my baby will decide

I’ve always been a girl with a plan. I like lists and schedules and thinking things through and knowing what will happen ahead of time. And even though we know it’s futile, I approached baby-making the same way.

I got married when I was 31. We moved to Los Angeles after the wedding, and shortly after, I turned 32. I insisted I find a job before we started trying to get pregnant, which I did a few months later. I stopped birth control, and waited 3 cycles to load up on prenatals and folic acid, and to make sure I would receive full maternity benefits from work. And then we started trying.

I was determined to become pregnant by 33. Which I did. But I lost the baby 6 weeks before my 33rd birthday.

I then became determined to have a baby before turning 34. I became pregnant again, with a due date 6 weeks before my 34th birthday.

But I lost that baby too.

I then thought, ok well at least I’ll be pregnant again before I turn 34.

I turn 34 in eleven days and that’s not happening. So now I keep thinking, as long as I’m pregnant by the end of 2014, as long as I have a baby before 35….

These are self-imposed arbitrary deadlines, and they cause me so much stress and heartache.

I had a meltdown in therapy last week. About how I’m dreading my 34th birthday. About how I never wanted to get this old before having kids. About how my fertile years are slipping away. About how sad I’ll be if I’m not pregnant by Christmas. About how much I’m trying to make this happen for us.

She looked at me and pretty directly and said, “Alexis, you have no control over when you will have a baby.”

How could she be so mean? How could she say something so hurtful?

And even though the tears that followed were an involuntary reaction to those words, I knew she was right.

I fantasize all the time about letting go. Could I just trash my ovulation sticks, my basal body thermometer, never pay attention to what cycle day it is, or when my period is due? Could I ever just not care about when this actually happens? I know my therapist is nudging me in that direction. She wants me to acknowledge that this is out of my control, and to let go a little. She wants me to stop putting all my hope and desperation into each current cycle, and have faith that eventually, it will happen.

But how do you climb out when you’re in so deep? Every little bit of this is so loaded. I would just be pretending to not know the cycle day, or that I wasn’t anxiously awaiting the verdict at the end of the two week wait. Because I’m too scared to let go. Too scared that if I don’t try to control it in some way, it will never happen.

“The greatest suffering I see from people,” she told me, “are those that cannot accept the reality of their situation.”

I know that despite however much heartache it causes me, I’ve accepted that we’re fighting this battle. I pushed and advocated for our care every step of the way, even when doctors have written me off or rolled their eyes. I’ve accepted that we’ve needed help and that we had medical issues that needed to be fixed. And after the second loss, even though I was told over and over to “just try again,” and I wanted so badly to do exactly that, I accepted that it wasn’t the solution.

But what I still have trouble accepting, now that we’re fixed and primed and ready, is that I still have no control over when this baby will come. That every plan, every bit of effort, obsession, and desire, makes no difference.

And so I tried to think of it another way.

My baby will decide.

My baby is waiting for that perfect time to emerge. Waiting for the right time for its journey from zygote to the little human in my arms.

My baby is forcing me to get strong, to learn about perseverance, and patience, and faith. My baby is forcing me to learn when to exert control and when to let go. When to be assertive and when to be passive. When to perfect the art of equanimity and when it’s ok to meltdown.

My baby is waiting so that the joy of his or her arrival will be that much more overwhelming. Waiting so after all these tough lessons, I will be that much better of a mom.

when to try again

We’ve come a long way, but the question always remains the same. How far into this journey are we?

I’ve had two miscarriages. I’ve seen three gynecologists, one perinatologist, one urologist, and one fertility doctor. I’ve undergone full fertility testing. I’ve had surgery. My husband’s had surgery. I’m on three different medications. We’re approaching six months since our last loss, and we are close to getting the approval to try again.

But is it enough?

Even with the hard fight that we’ve fought to get here, is it enough? Will our next pregnancy be successful? Or will it lead once again to loss, leading us to IVF, to more anguish, to more years of fighting this fight?

I want to try again. Soon. Now. But I am scared. Even with everything we’ve fixed, we could still miscarry again. Luck may not be on our side. There may be some other mysterious medical reason why this is happening. And how would I cope with another loss?

“I feel really positive for you,” our fertility doctor has told us. “Do you?” she asked. Possibly. I want to. No. Not at all. I am scared, cautious, hesitant to leave this reprieve from trying to conceive. I feel anguished from the desire for it to all be ok. I get momentary glimpses of happiness by thinking that it might be. But then I pull back, not wanting to let myself go there. It’s easier without hope and optimism. You don’t have as far to fall.

In two weeks I’ll see my fertility doctor again, she’ll look at my uterus and let me know. It’s time to try again.

embracing the dark

“Just think positive.” Well meaning advice I heard over and over, but those words made me cringe, grating on my grieving heart. I grew tired of that cliche during my short-lived pregnancy following my first miscarriage. Feeling positive was a risky place. How could I let myself feel positive, only to feel soul crushing disappointment if the pregnancy didn’t last? Wouldn’t feeling positive make the fall that much harder? I thought that if I could somehow manage my feelings enough I could make the grief of a second miscarriage less devastating. I wavered between not wanting to get my hopes up, counting on my inner pessimist to keep me grounded, and daydreaming of our baby, full of hope that the next ultrasound would show us exactly what we wanted to see. Feeling negative wasn’t going to make another loss any easier, I decided every once in a while, and would slip into another daydream of when we would get to make our pregnancy announcement.

Once I miscarried a second time, I still received the same advice. “Positive thoughts! Third times a charm!” It was true, when you’re carrying the grief from a fresh loss, choosing a positive outlook makes you feel like a strong person. That this blow wasn’t enough to rock your faith in the world, that it couldn’t take you down. But somehow getting that advice from others made me feel like they didn’t truly understand what I was going through. That they didn’t get how hard it is to trust that you will get your healthy baby one day. Or what it’s like to harbor the increasing fear that something could be truly wrong, that this could happen again and again, and perhaps ultimately end with childless arms.

In my darker moments, I would confide in those closest to me that I did not think I would end up ever being able to have a child.  And of course, everyone told me that wasn’t true. I would have a child. But just because they thought that didn’t mean I wasn’t embroiled in my own dark grief, believing that I was facing the reality of motherhood lost.

Eventually, I came to feel positive and hopeful, with only sporadic pockets of fear and pessimism. But I couldn’t be told. I didn’t want to feel like everyone else thought all it takes is positive thinking to overcome this battle. I knew it took embracing all the negative emotions first. All the fear, the anger, the despair and the grief that have led me to my darkest place and shaken me so hard I wanted to explode. I needed to sort through these feelings, let them have their place and time, and then when the time is right put them away, and breath in the positive thinking that would ultimately carry me through this.