Sometimes we try to trick our mind and our heart into feeling better by thinking these words…”it could be so much worse.” Sometimes other people may think they are helping us feel better by saying those same words. Somehow trying to put our pain and our sorrow into perspective. I find myself jumping between my own memories of loss in my life and thinking about the life-altering challenges other people I care about have had to face. And yes, it can be worse. But then I stop and remind myself that the loss of my pregnancies and the sorrow I am experiencing right now is my tragedy and it is my sadness all on it’s own without having to make a comparison to anything else. I know from experience that making these comparisons will sting deep in my soul. It gets in the way of healing and can make us question our own process of getting through it. It can question the validity of feelings that are supposed to be raw and clutching and that must be experienced as they happen without the pressure or distraction of diminishing them. If we can feel it all and not hide from it, or lessen it, we will be able to replace the invasive thorns of grief with a soft, peaceful, protective aura; bringing the calm of acceptance and the ability to live with hope and happiness again. But we don’t have to get there on our own. Sympathy and comfort from our loved ones is a blessing. Pure compassionate sympathy showing simply, that I am here with you in your grief and that I am here with you as your heart breaks and I am here with you until you see light again is the most healing gift. Expressing no time limit on someone’s pain, no comparison to another’s suffering and no limit on the love that is shared in these difficult moments helps to pave the path to recovery. I am very fortunate to have people in my life who can give this to me and I was reminded of that fortune by the card pictured here that I received a couple of days ago. Thank you for your love. You are giving me the gift of healing.
Photo by CJE
It’s a different Thanksgiving today. No plans, no travel, no getting together with family. I think I may watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade and bake something made out of pumpkin and enjoy the sounds and smells of my husband cooking turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. It will just be a day for us. With the events of this week, I didn’t have it in me to put on a brave face and a smile to visit with anyone. It feels better to stay home without any pressure or schedule, plus the dog is happily snoozing next to me. While I sit here watching the pre-show of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I’m reminded of Thanksgiving from two years ago. It was just the beginning of making Jaxon. The 2012 holiday season was our first round of IVF. We launched into the process as soon as we had returned from our honeymoon and not long after celebrating the new year of 2013, we found out it worked on our first try. I was pregnant! Could we really be this lucky? Our first try and it worked? It was incredibly exciting but then so quickly coupled with a random health event that clouded the enjoyment through the first six weeks of the pregnancy. Two days after the embryo transfer I had unusual breast changes that first appeared to be an infection. I went to an urgent care clinic and was treated with antibiotics. Nothing changed. For the next six weeks I went back and forth between my OB/GYN, a breast surgeon and an infectious disease specialist. Since I could not have a mammogram, it was harder to determine a diagnosis or quickly rule out various concerns. We kept trying different antibiotics for a while, with my doctors still leaning toward treating an infection. No change. Then there were scarier possibilities that would not only risk my pregnancy, but my life. The next step was a biopsy where we hoped to eliminate the worst of the possibilities. But now the worst of the possibilities was all I could think about. After six weeks terrified of what this could be, we finally had an answer. It was simply benign, and random, and unexplainable. All those weeks of doctor appointments, and worry, and stress, and the distraction from bonding with my pregnancy was finally over. And I was fine. The relief I felt when my doctor called me on a Friday night to tell me I was ok was a wonderful moment and such a huge relief. I could feel my whole body rejecting the claws of tension that had held on so tightly for those long weeks. And I was so thankful. I could finally just enjoy this pregnancy and focus on this new little life. Now, it was just normal pregnancy doctor appointments and ultrasounds. My favorite, at approximately 11 weeks where we got to see so much detail of our growing baby and his cute little movements. At about 13 weeks we announced our pregnancy to everyone. EVERYONE. We enclosed the photo attached to this post in our wedding thank you cards. A photo to quickly spread happiness to everyone nearest and dearest to us. 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. 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. Today I am thankful that I can still see his face and still feel that love from our baby named Jaxon. I know that for all that was so painfully stripped away from us that day, the love still remains. And when my husband speaks his name in heartfelt memory, I am thankful.
Photo by CJE
I’m stuck in the middle of this empty place
Where dreams were stripped away
And I can’t figure out how to say goodbye
To reach the end of a beginning that had so recently started
It simply slipped away before my heart could comprehend it was gone
Stuck in this middle place where it’s too soon to see the next beginning
And my mind doesn’t yet believe in starting over
So I will just stay here for awhile in between places
Until the emptiness is replaced by hope
Photo by CJE – Peru
We decided to have a D&C (Dilation and Curettage) procedure in hopes of avoiding a spontaneous miscarriage. It was not an easy wait. Six days between finding out the heartbeats had stopped to having the procedure. We were on pins and needles those 6 days worrying I would miscarry. It made me afraid to leave the house…and so I didn’t. I did not want to go through that again. It’s also emotionally draining knowing I was carrying these babies of my dreams that were no longer living. In those six days I somewhat reached acceptance for the end of this pregnancy but also terribly saddened knowing the two little things would be physically taken away from me today. But we hoped the events of today would help us move on. We would start to put this behind us and look forward. My husband told me so many times today that he loved me, telling me I was brave and strong and said this isn’t the end of our journey. I was brought to tears several times at the hospital knowing how incredibly hard it was for us to get this far. Just for this one cycle thinking about all the doctor appointments, cycle planning, ultrasounds prepping for embryo transfer, daily injections, blood draws, coordinating medications with different pharmacies, and arranging time off work for every little step along the way. The first milestone of waiting the 9 days between the embryo transfer and first pregnancy test is torture. And now I’ve done that 5 times. I didn’t want to have to do that again. And then there are those other little things…I was so looking forward to pulling out my maternity clothes. It was so devastating having to pack them up the first time and hide them away. I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting to wear them again. I had just ordered morning sickness hard candies that showed up yesterday in the mail. I was getting adjusted to my picky eating habits (and my husband putting up with them) and am now missing the morning sickness feelings that had reassured me for the first 8 weeks that I had life growing inside me. And the constant sneezing that had become a new companion while pregnant now seems to be gone. And I was certainly enjoying the fact that other family members had to take over kitty litter box cleaning duty. This Friday would have been the end of the daily intramuscular hormone injections required to support the pregnancy and that my poor booty had endured over the past couple of months. We were both really looking forward to that. It’s those little things that sting that I know will more easily fade away over time in comparison to the emotional impact of the two little dreams that disappeared. But the lingering reminders are still staring at me.
Photo by CJE
The photo posted with this entry was written to me by my husband. He quickly replaced what had been written before we got the sad news about losing our second pregnancy. Before he wrote this, we had started a list of names for the twins and had some favorites listed. It’s just too easy to start dreaming about the day we would hold them in our arms and give them these cute names. Both my husband and my best friend recently told me these words…”you are the strongest woman I have ever known.” It’s quite amazing to hear those words when strength feels like it’s gone into hiding and crouched in a hole covered by confusion, loss and heartbreak. Thinking about my own strength, hiding in there somewhere, I am reminded of a story I read in another blog a few months ago. It was around the time I was going to start another embryo transfer cycle that I ran across this touching story about a woman who lost her sweet baby girl. To me, it was the most beautiful story of a mother’s love and quiet courage. In reading her story, I could feel every word so deeply and relate to her experience so strongly. While she experienced a much more difficult journey than I had faced with my first loss, the feelings in those very raw moments are so intensely the same. Her words brought amazing beauty to her daughter’s brief life and touched so many of us who needed a way to understand our own pain. And I could make more sense of my own loss through her words. She gave us all a gift by writing her story. Her name is Danielle Walker and I have never met her. She is the author of several recipe books that I really enjoy and I follow her on Facebook. What I found so incredible about her is her amazing spirit that shines through in her writing and how she endures through this loss by truly living. I see her posting updates on Facebook about her book tours with a smile on her face and interacting with so many people. But also at times, admitting to her followers that she misses her baby. And she just amazes me. To me, she is STRENGTH. And she just might be able to help me find mine. I’ve attached a link to her story about her baby, Aila. http://againstallgrain.com/2014/07/24/life-after-aila/
Photo by CJE
When I’m this sad, it actually hurts to smile. It’s like I feel guilty to even break through the grief because it feels like what I lost deserves so much from me. And in this case, two new lives that have stopped so abruptly. I don’t know if it’s that nobody can force a smile out of me when I feel like this, or if my mind is too stubborn to let it happen because it just doesn’t feel right. But somehow my dog can break through the sadness and make me forget about it all for a minute and just be there in the moment with her innocent goofiness and sweetness. I can’t help but smile and giggle a bit. Somehow I think she can feel that I’m sad. She follows me around and snuggles with me and makes silly noises to get me to play with her. We rescued her and she returns the favor every day. Rescue a dog and a dog will most certainly rescue you right back.
Photo by CJE
When tragedy strikes it changes you. Sometimes we come out of it a better person with the ability to move on in life with a fresh perspective, facing our future with more strength and less fear. Sometimes it drains us so completely we wonder if the light that once shined so brightly from our soul will ever come back. And it’s all relative. As we go through life, one painful event may fade into the fuzzy background of our past showing a stark contrast to what we now feel is the true tragedy facing us at this moment in time.
Photo by CJE – somewhere in the mediterranean
I begin my first words in the midst of another loss. One week ago I was eight weeks pregnant and got the biggest surprise of my life. Two heartbeats. Twins. At the age of 40 and already having suffered a 15-week miscarriage just two days before my 39th birthday, the sight of those little flashes of light was my miracle. Two days ago the two heartbeats stopped and so did my world. From the giddiness of a week ago tempered by some apprehension that goes along with the first trimester; to the head-on collision between my happiness hitting the brick wall of my biggest fear: Stillness of the life that just began. I just sit here stuck in grief. Again. We had a week of fun and silliness, with my husband holding up two fingers and laughing every time he looked at me. Giggling every time he said, “twins.” Finally feeling so blessed after such a long and difficult journey. Trying to stay so hopeful that life could not be cruel enough to take this away from us. And now, here we are again. Painful loss accompanied by the ridiculous unfairness of continued morning sickness and pregnancy symptoms. For a moment waking up in the night thinking I’m still pregnant until reality rushes back into my breaking heart. I know we are not alone, and I know we are not the only ones. There are a lot of crying hearts and grieving parents out there. This blog is about our journey through the challenges of infertility, the heartbeats along the way and holding each other up through the process. We are not ready to give up.
Photo by CJE