My Story-Pregnancy Loss Journey

be brave

Today my story about Jaxon and my second trimester pregnancy loss is featured on pregnancylossjourney.com.

The timing seems fitting as today is my three year anniversary of starting my blog, 31chances.  On November 22, 2014, I was recovering from a D&C two days prior from my second loss where I had been pregnant with twin girls.  I remember sitting on the couch on Thanksgiving morning with the dog snuggled by me and I started writing.  There was so much grief and so many painful memories haunting me every day.  I had to find a place for all my pain to go and I let it come out through my finger tips onto a key board.  It’s not easy to share this story, but I’ve learned that by being brave and sharing my story, it makes others brave too.

Here’s my story – Pregnancy Loss at 15 weeks.
My baby Jaxon – I Remember you Everyday

Photo 1 sunrise waves

The trouble with pregnancy loss is that the grief and memories of it never really go away. It isn’t a short-lived, painful event that can be dismissed with the words “pregnancy loss” or miscarriage” with an assumption that recovery occurs when the event is over. It is the death of a baby and the sudden un-doing of hopes and dreams for that child. And it is the sudden realization that the love that came so quickly and grew so huge, now has nowhere to go in the confusion of heartache, grief and very likely depression. Sometimes the pain fades to a softer grief when we allow time and healing to take over. Sometimes the trauma gets stuck and comes back to visit on important dates, or when we are reminded by the weather, or a smell, or a word, or a name, or a place, or a walk through Target’s baby section, or a pregnancy announcement, or a baby shower invitation, or a song, or a butterfly, or maybe even in a moment of silence it all comes crashing down.

I remember all the time. I remember every day that I made a baby named Jaxon.

My husband and I went through our first round of IVF in December 2012, three months after we were married. We found out soon after the holidays that we were pregnant. It worked! Could we really be this lucky? Our first try? We were so grateful and a bit terrified. At 38 years old, I had waited long enough. I was finally going to be a Mom.

Every time we had an ultrasound and got to see the heartbeat we were just so in love. My favorite memory was an ultrasound at nearly 12 weeks where we got to see so much detail of our growing baby and his cute little movements. He was perfect.

Photo 2 ultrasound

At about 13 weeks we announced our pregnancy to everyone. EVERYONE. How quickly we spread the news and happiness to all those nearest and dearest to us.

photo 3 baby announcement

However, the joy of sharing the news and the relief of transitioning to my second trimester of pregnancy was so cruelly short-lived. I started having problems right after 13 weeks and by 15 weeks he was gone.  We lost Jaxon on March 23, 2013, two days before my 39th birthday.

About a week or two before losing Jaxon, it all started with sudden bleeding. Very, very heavy bleeding. It was terrifying and there I was alone in a bathroom stall at work and I could not understand what could possibly be happening. When I was able to get myself together, I called my husband and I called the doctor’s office. After going over all of my symptoms over the phone with the nurse, she thought it might be a subchorionic hematoma.   What the heck is that? What does this mean? Will my baby be ok? An ultrasound later that day revealed a healthy baby but we could also see the source of the bleeding and the nurse was right. It was a subchorionic hematoma. We could see a large dark spot in the ultrasound next to the placenta where the bleeding and clotting was taking place. I was told that this is not that uncommon in pregnancy and usually they heal on their own without impacting the pregnancy. I was sent home and instructed to take it easy and that it should heal in 2-3 weeks. For a couple of days, it seemed like my body was healing and the bleeding seemed to be slowing down. I was hopeful that I was on the mend. I remember very distinctly on that Wednesday, just a few days before this all came to a crashing end, that I had an appointment with my OB. It was great timing, as I really wanted the check-in and hopefully reassurance that the baby was going to be ok.  By the time I had the appointment I was experiencing a stronger, burning pain throughout my uterus but the doctor did not seem too concerned. She did not do an ultrasound but listened to the heartbeat and the sound, as usual, was lovely to hear. But that night, things took a turn for the worse. I can remember it so clearly because I was in so much pain. I’ve never been so incapacitated by pain before. I could not move and I could not get out of bed. I knew I could not walk. There was pain pulsing through my lower back and lower abdomen. It was terrifying. In hindsight, I should have gone to the hospital with that much pain. But having never been through anything like this, my instinct was to wait it out at home. I just couldn’t let myself think it was getting worse and if I went to a hospital I would have to admit to myself it was getting worse. But I did wait it out and the pain did subside. I thought I was in the clear. By Thursday night, I was experiencing pain again. Not as severe, but it was bad enough that I couldn’t sleep through it.

This lead up to some wonderful birthday plans for my 39th birthday. My husband and I had planned a weekend get-away for just the two of us at a Bed and Breakfast about 2 hours away from home. I felt well enough Friday to get packed and ready to go and we decided to go forward and enjoy our weekend. I figured as long as we were taking it easy and just relaxing, everything would be fine. We enjoyed our drive along the coast and made some fun stops along the way to check out some produce stands, and jam and candy stores and take some photos.

At the Bed and Breakfast, my husband surprised me with a birthday balloon and flower bouquet. We were off to a great start and I had a lot to look forward to on Saturday where we had plans for a massage and dinner at a fancy, ooh la la restaurant.

That Friday night we went out to dinner but then I noticed I was getting increasingly uncomfortable and the pain in my lower abdomen was building. We had to leave dinner early and head back to our B&B. I was in quite a bit of pain on and off throughout the night and by 6am, the pain was so out of control, I had to wake up my husband to take me to the hospital. I was scared and confused and the pain was so severe I could not stand up straight. I remember, it was so hard to move, to get dressed, to think. We were very lucky that the hospital was just a few minutes away from where we were staying and when we got to the emergency room, it was rather quiet and we were seen right away. However, we were seen by someone who was not an OB or pregnancy specialist and he was at the end of a very long night shift. He did not seem to be thinking too clearly at this point either, so that made our experience even more confusing. They gave me an IV of Tylenol. I told them it was not helping; I was still just in too much pain. They finally gave me morphine. The doctor wheeled over the ultrasound equipment and we quickly could see the baby. In that instant of seeing my baby moving and still alive, I was so relieved, but in a split second I was horrified and had to look away because he seemed to be frantically moving, like he was being pushed and bounced around almost violently. I will never forget that image. It haunts me to this day. The OB specialist was on-call and we had to wait for her to arrive. In the meantime I was asked all kinds of questions, had blood drawn and urine tested and we waited…and waited…and waited. Finally, several hours later the on-call OB arrived. And she was very sweet and helped calm my nerves. She checked my cervix and thankfully it had not dilated. The pain was under control due to the morphine. But what did this all mean? She did not have an exact answer but the diagnosis was “threatened miscarriage.” She encouraged us to go back to our B&B to rest, as recovery outside of a hospital setting is so much less stressful. We left with a prescription for pain medication and we were on our way. But I was exhausted and I knew this birthday weekend was over. No massage, no fancy dinner, no celebrating. I would be in bed until we felt like it was safe to drive home. And I did not yet have a feeling for when that would be. But I knew driving all the way back home was not safe at that moment. While my husband was out picking up the prescription, I could feel the pain coming back. I was there alone at the B&B in bed and scared again.

When I think back on this week and all the pain I was in, I know that at the end I was experiencing contractions. But it had been too early in the pregnancy to have gone to any Lamaze classes, or to have gained any understanding on what to expect during childbirth. I was lying in that bed realizing that the cycling pain must be contractions but I tried so hard not to believe it. I tried to will them to stop. I had to find a way to save my baby. I was there in that bed for so long hoping and wishing that it would pass and everything would be fine. But late that night the pain suddenly worsened and I had to go back to the hospital. My husband had fallen asleep so I had to wake him up which felt like an impossible task while in that state of pain. Once he was awake, I had to somehow get up again, but it was so hard to do. And I recall that in my husband’s state of panic, he kept saying things that seemed so irrational and unimportant to me. Saying things like “make sure to grab your jewelry” and “put your shoes on”. It even seemed unreasonable that I should have to get dressed. I literally needed someone to carry me. I could not physically function on my own. Nothing was important to me at that moment, other than to just get to the hospital. The pain washed over me so violently and I had no control. I vomited from the pain. Somehow my husband was able to get me out to the car. Those few minutes in the car were excruciating. My body did not want to be in a seated position. While in the car as we approached the hospital, I could actually feel my cervix opening. I knew I was going to lose the baby, but I could not bring myself to speak the words. Not even to warn my husband.

This time the emergency room was packed with people. While trying to get admitted, I was in so much pain, I could not speak. I was crying and moaning and had to point at the picture chart of how much pain I was in. As I pointed to the grimacing face #10 on the pain scale chart, I knew it was way beyond 10 but I had no words to explain. They put me in a wheelchair but they did not take us back to a room right away. So, I was stuck in that chair in the waiting room. I remember thinking how badly I needed to tell someone I couldn’t sit there. It was too painful, but I couldn’t speak. We had to sit there in the waiting room while I was crying and at this point screaming in pain. Everyone was staring at us. It was humiliating. I was terrified. My husband called my mom to let her know we were back in the hospital and all I could think of was, “get off the phone, I don’t want her to hear me in pain like this.” The contractions were so strong and I felt them switch from a cycle to a constant stream of excruciating torture. Finally, they took us to a private room and got me into a bed and undressed. They gave me morphine. We were there about 15 minutes. We were alone in the room. And I lost the baby. I don’t think my husband could have comprehended that losing the baby would actually happen. He was shocked and horrified when we did. While I felt everything, he saw everything. All I saw were the lights in the ceiling. I couldn’t allow myself to do anything other than to stare up. I didn’t want to see what had happened. But he did. He saw all the blood and he saw the baby. He ran to get help. But now it was over. He was so scared and he thought I was bleeding too much. He kept checking my pulse. I couldn’t feel anything anymore, other than continued contractions that would not stop but were a bit muted by the morphine. I couldn’t feel any emotions. I was alert and awake but everything went blank. Looking back at this moment, I couldn’t understand why we didn’t have any help. There was nobody there explaining to us what was happening. There was nobody there trying to help me breathe through the pain. There was nobody there to make sure we could put him in a baby blanket or put a little bitty hat on him. Nurses swiftly and briefly moved in and out of the room and all the while my baby was stuck with the placenta between my legs, again waiting for the on-call OB to arrive. My only thoughts were how I failed my baby and I couldn’t even hold him.

When the OB arrived, it turned out to be the same doctor from the morning. She was so sorry to see us there again. Finally, she was able to take the baby and clean him up. She gave him to us and I held him as long as I could. At the end of it all, with only a few ounces of perfection resting on my chest, I have never felt anything heavier sinking so deeply into my heart. The most precious, beautiful face I had ever seen. A cute little button nose and the littlest fingers and toes. And while my mind was still in shock in that horrific moment, I knew I had been given the biggest love I had ever known, and we named our son Jaxon Alan.

At some point later, a nurse came in to take Jaxon away. It was at that moment of him leaving my arms that I felt everything again. Every emotion. Deep grief, heartbreak, and gut-wrenching loss. This sweet little bundle was everything that mattered to me in this world and he was simply stripped away from me. This can’t be happening. My baby was gone. My mind could not accept this was happening and I screamed for him and reached my hands out for him. In that moment of horrific loss and realization that my baby was gone forever, I was forced to realize I had to have surgery. My body would not pass the placenta, so I had to have a D&C. I remember feeling relieved right before falling asleep in the operating room that the contractions and physical pain were finally put to an end.  But soon enough I was awake again and afraid to fall asleep in the hospital bed. I knew that every time I woke up during the night I would have to realize over and over again in the dark that my baby was gone. I would wake up and see the shape of my husband illuminated by hospital equipment, lying in the cot across from me and feel his heart breaking too. And in the morning when it was light again, I was so struck and saddened by the feeling of my shrunken belly. There are no words to describe that kind of emptiness. I still couldn’t quite comprehend or believe what had just happened. But there was no time for that…there were too many questions to answer…

What should we do with Jaxon?
What do you want to do with his remains?
Can you go to the bathroom?
Do you want to have him cremated?
What funeral home should we work with?
Do you want to eat something?
Are you thirsty?
Will someone from the funeral home be able to drive to the hospital to pick up the baby?
Are you ready to get dressed?
Do you want him cremated alone or with other babies?
Do you want to talk to the hospital chaplain?
Would you like to take this book about miscarriage home with you?

My husband had gathered all the information that morning while I was resting but we had to act quickly before a decision was made for us. How are you supposed to make these decisions when you are still in such a state of shock and confusion? We wanted our baby and we wanted to be able to have him cremated. But before leaving, my husband had to contact one of our local funeral homes to find out if they could actually drive to this hospital (2 hours away) and pick him up.  Thankfully they were able to do this for us.

The caretakers at the B&B packed up all of our belongings for us. My husband went back and picked up everything while I was still at the hospital. When he came back to get me, he let go of my birthday balloons and watched them float away as a gift to Jaxon.

The drive home was unbearable. How do I go home without my baby?

A few months later we were able to pick up his ashes. It was a heartbreaking yet calming experience. The man that we had worked with from the funeral home was named Alan. Which instantly gave me some peace, as that was my Dad’s name. Alan. And everyone called my Dad, Al. And we had named our son Jaxon Alan. We met Alan, the funeral director outside of a service that was just beginning. As my husband and I walked up to him, someone else was walking up to another man, saying “Hi Al.” I felt like I was surrounded by “Al” as the sound of his name hit me from all directions. I felt my Dad’s spirit washing over us right at the moment we were handed our son’s ashes. I couldn’t bring myself to share this realization out loud to my husband until we had been sitting in the car for a while together. But as soon as I started to tell him with tears in my eyes, he said, “Yes, I know, I heard it too.”

My husband and I decided to spread Jaxon’s ashes in the ocean near our home. I was out for a walk one evening and decided to take a short detour off of my normal route. It was there I discovered a giant rock with the number 13 painted on it right by the water. And I realized this was the place we needed to spread his ashes. My husband has a birthday on the 13th. Jaxon was supposed to be born on September 13, 2013. The number 13 just jumped out at me. So this was the place.  It just felt right.

photo 4 rock 13

We decided to pick a song to play when we spread his ashes.   There was a song that repeatedly played on the radio that summer and although we had not yet shared this with each other, it turned out both of us thought of Jaxon every time we heard it. It was “Gone, Gone, Gone” by Phillip Phillips. Still to this day, I cry every time I hear that song. My husband and I climbed up on the rocks and we waited for the best wave to come up and help take his ashes away. And it was all so perfectly timed with the water and the words in the song. So perfect in fact, that we felt our baby with us so strongly in that moment. After we let him go, we just stood there on the rocks holding each other.

It’s been over four years since we lost Jaxon, and I remember him everyday. His life was brief, but my love for him will last forever.

Please join me on instagram for support through pregnancy loss @mamalookup

The Summer Break

After we tried and failed at yet another embryo transfer last February I took a break.  A long break.  I realized I needed to get away from everything, including work.  It took a lot of effort, time and planning, but I took seven weeks off work to get healthy, lose weight, enjoy sleeping in and to stop thinking about babies.  I made sure that this seven weeks would allow me to rest, and completely focus on diet (Whole30), exercise and enjoy creativity with my photography.  There were lots and lots of dog walks, Netflix binging, attending a concert, travel to Canada, holding a miracle rainbow baby, and re-creating my Etsy shop (MamaLookUp).  One of the highlights was meeting Miss.Conception Coach in person. (the woman who runs missconceptioncoach.com and the private online support group)  It was truly heartwarming to meet her, chat with her in a cafe and give her a big hug…and most of all to say “thank you” in person.  After my break from work, I returned to a job change which was a positive change but got me busy again, enjoyed a long weekend with my BFF and and later celebrated my 5 year wedding anniversary.  This was mixed with re-launching the baby agenda, changing fertility clinics, transferring my embryos, and doing a mock cycle to do the endometrial receptivity assay.

So, here’s my long baby break in pictures…

Lots of dog walks

 

Lots of dog naps

I even dressed up my dog when everyone was posting back to school photos

dogschool

Falling in love with this beautiful miracle rainbow baby

rainbowbaby

Concert fun

Toured all over San Francisco for a day with amazing friends

SF1

Traveled to Vancouver, and Butchart Gardens

Meeting Miss. Conception Coach

missconceptioncoach

Going back to work (got a nice welcome back!)

Visiting my BFF

Celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary

And here we are, after a long break…we did it again…

pupo

Adventure Day for the Embabies

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Yesterday will be remembered as one of the most stressful days of my life. We transported our embryos to our new fertility clinic. We had our future babies’ lives in our hands and I was terrified of anything going wrong. We had so much driving to do and we needed all of our angels on our side protecting us on the road and getting those embabies safely from one location to another. It never left my mind that we were carrying our future in that tank. Everything we’d put our heart, soul, tears, hopes, dreams…and every last dollar was in that tank.

February 2017 was our last embryo transfer which was unsuccessful and from there I couldn’t move forward to try again…I got stuck in exhaustion and grief. I focused my energy at work and making a job change and also prioritized my life around health and wellness. I ended up taking a 7-week sabbatical from work (more about that in another post as there was a lot of fun stuff to report) and spent a lot of time exercising, meal planning and cooking. Weight loss was my first step to even trying to do another FET and I managed to lose 20 pounds with the help of Whole 30 and doing HIIT workouts and many, many hours of dog walks.   The dog had a great summer!

By August I started thinking about making a plan to try again. I reached out to my clinic to address our contract, which had ended and I was hoping for a new agreement or one last extension or some kind of negotiation…but that was not in the cards. We had already extended it several times and we finally hit the end of it. This meant we were back to spending out of pocket (queue the panic). I started thinking about setting up a consultation with my doctor and I just couldn’t do it. The realization that we were back to out of pocket spending broke me down and I was once again an emotional wreck. The thought of walking back into the clinic where I had seen our second and third pregnancies suddenly end with no heartbeats and received the news of negative pregnancy test results after 7 other FETs, gave me so much anxiety, I just couldn’t do it. I knew going back there was no longer an option for me. There was just too much trauma and loss associated with that place.

After a week of thinking it over, I knew what was next. We’d go to the new clinic we had sought out for second opinions last summer on our recurrent pregnancy losses. And that’s what brought us to our little adventure of transporting our embryos across the bay area.

This journey took 7 hours of driving. Now, there is the option of hiring a company to do this kind of work…but wow is it expensive. Not only did I want to save as much money as possible, but I couldn’t bear the thought of someone else being responsible for my embryos. My husband and I both took the day off of work and drove an hour and an half to the tank rental company. Here’s how the tank works…there’s liquid nitrogen in the tank and a tank lid that floats on top to let the gases out. If the tank were to fall over and the liquid nitrogen were to leak out, you’d lose everything. (queue clutching the tank with white knuckled death grip once we had our embryos). We then drove north about an hour and a half to pick up our embryos. I ended up running into my doctor there, we gave each other a big hug and I cried as he wished us the best and said he was thinking of us and I tried thanking him through my tears before walking out of there one last time. We had a picnic lunch in the car with the tank safely between my legs, then drove another hour or so to our new clinic. I was so relieved to make it there safely. Our little embryos had their first big outdoor adventure! We then had about an hour and a half drive home and we made it safe and sound.

 

Next steps…I did a mock cycle over the past few weeks and had an endometrial biopsy on Wednesday to do the ERA (decided to go for it considering the number of failures we’ve had). We’ll be moving into an FET cycle soon as we anticipate the results from that assay.

 

 

Mama Look Up

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After years of struggling with infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss, I’ve been looking for a way to help others in their journey.  I am hoping that I can share my sympathy and compassion for those grieving through this process and the loss of pregnancies.  I decided to share my photography and words of encouragement and support in the form of cards.  My inspiration also comes from the heartache and grief that I experience every Mother’s Day, wishing for acknowledgement of my babies lost and a desire to not feel so alone in my experience of motherhood without my children here with me.  How do you get a Mother’s Day card for someone like me?  Well, I decided to make them so hopefully someone out there who really needs to be seen as a Mother and needs her baby to be remembered on Mother’s Day will get a card and feel less isolated and heartbroken.

I invite you to follow me on my new Instagram account for my Etsy shop (@mamalookup) and to browse through my cards on Etsy, Mama Look Up.  Please also check out the other tab on my blog, “Mama Look Up”.

How has Infertility Changed You? Listen Up! #NIAW

listen up

I was asked this question yesterday…

How has infertility changed you and how you live your life?

It stopped me in my tracks. It takes a brave person to ask that question and I think an even braver person to answer it. So, Listen up!

I thought the words would flow from me like a waterfall of knowledge on the topic of infertility and trying to conceive. I feel like an expert with years of experience and I’m practically a walking science experiment for how to make a baby. But instead of words, my heart jumped to the answer before my head could and I responded with tears. Infertility and the winding journey of trying to find my way to baby has been a life altering experience. It has changed me at my core. I view the creation of a baby as a miracle that always feels out of reach. I’ve been teased by this gift of life in my own belly only to have it stripped away from me. Three times. Infertility is not just about finding alternative ways to conceive or finding alternative paths to parenthood. It is a test of will, a test of relationships, a test of stamina and a test of faith. Infertility will school you on courage, bravery and resilience. Infertility strips you of financial freedom, emotional stability, physical strength, and the ability to freely enjoy the sight, sounds and touch of a baby that is not your own. Infertility creates anxiety, exhaustion, anger, blame, grief, fear and trauma. It stops you from attending baby showers, shopping for onesies for a friend, walking through the baby section of department store, or commenting on a pregnancy announcement on social media. And, infertility asks a lot of nagging, annoying, irritating, painful questions…

Do you mind carrying a high credit card debt? How many credit cards do you have? We’ll have to max those out.
Do you have any savings? I’ll need that too.
Would you like to take out a loan?
You don’t really need to drink wine do you?
Can you give up caffeine, just for me?
What do you think of these stirrups? They look comfy right?
Do you want to do IUI or skip it and go straight to IVF?
Do you have good veins? I’m going to need access to those. Think of me as your favorite vampire. It’s going to be that kind of relationship.
What do you think of needles? Do they scare you? You’re gonna have to get over that.
Can I put this ultrasound wand in your vagina? Can I do that another 100 times?
Do you mind adding biohazard containers to your master bedroom décor?
Isn’t pineapple core delicious?
I know you love to drown your sorrows in comfort food, but would you mind giving up gluten?
Would you please lose some weight?
Are you working out?
Would you like to see an ultrasound of your ovaries and uterine lining? I can’t find your left ovary. Where is your left ovary?
Oh, you are looking for a sperm donor and egg donor? What color hair, eyes, height, weight, education, hobbies, religious background and medical history do you want? I’m going to have to ask you about another 50 characteristics so please think this through.
Are you relaxed? You need to relax.
Do you want to meet the egg donor?
Have you considered adoption?
Would you like to work with a surrogate?
Have you met with your doctor, your cycle coordinator, your nurse, your therapist, your acupuncturist, your naturopath, your personal trainer, and your dietician?
Do you do yoga? C’mon, show me some downward dog.
Do you meditate? I think you should meditate.
Do you have a support group? You’re gonna need that too.
What was the date of your last period?
Do you have normal cycles? How many days are your cycles?
How much do you weigh? Have you gained weight recently?
Do you feel like giving up?
Do you hate me? It feels like you hate me.
Do you still love your husband?
Do you still want to have a baby?
Are you sure you want to have a baby? Cause this is just going to keep getting harder.
How many boxes of home pregnancy tests do you have in your bathroom cupboard?
Do you see a second line? I think I see a faint second line. Nope, just kidding, that was just a line of false hope.
Will you give up sugar for me? Pretty please?
Are you still having sex with your husband? How’s your sex life?
I know you just had a miscarriage but do you think you’ll try again? When will that be? The clocks ticking ya know.
OMG, is it your birthday? Are you getting too old for this?
You look bloated, are you bloated? Seriously, you look 4 months pregnant.
This is when you realize infertility can be a total asshole.

But there’s still more…Infertility has made me fear my own birthday, dread another Christmas, made me heartbroken over the photo of a child and an Easter bunny, and has left me lost in tears and depression on Mother’s Day. I have changed my career plans, given up on extravagant vacations, spent thousands of dollars on IVF, donor egg IVF, medications and embryo transfers, and have feared the loss of my marriage. I have said “No” to friends and family so many times because I didn’t have the energy for a fun activity on top of all of my doctor appointments, side effects from hormone injections or emotional exhaustion from another failed cycle or from a miscarriage. I have faced a grief so deep and so intense, I thought it would swallow me whole and never give me back my light. I have hung by my fingertips on the edge of the giving up cliff so many times and have nearly slipped away…but I have learned this…Someone always reaches down for my hands and pulls me back up.

And somehow, hope keeps me standing and love keeps me walking toward my dream. If you keep your eyes open and your heart beating, the journey through infertility happens to be filled with as many gifts as there are pitfalls.

Infertility has convinced me take care of my body and my mind. Infertility has persuaded me to live in the moment. Infertility has taught me to love more deeply, to be vulnerable, and to share my story without fear. Infertility has enabled me to enjoy the small, happy, fleeting moments. Infertility has given me the ability to see beauty everywhere I turn. Infertility has shown me how to have a much deeper compassion for others. Infertility has brought me the most amazing, supportive, loving friendships. Infertility lead me to pregnancy three times and while this left me with a total of five angel babies, it has given me a love so profound that in every challenge and every painful moment, I have this beautiful love that lives within my soul. Infertility has been my teacher to live a full life, to appreciate everything that I have and to never take the miracle of pregnancy for granted. Infertility has changed my life, but made me realize it is not my life. Infertility has altered me, but it has not taken me. Because of infertility, I am beautiful, I am resilient, I am more loving, I am courageous and I am more Me.

Love is an Ocean and other Pretty Things


It hasn’t been an easy couple of months.  My embryo transfer cycle brought a lot of traumatic  memories to the surface and created anxiety at a much higher level than I expected. My husband was out of town quite a bit which meant I had to do many of my IM injections on my own.  My nurse drew a target on my booty to help me hit the right spot.  (Pardon the messy room in the photo)


Ultimately, this cycle ended in bad news…a negative pregnancy test.  I couldn’t bring myself to write about it until now and it took me a couple weeks to talk to my doctor.  Sadly, this bad news lead right into the four year anniversary of losing Jaxon (our first loss at 15 weeks) and I struggled emotionally right up to that date (March 23).  I took a walk that day where I discovered the sign above, “love is an ocean”.  Whoever placed it here has no idea how much love is here.  This is where we spread Jaxon’s ashes.  I took the photo two days later on my birthday.

My husband gave me this necklace for my birthday.  He said it represents our home by the ocean but more importantly is a symbol for Jaxon at the center where my birthstone in aquamarine is placed.  That was the first time I thought about sharing my birthstone with Jaxon and it gave me a sense of peace.  This necklace brought a lot of love to me on my birthday.  “Love is an ocean” is what I now carry around my neck and close to my heart.


I wanted to be around something beautiful for my birthday.  My husband and I went with some friends to a botanical garden.  Tulips ruled the land and the colors painted our day, leaving everyone with smiles…and a peacock to bid us farewell.  

Wish

I’ve been struggling to find the words to express what it’s like to try this again.  Anxiety, trauma, fear and exhaustion have been defining my days lately.  I’m fighting hard to turn that around.  So today, I’m sitting here with a wish and putting my energy into photos instead of words.  

In the Clouds

sunset-photo

In the clouds I dream
of you
The happiest place
for one who

Is warmed by
the light of your beautiful soul
Eternal love
our hearts aglow

From the earth
so far away
The wind brings you near
as trees sway

I breathe in deep
and remember you
From a small bump
and a lifetime too

In a matter of weeks
I saw it all
From first steps
to big and tall

The sun peeks ‘round
your home up high
I feel you there
one with the sky

I lie here watching
looking up
Being brave,
tearing up

But I will wait
And love you so
Until it’s time
for me to go

Away with you
and then you’ll know
Your mother’s love
Was infinite, so…

In the clouds you
are with me
The happiest place
I can think to be

 

Photo and poetry by CJE

Something Different

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Since April, I have spent the remainder of the year recovering from another pregnancy loss, exploring the reason for my losses with multiple doctors, and trying to get back to a place where I can do this again.  Being on an extended break from embryo transfers brings back openings to my life where I can do some of the things I have had to put on hold, over and over again.  But the many months I’ve had to wait terrifies me too.  If I wait too long, I worry, that maybe I’ll give up completely.

Here I am, still waiting.  So, what do I write about now?  I’m thinking something different.

In my extended break from the vicious cycle of infertility, pregnancy and loss, I had the opportunity to participate in something amazing.  If you’ve been following my blog, you may have noticed I enjoy photography as a hobby.  Photography brings me a lot of joy and it’s a skill always in development.  This month, I attended Firefly Institute, a photography camp for women.   This was an experience of a lifetime.  Surrounded by fifty women, all with a love of photography, and the ability to see beauty in the little things.  Instant friendships formed and inspiring images were created.  I felt loved and appreciated just by being present and being me.  We each got to take five classes and I gravitated towards classes on composition, iphone photography, social media and writing and photography.

Here’s my something different for my blog today.  In the writing and photography class, one of the prompts was to pick a photograph from childhood and write to my younger self.

I didn’t want to write about giving advice or how to prepare for what is to come.  I wanted to write about our lives in parallel, grateful and fortunate and loved and a knowing from an early age that “I’ve got this.”  I was inspired by this set of images feeding animals with my sister, parents and grandparents.

To My Younger Self…

You’ve got it girl—
happiness
love
family
the best family
sports
art
friends
cute pony tails
a sister
who envies your pink room
She loves you but will always hold that against you (‘cause her room was yellow)
And she thinks you are perfect
But we know we aren’t
You’ve got your shit together
Just don’t say shit to Grandma
Oh, you are only two and it’s too late
Maybe you should apologize
But not for your beautiful life

Here are a few images from my stay at Firefly Institute (located at Westerbeke Ranch, Sonoma, CA)

 

Photos by CJE