Archives

Five Years

Today, Honey and I celebrate five years of marriage. Five years! This feels like a long time and no time at all. And I hate to admit it, but it seems that the last five years have been consumed by trying to make a baby, infertility, pregnancy, loss, and babyhood. These years have given me my deepest heartaches and my greatest joys. And I am so thankful to have someone I respect, love, and trust to hold my hand as we go through it together. He has held me together when I’ve started to fall apart, held me up when I was spiraling downwards, and held me close when I felt utterly alone. Today, as we celebrate this small marital milestone, I have never been happier or felt more blessed.

In celebration, we’re having a date night this evening. With my mom in town, she has agreed to stay with my daughter while Honey and I spend the night in the city. And I do mean spend the night. We have one of the best rooms at one of my favorite hotels reserved. It has a jacuzzi tub with a view over the water. After a nice dinner, we’ll spend a laid-back evening at the hotel and, tomorrow, we’ll do a few of the touristy things we’ve never done before in the big city to the north. It will be my first night away from Cupcake, and I’m very excited. Though slightly exhausted by the thought of all I have planned.

However, I also have to remember that today is a day of remembrance for our family. It was this day, last year, that our cherished Teddy Graham was conceived. I remember the excitement of seeing that super dark OPK and the hope that filled me as my husband and I enjoyed our date night. And two weeks later…just pure joy as I saw those two beautiful lines. It all went downhill from there, but I will never forget the great delight that Teddy brought to us for those few wonderful weeks. I remember, I remember, I remember.

With that, I’ll leave you with a few kinda-sorta-non-identifying photos from our Big Day. It wasn’t a perfect celebration and, in retrospect, there are so many things I would change if I could. But it was still one of the best days of my life and only the good memories have lasted…

My comfy ballet flats with a blue ribbon ("something blue" and the charm I picked out). Two garters...one to throw and one (the one with the light blue ribbon) as my "something old." My mom wore it on her big day!

My comfy ballet flats with a blue ribbon (“something blue”) and the charm I picked out. Plus, two garters…one to throw and one (the one with the light blue ribbon) as my “something old.” My mom wore it on her big day.

My bouquet...all roses, my favorite flower.

My bouquet…all roses, my favorite flower.

our wedding rings

our wedding rings

My mom gave me this bracelet on our wedding day...two months later, it was stolen from my suitcase on our Australian honeymoon. :(

My mom gave me this bracelet on our wedding day…two months later, it was stolen from my suitcase on our Australian honeymoon. ūüė¶

Ignore the heads that have been chopped-off...just wanted to show my dress because I loved it so much. A 10-foot train...I really did feel like a princess!

Ignore the heads that have been chopped-off…just wanted to show my dress because I loved it so much. A 10-foot train…I really did feel like a princess!

Exiting after the ceremony, with our pages carrying my long train.

Exiting after the ceremony, with our pages carrying my long train.

The gorgeous ballroom where our reception was held.

The gorgeous ballroom where our reception was held.

Our wedding cake. I was so pleased with the end result. And it tasted good too!

Our wedding cake. I was so pleased with the end result. And it tasted good too!

The first dance.

The first dance.

Advertisements

Free-Falling

I’m having a hard time navigating how to feel about this pregnancy and this baby. I know this is not a new concept for us infertiles, especially for those who have miscarried before. There are mixed feelings. Indifference. Ambivalence. We don’t want to get attached too soon.

After I lost Teddy Graham, I was determined that, in my next pregnancy (if ever there was one), I would not let my heart get involved too soon. I would not let myself hope, dream, plan, want. I would not allow myself to fall in love. In practice, I’m finding that much harder than expected. Quite honestly, I don’t even think¬† it’s really in my nature. I am typically not very cautious with my heart. I have always fallen in love quickly. I have loved people who don’t love me back and I have loved people whom I shouldn’t. My husband and I both said the “L” word within three weeks of our first date. So is it any surprise that I feel as though I may love this little Skittle of a baby already?

I recently told a friend that I think loving is one of the bravest things we each do. And yet, is it really so brave when it’s out of my control? I feel as if I’m free-falling, with nothing to hold onto and no parachute to slow me down. Loving this baby is not a choice I have made. It has almost happened against my will.

I know it is a dangerous place to be, having seen no heartbeat yet, but I don’t know that I will ever be sorry for feeling this way. I very much loved Teddy Graham from the start, and I have never regretted that. And if I hadn’t let myself love him, would my loss really have been any easier? I don’t think so. In fact, I took great comfort in loving that baby because, after he was gone, I felt I had given him my all, everything he deserved except life, and what more could I have wanted for an embryo that was not meant to be?

I am the type of girl who believes love is never wrong and, the more love that exists, the better we all become. Cheesy, lame, ultra-romantic…but it’s me. And so I will love. I will fall. And if I crash and burn, so be it.

Not a Turning Point

I had thought that passing my due date on Dec 6 would be a turning point in the grieving process and my journey of healing. That it would be like a flipped switch and, suddenly, things would be easier and I wouldn’t miss Teddy Graham so much. I had heard of that happening and it made sense to me. Everything before the due date is so fresh and only leading up to the day when a baby should have arrived. Everything thereafter is an unknown, something you hardly had a chance to dream or plan for.

But this has not been so for me. December 6th was not a turning point, a flipped switch, a pressed button, nothing like that. If anything, I feel as if I have taken three steps back in my healing. Many days since my due date, I have cried. Cried for the Baby Who Almost Was. By now, no matter how overdue the doctor would have let me go, Teddy surely would have been in my arms. Our lives would be so different here in the Dash home. Christmas would have been so different. Because I have been there before, at this exact same time of year, it is easy for me to imagine. I know what we are missing. And I still seem to be grieving it.

Which has made me wonder, at what point do I move on? I have always said that, while I will and have moved forward, I will not ever move on, leaving behind the child I lost, because that child is still my child, even if he is not here. In response, I have had people tell me that’s unfair to the daughter I have and to any children that I go on to birth in the future. Just three weeks after my loss, I had people (including friends who have miscarried themselves) telling me I needed to get on with my life. I wonder what they would say now, all these months later? Have I crossed a line into pathetic-ness, the woman who never recovers from the loss of a tiny baby that she hardly knew?

But I have also had friends who have lost many babies tell me that grief does have an end, but mourning does not. And years later, even with their rainbow babies tucked into their cribs, they still mourn for the babies gone before. That resonates with me. I think that’s the point I’m at now. I am in the final stage of grief: acceptance. I know Teddy Graham is gone. I know he’s not coming back. I am not disabled by this loss anymore. I can function again. I can laugh, I can mother, I can plan. But I still feel the need to do things to remember TG. I want him to still be a part of this family and for Cupcake to know she has a sibling she never got to meet.

Is that wrong? I don’t know. A little part of me feels ashamed about it. Maybe if I’d had a stillborn, and not a miscarried, child my grief would be more socially acceptable. But then again, maybe not. I do know that the grief I have suffered would be tenfold if I had carried Teddy into the second or third trimester before losing him, but knowing that does not diminish my loss. It does not mean I have not suffered.

So where do I go from here? I guess I continue doing what I have all along: putting one foot in front of the other and searching for ways to bring peace and comfort into our home. Maybe a new year will bring more healing. Maybe my sister’s baby shower or the birth of Cupcake’s and Teddy Graham’s cousin.¬†¬† Maybe the anniversary of my loss in April.¬† Maybe it won’t get easier until I have another baby in my belly or, more likely, my arms. But I do assume that, at some point, I will be able to breathe again. I hope that there will come a time when I can stop cringing my way through life, braced for another painful reminder of my loss. But I don’t expect that the pain will ever leave me completely. It’s now part of the fabric of who I am. I’m okay with that. I just hope other people in my life are, too.

I Am Lucky

Knowing yesterday was a hard day for me, my husband brought a couple small surprises home with him:

chocolate peppermint and pumpkin spice cupcakes from one of my favorite local bakeries

chocolate peppermint and pumpkin spice cupcakes from one of my favorite local bakeries

in memory of our Teddy Graham

in memory of our Teddy Graham

Isn’t that just the sweetest thing? For all that I don’t have, and for all I still want, there are a a thousand more things I have to be thankful for. Honey is at the top of the list. I am so very lucky to have him.

To You, On the Day in Which You Were to Be Born

My dearest tiny Teddy Graham,

Today is the day in which you would have, could have, and should have entered the world, naked and gooey, beautiful and perfect. It is the day I was to hear your first cry and the day I would have held you in my arms, finally. Today could have been your day to shine, and yet it’s still your day, and always will be, regardless of whether you are here or not.

It is a relatively nice day here in our new town, considering we’re in the last days of autumn. A little rainy and the mid-40s. So very different from when your sister came during the first snowfall of the season and the temperature was 15 degrees. Today would have been a perfect day to be born. I wish you could have been. For me, it’s turning out to be a much harder day than I anticipated. I thought I could make it through without any tears, but instead I can’t stop crying, or imagining, or wishing for what was. I can’t stop thinking of you.

I am so sorry, my sweet angel baby, that you never had a chance. Already, in the short time that you were with me, I had plans for you, hopes for holidays at Disney World and a happy childhood and a college education. And I often wonder what you would be like, if you would look like your sister when she was born or something completely different. Would you be quiet or colicky? Would you be happy or serious? Would you have my nose? Your daddy’s toes? Cupcake’s cheeks? Your grammy’s eyes? Or would you be someone fully, totally, uniquely you? It is a sad thing that I will never know and that you will never get to grow and evolve and become who you were meant to be. And I am sad for the world, because it would be better if you were in it. I am certain of that.

I want you to know that I never once have regretted your existence. I am not sorry that you were conceived. I am not sorry that I knew the joy of having you in my life. My only regret is that you left so soon. But you are still my little miracle. It does not matter that you did not make it. You are as precious and as cherished as any other miracle in my life. And there is a tiny part of me that does not want another miracle, another baby, because it is you who I want. I want it to be you who grows in my belly and tunnels through my pelvis and suckles at my breast. I know that can never be. You are where you are and there is no reaching you, not now. And I know that I would never forgive myself if I quit now, if I fail to give your sister the one thing I never had as a child: a sibling. So we will move forward and continue trying, but please rest assured that no one else will ever replace you. For the rest of our lives, there will be someone missing. Someone missing in our home. In our family. During the holidays. At the dinner table. You are, and will always be, missed.

But in your life and your death, I have gained so much. Things like strength and faith and hope. I have learned a lot about myself and about others. I have made new friends, because of you. Some of my relationships have faltered in my loss, but others have grown. I know now that it is possible for me to love someone in the most extraordinary ways from the moment they enter my life. And I know what it means to lose one of the most treasured things in life, the intensity of the broken heart in those first weeks, and the tide of pain that ebbs and flows in the months thereafter.

Our Christmas tree is up and I should be facing middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper blowouts, or preparing the nursery and our home for your imminent arrival. Instead, I am trying to find ways  to remember you and to keep you alive in our small family. This ornament was placed on our tree today, for you:

IMG_3789

I have also hung a stocking for you. And today, I am wearing a bracelet with pink and blue roses that says “Remember.” I am writing you this letter, as I have occasionally done in the past. And every night, we still light a candle for¬† you. I imagine that we will stop doing some of these things as the years go by, but I don’t ever want to let people forget about you. You will not be forgotten. Not in our home or in my heart.

There are several people who miss you, who still mourn for you, people like your daddy and my mother. Maybe even my sister. But no one will ever miss you like I do. You grew inside of me, and I am so thankful for that, even if it was just for a few short weeks.¬† I still weep for you, Teddy. Every day, I wish you were here and that you never had to leave. I look at other infants and think of you. Forever and ever, you will be my baby. But I must believe that we’ll see each other again. One day, in an everlasting life, I will hold you in my arms. I can’t wait, my darling. I love you.

xoxoxo,

Mommy

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.