Catching Our Rainbow

Hoping for a rainbow after the storm…

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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The Truth

I have a lot of practical reasons why I’ve been so absent from this space. When I first started this blog, I was working a desk job with a lot of down time so I would write blog posts when I was waiting for the phones to ring at work. Since I started school, however, I am no longer in the position where I am stuck in front of a computer with nothing to do. Also, I spend so much of my time reading and writing now that at the end of the day, I just don’t want to write anymore. These are all good excuses for not being present in the blog world anymore. They are also just that: excuses.

The truth is that this space has been too painful for me ever since Tup died because it is much too lonely. For the longest time, this space gave me hope. I loved reading about my infertile bloggie friends’ pregnancies and watching IVF and rainbow babies grow up because I knew that one day, after I did my time, I would join those ranks. I thought about it, worried about it, even feared it, but I never truly believed that I wouldn’t be able to carry and birth children. I always saw our struggles as a season that we had to pass before emerging on the other side with a baby in our arms. But after two and a half years and five losses, I’m having to face the very real possibility that we may never have biological children. Even as we are filling out our adoption application, I’ve realized that I still believe that we will adopt a child and then I will have a successful pregnancy, but that is not realistic. Unless there is some change in medication, procedure, something, I don’t think that I will ever make it out of the first trimester–we can’t keep trying the same thing and expect different results. I’ve always heard that part of the adoption process is grieving the biological children that you will not have, but that is something that you cannot truly understand until you face it.

So as I am in the process of coming to terms with the fact that I may never carry and give birth to my children, I have reached a new level of intolerance for pregnant women. I feel nothing but anger and resentment when I see them, and I have no sympathy for the struggles that come with pregnancy. This means that not only am I having to deal with the anger I feel towards myself and my body for failing to protect my children, I’m also having to deal with the guilt that I feel about some of the hateful bitterness I feel towards others–some of whom I love dearly. Like our good friend who is an adoption lawyer and is helping us through this process in every way she can. She has been such a wonderful friend and support, but I can barely stand to look at her because she has a beautiful baby bump.

The worst part is how alone I feel. Especially in blogland. The place where I once I found comfort, camaraderie, and hope is now extremely painful. I’m fairly certain I can count on one hand how many of the blogs I’ve followed through this struggle that are still active and childless. Even the RPL blogs I follow are all carrying seemingly healthy pregnancies. And the number of pregnancies among my friends is almost unbearable. We started early trying to have children, so for most of our struggle, we only had a handful of friends have kids. Now I am facing pregnancy announcements on almost a weekly basis, and some of my friends are even having their second child. And where do I go to escape? Where do I go to vent and commiserate? This place doesn’t provide that for me anymore. I cheered on so many blog friends and celebrated their victories, and at some point, I was left behind.

So that’s why I don’t really write anymore. That’s why I don’t comment. Coming here is a chore. A reminder of all of my loss. I thought about starting an adoption blog, about creating a clean slate, but I’m still unsure. The truth is I would just like to feel less alone. Filling out all of this paperwork is daunting. And it’s hard. I’m having to dig up a lot of emotional baggage at a time that I’m already pretty fragile. And while I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I may never have biological children and filling out paperwork with tough questions where I have to write about things like the sexual abuse that I endured as a child, people just keep popping out babies and making cutesy announcements and I keep feeling more and more isolated.

That is the truth.

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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.

10 Comments »

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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Let go

Mostly I just feel numb. Except for the moments when I actually allow myself to face my emotions, and then I feel terribly and deeply sad. And empty. Except that I’m not empty. Our child is still inside of me, he’s just not alive anymore. Over the past year, I’ve read quite a few blogs where women can’t let go and want to hold onto their babies after they know it’s over, and I’ve never understood that. I guess it’s something you really can’t understand until it happens to you. I’m not naive. I’m not in denial or holding onto some false hope that everything is going to work out. I know Tup is gone. I’m just not ready to let him go. He was alive. I saw his beating heart. I loved that beating heart more than I can put into words. And now I have to find some way to just let him go.

Everything about this pregnancy has been different. I have been calm. I have been hopeful. I actually stayed pregnant long enough to see Tup’s heart beat. And now I’m in a situation that I’ve never been in before. See, I knew that I lost all of my other pregnancies because I was actively miscarrying. I never sat with the knowledge that my child was dead inside me and had to decide what to do about that. The OB at the office was so kind and explained my options, which of course I already knew, and wrote me a prescription for a medication that will prompt my body to pass Tup. I haven’t filled it. I haven’t decided if I will. I passed every other pregnancy naturally, so there’s a good chance I will pass this one too once I miss a few days of taking my progesterone. It would be so much more convenient to plan this, to not have to deal with it while I’m at work, but I don’t know how to let go. How do I fight this maternal instinct to hold on to my child even when I know that my child is dead? How do I let go?

I was so sure. I was so sure. I told hubby if love and hope could make a baby grow, Tup would still be alive. But he’s not. I am a walking tomb. And I somehow have to find a way to let go.

photo (4)

*Obviously, we have no idea whether Tup is a boy or a girl, but for some reason we’ve both started saying he. It’s just easier to talk about him when we use pronouns, and “it” is way too impersonal for our grief.

12 Comments »

Another Loss

Went for the follow up ultrasound this morning. Tup was measuring 6wks 3days and didn’t have a heartbeat. I’m ok in the sense that I am functioning, but I am so deeply sad and I know that it will get worse before it gets better. Thank you all for your prayers and kind words of encouragement through this whole pregnancy–you’ve helped keep me sane over the past few weeks. Light a candle for Tup tonight.

10 Comments »

I Need People to Understand This

I know we have all written the post. You know which post I am talking about. The post about the terrible things people say to those who are suffering through infertility or loss. There are particular phrases or sayings that cut us all to the quick, and many times we are left wondering how anyone could think that was a helpful, kind, or even acceptable thing to say to someone who is going through what we are enduring. But there is one that really upsets me and makes me angry, although I never really understood why it affects me the way it does.

Until now.

Oftentimes, well-meaning people will tell me about their friend, mother, grandmother, sister, cousin, etc. who has had a miscarriage, but now they have healthy children. Sometimes the person is speaking about her own story, telling me about how she was able to get pregnant and carry to term after a loss. You would think that I would find this encouraging, and I would receive hope about how I could potentially be telling the same story down the road. But I think I finally understand why this bothers me so much. Almost every time I tell someone about my losses, I am not looking for hope that I will give birth to a child or encouragement that I will one day be a mother.

I’m already a mother.

When I talk about my miscarriages, I am looking for someone to acknowledge my grief and what I have lost. I want someone to understand that I am not solely mourning the fact that we can’t seem to have children right now. It isn’t only about my fertility issues and whether or not I will carry to term and give birth one day. It is about my children. All three of them. It feels like the whole world wants me to just write them off and try again. Like they don’t count. I don’t care how far along I was–you become a parent the moment that second line appears. I have loved them, prayed for them, talked to them, imagined their futures, made plans. I didn’t get to hold them in my my arms, but I sure as hell held them in my heart. I want people to understand that. How do I make them understand that?

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