Empty and waiting

It’s been a month since my D&C. That’s hard to believe in some ways. In other ways, I struggle to remember what it was like. Was I ever even pregnant? Was any of that real?

They say you eventually forget how difficult pregnancy and delivery are, that’s why you have more children. Do you ever really forget the pain – physical and emotional – of a miscarriage? My pain is like a badge of honor. I’m not ashamed of what I went through (am going through), and I’m not afraid to talk about it.

Every glimpse of a pregnant woman still makes me catch my breath a little bit. And that’s a lot of missed breaths, because the woman who works across the hall from me is due in about six weeks. She brought me a cupcake from her baby shower, and the beautiful, air-brushed, butter cream  and blue “baby” border alternately make me want to devour it and hurl it across my office. I’d better eat it soon and put myself out of my misery.

On Saturday, we are moving to a new home, a house we hope will give us room to grow, however big our family gets. The stress has been high. But even when Dave and I reach what used to be our combustion point, we somehow have the capacity to step back from the edge, look at each other and smile. Loss has given us a new perspective on our marriage, our family and our priorities.

We’re going to try again. But this time, I’m not peeing on ovulation sticks or FSH tests. I’m not taking my temperature every morning, and I’m not obsessing over every tenth of a degree climb or fall. I’m not charting my luteal phase or marking off days of intercourse. I’m not checking the position of my cervix or the texture of my mucus. I’m not using special lubricant. I’m going to let my body decide.

At least as long as I can stand it.

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This was not the post I wanted to write.

This post was supposed to be all scanned-in ultrasound pictures and “can you believe I’m having another December baby” and “ha-ha I got pregnant the day we left for Disney World even though I hadn’t had my period in 42 days!” and “the heartbeat is only 117 OMG – do you think it’s a boy?” and “I found out I was pregnant at my first infertility appointment, what a great story!”

I still have the ultrasound pictures.

In fact, I am still technically pregnant.

But I stopped feeling nauseated two days ago. My boobs stopped hurting a week ago. And nine days ago, a second ultrasound told us that our baby, the baby we waited so long to come, would not be coming after all. Sometime after that first joyous ultrasound, his little heart stopped beating.

For two days, the only thing I got out of bed to do was attend Mother’s Day Tea at Rachel’s school and go to the bathroom. I was so tired, but I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t face people. I couldn’t put on a fake smile and ask after their children or their job or their spouse (though I did all that to be there for my little girl’s Mother’s Day program).

I cried a lot. I am still crying, almost every day. That part of me that hoped that they were wrong has been silenced. Dave and I comfort each other in our grief, and comfort Rachel, who had looked confusedly at the first ultrasound pictures and declared her new sibling looked like a dog. She was heartbroken, but in her grief, found it in her heart to crawl into bed with me, stroke my hair and whisper “Shhh, Mommy. It will be okay. I’m here.” She is getting me through. With every prayer to God to take care of our baby and every peal of laughter that gives me some normalcy, she is getting me through.

They estimate the baby died three weeks ago. My body is not giving any sign it will miscarry on its own, so I made the painful and scary decision to have the D&C next Thursday. I got the call from the hospital today to go over my medical history. They asked, “How far along are you?”

How far along am I?

That’s a good question. I didn’t know how to answer. I said 10 weeks, because that’s how far along I would be, under normal circumstances. But I felt the need to clarify – I had to tell the nurse that I wasn’t choosing this, that I had been carrying around my dead baby for three weeks. I just want some closure.

But I’m not throwing away those ultrasound pictures. Not ever.

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What do you get when you take this:

And add this:

We’re going to find out. And I am so excited.

We leave in about a month. She has no idea.

We have a late afternoon flight. She has been saving up her pennies, nickels, dimes and the occasional $20 bill in her piggy bank for nearly two years. The morning we leave, I think we will take her to the bank to turn in her piggy bank. And we will tell her we’re going to Disney World.

I think I am more excited to tell her than anything else. We have been talking about doing this for a long time, ever since a friend of ours was hired as a public relations “cast member” and moved her family down. We always put it off – what if I’m pregnant? What if we have a newborn? What if we sell the house? What if we don’t sell the house? What if they do layoffs at work? What if I don’t get a raise this year? What if, what if, what if…

Well I’m sick of putting our lives on hold waiting for something that may or may not happen. I’m going to have some fun. And I’m going to give my little girl some fun too!

It’s not going to be the most relaxing of vacations, but I think that’s okay. We tried to do relaxing last year, and it didn’t exactly go as planned. We might as well just go ahead and do something exhausting and fun that we know she will just love so much.

I didn’t got to Disney World until I was 14 years old. I hope she knows how lucky she is…

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Quandary (TMI)

Not to go back to this again so soon… but I am faced with more than the obvious difficulty of secondary infertility.

I don’t think my doctor is taking me seriously.

I first went to see my OB/GYN in October. By then, we had been trying to conceive for several months. I was lactating from both breasts, both during the period in which I likely was ovulating and then leading up to menstruation. She tested my hormone levels, and everything came back normal. I was told to keep at it.

In November, I had my annual exam. I expressed continued concern about our inability to get pregnant. I was told to relax. It had happened once, it will happen again. The likelihood of there being a problem with either of us was minimal, she said, because we’d already proved we could conceive. But, she said, she could put me on Clomid whenever I wanted. You’re young, she said, you’ve got time.

After a 39-day cycle in November-December, my husband could hardly stand to see me so sad again.

I feel like I know my body. I feel like there is something wrong. I’m not sure what it is. I have been charting for several months, using ovulation predictor kits. Both methods show that I am ovulating (I have the hormone surge prior to ovulation and the temperature shift afterward).  And I never have to take a pregnancy test and be disappointed because my temperature always goes down before I get my period.

I’ve decided this month that it must be the environment that I provide. Checking my mucus has been next to impossible – since I gave birth in December 2005, I rarely have any (a complaint I have mentioned to my doctor three times in the last year). While we have been using the special, non-sperm-killing lubricant for about six months now, I started taking a (costly) pill that is supposed to improve my production. I don’t know if it’s working.

I’m pretty sure Clomid isn’t the answer. I don’t know what is.

I have had no objections to my doctor before this point. She was wonderful throughout my pregnancy and post-natal experience. At what point do I demand to be seen again? How do I explain that something is just not working right? As I watch Rachel get older and older, I want to give her a sibling before they will be too far apart in age to get along. I want to have my last baby before I’m 35.

I know I can’t plan these things. I’m trying to relax. I’m trying to think about other things. But I’m struggling. And I hate waiting.

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Growing up

Now let’s talk about Rachel.

She is growing up so much, so quickly.

She’s doing all the regular four-year-old things: beginning to recognize and sound out words, writing her name, riding her bike (when weather permits), doing chores and understanding how things work. After some final realtor business Saturday morning, we played Disney Princess Barbies and Disney bingo and Legos and Polly Pockets and Crayola Glow Station and read stories all weekend. It was great – after weeks and weeks of home improvement projects, cleaning projects and general de-cluttering, several hours of play interrupted only by a need to make dinner or go to church or take a nap was phenomenal.

After nearly two weeks at home (or with relatives) over the holidays, she was ready to get back to school last week. She missed her friends and couldn’t wait to tell them that she was four now. She expressed the same sentiment last night as we were getting ready for bed.

But this morning was the polar opposite. Already up for more than an hour, I was downstairs pulling clothes out of the dryer when I heard her wailing upstairs. She didn’t want to go to school. Her friends were mean to her. She wanted to stay with mommy and daddy.

I wanted to give in to that desire – I am leaving tomorrow morning for Atlanta and won’t see her again until Sunday afternoon. I wanted to take the day off, curl up with her and have a repeat of the weekend. Giving in would only make coaxing her out of the house tomorrow that much more difficult.

I held her for awhile, absorbing her sobs while I rocked her back and forth, amazed that so much despair could come from her over something she was looking forward to not 16 hours earlier. After a few moments of silence, she helped me fold the laundry and I cajoled her out of her woe by trying to slide into her blue jeans and putting her father’s underwear on my head.

She giggled at my silliness. And I consider that a success.

Posted in I'm a mommy, I'm a worker bee | 1 Comment

Creating a diversion

Now that that is over with…

Let’s talk about something different. Let’s talk about that yellow-and-black real estate sign that will go up in my front yard on Saturday. I thought the stress of trying to get knocked up and failing, along with the stress of the holidays, the stress of having a husband in grad school and simultaneously studying for the GRE was just not enough for me. Let’s sell our house too!

We just need a better school district. Rachel will not be in kindergarten until 2011 (she just turned four last week), but I’d rather be in a place and settled well before then. Also, we’ve outgrown our house. Hard to believe with just three people, but once you start getting things like four-foot wooden Barbie houses and puppet theaters to add to your kitchen set and baby doll high chair and cradle, all stashed in what used to be called a dining room… Well, you get the idea.

We spent most of December and the break cleaning, repairing, sanding, staining, painting, organizing, de-cluttering and boxing up. Now every evening I cook dinner (without the benefit of fancy appliances like a food processor, mixer or toaster oven – all in storage), clean up from dinner and clean everything. Everything. I have stashed Lysol wipes, cleansers and paper towels in every available spot. I work, cook and clean. I’m like the hired help. I just hope the payoff (pay check?) is worth it.

Though moving is no fun, the idea of having something new, finding a new place for all my things, decorating it the way I want to is, if nothing else, distracting. Explaining the process to a four-year-old, who began boxing up her toys and wondering if we would be taking the dogs with us to the new house the first time we broached the idea with her, is also taking some doing.

Honestly, it’s kind of nice to have something to focus on other than my barren womb and that day’s waking temperature and the consistency of my… you get the idea. So I’m going to have the cleanest, nicest-looking house ever that I can. And it’s going to sell in no time.

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It’s been almost a year since I stopped writing here.

I had hoped a lot would have changed in that year. I kept putting off writing again, thinking how fun it would be to come back with an “announcement.” But as the days, weeks, months passed and I had no announcement to make, I had no reason to justify my absence. Then, as someone very close to me became public about her journey, her struggles, I felt silly sharing mine.

Because I have been blessed. I have the most beautiful, caring, thoughtful, gracious, smart, friendly and open little girl in the world (at least I think so). My wonderful sister, and so many like her, does not have that. My pain is miniscule compared to hers, augmented by the serious illness of her father (my stepfather).

I know what it is to feel my newborn child in my arms, to wake up in the middle of the night and be the only one who can soothe her cries. I know what it is to smell her hair, to feel her soft smoothness under my fingers, against my cheek, at my breast. I know what it is to hold her as she sobs from an injury to her body, her soul, her pride. I know what it is to see her laugh with her friends, sing songs on a stage, write her name, turn two, turn three, turn four…

Yes, I have been blessed.

I also know what it is to look into her little face and explain that no, there is no baby in Mommy’s belly right now. That yes, it is taking a long time. That no, neither God nor Santa Claus forgot Mommy this year. That it will happen someday, when the time is right. She will make an excellent big sister. She will be so helpful, so tender, so nurturing. I cannot wait to give it to her.

I am waiting. The pain is sometimes crushing. The hope is tempered.  But I am still waiting. And I am still hoping.

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