very inspiring blogger award

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I am truly honored to be nominated by My Perfect Breakdown and F*%k Infertility for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I have tremendous admiration for these two bloggers and am continually inspired by their raw, courageous, and honest accounts of their difficult journeys. I felt quite touched when I first saw my name on My Perfect Breakdown’s post. To be nominated a second time by F*%k Infertility warms my little heart.

(Since writing this post I’ve also been recognized by City Life/Farm Wife, The Cat BedFinding Hope After a Miscarriage, and Hope Anchors the Soul – thank you, thank you!)

I learned of these nominations shortly after getting a negative on that wretched pee stick, the first failed cycle after our last miscarriage. I was in the midst of a very difficult moment; a moment when I suddenly felt the weight of this entire 18 month journey come crashing down around me. A moment when I felt deeply every sting, every loss, every bit of crushed hope, every thud in my gut, every moment of searing jealousy, and every crazy-making moment the constant waiting and uncertainty has caused in the past year and a half. I could feel all of it, all at once. I felt overwhelmed by its magnitude, and by how much energy and stamina it takes to manage emotions that are by definition so untamed. I didn’t feel like I could make it through the day, let alone continue this conception journey. I certainly didn’t feel inspirational.

But receiving these nominations lifted me. And I realized, this is how we inspire each other. The constant support of a genuinely empathetic community. And we watch each other keep going, and we cheer. Despite feeling some of the most intensely crushing emotions, we continue, we keep hope. I know so many of my readers and fellow bloggers have suffered far longer than I have. You’ve lived through more losses, and survived the extreme disappointments of failed IVF and IUI cycles. And no matter what your journey has been, you inspire me. You have given me the strength to continue, and the courage to take a hundred leaps of faith. I see how you all hurt, and how much you struggle while managing the hardest emotions.  But you persevere. And along the way, you find joy and take the time to celebrate the small things in life. You stop to offer support, encouragement and love to others. You are a life boat to so many of us struggling. And I see so many of you make it to the other side, and it gives me hope.

With that I’d like to share my list of nominees for this award. I know many of you have already been recognized, but I’d like to underscore how deeply valued you are, and how much you have truly helped me. Thank you.

Bloomingspiders

Laughter Through Tears

The Cat Bed

My MMC Story

Unicorns and Baby Dust

Preggo My Eggo

My Hope Jar

Dear Noah

Infertile is the New Black

When Dreams Become Rainbows

Pregnancy Pause

Waiting for Baby Bird

A Calm Persistance

Look for Rainbows

The Way I’m Making Sense of Miscarriage

To accept this award, here are the things you need to do:

1. Thank and link the amazing person(s) who nominated you.

2. List the rules and display the award.

3. Share seven fun facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.

5.  Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Seven Fun Facts About Me:

1. When I was in first grade, I attended a private elementary school in New Hampshire and was the only girl in my class. I have no idea how that happens, but I was desperate for girl friends and was thrilled the next year when three other girls joined my class!

2. I am happiest when I’m creating or working with my hands. Ever since I was young, I could spend hours drawing, building, painting, knitting, decorating, and anything on crafty. I also love ceramics and throwing on a potter’s wheel and have also taken a handful of photography classes.

3. One of my favorite experiences in my whole life was the trip my husband and I took to Morocco, when we rode camels through the Sahara dessert and slept in a tent under the stars. We woke up early the next morning to climb the dunes and watch the sunrise. A truly magical experience.

4. My husband and I got married in the mountains of central Mexico in a town called San Miguel de Allende. Fifty of our closest friends and family traveled with us to watch us get married.

5. I grew up 25 miles away from my husband in Massachusetts, moved to NYC at the same time he did, and worked at the same company as him for three years before we actually met.

6. When my husband was in business school, I joined a boxing club to get in shape for our wedding. Boxing and kickboxing have always been my favorite forms of exercise.

7.  When I was a little girl I was obsessed with cats (I’m now horribly allergic to them). I had three and named them Anastasia Bumble Bee, Jillian, and Whitey.

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blog hop: women writing

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Katie from The Cat Bed (I recommend checking out her fantastic blog) asked me to participate in a Blog Hop that features new women writers across all genres, and celebrates why we are writing. I am quite honored that she nominated me to participate, given how highly I think of her and her great blog.

Although I don’t quite consider myself a writer, I’ve always loved to write. As a child writing was part of who I was; I would sit for hours crafting my own short stories, writing poems, and using the books I loved reading as inspiration. I’ve always been a quiet, private person, and have found it easiest to communicate my thoughts through writing, when I have time to think and reflect on what I want to say. And although I pursued a career in book publishing, the role I was in did not require much writing, and over the years I started to lose my imagination for the craft. 

I started writing again after my husband and I experienced our second miscarriage, first just privately, to begin processing all that we had been through. I was searching for some sort of meaning in the experience, looking for answers, and trying to find strength through our journey. Thinking about what we were going through and putting it into words on paper helped me process and deepen the experience.

What am I working on/writing?

Right now I am just focused on my blog. At any given moment I have a handful of posts in progress and a list of topics and ideas that I want to write about. I’m also continually reading articles and researching all things related to pregnancy loss and grief healing that I hope to explore in future posts and provide to my readers as a resource.

How does my work differ from other writers in my genre?

As I’ve gotten more involved in the blogging community and started following the incredible stories of so many women that are experiencing repeat pregnancy loss and/or infertility, what’s really struck me is just how much of a shared experience this is. The spectrum of emotions, from jealousy, to shame, to grief, to utter helplessness and frustration, is something that we all experience, and to a level of intensity we may have never quite anticipated or understood had we not gone through this. My blog follows the same roller coaster experience that so many others face, only in the context of my own life.

What I’ve started to explore, which may differentiate my blog slightly, are the psychological ramifications of miscarriage. This is an area that I hope to develop further through researching studies and other academic sources, to help other women understand what we are actually faced with when we suffer a miscarriage and how to heal in a healthy way.

Why do I write what I do?

My miscarriages have had a huge impact on my life. Facing these losses, as well as the reality that there is a possibility that we may not be able to have biological children, has caused me to grieve in a way I never have before. And the heartache and struggle stays with you, month after month. The experience has changed me. It’s deepened me as a person, taught me many hard lessons, and as cliché as it is, made me much stronger.

I decided to write publicly about my experience initially to help other women. Although I’m a private person, I really struggled with the silence that surrounds miscarriage. Grief is such an isolating experience, and miscarriage is even more isolating because it is so hard for others to truly understand if they haven’t experienced it themselves. Plus, there is little societal recognition for the loss. I also think in our society we find nobility in silent suffering. But I think we also should validate those that can embrace, acknowledge and be honest about difficult emotions. I started this blog to set out to do just that. I wanted to be one more voice in this taboo community, and let other women know they are not alone in their suffering. That’s also why I decided against blogging anonymously, although I completely respect the decision to keep fertility struggles private.

In addition, there is such a lack of knowledge and research surrounding pregnancy loss and infertility. I hope to continue to write about the emotional repercussions I’ve faced, as well as learn more about the medical aspect of repeat pregnancy loss and infertility. Eventually I’d love to start a foundation to promote medical research in this area, and provide psychological services for women suffering through this. There is a huge need for this in the US.

Next Week’s Blog Hopper

I am excited to share with you next week’s blog hopper, When Dreams Become Rainbows. I really admire this blogger and have found her writing be full of wit, candor, and honesty. I encourage you to check out her site.

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From When Dreams Become Rainbows:

I’m a 27-year old (as of next month, haha) army wife/publishing graduate student from Boston, MA. I’m attending Emerson College for my MA in Publishing and Writing. I live with my husband and our two cats. I love wine, chocolate, Joss Whedon, and music. I’ve been with my husband for 8 years, married for 2 years.

loss is loss and comparison only leaves us alone in it

A beautiful and moving post from Justine Froelker at Ever Upward

Ever Upward™

The loss of an eight cell embryo.

The loss of miscarriage at 6 weeks, 10 weeks, however many weeks.

The loss of stillbirth at any week.

The loss of a toddler.

The loss of any child.

Loss.

Loss is loss.

I had the honor to process this lesson of life with a client on the same day that my fellow warrior at My Perfect Breakdown wrote a beautiful, kind of rebuttal, piece to my piece Our Infertility Rap Sheets.

And, again I am reminded that there simply are no mistakes made in this life or coincidences. And, that I have amazing people around me in this journey.

In her post My Perfect Breakdown discussed how her numbers are important to her because they are her children lost to miscarriage. In my piece, I wrote about taking my numbers out because, for me, they came from a place of shame, scarcity and…

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the perils of progesterone

I hate taking pregnancy tests.

I get heart palpitations just thinking about taking a pregnancy test. The build up, the anxiety, the potential let down. It all becomes too much for me.

This probably puts me in the minority, but I’d rather just wait to see if my period shows up. I find that easier to face than a stark “not pregnant” message staring at me. I also tend to rely on symptom spotting and my temperatures to gauge whether I think the test will be a yay or nay. I use it to mentally prepare myself. 

As a result, I’ve only taken three pregnancy tests in the last 18 months. 

The first test happened the first month we started trying. And it was negative. It was only our first month, so it was more of a mild bummer than anything else. But I still found it to be such a let down, my husband and I so eager to see the result, so excited in our naivety, only to be quickly disappointed. After that test I vowed not to test early anymore. The next two times I took pregnancy tests they were positive, and happened when I was already 95% sure I was pregnant. 

This month, my doctor started me on a regimen of baby aspirin and progesterone. Baby aspirin every day, progesterone after ovulation. Seems to be standard after a few losses, and my doctor’s attitude is very much, “it can’t hurt, and maybe it will help.”

The progesterone is just another icky, uncomfortable thing to contend with during this fertility battle. But my real issue with them is the way they cause you to experience pregnancy symptoms. Fatigue that causes me to do a face plant before dinner is even over. Slight lower abdomen cramping that keeps me thinking about my uterus at all times. The hormonal emotional roller coaster that causes my husband to cower every time I walk in the room. Basal body temperatures that stay elevated.

Then after 14 days of the progesterone, I have to take a pregnancy test. 

I won’t get a period while on the progesterone. I have to take the test to know whether to stop the pills or not. And I won’t get any clues either. Any “pregnancy” symptoms I get will be from the pills. My temps won’t clue me in. I have no way to mentally prepare for the result because I will no idea what it will be.

I know I’m being a wimp, but I just don’t want to face that test cold. 

After seven months of waiting to try again, the build up for this first cycle is big, causing even more anxiety and anticipation for what will happen. I know it’s unrealistic to expect a positive on the first go. But knowing that there’s any chance at all keeps me hoping, obsessing, and anticipating. 

And meanwhile, I am trying not to be tricked by these phantom symptoms, which are continually taunting me. Every twinge, tug, and pull I feel in my stomach gives me hope, before I start repeating the mantra, “it’s just the pills, it’s just the pills” in my head. 

It’s just the pills….

i should have become a mother today

Another date I will never forget. 

I should have become a mother today. Our second chance, after losing our first baby. Due just days after the anniversary of our first miscarriage. I consoled myself when l learned that I had another growing bean inside of me by thinking how much I would love this baby too. I would never forget my first loss, but knew once I met my baby I would feel so much love that just maybe I could make peace with that loss. Because without the loss, this person I would love so much wouldn’t exist.

But we lost this one too.

Instead, we are spending today with ovulation sticks, analyzing temps, obsessing over timing, and probably most crushing of all, hoping.

Hoping.

Learning to embrace the ambivalent relationship we all have with hope. Feeling afraid to hope, but also clinging to it as the only means to get through this treacherous experience. I had almost forgotten what this felt like. After a seven month long break, we have officially started trying again. Entering our first two week wait in almost 10 months. Facing the wild swings of excitement and hope, to despair and disappointment. 

And these dates stay with me, haunting me. The one year anniversary of our first miscarriage on Monday. Yesterday marked six years since my husband and I first started dating. Today, an another empty due date. 

I find that I veil the grief that these dates cause by overreacting to the other stress in my life. A small argument brings me to tears. A busy day, and I feel completely overwhelmed. Over the last few days I’ve broken down over anything and everything that’s not actually what I’m upset about. And when I do, the grief starts to climb its way out. I’m no longer thinking about whatever small thing triggered these tears. All I can think about are my empty arms.  I’m thinking about how overwhelmed I feel by this struggle, and the yearning for our baby that continually clutches my chest. 

I wish more than anything I was becoming a mother today. It makes my heart ache. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with the intense longing, or the uncertainty that drives this period. It bubbles up, consumes me, tightens and twists inside of me. I think about it everyday. I think about our lost babies, I think about what more we will endure, I think about when it will finally happen. 

Today I say another goodbye, and bid another due date farewell. I wish I could have met you. 

a year has passed since we lost you

You can feel it in your body before you even look at the date.  A heaviness creeps in, a subtle sadness. And then you remember.  Last year, on this day, we lost you.

The child we thought we would raise and would love and would change our lives forever, vanished with that first smear of blood. 

The family was visiting for the 4th of July. We made a big dinner, complete with an announcement. We’re 8 weeks pregnant, we said, and waved your blurry grey photo. We were greeted with tears and hugs and cries of joy. 

We had seen your thumping heartbeat just a few days prior, the heartbeat that finally convinced us this was real. The heartbeat that made me turn to your dad with wonder in my eyes. 

We already loved you.

I’ll never forget that night you left us. I cried in the bathroom, then slumped in your daddy’s arms. I knew you were gone. But I still hoped, through the car ride to the ER, through the long hours laying in the hospital bed, bleeding. I still hoped, until the stoic doctor with the awkward manner confirmed what I already knew to be true. We would never get to know you. 

A year has passed and we’ve fought and endured much more. I didn’t know that a year after that first positive pregnancy test I’d still be empty, still not expecting, still not holding you. But I’d be in the maternity ward nevertheless, awaiting the arrival of your cousin. I’d again have my family gathered all around, but this time to greet and welcome to the world a different baby. I didn’t know I’d still be without you. 

Sometimes, we can be thankful we don’t know what lies ahead of us.

And as we see this anniversary through, a bit haggard, a bit beat up, a bit tougher, we still remain optimistic. We’ve learned about sadness, about grief, about loss. We’ve learned how to fight. We’ve learned how to find joy amidst the relentless longing.

I’ve spent this anniversary thinking of you. Wondering who you would have been. Feeling at peace, then sometimes not. Feeling steady, then not at all. Feeling how sad I was, that day, when you went away. 

We will always love you, even if you live forever only in our hearts.