Boy, Oh Boy!

The vision that I have of our family is ever changing.

I was once convinced that my first child would be a boy. I was wrong. And then, I thought my second one would be. Wrong again. I think, if I’m being completely honest with you and myself, I really only told myself they would be boys because what I really wanted was a girl and I didn’t want to feel the biting pain of disappointment when there were no vaginas in sight. But either way, I somehow convinced myself — I was destined to have a boy.

But after the arrival of Skittle, my second precious girl, I began to allow myself to imagine a house full of little girls. The thought to me was so sweet and magical, and so perfectly fitting as I am about as far from being a tomboy as one can get, that I became attached to it. I tried not to, because I knew the likelihood of one day having four girls (four being our ultimate goal), was not great, but we all know how the heart works. It does funny things. Sometimes, it falls in love with the wrong people or illogical ideas. Sometimes, it does it over and over again.

And yet, despite my heart making a wish, despite the vision I’ve had of our family for over a year now, we have a baby boy on the way.

KABOOM.

When we learned Poppy’s gender, it sort of felt like my heart exploded. Tears popped from my eyes. I knew they weren’t tears of joy, but in that moment, I couldn’t explain any of it. I was expecting this news, but hadn’t been particularly hoping for it, and I just felt sort of ambivalent. I couldn’t label what I was feeling as happy, sad, excited, disappointed, scared, or anything else. I just felt all of it and none of it all at once. That was the most unexpected part for me.

As the news sank in throughout the day, I came to realize that I was feeling much sadder than I had wanted to feel. When this time came, and I suspected it would come eventually, I had hoped to feel overwhelming excitement about the tiny little penis inside of me. I didn’t.

I felt SAD that I may never hold another baby girl of my own in my arms. Sad that the sparkly satin headbands and frilly cupcake leg warmers and pink pink pink would be going by the wayside. Sad that baby dolls and My Little Pony might start competing with trucks and superheroes in our home.

I felt MAD, mostly at myself, because I had gotten my hopes up about having another girl. If I hadn’t started hoping, I wouldn’t be feeling so crummy.

I felt SCARED that I don’t know how to be the mom to a little boy. I don’t know anything about cars and trucks, or sports, or superheroes. I hate the color blue. I am a girly-girl. I am just about as stereotypically “girly” as one can get. And my husband is no macho man. What the hell do we know about raising a boy?! And how was I going to afford buying a whole new wardrobe for our little guy? (Consignment and thrift shopping has helped, but I still have spent an obscene amount of money — already! — on this kid.) And my girls were both relatively easy and amazing sleepers…what if having a boy is different? This pregnancy has already been harder on me, what if raising a boy is too? And don’t even get me started about masturbation, uncontrollable boners, and drugs… (My husband and his brother are both recovering drug addicts. Addiction runs in the family. Especially for males.)

And I felt RESENTFUL towards just about everyone. Every person who made me feel like we “needed” a boy. Like our family wasn’t complete without a boy. Like somehow, if Baby #3 had turned out be female, we would be missing out on something big. And resentful towards everyone who sent text messages and posted on Facebook saying:

  • “Yay! You’re going to LOVE having a boy!”
  • “Congrats! I bet you’re SO happy!”
  • “Praise God! I was praying for this for you guys!”
  • “Oh my gosh! I bet [your husband] is so thrilled to finally have a boy!”

As though, of COURSE, I would be thrilled. I should be thrilled. And my husband, even more so. (News flash: Honey wanted another girl, too. Not every man feels the need to have a son.) And I even resented my mom, who asked, “Are you excited?” and when I didn’t respond positively, she finished with saying, “Well, I’m sorry your baby is a boy,” because that wasn’t what I needed to hear either.

And then, the common link between all these feelings, the undercurrent, the one that ran the deepest…I felt GUILTY. I felt like the worst person in the world, because who resents their loved ones when they only mean well? And I felt like the worst mother, because why couldn’t I just be happy? My friends and family were right, I SHOULD be happy! And even more, I felt like the worst infertile, because dammit, I had a BABY growing inside of me and that should be enough. There were people in this world who would kill to be in my position, carrying any baby — boy, girl, monkey or otherwise — and I had once been one of them. Who was I, suddenly thinking I had a right to have any baby I chose? I felt like a selfish, spoiled, ungrateful, entitled brat, and I hated myself for it. The guilt ate away at me for days.

I’m relieved to say most of these feelings didn’t last in such intensity for very long. I worked through them. I processed them. I searched for the silver lining. And I learned to have a little grace, mostly towards myself. I’m only human after all. Even in the best of circumstances, there can be mixed feelings. That’s normal. That’s OKAY. I don’t need to justify it. I don’t owe anyone an explanation. I’m allowed to grieve. As I wrote in a recent post, there is grief around every life corner. I don’t need anyone’s permission to feel what I feel. I can own it and feel it, really feel the huge weight of it, accept it and embrace it (maybe over and over again, as necessary), and then hopefully move on. And if I can’t move on, that’s okay too. There are some feelings and emotions that just never go away and, instead, you learn to live with them. It’s all part of being human, isn’t it? And there’s no shame in that.

Everything “bad” thing I felt immediately after learning about this baby boy has diminished, but they haven’t gone away entirely. I still feel sad sometimes, sad and scared and guilty, but the good feelings have moved in and made their home, too. I’m excited. I’m happy. I’m in love.

This baby was loved before I knew he was a “he” and that hasn’t changed at all. And now that he has an identity, and I think maybe even a name, and I feel him move at all hours of the day and night, I love him even more.

Everything that I have loved about having a baby girl isn’t going to go away because he’s a boy. Each moment will be unique to him, but I will still have chubby thighs to squeeze and fine baby hair to smell and one day he will learn to say “mama” in that sweet toddler voice I love to hear. That won’t change.

Most of all, I believe this little human was chosen for us. Just for us. He is our intended one. Meant to be. Meant to be ours. Two X chromosomes, or an X and a Y, it doesn’t matter.

He is ours.

He is loved.

And we’ll figure the rest out along the way.

Just for Fun

Thank you so much for all of the comments on my last post! I used nearly every suggestion offered, both here and on Facebook, and they really helped me to get through a miserable few days. I’m happy to say I turned a corner early in the weekend and am now feeling almost good as new. Oh my gosh, I’m SO glad I can say that. It was feeling like it would never happen there for a while. So thank you! I appreciate all of you.

It’s a busy few weeks here for us. Between our anatomy scan earlier in the month, my mom’s visit over this past holiday weekend, Cupcake’s upcoming preschool “graduation” (quotes used because she’s actually not done with preschool…there’s still one more year to go), trying to get a few things accomplished for baby’s autumn arrival (like making freezer meals and doing a little — ahem, a LOT of — shopping), and taking boudoir photos for my dear friend Leigh, I don’t have much time for anything else. Certainly not enough time to write a coherent blog post!

So instead, I’m stealing an idea from MissConception and putting together a little “getting to know me” post. If you’re a blogger, I encourage you to do the same. I’d love to learn more about you, friends!

Four jobs I’ve had:

1. Child Support employee for the state of Idaho

2. Cashier at a pharmacy/gift shop

3. Pet sitter (I started my own business when I was 8 years old and had lots of neighbors who were brave enough to allow me to watch their pets while they were out of town.)

4. Data entry and secretary for an abrasives manufacturer

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

1. Titanic

2. P.S. I Love You

3. Notting Hill

4. Harry Potter (all of them)

Four books I’d recommend:

1. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

2. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

3. Room by Emma Donoghue

4. Good Grief by Lolly Winston

For cities I’ve lived in:

1. Rathdrum, ID

2. Lewiston, ID

3. Tampa, FL

4. Federal Way, WA

Four places I’ve visited:

1. Sydney, Australia

2. Cancun, Mexico

3. Nice, France

4. The Grand Canyon

Four Places I Could Visit Over and Over:

1. London, England

2. Kangaroo Island, Australia

3. Disney World

4. Any of the Hawaiian islands

Four things I just won’t eat:

1. Sushi

2. Red meat

3. Chocolate pudding

4. Clam chowder

Four things I could eat every day:

1. Milkshakes

2. Stuffed jalapeno-mozzarella pizza rolls from Pizza Pizzazz

3. Grapes

4. Fluffernuts

Four TV shows I used to watch and miss (and watch in reruns as much as I can):

1. Friends

2. Gilmore Girls

3. Parenthood

4. Brothers & Sisters

Four things I’m looking forward to this year:

1. Taking boudoir photos of my friend Leigh

2. Our annual road trip to Idaho

3. The sunny summer weather

4. Giving birth and meeting our baby boy

Four things I need right now:

1. A massage

2. Coffee

3. Another vacation

4. A nap!

Four dreams I have for our future:

1. Have four children

2. Buy a bigger home

3. Celebrate our 10th anniversary (three more years!) on Maui

4. Travel the world

Have a great week! xoxo

Seeking Help!

I’m at a breaking point and, in an effort to reach the masses, am going to post exactly what I posted on Facebook just moments ago:

Seeking advice and tips! For over three days now, I have been VERY congested. Thought it was my seasonal allergies, but now I suspect a cold. I can’t breathe AT ALL, have had two nights of almost zero sleep, and am feeling pretty miserable. Hoping the symptoms will let up soon, but in the meantime am looking for anything that might help to relieve the horrible congestion, plugged ears, and sinus pressure. What hasn’t worked: saline nasal spray, sitting in a steamy hot shower, BreatheRight nasal strips, Vicks, steam from a boiling pot of water, Sudafed, and Benadryl. The ONLY thing that provides relief is a medicated, fast-acting nasal spray, but it only lasts an hour or so and I can only use it every four hours for three days max and I’m trying soooooo hard to not even do that. Any other ideas out there? Anything I haven’t tried? Give me all you’ve got, people! I’m feeling desperate and, as long as it’s safe for the baby, will try just about anything!

If you have any new ideas for me, please don’t hesitate to suggest them. I am really, really, really getting desperate. Like, really. :p

Blue

I’ve never really liked the color blue. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a big ol’ girly-girl or if it’s just something about the color itself that rubs me the wrong way, but I’m just not a fan and I never have been. In fact, of all the colors in the world, I’d say it’s my very least favorite.

Which is sort of a problem since we’re about to have a lot more of it hanging around this house.

Any guesses why???

It’s because Poppy is a boy.

After two girls, I am pregnant with a boy.

We are having a baby boy!

It’s a thought that’s taking some getting used to and I hope to write more about that later, but for now, I’ll just say we’re excited. And we’re scared. We’re nervous. We’re curious. We’re hopeful.

Most of all, it just feels like, of course this is the way it should be. This is what was always intended for us. This baby boy has always been ours, from the very beginning of time when none of us existed.

This little one, this boy, is our boy. And that just makes this mama very, very happy.

Grief is Beautiful

Grief is part of the human experience. We all know this. By the time we reach our 30s, most of us have already lost someone we loved, whether it be a beloved grandparent or a beloved pet, or if we’re really unlucky, someone much closer to us. Losing someone in death is perhaps the most difficult and permanent of all griefs, but it’s not the only type of grief we experience in life.

As infertiles, we know and understand a lot about grief because we go through the process over and over and over again. With the start of each period, we grieve the end of a dream. Some of us have to grieve the loss of a pregnancy, a much-wanted and already-loved baby. Some of us have to grieve the idea of ever being parents or of experiencing all the ups and downs that come with carrying a child in your womb. We grieve because we don’t feel “normal,” because we don’t feel like a woman, because everyone else seems to get pregnant without much thought and we are reminded of our body’s shortcomings at every turn.

And as a mother, I have come to realize that there is grief in every part of parenting. My friend Leigh and I speak often of this. We grieve because our babies have stopped being babies. We grieve because they are constantly growing up, leaving us behind little bit by little bit in each step forward they take. They start preschool, they start kindergarten, they make friends who become more important to them than Mom and Dad, they stop needing hugs and kisses, they stop needing us…and we grieve. And we grieve when they grieve, for whatever they grieve for and for however long the grief lasts. As a mother, grief is constant.

But grief doesn’t end there either. It isn’t contained to just death, and infertility, and mothering. We face grief around every corner, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in much larger ones. We grieve the loss of a job we loved or needed. We grieve not getting the job we really wanted. We grieve when a phenomenal vacation has come to an end. (Maybe not everyone does this, but I do. Oh! how I do.) We grieve the end of summer, the end of the holiday season. And we grieve relationships that end not by death, but by circumstance or choice. Sometimes someone moves away. Sometimes we just drift away from a friend who once was our whole world. Sometimes we are forced to face a divorce we never could have predicted, as my sister is right now. And sometimes a close friend, for whatever reason, decides that she is ready to end our friendship, and we grieve again.

That’s where I’m at right now.

For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you will probably remember my good friend Lillian. The one who gave me the most face-to-face support during and after my miscarriage. The one who experienced three miscarriages of her own before giving birth to her daughter and another one shortly after I learned I was pregnant with Skittle. The one who kept Cupcake at her house for nearly two days while I was in the hospital giving birth. The one with whom I did frequent Mom’s Nights Outs, and weekend getaways, and jam-making, and cookie-baking, and playdates. Remember her? For over three years, she has been a huge part of my life and, now, she has unexpectedly decided that she does not want to be a part of it anymore.

It’s a long, complicated story that I am still trying to make sense of and much of it remains shrouded in mystery for me. I won’t bother going into all of the details here because it’s just too much. And really, the details don’t matter because, in the end, Lillian still decided our friendship was over. She explained it away by saying it was clear to her that our personalities didn’t fit together. I am too sensitive, too easily wounded, and she apparently felt like a “bull in a china shop” with my feelings. And in that, she may have a point. I am emotional and sensitive and I do get my feelings hurt easily.¬† And Lillian’s first priority is always Lillian. She has no filter and is quick to anger and says and does a lot of things that can and have stung my heart. But the funny thing is that I have never admitted to any of it unless Lillian has pointedly asked me if she hurt my feelings. And isn’t it odd that I’ve been able to get over and let go of it every time she has hurt me, and yet she somehow cannot let it go? And that the only two times she has confronted me with¬† issues in our friendship is because I hurt her feelings, not the other way around? Like I said, it’s complicated and mysterious and I don’t understand much of it myself.

I think the hardest part is knowing how much time I invested in our friendship. I gave her a lot of myself and recently worked very hard to fix things when it became obvious they weren’t going well. I devoted myself to our friendship for an entire year while my husband was telling me I deserved better and that I was wasting my time. I was willing to do what needed to be done to find some healing between us and she gave up. And she can say it’s because I’m too sensitive or blame it on clashing personalities or whatever her excuse of the day is, but the truth of the matter is that she made a choice. It was a choice to end our friendship and only she has responsibility in that. Clearly, I valued it more than she did and I’m glad to know that now, but it’s still hard to swallow. And no matter how it ended or why, it still feels like a rejection. Like something is wrong with me. Like I did something bad, even when everything I did had truly good and honest intentions behind it and I wanted nothing more than to be a good friend to her.

But the intensity of the emotions that came in the aftermath has mostly subsided. I have worked through the grieving process rather quickly and am now at a stage of acceptance and, almost, indifference. These days, I am feeling somewhat relieved that the constant drama with her is over for good and I am free to live my life as I please without the concern of what she thinks or how it may piss her off. I miss her sometimes, and all the laughs we had. And I miss the fun things we used to do with our mutual friend Leigh and the three of our families. I miss the memories and the sense of community her friendship gave me. I miss her because, in the best of times, she was a dear friend who offered a lot of support and a place where I could truly let my guard down. But in the worst of times, I felt guarded all the time and I don’t miss that.

It’s a mixed bag of “stuff” you get with a loss. With grief.

And yet, if you live a long and full life, grief is part of the package. It’s part of the price we pay for love. It’s part of being human.

I kind of hate that, but I’m learning to accept it, instead of fearing it. Instead of running from it.

I’m learning to embrace it.

To be grateful for it.

Grief is beautiful.

Even when it’s hard and ugly, it’s always beautiful.

Clarity

Thank you so much for all the love and support you showed after I published my last post. I should have known all along that I could count on you to lift me up. I don’t know how often I’ll be posting from here on out — probably much less than I did in my last pregnancy — but I do know I want to be able to come here from time to time as needed. Thank you all for following along.

The start of this week was rough. With daily headaches and barfing three times in the span of 48 hours (I can’t believe I’m STILL dealing with “morning” sickness at 15 weeks pregnant!), I was feeling really crapping. Also, my head and heart weren’t in a good place because a good friend of mine had broken up with me. Seriously. I don’t know any other way to say it. It would be almost laughable — to be dumped at the age of 31 by one of my best friends (I thought this drama only happened in high school?) — if it didn’t hurt so damn much. I’ve lost a lot of sleep and cried a lot of tears over this and may write about it in my next post since the friend in question is one I have talked a lot about on this blog, but for now I’ll just say…it’s been a sad week here. It’s messed with my head. It sucks.

People talk about moments of clarity. Like when you nearly lose your life and, afterwards, take stock of everything that you are grateful for or need to change. I find that my moments come to me on a much smaller scale, but they have the same effect. Earlier this week, I was feeling normal pregnancy worries. I hadn’t felt the baby (we’ll call him/her Poppy…as in poppyseed…as in, my baby was the size of a poppyseed when I first learned s/he existed) move in days and, though I know this is very normal since it’s still super early to be feeling any fetal movement, I let it get to me every time.

I brought out the doppler as I always do when I start to feel the anxiety creep in, almost-but-not-quite expecting to hear just silence and my own slow heartbeat and the gurgle of whatever is going on inside of me. I always feel just on the edge of believing my baby will die at any given moment…probably a form of infertility and miscarriage PTSD. But then there it was instantly…that fast and beautiful thumpity-thump-thump and, simultaneously, the sweetest, smallest baby wiggle or kick or whatever it was and I breathed out, “Thank you, God,” and then I knew.

I knew that nothing else really mattered besides that baby. That heartbeat and that kick. And the two other squealing, bouncy little ones in the next room. And the husband who has done my normal household chores — dishes and making dinner and picking up toys and on and on — without a word of complaint, even though I know he’s tired after a long day of work, because he knows my pregnancy sleepies and queasies trump that. And nothing matters more than the others in my life who choose to love me. And nurturing my relationships with them. And showing them and telling them what they mean to me.

That is what’s important.

Not a friend who has decided she finds no more value in my friendship. Not a friend who tells me all the things I need to change about myself, but can’t handle the truth when I meet her with brutal honesty and refuse to be bullied. And not the words I say to myself about what must be wrong with me. About why I don’t deserve to be loved.

Because there are people who love me. People who want to love me. People who can’t help but love me. At my best. At my worst. No makeup. Unshowered. Raw. They see me and they love me anyways.

Clarity.

We all need some of it from time to time.

Unexpected

There’s no other word for it.

Well, that’s not entirely true, is it? There are other words for it really…surprising, unplanned for, accidental, unforeseen. There are more surely, but “unexpected” seems to perfectly describe the course my life has taken. The path most of us infertiles face. The pregnancies that come when we’ve hit rock bottom. The losses that occur just when we start to feel “safe.”

And it’s unexpected that I’m coming here now, under much different circumstances than I predicted in my last post. I’m here because I need to say this, because I need to tell you, though I don’t have the right words to say or know how it will be received. But let’s not beat around the bush.

I’m pregnant.

Unexpectedly expecting, so to speak.

In fact, today I am thirteen weeks pregnant. Entering my second trimester. I have had three ultrasounds. Baby has a good heartbeat and is measuring a couple days ahead. When I start to feel anxious, I bring out the doppler and search for that heartbeat while muttering prayer after prayer. It all still feels unreal.

This is my first natural pregnancy. No Clomid, or RE, or monitoring. No endless cycles of hope and then failure. My body is a funny thing. Since puberty, it has not cycled regularly. It did not know how to put all the pieces together to make it all function so that a mature egg would be released on a monthly basis. By my college days, it hardly happened at all. And yet, there is something about the weaning process that just works for my body. My menstrual cycles don’t start until after I wean my babies, but always within thirty days of the time when I have officially stopped breastfeeding, I ovulate. And this time, I was prepared for it. Watching and waiting and having a bit more sex than is usual for us. They say it only takes once and I’m proof that it does.

I’ve been wanting to come here for a while now to share my news. But I didn’t know what to say. And I was scared. Scared that putting my news out into the world would be an irreversible curse. But if I’m being completely honest, even more scared that the easy road I have walked to achieve this pregnancy would mean I was no longer wanted or welcomed here. I didn’t want to face the rejection.

The day I learned I was pregnant, I told two of my good friends. One of them said to me, “See! You’re not really infertile at all!” I didn’t say much to that (well, I did actually — I argued with her over it, but she didn’t want to hear me or believe me, so I let it go), but she just clearly has no idea. If I hadn’t caught that one lucky, post-weaning egg, we would be right back where we were two or three years ago as we were trying to conceive Skittle…smack dab in the middle of Clomid and uncertainty. One ovulation doesn’t mean anything. I will always be infertile. Who else prays so fervently countless times each day for a healthy baby? Who else has high blood pressure only when at the OB’s office? Who else lives from one doppler listening to the next, just hoping her baby will still be alive? There was once a time when I wanted nothing more than to be as fertile as the next gal. But infertility is part of my identity now, a part I am not ashamed to own anymore. And if I don’t belong here, in this community, then I don’t know where I belong at all.

With that said, I don’t know if I’ll be posting here again in this pregnancy. That’s not to say that I definitely won’t…I just really don’t know. Maybe it will depend on the feedback I get to this post. Maybe it will depend on how anxious I become over the next few days or weeks or months. Maybe it will depend on something completely unexpected. I think when it’s time to post again, I’ll know. I’ve known this post needed to be written for weeks now and I will trust my heart to tell me when there is more to say.

Until then…may life’s unexpected twists and turns be kind to you, friends. Thinking of you all. xo