Catching Our Rainbow

Hoping for a rainbow after the storm…

Still Counting

On Saturday Hubby and I went on a road trip with his mom to the Ikea in Atlanta to buy a crib. We weren’t originally planning on buying a crib because his sister gave us our nephew’s crib, but that didn’t work out. When we were putting it together, we realized there was a piece missing, but the piece was part of the drop-side. I figured we could just call the company and see if they had a conversion kit we could buy to make the side stationary, and then it wouldn’t matter if we didn’t have that piece. When we called the company, however, the number was disconnected. At this point, hubby got on Consumer Reports to get some info about the company and the crib. I am not exaggerating, this is what it said: “Case for case, this is the deadliest crib on the market.” Then it talked about the company mysteriously disappearing in December. Needless to say, we aren’t using that crib. We checked and the recall was too old for us to return it somewhere, so we went to Ikea to buy a new crib.

Whenever we go to Ikea, we play a game where we count the pregnant ladies. We usually get around 15 obviously pregnant women, and before we left Saturday, hubby pointed out that we didn’t have to play our game. We no longer had to take note of each pregnant woman and think ugly, bitter thoughts at her because I was one of those pregnant women. In fact, I actually ovulated on our last trip to Ikea. Looking back to where we were then–only seven months ago, and where we are now is staggering.

The truth is that I still struggle with pregnant women. Like a girl at our church who is due two days after me. They weren’t trying and didn’t even know she was pregnant until she went to the doctor with a lot of cramping and found out she was eight weeks along. She keeps talking about how she doesn’t know anything about pregnancy and babies and how this was totally unexpected (even now when we’re over 30 weeks). It just seems so unfair that this gift just dropped in their laps while we had to work so hard for it. I haven’t forgotten where we came from. I still feel the pain of what we’ve been through. I very openly inform people that this baby is a miracle–one we didn’t think we would ever have. Hubby and I have talked about it, and we both confessed that we sincerely believed that this pregnancy wouldn’t work–that I would never be able to carry a child.

Infertility leaves a mark that never leaves. Even now, I still count the pregnant women.

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Breaking the Silence

I really didn’t want to be that blogger. The one gets pregnant and then stops posting. But the truth is that I had nothing to say. My life was a constant state of waiting and hoping, and I didn’t want to write a bunch of posts that were all the same: I’m fine, baby is fine, I’m still scared. It wasn’t even an issue of trying to be respectful of those still in the trenches–I just really didn’t have the desire to write those posts. I was happy and excited and having a textbook pregnancy, and I just wanted to ignore the fear and uncertainties. I was refusing to acknowledge all of the anxiety that I was harboring. But I wouldn’t be able to do that here. I couldn’t be that dishonest here. So I ignored this space and didn’t deal with those feelings. But now something has happened that I have to share. Something I’ve been waiting for, holding my breath.

I’ll be 26 weeks tomorrow–two weeks past viability. This whole pregnancy I’ve been worried about attachment because somewhere between Tup and our fifth loss, the eternal optimistic in me that could never be silenced was finally cut out. Every milestone that we’ve come to this pregnancy has been met with excitement, joy, and complete disbelief. I continued to be floored when things went well. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I honestly kept waiting for my baby to die. While I was happy and excited, I never truly believed that I would give birth to a healthy baby at the end of this, and I never truly attached to this life inside of me. Everything just felt like more practice in how far I could be pushed until I would completely break. Even when I felt the baby move–I could never make the emotional connection between those feelings and the child we would have in December.

Then something changed this week. Baby has gotten so much stronger and I’m a fairly small person so I can put a hand on my stomach and clearly feel little body parts moving around. And at some point I made the transition and starting thinking that the little life that is moving and squirming inside of me will be moving and squirming in my arms in December. Our baby is alive. I will hold that little body and touch those tiny fingers and kiss that tiny nose and watch those little legs kicking. The same ones that are growing and moving inside of me right now. I love this child. I love this child more than I ever thought possible. And instead of thinking that I cannot wait until he or she is born so that I can stop worrying and finally enjoy my baby, I’ve just been thinking about how I can’t wait until he or she is born simply because I want to meet this tiny person that I love so much.

I kept waiting for this transition. I kept waiting for attachment–the true attachment where I let go of the painful past and believe deep down in my being that the movements that I feel inside of me are my baby that I adore and I will meet in three months. And I just realized that I’m finally there. You would think it would make me even more afraid, but there is too much love and excitement and joy in my heart to fit fear right now. That might change, but, for now, I am going to allow myself to soak in this moment that I have waited three years for. I have endured so much pain and anxiety that I’m just going to let myself have this.

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The Red Dress

Back in October hubby and I went to the wedding of two good friends. When I was pregnant with Tup, I remember happily thinking that I would be wearing a maternity dress and sporting a large bump at their wedding, but that obviously didn’t happen. Then, two weeks before the wedding, Molly died. I felt like the whole world was against me, and that my life would be nothing but death and loss. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. So I dealt with it by going out and buying a sexy red dress for the wedding. If I couldn’t be large and pregnant, I was going to be super hot. We had a wonderful time at the wedding, and I felt beautiful and thankful to spend time with my fun husband. We drank and danced and laughed and for a small moment, I was so happy and I thought that maybe we would be ok.

The wedding photographers took this great photo of me dancing with my hubby

The wedding photographers took this great photo of me dancing with my hubby

Saturday we went to another wedding. I seem to have “popped” over the week, and when I pulled out my red dress, it looked perfect on my little baby bump. I happily wore it to the wedding–looking noticeably pregnant. And the dress still made me feel beautiful and sexy (and multiple people told me how hot I looked).

It’s amazing how much has changed in the months since that last wedding. This dress signified for me just how far we have come–where we were and how blessed we are to be where we are. I will never forget the pain of our losses. And I will never stop being grateful for this miracle–even in the midst of daily headaches and weekly migraines.

Here is the red dress, showing off my 17 week bump:

17 weeks pregnant

Sorry for the dirty mirror bathroom selfie

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Dreams

Now that I’m pregnant, I feel like I need some big event or a total anxious breakdown or something to write a blog post. One of the things I’m learning is that this step of our journey is a lot like other steps because there is a lot of waiting. With four weeks in between appointments, there is not much to update beyond my expanding waistline and the pregnancy symptoms that you could just read about on any of the countless pregnancy websites. I don’t want my posts to start looking like bumpdates, but I want to write because I know how frustrating it can be when a pregnant infertile disappears from blogland. So I’m going to try to post regularly, but I’m also going to try to keep it personal. We’ll see how it goes.

One of the many weird things about pregnancy is all of the vivid dreams. Due to all of the hormones and the fact that you are sleeping lighter, you have crazy dreams, and someone like me who doesn’t tend to remember her dreams starts to remember them. In my case, I sometimes remember them so well that I mistake dreams for actual memories, like when I was absolutely sure that hubby and I met a politician who is running for local office. I still have a hard time believing that didn’t actually happen, but the facts that I don’t remember any specific details about the moment and hubby has assured me on multiple occasions that it never occurred have me convinced that I’m just a crazy pregnant lady who is totally losing her grip on reality. This is not an isolated event either–I often have to ask myself during the day: did that memory really happen or did I just dream it?

The previous times I’ve been pregnant, I would have a recurring dream where I would give birth, and they would take the baby from me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t find my baby, and I couldn’t get it back. You don’t have to be a genius to interpret that one. But I haven’t had baby dreams with this pregnancy until Wednesday morning. I dreamt that I told my Papa that I’m pregnant, and he was so happy and so excited. He had a big smile on his face and gave me a huge hug. Then I told him that we are going to name the baby after him if he’s a boy. It was such a perfect, joyous moment, and I was so, so happy. And then I woke up. And I remembered that my Papa died a few months after hubby and I got married. I miss him. I want to talk to him like I did in my dream, and I want him to share in the joy we are experiencing right now. It was so real, and I was so heartbroken when I realized that it was only a dream.

Like I said before, I usually don’t remember my dreams. I would just wake up in the middle of the night feeling a really strong emotion–I would be terrified or incredibly sad, but I couldn’t remember why. Now I’m sad because I do remember.

 

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Seeing Our Baby

Sorry I’ve taken so long to update on my appointments last week. The truth is that I created this blog to cope with IF and loss because writing everything out helps me process and deal with it. Now that there are good things happening, I don’t even know how to approach them.

Monday started with me waking up at 3:00 in the morning and staring at the ceiling for two hours before I finally just gave up and got in the shower. We picked up my mom on the way to the OB, and we got there almost a half hour before my 7:30 appointment which actually turned out great because I was the first one on the sign-in sheet and we really didn’t have to wait at all–beyond waiting for the place to open.

Everything looked great at the ultrasound. Baby was kicking and moving and freaking out which was just amazing. My mom cried, but I just stared in awe the entire time, while occasionally laughing when the baby would kick out really hard. I seriously can’t wait to feel those little feet moving inside of me. It was so surreal to be having this ultrasound–especially after everything we’ve been through. The first thing I did was look for the heartbeat–it’s the first thing I always do, and I was panicked because the heart is so small now compared to the rest of the baby that it is not as immediately noticeable. When you are six weeks along, it’s like half the baby is the heartbeat, and you really can’t miss it when you are looking, but with each ultrasound, it looks smaller and smaller as the baby grows. But it was there, and it was beating. I don’t remember the exact number, but it was in the 150’s.

The tech even said that she could tell us the gender, which really surprised me because I thought 12 wks 2 days was way too early. I guess the super duper  ultrasound machine at the high risk OB is just crazy good enough to tell, but it didn’t matter anyway because we aren’t finding out the gender. That’s another post for another time.

After the appointment, we went to eat with my mom and went home for an hour. I took a nap because I was exhausted and dealing with a serious adrenaline drop that comes after a good appointment. Then we headed out to our midwife’s office, which is a little over an hour from our house. It’s a bit of a bummer that we have to drive so far to appointments, but I didn’t care for the midwives I spoke to who are based in our town. I think I’m going to save the midwife appointment for another post because there is so much information, but I will just say that I loved her and her assistant, and we are both sooo excited to be working with both of them!

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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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