Catching Our Rainbow

Hoping for a rainbow after the storm…

Update

Longer update to come, but for now: baby looks perfect. He or she is measuring perfectly and kept jumping around the whole time. We are beyond thrilled.

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How “Normal” Pregnant Women Blow My Mind

So I have this friend who is due with her first child in September. I hadn’t seen her since she got pregnant, and I finally got to see her the other day. I naturally asked her how far along she was, and she smiled and said 25 and a half weeks. I smiled really big and exclaimed, “Yay! You’ve passed viability. That’s so exciting!” At this point she looked confused and I got a solid “Huh?” So I explained that 24 weeks is considered the point of viability, and she smiled, shrugged her shoulders, and said something along the lines of, “Oh, cool.”

I keep forgetting how different pregnancy is for those who haven’t experienced IF/loss. Even though we are all aware that it is in no way a guarantee, 24 is a bit of a sacred number here in our little corner of blogland, and it blew my mind to encounter someone who had no idea and really no interest. She’s just chugging along–happy and naive.

This is in no way a critique of my friend. It just reminded me (once again) how different pregnancy is for us than it is for others. I have another friend who is due within a week of me, and we were talking last Sunday at a wedding shower. She asked me who all we had told about the little one, and I said that we had told our families and a few close friends. Then I told her that she and her hubby were the only ones in the room that knew. She was floored. She had been telling people for weeks, and her husband (a pastor) had even mentioned it in one of his sermons. She asked me how I had the self control to keep that secret, and I honestly wanted to ask her how she had the confidence to tell everyone. This is her second child, and she had no complications with her first pregnancy or labor, so she has no idea what it feels like to have to tell people that you are no longer pregnant.

I told hubby yesterday that I really wish that we could be looking forward to Monday with nothing but excitement with a “normal” dose of nerves. I want to view our scan as another opportunity to see the little one instead of just a confirmation that our baby is still alive. I want to not care about stuff like viability or telling people. Like I said before, RPL brain is some strong stuff.

I’m finding myself falling into the same pattern I’ve watched other bloggers fall into: “At (insert milestone here), I will stop worrying so much and enjoy this pregnancy.” But things haven’t really changed at those milestones, and I wonder if they will on Monday. The truth is, I’m actually doing really well. I’m keeping my anxiety down to a dull roar, and I’ve have a generally good feeling about this whole pregnancy. But that makes me wonder just what it would be like if I didn’t  have the RPL brain–just how much more excited and positive would I be?

2 more sleeps.

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Mom

My mom has not been the most supportive during this whole process. When I called her in tears after my first miscarriage she simply asked me if I had a miscarriage or my period just started and seemingly brushed off the pain I was going through. As we continued down the RPL road, my mom would say things about how if I wouldn’t take a pregnancy test I wouldn’t even know I was pregnant and I would just think my period was late. If I ever tried to talk to her about what we were going through because I really needed my mother, she would act angry and defensive and tell me I’m too young to be worrying about stuff like that. It was frustrating and heartbreaking, and I just stopped telling her when I got pregnant or miscarried.

But I came to a realization about six months ago. My mom doesn’t deal with her feelings–when something makes her sad, she shuts down and lashes out. She wasn’t being callous and mean when she said and did the things she did, she was dealing with her pain in the only way she knew how. It’s a very unhealthy and unhelpful way to deal, but that’s how she does it. I also learned something else about my mom: she takes direction well. I was so upset because my mother is in no way maternal and I wanted her to naturally be the comforter I needed, but that was not a realistic expectation. I have since learned to tell my mom, in plain language, how I feel and then tell her what I need from her. For example, “Mom, I’m really sad about all of this because it is really difficult to go through, and I need you to just let me be sad. I need my mom to just sit and listen and let me be sad.” Once I was clear about what I needed from her, my mom got a lot better. I also started explaining to her why certain things that she said hurt my feelings, and I would bluntly ask her not to say them to me. And it worked. This mothering thing doesn’t come naturally to my mom, and I think she just didn’t know how to handle the situation and defaulted to her unhealthy way of handling pain and sadness. Once I guided her and told her what I needed, she was much better.

This meant that I had to overcome as well. I had to overcome my anger and frustration that my mom does not know how to be my mom without me telling her what to do. I had to release the feeling that her comfort didn’t count when she didn’t just do it on her own. I had to accept our relationship as it is and be ok with it. This breakthrough in understanding my mom would have meant nothing but more anger and frustration if I just used it as an excuse to be angry at her for not being the nurturing woman I craved, but I opened up communication and utilized what I learned and we have advanced leaps and bounds from where we started.

As I said, I have been hesitant to tell my mom that I’m pregnant ever since my first loss. We decided to tell her after our last scan, and we actually drove from the office to her work (she is a middle school librarian) to tell her the good news. I had no idea how she would react, but I didn’t want to wait any longer–we had told my sister a few days before and it wasn’t fair to ask her to keep that secret while living with my mom. When we told her, she broke into tears and wouldn’t stop hugging me. She ran into the office and made a copy of our ultrasound to put up in her office. She asked when she can start telling people and acted happier than I have seen her in a long time. Since then, she calls me at least once a week to check on me, and she is even going with us on Monday to our scan.

Her reaction was exactly what I needed. It’s what I craved every pregnancy and never got. I think the fact that we were moving on to adoption opened her eyes to just how serious our situation was so she could really see just how exciting of a miracle this little one is. I also think that our growing understanding of each other has helped her step into her role as the mother of a pregnant woman. It took 26 years and a lot of anger and tears to get to this point, but I feel like I finally have some sort of relationship with my mom that is healthy and nurturing. It’s just another way that this little one is a complete miracle who is already changing my life for the better.

Five more sleeps.

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Six

Six.

That’s how many sleeps until our next ultrasound. Less than a week. That’s also how many sleeps until our first appointment with our midwife. Monday is a big day for us.

Thankfully, our appointment is really early (7:30) so there will be no waiting all day until the appointment. I don’t think my nerves could handle that. Also, since we have one of the first appointments we shouldn’t have to wait too long. So that’s another bonus.

I’m trying to focus on all of the positives:
-I still haven’t had any spotting
-My only cramps have been due to the fact that I haven’t had a normal poop in almost three months
-While it is waning, I’ve had nausea that has been consistent enough to keep me from losing my mind

Honestly, the only negative is that I have RPL brain that I can’t seem to turn off. Whenever I get hopeful or excited there is a little voice in my head that is convinced that it is not possible for things to go this well–that the world will not let me be this happy.

I’m just trying to focus on the positives and trying to remember that even though time passes by so slowly, it is passing and Monday will eventually be here.

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A Perfect Moment

If you have ever been pregnant after a loss, you know that it’s a long, terrifying game of waiting while trying not to lose your mind. You hope so hard you feel like your heart will break, but you also expect the worst at every turn. This is what the last seven weeks have looked like for me.

But every once in awhile I stop. I had one of those moments today. I was sitting on the porch listening to music and eating. I felt the warm air and closed my eyes and let myself be happy. It was a perfect moment. A moment that I let myself soak in the sun and the blessings around me. A moment that I let myself be thankful for the life around me and the life inside me. A moment where I didn’t dwell on the past or worry about the future and just enjoyed that very moment.

That perfect moment.

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Our First Two Scans

Our first appointment was at a high risk Ob at 6wks 2 days. At this point I had experienced some nausea and I had no spotting. I feel like the spotting part is important because I have spotted with every other pregnancy. When we went in to the ultrasound, I knew exactly what to look for. This was my third 6wk ultrasound and I immediately watched for a heartbeat. And it was there. Baby was measuring 6wks 1 day. All of my other ultrasounds have measured behind by a week or so. The heartbeat was 113 and they assured me that the heart had only started beating the day before so anything over 100 was great. Then we met with a genetic counselor who told us how great everything looked. She went through each previous pregnancy with us and even asked me if I had any weird gut feelings about what happened. I know we each have them–you had sex right before the miscarriage or you took your pills a few hours after you usually do, etc. She then suggested that I take fish oil because it acts as a natural blood thinner and I’m allergic to aspirin, and she went over possible next steps. She talked about more tests we could possibly run if this pregnancy doesn’t work out as well as all of our testing options for this pregnancy. She smiled the whole time and talked about how everything looked great–taking great care to address any little thing that might worry me as a RPLer (such as the baby measuring one day behind, which I logically know is ok but the assurance was still nice).

Then we had the longest two weeks of my life. The nausea worsened and the spotting never came. When we returned at 8wks 2 days, I fully expected to hear bad news. I expected them to say that the baby hadn’t grown and the heartbeat had stopped. When she started the ultrasound, I was confused because I had never seen an 8wk baby on the ultrasound before. It looked so different from our last appointment. She told us that is was measuring right on time with a heartbeat of 173, and she gushed about how great everything looked. I would like to say that we immediately started celebrating/cheering/crying, but we literally just stared at her. We kept asking, “Really?” We were not prepared for good news and had no idea how to process it. The doctor came in, told us that everything looked perfect and told us to come back in four weeks for an NT scan. He also told us to go ahead and move to regular care because we don’t need a high risk Ob, but many offices don’t have the capabilities for an NT scan so we were welcome to come back there for our scan.

I’m still in shock. We both are. When we’ve told family or close friends, they have erupted into celebration and are so excited, but it still hasn’t quite sunk in for us yet. We are excited, and we’re making tentative plans, but after continual losses, it is so bizarre for things to go right. I literally feel like I am reprogramming my brain right now because it is no longer programmed for things going right. I keep telling myself that it will be easier after the next scan, but I think I will probably struggle with this feeling the whole pregnancy because the pain and scars of loss don’t just leave you. They are part of you. And you know what? That’s ok. That’s part of my story–it’s not my whole story but it is part of my story. Remembering what we lost makes this so much more precious, even if our joy is no longer blind.

9 more sleeps.

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Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…

Earlier this year we were moving on to adoption, and we were excited. But there was this little nagging voice in my head that kept reminding me of the Metanx that the doctor had prescribed for my MTHFR mutation, and I kept asking myself if we really wanted to move on before we tried everything. To be completely honest, I really didn’t think it would work. I was convinced that I couldn’t have kids and that I needed to start trying to accept that fact. But I had this compulsion to try. We talked about it multiple times and were basically very indecisive about trying again so we just stopped preventing to take the pressure of the choice out of our hands.

March 29th we went to Atlanta to surprise a friend for his birthday. We drove down early so we could walk around Ikea (because Ikea is a wonderful, magical place), and when I went to the bathroom, I noticed a lot of EWCM. About an hour later I felt intense ovulation pain in my left side and I remembered the time hubby and I had spent together the night before. I had no idea when my last period was because I hadn’t been keeping track of my cycle at all–it was a complete coincidence that I noticed ovulation. So I said a little prayer that whatever was best for us would happen and I wondered if there was a little soul developing inside of me.

When I bought a test 11 days later, I was not wishing for a particular result. After five losses, BFPs sort of lose their magic and are potentially scarier than they are exciting. But there it was: that second line. In my mind, I really thought of it as our last chance. I was convinced that I would look into some sort of long-term birth control if this one didn’t work out. I called and ordered the Metanx and paid extra for faster shipping. You are probably thinking that we should have already ordered it, but I don’t think I can describe the crippling indecision we had. We desperately wanted to be able to have a baby but actually making a firm decision to try again after five losses…it felt irresponsible. It made me feel like a stupid child who keeps touching the stove even though she keeps getting burned. So I didn’t order anything. I didn’t plan anything. I just had sex with my husband when I felt like it and prayed that the right path would be revealed to us because we had no idea which way to turn.

Actually ordering the Metanx turned into a huge ordeal that was unbelievably (and unnecessarily) stressful.  When I ordered the pills, I was very specific with the person I spoke to. I asked her multiple times how large the package is and I had her confirm multiple times that it would be delivered to my mailbox and not to my front porch. She assured me that the pills come in a small package and would be placed in my mailbox. Two days later, we come home to find pieces of package and a mutilated pill bottle in our yard and a large pile of dog puke on the driveway. They delivered it to the porch and Jack Jack ate them. Some people just can’t catch a break. Those people are us. In their defense, the company overnighted another bottle to me free of charge and even made a note to make sure it was delivered to the mailbox (but we still put the dogs up that day just to be safe). So I eventually got the pills and started taking them, unsure if it was too late or they would even work.

Coming soon: our first two appointments, the complicated emotions that come with pregnancy after loss, and the hunt for a midwife

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Coming Out

I’ll just come out and say it: I’m pregnant. To be exact, I’m 10 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I’ve avoided posting about it for two reasons. First, there were some other things that I wanted to write about first. Also, there are a couple of people who know me in real life that know about this blog and I wasn’t ready for that yet. That being said, if you know me in real life, please keep this news under wraps and let me announce when I’m ready. You are welcome to talk to me about it, but just don’t talk to others about it.

But I ultimately decided to break the silence because I really need this community. I have wonderful family and a few friends who know and are so supportive, but they don’t understand like you do. They’ve never been in the trenches of loss.

For this post, I wanted to give you a quick overview of how things are going, and then I plan on writing a few posts about different moments in the last couple of months. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but everything has been going really well. I have had two perfect ultrasounds (one at 6 wks 2 days and another at 8 wks 2 days), and my doctor was positively giddy about how everything looked. I’m taking prenatals, prometrium, metanx (for mthfr mutation), and fish oil (a natural blood thinner because of my aspirin allergy), and this particular cocktail seems to be working. My next ultrasound is at 12 wks 2 days on June 9th. Waiting for that appointment has been the longest, most torturous wait of my life, but we are down to 11 sleeps at this point.

We are hopeful. Every once in awhile the panic starts to creep up, but this whole experience has been  much different from my other pregnancies. So we are nervous (read: terrified), but hopeful. Maybe the sixth time’s the charm.

Check back for some posts about the process thus far.

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Facing Some Fears

Recently, there have been multiple posts on my reader about adoption. I know I said I would write about our adoption process, but the truth is that we have been dragging our feet for a lot of reasons. We have plenty of practical reasons, and we have basically come to the decision that we are going to wait until either I finish school (halfway there!) or hubby gets a fire job. But to be completely honest, we are also dealing with some fear.

Let me tell you about my little sister’s friend C. C got pregnant right out of high school with a guy who was bad news. My mom offered to pay for the legal costs to keep the dad out of her baby’s life, but C made the decision to give her daughter up for adoption and was matched with a wonderful couple. We all thought that C would be a good mother and that adoption might not be the right decision for her, but we all supported her desire to give her daughter a life and opportunities that she wouldn’t otherwise have. A couple of years later, C’s open adoption isn’t going well. She basically wants to co-parent with the adoptive parents without any of the responsibility of being a parent. She wants to be called Momma C and be one of three parents who raise the baby. She does things like calling the adoptive parents to lecture them about driving while it is storming with the baby in the car which she doesn’t think is safe. She wants to make all of the decisions for the baby while the adoptive parents pay the bills and do all the hard parts of raising her. C is miserable and grieving and deeply regrets putting her daughter up for adoption, but she did.

I don’t see this situation resolving–it is unhealthy and stressful. The adoptive parents are plagued by unhappy phone calls from the birth mother who is not healing. I don’t want to be in this situation. I don’t want those adoptive parents to be us. I have heard so many positive adoption stories–even lots of positive stories about open adoption, but this is something that I have seen first-hand, and it scares me.

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The Feelings are the Same

I recently learned that a friend in my program is one of us. Just as I mentioned in my last post, if you are open enough, you will meet other infertiles and hear their stories. It’s empowering. Terribly sad, but empowering to know that you are not alone. Even in a department full of academics who have no interest in having children right now, I have found a kindred (bitter) soul. After she told me about their situation, I gave her a link to my blog, as well as a few other blogs in the community (hey, you ladies are awesome and I’m sharing you!). Apparently she sat and read through my blog, and today she said the most incredible thing to me: our situations are so different but the feelings are the same. Can I get an amen? Seriously. There are so many ways to join our “club,” so many situations, but the feelings are the same.

We all feel grief: That deep, soul-crushing grief that makes it hard to breathe and makes you wonder if you will ever be happy again. Whether you have never seen that second line or you’ve seen more than you care to remember while still sitting with empty arms, we all grieve the children we don’t have.

We all feel fear: Fear that we will never be parents. Fear that our spouses will give up on us. Fear that we are alone. Fear that we are going through all of the treatments, anxiety, money, etc. for nothing.

We all feel inadequacy: It might come from an inability to get pregnant. It might come from the feeling that your body keeps killing your children. None of us are fulfilling this basic human purpose, and that is really hard to swallow.

We all feel longing: We all see little babies and feel a deep longing. An emptiness in our wombs. We all long to be mothers–some of us more than anything else.

I know that many bloggers have written about pain olympics–the need some members of this community have to to show that they have it worse than anyone else. I even feel like there is an inherit pressure to constantly be anxious and miserable or you are a bad infertile or your situation is not as bad or painful as everyone else’s. Sometimes I feel like I need to prove my suffering through anxiety-ridden posts where I constantly talk about how much pain I am in. But the truth is, even if I will never experience what it is like to see that single line month after month, year after year and even if you will never experience what it is like to lose a precious life that was growing inside of you, the feelings are the same. We all feel the grief. We all feel the fear. We all feel the inadequacy. We all feel the longing. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that we aren’t that different–that we share a common goal and that we are all feeling the pain of being kept from that goal.

The feelings are the same.

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