I REMEMBER YOU
The world may never notice
If a rosebud doesn’t bloom:
Or even pause to wonder if the petals fall too soon.
But every life that ever forms,
Or ever comes to be
Touches the World in some small way
For all eternity.
The little ones we longed for
Were swiftly here and gone.
But the love that was then planted
Is a light that still shines on.
And though our arms are empty,
Our hearts know what to do
Every beating of my heart says
“I Remember You”
Today we had a consultation with our fertility specialist. There is nothing to suggest that it would be unsafe to try again. The evidence from our losses points to bad luck. Step 1: Decision to begin again. Check.
I am in a new family with my husband and step-son. Before this family, I don’t even remember if there was a time as an adult that I bought and decorated a Christmas tree. This was always something that was special to me in my parent’s house and I continued to collect ornaments all those years, but it wasn’t until four years ago that I started decorating a tree as a new family event. As a couple, we’ve started collecting ornaments when we travel and to remember special events in our lives, and it’s turned out to be a really fun way to decorate our tree. From our honeymoon, we have the Eiffel tower, a scene from Eze, France and Monaco hanging on our tree. We have the Seattle Space Needle, a lighthouse with Santa from New Hampshire and a cute Hallmark ornament symbolizing the purchase of our home in 2013. Last year, we discovered a local holiday community event – A Boat and Light show at our nearby harbor. I decided this would be our new family holiday tradition. Boats were decorated in Christmas lights; there were lots of Santa hats, a large illuminated Rudolph and even someone dressed up as Bumble. Dogs were out and about, some of them dressed up too. Boat owners handed out cookies, hot chocolate, and other “special” drinks. There was even a boat with Christmas Carol Karaoke where every participant got to walk away with free crab. After experiencing one of my favorite Christmas events ever, this had to be our new tradition! This year, I made sure all of our calendars were cleared so that we could go again. Then an undesirable holiday tradition swooped in and I quickly realized I had the flu. My very own Grinch was holding me hostage and taking away the joy of Christmas. I was in bed the entire day leading up to the event. I kept thinking that maybe if I stayed there all day, I would have the strength to go out and see the lights reflecting off the water and enjoy the holiday buzz. My plan didn’t work so well and I had to admit that I was still in the midst of a viral takeover. However, I thought if I could just get over there for thirty minutes and get some fresh air and see some of the event, then I would feel like our new tradition still existed. I bundled up, even though I was too hot with a fever and felt like shorts and a t-shirt would have been more appropriate, and we headed out. As the event followed the West Coast Stormageddon’14, the show was a lot quieter this year, but I was very happy that we made it. My husband had to stay close to me to ensure I didn’t fall over into the water or face-plant on the docks in my flu-fever stupor, but the three of us were a team and while they held me up with the flu, we held on to our new holiday tradition.
“Happiness is a warm puppy” – Charles M. Schulz
It is not easy going through the holidays when I thought I would get to enjoy it while pregnant and sharing this news with family. I had counted out the weeks and realized that the timing would work out for us to share the news with friends right after the New Year. And my mind had already fast-forwarded to the next Christmas where we would celebrate with ornaments saying “Baby’s first Christmas” (times two). So now, as I continue to recover from this abrupt change in plans, I’ve tried to focus on other things that I can still appreciate and be happy about as Christmas approaches. One of which is my new found hobby of dressing up my dog for the holidays and attempting to take photographs. I was very successful at this endeavor when I dressed her up as a skunk for Halloween, so I did not hold back when I purchased three different Christmas outfits. I learned a couple of important lessons this weekend: My dog has a two-wardrobe change limit and she is the one directing the photo session, not me. She shall sit or lie down where she pleases and any desired location change on my part requires many treats. I probably took over 150 photos and ended up with four that I could use for our holiday card this year. Not bad. I was very pleased that these four ended up with the Christmas tree in the background (kind of) and that her costumes remained in tact and were not torn to pieces. The photo shoot was a great distraction for me this weekend while trying to relieve myself from sadness and disappointment. She gave me these looks like she was perplexed but willing to tolerate it; as if she sensed somehow that I needed this silliness to happen. So she did and she made me happy.
Photo by CJE
It has been over two years since we started this process. When I think about the time commitment, it is like taking on a new big life project or part time job. There is the element of managing the time needed for doctor appointments and ensuring injections can be given about the same time every day (For our last cycle, I endured at least 80 intramuscular injections to support the embryo transfer and pregnancy). There’s training on how to give the injections and following up with various pharmacies to fill prescriptions and to make sure they will be available on time and if they are covered by insurance. There’s up front financial planning, insurance inquiries and perhaps the decision to sell off investments and take out loans. It may mean saying no to vacations. Going through all the planning and commitments for one cycle is manageable as it becomes the top priority of your life for a couple of months. However, we have now done this five times, including the time commitment to go through the egg donor process as well as the unexpected periods of time to recover from failed cycles in addition to pregnancy losses. Over the past two years, the commitment and emotional strain of this process has impacted decisions about my career and how I want to live my life, which has lead to some positive changes. During my first pregnancy, I was in a very stressful job. I was miserable and exhausted. I wanted to be as healthy as possible during my pregnancy and I could not figure out how to reduce my stress level at work. I kept thinking to myself that I would just hang in there until I had maternity leave then I would look for another job. But that never happened. After losing our baby, Jaxon at 15 weeks and returning to work two weeks later, I made the decision to change my job. It was an absolute necessity for my mental health. I was very lucky that there was something I could move into but the process took a few months. While grieving and managing depression I was still under terrible stress at work but I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. This was a very different type of career decision for me. I had spent about 15 years pushing forward, taking on new challenges, taking risks and putting myself in situations outside of my comfort zone in order to get to the next big career move. But this time was different. I made a deliberate decision to return to a job that I had done before for many years. And that is exactly what I needed…Established expertise without stress of learning a new role, predictable challenges, and a feeling of stability. My plan was to create a situation at work that allowed me to focus on my health, emotional recovery and enough flexibility in my schedule to manage doctor appointments for our continued attempts to make a baby. While it ended up taking another nine months to achieve my goal of manageable stress and a stable, supportive work environment, it was worth the time and effort. I even managed to achieve a promotion along the way. I am incredibly thankful for the support I have at work from my management and close friends, which enables me to continue to pursue our dream of having our own baby. For this last embryo transfer cycle and nine weeks of pregnancy, the flexibility to manage my time at work allowed me to go to at least 12 doctor appointments and at least 10 trips to the lab for blood draws. Overall, my priorities have shifted from a focus on my career development to a focus on my mental and physical health, and taking on this journey with my husband to make a baby. And this priority means we have to say no to some other things and accept the risk of disappointment while not losing sight that our dream could come true.
My mom was out of the country when I went through losing this pregnancy. While I was well taken care of at home, there is just nothing like having mom around to make it better. I was able to see her today. I was having a particularly bad day and was just completely exhausted. I was so tired, that just being tired was making me cry. I didn’t feel like I could break free from feeling depressed and run down today. We went for a walk and somehow the fresh air and her company helped lift the heaviness away from my heart. I love you Mom and today was the perfect day to be with you.
Two girls. Today we received the genetic test results and found out that the twins were normal (no genetic defects found) and were female. I thought the hardest part was over, but somehow hearing those words and realizing I had lost what could have been two baby girls made my heart break even more. I loved the names that we had picked out for girls and that stings a lot too. Finding out that they were “normal” made me even more confused as to why they had been taken. I guess it’s just random bad luck, totally out of our control. It’s so hard to live with that. It still feels impossible to let go, even though they are already gone…but the love that remains is worth holding on to.
Photo by CJE
Yesterday was a really hard day for me. I was exhausted and in tears most of the evening. My husband and I had a long talk about hope and faith and not giving up. His words have stayed with me today and this is what I heard him say…
While you feel you have lost hope,
It is not gone.
I am holding it for you.
While you search for faith,
I will keep mine close.
I will wait for you.
While you see darkness
I can see a baby in your arms.
I will save this dream until yours is no longer broken.
Photo by CJE – Peru
I tried to avoid everyone today. I wanted to hide in a hole or crawl under a rock. It was my first day back at work after such a sad week and the Thanksgiving holiday. I knew it would make my stomach turn every time someone casually asked me how my holiday was. I had so much anxiety over trying to figure out how to answer that question. So, I figured it was easier to avoid people as much as possible in hopes I wouldn’t have to fake my way through a generic and emotionally stable response. My strategy was pretty solid and I got through the day without breaking down or having to talk to many people. I only sent one pathetic text to my husband telling him how depressed I was and that I wanted to go home. I think I only had to answer, “how was your holiday” twice today. Totally faked it with a semi-smile on my face. Unfortunately, one of these people stopped by to tell me her dog died. I decided it was best to keep my sadness to myself and offer whatever empathy I could muster because she deserved to have that too. It is a mixed blessing to have had several previous difficult life experiences allowing me to perfect my “return to work survival strategy”. The first day is always the hardest and most risky for unpredictable emotional collapse. And you don’t want to risk this in front of just anyone. I know where to park so I can get directly between my office and car with minimal risk of running into someone. I know what bathroom to hide in if I can’t fight off tears. I’m skilled at the use of email to alert people I’m back and working on stuff, delaying actual direct face-to-face contact. I have Kleenex in my office. I know what type of work I can do that helps distract me from my emotions but has a little wiggle room for error in case my brain tricks me into thinking it is actually working properly. I’ve returned to work after much worse…losing my Dad to cancer, a death of a loved one two months later, and then losing my Grandma within the same year. I’ve worked through divorce and walking away from my home and completely starting over. I fumbled and cried my way through work after a traumatic miscarriage at 15 weeks. Through all these experiences, I’ve continued to learn how to return to work while still grieving. I know how much space I need and will try to protect that space as much as possible. I know whom I can trust and who will support me. I know who to share details with and who to keep at a distance. Then starting with the second day back at work, I continue to endure and wait for enough time to pass to feel normal again. And I wait long enough through the stability of the daily grind so that when someone asks me how I’m doing I don’t have to fake it.
Photo by CJE – Peru