things: the triathlon, school, hubby’s new job, etc, but eventually we’ll get pulled back in. Eventually we’ll want to try again, and then what? With every loss, I feel like our chances for a healthy baby diminish, but you always think, “just one more time–next time will be the one.” I feel like this cycle never ends, like we’ll never find a way out of it. So, for now, we are out. No more peesticks, no more temps, no more prenatals, no more doctor’s appointments, no more blood draws, no more waiting, no more anxiety filled nights. I’m done. And I have no idea when I’ll be ready again. Maybe I’m not handling all of this as well as I thought.

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Hubby

In the midst of our loss, I haven’t given any updates on hubby. The truth is, hubby is doing very well. Ever since he started taking the immunosuppressants, his pain has been declining, and he has been pain-free for awhile now. Even though we are cautious about celebrating too early, we are both so happy that he is feeling better, and I have been hoping and praying that his body is finally going into remission and this is not short-lived. Maybe this is the magic combo that will help him, and even if it isn’t, I am so thankful for the relief he is feeling now.

I’ve also mentioned before that hubby is a volunteer fire fighter and trying to get a full-time fire job. Last weekend, hubby went to Nashville and did his live burn so he is now certified to go into burning buildings and has all the prerequisites to test for his state level 1 fire certification. He was really hoping to get a job at a local department because they received a grant to hire four more full-time employees and he had more certifications than the other guys in the running, but we found out last Thursday that he was not chosen. That’s right, Thursday morning we learned that Tup’s heart was no longer beating, and later that day, hubby found out that he didn’t get his dream job. It was like being kicked when you are down. (Also, if you were paying attention to the dates, hubby was out of town Friday night through Sunday evening for his live burn, so I was on my own after we found out about Tup). For now, hubby is putting in applications at different departments and trying to get as many certifications as he can, and he is starting a new job next week. His job now is terrible and unstable so we decided months ago that he would find another one if he wasn’t one of the four. So he isn’t working his dream job yet, but hopefully he will be happier where he is going.

So, like every other aspect of my life right now, there is a lot of celebration and disappointment in the hubby department. (Who would want an average life when you can have one that’s full of extreme joys and heartbreaks?)

Be on the lookout for a post about what we are working on during yet another baby-free summer.

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Never Regret Love

Looking back at my blog, I realize that I didn’t post about my pregnancy. Not really. And I feel like none of you truly got a picture of what those four weeks (BFP to final ultrasound) looked like. So I’m going to try to show you.

As I’ve said multiple times, this pregnancy was different. I abandoned the typical infertile plan of trying not to get my hopes up or get too attached because it will hurt too much if things don’t work out. From the beginning, I truly believed that Tup would make it. I think I even had more hope than I did with my first pregnancy, even if I wasn’t nearly as naive about what could happen. I talked to Tup. I placed my hand protectively over my stomach. I made plans in my head.

One of my strongest memories is watering the garden one day. Hubby carried up five gallon buckets of water, and I took a small container and watered each little sprout. I marveled in the fact that I was surrounded by growth. I thought about how I was nurturing these tiny plants while my body nurtured little Tup. I told Tup all about the different vegetables we are growing and promised that next year, I would make baby food out of fresh veggies. I imagined working in the garden next summer with a baby strapped to my chest. I imagined working in the garden two years from now with an eager yet unhelpful toddler. I basked in the moment. The perfect moment.

As much pain as I am in, I am so thankful that I chose to believe in Tup. I am so thankful that I just jumped headfirst into attaching to my child. I am so thankful because I have no regrets. I told Tup that I loved him every day. Hubby kissed my belly goodnight every night. I did everything I could possibly do to not only keep myself rested and healthy, but to make sure that the very short time that Tup spent in this world, he was loved with a love so strong that it makes my heart hurt.

My heart is breaking, and it hurts so much I almost can’t stand it. But I know that pain is from love. And I can never regret love.

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Scarlet Letter

Thank you so much for your kind comments. I’ve read and reread all of them, and I am very thankful for this community.

I finally filled my prescription yesterday. I wanted to wait until things passed naturally, but I really did not want to start passing everything at work one day this week, so I decided to go ahead and get it over with yesterday. Needless to say, when I walked into the pharmacy, I was upset and distracted. That might explain why I didn’t realize what was happening until I left. When the pharm tech was typing in the prescription, he asked me quite a few questions. First, he asked me which doctor wrote me the prescription and which office she is with. I thought that was a little weird because that information was on the prescription, but I answered his questions figuring maybe he was new or something or maybe they had a new policy where they have to double check that information. Then he asked, “Do you understand what this is? Did your doctor talk to you about this?” I answered that my doctor explained everything to me, thinking this was a weird variation of the “Do you have any questions about your prescription” question that I always get. It wasn’t until I was walking out and looked down at the coupon that came out with the receipt that I understood his questions. It wasn’t a coupon. It was an advertisement for Gerber that the machine automatically printed with that prescription. That’s when it hit me that the medication I was about to take is the same thing as the abor.tion pill. The tech thought I was getting an abor.tion. His questions revealed that he obviously disagreed with my “decision” but could not voice his concern because it would endanger his job.

I don’t think I need to explain to this community just how upsetting I found this whole situation. I got out to my car and just sat and cried for awhile before I drove home. When I told hubby about it, he got really mad and said I should have complained, but technically the man did not say anything inappropriate to me. It was almost all tone of voice and facial expression, and I really could have just read into it because I was upset and hormonal (although I’m positive that I didn’t).

I know I shouldn’t care what others think, but after all that we’ve been through and how much I struggled with the idea of medically inducing this miscarriage despite the fact that my baby already died, I really just hate that man for judging me. Seriously, why don’t you just give me a scarlet letter while you are making assumptions about me?

Has anyone had an experience similar to this?

As a side note, I learned yesterday that medically induced miscarriages are very different from natural ones. I won’t go into details, but I will say that I found one perk to having a husband with Crohn’s: readily available painkillers. When I spoke to her Friday, my midwife offered to call  me in a prescription for some painkillers, but I figured I’ve been through this three times already and I would be fine. I was wrong.

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