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Good news, friends! I got word a couple weeks ago that this post will be published on Scary Mommy on April 30th. That’s exciting! As both a mom and a writer, it feels really huge. And also really terrifying. I haven’t talked “publicly” about my miscarriage very much, and though I’m not opposed to it because I think it NEEDS to be talked about, this post kind of puts my heart out there in the biggest way. Yikes!

Being published on Scary Mommy is terrifying in another way, too. I write anonymously on this blog (for the most part). I will be published on Scary Mommy with my real name and have requested that there be no mention of my blog. As far as I know, there won’t be. But my question to all of you is, should I password-protect the most personal posts on this blog, just in case?

I really don’t care if anyone knows about my infertility journey or reads about my CM and vajayjay or whatnot. I’m an open book when it comes to that! But should I protect the posts that mention friends and family? I’m particularly thinking of some posts that involve my sister and former friends Lillian and Kat. (Long-time readers of this blog will probably know what I’m talking about. For those who do not, you can click on “my sis” and “friends” in the word cloud on the right to get an idea of what I mean.) I did a lot of whining…complaining…bitching. I had a lot of hurt feelings and I poured it out here. I’m not proud of a lot of it. But do I need to protect these posts? While I think my feelings are valid and mostly understandable, I don’t want to hurt, embarrass, or shame anyone unnecessarily. What is the likelihood of someone stumbling across this blog by reading my piece on Scary Mommy, given that there should be no mention of Waiting to Expand there? Am I just being paranoid? My husband thinks there is merit in keeping this blog fully public and says I shouldn’t waste my time because it’s doubtful anyone will find their way here anyways. I’m undecided. Does anyone have an opinion about this? Thoughts? I want to hear what YOU think!

#MicroblogMondays: Old Friends

Yesterday, we invited two old friends of mine into our home for a few hours. And by “old,” I mean that, with the exception of my cousins, these are my very oldest friends. I’ve known them most of my life. That said, I haven’t seen them in twenty years and we’ve kept in touch mostly through the magic of Facebook, which basically means not at all. I’m a naturally shy and reserved person and felt a mix of fear, nerves, anxiety, and sheer dread as I awaited the arrival of, essentially, two people (and their spouses) who were now strangers to me. And so it was a relief to realize that somehow knowing someone in your earliest, most innocent and precious years connects you for life. There was no awkwardness or discomfort; we talked for nearly four hours straight and could have kept going, if it were not for the bedtimes of my children.

As they walked out our front door to return to their hotel, it occurred to me that, had I not moved hours away from them before the start of middle school, we probably would have remained dear friends for all of my life. It’s a little sad to think what I may have missed out on.

Do you keep in touch with your childhood friends? Are you still close to them now?

 

Six Years Ago Today

Six years ago today was a very dark day. We had been struggling to conceive our first child for well over a year. I had just learned that a close, childhood friend had given birth to her son just days before. I was about to take a pregnancy test that I knew would be negative. And it was time to finally accept that the Clomid wasn’t working and we needed to try something else.

I didn’t know then what was in store. I couldn’t have know then, on that dark, lonely day, that I would give birth three times in the next six years. I was sad and scared, desperate and distraught. And yet, everything was about to change. Because six years ago tomorrow, I would get a positive pregnancy test. My very first. For the first time in forever, I would see two lines on that pee stick instead of one. What a glorious moment.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of a day of celebration. A celebration of so much hope, anticipation, and joy. But today? Today, I remember what it was like before. Before this all began. The heavy heart. The quiet house.

Six years ago today, I was in so much pain. I will never forget that.

Mostly Sad

Two weeks ago, my once-dear, but now non-friend Lillian and I were in the same place at the same time, for the first time in an entire year. We were both attending a birthday party for the son of our mutual friend, Leigh. In addition to being a party guest, I had also been asked to be the official party photographer, which I was thankful for. It was a small mercy Leigh gave me, asking me to do that, giving me an excuse for not socializing, giving me a shield of protective armor to hide behind.

Lillian’s dark hair was shaped into the same short, spunky cut that she’d had for a while, but she looked different to me. Maybe she’d lost a little weight? And she was wearing a scarf and stylish ballet flats that seemed so different from what I remembered as her style. She looked good, but acted more subdued and reserved than the bold, loud, laughing Lillian I knew. I could practically see the wall she’d built around herself and, if it hadn’t been for my friendly, loving Cupcake running up to greet her and talk her ear off (because somehow, over a year and half later, my big girl still remembers Lillian and her daughter), I probably wouldn’t have heard her voice at all. She was quiet. Reserved. Guarded. I felt it, and I know my husband and Leigh did too.

When Lillian entered the party room, she gave me a little wave and when she left two hours later, she did the same, but other than that, she ignored me completely. Didn’t even look my way. We both moved about the room, her focused so completely and intentionally on her two little ones and me hiding behind my camera and snapping away. By the way we barely acknowledged one another, never connecting like the identical poles of two magnets, you wouldn’t know that we have a history. You wouldn’t know that she was there for me, one of the few IRL, when I miscarried. You wouldn’t know that I was one of the first to know when she found out she was pregnant with the baby she lost or the one she gave birth to a few months after Skittle. You wouldn’t know that we went on weekend getaways together, that she threw a baby shower for me, that she attended our gender reveal party, and that Cupcake spent the night at her house while I went to the hospital to have Skittle. You’d have no idea because there, at that party, it was like we didn’t know each other at all.

Which is freaking sad, ya’ll.

I felt awkward and nervous and unsure and confused and surprised and insecure and reserved that day. But most of all, I felt sad. I wanted to feel indifferent. Or at the very least, mad. But I just felt mostly sad.

Sad because Lillian was once my go-to girl when it came to grieving my loss. She was my greatest support and my greatest cheerleader in the year or two that followed as I fought to bring Skittle safely into our lives. Having suffered RPL, she knew better than anyone else what I did and did not need from her. And she helped me. She helped me so much.

Sad because, if things had gone differently, it would have been Leigh, Lillian, and I working together to make that party a success…and then standing against the wall, laughing and eating the fattest pieces of cake we could eat while still being socially acceptable.

Sad because it was never more clear that my daughter, precious 5-year-old Cupcake, had lost someone, too. Lillian was in her life from the ages of one to four and then she, and her daughter (whom Cupcake had regular playdates with), were gone. And when Cupcake saw them both that day at the party, her face lit up, and she ran to them, and held hands with little Mini-Lillian, and it was almost as though nothing had changed at all.

Sad because while Cupcake knows and remembers Lillian very well, Skittle does not. My friendship with Lillian started unraveling sometime around Skittle’s first birthday. Skittle doesn’t know her much at all. And Poppy just doesn’t know her. Period.

Sad because, all this time later, I still don’t exactly understand how it all fell apart, or why it had to, or what it was that made Lillian start to hate me so.

Sad because, all this time later, I’m still affected by it. Still mad. Still hurt. Still sad.

And maybe that makes me terribly pathetic. Or maybe it just makes me human. And maybe I’ll write more about all of this as I continue to process. Or maybe I’ll just keep it close to my heart forevermore.

I honestly don’t even know what the point of this post is. Except to express how amazing and incredibly unbelievable it is to me that someone whom is not family and was in my life for a relatively short amount of time (3-4 years) can have this much power over me. Except, she was there during one of my greatest crises. And she does know things about me that most others do not. And I did once see her on a weekly, if not daily, basis — so much more than most anyone else, except for my most immediate family. So I guess that probably explains it.

But still, it’s sad. Sad how quickly things can change. And sad that, once they do, there’s no going back. This can’t be undone. I don’t know what the future holds or if some event or turning point, big or small, will reunite us. I just know that what’s been said and done is permanent. It’s left a lasting mark. If not on the universe, at least on my heart.

Confessions: Drowning

Note: This is a very raw, honest post, written in reflection of how I felt at a very low point in this week. I feel good now, but also know more hard days will always be ahead. Please be kind in the comments.

He’s asleep in my arms, his sweet, bald baby head resting on my bare chest. He’s milk-drunk and sighing heavily in his sleep. There’s music on the radio and his big sisters dance, tiptoe, twirl, and giggle their way across the living room floor while I sit and watch, enjoying this quiet, perfect moment in time. To an outsider, some stranger standing on our porch and peering through the kitchen window, we must look straight out of some made-for-TV movie, happy and carefree and living everyone’s idyllic fantasy.

But what no one knows is that, this week, I have yelled at these children. All three of them. I have yelled, screamed, cried, sobbed, begged God, prayed, and swore silently and aloud to whoever would listen. Maybe because we were sick last week, or because it’s almost a full moon, or because of some other unknown force at work, we have been a disaster here for days now. Every last one of us. My five-year-old is doing everything in her power to make the rest of us miserable, snatching toys from her sister just because she can, running from the room as soon as she realizes I’m going to ask for her to grab me a burp rag, just generally being an impolite, insufferable little brat. My two-year-old, sweet, gentle angel that she is, has become a wailing, viscious she-devil who flings her bowl of applesauce across the room at breakfast and lunch because she doesn’t want me going to the bathroom while she eats. And the baby? Poor, defenseless, snot-nosed little thing whom I was just bragging about because he sleeps from 10pm to 10am every day? Well, he is proving to the world what a comedian he is as he now wakes at all hours of the night, screaming at the top of his lungs, and then refuses anything more than a thirty-minute nap during the day.

And I have lost my mind over it. I have said to the baby, “Well, you’re just going to have to cry because I’m not picking you up this time,” even though I didn’t mean it. I have wished away all the years ahead of me of hugs by chubby arms and toddler lips saying, “Me love MomMom” just so that they would grow up and all this madness could be over with. I have thrown more than one adult tantrum. The rage that I have felt has scared me. I could have hurt my children. I didn’t — thank God, I knew enough to stop myself before I reached that point — but I could have. I wanted to. And afterwards, as I rocked our sweet baby boy to sleep yet again, I said to my husband, “This is how it happens. This is how babies get shaken or thrown across a room. Parents just can’t take anymore.” I understood.

I hate myself for that. I hate that I understand. I hate that I can’t handle as much as I thought I could, and that I reached my breaking point so quickly. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? I wonder. And what about the fourth baby that I yearn for? The fourth, and maybe the fifth and sixth? (Because even at the lowest point, I’m still thinking ahead. Still wanting more.) How do moms do this? Is it just me? Am I the only one flailing in these choppy waters of parenthood?

There are days when I hate this mothering gig. I know I shouldn’t. My ovaries don’t work and we fought so damn hard to get here, to have three children call us “MomMom” and “Daaaaaad.” I should be thankful. I should soak it in. I should cherish every moment of it. And I do. Mostly. When it’s good, it’s good. The kids sleep and snuggle and laugh and say “Thank you” on cue. We go to the zoo and the park and read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and eat unbaked cookie dough. I take photos (lots and lots of photos) and the kids smile and we put the photo in a frame and we remember the good times with warmth and a lot of love.

But the good times don’t make the bad times any easier. The kids scream or cry all at once. My girls won’t share. Someone is up all night, needing me. No one likes what I put on the dinner table. The baby requires constant bouncing, wiggling, tickling, and rocking all day long, day after day after day. And over and over again, I trip over a tornado of toys and swear I’m going to throw every last one of them in the trash because I just can’t stand the thought of picking up one more Disney princess figurine or itty-bitty lego. I’m tired and in over my head. At the worst of times, that’s the truth: I am in way over my head. I’m drowning. And there’s no going back. No, undoing this. No fixing it. Somehow, I just have to suck in a lungful of oxygen when I can and keep doggie-paddling and hope that’s enough.

But here’s what I fear: It’s not. Surviving isn’t thriving. It’s not enough. Not for my kids and not for me. I’m a failure. I’m defeated. I’m weak. My kids deserve better. All the ugly things I tell myself…the list is long. I’m a bad person. There’s something wrong with me. I should be punished. I am worthless. It gets worst and worst.

And yet, behind each one, there is another voice. The voice of reason. What I hope is the voice of truth. A whispered echo of hope and redemption that says:

Tomorrow is a new day.

Tomorrow, you can do better.

And I will. Or at least, I will try.

I will always try.

Housekeeping & More

Time to do a little December housekeeping! Some things to take note of:

  • I have updated my Resources page with some fabulous articles and books on infertility, miscarriage, and parenting.
  • I keep forgetting to mention that, in the last two months of my pregnancy, I ate anywhere from 4-9 dates every day. Why? Because of this recent research. Knowing that, for my very first time, I went into labor on my own with Poppy within mere days (two to be exact) of my due date makes me a believer!
  • One other random thing worth mentioning…if you’re preparing or planning to have more babies, consider buying some Depends (adult diapers) for after delivery. I learned about these only as I was getting ready to welcome our second child and they are so much more comfortable and leak-proof than what the hospital gives you (though what they gave me after this last delivery really wasn’t bad). I swear by these now and will never wear anything else for that first postpartum week or two!
  • Also, here is one more thing to consider… It took me a very long time to realize (I guess because I’m not capable of thinking for myself???) that you don’t HAVE to wear the hospital gown provided. You can bring your own! Or you can wear a swimsuit. Or yoga pants. Or whatever you damn well please. Don’t be a slave to following everyone else’s traditions and expectations if you don’t want to!
  • I just added a few photos taken by our birth photographer to the post about Poppy’s birth story. Check them out if you’re interested!
  • Also, our birth photographer made a video of our birth experience. It’s beautiful and I am so proud of and pleased with the experience I had. I think I’d like to share this with those of you have loyally followed this blog for a while, as a thank you for your loyalty, but mostly because many of you have become very dear to me. If you are interested, please e-mail me at cassie.s.dash@gmail.com, tell me who you are, and I will gladly give you the link and password for the video. One word of warning: it’s kind of long (10 minutes), but isn’t that fitting for this long-winded gal? 🙂
  • For those of you interested in and passionate about birth (I’m kind of obsessed), look up the Birth Without Fear blog if you don’t already know about it. It’s amazing, inspiring, and, in part, what led me to search and plan for a better birth experience. My birth with Cupcake was satisfying and incredible, but I knew I wanted something more when it was time to have Skittle. For me, that meant a natural birth, but this is by no means a blog against epidurals, inductions, c-sections, or anything else of the sort. January Harsche, the founder of BWF, is just all about empowering mothers to be advocates for themselves and their baby, to fight for and believe in the experience they want, and to love themselves through it all.
  • My doula-friend Leigh is finally planning to get certified as a doula! This is something she has been wanting for so long; I’m really happy for and proud of her. She’ll be so good at this. Her support is one of the major reasons I was able to give birth like I wanted to. The possible downside? Our mutual friend (or my former friend I guess) Lillian is going to do it with her. I have mixed feelings about this, but let’s just say I really hope Lillian doesn’t flake out on Leigh as she had with so many other endeavors that she briefly committed herself to. I really want this for Leigh and I’m praying Lillian doesn’t let her down.
  • A quick update on my life: Cupcake just turned five. Poppy is now two months old. It’s going by too fast! I’m still spotting at almost nine weeks postpartum, though it seems to be less and less every day. Honey just got an amazing bonus and we are hoping for a raise soon, too. We’re planning to buy a bigger, better, badder (haha) home within the next year. My mom will be returning for her Christmas visit in two weeks. We’re busy, but we’re all happy, healthy, and excited for Christmas!
  • One thing no one ever talks about: postpartum peeing-your-pants. Um, apparently that’s a thing? It’s not something I’ve ever experienced, until now. But I hear this is common? Incontinence? Let’s just call it pee-leakage because “incontincence” brings back memories of my nursing school days and my geriatric patients and diapers. And since I’m neither geriatric nor am I about to wear a diaper, I am really hoping this resolves itself soon. Bring on the kegels!
  • I’m looking to connect with some of you outside of this blog. While I prefer to remain anonymous here, I am a real person who really adores some of you that comment here. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know a few of you on Facebook, through e-mail, and even in person, but I’m always eager to know more of you. If any of you are interested, I’d love to hear from you! Comment here with your e-mail address or e-mail me at cassie.s.dash@gmail.com and I will introduce myself and lead you to my Facebook page.

Okay. I’d say that’s enough housekeeping for one day. Mama’s gotta sleep! I will surely be back here before Christmas, but want to wish each and every one of you a magical, happy holiday season. There’s so much beauty in this time of year. Soak it up. Appreciate it. Spread it around. And remember: be good to each other. xo

Photo Vomit

Note: This post will include an overload of cute baby photos. You’ve been warned.

I am often told that I could be a spokesperson for professional photography because we so regularly have family photos of one kind or another taken. It’s true. Since having children, I don’t think we’ve gone more than six months between photo sessions. I expect this to change some as my children get older and stop morphing into entirely new people with every turn of the seasons, (If you have children, you’ll understand what I mean by this. They grow so fast! They change so quickly! Every cliche is true.), BUT I am still committed to having family portraits taken as often as possible. They are so important to me. These moments as a family, with our children so small, are passing us by. They are often gone before we even remember to savor them, cherish them, treasure them. And there is nothing at all to prove that they even existed, except for photographs and our memory — which is inaccurate and ever fading, at best.

And so I turn to the camera, both mine and that of a professional. I am often encourage by friends and family that I should take our own family portraits. You’re so talented, they say. You’re photos look professional already, they say. You have skillz!, they say. While that’s flattering, I don’t have the same faith and confidence in my abilities. And I don’t have the same resources (like the beautiful maternity gown provided by our maternity photographer and all the sweet little bonnets and wraps that our newborn photographer had). And also? What about me? I want to be on the other side of the camera sometimes. I want the lens to capture the love I have for and the unique relationship I have with each of my children. And yes, there is such thing as a timer. I could set it and run to join my family and hope that I don’t look like a disheveled mess when the camera starts clicking. Or I can hire someone to do it for me and enjoy the experience.

Every photo session we have as a family is an experience, a memory to be added to our collection of memories. A moment that is worth remembering.

See?! I really could be a spokeseperson for hiring a professional photographer!

But all of that to say, here I am again with another post of photos we’ve had taken. The girls were so wonderfully cooperative for this shoot (unlike two years ago, when Cupcake would just NOT take a single decent photograph with her baby sister) and our photographer is uber talented. Expensive, but worth every penny. One of the best and one of my favorites.  Poppy, who is a restless sleeper and does not particularly love to be fussed over, did make her work hard for her money, but she somehow still made magic. I regret that I can’t post most of the family photos since I’m still trying to stay mildly anonymous here on this blog (though my resolve on that has wavered quite considerably over the last few months), but here are at least a few beauties that she captured…

Robinson_NB-38 Robinson_NB-59 Robinson_NB-68 Robinson_NB-204 Robinson_NB-205 Robinson_NB-233 Robinson_NB-249 Robinson_NB-257 Robinson_NB-287 Robinson_NB-306

Which one is YOUR favorite?