Catching Our Rainbow

Hoping for a rainbow after the storm…

Sour Lemonade

I’m not sure if my last two posts have given a true sense of how I’ve been doing. It’s been rough. First, I’m pretty sure I can’t look at Facebook anymore. Seriously, the number of pregnancy announcements, gender announcements, and birth announcements seems to have increased. Maybe it’s because it was Thanksgiving, “We’re so thankful to announce that we will have a new member of the family.” Maybe it’s because I’m getting older so all of my friends are getting to the age that they reproduce. But it’s hard. Then last night, all of the girls in our church group had a girls night and one of them told us she’s 16 weeks. I’ve been waiting for this, for someone in our group to get pregnant. Someone that I see all the time and someone that I love dearly so I will be full of guilt when it makes me cry because I’m so sad. She even told us that they had been trying for two years and had just given up, so I feel even worse because I’m jealous of someone who is one of us.

The truth is that I’m sad and jealous because she’s 16 weeks. I’ve never made it that long. Tup was my longest pregnancy and that lasted 8 weeks. I know from being in this community that there is never a guarantee, but I feel like if I could just make it that long, we could have a baby. It’s been over two years and we’ve had four losses (that we know of), and I’m feeling broken, like my spirit is just beat down. I used to dream of being pregnant and giving birth and having our beautiful child, but now the thought of pregnancy terrifies me. Pregnancy only leads to heartbreak. We’re NTNP right now and whenever I think I feel some sort of pregnancy symptom or can’t remember how long it’s been since my last period, I get nervous. Not, “oh my gosh, I could be pregnant and we might actually have a baby” nervous, more like “Oh no, if I’m pregnant, that means I’m going to have another mc in the next month and I just can’t handle that right now” nervous. I guess you can call it a loss of hope, but I’m basically at the point where I honestly don’t think I will ever be able to carry a child. And that hurts. A lot.

I told you all that we’re talking about adoption and hope to start the process if hubby gets this job. We actually are going to have a consultation with my pregnant friend because she works for a law firm that does adoption and she’s going to go through our different options with us. If hubby doesn’t get this job, however, we’ll have to wait until I’m done with school. That’s another year and a half. For those keeping count, that’s a full four years after we started trying to have a baby before we even start the process. Hubby said that two of his friends got phone calls to come in for a interview last Wednesday, and he hasn’t heard anything. That doesn’t mean things are over and he’s not getting the job, but it doesn’t look too good either–especially since we’ve had the optimists beaten out of us the past two years. Last night we sat together and cried. Hubby said he feels like he let me down because he wasn’t good enough to get this job. I told him that I feel like I let him down because my body apparently doesn’t grow babies. It was rough. Yes, all of this is bringing us closer, but I wouldn’t recommend marriage-strengthening-through-loss.

So that’s where I really am. I’m sad and broken and a little resentful. Things may look good from the outside because we are trying our very best to make lemonade. But to be honest, the lemonade still tastes awfully sour.

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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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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.

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*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.

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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.

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On Being Positive

Lately I’ve had a few people comment on the blog and IRL that I have such a positive attitude about our IF and loss journey, and it has seriously taken me by surprise. It has made me step back and look at myself. Am I being more positive?

I think I have mentioned before that I am a wallower. I usually just wallow in my sadness and desperation. I think up worst-case scenarios in my head and live them over and over again. I’m not usually very good at seeing the silver lining and moving on, but I think that maybe there has been a small shift in my outlook. I believe that there is always room to grow, and I’m definitely not where I want to be, but I have been feeling less “OMG, the world is crashing down around me” lately.

I believe there are many contributing factors to this. The first is that Hubby has been very sick, so TTC has taken a back seat. His diagnosis has been a huge distraction for me. It has also caused a bit of a role reversal in our relationship–I am now the encourager who tries to stay positive when hubby is hurting and discouraged, which is a huge deal because I am learning that I am strong enough for that role. There was a time in my life when I never would have believed that because I am always the one who falls apart while hubby has always been the rock in our relationship. Hubby’s illness has also put a lot of things into perspective, and I have learned that there are things I care about much more than having children. I can honestly live child-free as long as I have my husband, and learning that has made nurturing our relationship my biggest priority. I can’t nurture my marriage when I am in the throws of despair.

Another reason I think I have been feeling more positive is the fact that we have a solid back-up plan. I know that, one way or another, we will have a child in our home in the next year or so, and that takes some of the pressure off. It also gives me something to look forward to, work towards, and get excited about. If I get pregnant again and have another miscarriage, we won’t be back where we started. Instead, we will have another adventure to start that will hopefully have a happier ending. That takes a big weight off my shoulders and keeps me from despairing about whether or not we will ever be parents.

I also think a big contributor to my better outlook is the months that I have taken off to heal. When the midwife suggested a six month break, I couldn’t believe it. I know she suggested such a long break so that we could have some emotional healing and not escape the healing process by jumping right back into TTC, and I can finally see now that it was a good recommendation. In the past few months, I have learned to face my pain and slowly put the pieces back together. I was helped along the way by a few close friends, some powerful prayer and worship sessions, openness between me and my husband, and the Bitter Infertiles Podcast.

I still miss my babies. I still look at the calender and feel a deep sadness when I see my due dates pass. I still wonder if I will ever be able to carry a pregnancy. I’m still scared about the uncertainty of our future. I think the biggest difference is that I have learned how to hope again, and I am going to hold on the that hope as hard as I can.

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How many times can my heart break before it can’t be pieced back together?

I have been getting better. I really have. I’ve been dealing with things in what I consider to be a healthy way, and I’ve seen progress. At least I’m not collapsing on the floor in tears anymore or taking multiple showers a day (when I’m really upset, I take a shower). I’m not sleeping great, but I like to attribute that to living in the allergy capital of the country. I’m dealing and moving on and not constantly thinking about babies or my inability to grow them. I’m getting better.

Or at least, I was.

This is really hard for me to talk about, but I’m going to channel Belle from Scrambled Eggs who really inspires me with her openness. Lately she has written quite a few posts and prefaced them with a paragraph about how hard they are to write, but she always comes back saying how glad she is that she opened up. And, honestly, who else am I going to talk to about this? So here goes nothing: hubby and I have had a problem. A sexy problem. I’ve noticed a major decline in how often we have sex. Not only that, I’ve noticed that I am the only one who initiates it, and nine times out of ten, hubby politely declines my come ons. I’ve talked to him about it a few times, but he always says that he is very tired from working full time and doing fire academy or he isn’t feeling well or some other excuse and I always feel like he is avoiding telling me something. This has been going on for a couple of months, and it has taken a major toll on my self esteem. I miss the emotional connection that comes from sex, so I started getting braver and putting myself out there a lot more, but this extra effort didn’t work which left me feeling even worse because I was trying so hard to seduce my husband and getting rejected. I was starting to wonder if he still found me sexually attractive or if my *ahem* performance left something to be desired because, let’s be honest, what guy turns down head every time? So last night when we went to bed I asked him, again, what’s going on, and I wasn’t stopping until I got the truth. And I got it. And it broke my heart. Here is the general idea of the conversation, after much back and forth:

Hubby: I just haven’t really been in the mood lately.

Me: Why?

Hubby: I didn’t want to talk to you about it because I knew it would upset you.

Me: Well, I’m already upset and now you have to tell because I know something is wrong.

Hubby: Well, I just haven’t been in the mood because I’ve been sad.

Me: What do you mean? Why?

Hubby: Because everyone is having babies.

***Very long pause***

Me: You don’t want to have sex with me because you’re upset about the fact that we can’t have a baby right now?

Hubby: Yeah. I try, but whenever we start to get in the mood, I think about babies and I don’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t want to tell you because I knew it would upset you and it’s my job to take care of you and help you not be upset.

So many bloggers have said that their breaking point was seeing their fertility issues upsetting their hubbies, and now I understand. I hate this so much. And I have no idea how to handle it. I can just feel my heart breaking over and over again. I keep going back and forth between feeling completely devastated and feeling numb. Tears keep brimming every few minutes at work, and I can’t really think about anything else. Yesterday (before this monumental conversation), I shredded some cheese for hubby’s chili when we discovered that we only had block cheese and he said, “What would I do without you little wifey?” and I think I said, “Well, you would be cheeseless, wouldn’t you?” but what I was thinking was, “You would probably have a baby.” I didn’t realize at the moment just how spot on I was. I know it’s not fair to beat myself up like this, but I am feeling so lost. I don’t know how to even begin dealing with this.

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