love so intense it breaks your heart

This post is long overdue.

My baby boy was born on July 4th at 3:12am. Labor was long and hard and full of tears and grit and doubt and determination. But after these past 3 weeks with my boy I’m already forgetting just how grueling it was because what came next has been so incredible and all-consuming it makes everything that came before feel like a vague, inconsequential memory.

I started having contractions Thursday night, July 2nd, at 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant. They were barely noticeable; I had to concentrate to pick up when they were coming and going, but did note they were exactly 10 minutes apart. By the time my husband and I got ready for bed they had gotten strong enough that I hesitantly told my husband that  I thought this might actually be happening. He looked at me excited and said, “Then we should make sure to get a good nights sleep!” He fell asleep three minutes later. But I laid in bed wide awake for the rest of the night. Between the adrenaline and excitement of knowing I was in early labor and the increasing pain of the contractions I could not sleep. At 5am my husband woke up and noticed that I was pacing around. He got up and we finished packing last minute items in our hospital bags, had breakfast and started taking walks up and down our street, stopping periodically while I breathed through what I *thought* was a painful contraction.

By late morning the contractions were averaging 5 minutes apart and felt painful enough that we decided to go the hospital. We checked in, cheerful and excited, only to find out I was only 1.5 cm dilated. They sent me home, and the nurse told me to come back when the contractions were so painful I could no longer smile or talk.

And only a few hours went by before I lost my ability to smile or talk. The contractions turned into pain that I would never have been able to conceptualize or anticipate…pain that radiated through my lower back as if my back was being broken in half. I cried and swore and tried different positions while my helpless husband tried anything he could do to help ease the pain. I took a hot bath, I tried listening to relaxing music, I tried the breathing techniques we learned in our birthing classes. Nothing could make a dent in the pain.

We returned to the hospital in the afternoon, this time no longer cheerful, but with tears streaming down my face as I navigated another contraction while my husband checked in. At this point I was 4.5 cm dilated and we were admitted. An hour and a half later, we were situated in a beautiful hospital room, with huge windows overlooking Los Angeles. My epidural had fully kicked in, and my body was feeling a warm buzz from both the anesthesia and from finally feeling relief from such horrible pain. We had our relaxing labor music playlist going, and we watched the sunset over the Hollywood Hills from our window. I started to feel a sense of peace and a happy glow, and became even more overcome as I saw fireworks out our window in celebration of the pending 4th of July holiday. After such an intense day, I finally relaxed. But I still couldn’t sleep.

By 10pm I was fully dilated and by 11pm I began pushing.

And continued to push for four hours.

It was the most physically grueling experience of my entire life. I was nearing almost 48 hours of no sleep, over 12 hours without food, and my body was weak from all the overwhelming pain from the past 24 hours. But with every contraction I had to push with every bit of strength and determination I had and didn’t have. My baby got stuck in my pelvic opening and I started losing strength. I started to become unresponsive as my husband tried to get me to look at him in an attempt to revive me with a pep talk. I was dizzy and weak and panicked, and finally the tears came and wouldn’t stop. But I continued to push with every contraction, grunting and crying and pushing as hard as I could. My doctor started talking of vacuums and c-sections, but I couldn’t bear that thought so I just kept pushing. Even with the epidural the pain was intense and scary; I felt like his head would break all my pelvic bones.

And finally, at 3:12am he was out and crying and then instantly calmed as he was put skin to skin on my chest. I was suddenly no longer tired, couldn’t feel anything as they stitched me up; it was just my baby, my husband and me in this magical moment.

I finally had my baby. I finally had my boy.

The past three weeks have been an overwhelming mix of euphoria, exhaustion, disbelief, contentment, fear, self-doubt, and excitement, but also filled with love so intense it makes my heart feel like it could break. Caring for such sweet innocence has brought me to tears many times. I’ve had so many oddly paradoxical emotions as my postpartum hormones have fluctuated and settled. But all I know is I love this boy so much it breaks my heart.

Although I’ve been quiet in the blogging world lately, I still think about my readers and my fellow bloggers all the time. I have so much respect and admiration for all of you; the journeys you’ve all taken and the strength you’ve all shown. I know you are all in different parts of your story, and I want you to  know I still feel pain when you feel pain, and I feel joy when you feel joy. I’m cheering for all of you every step of the way. You’ve all helped me immensely as I’ve managed my own emotions and my own story to getting here. Even those readers who follow silently and I only know of when I look at my stats page – you’ve also brought me so much courage and encouragement.

Thank you all.


my love.

38 weeks, 4 days

I’m almost to the end.

I’m almost to the end of a pregnancy that went incredibly fast and incredibly slow. A pregnancy that was emotionally difficult, yet almost completely uneventful. A pregnancy that we longed for and that I’m reluctant to say goodbye to, but also can’t wait to be over. And I feel calm, panicked, excited, terrified, happy, sad, apprehensive, and impatient all at once.

Just 10 short days until our due date.

And I can’t wait to meet our little guy. I can’t wait to see that he has safely made it into the world. I can’t wait to be done with all the pregnancy worries I’ve carried for so long; monitoring movement, wondering if he’s ok, panicking at thoughts of the worst case scenario happening. I can’t wait to hold him in my arms. I tear up when I think about going into labor, although I try to convince myself it’s not because I’m afraid (“It’s not ’cause I’m a wimp!” I tried to tell my husband, wiping my eyes), but just because I feel so overcome with the emotional intensity of it all.

And then there’s part of me that is sad to no longer be pregnant anymore. I waited for so long, I wanted it for so long, I fantasized about it for so long. I feel so mixed about it being over.

Tuesday was our 3rd wedding anniversary. Exactly two years ago to that day we got our first positive pregnancy test. So interesting to have our anniversary punctuate a beginning and an end to this particular fertility journey. Despite the struggle in between, I can look back on these anniversaries fondly, as happy times, as times of great anticipation, and feeling so excited and connected as a couple.

And of course, feeling like there is another huge adventure in front of us…

a healing heart

our beautiful baby shower.

our beautiful baby shower.

Our baby shower was last weekend. It was hosted by my godmother, sister-in-law, and mom, and we chose to make it co-ed. And it was exquisite. Held in my godmother’s backyard, late on a sunny California afternoon, they had an impeccable spread of upscale Mexican food and sweets, and a bartender serving sangria, margaritas and mocktails. So many of our friends and family came out, including many that traveled in for the weekend to celebrate with us. The day felt so loving, magical, and surreal.

As I tried to take in and savor each moment, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the baby shower I threw for my sister-in-law exactly a year ago. A year ago, when I was still in so much pain, but trying with everything I could to focus on the happiness I felt at the little boy that my family was gaining, and not on the babies I had lost. I wanted desperately to feel joy for my brother and for my parents, and the little steps I took in that direction felt monumental. So many moments I thought I was okay, and tried to convince myself that I was okay. So much pressure that I put on myself to be okay. But looking back now, I can see so clearly how much pain I was in, and how much more I had to go to heal.

At our shower the two little boys who shared the due dates of my two angels, my nephew and my best friend’s son, were together in front of me for the first time. It felt odd to see them together, and although I tried not to think about it, I felt a tug to my heart. The next morning, I woke with my two angel babies on my mind, and in the afterglow of such a beautiful party, I felt a sadness for them. They never had the opportunity to be celebrated in this way.

But, despite those reminders, what really struck me was how much my heart had healed.

At the same time that this pregnancy has been a long road of tangled emotions where I’ve been forced to face past trauma, confront fears, and search for elusive bits of equanimity, it has also been healing. Every day, as I’ve been working through these emotions, I’ve been working on finding peace and closing a chapter. Even where I still struggle, I know I’ve made progress. I still flinch at unexpected pregnancy announcements on Facebook. I still make assumptions that others have had an easier path to a baby than me, and I still let it sting. I still tear up at the word ‘miscarriage’, in any context, whether it’s a personal story, a brief mention in a TV show, or a magazine article. I still hold my breath at every prenatal appointment, as my OB searches for my boy’s heartbeat.

But I’ve also learned how to acknowledge these moments without letting them tear me apart. I can acknowledge the pain, without carrying the pain so deeply. I can see my nephew and my best friend’s son playing together in the yard, let it remind me of my own angel babies and spend a moment reflecting on them, and then smile that my nephew and my best friend and so many others have gathered around to celebrate the baby I will soon get to meet. I can reflect on the shower I threw a year ago, and remember the pain without seeping in the pain. I can feel in these moments how far my heart has come in its journey to mend, and how my identity is shifting. I no longer walk around with a swirling sensation of loss and defectiveness, but rather I feel like someone capable of creating life with a near effortless pregnancy.

Our baby shower felt like such a beautiful expression of love; for my husband and me, for our unborn baby, for the family we are creating. Surrounded by so many of the same people who rallied and supported us during our dark days, they were now there to celebrate our happiness. Days like our baby shower help us bask in the joy, and help us feel that no matter the struggle and the hardships we face, the universe will ultimately be good to us.

And the fight is so worth it.

30 weeks

I’ve spent the last two years with an almost singular focus: making it to the second trimester. Of course there were the mini-goals along the way; trying to get pregnant each time, getting through surgeries, waiting through cycles as my body healed from large cysts and lost pregnancies. And then there was the obvious larger, looming goal of simply having a healthy baby. But always there was an elusive land that I wanted to get to, and for many, many months everything I did was aimed at getting me to second trimester-ville.

It almost never occurred to me that one day I might find myself in the third trimester. The third trimester seemed so incredibly far away and out of reach, I didn’t even dare imagine it. But two weeks ago I arrived. 

While dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss, your world revolves around one common theme. Uncertainty. The constant swirl of looming questions in your head, “will I ever have a baby?” “when will I get pregnant?” “will this pregnancy stick?”, never go away. As someone who likes to plan and finds safety in knowing what to expect, I became surprisingly comfortable living in constant uncertainty. I somehow started finding safety in that, for if I stayed uncertain perhaps I wouldn’t attach to a particular outcome, or become disappointed or heartbroken with any one turn of events. 

And so when I got pregnant, I stayed uncertain. Partly out of habit. Partly out of fear. I felt a lot of emotions, including hope, happiness, anxiety, and terror, but never certainty. And I’ve clung to that uncertainty throughout my pregnancy. Although I started going through the motions of preparing for a baby and speaking in certain terms long ago, on the inside I had yet to feel like it was anything close to a sure bet.

That has started to shift for me. As my baby boy has grown, and I’ve gotten to know him well through his jabs and flips and by him simply just existing along side of me moment after moment, month after month, I started to believe in him. I started to find that if I had thoughts of doubts about the outcome of this pregnancy, I immediately felt a twinge of guilt. As if I didn’t believe in my baby boy, and in his ability to be strong and to survive. If I stayed in an uncertain place, I felt like I was undermining and betraying him. I started to find it harder and harder to doubt him. And although I openly express worry and anxiety, especially when he takes a rest from his karate chops and high kicks and goes quiet, I find it almost impossible to vocalize words like, “if” and “we’ll see.” Words I used to live by. 

Since this shift happened so late in my pregnancy, I feel like I am suddenly on a truncated timeline of processing what is about to happen: my shift to motherhood. There is a surrealism to this change that I think all pregnant women experience, regardless of fertility history, that makes the idea hard to truly grasp. But when so much of your energy during your pregnancy has been spent on navigating previous pregnancy trauma, there is little left for looking forward and truly internalizing this shift. I’m starting now, at 30 weeks, to begin embracing this change and shift in my identity; to think about what it means, and try to understand what’s ahead.

I’m thankful that this pregnancy has been so uneventful. My boy has given me no reasons to worry. My body has given me no reasons to worry. Once I surpassed the harrowing first trimester, I’ve had very few symptoms, save a burgeoning belly, some late night aches and pains, and an insatiable desire for cake. My prenatal appointments have been quick and routine; my fundal height growing exactly on pace and my boy’s heart rate always around a steady 140 beats per minute. 

I am grateful. And although I’ll always worry about my boy’s well-being, I believe in him, and I have started looking forward to the much desired inevitable: becoming a mother to this sweet baby boy who’s been loyally with me for the past 30 weeks.