i miss my babies today

ItsHurtingAgain_by_stanlowx

I woke up this morning aching. After the failed IUI and then learning I had a cyst that would prevent us from trying again this month, I haven’t felt the same. Even though I’ve resorted to all my usual antics to try and pick back up and stay positive, I feel as if I’m hitting a breaking point, one where the reality of what we’ve been through has finally truly hit me.

They say that after a miscarriage a women not only grieves the loss of her baby, but grieves the loss of her reproductive story.

I never quite knew what that meant. I understood the idea of grieving a reproductive story on an intellectual level, but I hadn’t quite felt that loss in my heart yet. I hadn’t grieved the loss of my reproductive story.

Until now.

I’m finally having that out of body of experience, where I look back at the last two years and I can’t believe what I’m seeing. I can’t believe how this desire to start a family turned into a nightmare, and one I can’t wake up from or claw my way out of. I can’t believe that this is my story. All the heartbreak, stress, tears, and loss is now my reproductive story. And it makes me so sad.

Last night as I laid in bed headed for sleep, my mind was still going and my heart still hurting. I had been feeling depressed all weekend, like I was suddenly struggling through fresh grief. I thought to myself, as I started to drift into twilight sleep, “What am I feeling, really?” And instead of words floating through my mind to answer that question, I saw the answer in images. I say myself in the ocean, in the middle of a violent whirlpool. I was trapped in its torrent. I was flailing my arms above water, towards the side of a boat, trying to lift myself up, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t grasp the edge of the boat to pull myself up. And there was no one there to lift me up. So instead I kept thrashing, trapped, alone, getting pulled deeper and deeper.

When I woke up this morning I mindlessly picked up my phone and opened Facebook, which I often do before getting out of bed. The first picture I saw was a photo of my best friend’s seven month old baby. The friend who shared my due date, before I lost my baby. With time, I’ve healed enough and grown numb enough to see photos of her baby without too much of a stabbing pain. When he was three months old, I even got the courage to go spend the day with him when I was visiting San Francisco where my friend lives. But this morning, I saw that picture and the loss just hit me.

He just looked so….old.

He was growing into a little person. He wasn’t just a little 8 pound nugget anymore, lying helplessly, swaddled in his blanket. He was becoming someone. Something my babies won’t ever get the chance to do. 

With that photo, and with that realization, I closed my eyes and let a tear run down my cheeks. I could feel my losses in a profound way. I could see what I lost. I could see what I lost getting older, growing into someone his mom and dad probably could never imagine their lives without.

I miss my babies today.

I miss the awe and wonder of knowing that they are growing inside of me. I miss the nausea and the fatigue and the changes to my body that assure me that they are in there. I miss imagining the people they would become, and who they would resemble. I miss envisioning the life we would all have together. I miss the promise that they held. I miss the joy I felt knowing they are in my belly, and that my body was busy creating a life.

Although I have faith that I will create life again, I will always miss my babies, always remembering how old they would be, always wondering who they would have been. But someday, I hope that maybe I can make peace with my reproductive story. Instead of feeling loss and sadness, I hope to understand what it’s given me. How it’s made me a better mom. How it’s forced me to never take my children for granted, and hug them just a little tighter knowing how hard I fought for them. How it’s given me more empathy for others who struggle. How in going to these dark places, I will embrace the light in a deeper way.

Today I may grieve, and I may miss my babies. But eventually I hope to understand, and find a deeper meaning into why this had to be my reproductive story.

how do you move on from disappointment?

I am feeling much better today.

After yesterday’s news of our failed IUI I felt like a hockey puck getting slammed against every difficult emotion I’ve ever experienced in the last 18 months. I was reeling in pain, sadness, frustration and feelings of loss. But the prevailing emotion, more than anything, was just complete disappointment. And when I say disappointment, I don’t mean my favorite TV show is being canceled kind of disappointment. Or finding out your husband ate the last of the ice cream when you thought there was still some left kind of disappointment.  Or even the flight for my vacation got canceled kind of disappointment.

I mean shatter your heart and knock you to the ground kind of disappointment.

And so I thought a lot about disappointment yesterday. What it feels like, what it does to you. How it makes your heart feel, what it does to your head and to your thoughts. How it crushes you because of how badly you want a different outcome, how much your heart screams for it, but there is nothing you can do about it.

I thought about the effect it had on me yesterday. Disappointment made me feel like my heart was breaking into a million pieces. It made me feel like I got the wind knocked out me. It made me feel like my strength had dissolved, and I no longer had any stamina left.

Disappointment made me feel helpless.

And after experiencing too many disappointments, I was starting to feel bitter, jaded, cynical and hopeless.

As I felt each one of these things while crying over our negative result, I thought to myself, I know it’s in these moments you are supposed to show what you are made out of. It’s that cliche: it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. I know this is my moment and I have a choice of how to react. But was I capable of reacting with strength, positivity, and faith? Was I able to take it in stride, dust myself off, and know that this is just part of the process? I really didn’t know. And at many points yesterday, absolutely not.

But oh, it feels so bad to be in that place. I knew I was suffering from the crushing blow of disappointment and all the accompanying emotions, but I was so tired of it. I needed to be out of it. And although the thought of throwing in the towel and letting go of all this briefly fluttered through my mind, I knew I couldn’t. So I started to wonder, how do you recover from disappointment?

I could try ignoring the bad feelings. I could try going on about my day, with that chronic ache, and hope that eventually the feelings would fade. I could continue to cry and try to process my emotions and schedule an extra session with my therapist. I could keep writing, and connect with the other amazing bloggers that I knew would understand painfully well. I could try and find comfort in their sweet empathetic swaddle of support.

And I did try a little of all of these things. And a lot of it helped. But what I found the most helpful, after I acknowledged all the complex emotions I was feeling and the trauma that surrounds it, was to think about the next cycle. To discuss our next plan. To accept that we may not have a May 2015 baby, but maybe we’ll have a June 2015 baby?

I spent a long time talking to my doctor, reflecting on this past cycle and discussing what we could do differently next time. We discussed the pros and cons of different options. I called our new insurance company to inquire about every little detail of our infertility coverage. My husband and I talked about what do next, and whether we should try a natural cycle or proceed to IUI #2.

Doing this helped me to cut down on some of the helplessness that the disappointment left me with.

It helped heal my heart a little because I started to focus on hope again.

It gave me back a little bit of my strength and stamina that the disappointment ripped away.

I still have the achey pain, but my energy is turned towards next month. I actually felt grateful for the chance to try again. So many of the same emotions I felt after my miscarriages surfaced yesterday that I almost was tricked into thinking that’s what I was going through. But that’s not what this is. We don’t need to discuss termination options, or sit out a cycle while my body recovers from the loss. We don’t have to wait endlessly while the miscarriage passes. Sometimes I even think, maybe this cycle would have resulted in loss, and I was just spared? 

It still hurts, and I’m still disappointed. But I’m hoping. Maybe next month.

photo copy

tears and cocktails

My IUI failed.

I decided I would test early this morning before my 8am beta. So, per usual on the mornings I’m going to test, I couldn’t sleep. I woke up before 4am, needing to pee, knowing I needed to save the pee to test, and instead tossed and turned until I couldn’t take it anymore. I shook my husband and said, “it’s time.”

Negative.

That single line against the stark white background was a punch in the gut. I let out a slow, whiny, “nooooooo….” before crawling back into bed and letting the tears slowly creep down my cheeks.

I-can’t-do-this-anymore, I-can’t-do-this-anymore, I-can’t-do-this-anymore, maniacally swirled in my head after I laid back in bed. Every emotion that I’ve felt during this entire journey smacked me in the face. It didn’t matter how “braced for disappointment” I was during my 2ww. It didn’t matter that this was just our second month trying since the last miscarriage. I was devastated.

I laid awake for a few more hours. I stared at the ceiling. I stared at my phone. I tried holding my husband, then tried cuddling my dog. Every so often I’d cry softly into the pillow. At 7am my alarm needlessly went off, and I got dressed and left for my blood draw. At 3pm I was standing in the middle of BevMo buying wine with my husband when I got the call from the nurse. Her apologetic tone when she said my name was all I needed to hear. I hung up, flustered, choking back tears, and muttered “get whatever you want I don’t care about wine”, to my husband and sat and waited in the car. 

Later in the day, in an effort to lift our spirits, my husband and I decided to get a happy hour cocktail in an outdoor park in Beverly Hills. I tried to let the sunny LA weather soothe my heavy heart. I tried to be tough and forward-thinking. I tried laughing.

But the cocktail tasted terrible to me.

I resented the alcohol.

The drink I ordered was called The Fortuna. “Oh!” the waitress said, “Let me tell you about this drink! It comes with a wakamomo peach! It looks like an olive but it’s not, it’s sweet! You are supposed to make a wish before you eat it! Don’t forget to make a wish!”

Please don’t tell me to make a wish when I’m on the brink of crying, a lump lodged in my throat, tears ready to glisten my eyes. When I’ve already been wishing so hard, everyday, for that one thing. When I just found out my biggest wish did not come true….Ok fine, I’ll eat your peach, and I’ll wish again and again. I’ll never stop wishing.

the cocktail i never wanted to be able to have.

the cocktail I never wanted to be able to have.

Later when I went to the restroom, I ran smack into the ultrasound technician from my OB’s office. The woman who has repeatedly given me devastating news. I had run into her once before in Trader Joe’s, a few weeks after my second miscarriage.  I hid in the cereal aisle before she saw me. I couldn’t face her. I couldn’t see her and not be reminded.

“I know you!” she said to me today.

“Yeah, I’m a patient of Dr. Brown’s…” I replied hesitantly.

She looked at me for another second, nodded, and walked away.

Did she remember? Did she remember the three times I’ve been in her cold, dark room, with tears streaming down my face? Did she remember when I could barely speak, could barely look at my husband, could barely even put my pants back on after hearing the news? Does she remember hugging me, trying to console me when I was inconsolable?

I remember.

I will always remember.

hopeful but damaged

Flipping the channels the other morning I landed on Live with Kelly and Michael. I paused for a moment, thought about watching, then changed the channel.

That show reminds me of the waiting room at my RE’s office. For some reason, every time I’m there it’s playing. As I wait to get called into my appointments I stare at the TV screen; only half watching because my nerves are usually too much of a distraction to focus on anything.

Seeing that show flash on the screen in my living room, I immediately was flooded with how I feel when I’m sitting in that waiting room.

Hopeful but damaged.

I sit in that room with all my wounds and scars. I take deep breaths to steady my heart beat and eliminate the pit in my stomach, driven by the expectation of bad news. I wearily eye the others sitting in the room, wondering what they’ve been through, and what’s ahead. I wonder if they’ve cried the same tears I have and carry the same dented baggage that I do. I wonder if their perfect composure belies the struggle that they’ve been through too.

But the waiting room also offers the entry to answers and to making our wishes come true. I’ve grown so attached to my doctor. I wish that when we finally do get a viable pregnancy, she could hold my hand through every ultrasound and at the end be the one who delivers my baby. I never want to leave that office. I find comfort there.

Sometime I just feel like people think that you have a miscarriage and you’re sad for a little while and then you’re over it, I cried to my husband once in a moment of self-pity.

But it stays with you! I continued through my tears.

It stays with you. I feel damaged sitting in that waiting room. I feel weathered and sensitive and like I’ll never be the same.

Sometimes I want to scream, just because I’m smiling does not mean I’m ok! Just because it’s been 8 months does not mean I’m ok!

There is a gaping hole in my heart, and it’s still so raw. And it can’t close because I still want this so bad. And everything around me reminds me of it.

I’ve gotten better at coping. And pretending. And managing my emotions. I can feign happiness at a pregnancy announcement, I can hold your baby and tell you how happy I am for you. I can even press ‘like’ on all the baby pics that flood my Facebook feed. I’ve learned how to shut down a part of myself when I need to. I can go numb. I can momentarily force myself to forget the pain.

But privately, it all comes out. I never escape unscathed. Nothing that I compartmentalize and pretend is ok ever just goes away. It always finds me. Finds me in the form of a tightened chest and a stubborn knot in my stomach by day, and then pillow smothered sobs by night. Or sometimes it’s a slow build, where I tell myself over and over I’m fine, until finally it swallows me and I have no choice but to let it out.

I feel traumatized.

I started out with so much happy faith and expectation, but was greeted with blood and loss and uncertainty and heartbreak and having to say goodbye to the babies I would never meet. And ever since, I spend my days fielding a land mine of triggers. This journey is so painful because we can’t hide from what triggers our trauma and our pain. We can’t hide from baby strollers and our best friend’s pregnancy announcement and our 2 month old nephew.

We are forced to face it every single day.

After my miscarriages, I was surrounded by expressions of concern and care and I felt like I could openly grieve. And I believed that all these empathetic faces around me really understood my pain. I’ve been lucky in that sense, and would never undermine just how much love I’ve felt from friends and family.

But time goes on. And I’ve been forced to keep living with that same amount of pain. My family and friends can’t scoop me up every single day, can’t give me a constant swaddle of affection and support. And I know people stop knowing what to say, as days turn to months, and months turn to years. And that’s when isolation starts to creep in, and the silent grief. Because the pain lives on.

And as we try to conceive once again, with faith and hope our only fuel, we ache. Every negative pregnancy test brings you back to that feeling of loss. You spend two weeks wondering, hoping, and imagining you are pregnant. Day dreaming of what that would mean. Loving this possible baby to be. I often rub my belly and leave my hand there, subconsciously  trying to transport the love in my heart to my womb. Please be in there, I plead. And with a trip to the bathroom and a three minute wait, it’s all over. 

My mom often tells me that after her brother had a baby, she got the baby bug in an intense way. I just had to have you, she’s told me, gushing, giving me hugs. Less than a year later, her wish came true, and I was born.

Imagine that feeling, I said to her, that longing, that feeling that if you didn’t have a baby now, you would explode. Now picture almost two years and two miscarriages later, with no baby or pregnancy to show for it….That is what I’m going through.  That is what I’m experiencing.

Miscarriage stains everything around you. It spoils the joyful path to pregnancy. It leaves you unable to feel happiness for friends you love who have growing bellies. It causes you pain when you hold someone else’s baby in your arms. It even takes a silly show, like Live with Kelly and Michael, and taints it with its loaded association. Bringing you to that place…where pain still lives but yet you’re hopeful. Hopeful and damaged.