Second Trimester

I woke up this morning feeling essentially the same as I always do. Tired. Overwhelmed by my to do list. Hopeful and happy and still a little scared. Anxious to weigh myself and once again search for Skittle’s heartbeat. Nothing has changed…and yet in some ways, everything has because, today I am 13 weeks pregnant.

I am in my second trimester.

My belly is getting bigger. I have made the transition to maternity clothes. We finally told the news to my husband’s parents yesterday, on his father’s birthday, which was very special. I have already started planning our gender reveal party and searching for a maternity and newborn photographer — those things that seem so abstract because this baby is still so small, and yet need to be done because time is ticking whether this whole dream of a pregnancy continues to feel surreal or not.

I know things can still go wrong — trust me, I know — and I remain vigilant and guarded. I often turn to Honey or my mom and ask, “Do you really think the baby is okay?,” even though I have no reason to believe s/he is not. And I mostly still think in terms of “if” and not “when” Skittle will come. But that has not stopped my hope and heart from soaring. And it has not stopped me from taking great leaps forward in preparing for the addition to our family. Six months seems like so long to go, and yet not enough time to prepare.

But somehow I know we will make it through. The days may drag, but looking back, it will all be a blur. I will say, “it went by so fast.” I know this because I’ve been here before. And because I can say exactly this about the last three months. And because I have watched my daughter grow and cannot believe how 28 months have just disappeared and, in the blink of an eye, she has morphed from a teeny tiny being to a sassy little thing that says “No like lady” about every female stranger we meet.

This time will fly indeed. That is the only thing I can be sure of right now. But I intend to embrace it and enjoy it with all that my heart allows.

Things I Know for Sure

This post may not be for those who are in a difficult place right now. Please read at your own risk. XO

Life is full of uncertainties, unknowns, questions without answers, and doubts. But there are a few things I know for sure:

1. Everything is made better with chocolate on it or beside it.

2. I am happiest when I am eating or traveling.

3. One of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen was at my in-laws’ on Thanksgiving Day:


4. There will always be someone better off than me, and always someone who is suffering more.

5. I am never too old to enjoy playing with my daughter’s princess castle and pretending to be Cinderella.

6. A few kind words go a long way.

7. My sister and I are very different, but she is the only sister I have, and I am grateful she is mine.

8. It is better to ask about someone’s loss and grief, and risk saying the wrong thing, than to ignore it and let them believe you don’t care at all.

9. “The Wheels on the Bus” has endless verse possibilities…and yet, every one of them gets old very fast.

10. The best day of my life was the day I first held Cupcake in my arms, and the worst day was the day I learned Teddy Graham was gone.

11. It is never too late to say “I’m sorry.”

12. The best thing I ever ate (or drank?) was a toasted marshmallow milkshake at Strand in New York City.

13. Life is full of surprises, some of them horribly horrible and many others wonderfully wonderful.

14. You often get what you want the most when you least expect it.

15. Miracles can happen.

16. I don’t want to cause more damage or brokenness to any of you, my friends and followers, you who have lifted me up, who have handed me peace on a silver platter, who have hugged me across the miles, who have taken the loneliness out of my infertility, who have offered support, advice, and love. I know, truly, I just want all of you to be okay.

17. My husband’s semen analysis was either wrong…OR sperm morphology just really doesn’t matter much.

18. Clomid is still my best friend.

19. I have  $400 worth of injectables stuffed into my fridge that hopefully I will never have to use.

20. I am scared. Scared witless or scared sh*tless, take your pick.

And finally, I know for sure that…

21. In one instant, everything can change….hope and fear can combine and combust…my future can be laid out for me in a million wondrous and awful ways and the only thing I can do is wait to see which way it will go…all because of one little test taken yesterday morning that has made it perfectly clear why my period never came :


A Promise for Positive Thinking

Since the turn of the year, I have been in a slump and I can’t climb my way out of it. Especially now that my mom is back home and I spend my days essentially alone, and my sister’s baby shower is looming closer every day, I find myself feeling melancholy and forlorn. Freakishly without hope and only filled with dread. In times like this, it is easy to forget my list of 100 blessings. Pathetic but true.

But I am tired of feeling like this year is just going to be a series of sadnesses, losses of hope, cycles which bring nothing but an empty bank account and a broken heart. I don’t want to perceive life in this way. Am I not more than my infertility and loss and struggle? Question mark because sometimes I don’t feel that I am. This infiltrates every part of my world, every thought, every moment and memory, every relationship. But 2013 does not have to be an endless dark tunnel with no light, no fleeting time in the sun. I still have plenty to be thankful for. There is deep sadness in my life, but there is intense happiness too. And while I do not yet know what this year holds for the future of our family, there are other foreseeable things, events and days and plans, that lay ahead for me to wait for and countdown to. Like:

  • Monthly Bunco nights with my girlfriends, good food, and lots of wine (and sometimes a surprise win, like the $20 I came home with this week).
  • Daily moments of laughter, delight, and wonder as I watch Cupcake grow and become and experience and create.
  • Deliciousness. I worry about my weight, but I do love to eat, and I know there will be many fantastic meals, snacks, and treats that I can live for this year.
  • A church service at the end of this month that is specifically for infertile couples and offers a lot of prayer on their behalf.
  • Fat Tuesday, a day when my husband and I go to a nearby bakery, order a ridiculous amount of their pretty chocolate pastries and desserts, and spend one night indulging ’til our stomach’s content (and beyond).
  • Our wedding anniversary in March. It will be our 5th and my husband and I are spending the night in a nice hotel in the city to celebrate. (This, however, will also be the anniversary of Teddy Graham’s conception, but I’m trying not to think of that…)
  • My mom will possibly be spending another two weeks with us in March, if she is able to get the time off work.
  • The birth of my sister’s baby in the spring. This is on the list because it can be a joyous occasion if I let it. This will be the birth of my first biological niece or nephew, which means a great deal to me. I never thought I would have this, so I’m torn between the pain and joy it brings me.
  • A long weekend visit from my mom at the end of May. (Yes, this lady has the ability to bring me lots of joy with her presence alone.)
  • A July road trip back to Idaho for my cousin’s wedding, where I will get to see some family and enjoy some hot and sunny weather.
  • My 30th birthday in August. I am not looking forward to thirty, nor am I excited about a birthday spent without a baby in my belly or arms, but my mom will probably be here (again!), and we will take Cupcake to the zoo for the first time and I do like presents, if I’m being completely honest. 🙂
  • The holidays. I dread another holiday season spent without a newborn, but Christmas can still be fun and special and memorable in the most beautiful way, if only I allow myself the freedom of focusing on all that I have rather than on the one thing that I do not.

This is my attempt at positive thinking. I struggle with it more often than not, but I do NOT want another year filled with so much self-pity, and bitterness, and darkness. It’s okay if that’s the way I feel in the moment and if I need to wallow. That’s okay. But I do not want it to define this year. I will not let it. This is the promise I am making to myself right this minute.

But I do reserve the right to renege on this promise at any time. Please forgive me if I do.

I’m Joyful and It’s Weird

It’s a weird thing.

Lately, I’ve been feeling…joyful. Light-hearted. Optimistic. I am hopeful for the future. In recent weeks (maybe since Thanksgiving?), I’ve been making up silly songs and dancing to Christmas music. I’ve been giggling over small things. I’ve been talking my husband’s ear off. When I’m happy, I chatter nonstop. When I’m not, I am more quiet. So this is very significant. And very strange.

I have felt this way before. For a minute. Typically, such hope and optimism is all too fleeting. But now, I have been feeling this way for days. Possibly weeks. I don’t know why this is. ‘Tis the season? Not likely. When dealing with loss and grief, this season usually only makes it harder. Maybe it is knowing this terrible year is nearly over and, with that, there is a chance for a new beginning. Maybe it’s the peace I have prayed for. I have no other explanation. Nothing else has changed. In fact, the longer we go without a BFP, the more it feels like it will never happen.

This does not mean I am worry-free. This week, I have been concerned for my husband’s job security, though I’m not certain I really have cause to (perhaps this will be a separate post, at some point). I’ve also been been fearing that my period will be coming any day. I’m not really afraid that it will come because I’m fairly certain it will. I’m just afraid it will come too soon and give me something new to worry over (again).

Nor does this happy-g0-luckiness mean that I don’t have moments of sheer sadness. My failed due date is approaching. I hung a small stocking for Teddy Graham on Friday. Three friends have recently given birth to their babies. All of this has been enough to make me have to stop and catch my breath. Just this morning, I started to weep while at church and I couldn’t stop. I continue to miss my baby desperately. The sting of my loss is still very fresh some days.

And yet…for the most part, I am feeling happy, celebratory, and excited for what is yet to come.  It is not that I necessarily believe we will have another child. I don’t. I also don’t not believe it. I just don’t know. Our future remains questionable. I just am beginning to feel (maybe) that whatever happens, we will be okay. I will be okay.  Somehow. I don’t really expect this perspective to last forever. I hope it will stay with me through the big holiday. But I guess all I can do right now is hold onto it for as long as I can. And be thankful that I get to enjoy it for however many days I do.

Bridging the Gap

Well, things with my sister are improving I think. I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year (as of January) since my first e-mail from her. Since I first learned that she existed. What a journey we have been on since that day… (If you’re new here, you can click on the “my sis” category on the right to get the whole scoop!)

The weekend before last, she came for my daughter’s birthday party. One of the few who did, which meant a lot to me. It was the first time I had seen her since learning that she’s pregnant. She’s 23 weeks now and her belly is getting big. Not all of it is baby weight, but she looks beautiful anyhow. And happy. Which made me realize that I miss feeling and looking happy. Just blissfully happy. Those were good days when I didn’t have this dark cloud of infertility and loss looming.

But anyways…I was scared for Sissy’s visit. Scared of how much it might hurt, and scared that things might be awkward. Scared that I wouldn’t act like a good sister and scared that I might lose my composure. But it went okay. No…it went extraordinarily well. While things may never be completely the same between us, never as carefree or as light-hearted, I am beginning to believe that we can and will survive this turmoil we’ve endured. That she will still be my sister when the day is done.

While she was here, we chatted, we laughed. She read stories to Cupcake. We planned for next Christmas. We dreamed about our children, the cousins, growing up together. We gossiped about my father-in-law (who was stressing me out). And I asked all the good sisterly questions, like:

How are you feeling?

Are you feeling much movement?

What names have you chosen?

Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?

Where are you registered?

Who will be in the delivery room with you?

We talked a lot about her baby, but mostly because I brought it up. I asked, partly because I felt obligated to and partly because I really wanted to know. I’m a bit of a masochist that way. And while it stung to hear all of it, it was easier to take than I feared. I imagine that’s because I know what it’s like to experience it. I’ve been there, walked every step of the long road of pregnancy. If I didn’t have Cupcake? I’d be more lost and bitter towards her than I care to admit.

She also made brief mention of my loss in the time that she was here. I had a candle burning for Teddy Graham during the party and the votive holder has his name and a butterfly on it. She commented on how pretty it is and asked why I chose a butterfly. And later, I heard her telling my mom how bad she feels that this has to be so hard for me. Which made my heart swell just a little with affection for her. My sis is not good about talking about these things on her own. Even though I have told her several times that I want her to bring it up, to ask about it, to let me know she’s thinking of me and has not forgotten my pain, I think she is either too self-involved or too afraid of misspeaking, or of having no words at all. But when given the opportunity, she will take it, and I can appreciate that.

Up next? Her baby shower in January and then Baby’s arrival in March, both of which I know will be emotional, trying experiences for me that will leave me drained of all energy for days. My constant hope is that I will be growing my own tiny seed of a baby by then, but even if not, I’ll be there for her.  I’ll be there because that’s what sisters must do. And because not every “only child” is so lucky to discover a long-lost sibling of which she has always dreamed. I have been given a gift, and I must treasure it or lose it completely.

On Motherhood

Today is my daughter’s birthday, so this post is a little about her and a lot about mothering. I want to write this post mostly for me, but also to explain my experience with parenting after infertility and to give some of you hope (I hope). What I don’t want — the very, very last thing I want — is to cause anyone additional pain or grief. I hope this post is okay.

Two years ago today, I became a mother. The child I had longed for, cried for, and craved was finally placed into my arms. After fifteen months of infertility and nine months of worry, fear, and complications, she was finally here. It was a moment I once believed I would never experience. But in that instant, it did not matter what it took to get her there. The memories of Clomid, charts, OPKs, and doctor visits were gone. The tears, the pain, the grief were gone. Not forgotten, just entirely insignificant. Because all that mattered in those first moments was the miracle that was in my arms. She was mine at last and she was no different than any other baby born at that hospital, except (perhaps) she was more loved and more cherished than most.

I have found, though, that in the days, weeks, months, and years since giving birth, the road that I walked to achieve that dream has colored my parenting experience. There is still a part of me, even now, that is afraid that we will lose Cupcake. I remember, early on, being very scared of SIDS. This was not a normal fear; it was truly a phobia. The highest risk of SIDS is from two to four months and as my daughter approached the two-month mark, there were nights when I felt such panic in my chest that I could scarcely breathe, I was unable to sleep, and I was sweaty and clammy with the thought of what could happen. I obsessively googled and did everything I could that might prevent SIDS, even waking up multiple times a night to check on Cupcake, but even then there were days I was convinced that we would lose her. I felt as sure of it as anything else I have ever felt. It was only time that helped to diminish the panic and reassure me that SIDS would not take my daughter away. These days, I am a bit more chill and a bit more confident that she will be sticking with us, but it does not take much to send me right back to that dark and fearful place. The other day, I was watching a show about a young child with cancer and I spent many hours after that crying and worrying. Is this normal? I can’t really say because it is all I’ve known,but I imagine it’s probably not. Not to this degree anyways. Perhaps these fears stem from having lost so many people I love early in my life. I am always afraid that I will lose one more. But I think it is because infertility has the power to fundamentally change a person and the way she reacts to the world. We know too well that there are no guarantees. No guarantees that we will ovulate. No guarantees that we will conceive. No guarantees that what has been given to us will be with us forever. We realize the fragility, and utter value, of life itself.

But infertility has not damaged me completely. In some ways, it has built me up and made me a better mother. As I told Theresa in a comment on one of her recent posts, I have a constant sense of gratitude. I have been faced with the possibility of never holding my own child, and this does not escape me any moment of any day. During midnight feedings early on and during tantrums yesterday and tomorrow, I have never forgotten that, while what I’m going through in that minute is hard, there are other things that are much, much harder. You know that poem about infertility? The one that starts like this:

There are women that become mothers without effort, without thought, without patience or loss and though they are good mothers and love their children, I know I will be better.

I will be better not because of genetics or money or that I have read more books but because I have struggled and toiled for this child. I have longed and waited. I have cried and I prayed. I have endured and planned over and over again.

There have never been any truer words. I am not a perfect mother. I lose my patience, sometimes I yell, sometimes I do things that do not set a good example (like eating a lot of Nutella straight from the jar). But I know that I am better than I ever would have been without going through what I did. I am better because I know the life of my child should not be taken for granted. I treasure her every day, even when she is crying, or screaming, or hitting me in the face with her new Elmo doll. I cherish the chocolatey kisses that stain my clothes, the hair pulling when she tries to brush my hair, the toys flying across the room because she is frustrated and doesn’t have the words to say it. Every day, I am reminded of what could have been if I had had never had her, and what might never be again if I am unable to have another baby and experience this all from the start one more time. So I work harder, play harder, and laugh harder, all because infertility has shown me that every child is a precious, precious gift.

They say when a child is born, so is a mother. How true. It’s funny to think that while I imagined having a big family most of my life (except for one period in middle school when I declared I would never have children), and for all the trouble I went to trying to start one, I was never positively sure that I be a mother. Or that I would be any good at it. I thought maybe I’m too selfish, too lazy, too unsure, too indecisive. My free time too precious and my sleep at nighttime too cherished. But once you have a child, nothing has meaning without that child. I didn’t care that my time became our time. I didn’t mind the sacrifices I had to make or the things I lost because so much was also gained. This is one of the things that my daughter has taught me. Because of her, I have learned that the only thing that truly matters in this world is love. Giving and receiving it. Because of her, I care less about things and care more about treasuring those I have in my life. In the last two years, I have also learned to have patience when necessary, to appreciate the simple things in life (like the slug creeping on our sidewalk and the sound the leaves make when blowing in the wind), to speak up at the most important times, and to not sweat the small stuff (though I’m still working on that one, every day). As a new mother, and especially as a survivor of infertility, I have come a long ways.

It seems appropriate to me that Cupcake was born the week of Thanksgiving. As you might remember, I have a lot to be thankful for, but there is nothing in this world that gives me more gratitude than my daughter. Every year, as we celebrate her birthday and especially in a particularly difficult year like this one, I am reminded of how lucky or how blessed (take your pick) I am. I hope one day soon each of you are able to say the same. Really, there is little else in this world that I want more.  And for all of my fellow Americans, I wish you all the happiest and sweetest of Thanksgivings and, no matter where you are at in your journey, I hope and I pray that there is something, however small, for which you can be thankful. XO

Countdown to the End of a Dream

My daughter’s (very small, but very lovely) birthday party was this afternoon  and, on Wednesday, she will turn two. As the first birthday presents arrived, I realized there is no denying it anymore: Cupcake is growing up. She’s not a baby anymore. It’s been two years since what was, until recently, the hardest period in my life came to an end. Two years since the baby I longed for and dreamed of filled my empty arms.

This momentous occasion should be one of joy, of celebration. And it is. Nothing, no amount of sadness, can stop me from appreciating and rejoicing in the life of the child I was not certain would ever exist. Of the child I wanted more than anything else in this world and the next. But with this day also comes a rock of dread sitting in my stomach. I imagine part of this is normal stuff that mothers feel as they watch their tiny, helpless babies morph into real people with their own opinions and desires. But for me, it is more than that. It is tangible proof that time is passing. The clock is ticking. And nothing in my life is changing, evolving, or improving.

There was a time when I expected to have a ginormous belly for my daughter’s second birthday party. I do not. I do not have a baby bump of any size, in fact. And then I prayed that I might become the mother of a second living child by my 30th birthday. As the calendar pages flip one-by-one for this month, though, that dream is fading. My next hope, my forever hope, is to have another baby in my arms by the time my daughter celebrates her third birthday. I have always wanted my children to be two to three years apart. To make that happen, I must conceive in the next three months. Cupcake’s second birthday is the start of the countdown. And while I know that the world will not end if this doesn’t happen, and that I will welcome any baby whenever s/he comes, it is hard to see your dreams diminish. It is hard to accept that the way you envisioned your future may be nothing more than fantasy.

Please do not mistake this whiny, listless post as a lack of gratitude. I know I am lucky. I am reminded every day as I read all of your blogs that I have been given a great gift. So many of you would give anything for one child. I am forever thankful to be in this position of worrying over having another baby. If it comes to it, my daughter, sweet beautiful precious perfect Cupcake, will have to be enough. She is enough. I love her more than air, water, and chocolate and I couldn’t ask for anything better. But having just one child is not the dream. Having a big family, a house full of noise and laughter, screaming and too many toys, is what I want. Having now what I never had as a child is what I want. I want that more than almost anything. (And yes, I did say almost, because good God, I do not want it at the sacrifice of the life of the child I already have or that of anyone else I deeply love…but that it is it. That is the only thing more important to me than this.)

And as days like today pass me by, it feels as if that dream I have been holding onto is slowly slipping away.