The Tire Swing

 

tire swing

Last week on the evening of our 7 week ultrasound where we had discovered we had two babies, I went for a walk with the dog. There is a very pretty section of eucalyptus trees in the neighborhood with a nice dirt path lined with tall grass. And it’s been so green lately following all the rain we’ve had. At one end of this path is a tire swing. I’ve walked down this path so many times and had never seen anyone on the tire swing. I’ve tried to convince my dog to try it out but she’s just not having it. This particular evening, with babies on my mind, I came up to the tire swing to discover a mom and dad swinging their cute little twin boys. In that instant, I felt so happy and reassured that all would be well with my babies, despite the doctor’s warning that Baby A might not make it. I kept walking down the path for a few minutes and then stopped myself. I wanted another glimpse at that beautiful family and what could potentially be my future. I turned around and headed back. As I walked closer I couldn’t quite see who was there, but I could still hear voices, so I was happy I’d get a chance to set my eyes on those sweet twins again. But as I approached, I was startled to see that the family was no longer there. As if within the blink of an eye, without skipping a beat, these two little boys were replaced with one little girl being pushed on the swing by her Dad. It gave me chills and knocked the wind out of my sails.  This vision of the future placed in front of me like a dream played a trick on me. I felt so strongly in that moment that I was being forced to be prepared to grasp the possibility that I may be losing Baby A. This moment felt so intense to me that I cried all the way home.

There were two, then I turned around and there was one. I couldn’t shake it.

Today was our 8 week ultrasound appointment and we were terribly nervous. To our relief, Baby B quickly popped up on the screen with a strong heartbeat, but sadly Baby A did not make it. There was no heartbeat. I was lying there trying to wrap my head around which emotion to attach to. I was balancing grief and joy simultaneously. Grief tipped the scale and it has been winning today. We have our fourth angel baby. And then I felt guilt for not focusing my love and happiness on Baby B. Honestly, I’ve been an emotional wreck today. I’m so in love and so heartbroken, I’m so hopeful and so hurt. I know I have to grieve this loss before I can give full attention to the very special beating heart that is still with us and depending on me.

I’ve been given solid, heartfelt words to lean on by those close to me with kind texts and emails and there have been wonderful words of compassion from those in my support group. Everybody has said something to me that has touched me deeply and meant the world to me. Each of them expressing their love in a way so unique to our individual relationships. There was one thing however, that took my feelings and thoughts to a very comforting place, and it was this, “So sorry. At least Baby A did not pass alone.”

Baby A did not pass alone and there were three of our angels waiting and ready.  And they will be watching over Baby B.

There were two, and now there is one. That is where all of our love will go.

tree path

“Don’t Talk about the Baby”

Donttalkaboutthebaby-Match Me

For those of you who have suffered through infertility and/or pregnancy loss,  I think you’ll be very interested in this documentary currently in the works.  It’s called, “Don’t Talk About the Baby.”

Check them out at Seed&Spark, where they are working to raise funds for the project:

https://www.seedandspark.com/studio/dont-talk-about-the-baby#updates

You can also follow them on their website and Instagram:

http://www.donttalkaboutthebaby.com

https://www.instagram.com/dont_talk_about_the_baby/

 

Walking Toward Hopefulness

I remember how excited I was at every ultrasound of my first pregnancy. I couldn’t wait to see him move around, such a cute little thing. My mind was not consumed by thoughts of fearing a stopped heart, or possible abnormalities or anything that would get in the way of a happy ending with a baby in my arms. In my second pregnancy I was cautiously optimistic but also relied on my faith in life, and statistics and the universe, that I would not suffer trauma and loss two pregnancies in a row. I did my time in grieftown. I paid my dues in depression and tears. But to my complete shock, it didn’t matter how much I had already suffered. I was there suffering again. Sadly, I learned the hard way. The very hard, painful, devastating way, that pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean you get to have a baby.

But here I am now with pregnancy number three. I’m trying to wade through recurring grief and memories that have been triggered while re-experiencing the first trimester. With each heavy step through (and against) fear, I’m walking closer to hopefulness. I’m trying to remind myself that I can enjoy this pregnancy one day at a time. I’m doing everything in my power to keep my baby’s heartbeat strong. I’m fighting the scary thoughts away and looking at this as a new and different pregnancy.

On Friday, I celebrated my 42nd birthday. It’s the first time I’ve been pregnant on my birthday and what an amazing gift! While it made me very happy to celebrate this new little life with me, it wasn’t easy to stop the thoughts of my first loss which happened two days before my 39th birthday. But I also realized that my baby now has three angels watching over him or her. All that pain and loss has left us with a lot of love from these sweet little souls. I was able to really enjoy the day and the entire weekend looking in the forward direction, enjoying the sun and spring flowers which allowed me to push away the darkness from the past.

My first ultrasound is on Wednesday. I’m excited, nervous, and hopeful. This will feel real when I can see a heartbeat.

Birthday walk

A Birthday walk in the sun!

Be our Rainbow Baby, baby

HCG results 0309 031116

I crumbled into a heap of tears when I saw the number.

282.

Compared to my two previous pregnancies, this is my highest HCG number.  We were thrilled, relieved, happy and terrified.  The first big hurdle of many to come.  Now, to calm my anxieties for the second HCG test 48 hours later.  The number is supposed to at least double and that did not happen with my other two pregnancies, resulting in early ultrasounds, extra blood tests and a lot of extra worry.  Anxiously waiting one more dreaded hour for the results to come through the lab and there it was.

636.

In that instant the weight and misery of infertility and pregnancy loss lifted off of me, leaving me with happiness.  In that moment the stress on our marriage dissipated and there we were, sitting together as a happy husband and wife with a lot of hope.

So, here we go.  Our first ultrasound will be at 7 weeks.  Our due date is November 16.  Please baby, hang in there.  Be our rainbow baby.  We love you already.

One Little White Light

It seems that at this point I should have lost count, but I can’t because I know how many I have lost.   I try to let the numbers and dates stay blurry, but I know how old my first baby should be. He should be 2 and a half. I purposely try not to remember the due date of the twins. But I can still see their heartbeats. There are six other embryos that disappeared somewhere in between the transfer to my body and the pregnancy test. On Monday, I had my ninth embryo transfer. Two more embryos.

On Monday morning before the transfer, I went for a walk with my dog. I had a choice to go left or right on the trail and decided to go right. We ended up near a beach where she loves to play catch but we didn’t have time for that…but she pulled me out to the beach anyway, looking back at me expectantly with a huge wide smile and tongue hanging out. The beach was empty except for the stroller in this photo. For a second I thought, well maybe my baby is right there waiting for me! Well, no that wasn’t the case, but I tried to view this as a hopeful moment. Somehow, maybe this is a sign. My babies that are watching over me and the baby that is still to be is here with me in this moment. A moment to give me courage to try again. To wait those nine hopeful, yet agonizing days again waiting for the pregnancy test.

stroller on the beach

 

The sun was blinding me, but I snapped a photo anyway, not quite sure what I would end up with. I wanted to be reminded of the stroller that was in my path. As I faced the stroller and the rock wall where we had once stood to spread our baby Jaxon’s ashes, I could feel them all with me.   A little white light ended up in the photo and I choose to see the souls that I love so much in that light.

One little white light, Two embryos, Nine days to wait.  Trying one more time.

2 embryos

Spreading Some Love

iloveyou

I have not felt up to writing since Christmas, where even my last post was a very brief one. In the mean time, we’ve been gearing up for another embryo transfer cycle and coordinating a two-cycle approach again with an endometrial biopsy. This is in hopes of making my uterine lining more “sticky” for the embaby. The procedure will be tomorrow.

Our TTC journey has faded a bit to the background lately due to the holidays and also having a terribly difficult time trying to help and just make it through a daily family life where my step-son is dealing with some very serious mental and behavioral health issues. While this isn’t something I discuss here in order to protect his own privacy, I will say that it has been a very dark and difficult place for him and of course for all of us involved in helping him. I have another family member who remains to be my light as we trudge through this very difficult journey. I’ve talked about brain illnesses in a previous post and love every opportunity to share my family member’s blog as it could help so many people:

https://outofagreatneed.wordpress.com

In the midst of all of these difficulties in addition to our TTC struggles, I feel compelled to bring beauty and happiness into my life daily. It has helped me find joy in little things and I look for them everywhere. I got stuck in horrible traffic yesterday morning but enjoyed watching the sky during sunrise and found the moon still lurking around as it became daylight. I just signed up for ballet lessons and I’ve been looking forward to class all week. Plus our teacher is a REAL ballerina and that just brings out the giddy little girl in me in awe of the presence of a ballerina.

image1 (1)

I enjoy photography because it keeps my eyes open for pretty things and I don’t want to miss them. I love my dog and every time I’ve had a rough day and she goes nuts with tail wagging and silly antics seeing me come home, I can’t help but laugh.

Last weekend I decided to enjoy my time by taking photographs to make Valentine cards. I think they turned out pretty cute so I thought I’d share a few with you to spread some love. I hope the bright colors and use of Lego mini-figures brings you a little joy.

If you do like what you see, I plan to have these available on my Etsy site this weekend, so you can browse there as well.

Card Chic by CJ

Spreading love out to all of you and hope you are surprised with the little bits of beauty and happiness that surround you every day.

-Photos by CJE

 

GIVE VOICE: #GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday 2015 Banner

The Resolve.org #GivingTuesday topic for October is “Give Voice.”  It’s about sharing our Infertility Story.  For this topic, I’m re-posting a previous blog post titled, The long, long wait.

The long, long, wait

I was first married at the age of 31. I married my high school “sweetheart” after we had been together for about 15 years or so. I remember in those early days of marriage and through most of our married relationship, we’d get a lot of questions about when we would have kids. Sometimes questions were direct, and sometimes they were subtle hints. Sometimes it was not subtle at all. I remember a family camping trip where the in-laws snuck into our tent leaving behind baby shower signs. I thought it was kind of cute and funny at the time, not knowing I would still be childless so many years later. In the beginning, these questions didn’t really bother me. It was definitely on my mind, but following high school, we had both been very driven with our college education and our careers. Once we were ready for marriage, there were travel plans to fulfill before babies. I wasn’t quite yet ready for kids, but I also knew that time was ticking and I didn’t want to end up regretting it later because I had “missed my chance.”   In that dual income, no kids relationship, we were fortunate to travel to South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, New Zealand, Amsterdam, France and Greece. It was truly incredible. I’m thankful for those opportunities and the memories of seeing lions, elephants, zebras and monkeys in the wild, glaciers in New Zealand, and sunsets in Santorini. When I turned 34, the clock was ticking loudly and I thought we better not waste any more time. But here’s where infertility hit without actually being an “infertile couple”. It just takes one person in the relationship to decide that kids were no longer in our future and bam…you can no longer make a baby. And that’s what happened. And during this time, I had my first experiences avoiding the comments…

”When are you going to have a baby?”

“You better not wait too long or you’ll miss your chance”

These questions and comments tore through my heart. I was now facing a decision of staying married with no kids or divorcing with the hope of still having them in the future. It was then, that I started realizing how hurtful these questions can be. I hadn’t even touched the surface of infertility at this point in my life, but this is when I realized, even hinting at parenthood could be a painful topic. I myself had been guilty of asking others these questions without any idea that it could be such a difficult topic.

I went through my 20’s avoiding pregnancy, and there I was in my early 30’s wanting a baby.   But now the person I had married was taking away an irreplaceable dream.   My high school sweetheart turned out not to be so sweet. This was the first time in my life I had to go through the grieving process of not being able to have a baby. By the age of 36, I was going through a divorce. I had no idea if I would marry again, have a baby, or if I would even have issues trying to get pregnant.   I remember thinking, “how could I possibly meet someone, fall in love, get engaged, get married and have a baby while I still actually have good eggs? Who knows how long this could take?”

A year and half went by between my separation, finalized divorce and magical eHarmony wink. And there he was. We went on one date and fell in love. So, that accelerated my imaginary timeline to baby quite a bit. Five months later we were engaged and a year and a half after meeting, we were married.   I was 38 when we got married. Let the baby making commence! Well…not so fast. We determined at the beginning of our relationship that we were one of those 1 in 8 couples. Three months after we were married we had our first round of IVF. In early January of 2013 I found out I was pregnant. Two days before my 39th birthday, I miscarried at 15 weeks. From there our story continued with a second miscarriage of twin girls and now I am moving toward our 8th embryo transfer at the age of 41. I’ve been married twice, yet I’ve never had the chance to try to conceive naturally.

I’m 41 years old and still trying to have a baby. But trying to conceive at 41, brings a lot of blessings in addition to the heartache. At 41, nobody asks anymore, “when are you going to have kids?” Nobody is on our case about having a baby.   Nobody says, “you better hurry up”. Baby showers become a rarity, since all of our friends already had one or two kids years ago. By the time 39 slipped away from me, baby making peer pressure that had previously existed, simply faded away.

Where that’s helpful when faced with infertility, it’s also scary because you start to realize that perhaps there’s no longer a reason for anyone to ask those questions. I worry that people may think we are crazy to try to have a baby so late in life.  Or may not even believe it is possible. While I see other women in their 20’s and 30’s going through the challenges and emotional pain of infertility, I realize in some ways I’m really lucky. When I was in my late 20’s and throughout my 30’s, all of my friends were having babies. But all this was happening at a time when I wasn’t faced with infertility and the pain associated with that journey. I went to a lot of baby showers and played a lot of baby shower games. I bought a lot of baby gifts. I could enjoy walking into a Baby Gap and buying some cute little outfits. I was able to be there with my friends not just for baby #1, but also for baby #2. And I loved all of it. I was able to be emotionally there for them and to watch their joy and feel their joy with them. I was able to be a friend and really care deeply about their move into mommyhood and was able to fall in love with all of their children. I have nieces and nephews that I love dearly, but I’m also an “Auntie” in several other households. I’m known as Aunt Cookie, Crispy, Auntie Chrissykins and Auntie Nasty. My husband even acquired the nickname, Uncle Cupcake this summer. I’ve been able to watch these kids grow up without the cloud of jealousy due to infertility. I didn’t have to back away from being a part of those growing families because I had just had a miscarriage or another failed embryo transfer. Those things didn’t start to happen until after my friends had their babies and for that, I am grateful.

I’m thankful that even though I’m doing this so late, those same friends are there to support me in my struggle. They are there to offer me words of encouragement when I can’t take the emotional pain anymore. They are understanding and allow me to follow my own path. They are compassionate. At this point in life, my good friends have had the life experiences to know what words to say or how to offer sympathy and kindness.  They have the strength to feel my grief with me.

While I never expected to wait so long to have kids of my own, I have had a journey that has changed my life. It has taught me how to survive deep emotional pain and grief and allowed me to support others in their journey as well. Through all the heartache, it has taught me that hope and faith still do exist. I haven’t given up yet. I’m still waiting for my baby…but oh, does it feel like the longest wait ever.

Strong Enough

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September 22, 2012 was our wedding day. Last week we celebrated our three year wedding anniversary.   We have not been married for a long time, but we have been through so much together. Today, I saw this quote floating around Facebook:

The couples that are “meant to be” are the ones who go through everything that is meant to tear them apart and come out even stronger than they were before.

We are definitely one of those couples. We have been faced with so much that is meant to tear us apart. I’m not sure if we are stronger yet, but I think we are at a place where we are strong enough. We seem to be in a constant state of “licking our wounds” with short breaks of stability and a chance to remember we can still be happy. Our three years of marriage have not been easy. Somehow we find a way not to give up…on our journey or each other. This marriage has not been all sunshine and roses. At times, we hang by a thread, and at times we can’t let go of each other. Our entire relationship has been overshadowed with fertility issues and two devastating pregnancy losses (amongst life’s other challenges). We’ve shared the roller coaster of hopefulness following an embryo transfer and have had to grieve in our own way every time it has failed.   He’s had to watch me lose hope and he’s had to watch happiness fade from my eyes. When I’ve given up, he hasn’t. Somehow, that’s helped me come back to see the light again. When he’s lost, my strength comes back to find him.

Seeing this quote today reminded me that we are strong enough not to be torn apart no matter how close that feels sometimes. We love each other.

Photo by Mary Bernsen

I’m waiting for my Yang

yin yang image

Less then a week leading up to my planned embryo transfer (last Saturday), I somehow managed to injure myself. Our house has been a chaotic mess for the past two months due to a kitchen renovation and I went on a mad cleaning spree. Apparently I bent over a few too many times as I felt a strong muscular ache start to build and spread from my lower back through my hamstring. But no biggy, I just worked hard. It’s just sore muscles. Just as I was about to sit down and relax after a day of cleaning, our dog started acting strange. She was frantically pacing and panting and drooling through the house. I rushed her to the vet right as they were closing up for the day. Nothing life threatening and her symptoms were inconclusive so we were sent home. Within a half hour after getting home she started vomiting. Repeatedly. Again, I was bending over, helping her and trying to take care of her. After two and a half hours of this, we rushed ourselves into stop and go Saturday night beach traffic and made our way to the emergency vet hospital with her gagging in the back seat for 45 minutes (our poor baby). We spent 3 hours there trying to figure out what was wrong and to treat her. Thankfully after their care for her, she started to improve and over the next couple of days she was on the road to recovery. But it turns out that all that repeated lower back strain I put myself through was reacting (unbeknownst to me) with a clamp down on a nerve like the strength of a zombie biting into it’s first victim. I woke up at 1am Monday morning in torturous pain running down my left leg. All the muscles in my glute and hamstring were as tight as steel rods and on fire. I’ve never had such horrible cramping and muscle pain in my life.   I had no idea what I was in for, but it turned out this pain did not let up and in fact got worse spreading through my calf and foot the next day. I could barely move. It was too painful for a long ride to a doctor’s office so my first thought was massage. It would just be a ten minute drive to a massage versus 30-40 minutes to the doctor. I had to drive myself as my husband had to go to work and I cried in pain all the way there. The massage provided a lot of relief for the 90 minutes I was there, but it quickly returned and I cried in agony all the way home. After a couple of days, I was able to get to my chiropractor (also near by) where he was rather concerned it was a pinched nerve (as half my left foot was numb and I did not have much control of my foot). As the week progressed, I got up the bravery and desperation to take the longer car rides to acupuncture and doctor appointments. This required some creativity with the husband and friends to coordinate with me since I couldn’t drive. But thanks to all of them, I eventually made it to the acupuncturist and the doctor. Every day, I kept thinking, this has got to get better, I have my embryo transfer on Friday! But I knew in my heart that my body was under too much stress and too much pain and on Thursday I talked to my doctor and we decided to cancel. I was so discouraged, disappointed and depressed. Of course, this cycle can be repeated but there had been so much work leading up to this point and now it was gone again. The injections, the workouts, the 3 day cleanse I did to make me feel healthier, the blood tests, the ultrasounds, the timed acupuncture appointments with my cycle…the list goes on and on. Plus the fact that this was my first cycle after taking a much needed break for several months. And now, just a big, fat, UGH. The embryos and I will have to wait for a later date.

I went to my acupuncturist for help with the pain and told her I had to cancel the embryo transfer. She said she was so sorry for my bad luck but not to worry. With bad luck, comes good luck. The Yin and the Yang have to balance out. My good luck would be coming.

After 4 days of absolute hell, I was finally in a doctor’s office. It was looking like sciatica and hopefully not as severe as a herniated disc. That night I started on a couple of different medications and the pain started to let up and I was finally able to sleep for the first night in 4 days. By Monday I was able to drive but still in discomfort. I spent this week, working a few hours in the office and a few hours at home each day. Unfortunately the medication I’m on during the day has been making me feel very sick and I’m struggling through every day in a Prednisone-induced stupor full of nausea, hot flashes, dizziness and overall uckyness and ickyness. Next week I’ll start physical therapy and my continued plight to find harmony between my Yin and my Yang.   There is no shadow without light. I want my Yang back and I want it in the form of a baby.