Archives

Sister Woes and a Tiny Update

Well, even though I don’t talk about her much on this blog anymore, my sister can still get under my skin. For the record. We have a cordial relationship that includes weekly phone calls or e-mails, but ever since everything went down between us last year, I find myself guarded. I don’t let us go too deep, and I rarely discuss any of my fears or uncertainty about this pregnancy or anything else with her, but I feel okay with that. I always wanted a sibling while growing up, but I’m finding it’s not quite the Polyanna dream I had imagined. Which is fine. It is what is and I don’t really feel like I’m lacking anything, so no harm done.

But still…she bugs me sometimes (though I’m sure everyone can say that about their sis). Like, her husband just graduated with a Master’s degree and all I hear now is how lucky her daughter is to be able to say both of her parents have a graduate degree. Yes, that’s something to be proud of. Honey and I both desperately wish we could go to grad school. But do I need to hear about it in every conversation? Like, seriously, every conversation? Noooooo. But that’s not even why I’m writing this post. It’s just a new gripe that I felt compelled to mention.

My biggest complaint about my sister is that everything is always about her. She’s selfish and she’s self-centered. She has so little consideration for others if it doesn’t serve her own purpose or desires in some way and she lacks serious self-awareness. The first time I met my sis, a year ago this past March, we agreed to meet halfway between our home cities. She was an hour late. An hour.  Her husband took full responsibility for it because he was doing schoolwork, but that’s just inexcusable to me. And rude. Especially for a first time meeting (hello, first impressions!) and especially because I had a one-year-old Cupcake with me and I had expressed that she had a strict naptime we had to stick with. Instead, Sis arrived as we were finishing lunch, less than an hour before we were due to turn around to go home (so Cupcake could nap in the car), and made no apologies. And it’s been that way ever since. Even before she had a child of her own, I have always been expected to adjust my schedule to hers. Never mind that I’m living on my toddler’s schedule and mealtimes, naptimes, and bedtimes can be crucial for everyone’s sanity. Nope, Sis only responds to my needs and requests if it suits her just fine. Le sigh.

The most recent problem I have run into with this is trying to work with my sister’s arrival in regards to when I go into labor. A couple months ago, Sis offered to come stay with Cupcake while I’m in the hospital having Skittle. It was such a kind offer, and something that wasn’t even on my radar at the time. We were planning to ask my in-laws to come instead, but they live farther away than Sis and I don’t trust them to abide by our household rules in quite the same way. So I discussed it with my husband and we decided we would take Sis up on her offer. When I told her this a few weeks ago, though, I learned that there are lots of stipulations to the whole thing. As in, if I call her when I go into labor and she’s at work, she’s going to wait until the end of the work day to come and will then have to pick up my niece before she’s able to make the three-hour drive here. And if it’s the middle of the night, she’s going to wait until the morning to make the drive because she doesn’t want to disrupt her baby’s routine. So basically, the only time she’ll come right away is if it’s daytime on a weekend and she’s not in the middle of doing anything else. Which is fine. I understand — COMPLETELY! — if she doesn’t or can’t drop everything for me. I. Get. That. But then she shouldn’t have offered in the first place, right? I have never gone into labor naturally. And this is not my first baby. So labor could go fast. We don’t know. But what we do know is that babies come when they want. Sometimes in the middle of the night. Sometimes on a weekday. And they disrupt everyone’s schedules. She just shouldn’t have offered if she wasn’t willing to put me first for the first time ever. Another sigh.

But whatever.

Thankfully, I’m not stressed over this, just annoyed. My good friend Lillian is willing to be a backup to my sis. She says her phone will be on 24/7 and she will come running any time I call. In fact, I think she’s hoping that my sis quits, is fired, or fails at her job so that Cupcake can come stay with her (Lillian) instead. And honestly, I’m hoping for that too. Maybe I’ll just accidentally “forget” to phone Sis when the contractions begin? 🙂 But either way, at least there is someone I can trust. I may not have a sister I can count on, but I do have some very good friends on which I can. Right now, that feels like the most important thing.

And speaking of “friends”….remember my old friend, Kat? Well, she was due with her twins just 2-3 weeks after me, but she delivered them by C-section on Friday (about 9 or 10 weeks early). They have to spend some time in the NICU of course, but they seem to be doing well, from what I can gleam from Facebook. I have been momentarily and mildly tempted to send a private e-mail of congrats and support to her, and to go shopping for her babies, but I haven’t and don’t really think I will. I am happy for Kat, and hoping for her quick recovery and a happy homecoming for the babies very soon, but I feel little else. No jealousy, no regret, no sadness, no despair, no disappointment, no hurt, no wishing things could be different. The only thing I really feel is a subtle indifference, and that lets me know that I really did get the closure I needed. Thank you, God.

Advertisements

Odds ‘n’ Ends: Symptoms and Friend Updates

** pregnancy post **

I find I’m doing a lot more of these kind of posts lately because I have so many little things that I want tell all of you, but nothing that requires a post of its own. I guess that’s good? But maybe it’s utterly boring to all of you. Sorry if that’s so!

Anyways, on to the bullet points:

  • I’ve had some symptoms weirdly resurface over the last week or two. Like, I’m tired. All the time. I was doing well with one nap a day, but now I’m back to two most days. Also, I’ve had 3-4 periods of nausea and one morning of vomiting recently. Um, I thought my 1st trimester was over??? And I’ve been surprised to find that I am breathless after a short walk down the street and can no longer comfortably tie my shoes or get up after sitting on the floor without a significant struggle. This is all par for the course, I suppose, but I never had any of this discomfort so soon while preggers with Cupcake. I was lucky to get to about 38 weeks then before I felt hugely pregnant. Now? Not so much.
  • I also think my pregnancy hormones are in full swing. I’ve been so irritable lately. Everything makes me cranky. And I’ve been terribly weepy. I’ve cried five times over the last week or so, all for pretty silly reasons. Yesterday, it was because my husband couldn’t meet me for lunch. On Sunday, it was because my coupon at JoAnn’s Fabrics had expired the day before. I am a bit of a mess. And poor, poor Honey. I pity that man for having to put up with me.
  • Remember my friend Lillian? Her little babe has a heartbeat! She is due Feb 6, about four months after Skittle should arrive. Yay!
  • I also learned another close friend, Linn, is pregnant. Supposedly. I say that because, while I love her to death and her intentions are always good, I cannot always trust what she says. She has a long history of embellishing the truth and telling stories for attention. For example, six months after my miscarriage last year, she miscarried. And six months after I was diagnosed with PCOS, she was too. And now here we are, almost six months since I got pregnant, and she just learned she’s pregnant too. And the way in which she learned she’s pregnant? By the doctor just feeling her cervix, and no urine or blood tests to follow? Um…yeah. That is super believable. So only time will tell if she’s really pregnant. I kind of believe she is (maybe because I’m just an idiot myself), but I just cannot believe everything that has led up to it. Call me a bad friend if you must.
  • I still haven’t heard from Kat. Maybe I never will, after all. But even if I do, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes her another week or two to get back to me.
  • Sometimes my sis says things that irritate the heck out of me. To be fair, she never says them to my face, but her recent Facebook posts have really gotten under my skin. A month or two ago, she posted something like, “Just spilled a day’s worth of pumped breast milk all over. Worst. Feeling. Ever.” And last week: “Have to return to work in a few days after a long maternity leave. Leaving my daughter will be the hardest day of my life.” I get her point and I do know being a new mom is tough, but really, sis? I mean, seriously??? Worst feeling ever?  Hardest day of her life? Good grief. I think she’s had it way too easy if that’s the worst she’s ever experienced. Maybe she should try walking in one of our shoes for a time. Know what I mean, friends?

Okay, that’s it. Sorry for the complaining. I’m in that kind of mood lately. Hope all of you are well and good. Wishing you a pleasant end to your week and a fantabulous weekend to follow! xo

Meeting my Niece

I am one of those crazy people who dig road trips, but I was unsure whether I was going to love the one we went on yesterday to see my sister and her new baby. For one, it was a long way to drive (over two hours) for a short time to visit. We planned to stay only an hour or two, so as not to overwhelm Sis with too much company while also trying to adjust to being a new mommy. In addition, my daughter was in some sort of mood yesterday and an extended time in a car with a crabby two-year-old is not exactly a party. And also, most importantly really, I have purposely spent very little time around newborns since my miscarriage last year. I did not know if my heart would fare well in seeing my tiny niece and knowing that, right now, Teddy Graham would be about three months old.

But all in all, it went well. Cupcake wanted little to do with her new cousin and was only worried that the baby might steal her cup of orange juice. She spent most of the time chasing the cat around the house, with my husband following close behind. Poor kitty. Poor Honey. And me? I was okay. My niece is small and beautiful. I held her from the moment I arrived to almost the moment we left. She stared into my eyes, wide awake, for a good while and eventually fell asleep as I rocked her gently. She didn’t say a peep the whole time we were there. And I am ashamed to admit that it wasn’t until the drive home that I even thought about Teddy. I don’t know if this makes me a horrible mom, or if it just means I am finally on my way to some sort of healing.

And one other thing…as I held my niece, I was surprised by how natural it felt. How right. There have been times recently when I have wondered if I would even know how to take care of a newborn again. If I would know what to do, or how to hold one, or rock one, or love one. It seems so long ago that Cupcake was that small. But I was reminded that, somehow, mothering a baby is like riding a bike. You just never forget how to do it.

And I am so glad that, finally, I have something to be confident in.

IMG_5334

I have a niece.

Yesterday, at 38 weeks pregnant, my sister delivered her baby. It’s a girl, though none of us knew that until the birth. She has the same middle name as Cupcake, which makes me grumble a little, but whatever. I waited on pins and needles all day yesterday, and then finally at 8pm, my brother-in-law phoned with the news. And after I said my congratulations and wished them all well, gave them all my love, did and said all the things I was supposed to, I hung up and felt my chest rip open with immense sadness.

It was completely unexpected and I can’t quite explain it. But I think it has something to do with this: my sister wanted a little girl desperately. So much so that she talked of adopting one down the road if she never had the chance to give birth to one. She would watch my daughter longingly and say wistfully, “This is why I want a girl so much.” So I should be happy — thrilled — for her, shouldn’t I? But you know what? In that moment, as I heard the news, I was not. I think a part of me wanted her to have a boy because then, I would still have the one thing that she wanted the most.

My sister’s life is not perfect. I know this. She has struggled with cutting herself, bulimia, depression, anxiety, and was taking meds for all of this until she got pregnant. She and her husband also have an enormous amount of debt (more debt than our house is worth!). But beyond that, I have always coveted what she has. A better house. A Master’s degree. A childhood that is not shadowed by sexual abuse. A father she respects and has a good relationship with. Fertility. It’s not fair that so many things have come so easy for her and, here again, she got exactly what she wanted: a baby girl. It’s just not fair and, instead of being happy for her, I felt sorry for myself.

I know this makes me a horrible sister. I know it puts me in a very ugly light and it feels like a brave thing to do to admit to how I feel. A very big part of wanted to ignore these feelings, or lie about them, but this is the one place I am completely honest, with myself and with everyone else. I am not proud of the way I felt, but I make no excuses for it either. It is what it is. My relationship with Sis is so complicated and I am just beginning to realize all the pain that still lies under the surface and all the muck there is to wade through before I am truly healed.

But please, make no mistake: I will still love this niece of mine. I hold no contempt towards her or her mother. Even today, with a little distance from the news, I am feeling better, happier, more ready to embrace the addition to our very unique family. Next weekend, we will take a road trip to meet the baby. I am excited to do so, but anxious as well. I am not sure what kind of hard feelings holding a newborn will bring up for me. It will, in fact, be my first time holding a baby since my loss and seems like a very big step to take.

My one consolation in all of this is the baby that continues to flourish inside of me. Skittle is the one who is holding me together right now, keeping my heart from being too heavy, allowing me to welcome my niece with joy. I heard the heartbeat with the doppler again today and so I can now face another baby shower this weekend with hope and relief. I am happy to carry this baby for thirty more weeks or so (please please please let it be thirty), but I cannot wait to hold this child in my arms. Hearing my sister’s birth story has only made me more desperate for another of my own. For my own child to enter this world in the same health and great expectation. I want that with every cell in my body. And I know I can do anything, I can get through this pregnancy and a cousin’s shower and holding a newborn that isn’t mine, as long as Skittle is okay.

And right now, s/he is and so I will go on.

I Survived.

There’s a lot I want to discuss in this post, so I’ll make each topic as short and sweet as possible (though most of you know, by now, that I rarely achieve either of those — that is, shortness or sweetness).

First — I have found some things to gripe about when it comes to my chosen fertility clinic. I think these things maybe warrant a post of their own some day, but I’m trying to let it all slide for now and not get too worked up over it. Partly because I haven’t been with this clinic long enough to know if their mistakes are a consistent pattern, and partly because I just don’t have the energy to make a stink about it or to go in search of a new clinic. But needless to say, I’m tired of having to do their job for them. Their latest boo-boo: when ordering me my Follistim, they forgot to order me a Follistim pen as well. I’m very new to this, but knew enough to recognize there was something missing in the box. It’s hard to do injectables with only a needle and no pen or syringe to actually assist in the injection. When I contacted the nurse, she blamed it on the pharmacist, but took care of it right away. I don’t know if a Follistim pen usually comes free of charge, but mine did. Two of them. And they sent them for Saturday delivery, which is usually a $50 fee, but it cost me nothing. I guess there’s something to be gained from clinic mistakes…

And for those of you dying to know, I’m still waiting for my period. It’s been exactly two weeks since I took my last Provera pill, and nothing yet. My temp remains elevated. Usually it will drop the day of or a day or two before I start bleeding. But today it went up. I think I’ve officially crossed over to the Worried Sick side of this. What could this mean? Anyone? Of course, I googled the heck out of it and there are lots of opinions. Almost everyone said that a period should arrive within 14 days of the last pill, some even said 7. There were only three women that I could find that had a different experience and didn’t get their period until 16, 19, or 21 days after the last pill. Really?! I mean, really? That would be so atypical for me, who has never before waited more than 10 days and even that was out of the ordinary. And I can’t wait that long! Another week??? I’m so desperate just to get on with it. I feel like I’m starting to lose my mind with all this waiting! My biggest fear, though, is not waiting another week…it’s that I have a cyst that is keeping my period at bay and which will then bench me for this cycle. I’ve had cysts before (sometimes painful ones), but they have never kept me from bleeding. In my google “research,” only two people mentioned this as a possibility, but it’s enough to freak me out. How likely is that outcome? I don’t know what to do, but if you have any input, I welcome it. I appreciate avoiding anything too “gloom and doom,” but if that’s where I’m headed, let me know. I trust you guys more than Google.

Finally, if you could not tell by the title of this post, I survived the weekend. I survived the shower. But damn, was it hard. So much harder than even I anticipated, and I didn’t know that was possible. I arrived about fifteen or twenty minutes early, which was a stupid mistake on my part. There was a handful of people already there (six? seven?) and I didn’t know anyone but my sis. She said hello and hugged me…and then proceeded to ignore me for the next hour and a half. Really. For someone who is as very shy and introverted as myself, this was difficult enough, without the compounded emotions that I was feeling in being there. So I quite truly became a wallflower. I leaned against the wall and watched as my sis went around talking to everyone else and they chatted with her about all things baby and kept putting their hands on her big belly. The lump in my throat was enough to make me nauseous and I spent a good thirty minutes regretting my decision to come. I so wish my sister would have come over, squeezed my hand, and asked if I was doing okay, but that’s just not her and I knew that long before I ever came. Eventually, things did get better. Friends of my sis whom I had met before arrived and came over to chat and her aunt wanted more details about how we found each other and then the food and games began, which oddly enough actually distracted me from my own pity party. And a big, fat piece of sugar in the form of cake certainly didn’t hurt in making me feel better, either. Sissy liked her gift and, just as she opened the last of her presents, my Honey texted me to say he was waiting outside and so I had a reason to leave. Before I went, I bid my sis farewell and asked to touch her belly…because I’m crazy like that. I don’t really know why I would want to do that, except everyone else was and I didn’t want to be left out. And while touching that hard, beautifully round belly of hers shattered my heart, it also maybe made me love that little baby a tiny bit more.

When we got home, I e-mailed my sis to let her know I had arrived safely and to thank her for inviting me to the shower. I told her I was sorry I couldn’t be the one to throw it for her and that I loved her. Those words aren’t something we say to each other often, but I felt they were appropriate. I wanted her to know that, while I hadn’t been the life of the party and kept very much to myself, I was trying to be there for her. I haven’t heard back from her, which hurts me to no end. I want to believe it’s just because it’s been a busy weekend, but I feel like I am constantly giving everything I have to improve and strengthen our relationship, only to hit a brick wall. But maybe I’m just being overly sensitive. It wouldn’t be the first time. After all, just last week, Sis was talking about taking a small getaway to somewhere nearby without our guys, this summer or maybe next winter. I guess we’re still just trying to figure out how this sister thing works. It’s not easy!

A few good notes about Saturday, though: I had a great road trip with my little family, lots of snacks and laughter and good conversation with Honey while my daughter quietly watched Sesame Street in the backseat. On the way home, we stopped for black licorice ice cream, which was a messy experience, but has left me with great memories, and fantastic photos. And I also saw this after the shower:

IMG_4967

It’s not the best photo and was much more vibrant to see with my own eyes, but I had to share this. For those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time, you’ll know that I saw a rainbow (almost in the same location) on the day I learned I was pregnant with Teddy Graham. I have only seen one twice since then, always on a day when I needed it, and this time was no exception. It reminded me that there is still hope, and God is walking with me through it all — as is our beloved Teddy, forevermore.

I was planning to also talk about the church service I attended yesterday, but this post is already too long (sorry! sorry! sorry!) and I want to be able to devote the time and energy it deserves. Let’s just say…it was an annual church prayer service for infertile couples and it was something. For better and worse, it was something. Stay tuned!

Two Things…

There are two things weighing on my mind this Friday morning:

1) I am still waiting for my period. There are no signs that it’s even on its way. I’m not spotting or cramping and my temp is still up, though it did drop slightly today. I took my last progesterone pill on January 14. Usually the flow begins 2-5 days later, sometimes 7. The longest ever was 10 days, never 11. So that makes this officially the longest a withdrawal bleed has ever taken to start, and it’s odd, annoying, and frustrating. I am ready. I yearn to move forward. This whole standing still business is really getting to me. I’m losing patience. I want as many opportunities to try this year as possible because 2013 could very well be it for us, one way or another. But I I know I can’t control this, so I’m trying not to melt down into a full-fledged freakout. Breathe in, breathe out…

2) My sister’s shower is tomorrow. I will be taking a three-hour road trip (one way) to go to this. I am not excited. My husband and daughter are coming along for moral support, but they will go off to a nearby mall to play and I will be alone for the actual festivities. Well, as alone as you can be in a room full of happy, laughing, loud, celebratory women. I don’t know how hard this event will be for me, but I know it won’t be easy. There is a tight thickness in my chest every time I think about it. I want to enjoy it because this is a party to celebrate the impending birth of my niece or nephew (and, as someone who grew up as an only child, need I mention again how much that means to me?), but the heartache and resentment that my sister has caused me still runs like a current beneath my skin. Sometimes I am good at ignoring it and sometimes not so much. I forgive her because I must, but it’s not so easy to forget that she burned me when I needed her the most. Nor is it so easy to forget the general pain of infertility and loss when surrounded by babyness. It will be three hours of bold reminders of what I don’t have but should. To make this day a little bit easier on myself, I have sandwiched it between three hours of fun on the road with my family. We will play my favorite music, eat my favorite snacks, and I’ll read my favorite magazines while my husband drives. I may not enjoy that small chunk of time while I’m celebrating a baby that’s not mine, but I will enjoy every other hour of Saturday. Of that, I am determined.

Also, I made my sister a gift for the shower. I’m not uber-talented at making beautiful hand-quilted blankets (as she is), but I can be crafty in other ways:

IMG_4551 IMG_4890

It’s a wooden box I painted, distressed, and modge-podged to match the nursery (I hope). They’re doing a jungle theme (and don’t know the gender — hence, the yellows and greens), so I thought it might be nice to keep necessary supplies in it: things like diaper cream, lotion, vaseline, nail clippers. All the precious little baby items that must be corralled, or you risk them taking over your entire house. For the shower, I filled it with a bunch of stuff and wrapped it in cellophane (stating the obvious here since you can see it with your own eyes). A few of the fillers (like the outfit and toy) I bought while in London and the rest came from her registry. And then I finished it off with a homemade gift tag.

I do hope Sis is able to fully appreciate this. Sometimes I think she fails to see how hard I try. And fails to understand what sort of love for and commitment to our relationship that I must have in order to spend hours toiling away at making this amidst my very intense heartache. I keep hoping that something I do will eventually speak to her. Maybe this. Maybe tomorrow.

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.