Tag Archive | TTC

I Was Wrong

Here is what I know now:

I thought I had my body figured out, sort of.

I thought that I knew what to expect, sort of.

I believed that because lightning struck once, it just might strike again.

I was arrogant; I was cocky.

I really did think that baby #4 was a given.

And I thought that, even if I didn’t get pregnant with my one lucky post-weaning ovulation, I was at peace with taking Clomid again. No big deal.

But now, as I stand here on the eve of swallowing my first Clomid pill in many years, I know just how wrong I was about it all.

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.

 

One Small Step

A week ago, I stepped into my OB/GYN’s office for the first time in over a year. A half hour later, I left with a new prescription for Clomid, Provera, and Metformin. It all felt so familiar, it was as though I was living my life of two, or five, years ago.

Except I came home to a house full of children, screaming and fighting, and a floor that was unseeable because of the massive field mine of toys that stretched from the front door to every corner of every bedroom, and I had to ask myself, can I even handle another child? Can I handle the constant stress and mess and lack of rest? Because some days it feels as though I am seriously failing. Some days, it feels as though my head might explode if one more child whines about what is on her dinner plate or about how itchy her shirt is or about having to pick up her toys before bedtime. There are days when the monotony of parenthood — the barage of reminders I have to give Cupcake in the morning so that she will be ready for school on time, the taking of Skittle’s hand numerous times a day to lead her to the potty, the gentle (but infinite) guidance I have to give Poppy to keep him from unplugging every lamp in the house, the meal planning, the drawn-out bedtime routines, the toy pick-up over and over and over — seems overwhelming and exhausting. And so often, the worry that ebbs and flows over my children’s health — worry about everything from allergies (yes, lots of them) to asthma (probably not) to mysterious fevers, strep, UTIs, and yeast infections (the last four of which have all made an appearance at our house within the last three months) — just feels like so. damn. much. TOO much for one person, or for at least this one person, to handle with any sort of grace or dignity. And to think of doing it for one second longer than I have to seems foolish.

And then there are the other days. Days like yesterday, when I take just Cupcake out for hot cocoa and we talk about wonderful things while we sip from our cup and she is a delight to be around and declares it “the best day ever.” Days when Poppy takes a few steps on his own and then collapses onto the ground in a fit of belly laughs because he is so proud of himself, or  when wide-eyed Skittle crawls into my bed and whispers into the darkness of the room, “I love you, Mommy.” There are days when the kids are happy and loving from sunrise to sunset, and thank me sweetly for the cookie on their plate at lunchtime, and play nicely together all day long. Or maybe they don’t — maybe they fight or argue about who-knows-what and yell and snatch toys away, but then they say “sorry” unprompted and give each other an affectionate, genuine hug and all is well again. And there are days when we go on adventures as a family, near or far, and nothing on our list of daily tasks to do weighs on us. And there are days when we spend a relaxing morning at home, us adults sipping coffee with our littles snuggled next to us on the couch while we watch home movies, and I am suddenly reminded how quickly the years go by and that they will be all grown up in a flash. Those are the days when my heart explodes and I wish I could do this a million times more.

Though we are not taking any preventative measures — and haven’t in nearly eight years — we are not yet officially “trying” for our fourth take-home baby. But we are putting a plan in place. I have significantly cut back on sugar and caffeine. I will wean Poppy over the course of five weeks starting in April. I will order my regime of vitamins at some point in the future if necessary. And now I have my prescriptions, for better or worse. And perhaps I won’t even need them. Perhaps lightning will strike twice and I will fall pregnant with my one lucky, post-weaning ovulation as I did with Poppy. But that seems like a little too much to hope for and so I am preparing for a harder journey.

I don’t know what will happen in the months to come. I am hopeful and excited. I am apprehensive, scared, and even a little sad. This very well may be our last baby. It’s a relief to be at this point, but it’s bittersweet as well. It hurts to think that this could be the very last time I do any of this. Even more, it hurts to think that I may not get to do it at all. I mean, let’s get real, you guys. My ovaries don’t work as they should. None of this is a given. And so I’m fearful of what is to come. What I will have to endure. What I will put my family through in doing it.

It’s a difficult thing to go forward, knowing that the path ahead could be nothing but a journey towards failure, disappointment, heartache, and loss while also knowing that it’s probably possible to be perfectly happy with what I have right this minute. My children are incredible. My life feels full. It’s hard to imagine being much happier than this. And yet, without this fourth baby, I know that it will forever feel as if someone is missing around here. Our family is not complete and missing someone who could have been here, if only I had tried, is not really the way I want to live the rest of my life. I have never let fear or doubt stop me when it comes to going after something I really want. And this — this big family — is something that I want so much. I have longed for it since childhood, long before I met my husband or ever heard the term “infertile.” Even when we were celebrating just having one, so grateful for the opportunity to be parents at all, my heart always yearned for more. And it feels so, so close.

So we will try. Come what may, we will try to achieve what always feels impossible. A miracle.

This is the end.

I have been alluding to this post for some time and, alas, I am ready to write it. This will be my final blog post, friends.

Skittle is two months old now. The anniversary of her conception is less than a month away. The holidays are upon us. The year is coming to a close. It just seems appropriate, I guess. It feels right.

I began Waiting to Expand with a sense of desperation. I was three weeks post-miscarriage and feeling utterly alone and lost. My dear friend Lillian suggested I blog it out and, for nineteen months, that is what I have done. I have come here in good times and, especially, in bad. With every fear, every worry, every uncertainty, every freak out, I have turned to all of you.

But that season has passed.

While I still have my fears, worries, and uncertainties, they are not at the same intensity. The emotions I experience now don’t run as raw or deep. The scars of infertility remain, but I am no longer in need of constant reassurance and no longer as passionate about blogging. I knew the moment I began this infertility blog that it would end when my journey to have a baby ended as well. I have never intended to be a mommy blogger. Blogging about one’s adventures in parenting can be wonderful, but it is not for me. Quite honestly, I feel as though I don’t have much to say on the topic. If I have nothing worthwhile to contribute, there is no reason for me to be here. I am wasting my time. And yours.

That’s not to say that I will never return here. I may. To give an occasional (very occasional) update on Skittle. Or more likely, to blog through our next effort in TTC in a year or two. But by then, I imagine many of you will have moved on as well. And if I do continue with my blogging here in the distant future, I am fairly certain my blog will be a rather pitiful, lonely thing. After all, what infertile wants to read about someone trying to conceive their third child? Even if every child has come after a lot of work.

I have spent a lot of time trying to think of the right words to say thank you, and good-bye, to each of you. There are none.

For the most part, I have led a blessed life. But I have suffered too. I was molested as a child. I lost people who were dear to me. I have attended too many funerals at the age of thirty. Friends broke my heart. I struggled, and continue to struggle, with feelings of inadequacy and self-hate. And yet, my darkest days have been those two periods in my life when I have fought to bring a child into this world.

On many of those days, I felt like I was drowning. Like a piece of me was dying.

But you were there. Each of you beautiful souls were there. You lifted me up. You offered comfort, encouragement, and wisdom. When I felt like I had no one else, I had you. This community saved me when I needed salvation the most.

Thank you.

Those two words are so small, just a flip of the tongue. Just eight letters that take mere milliseconds to type out. They are not enough.

But nothing is.

There are no words big or strong or loud enough to speak my thanks to you. I feel such a fondness, so much love, for every one of you — those who regularly comment on this blog and those who I know lurk in the shadows. You supported me when I was at my lowest low. This blog was my safe place. It offered so much solace. In many ways, it became my home. And you, my family.

Thank you.

Truly, I mean that. Thank you a million times. What you have done for me no one else has. And though sometimes we have to fly from the nest, leave a place that we call Home, that place always stays with us. We are part of it, and it of us.

So please don’t think I’m abandoning this community. I’ll be around. If I follow your blog, I will continue to do so. Maybe not comment as frequently, but I’ll be reading. I want to see each of your journeys come to their own rightful, perfect endings. And if I don’t know you through your own blog, you can always reach me at my e-mail address: cassie.s.dash@gmail.com. Please e-mail me! I don’t check it often, but I will be checking it, and I’ll respond when I can. I promise. I’m not abandoning you. Time and distance may separate you from your family, but they are still with you always. I’ll see you again.

And for those of you still in the trenches, I want to say this: Please don’t give up hope. I am not naive or ignorant. I know I was never a worst-case scenario. I may have lacked perspective and felt as though I was at rock bottom many times, but I know there could have been so much farther for me to fall. And yet, I do know women who can’t say that. Who really were given no reason to hope. My friend Kat was told her egg and her husband’s sperm were incompatible (such a lame explanation, if you ask me) and unlikely to produce a baby. And yet today, as I write this, she is probably snuggling her boy-girl twins — babies who are half her, half her husband. And there is my cousin Lily, who endured ten years of infertility (and two failed IVFs), before she miraculously and unexpectedly conceived her daughter, who was born mere weeks after Cupcake. And there is another childhood friend, Em, who suffered through six years of infertility and nine miscarriages, including an ectopic that nearly took her life, before her baby boy was born a year and a half ago. My point is, even on the darkest day, there is always hope.

I began this year with such despair, as you might remember from this post. I felt like I had 365 days of unbearable pain already laid out before me. I was afraid for what the year might — or might not — bring. But a week later, I was pregnant. It only takes one breath, a single heartbeat, for everything to change. It may happen when you are entirely too hopeful or when you least expect it, but miracles occur every day. Even to us infertiles. Statistics show that most of you, no matter how long it takes or how hard it is, will eventually cross to the other side as well. And my heart believes that, too. Regardless of where you are at in your journey, at the end of it, most of you will be holding a child — your child — in your arms. That probably provides little comfort or peace right now, but it will. One day, it will.

I can’t believe this is it, my friends. My last post. My good-bye.

To conclude, I’ll leave you with this photo:

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You may remember this post and this one from last year, explaining how this necklace came to be. Each birthstone represents one of my babies. Cupcake. Teddy Graham. And now, Skittle. These three are the reason for everything. For all the pain. All the suffering. The tears, the despair, the doubt. For questioning my faith, and for strengthening it. They are the reason for the frustration, the anger, the sadness. And finally, for the joy. And all the love in my life. The reason I am celebrating throughout this holiday season. Ultimately, they are the reason for this blog. They started it all. Before they were ever even conceived, my journey began with them.

And so here it ends with them, too.

Hard Candy Christmas

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

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

Last year, this was my theme song:

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

Reflections at 1 Month

Today, my Skittle is one month old. It was one month ago that I screamed for an epidural that came too late. One month ago that I pushed a beautiful, 8-pound squishy ball of baby from my womb and into this world. One month ago that another dream came true. How is that even possible? As a mother, I am always reminded how quickly time does indeed pass. How fleeting every moment is.

I have spent much of the last month reflecting upon our journey to get here. I have not taken any of what I have for granted, have not wished for anything else but exactly what I have. I have cherished and treasured every gassy smile, every midnight cuddle, every dreamy giggle, every tiny baby sneeze, every time Skittle rests her soft head of hair against my chest and drifts off into a sleep full of whimpers and sighs.

And yet, it can be so bittersweet.

I’m lucky in that pregnancy usually doesn’t take much of a physical toll on me. But emotionally? It’s hard. I know you all understand when I say that I live in constant fear for nine-plus months.  Every day of every month of my pregnancy is spent white-knuckling it, gritting my teeth, just trying to make it safely to the end. And yet, in many ways, I love it. The excitement, the wonder, the joy, the preparations. The baby kicks, the ultrasounds, the growth of my belly. The new ways I find to love and respect my body. The hopes, the dreams, all the photographs of our future that unfold in my head and heart. I love that. All of it. And now, I miss it.

There is a saying I stumbled upon not long ago:

“If I had my life to live over, instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside of me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.” (Erma Bombeck)

And while I did not spend one moment of my pregnancy wishing it away, I do understand what is being said here. Pregnancy, and every little baby, is a miracle. I feel something magical happening inside of me when I’m expecting. Every moment of those nine months feels miraculous.

And of course, every day with Skittle alive and well and smiling at me in my arms is a miracle of its own…but it’s a different kind of miracle. And I become very melancholy when I realize that, every morning, Skittle and Cupcake wake up one day older. They are getting bigger and, with each second that passes, I am drifting farther and farther away from the tiny, miraculous way their lives began.

There is still pregnancy paraphernalia dotted around our house: Two boxes of maternity clothes awaiting their transfer to storage. A body pillow in the corner of our bedroom. My pregnancy scrapbook, four pages away from completion. Maternity photos that I’ve displayed like artwork around our house. The protein bars and shakes that I stocked up on to combat preeclampsia. As I look at it all, I feel pensive. I let out a little sigh. I try to shake the sadness. Sad because those pregnancy days are hard, but they’re beautiful too. And now they’re over. And as an infertile, there is no guarantee that I will ever experience them again. With each pregnancy, I have to wonder if it’s the last. I’m not ready to be done. There are more siblings I want for my daughters. More babies I want to birth. We will try again, in a year or so. But a part of me always has to be prepared to accept that I am allowed only a limited number of miracles and perhaps this pregnancy was my last one. It makes the end harder.

And there’s something else.

I have learned that grief is a windy road with lots of pit stops, u-turns, and dead ends and, unexpectedly, our Teddy Graham has been on my mind more over these last four weeks than he has since the early days of my pregnancy. I have cried for him a handful of times. I can’t say for sure why that is. Maybe it’s the hormones. But having Skittle here in flesh and blood has reminded me of all that I missed out on with Teddy. I get to hold Skittle and watch her grow and change and learn and explore. But Teddy never got that chance. A whole life of possibilities was lost in my miscarriage. This is not something new I’ve learned just recently, but the thought has become vividly raw since Skittle’s birth.

Of course, I would never wish for things to have happened differently now that I have my precious Skittle. As I conceived Skittle just one month (almost to the day) after my unfulfilled Teddy Graham due date, it technically would have been possible for Teddy and Skittle to coexist…but the likelihood of it is next to none. Not only because of irregular (i.e. nonexistent) menstrual cycles being my norm, but because the chances of my letting Honey put his dingdong into my hoo ha only a month after the theoretical delivery of TG would be less than zero. Less. Than. Zero. And yet, if things could be different — if, somehow, I could be holding both Teddy and Skittle today — that’s what I would choose.

I miss Teddy now more than (almost) ever.

But I am not sorry that I ever conceived him, or carried him, or loved him. In fact, it is because of him that I am able to love Skittle so thoroughly. Surely, I would have loved her with all that I had regardless of who or what came before her. But I know and understand and have more now than I would have without infertility and loss. The depths of my love, the intensity of my relief, the strength of my gratitude and joy, is all because of the journey I took to get here, and more specifically, all because of what I lost along the way.

Maybe I’m romanticizing my experience. And again, I could blame it on the hormones. But truly, I think it’s my way of coping. I need there to be a reason for all of the pain I endured. I need to believe that our Teddy was only ever meant to be with us a short time and that, in the end, everything worked out in the most beautiful, perfect way for all of us. Because to think that there woulda/coulda/shoulda been another beautiful, whole, perfect little soul here with us… To think that someone is missing from our lives and forever will be… To think that my child died… That, if things had gone a different way, Skittle would never have come to be… It is almost too much to bear. So I hate that Teddy Graham had to be a sacrificial lamb. I wish there could have been a different, and yet similar, ending. But I am thankful for the sacrifice nevertheless. I have to be…for how else do I make sense of it all?

So yeah…I’ve done a lot of thinking these last few weeks. Thinking and reflecting and crying and sighing. And I’m not sorry for what I’ve gone through. I can say that now that I’ve made it to the other side (a year ago, I would have sung a different tune). In fact, there’s been beauty in the sadness of it. And there’s a certain sense of loss and grief in knowing it has come to an end. I have finished one journey. I am starting another.

So I am now able to appreciate all of the ups and downs of trying to build a family. I have perspective. I can see that the greatness of my struggle has made me a better mother and, hopefully, a better person. And yet, as I look ahead, I am so afraid of going through all of this again. I think I’ve made it very clear to all of you: I am ever so grateful for my two healthy, beautiful girls. But I know our family is not complete. We are not done trying. It’s not over yet. And who knows what we will encounter on the next journey? This one was harder than the last. Will the next one only be harder than this? It is frightening to think of all the horrible possibilities that could lie in wait for us. I am thankful for what my infertility and miscarriage has given me, but good God, I’d rather not go through it a third time.

But I guess that’s another post for another day for another blog for another year.

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Praying for Babies

First of all, thanks to all of you for your kind, supportive, and encouraging comments on my last post. I have successfully stayed away from Google and am trying to embrace the moments of peace and joy when they find me. I am still terrified, but taking this all one day (or one minute) at a time.

But instead of writing yet another ten or twenty paragraphs about how hard and scary these early weeks are (because we all know there will be plenty more to come!), I want to talk about the church service I attended in January. It seems a little silly to write about this now with a BFP in my back pocket (so to speak), but I want to do it anyways because it was an amazing and horrible experience, all wrapped into one. It was like nothing I had experienced before and I think it deserves an honest discussion.

On January 27, I attended a service at a local church (“local” being about 45 minutes north of us). It was the last Sunday of January, which meant it was time for their annual Presentation Sunday — a prayer service for couples struggling with infertility. I had never been before, but when I read an article about it last year just as we had started trying for another baby, I told my husband that, should we still be TTC in 2013, I wanted to go. Of course, I didn’t really think we would be stuck in this same place a year down the road. But I guess the joke was on me, because we were and we went.

A little background: This was their 25th annual Presentation Sunday. They have had people from all over the country fly in to be prayed for. And there have been many, many successes. They stopped keeping track when they reached 500 babies born post-Presentation Sunday some years ago. Some of these babies were born nine months after the prayer service and some were born much later. Also, the pastor and his wife are one of us…that is, they suffered 11 miscarriages/losses (one of them at six months) before they were able to have their son.

Now, let me be clear…I did not go there expecting a miracle. I thoroughly believe in the power of prayer, but I know that we don’t always get what we pray for. It’s not a case of “ask and you shall receive.” Sometimes, what we want is just not in the cards, or God’s plan, for us. I am realistic about this. But I guess, in my heart of hearts, I hoped that this type of service would have some mystical powers or really speak to God and voila! A baby would be conceived and born. But at the very least, I felt it might be powerful to be surrounded by couples who were facing our same set of circumstances, and understood the pain and fear that arises from that. Not to mention, any amount of prayer usually brings peace into my heart. I may not get what I am yearning for, but it’s easier to go forward with that sense of peace.

So that was the good part of the service. Hearing the testimony and success stories. Hearing the pastor’s sermon about how you need only the smallest amount of faith, something the size of a mustard seed, to get a miracle. Seeing the women around me weeping and knowing I’m not alone. Feeling that kinship. But then along came the problematic part…

Towards the end of the service, my daughter started to get restless. Two years old, listening to “old” people ramble…who can blame her? We had toys, snacks, and books for her, but she was tired of sitting still, and especially tired of sitting still quietly. So my husband took her into the hall. I had told him before the service that, should this happen, I needed him to come back into the sanctuary when it was time to be prayed for. And when he left with Cupcake, I reminded him, “Stay close.” Do you see where this is going?

When it was time to go the front to kneel before the stage and have others lay their hands on us and be prayed for, Honey still had not returned, so I went alone. Alongside lots of other couples. Because I was the “single” woman up there (and therefore not aligned with their belief that married couples should be blessed with children), I was ignored. Never mind that I was wearing a wedding ring or that this sort of ostracizing is so far from what Christianity is about, but no one touched me and no one prayed for me. I was sobbing (which was okay, because so was everyone else), but not because of my infertility. Instead, I felt utterly alone, abandoned by my husband, enraged, and singled out. Eventually, a woman did ask if I was praying for myself and when I told her my husband was in the hall with our daughter, she prayed for me, and so did several others. It was a weird experience, because the church I regularly attend is very conservative and doesn’t speak in tongues or lay hands upon others, or do anything remotely like this. And I couldn’t even focus on the prayer, because I was still so upset over being there without Honey and being treated like an outcast. So I just cried while they prayed and that was that.

After the time of prayer, the service ended, my husband and daughter returned, and we left the church with me completely distraught. I am ashamed of how mad I was at Honey for abandoning me. And how devastated I felt. I know it’s silly, but in those moments, I felt as if we blown it. Ruined some magic formula to getting the pregnancy and baby that I so very much longed for. After some time, and quiet thought, and a long phone conversation with my mama, I started to calm down and realize how ridiculous I was being. But still…it was a hard thing to handle. I wanted to leave that service feeling such a strong sense of peace and hope, knowing I had done everything I could to try to have another baby, and instead I felt devastated. Not exactly how I imagined it.

Of course, now that I got my BFP, just two days after that service, I waffle between:

  • Wow, that prayer service really worked!

AND

  • Hahaha, I didn’t need you guys after all! Take your judgmental Christianity somewhere else please!

In the end, this service didn’t matter at all. I didn’t need it. But I’m still glad I went. And I can’t say that, if this pregnancy doesn’t work out and we are still standing still next January, that I wouldn’t go again. Because I would. I do think I would.