I Was Wrong

Here is what I know now:

I thought I had my body figured out, sort of.

I thought that I knew what to expect, sort of.

I believed that because lightning struck once, it just might strike again.

I was arrogant; I was cocky.

I really did think that baby #4 was a given.

And I thought that, even if I didn’t get pregnant with my one lucky post-weaning ovulation, I was at peace with taking Clomid again. No big deal.

But now, as I stand here on the eve of swallowing my first Clomid pill in many years, I know just how wrong I was about it all.

Déjà vu

It’s déjà vu, these blank ovulation tests, the waiting and the impatience, the cycle of hope and disappointment.

Heart pounding when I take my temperature in the morning, anticipating that maybe this morning it will rise, fearing that this morning it will drop.

Obsessing over fertility charts past and present, searching for a reason to have hope, right here, right now.

Analyzing my cervical mucous every evening.

Having sex all.the.time.

Spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.

Déjà vu.

I’m still waiting for my one lucky post-weaning ovulation. That’s new. I’ve always ovulated, on my own, about three weeks after fully weaning my baby. It’s been almost six weeks now.

I had a reason to hope last week. Cervix was high and very soft. Tons of EWCM. OPK’s were getting darker (never positive). And then — nothing. All signs disappeared. A false start.

Déjà vu.

Anger at my body for failing me. Sadness that my body is so broken.

Sadness that my one chance to do this naturally is slipping away.

Sadness that this can’t be easier, that I can’t be like “everyone else.”

Sadness that there may be many more months ahead filled with sadness.

Sadness that the sadness has filled me already.

So, so much sadness.

Déjà vu.

Dropping to my knees in quiet prayer.

Fighting against what almost seems inevitable now — endless cycles of progesterone and Clomid.

Bracing myself for the pain, for the disappointment, for the frustration, for much more sadness.

Déjà vu.

Knowing, with great conviction now, that I want this baby I am waiting for. It’s déjà vu. Nothing like feeling like something may be out of your reach to make you realize how desperately you want it, eh? Déjà vu.

And to make you realize that, if you ever get it, it will be the last time. Definitively. Because you — because I — can’t do this anymore. I’m ready to be done. That’s new, too.

But most of it?

An ongoing, itchy, painful déjà vu.

And yet, the hope for another kind of déjà vu — one filled with positive pregnancy tests and skin stretched across a growing belly — persists.

I will do this over and over if I have to. I will live this déjà vu.

Renewed determination. Hope that won’t die. Letting go and having faith.

The most beautiful part of my déjà vu.

 

The Sacrificial Lamb

He loves to nurse.

I mean, what sweet, plush, toddling being doesn’t love to snuggle up to Mama and be nourished while he tugs her hair and rests his head against her warm chest?

But this kid — my kid — loves to nurse. When he sees me walking towards his bedroom, where we do all of our breastfeeding these days, he starts laughing and nearly skipping as he leads the way. He then enthusiastically pats the chair I always sit in and hands me the Boppy pillow. And when he latches on, his eyes roll into the back of his strawberry blond-haired head and he releases the softest sigh. Sometimes he falls asleep. Sometimes he signs “milk” to me over and over. Sometimes he tugs on my hair or tries to put his finger in my ear/mouth/nose/eye/all of the above.

Often, we play a game while he drinks. I ask him question after question — Are you happy? Are you funny? Are you special? Do you love me? Do I love you? — and he nods his head to each one. He has started nodding before I even ask him anything. And sometimes he smiles or laugh. Sometimes he mumbles something. But he never lets go of my nipple.

He loves to nurse.

For a while, I was in turmoil over the decision to wean him. I didn’t want to. It was physically uncomfortable at best, leaving me breathless, and deeply painful at worst, sending spasms throughout my body whenever I even thought about it. I wasn’t ready and he was showing no signs that he was either. But you know me — I’ve always wanted at least one more kid and my desire to move forward with that somehow, though just barely, won the battle with my desire to keep nursing. And so every five days, I cut out another nursing or pumping session. And every five days, my breasts and my heart ache once again.

In some ways, it feels like I am choosing one child over another. Choosing a child whose face I have never seen, whose weight I have never felt against my chest. Choosing a child with no name, a child who hasn’t been born, a child who hasn’t even been conceived. I am choosing the idea of this child, this fantasy, over my sweet, living, breathing son who gently lays his head upon our dog and laughs at everything I do. My poor baby. My sweet sacrificial lamb.

But that could just be a mix of my anxiety and my hormones talking. I have been known to be a little melodramatic when those two come together.

Either way, it’s times like these when I wish so hard that my body worked differently, worked better, and that some way, I could magically fall pregnant with those elusive unicorn babies I’ve read about in the dreamiest fairy tales, without having to sacrifice anything at all.

Wouldn’t that be something?

One Small Step

A week ago, I stepped into my OB/GYN’s office for the first time in over a year. A half hour later, I left with a new prescription for Clomid, Provera, and Metformin. It all felt so familiar, it was as though I was living my life of two, or five, years ago.

Except I came home to a house full of children, screaming and fighting, and a floor that was unseeable because of the massive field mine of toys that stretched from the front door to every corner of every bedroom, and I had to ask myself, can I even handle another child? Can I handle the constant stress and mess and lack of rest? Because some days it feels as though I am seriously failing. Some days, it feels as though my head might explode if one more child whines about what is on her dinner plate or about how itchy her shirt is or about having to pick up her toys before bedtime. There are days when the monotony of parenthood — the barage of reminders I have to give Cupcake in the morning so that she will be ready for school on time, the taking of Skittle’s hand numerous times a day to lead her to the potty, the gentle (but infinite) guidance I have to give Poppy to keep him from unplugging every lamp in the house, the meal planning, the drawn-out bedtime routines, the toy pick-up over and over and over — seems overwhelming and exhausting. And so often, the worry that ebbs and flows over my children’s health — worry about everything from allergies (yes, lots of them) to asthma (probably not) to mysterious fevers, strep, UTIs, and yeast infections (the last four of which have all made an appearance at our house within the last three months) — just feels like so. damn. much. TOO much for one person, or for at least this one person, to handle with any sort of grace or dignity. And to think of doing it for one second longer than I have to seems foolish.

And then there are the other days. Days like yesterday, when I take just Cupcake out for hot cocoa and we talk about wonderful things while we sip from our cup and she is a delight to be around and declares it “the best day ever.” Days when Poppy takes a few steps on his own and then collapses onto the ground in a fit of belly laughs because he is so proud of himself, or  when wide-eyed Skittle crawls into my bed and whispers into the darkness of the room, “I love you, Mommy.” There are days when the kids are happy and loving from sunrise to sunset, and thank me sweetly for the cookie on their plate at lunchtime, and play nicely together all day long. Or maybe they don’t — maybe they fight or argue about who-knows-what and yell and snatch toys away, but then they say “sorry” unprompted and give each other an affectionate, genuine hug and all is well again. And there are days when we go on adventures as a family, near or far, and nothing on our list of daily tasks to do weighs on us. And there are days when we spend a relaxing morning at home, us adults sipping coffee with our littles snuggled next to us on the couch while we watch home movies, and I am suddenly reminded how quickly the years go by and that they will be all grown up in a flash. Those are the days when my heart explodes and I wish I could do this a million times more.

Though we are not taking any preventative measures — and haven’t in nearly eight years — we are not yet officially “trying” for our fourth take-home baby. But we are putting a plan in place. I have significantly cut back on sugar and caffeine. I will wean Poppy over the course of five weeks starting in April. I will order my regime of vitamins at some point in the future if necessary. And now I have my prescriptions, for better or worse. And perhaps I won’t even need them. Perhaps lightning will strike twice and I will fall pregnant with my one lucky, post-weaning ovulation as I did with Poppy. But that seems like a little too much to hope for and so I am preparing for a harder journey.

I don’t know what will happen in the months to come. I am hopeful and excited. I am apprehensive, scared, and even a little sad. This very well may be our last baby. It’s a relief to be at this point, but it’s bittersweet as well. It hurts to think that this could be the very last time I do any of this. Even more, it hurts to think that I may not get to do it at all. I mean, let’s get real, you guys. My ovaries don’t work as they should. None of this is a given. And so I’m fearful of what is to come. What I will have to endure. What I will put my family through in doing it.

It’s a difficult thing to go forward, knowing that the path ahead could be nothing but a journey towards failure, disappointment, heartache, and loss while also knowing that it’s probably possible to be perfectly happy with what I have right this minute. My children are incredible. My life feels full. It’s hard to imagine being much happier than this. And yet, without this fourth baby, I know that it will forever feel as if someone is missing around here. Our family is not complete and missing someone who could have been here, if only I had tried, is not really the way I want to live the rest of my life. I have never let fear or doubt stop me when it comes to going after something I really want. And this — this big family — is something that I want so much. I have longed for it since childhood, long before I met my husband or ever heard the term “infertile.” Even when we were celebrating just having one, so grateful for the opportunity to be parents at all, my heart always yearned for more. And it feels so, so close.

So we will try. Come what may, we will try to achieve what always feels impossible. A miracle.

This Boy

My sweetheart of a boy, this one pictured here, turned ONE early in the month.

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He loves exploring new places, stroller rides, taking his socks off, chewing on everything, a green toy flute and his plastic dinosaurs, our dog, playing with everything that he’s not supposed to (like the TV remote and my phone), every single person he meets, and eating all finger foods that we give him. He also really, really loves his mama. He follows me from room to room like a puppy and clings to me when I stop walking.

He does not love teething, being alone, or long car rides.

This boy is the smallest of my babies, weighing less now than he did at nine months and a good pound less than either of his sisters did at this age. You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but he’s just in the 40th percentile for his weight (and even less for his height). But don’t worry…he’s healthy, he’s growing, and his doctor is not at all concerned. He’s just a boy on the move these days!

And oh, how he is always on the move! He’s not walking yet, but he knows how to speed-crawl alongside the best of them. Getting him to sit still for a photograph is nearly impossible anymore:

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He celebrated his first birthday with ZERO teeth. But the first one popped has now popped through, about a week ago, and I can see maybe five more that are close to the surface. It’s going to be a fun few months around here.

Poppy is also still the smiliest, giggliest baby that I know. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not always happy…but he’s wildly ticklish and always seeking to make a connection with those around him. He’s quick to smile and thinks everything we do is funny. So he pretty much smiles and laughs all the time. On the drive to pick up Cupcake from school the other day, he laughed his head off the whole way. Deep belly laughs that came from within his soul. It was just about the best sound ever.

This boy? The one with the bright, sparkling eyes? The one with the curious smile? The one with that little tongue always sticking out in the sweetest way?

This boy has stolen my heart. For all the ways and days I spent worrying before his birth that I would not know how to love him, let me assure you that I do. I loved him fiercely the moment he was born and I love him even more with each passing day.

I’m so glad this boy is mine.

An Update, At Last

It’s been a month since I last came here and recounted the story of our home-selling/buying drama and my mega-freak outs. I was in a great deal of turmoil for a few weeks there but I’m relieved to report it’s all over now. We are still living out of boxes and I’m a little overwhelmed with everything we need to do, but we moved into our new home two weeks ago and are soooooo happy. I can feel the sense of peace and joy deep within. I’m yelling and crying no more. I feel connected with and close to Honey again. My three little ones are enjoying their new room and yard and making friends with the neighbor kids. We love the extra space we now have. It’s pretty much a fairy tale around here right now.

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During moving weekend, we also threw a big joint birthday party for my Poppy and Skittle. A birthday bash AND moving? The timing was basically as bad as it could get and it was a insane few days with very little sleep and a whole lot of stress. BUT we survived it with the help of our little village and now Poppy is one and Skittle is three and life feels incredible and magical and wonderful. I wish things could stay this way forever. (Well, maybe with a few less boxes to unpack.)

Other news:

  • The five of us flew to Idaho for a seven-hour, whirlwind trip at the end of August for my dad’s memorial service. It was so good to reunite with family and friends I hadn’t seen in years. And to hear others say such nice things about my dad. To remember he had some redeeming qualities. To know that his life wasn’t a total waste. I felt sad flying back home, like it was my final good-bye to that man. Tears gathered in my eyes as we took off. Strange as it sounds considering our history, I miss him sometimes.
  • A while ago, another one of my articles was published on Scary Mommy. But it was published here first.

And that’s it. The past few months have been consumed almost entirely by planning a party for our littlest ones, my dad’s death, and especially selling/buying a house and now we’re mostly past that. There’s stuff to unpack and furniture to assemble, cupboards to paint and hardware to change, but the crisis is over. It’s weird. I’m not quite sure what to do with myself.

But other than the one-hour commute twice a day to take Cupcake to/from school, I have no complaints. I’m enjoying the stillness. The bliss.

Life is really, really good.

I just have to get this out.

I hate real estate. I realized that a long time ago, when we bought our first home. There are too many twists and turns, too many curveballs. I don’t have the patience. My nerves aren’t made of steel. My heart isn’t strong enough. I just can’t handle it. I wasn’t MADE for this.

And yet.

Here we are, deep into the process and desperate for a much larger homestead for our family of five, and the only way OUT is through.

A summary: We put our house on the market on a Thursday in August. By the following Monday, we had four offers. We negotiated with the lowest one because it was a cash offer. Eventually, we got them to agree to pay asking price. Swell. We were happy. Everything progressed nicely. Meanwhile, we did our own house-hunting and, after making a total of three offers, one was finally accepted. We were thrilled. This was really happening! The home passed the inspection and appraisal and is now in escrow. We are, potentially, just days away from closing on it. But! BUT. But but but we are on septic (not sewer) here where we live right now and that is where the problem lies. We had to have it inspected as part of the sale and it’s a whole long story, but needless to say, it did not pass inspection. It started as a small problem and has become a HUGE problem (how? don’t ask me! this whole thing is a ridiculous, convoluted mystery) and we have consulted with five different companies and no one is in agreement of what needs to be done or how to do it. We have already extended the closing on our house once and are in danger of doing that again, if we don’t get this fixed NOW. We’re at a crossroads…fix it (which could, quite literally, take months and cost anywhere from $3500 to $25000) and delay closing (again) and probably lose the house we want to buy…or offer a hefty reduction in price to the buyer and hope he will be willing to take this on himself.

It’s a mess. I am a mess. My husband and I are fighting. I’m yelling at the kids. In a fit of rage, I nearly threw my husband’s shoe out the front door and into the mud, which is laughable now, but felt anything but in the moment. Through the ups and many, many downs of this, I have tossed around the word “divorce,” callously mentioned killing myself, and threatened to walk away from my life and never look back. None of which I meant. Not even for a second. That’s not how I — normally — talk or think.

But I don’t feel normal right now. I feel one broken nail away from having a complete meltdown. I am saying and doing things that are not me — not who I strive to be — and I hate myself for it. I feel ashamed, embarrassed, disgusted. Between the loss of my dad, Cupcake’s start to kindergarten, planning a big party for Poppy and Skittle in just two weeks, and — most of all — all of the stress of trying to buy a house, sell a house, and pack up 1500 square feet of JUNK and CLUTTER while also dealing with two children who scream and cry all day long and a baby who likes me to constantly be near him…I feel as if I am about to break. Something is going to go wrong and I am going to be one of those people who ends up having a mental break, and is found butt naked, wandering down Main Street in a daze. See that woman with her boobs flopping in the breeze? That is ME.

I say it tongue in cheek, but seriously…how much more? How much more can I take? I keep saying I can’t handle any more and I do, but I’m not doing it well. And I know these are First World problems. It’s just a house. It’s just money. I’m thankful I have both. My husband keeps reminding me that I don’t have to eat in the same place that I defecate, so I’m already winning at life and — yes! Holy cow, yes! I get that I live a rather good, easy life. I’m lucky in many, many ways. But still. This is my reality and I want more for our family.

Since Poppy’s arrival, I have felt cramped and claustrophobic in this house. Even a good spring cleaning didn’t give me much breathing room. My home — my safe haven — is starting to choke the life out of me. We need more space to spread out. We need a fresh start. And that house we want to buy? It already feels like Home. I can see our pictures hung on the walls. I can hear the kids squealing and screeching as they ride their bikes in the culdesac and I watch them from one of the balconies with a cup of coffee and a good book in hand. (Haha. Nice dream, right?) I have imagined Halloween spent there, finally in a real neighborhood where the kids can go trick-or-treating. I know where I want to put our Christmas tree. This is where I want my children to grow up. I can’t let the hope of that go. This house is it. I feel it. And the thought of losing it makes me go crazy. I’m afraid nothing else will ever be good enough and I’ll spend the rest of my life mourning The One That Got Away. Not to mention, the thought of going through all of this again with some other house down the road pretty much makes me sick. I’m not cut out for this, remember?

I’m rambling now. What was my point again? Your guess is as good as mine. But I feel my walls going up. I feel guarded. I’m not motivated to pack anymore. I’ve stopped window-shopping online for all the ways I want to beautify our home. I qualify every conversation about the house with “if we get this house…” I’ve said on more than one occasion that this feels painfully similar to those times when I have been pregnant. So hopeful. Desperate for it all to work out. But so, so afraid to make any solid plans…to prepare for The Big Day…to count my chickens before they hatch. I lived in fear of a miscarriage then. I live in fear of losing this house now. And though they can’t be compared, not really, my heart can’t really separate the difference in this moment.

I just want everything to be okay.