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Merry Christmas to All

This Christmas, I wish you all a happy, blessed holiday. A kitchen overflowing with too many cookies. Laughter that makes your belly hurt. A shoulder to rest your weary head upon and a hand to hold. Two soft lips to kiss beneath the mistletoe.  The freedom to cry any tears that beg to be cried. A quiet peace. A calm heart. The warmth of a room heated by a blazing fireplace and love. And a new year that sees happy tears flow and dreams come true. xoxo

(My apologies for all the cute Christmas baby pics…we’ve been having fun with a fancy camera and playing dress-up around here!)

Hard Candy Christmas

It’s December 1st. That means Christmas is just around the corner. For those dealing with loss, grief, regret, illness, disappointment, homesickness, and/or loneliness, the holiday season can be so difficult. It can be especially so for us infertiles, who know that Christmas is made all the brighter when seen through the eyes of a child. The child we so desperately long for.

So, friends…wherever you are at in your journey — be it, grieving the loss of an unborn child, or still hoping for a miraculous conception, or holding your breath through a long-awaited-for pregnancy, or finally celebrating with the child your heart had yearned for and already dreaming of another — I wish you well this month. I know these festive days aren’t often easy, but may a great sense of peace find you and may you find something great to be joyful about.

Last year, this was my theme song:

This year, it is a gentle reminder of how far I have come, and a quiet nod to those who still have sorrow in their heart. Thinking of all of you today and in all the days ahead. xo

Three Weeks, Revisited

** You can read my first ever blog post, the sad version of this one, the one that inspired this post’s title, here. And please be warned…today’s post will be full of baby photos.**

Do you know what can happen in the span of three weeks? Let me tell you…

In three weeks’ time, you can wrap up all the baby preparations that you have spent nearly nine months toiling away at. Review the maternity photos you had taken and marvel at how beautiful they are. Watch the rise and fall of your blood pressure as though it is an Olympic sport that you have bet your life savings upon.  You can endure non-stress tests and blood tests and ultrasounds. You can worry about hypertension and preeclampsia and big babies and breech babies. You can relax during a prenatal massage and stock  your freezer with waffles and casseroles and homemade bread that one day you will hopefully enjoy while holding your newborn in your arms. You can celebrate making it to full term and yet know that even that milestone is no guarantee. Your baby could still leave at any time, with no warning. It only takes a second for a dream to end. You learned that a long time ago, but this time, in this three weeks, you have reason to hope for a different ending.

"For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him." -- 1 Samuel 1:27

“For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him.” — 1 Samuel 1:27

My girls

My two beautiful girls, each a miracle in their own right

Or…

In the span of three weeks, you can hope that any day now will be The Day. The day your water breaks. The day labor starts. The day your baby comes. You can start doing nipple massage and acupressure and drinking red raspberry leaf tea three times each day to get things going. You can hope each Braxton Hicks is the start of the real thing. You can see your doctor twice a week and suffer through more non-stress tests and feel the sting of disappointment each time you are told your cervix is not making much progress. You can worry your baby is not moving enough and have a panic attack one morning when she doesn’t move at all. You can see your baby on ultrasound multiple times and be told she is getting very big and that she’s head-down each time…until one time, four days after your due date, she is not. She is breech. And you can panic and you can cry and then you prepare for a c-section. And four hours before they cut you open, you can discover your baby has flipped once again and prepare for an induction instead. And then, finally, after hours of intense labor, after a call for an epidural that comes too late, you can push your baby into this world, hear her first cry, and hold her against you. You can feel her flesh and warmth, know she is finally real, and say these words over and over: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, God. Thank you. It is the only prayer you can — or will — say for days and days. And you can weep just at the sight of your baby, so thankful are you for her existence and her health and her perfection.

Daddy's little girl

one of Daddy’s little girls

I had lots of fun playing with my fancy camera for these shots!

I had lots of fun playing with my fancy camera for these shots!

Or…

In just three short weeks, your child can be born in the middle of the night before the doctor arrives and into the hands of your nurses and you can once again be reminded that there is such a thing as love at first sight. Your husband can cry on your shoulder and you can sob in relief and gratitude. You can introduce your baby to her big sister who keeps saying, “Baby come out of mommy’s tummy!” and then introduce her to friends, her grandparents, your sister, and the world. You can leave the hospital in your new minivan and sit in the backseat so you can watch your baby breathing. You can spend the first two nights at home holding your child because she won’t sleep in the bassinet. You can watch your older daughter blossom as a big sister, exhibiting gentleness, understanding, and tenderness that you never knew she had. You can have your newborn baptized and take her to the park and the mall and Halloween celebrations and out to eat just so everyone can see how beautiful she is. You can get weepy at the thought of SIDS and still be so thankful for all the time she spends sleeping. You can take over a thousand photos in those three little weeks and, every day, you can just feel the total power and weight of your blessing. And you can promise her, over and over, that you will love her and protect her forevermore.

Dressed for her baptism on 10/20/13.

Dressed for her baptism on 10/20/13.

Call me creepy...but I love to watch her sleep. :)

Call me creepy…but I love to watch her sleep. 🙂

It was on this day, three weeks ago, that one of the most precious gifts I’ve ever received was placed into my arms. Even though my husband’s new job is turning out not to be all that we hoped for, it’s possible that these have still been the best three weeks of my life. In some ways, it is hard to fathom that it’s only been three measly weeks because it feels as if Skittle has been making her way to us for much longer. That she has been a part of this family, a part of my life, since the beginning of time. And in other ways…it still feels unreal. It is so hard to believe when I wake up in the middle of the night that I need not pause to wait for a kick within my womb. That I only must roll over and reach into the bassinet to know my baby is breathing, that she is alive and well.

Every day, even on the ones when I am so sleep deprived that I can’t form a coherent sentence and I call my baby by the wrong name, I am just so thankful for what I have. Two daughters. I am humbled by it. I don’t know why I get to have them and so many other deserving women don’t. I think of you who are in the trenches every day. And I will never take for granted the miracles that my babies truly are.

And one last photo, just because today is Halloween…

Wishing you all a safe and sweet Halloween!

Wishing you all a safe and sweet Halloween!

Thirty(-Two)

Today, I am 32 weeks pregnant. And I am 30 years old. One year ago, I looked ahead to this day with a heavy sense of dread to think of turning thirty with no new baby in my arms.

There is still no baby in my arms.

But I am so, so close. And that is good enough.

So today, this year, I am happy. I am celebrating. There is a pile of gifts awaiting their reckoning and an ice cream cake I have big plans for. I still feel a twitch of discomfort at the thought of crossing the threshold into this new decade, but that’s only because I know my ovaries are getting older and there are still babies I want to be born. Otherwise, I have no qualms about turning the Big 3-0 because I have never had more joy in my heart, never felt more beautiful, more fulfilled, or more ready for what is to come.

So life is good right now. Even as I say good-bye to my 20s. It was nice to feel young and alive and like there was so much possibility, but I won’t miss the heartache I endured in the last ten years. And I’m not so naive to think that there won’t be more in the years ahead, but maybe I will be more prepared for it, better able to handle it, with more of a reason to go on.

Yes, life is really, really good. Whatever do I even have to wish for when I blow out the candles on my birthday cake tonight? Because you know, I can’t think of anything.

Not one, single thing.

Which is a birthday gift of its own.

Happy Mother’s Day

I know it’s late in the day and some of you are already resting your sleepy heads and saying hello to Monday, but I want to wish all of you a Happy Mother’s Day.

Whether you are a new mom, a mom-to-be, a mom in mourning, or a mom in waiting, you deserve to be recognized this day. There is an article I recently read (provided by my good friend and fellow infertile Lillian) about hating Mother’s Day.  About how it is insulting to non-mothers, daughters who have lost mothers, and mothers who have lost children. I understand that sentiment, but I also have this to say: I don’t care where you are at on your journey to or through motherhood, you are still a mother.  If you have fought for your children, you are a mother. If you have loved your children before they ever existed, you are a mother. If you have given your bank account, your sanity, your heart, your dignity, and your right hand trying to become a mother, then you are a mother. Maybe the general public does not recognize this, but I do. And I think most everyone else in this community does as well.

And for those of you still in the trenches, I want to add this: I know this day is hard. So hard. It can be a constant reminder of what you don’t have, or have lost. Today, I have thought so constantly of all of you. It is unimaginable to me that, last year on this day, I was just three weeks into grieving our Teddy Graham. And now, one year later, I am nearly halfway through my subsequent pregnancy. My point is this: you never can know what life has in store for you. You can’t know what surprises will come your way, what hairpin turns your path will take, what dreams will unfold or when.

And so on this day, more than wishing you a happy Mother’s Day (though I wish that for you as well, so deeply), I wish you comfort, peace, and a hopeful heart. May this time next year show you, or give you, the true meaning of happiness, if you have not found it already.

Good Riddance, 2012

New Year’s Eve. Finally. I, for one, am more than happy to bid 2012 farewell.

I think it can safely be said that this has been the hardest year of my life. I had three weeks of bliss when I thought I would be having another baby, and 10 days of escape in London, and the rest of the year was pretty craptastic. I don’t have much good to say about it. I am glad it’s on its way out.

And I don’t yet have the courage to believe that 2013 will be any better, but I am ever hopeful. With a new year, there is the chance of a new beginning, something grander and more beautiful than what we have now. Up until this year, 2009 had been the hardest year of my life. I spent all 365 days immersed in TTC and infertility. I greeted 2010 with little optimism and lots of fear. Little did I know that, just three months later, I would conceive and, by the end of the year, a baby would be in my arms. I did not know. I could not know.

Today, as we prepare to welcome another year, that is my only reassurance: I did not know what was coming, but it came anyways and it — she — was perfect. I hope some of you can draw hope from that as well. You just never know what is in store for you. Things can change, for better or worse, in the blink of an eye. The greatest blessing of your life, the miracle you have waited for, can arrive at any given moment. Often when you least expect it. It can happen.

Happy New Year, friends. May 2013 be the Year of Dreams Fulfilled for all of you.

Merry Christmas — Even if it’s Not Totally PC to Say That

Just a little post to wish all of you a Merry Christmas.

I know the whole holiday season can be so hard, and the very pinnacle of pain is probably reached on Christmas Day itself. The holidays are different since having a child, but even now, I am finding this one a little hard to get through. It feels like someone is missing, our home feels empty, and I don’t know that things will be any different by this time next year.

And yet, I know — I know — that this season is much more difficult if you are still trying to bring home your first baby. Honey and I first started trying to build a family just before Christmas 2008. By Christmas 2009, with still no baby in sight and several rounds of failed Clomid cycles already under my belt, I was feeling lost, defeated, and desperate. I felt hopeless. There was a deep ache in my heart the whole month of December and as I looked towards the New Year. Please know that I remember what that is like. I remember.

Today and tomorrow, I hold you all close to my heart as we go through this day together. May you find some peace and comfort in knowing you are not alone, you are thought of fondly, and you are loved.

And now, something to make you smile (I hope)…

IMG_3587

And here, my Christmas wish for all of us…

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Let your heart be light.

From now on,

our troubles will be out of sight.

(source)

‘Tis the Season…

…To feel the tug at my heart as I realize all three friends who conceived at the same time that I did last spring have now given birth to their babies…and I have not. One in four women miscarry…I was the one in my four.

…For pulling 22 boxes of Christmas decorations out of storage, spending a total of 18 hours transforming our home into a Winter Wonderland, and then, over the next thirty days, dreading when I have to put it all away again.

…When it is impossible to avoid newborn babies and pretty little bumps because every single soul is out and about, shopping, eating, laughing.

…To hang my Baby’s First Christmas (circa 1983) ornament on the tree, right next to one of the ceramic mice that my grandmother crafted and right below the ornament that Honey made for me just a few years ago.

…For making eight kinds of cookies in just as many days and then delivering them to friends, neighbors, co-workers, and the odd passerby (you know, because it’s the season of giving and all that jazz).

…When I must schedule RE visits and ultrasounds around Christmas shopping, baking, partying, planning, preparing, gift-making, gift-wrapping, and more.

…To pull out the boots — rainboots, not snowboots, because that’s how we roll here.

…For remembering who has gone before us, for feeling their absence intensely, and for wishing they were still here.

…When I start to wonder when our first power outage will be, because in this season there are often many here.

…To gorge myself on peanut butter cup cookies (a family recipe!), homemade fudge, eggnog, our traditional Christmas Eve trifle and everything else that this season brings into our cupboards and fridge  — and then waste the next 340 days or so regretting it, only to do it all over again.

…For going way, way, way over my Christmas budget. Shame. On. Me.

…When I send out 50+ photo Christmas cards that I have spent hours designing, and then wonder why I do so because the most cards we get in our mailbox is fifteen or so.

…To tell myself it’s okay if I’m not pregnant by Christmas because then, at least, I can indulge in a Polar Bear, a kahlua-ice cream cocktail that has graced my family with its presence every year since before I was born.

…When I make 18 dishes over the course of two days (Christmas Eve and Day) with only the help of my mom. And all that food is for just five people!

…To reflect on the past year, the joy and pain it has brought me, and to dream for the future and all that it can be.

Thankful for Thanksgiving’s End

Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. I’m all for taking time to give thanks for that which we are grateful, but shouldn’t we be doing that every day?

Instead, this holiday just seems like a lot of work for just one short day (as opposed to Christmas, which really seems to last for a whole month). And as a day that is all about the meal, it’s not a good time for someone who loves food and yet regrets every bite she eats. I spent most of my adolescence weighing fifty pounds more than I do now and, while I have never gained that weight back in the ten years since I lost it (not including during my pregnancy), I will never stop worrying about, fearing it, and feeling guilty for the calories I consume.

I once loved Thanksgiving, and every other holiday. As a kid, we always spent it with my mom’s family, and my grandparents’ home was filled with food, and games, and laughter, and a lot of people. But then things started to change. My grandma died. And my uncle. And my grandpa. And my cousin. My family dwindled and those of who were left kind of grew apart (and some of us even turned on each other).  Our glue that held us together was gone. And so now Thanksgiving (and Christmas, for that matter) is a sad, quiet holiday and, even though I have a child of my own now and even if I am so lucky to some day be able to fill our home with multiple children, it will never be the same.

And this year, for the first time since my freshman year of college at USF eleven years ago, I spent the holiday away from my own immediate family. That’s because, this year, we went to the in-laws, a six hour drive away (a six hour drive, I will tell you, that became a TEN hour drive, thanks to traffic). It was time, because we have never spent a holiday with them in the seven years that I have been with my husband, but it was strange and different and not something we plan to do often (thankfully, Honey is more than okay with this).

My in-laws, while very nice people with good intentions, are the kind of folks that one can only take in small doses. Especially my mother-in-law (Honey’s stepmom). She means well, but she’s high strung and much too strict with my daughter and she lacks the flexibility that house guests sometimes require. I think we disappointed her a little because much of the food she made for Thanksgiving (she insisted on doing all the cooking) was not something we could eat. I don’t eat red meat, and yet the stuffing (which is normally my favorite Thanksgiving dish) had sausage. My honey doesn’t eat mushrooms, nuts, or olives, so the stuffing, jello salad, and stuffed olives were out for him. And my daughter is nut- and dairy-free at this point, which basically excluded everything at the table except the turkey.  We did not mean to be difficult, but if she had asked for my input, I could have advised her on what we can and cannot have. And this was only one of the problems we encountered during our short stay with them!

My MIL did ask me how I was doing (in reference to our miscarriage), which was a surprise since she has not inquired about any such thing since we broke the news to them about our loss in April. She saw my necklace and inquired about it and when I told her the meaning, she then went on to ask how I am. She gave me a hug and told me she can’t understand what it’s like, but that she feels for me. She also said she hasn’t asked before because she doesn’t want to bring up all the sad feelings. Which is the same thing my sis has told me and, if I could, I would tell them both that they are doing me no service by pretending nothing has happened. The sadness is always there. I have not forgotten about my loss or my infertility. Mentioning it does not make it worse, it shows you care. That’s what I would say, if I needed their support, but I have realized now I really don’t. I have you guys. And that’s enough.

So that’s the story of my pitiful Thanksgiving. What about you? Any good in-laws anecdotes you’d like to share?

A Post-Birthday Post

Well, I am a horrible wife.

Because yesterday was my birthday and I’m ashamed to say that I acted like a spoiled rotten brat when I didn’t get what I wanted. Which is so rare for me because I usually don’t care what I get at all. Every year, my husband asks and every year I say something like, “Oh whatever. You know what I like.”  But this year, I did have a request. I wanted a necklace — simple, classic, something I can wear every day — that holds two birthstones. One for my daughter, our Cupcake. And for the baby who never got to be born, our Teddy Graham. I wanted something to represent that I’m a mother of two, something to commemorate our loss and honor the Baby Who Almost Was. Some people get tattoos. I wanted — want — a necklace.

And I knew I would get what I want and looked forward to unwrapping that small, pretty box all day. And then when I finally did and it was a necklace (yay!) but nothing at all like what I had pictured in my head (boo!), I just felt all color drain from my face and my husband knew with one look at me that I didn’t like it all. And then I started crying.

So here is one more flaw I will reveal to you: I am a horrible, horrible wife. I let my disappointment show. I didn’t even try to hide it. My Honey’s heart was in the right place and he tried so hard and I reacted with no thought to how it might hurt him. And it did. It hurt him. I’m not proud. I hate myself for it. But can I blame it on hormones? Or just on a tough life? Because I really am a mess right now. Such a mess.

But other than that, it was a good day for me. I spent most of it alone with my favorite little person and I indulged in a lot of good food. I talked to my mom five times throughout the day and, even though I carry my pain with me through every moment, I was mostly able to breathe through that and just experience the joy that my birthday always brings me. And I got a card from my sister, which brought a smile to my face. I was wondering if she’d even remember my special day and was pleasantly surprised when the mail arrived at noontime. It was a simple card and lacked her normal friendly, upbeat tone, but at this point I will take what I can get. At least she made the effort.

As yesterday was coming to a close though, I started to feel deflated and sad. Because now our road trip is over and my birthday is done and what else do I have to look forward to or to distract me through the weeks ahead? Nothing. Now it’s just all about waiting and that’s so depressing. Especially because, for whatever reason, I am starting to feel like this cycle is already a flop. A failure. It’s CD10 and I already have lost hope.

And I’m so scared for everything that is — and isn’t — around the corner.