Archives

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.

 

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.

An Early Morning Panic Attack

Imagine this:

You are nine months pregnant. Just days away from your due date. Days. Things are getting real. This baby is real to you. You love her. You want her. You are waiting for her, and have been for what feels like a lifetime. You are ready to hold her in your empty arms. One morning, long before your alarm goes off, you awake. You wait to feel her move in your stretched womb, as you do every morning. But she doesn’t. You poke your belly. Again and again and again. You roll from your left side to your right. Poke, poke, poke. You roll from your right side to your left. Poke. You sit up, cross-legged, on the bed. Poke, poke. Jiggle, jiggle. But there is no baby movement, no sign of life, and you feel the anxiety rise in your chest. You pray, silently, and try to convince yourself your baby is sleeping. But logic melts into panic. You wake your husband. You tell him you’re scared. You’re whimpering as he puts his hand on your belly and tries to talk to your unborn child, tries to wake her himself. It doesn’t work.

You leap out of bed and pace the floor. “I’m scared. I’m really, really scared,” you say, taking fast, shallow breaths in between each word. “She always moves when I need her to. I’m scared. She has to move.”

You run into the living room because your bedroom has become a prison. You tell your mom, who is asleep on the couch, that you’re scared. That the baby isn’t moving. What if she’s already gone? “Honey, you know she’s okay,” she says to you.

“No. No, I don’t. Babies do die. They die all the time.” You’re pacing again. Panicking still. More pokes to your belly do nothing.

Suddenly, your husband is next to you. He asks where the doppler is. It’s in the minivan, out in the torrential downpour that has been going for a day or more. He puts on his raincoat and braves it while you sink to the ground. You are crying, and crying out to God. Your prayers are no longer silent. “Please God,” you wail, doubled over. “Please let my baby be okay.”

Your husband returns with the doppler. You spread the gel on your belly and turn the doppler on and there is only silence. You can’t find a heartbeat, no matter how many times you try. Granted, your panic prevents you from making an honest effort. You need to hear the thump, thump, thump now. You need to feel her kick now.  You do not have a second or any energy to spare searching and waiting. You are losing it. You have nearly lost it.

“I have to go to the ER,” you say, but you don’t move. You can’t. If there’s no heartbeat, you don’t want to know. This horrible doubt and fear is somehow better than that awful truth.

With your mom watching in silence on the sofa, your husband tells you to lay back. He puts both hands on your belly and waits for your baby to move. She doesn’t. He talks to her. You roll to your side and you both wait some more. There is a subtle change in your belly and your husband asks, “Was that her? It felt like a shift.” You aren’t sure. You put your own hand at the top of your belly. You think you maybe feel something again. But it’s not enough. It’s not a guarantee.

You sit up. You all wait. And then there, right there, is the nudge of an elbow or knee as your baby rolls over and you cannot deny it was her. She is alive. She is okay.

And suddenly, you are in your mommy’s arms, sobbing. Because you are so relieved. Because the terror you felt is still so real. “I need her,” you say. “I need her here now.” And the tears just go on and on and leave you exhausted all day long.

Friends, today at 5:30am, that was the scene at our house. Not pretty. I wish I could say I am being melodramatic, but this was exactly the state I was in this morning before sunrise. It was horrible. Horrible. I really was, somehow, convinced that our Skittle was dead. Knowing that she has been a little quieter over the last week or so, coupled with the fact that she just would not move no matter how hard I tried and that never happens, led me into a tizzy of uncontrollable panic. I have not felt that much fear in maybe forever.

I am not proud of my mental breakdown, but I’m not ashamed of it either. I know it is part of the infertility and miscarriage package. At least, it is for me. It irritates and baffles my mom and my Honey, but I have accepted that this is what it will always be like for me. I know what it’s like to lose a baby, even if it was early in pregnancy. And I have known and heard of many others who have suffered a great deal more. I am always aware that pain and loss do not discriminate. They can happen to anyone at any time. They can happen in the final hour, just when you think you’re safe. Babies do die, in- and outside of the womb, and it’s awful and no one is protected from that. I have learned how to handle that reality for the most part, but as we get closer to welcoming Skittle, I find myself growing scared and anxious once again. Losing her now, when she is perfectly whole and ready to be born, would kill me. And I am never far from imagining the worst.

Today’s experience has left me feeling very vulnerable. So vulnerable that I’m almost ready to agree to an induction. My OB has mentioned it. All I have to do is give the okay and then Skittle will be here. It’s not what I want for us and yet, it’s hard to wait right now. I don’t want to live through another moment of fear like the one I had today. I just want my baby girl here, safe from all harm, and I’m growing more impatient with every minute that passes. These final days are harder than I ever thought they would be.

Hemmies

** This post is about poop and other related things. It will also have a lot of complaining. If you’re squeamish or in a difficult place in your family-building journey, you may want to skip this one. **

Sooooooo….

Hemmies. More commonly known as hemorrhoids (though I prefer “hemmies” because it makes them sound small and cute and less like the gross butt grapes they are). Or, as I have been calling them in my head the last few days, Those Damn Hemmies From Hell.

And The Bane of This Pregnancy.

Seriously, guys. It is hard to truly explain how much grief and misery these hemmies have caused me this week. I am not talking about a little itching or discomfort. I am not talking about a slight burn when I poop. Or having to bring out the witch hazel and Preparation H every now and then.

I am talking about not being able to leave the couch except to change my daughter’s diaper and make her breakfast and lunch — and I do that only because I have to. I am talking about my husband walking in the door after work to find his wife sobbing because she is in so much pain and has been for every minute of the entire day.  I am talking about a tush that is on fire and a burn that has brought me to my knees and nearly caused me to vomit. I am talking about having thoughts of begging for a c-section because pushing a baby through my vagina with this butt pain was just too much to consider. I have not done laundry, or dishes, or cooked dinner since Monday. Honey comes home after a hard day at work and has to take care of me. I am so behind on my ‘to do’ list that I’m not sure I’ll ever catch up, and certainly not before Skittle arrives. Even more…this hemmie pain has left me feeling defeated, on the verge of being depressed, for days on end. I honestly don’t think I have cried this much since my miscarriage of our Teddy Graham last year. It’s been that bad. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m truly not.

This is not my first encounter with hemorrhoids. I had them while pregnant with Cupcake and there was one very bad day then too. But it was only one day. They have hardly bothered me since (even though they never entirely went away). During this pregnancy, there have been moments when I have felt the hemmie sting and a brave look in the mirror showed me what I feared — a new hemmie had arrived. But on Tuesday, that pea-sized hemmie became grape-sized and it has caused me unbearable pain in the hours and days since.

The good news is that Thursday and Friday have been better days than Tuesday and Wednesday. The pain is no longer debilitating. I can function now. I haven’t cried in some time over it. But the bad news is that these hemmies are still affecting my every day life. I am not functioning at the same level that I was last Friday. I’m sore. I’m uncomfortable. I can’t sit flat on my tush. Sometimes, I can’t sit at all. I walk, slowly and awkwardly, sometimes with a weird limp. At home, I walk while spreading my butt cheeks with my hands so that they don’t rub the one hemmie that is really the source of all the pain. I’m afraid to leave the house because I don’t know when the pain will flare. And I have a long list of things I have to do to in order to manage the pain:

  • Extra-strength Tylenol every 8 hours
  • Hydrocortisone suppositories prescribed by my OB (1 every 12 hours and boy-oh-boy do they hurt to insert!)
  • Sitz baths with baking soda three times a day — followed by an ice pack when I’m really in excruciating pain (hot and cold therapy!)
  • Showering immediately after every bowel movement (which is a whole lot of showers when I’m pooping 3 times each day!)
  • Wiping with witch hazel pads instead of toilet paper
  • Alternately applying vaseline, hydrocortisone, Vagisil (maximum strength), calamine lotion, zinc oxide, and Preparation H every few hours
  • Sitting sideways and not flat on my a** (I’m typing this while lying on my left side on the sofa)
  • Tucking a witch hazel pad into my panties

The other bad news is that there is not much else I can do short of having them removed and my OB seems reluctant to do that this close to delivery. So I have to wait them out and hope they get better, which is hard and frustrating. I will never regret getting pregnant or being this close to holding Skittle in my arms. Obviously. She is worth every literal pain in my butt. BUT it still sucks. I worked so hard for this pregnancy. I want to enjoy my last few days or weeks of it. I want to happily anticipate Skittle’s arrival instead of impatiently and anxiously awaiting it. I want to do fun things with Cupcake because these are the final days of it just being the two of us and, instead, I’m planning our whole day around my baths and showers and Cupcake is getting me pillows and the telephone and whatever else I need so that I don’t have to struggle to get up. I’m pathetic. This whole situation is pathetic and it’s not how it is supposed to be.

On Wednesday, I got news that my friend Kat was able to bring one of her twins home from the NICU, just five weeks after delivery. He’s a chunky little guy weighing over 6 lbs now and I cried at hearing the news. Cried because I’m happy for her and her strong, resilient babies, but also because I was sad for me. I was so miserable that day. I wanted nothing more than to be holding my Skittle and free from my hemmie pain and all other aches of my heart. I want my little miracle to be here too. I know she will be soon, but this week, “soon” just hasn’t seemed like enough.

Good News, Bad News

Well, folks. There’s good news and there’s bad news, but it seems to be heavy on the bad news today. Or at least the bad news is heaviest on my heart.

Good News: I have successfully managed to eat a whole lot of protein this last week, anywhere from 80-100g/day, in an effort to lower my blood pressure.

Bad News: I’m sick of protein. I miss fruit. I miss chocolate. I miss popcicles. But after meeting my protein quota, there’s just been no room for anything else in my stomach. And I don’t even know if it’s working!

Good News: My weight at my doctor’s office is sufficient, but not over-the-top. I gained two pounds in the last week. With all the protein I’ve been eating, I have not been able to maintain my caloric intake in quite the way that I have in previous weeks.

Bad News: I’ve still gained more than is technically considered healthy. I’m up about 36lbs, when it should be 25-35. Oops!

Good News: My blood pressure has been all over the map in the last week when I have taken it outside of my doctor’s office — at Rite Aid, at the mall, at home. It has ranged anywhere from 141/88 to 130/88 to — on Saturday — 114/74 (and just two days before it was 136/84 on the same machine!). Thankfully, it has never been as high as the readings at my doctor’s office.

Bad News: My BP at my prenatal appointment today hit yet another record high for me…155/84. I wanted to cry.

Good News: I have never had high blood pressure in my life. In fact, I tend to run very low.

Bad News: None of that really matters now, does it, when it’s not just me who this BP stuff is affecting.

Good News: Skittle is doing well. Kicking and active with a good heart rate that increases just when it should.

Bad News: I had to take an unexpected non-stress test today, sitting there for 20 minutes with an antsy 2-year-old and a husband who should have been at work and never even told his boss where he was. (See the above good news to know if Skittle passed or not!)

Good News: There is still no protein in my urine.

Bad News: I had to have my blood drawn today to check for preeclampsia and its severity, I have an ultrasound scheduled for Wednesday to check for Skittle’s growth, and I have to return to see my doctor on Friday for a follow-up.

Good News: I tested negative for Group B Strep, which thoroughly shocked me since I tested positive with Cupcake.

Bad News: Group B Strep and having to take antibiotics while trying to have a natural labor was the very least of my worries. I would take GBS any day over preeclampsia!

Good News: I felt baby hiccups in my pelvis for the first time in over a week today, which temporarily relieved my mind about a breech baby.

Bad News: All of last week, Skittle’s hiccups were under my ribs, which gave me a very different reason to worry about a C-section. And, as she has proven over the last few months, she can change her position at a moment’s notice, so she may not be head-down for good. Or maybe she’s not even head-down at all? We’ll find out at my ultrasound this week.

Good News: I have not yet resigned myself to giving up the birth experience of my dreams because, at this point, we don’t know what will come of any of this and I want to believe that things can improve or at least stay stagnant. I’m choosing to believe that this is the worst of it.

Bad News: I still have a way of getting ahead of myself…of envisioning an induction or, even worse, a c-section and I’ve shed my fair share of tears over the whole thing.

So that pretty much sums it up. Sigh. I return to see my OB this Friday for another blood pressure check and to discuss the results of my blood work and ultrasound with him. Until then, I know nothing more. But I do hope you all have had a better start to this week than I have!

On Happiness, Hurting, and Healing

Not so long ago, I wrote a post about a friendship that was floundering. I have known Kat for years. She was the one who knew me best in my adolescence and the one I could be my true self with. Five years ago, she was also the Matron of Honor at our wedding. But time, distance, and a double triple dose of infertility (hers + mine x 2) have caused a rift that I now see as irreparable. On Thursday, only thanks to Facebook, I learned that she is expecting boy/girl twins in October. I expect they are IVF babies since the last I knew, she was at a crossroads between IVF or adoption. But really, all I know for sure is that she has babies on the way, due around the same time as Skittle, and I found out through damn social media.

First of all, I want to express the most important sentiment: I am so happy for her. No matter what she has done to me, she deserves this after two and a half years of infertility.  And she will make a wonderful mother. Kat has an extraordinary way with children that I find so rare and so special. When I first learned of her TTC struggles, I made a commitment to pray for her every day, that she may one day get her miracle, too. I have done that, and I am 0nce again humbled and touched by God’s goodness. I want Kat to be happy, to be a mother, to experience what every woman has the right to. I am so glad that she is well on her way.

But I am also reeling. For two reasons. It is hard to admit to, but I guess there is a small part of me that is jealous. I have always felt like Kat is a better version of myself: better grades (she was a valedictorian in high school, I had two lousy B’s), better education (she got her Master’s), prettier, better job, more popular, more outgoing. When I had Cupcake, it was nice to finally have something that she did not. But now she has twins on the way, and how can you possibly compete with that except to have triplets? And it’s not that I even want twins. Though I would welcome any babies into my life, having more than one baby at a time has never been part of the dream. It is not something I have ever coveted. But in one fell swoop, Kat has outdone me again and it’s annoying. It brings me back to all those years of feeling inadequate when standing beside her. And yes, I know I am being petty and ridiculous. I am not proud of these feelings, but they are what they are.

There is something in my heart that is much stronger than jealousy, though. I am hurt. Before my FB post about Skittle, I e-mailed her to tell her our news because I hate being blindsided by unexpected pregnancy announcements. Even when I know they come from a fellow infertile and I myself am expecting, they still sting. In fact, in some ways, they sting more because I am constantly fearful that my baby will die and they will go on to have theirs and I will have to watch their child grow up while mine doesn’t. It’s totally an unreasonable, unfounded fear, but it’s constantly there. I can’t explain it. I just hate finding an unexpected announcement around every corner. So I wanted to spare Kat as much pain and discomfort as I could by telling her my news privately. And it kills me that she did not have the decency to do the same. It is the biggest slap in the face that she could possibly have given me. And to think that when I sent her that e-mail, she already knew about her babies and didn’t feel the need to say a single word in regards to anything. I understand if, perhaps, she just wasn’t ready to share her news. That’s a personal decision that we each have to make on our own. But would it have been so hard to be more supportive about my good news? To acknowledge how hard it is for me to conceive, to offer her sympathy for what it took to get here and her understanding about how scared I still must be? I feel incredibly disregarded and disrespected, and I hate myself for letting it get to me.

I don’t know why I still care so much. I had a good cry on the day I learned about it, lost sleep over it that night, and in the days since, have been working hard to let it go. Things have changed between us; I am still trying to accept it. In the days before Cupcake was born, Kat texted me frequently for updates. She made a beautiful blanket for my baby girl and it arrived the same day we returned home from the hospital. I still have that blanket, and I still love it, but I am under no illusions that she will do the same for Skittle. And I don’t intend to reciprocate in any way. In another lifetime, I would have gone above and beyond in buying baby gifts for her, desperate for a way to connect with her and prove myself. But remember when I said I was done in my last post? I really am. In response to her announcement, I wrote a generic, “Wonderful news! Congratulations!” She liked the comment. The End. It is the most I was able to give her at the time. It is all I will get from her. I have to be okay with that. (In a moment of weakness, I may have e-mailed her to further express my delight over her little miracles, but let’s forget that happened, okay? And nevermind that I haven’t heard back from her — and that I’m trying not to care.)

It saddens me to think that our babies, her twins and my Skittle, will be the same age and yet never know each other. It saddens me that the friend who was my Matron of Honor is now a stranger, and that I am not there to celebrate her good news, just as she has not been here for me. It saddens me that we can’t share this, and go through this together, especially knowing how close our due dates are. I am just deeply, deeply sad. I feel it every day. But in the comments section of my last post about Kat, someone mentioned that perhaps some friends are not meant to be lifelong. And I do believe that’s true. Friends come and go. They may just be meant to be here for a season, not a lifetime. Maybe that’s Kat. She made high school, college, and my life as a newlywed easier. In ways, she also made them harder, but I learned and grew from those challenging times. But now, I feel like we have nothing left to offer each other. No good can come from this “friendship” being dragged on and on. My mom suggested that, if I really wanted to, I could send her an e-mail to express how I feel. It has crossed my mind, as has sending her a link to the last post I wrote about her (gasp! can you imagine???), but I think we are long past that. At another time, that might have been a good idea. Now, I just think it would be hurtful and pointless.

The end of this friendship feels like a death to me. I am still grieving it. I am trying to put it behind me and move forward. But I am very familiar with death and I know, with time, it does get easier. There may be moments in the years ahead when I am caught off guard by a memory of our years together, or when something that someone says or does reminds me of the friend I used to have. I will have to catch my breath, I will think momentarily of Kat, and then I will move on. I have been through much worse and I know that when my heart is ready to let go, it will. It will let go, and then it will start to heal.

R.I.P., Kat. And may you, and your babies, live happily ever after.