Catching Our Rainbow

Hoping for a rainbow after the storm…

Stepping back…

…from the crazy ledge.

First, I want to say thank you to all of you wonderful, wonderful bloggers who left such kind and supportive comments on my last post. I can’t even tell you how much your words and prayers mean to me. I am doing much better now, and I attribute most of it to the support and prayers I’ve received.

I’ll start with hubby. Hubby’s fever had disappeared by the time he got to his appointment, and it has not reared its ugly head again, thank goodness. Dr. GI is still trying his best to get hubby’s pain under control without surgery because people with Crohn’s tend to have surgical complications (like adhesions) that lead to more surgeries, and once you start cutting, you may never go back. Hubby’s inflammation levels were back up at his appointment which means that the pain could be from inflammation instead of scarring (which is good–scarring means surgery), and since Dr. GI really doesn’t want hubby to go back on steroids, he prescribed an immunosuppressant drug to go with his Hum.ira. The idea is that the two drugs in combination can kick his Crohn’s into remission and then we can discuss a maintenance drug (possibly sticking with Hum.ira, we’ll see). Hubby seems to be doing a little better, which is normal because his pain has been pretty inconsistant lately. I’m just glad that the fever is gone and he isn’t going to have surgery. Yet. And I’m hoping that this new drug combo will help him.

After yesterday morning’s scary spotting episode, I have not seen anymore red. The spotting turned brown and tapered off through the day and has been negligible today (maybe four or five light brown drops), and my pregnancy symptoms are still present, so I’m going to continue on as pregnant until proven otherwise. We will know more on May 23rd when we have our ultrasound. Eight more sleeps. I can do this.

After hubby’s appointment yesterday, he picked me up at work to take me to lunch and I just sat and cried in his car for awhile. I think it was good for me–I haven’t let go like that yet during this pregnancy, and it was very cleansing to release some of that fear and anxiety. Note to self: crying can be a good thing–don’t fight it.

Continued prayers are appreciated. They have really encouraged me.

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Support

I’ve seen quite a few posts about how to support someone who is going through IF or loss. I think it’s great that people have written these posts because, let’s face it, we aren’t an easy group to understand and support. Statements that are meant to be helpful and supportive can be really hurtful to many in our community. I’m learning that this is not necessarily unique to to IF/loss, and being a good source of support for anyone isn’t easy.

Over the past few months, I have been struggling with how to support my husband as he deals with Crohn’s disease. My heart just breaks when I see him in pain, and I desperately want to make him better. But I can’t. I can’t heal him. I can’t alleviate his pain. I can’t promise him that he will feel better soon. So what can I do? Over the past week I’ve been in prayer about how to support him, how to be a good wife to him as he faces this terrible disease. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Pray for him I pray for my husband’s health regularly. I don’t just pray that he will be healed–I also pray that the Lord will walk with him through the desert. I pray for strength to endure and peace to deal with a diagnosis that sucks. And I make sure that hubby knows that he is being surrounded by prayer by telling him when I pray for him. 
  • Serve him When hubby has bad days where he can’t really leave the couch, I serve him. I make him something to eat that won’t make him hurt more. I bring him anything he needs. I take care of things he is usually in charge of (like mowing the lawn or putting the dog up at night) so he won’t stress about it. It’s exhausting, but it’s so rewarding and giving him the opportunity to rest makes a big difference to his pain levels.
  • Abide with him Earlier this week, hubby was hurting too much to stay in bed, so he took another pain pill and went to living room and propped himself in a more comfortable position on the couch. Instead of taking my usual approach (silently bemoaning the interruption in my sleep and shutting the bedroom door so he doesn’t keep me up), I got up and went into the living room. I held his hand and talked with him to help distract him until the pain pill kicked in. I let him know that he’s not alone in this.
  • Love him I try to use every opportunity to remind my husband of how much I love him. Sometimes he will say something like, “I’m sorry you are stuck with a broken hubby” and I refuse to accept that. I remind him that I meant it when I said “in sickness and in health.” I make it a point to show him and tell him that I love him and his illness cannot change that, and in some ways, his illness has made me love him even more because it has given me the opportunity to serve and support him in a big way.

So that is how I have learned to support my hubby: pray, serve, abide, and love. And you know what? I think that’s a good way to support someone through just about anything.

What kind of support have you received that has been particularly helpful or encouraging?

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Community

Lately I’ve been wondering what role this blog needs to play in my life while hubby and I are taking a break from TTC. I wonder if I am really letting myself step back and take a break when I am still reading, posting, and surrounding myself with this world. In wondering this, I have begun to really evaluate what this community means to me and what role it plays in my life.

I love having support from people who understand (at least on some level–everyone’s story is different) what I am going through, and I love knowing that I can be that support to some other people. It always amazes me how much love and encouragement I can receive just from a comment on a post or an email from someone else in the community, and lately I’ve been trying to make the effort to leave some love on the posts that I read. Every time I read about a BFP or a birth, I get so excited and celebrate for that couple. It gives me hope, and I truly feel joy for them because I know the road that they have traveled to get to that BFP was long and hard.

But being part of this community is also heartbreaking. I feel a connection with some of these couples, and I will cheer and hope and pray so hard for them. But sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes my WP reader is full of BFN’s, failed IVF’s and FET’s, and miscarriages. It’s easy to feel hopeless when you are surrounded by these stories, and sometimes it is so hard to deal with other couples’ losses when I’m already dealing with my own. But you what? That’s what community is all about: sharing joy and sharing pain. It’s about encouragement and commiseration. It’s about letting yourself care about people enough that your heart will break for them. It’s about posting funny stuff that will brighten everyone’s day.

This community is important to me, and I plan on sticking around, even when we aren’t currently TTC.

Speaking of funny stuff, because we want to give my body time to heal and I’m not emotionally ready for another pregnancy right now, we are preventing pregnancy. Believe me, the irony is not lost on us. Anyway, little Miss Molly likes to get into the trashcan in our bathroom, and while we usually are good about keeping the door shut and keeping her out of the bathroom, she still manages to get into to it every once in awhile. Earlier this week, I was outside with her and saw something weird when she pooped. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a condom. Oh my goodness. We are now buying a new trashcan with a lid.

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Validation

Throughout our entire journey, I have felt little support from my mom. When we were having trouble TTC, she would always brush it off and even seemed annoyed at my concerns, and when I told her about my first miscarriage, she asked me if I really had a miscarriage or if my period just started. She basically refused to talk about it with me, and she never really acknowledged that I actually had a mc, acting like it didn’t count because it was so early. Whenever I let her know that I was upset, she would get defensive/angry and tell me that I had to stop obsessing about getting pregnant, that I’m only 24. I know that this was her coping mechanism because the subject is so painful, but it was extremely hard for me. I kept telling hubby that of all people, I should be able to talk to my mother about this, and it just strengthened my resolve to be more supportive of my children than my mother is of me. Don’t misunderstand me–I love my mom, but I was very hurt by the fact that she would not acknowledge my mc or the pain and fear that came with it. I was so hurt by her attitude that I didn’t even tell her about the second one after it happened. When I finally built up the courage to tell her about the third one (and the second one), I was expecting more of the same: treating me like I’m overreacting and need to just chill out and stop worrying and wait a few years before trying again. I must say that my mother surprised me. Our initial conversation was fairly uneventful, and while I was saddened by the fact that she didn’t have much to say, I was glad that she didn’t say anything negative. A few days later, however, she called me with stories of several women at her work who had multiple mc’s and now have children and a list of recommended doctors. She also told me that one of the women planted a tree for every baby she lost and that she thinks I should do that. The amount of validation I received from this phone call was staggering. I really needed my mom to support me in this, and she finally came through. I can’t put into words how important that was to me.

Is there an important person in your life who won’t acknowledge your struggle? Did you ever have a moment when you suddenly got the support you needed?

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All over the Place

I feel like my posts are all over the place lately. I guess that’s fitting because I’ve been pretty all over the place lately. I’ve got so many emotions running around inside me right now, I’m really surprised I can create something that even resembles a coherent thought. It amazes me how comforting it can be to just sit down and throw up all of my feelings on this blog. I keep going from being so devastated I wonder how I can even function, to being sunshine and rainbows and sure that everything is going to be fine, to being really pissed off and not really so pleasant to be around. You get the picture: yet another mc + raging hormones = Danielle is a mess. I will admit that I’m doing a whole lot better than I thought I would, and I contribute that to the support I have.

I’ve already told you all about how wonderfully supportive my hubby is, but I really can’t emphasize that enough. He always seems to give me exactly what I need when I need it without me having to ask for it. I usually contribute this to the fact that we were long distance for almost the entire five years we dated, so we are really good at the communication thing because our only contact for the majority of those fives years was talking on the phone. I know that fertility issues and loss can really take its toll on relationships, and I am soooo thankful that this is only bringing hubby and I closer.

Another blessing? My sister, S. S and I didn’t always get along. We basically hated each other for most of our childhood, but over the past few years, we have grown super close. After I found out I was pregnant and I was pretty much freaking out, hubby suggested that I call my sister, and I’m glad I did. Since hubby and I got married, S has been asking me when she gets to be an Auntie. And not in an obnoxious, I’m putting-so-much-pressure-on-you sort of way. So she has been very supportive and loving, and the only thing that I regret about calling her for support is that I know her heart breaks with ours.

I also had no idea how much the supportive posts (and an email from a special blogger) would impact me. It has encouraged me more than I can say. Thank you all for being so loving and kind towards me. It means the world.

 

*                              *                              *

 

So keeping in my apparent theme of being all over the place, let me tell you about my appointment yesterday:

It was fairly short and uneventful (in a good way), and the midwife we talked to, Laura, was very sweet and a great listener. She had them draw blood to check my hCG and my antibodies because I’m A-. She originally wanted to give me rhoGAM, but I told her that hubby is also A- and there is no possible way that the baby has a different father. After I told her that, she agreed that I wouldn’t need it but said that she would like to check my antibodies just to legally protect the birth center. I’m ok with that. She was also going to run more tests to check my thyroid, my clotting, and other stuff, but I had all of those tests run in June and they all came back normal, so we didn’t run any of them again. She also told me that she is willing to refer me to either an RE or a high risk OB, but we have plenty of time to decide because she said that we should wait six months before we start TTC again.

Six months. Six months is a long time. In six months, we will pass two of my due dates and the year and a half mark of TTC. If we wait six months, the very earliest we could have a baby is December of next year. This means there is a very good chance that I won’t have a baby until 2014. There’s also a good chance I won’t have a baby before the year anniversary of two of my due dates. I probably won’t have a baby until I’m 26, which is a little daunting considering I’m 24 right now. In my heart, I know that we need to wait–that it will be good for me both physically and emotionally, and I was already planning on waiting at least three months, but damn that is a long time.

What is the longest break you have taken from TTC? Have you seen an RE or a high risk OB? Who was the biggest source of support on your journey?

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Just because I try to stay positive….

… does NOT mean I don’t have feelings and you can say whatever you want to me–I am sad and hormonal, and I am not impervious to hateful comments!

Yesterday hubby and I got the chance to spend some quality time with our best friends and their 5 month old son. This is the couple that got pregnant on the first try, had a textbook pregnancy, and their son is a happy, healthy boy. I have worked very hard on not resenting or begrudging them because it is honestly not their fault that it was so easy for them, and I would never wish fertility issues or a miscarriage on someone. I was there her entire pregnancy, giving her support and listening to her whenever she needed to talk. When she had her baby, I organized with some people from our church so they would have a meal brought to them every day for at least a week after they got home from the hospital. Whenever we visited them or went out with them, hubby or I would hold or feed their baby so they got a chance to eat a complete meal in peace. I have honestly loved watching that little man grow, and I am so happy for my friends.

While we were hanging out, my friend made two comments that didn’t sit well with me.

I told her that we have started actively TTC again after our post mc break because she has really been there every step of the way. She and her hubby have been through a lot of our experience with us–being hopeful for us, being sad with us, being frustrated with us, and whenever I get pregnant (see that positive thinking there?) she will be one of the first people I tell. First, she told me that her co-worker is also TTC. Apparently, this girl is super fertile and got pregnant on the first try with one of her kids and got pregnant while on BC with the other one, so my friend is expecting her to announce any time now. This was followed by a comment that went something like this: “So you and (coworker) will probably be pregnant at the same time and I’m going to hate my life because I’ll have to deal with both of you.”

Later in the conversation, we told our friends about hubby’s new life plan. Hubby is currently a mechanic and a volunteer firefighter. In September, he will start fire academy which he is really excited about. It is a 240 hour course–Tuesdays and Thursdays for 7 months, and once he is done, he will have enough certifications to get a full time fire job. If he gets a full time fire job, he will make more money than we make combined right now. So we are hoping that he will be able to get a full time fire job because he loves working with the fire department, and if he gets one, I will be able to quit my job whenever we have a baby. My friend was very upset when she had to go back to work after she had her baby, and when we told her about the awesome opportunity that hubby has right now, she said, “If you get to stay home with your baby and I’m still going to work, I will hate you.”

I’m hesitant to write about these things because it makes my friend sound like she is always hateful and unsupportive, which isn’t true, but this kind of attitude and these comments have become more and more frequent. I know she’s been having a rough time lately (fighting with hubby and PPD) and that makes her negative, but these two comments really cut me down to the very center of my heart. She has essentially had everything handed to her when it came to TTC, and she is not allowed to resent me when I get  pregnant! Am I so wrong to expect the same love and support I gave her? I just can’t believe she would talk about how inconvenient it would be for her if I got pregnant, when she knows what all hubby and I have been through.

I know every person with one of these blogs has stories like this, where someone says something that isn’t very nice in the first place, but it is like a slap in the face when you take into consideration the circumstances. Please excuse me while I go cry in the corner.

-Danielle

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What NOT to Say

It seems like every blog I read that deals with infertility/loss has at least one post on things that you should not say to a woman who is struggling with becoming pregnant or a loss. I wanted to share some things people have said that made me want to punch them in the face were unintentionally hurtful.

  • If it’s meant to be, it will happen:I’m fairly certain this is just something people say when they have no idea what to say. I think people believe this phrase makes them sound wise and empathetic, but I personally think it makes them sound insensitive and a bit moronic. I work in emergency services so I hear lots of horrible stories from our paramedics: babies that die from drug withdrawal because their mothers are addicts, toddlers who are covered in deep burns from their abusive parents, etc. Apparently, it was meant to be for these parents. If I don’t have kids, it’s because I just wasn’t meant to be a parent–obviously, I would be a huge failure at it.
  • All in God’s timing: Similar to the above phrase, this seems to be a phrase that people say when they have no idea what to say because they seem to think it makes them sound not only wise and empathetic, but also deeply spiritual. This is probably the phrase that I resent the most because it suggests I don’t have enough faith to trust in God’s timing and need to be reminded of it. Growing up, I never wanted kids. I thought the girls whose life goals were to grow up and be mothers needed their heads examined. Then something changed. Something I can’t quite put my finger on. I believe it was God working in my heart and calling me to be a mother, and I have a hard time believing that the God I love would call me to something yet keep me from doing it. In fact, I completely reject that suggestion.
  • Just relax–it will happen as soon as you stop trying: It seems like everyone I talk to knows someone who quit TTC and got pregnant. If my progesterone is low, not thinking about it will not magically bring it back up and cause me to get pregnant. Also, how are you supposed to make a big life decision, like having a baby, then not think about it? “Oh yes, I want a baby, but I’m going to pretend like I don’t so that it will actually happen.” You’re right, that makes perfect sense.
  • Just enjoy having sex with your husband: I find this highly offensive because it suggests that the fact that I’m upset about having trouble getting and staying pregnant means that I am not enjoying having sex with my husband. If good sex equaled babies, a lot of people with children would be childless and visa versa.
  • You are so young, you have plenty of time to have kids: I’m not entirely sure why everyone seems to think that 24 is too young to worry about fertility issues. Biologically, I should be at the peak of my fertility–nothing but downhill from here. Yet, despite a year of trying, we still don’t have a baby. Why do people insist that this isn’t cause for concern?
  • (Regarding my miscarriage) You didn’t have a miscarriage, you just had a late period: In the minds of a lot of people, a chemical pregnancy is not considered a miscarriage–it is a late period. According to this train of thought, if I hadn’t taken that pregnancy test, I wouldn’t even know that I was pregnant and therefore, that pregnancy didn’t count. When you spend nine months fruitlessly trying to get pregnant (like my choice of words there?), that second line is a huge cause for excitement and celebration. And no matter how far along you are, losing that piece of hope is devastating. To quote Dr. Seuss, “A person is a person, no matter how small.”

What should you say to someone struggling with fertility issues/loss?

How about, “I can’t possibly understand what you are going through right now, but I am truly sorry you are having to go through this.” That sounds good. Don’t try to relate to people that you can’t relate to–just because your sister’s best friend’s uncle’s first wife had a miscarriage does not mean you understand what I am going through, so stop trying to pretend like you do. You know what I have found the most comforting? A big hug (at an appropriate time, of course–don’t make me cry in the grocery store). You don’t have to say a word, just show me that you care, and you are there for me.

What sayings have you gotten that thoroughly tick you off? Has anyone said/done anything that genuinely comforted and encouraged you?

-Danielle

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Support

Who do you turn to for support when it feels like you are the only one who understands what you are going through? I am the first person in my circle of friends that has dealt with fertility issues and miscarriage. I am only the second person in my circle of friends who has even started trying to have kids. That can leave a girl feeling awfully lonely. So where do I turn?

Hubby: Hands down, my best source of support has been my hubby. He is my best friend who knows what I’m thinking before I ever have to say a word and can make me laugh no matter how far down I am. I could never dream up a man more perfect for me than hubby. He is a wonderful listener when I am upset or discouraged, and he is wonderful at building me up and not letting me get down on myself. I know that fertility issues and mc’s can really do a toll on relationships, but everything that we have been through has only brought the two of us closer. I could never say just how blessed I am to have him.

Baby Center Groups: Ok, I always thought that people who used internet forums or similar types of groups were pathetic and needed to get a life that involved real people beyond their computer screens. Now I am one of those people. As much as I love hubby and as much support as I receive from him, I needed comfort and support from women whose stories are similar to mine, and I was amazed at the love, wisdom, and encouragement that I found in a group called Trying to Conceive After Miscarriage at Baby Center. Through this group, I am part of a community that gives me a place to vent, get advice,  celebrate, find stories similar to mine, etc. It has taught me that an online support system can be very helpful as long as you don’t let it consume all of your time and energy–don’t become so obsessed with it that you forget the real world.

Blogs: I have also found quite a few blogs that I have enjoyed reading. Even if I have never spoken to these women, I feel connected to them, and I know that I’m not alone. One of my favorites is This Place is Now a Home which talks about one couple’s nine month struggle with fertility, then it covers her pregnancy and the growth of their adorable son.  She recently posted about a mc, and that made me feel even more connected to her. I’ve also recently discovered Dog Mom Chasing the Stork, which is a fairly new blog chronicling struggles with fertility and a mc. I’m not the only one out there dealing with fertility issues, and I’m not the only one who has been devastated by a mc. These blogs remind me of that fact, and even if they aren’t always upbeat and positive, that feeling of not being alone really encourages me. Being able to root for someone else and their journey just warms me.

So if you are looking for somewhere to turn, check out the groups at Baby Center. They have countless groups, and there is a place for everyone. You can also check out the blogs I mentioned–I have grown quite fond of the women who wrote them :D

Where do you turn to for support? Are there any online groups you are a part of or any particular blogs you enjoy reading?

-Danielle

5 Comments »

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