revisiting a past life in nyc

I had a past life, one filled with gritty sidewalks and skyscrapers, where I was lulled to sleep night after night by the sounds of traffic and sirens and chatter. I spent eight intense years in New York City. I arrived as a 21 year old girl, eager to discover my path, to toughen up, to find my soulmate. Many of those years I spent searching, happiness only coming in ebbs and flows, while I learned to live with loneliness and uncertainty. 

I met him after 6 years in the city, in the breezeway of the publishing company we both worked for. He swept me off my feet. Together we softened the edges of this harsh city, created a vision for our lives and soothed each other’s fears. After two years together, we said goodbye to the city we both loved, the city that pummeled us time and again, but also built us into the people we wanted to be. We packed our apartments and moved to Philadelphia where he attended business school, before finally finding our way to the sunshine out west.

This past weekend we returned to the city we left four years ago. We visited our old company, ate at our favorite east village spots, and walked those familiar streets while we reminisced. Returning felt surreal and odd, everything the same and different all at once. In our minds we were going back in time, a time when the word miscarriage wasn’t a part of our daily lexicon, a time when we hadn’t yet been pierced by the constant stab of grief, a time when we lived happily in our assumptions about the way our lives would go. For one long weekend, I could feel like none of our sadness had happened. 

And so we reflected. About where we were four years ago while in the daily city grind and where we are today. We focused on all the positive turns our life had taken since leaving. We had gotten married. My husband got his MBA from one of the top business schools in the world and then went on to secure a job at a top consulting firm. And we had created a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood where the sun always shines. We could come to NYC and do a victory lap, and circle the city older, wiser, and again toughened up in new ways. 

But of course, you can’t shake the emotions that your history has caused to inhabit your body. I had a handful of friends to catch up with, all with newborns or fresh bumps. I spent three hours holding and cooing a 9 week old to sleep as my old roommate and I caught up, then ran to meet another friend for dinner who passed up the wine list before sharing her news. I went to sleep that night exhausted and tear-streaked.

I had a friend, 4 months pregnant, tell me she discovered she had a uterine septum and was hypothyroid right after she got pregnant. The same exact two issues that I have, that we’ve assumed caused our miscarriages. Although I know she’s still at risk, and I hope and pray she carries to full term, I couldn’t help but feel a rage build up inside of me as we talked about it. Parallel issues, but me with repeat losses and a flat belly. Her, four months pregnant with no losses and a tiny bump full of promise.

We attended a wedding in Brooklyn, on a rainy evening at the boathouse at Prospect Park. The sun poked through for just enough time to carry on with the outdoor ceremony. I thought back to our own wedding day. So much optimism and hope that imbues you on that day. I looked at the newlyweds thinking just how little awareness we have on our wedding days of the heartache and struggles that we will end up facing. It made me sad.

I’m looking forward to returning home to LA, to pick back up on our journey to having a baby. Revisiting my past life has helped me take inventory of our current life, with all the texture the ups and the downs have brought to us. While single and young in NYC I would fantasize about having the life I have now, yearning to fall in love, to start a new life in a sunny city, near family and palm trees. To live with the rock solid love of my life. To no longer face life’s struggles alone.

The life I envisioned and hoped for while walking the streets of NYC has come true. All it took was patience and grit. It gives me hope that our California wishes will come to us, in time, with that same resilience we learned so well in New York. 

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woman code – book recommendation

My therapist recommended this book to me: WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source. The title was so enticing I read it immediately. Through my journey of TTC I’ve gained such a better understanding of how our female bodies work, but this book helped take that understanding to another level. It teaches about the endocrine system and how are bodies are supposed to function. It also teaches how to eat for our cycle to naturally achieve hormonal balance and thus improve our fertility, decrease painful menstrual symptoms or irregular cycles, and increase sex drive. We’ve always been taught to eat based on calories, fat, and losing weight, but this book teaches how to eat for optimal functionality of our female system.

The author also suffered from PCOS and was able to heal herself through the food and lifestyle changes she recommends in the book.

womancode

 

WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source

 

 

 

 

From the jacket flap:

Alisa Vitti will teach you how to support the chemical conversation of your entire endocrine system, from your head to your ovaries. With a few easy strategies and changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can not only solve hormone-related problems, but have the energy, mental focus, and stable moods to be your best self. Simply put, once you support the flow of your hormones, you create flow in your life.

In WomanCode, you will learn how to connect the dots between your symptoms, your biochemistry, and food. This prescriptive program over the past decade has successfully helped thousands of women regulate their periods, clear up their skin, lose weight, alleviate PMS, get pregnant naturally, have more successful IVF, restore their energy, improve their moods, and have better sex. Vitti’s revolutionary five-step program gives you the insight and tools you need to:

  • Work in harmony with your body’s natural rhythms
  • Minimize the impact of toxins in the environment, your diet, and the products that you use
  • Target and support the parts of your endocrine function (blood sugar, adrenals, elimination, or reproduction) that need attention
  • Tap into the immensely transformative power of your feminine energy

Passionately and strategically, the WomanCode protocol gives women from their teenage years to perimenopause the keys to unlock their hormone health. Giving a brain-to-ovaries explanation of what is going on inside your endocrine system, Vitti can help your whole body thrive. Now that you have turned on your healing power, you are better able to power up your purpose in life. If we’re in the flow of our internal rhythm, we’ll also attract effortless opportunities, enjoy moments of creative expression, and connect intimately with others–that’s when we’re in the flow of our power, our life-force energy, and our fullest potential.

the dreaded ultrasound room

I walked into my RE’s office this morning thinking we would finally get the ok to start trying again. I actually felt a little excited. Six long months since our last miscarriage, and six long weeks since my uterine resection. My RE wanted to do an ultrasound to see how my uterus was healing.

She told me we shouldn’t try this month and we needed to wait.

And then I remembered that ultrasounds only bring me bad news.

Apparently, all the hormones I was taking to help expedite the healing process had left my cycle a little wonky. And she found a small cyst on my left ovary. She thought it would be better if I had one more “natural” cycle and then take a look again. Hopefully the cyst would be gone by then, and my uterus would be clean and ready. 

I had been conflicted about starting to try this month anyway, and on one hand it was relieving to have my RE make the decision for me. I knew it would be better to give both my husband and me another month to heal from our surgeries. We would be that much stronger. I also realized that if we got pregnant this month it would coincide perfectly with our first pregnancy one year ago. We conceived Memorial Day weekend. Found out we were pregnant a few weeks later on our one year wedding anniversary. And then we miscarried in early July, on the exact day my brother’s baby is due this year. 

I couldn’t help but feel I wanted to shake off those tainted dates, and have our next pregnancy claim its own fresh timeline. 

But despite that, my appointment today left me completely deflated. Ultrasounds make me sad, that cursed, grey screen a constant messenger of bad news. On those screens I’ve seen a tiny embryo, its lagging measurement a harbinger of its inevitable death. I’ve seen an empty gestational sac, and then another empty gestational sac a few weeks later. I’ve seen that I have a malformed uterus, and learned I was unlikely to carry a pregnancy to term without surgery. And now, once again, I’ve seen an empty uterus, still not properly prepped for pregnancy. I realized that the ultrasound screen is a trigger for me, and after not hearing exactly what I wanted to hear today, it took me back to grieving all the bad news that its heartless monitor has ever shown me.

I laid in the room today staring at the screen wondering how I would ever face it once I got pregnant again.

And now another month of waiting. Throughout the process of getting tested and the procedures we’ve needed, I’ve felt like pregnancy was slipping further and further from my grip. Every test required time, every procedure required prepping and healing. It took us six weeks to even schedule my husband’s varicocele repair, which on top of the 3 – 6 months of healing time afterwards added to a feeling of utter despair. Every time I hear we need to wait even longer I feel completely, and utterly helpless.

I have no control. Even after all this, it is still just so hard to accept. 

white house petition

Infertility testing and treatment has been a hugely integral part of fighting our battle against repeat pregnancy loss. Please sign this petition to require all insurance coverage to include infertility testing and treatment!

The Barren Librarian

So, I know it’s a major longshot, but I did a thing.

I’m tired of being ignored. I created a white house petition to make infertility treatment and testing coverage be mandated under health care law. Please sign it. Please share it on your blogs, with your family and friends who know about your IF, on your twitters-basically anywhere you feel comfortable.

 

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/require-all-insurance-coverage-include-infertility-testing-and-treatment-both-women-and-men/BRQ6xm2F

Also, we have to get 150 signatures before it’s publicly searchable, so it’s up to us to get it to that point. Sign my friends, sign!

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the dog ate my estrogen

My worst nightmare happened.** My husband and I were dog sitting for our good friends’ adorable 1 yr old dog and he almost died. I was home alone with him, working on my computer, when I heard the dreaded crunching. I checked on the dog and he had my bottle of estrogen in his mouth.

Smashed and empty.

I panicked.

He had jumped up onto my night stand and snagged the bottle, the bright orange pill bottle a seemingly enticing-looking toy. A million things ran through my mind at once. I realized it was late in the evening and the vet would be closed. I realized I did not know where the closest emergency vet was located. And then I realized with a sinking thud that my husband had taken our car to the office that day, and was about an hour away in the thick Los Angeles traffic.

I called the person I knew who lived the closest to us, my husband’s cousin, and asked her in frantic voice to come get me. She ran out the door, braless, leaving a freshly poured glass of wine, and was at my doorstep five minutes later. I called my husband and he immediately called Animal Poison Control as well as the closest animal hospital. Meanwhile, the dog had become incredibly hyper, running in circles around my living room and continually leaping on and off the couch. He was having a blast.

We made it to the animal hospital 20 minutes later, and they took the dog, who was still wagging his tail, naive to the chaos surrounding him. They induced vomiting, and put charcoal through his system to detoxify him. Unfortunately, estrogen pills are tiny and uncoated. They absorb quickly. I was taking 2 mg twice a day after my hysteroscopy, an extremely high dose (as a comparison, birth control pills each contain .04 mg of estrogen). I estimated he swallowed about thirty pills. The vet explained that the concern with high estrogen intake is the risk of bone marrow suppression. If that happened, he would stop producing red blood cells. And from there, the prognosis is poor.

I cried for two days. I knew it wasn’t my fault, but I still felt at fault. He was under my care, and they were my pills. My heart broke for our friends. And my heart broke for the dog, so young and so sweet.

After going through my two miscarriages, and all the stress and trauma that surrounded our fertility testing and subsequent surgeries, I suddenly felt completely helpless. Suddenly completely vulnerable to the idea that bad things happen. And they can keep happening again and again. Horrible incidents beyond your control. I had spent so many days crying, with a knot in my stomach, unable to eat or sleep, during our infertility battle. That familiar feeling came back with a vengeance.

And now my infertility was killing dogs. I cursed my malformed uterus and blamed it for the whole horrid event.

I felt in that moment that if the dog died, I would never get over it. I would be permanently changed by the shadow of a sweet creature’s demise under my care. So reminiscent of how it feels to lose your baby. A little embryo that I was housing that I couldn’t keep safe.

Our friends were sweet and apologetic about the whole incident, embarrassed their dog would do that, sorry that we had to deal with such a harrowing emergency. They took the dog to the vet a week later for a follow up and all is ok. He has seemingly survived his brush with female hormones.

And I’m happy to report that even after ingesting 60 mg of estrogen, he is still a he.

 

**Besides my miscarriages of course.

him

He’s felt it too. He’s been by my side, seen me on my darkest days, seen me get back up. Held me tight through countless nights, pulled me from my covers on countless mornings.  The bad news that came and pummeled us, stealing our hope and stealing our spirits. The tears and anger that lingered, day after day. He was there.

We didn’t leave each other’s side after our first loss. I needed him close to me, the warmth of his hold assurance that I hadn’t lost everything. He felt it too. He cried in the morning, on my shoulder, in my arms. Seeing his wife in the ER, watching her cry, watching her bleed. He wanted to be strong for his wife, but he felt it too.

We sat at the ocean, watching the waves, talking, then laying silent. We watched movies, played with our dog, took long afternoon naps. We hid from work, hid from friends. One week, to make sense of our loss, to try to get strong.

I still had him.

And then he started to move away. Busy with work, on an airplane every week for his job. He understood the hurt, but was moving on. No longer able to carry the weight of the pain. It was easier to have hope, to believe it was going to be ok. And so I was alone.

Another positive pregnancy test.

And then it was gone.

We tried to be strong. He took me to the hospital, waiting, while they emptied me. Held my hand before I went under, I opened my eyes and he was there.  He went back to work right away, believing he was fine, hoping I was too. He trusted the doctors, and we started to argue. They told me nothing was wrong, they told me to try again. He wanted to believe them, but I never did. And so we argued.

And then I was alone.

We got second opinions, third, fourth, fifth opinions. Found we needed to be fixed. More appointments, more doctors, surgeries and procedures. And more bad news. His work sent him to Germany, and we started to tumble. With 9 hours between us, it swallowed us whole. We cried and argued, feeling the weight, feeling overwhelmed. And then he came back and we held each other, reassured each other.

I still had him.

Time passed and we had no choice but to keep going. We got through. We healed, we got fixed. We hit our lowest low, and then got back up. Thrown again and again, but we got back up. And we got stronger. Strong enough to look ahead with hope in our hearts.

I still have him.

on mother’s day

I came close to becoming a mother. Twice. Two positive pregnancy tests. One tiny beating heart. A child who should have been 3 months old today, the other, due in 8 weeks. This will be my first mother’s day since I lost those babies. I feel a connection to this day, from my brief time carrying my child, loving my child, making sacrifices for my child. But I also feel alienated, by this day and the celebration of what feels so elusive to me, an aching reminder of motherhood lost.

Happy Mother’s Day, to the moms who know what it feels like to love their baby from the first positive pregnancy test. Who have touched motherhood however briefly, and then had it ripped away. Who know what it’s like to lose what you already love so dearly. Who have carried in their wombs, but have yet to hold their baby.  Let’s make this a day to honor the amazing moms they will become.