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.

i didn’t think i could

My brother and sister-in-law’s baby is due in 8 weeks. Thier baby, measuring 1 week ahead, strong, and healthy. My nephew, ready to enter the world the same week my own little baby was to be born. My baby that will never be. But I feel excited. And I didn’t think I could.

It was a long road to get here. I’ve had to take deep breaths and face situations I was scared to be in. Spending time with her pregnant belly. Attending baby showers. Listening to stories of ultrasounds, and what will happen when she goes into labor. I often felt skittish and scared, a knot in my stomach, an ache in my heart. But I slowly stopped being scared of the sadness. As I let go of the pressure to constantly feel happy, happy, happy, and let myself feel whatever I was really feeling, I became less anguished. As I did that I finally started to feel at peace. And with peace, slowly came a happiness and excitement, where I was finally in a place where I could embrace my future nephew.

My miscarriages left a big hole in my heart. I’ve decided to let my nephew fill a little bit of that hole. To embrace the joy around his birth, and feel excited for the bond that will be created. I’m looking forward to this little person to enter our lives. A little boy who will resemble all the cuteness and charm that my little brother had as a child. A boy who will hopefully one day be the older cousin of my own child.

And it’s still not without moments of sadness for my own losses. But I ride the waves and tell myself it’s ok.  It’s ok to feel two emotions at once. Two emotions that seem at odds with each other, the paradox, both competing with the other. Joy and loss can co-exist. I didn’t think I could get here. But I’m here. And it’s ok.

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.

bittersweet

peonies

I love Christmas. I love the Christmas carols, and the warm, cozy feeling the season is meant to invoke. I love Christmas trees and wrapping presents and fireplaces and family. But this year the season is bittersweet. I feel sadness as a I continue to grapple the loss of our second pregnancy. And I feel sad that I feel sad during this time of year.

I remember sitting on a bench in the middle of the Santa Monica promenade, my husband and I taking a break from Christmas shopping to enjoy our favorite treat, self-serve frozen yogurt. I had smushed together a combination of peppermint bark, cake batter, and cookies and cream and was delightfully taking in the mashup of flavors, occasionally sampling my husband’s double chocolate and snicker doodle treat. From our bench we could see a handful of street performers, a soulful singer delivering jazzy renditions of Christmas songs, a trio of guys with an impressive popping and locking dance routine. As the California sun beat down on us, I turned to my husband with tears in my eyes. “How can things be so wonderful, and so terrible at the same time?” I asked him. It was a dramatic overstatement, but in that moment I felt a tangled paradox of emotions. Life was so beautiful, but my heart was still so broken.

We were spending Christmas with my in-laws this year, in their big, beautiful home, with my husband’s loving and hilarious siblings. When I first learned that I was pregnant I had smiled to myself, thinking of how Christmas would feel so special this year. Christmas day would mark our entry into the 2nd trimester, a club I was desperate to get into. But we had lost our baby two weeks prior. We were still picking ourselves up, still figuring out how to remain optimistic, positive, and hopeful. I had spent the few days before our departure to Boston relatively happy, feeling the lift that comes from surviving a trauma and realizing you could still figure out how to smile. But when we arrived at LAX the morning of December 22nd I burst into tears. Our Christmas holiday was starting, and we didn’t have our baby to be.

This feeling amplified because of the juxtaposed position my brother and sister-in-law were in. She was days away from hitting 12 weeks in her pregnancy, and she and my brother were on their way to her childhood home in Ohio to make their big announcement. They were debuting their wedding video for her family and wanted to include a surprise message at the end. WE’RE PREGNANT! I wanted nothing less for them, and it warmed my heart. But it made our loss that much more raw.

Bittersweet. I remember learning the meaning of that word while studying Romeo and Juliet in 9th grade English, as we discussed what was meant by “sweet sorrow”. But now I had lived the meaning of the word. It was the paradox. The wonderful with the terrible. The happiness for others with the pain for yourself. The warmth of the sun with the tears in your eyes.

The joy of the season with the wound in your heart.