Category Archives: hopes

Infertility update – the plot thickens

I have always strived to be honest in all of my posts.  There are times that I worry that someone will take what I have written and misconstrue the context or the meaning behind what I am writing.  So I have the dilemma on trying to sensor thoughts or words and yet stay true to what I am trying to accomplish.  Since all you are seeing is black and white words you can’t see if I am smiling, laughing, crying, or just plain mad when I write.  That can be the trouble with the written word.  Sarcasm can be lost in the black and white.  Seriousness can be down played when you aren’t looking into someone’s eyes while trying to grasp and understand where they are coming from with their words.  Even with this worry that you can be misunderstood, the written word is so meaningful to me.  Seeing my ideas come out of my head and giving them life so others can see and possibly try to understand is a huge deal.  I can write these bold thoughts (I can say them too but there is something about having it written down), carefully constructed words and feel through them.
With that said here is an honest post, words that have been bouncing in my head for almost a year that have finally fallen out into this post.  This was a hard post to write and possibly a hard post for some to read.  It is long – exceptionally long, but only because that is how long it took for it to all come out.  It is long out of necessity.  Thoughts that have been given life beyond just being silent inside my head, trapped for only me to live and relive.  A post that might be too personal with information that no one would really care to hear or read.  Words that some might find hurtful or offensive.  A story that some might be offended and mad to have not known and been in the dark.   That is not my intent and if you could see me write it, you would know it is coming from a place deep with in me begging to be released.  Not for approval from society or for an emotional response, mostly because I just needed to say it and it is time.
In my family, birthday’s haven’t always been a big deal.  I can remember growing up and having parties with the neighborhood kids and some school friends.  I remember opening gifts.  I remember celebrating my birthday.
birthday
(Birthday celebrated in pajamas before bed)
But it wasn’t something that my parents really dwelled on.  Or at least my perception was of that.  We knew we were loved, we got gifts, we got cake, we had special meals, but birthday’s were pretty much just another day.  Not like some of my friends who got new outfits galore and flaunted that this is not only a birthday, but birth week and birth month.  That worked for their family and that is fine – no judgment there, just wasn’t my life.  The older I got the less I cared about my actual birthday.  I wouldn’t yell if someone wished me a happy birthday but I don’t publish my birthdate on social media just because I don’t.  It just isn’t that important to me.  I don’t like the attention that is dished out on my  birthday, I feel singled out and for some reason it just makes me feel bashful and uncomfortable.
Andy would always tease that he would throw a surprise party (which would be my definition of pure torture) or would make a big deal on my birthday.  Since my birthday is right before his we worked out a truce.  If he promised to not do anything like that to me, I wouldn’t do anything like that to him (he can’t stand surprise birthday parties either).  All of that to say when my birthday for 2018 started to approach I wasn’t dreading it, but definitely didn’t want to make a big deal about it.  I said as much.  Andy rolled his eyes as he normally does, but that was that.
This is not an advertisement or endorsement of birth control or political statement by any means, but I take my birth control religiously.  I have PCOS and the birth control makes my life much better.  It keeps me regulated with my periods and with symptoms and I am just a better person on birth control.  A month before my  birthday I woke up from a Sunday nap and had to pee.  I was slated to start my new pack of birth control that night and while I was walking to the bathroom I didn’t remember really having my period.  I remember going to the store and buying feminine hygiene products, but didn’t remember actually using them.  I remembered being moody and displaying the symptoms of PMS with the poise of someone that needs Midol, but the actual period I didn’t remember.  I did some math and thought, “crap that’s weird.”  But that isn’t completely unusual for me.  Birth control keeps me regular 99% of the time, but if I am under a lot of stress or some other factors I will miss a period (and work had been super stressful).  I looked in my cabinet and just happened to have a home pregnancy test.
Just for giggles and to continue with the habit that if I start a new pack of birth control and don’t have a period I always test.  It has been a habit for a long time and just a hard one to break (starting way back shortly after we got married).  I peed on the stick, put it flat to dry and finished my bathroom experience and got up.  I grabbed the test and headed for the trash and glanced at it as I tossed it in.  I started out the bathroom door and froze.  I went back to the trash can and picked it up.  Two pink lines formed a plus mark.  I sat it down on the sink and stared at it.  I dug the box out of the trash and re-read the key.  Then looked at the test again.  I took a few breathes and went back to the bed.  Andy was lying there looking at his phone and I flopped down and looked at him opened my mouth and closed it, then looked at the ceiling.  At some point Andy asked “What’s wrong?”  I responded.  “Nothing’s wrong, per say.”  I had his attention.  He put his phone down and he looked at me and asked again.  I said, “I took a pregnancy test and it was positive.” “What does that mean?” was his reply.  “I’m pregnant.”
We both stared at each other in disbelief.  I never had a positive pregnancy test.  Not even when we were in the middle of all of our treatments.  We were shocked.  We laughed.  I cried.  I got out of bed and walked around the house then got back in bed.  I went to the bathroom and looked at the test again.  We dedicated years, and a lot of money, and so many treatments and appointments to this plight with only negative results.  We were told it wouldn’t happen, so we gave up on ourselves and started the adoption process.  We have been through so many tears and sorrow and heart break with the adoption process as well.  But now, while on birth control, when those dreams had long flown away, been completely changed forever and that hope gone, I am pregnant.
We thought maybe it was a fluke with the test because God only knew how old it was.  We went to the store and bought a different brand and the next morning I tested again.  Two pink lines.  Pregnant.  I called the doctor and set up an appointment to have lab work done a few days later.  I left work and peed in a cup and they confirmed that I was pregnant than did some lab work.  I was scheduled for a new OB appointment the following week.  We went to that appointment and they did an ultrasound.  It was amazing.  We were there for something we long thought we would never experience.  She tried an abdominal ultrasound but decided to switch to a vaginal ultrasound.  She stepped out so I could get undressed and was back in the room in a minute or two.  She could tell I was a little nervous, but she said that it is common for this US (especially early on) when trying to see something so tiny.  I didn’t correct her, I was nervous that there would be no sac, nothing there.  She looked around for a few minutes and was quiet.  I lay there knowing the news was coming.  I gripped Andy’s hand tighter and braced myself.  The tears were gathering in my eyes and one slipped out down my cheek.  The technician opened her mouth and said.  “This is the sac, and do you see this thing moving?” We both nodded not speaking.  She said, “That is a heart beating.”  She continued on measuring and explaining what she was doing.  She said we were 6 weeks.  She said she wanted to see if she could hear the heart beat, but said at this early we might not be able to hear it.  She pulled it up and I held my breath.  In that small quiet room you could hear the fluttering beat of that precious heart.  The tears streaked down my face leaving a salty trail.  She gave us our due date: 12/13/18.  She printed out our Ultrasound pictures and handed them to Andy.  We met with the Nurse Practitioner, learned a lot, got a lot of congratulations and made a follow up appointment.
Our world changed.  We had this little baby now.  Despite all the things that went wrong prior to this place and all of the things that it had to endure to get here, we had it.  Our magic bean.  One of the ultrasound pictures made it look like a Koala Bear, so we started referring to our child as Magic Koala Bean or MKB.
We decided to keep it a secret for as long as possible because we know the risks that can happen, but we were elated.  There were funny things that happened that we had to lie to protect our secret.  We giggled about them all and knew that when the truth came out it would be forgotten or at least understood.  Otis was excited about MKB too.
Two weeks later I started spotting.  Which I was informed was normal.  After a day of that, I called the doctor and spoke to the doctor on call, just to calm my nerves.  She gave me some things to look for and told me when to call back, reassured me and I was able to breathe.  It eased off.  A few days later it started back, and was heavier.  I sent a message to my doctor and after he asked some questions he said call Monday for an appointment if it hasn’t stopped.  It hadn’t stopped.  It wasn’t in the danger zone (soaking a pad), but it was still there and I was so scared.  We made an appointment for May 8th.  The day before my birthday.  A month after we found out about our MKB.  It wasn’t with my normal doctor but with one of his partners.
The ultrasound technician tried the abdominal route and decided to switch (I am not an expert, but I saw the sac at least I thought I did, and I feel confident that she did).  She stepped out so I could get undressed and was gone for 15 minutes or so.  I looked at Andy and told him that it wouldn’t be good news.  Last time she was in our room quickly, this time she was gone too long.  I told Andy that she would be waiting on the doctor to come in and break the news to us.  I said she is probably waiting outside whatever room he is in to tell him to come in here.  I don’t know if he believed me, but I just knew in my entire being that was what was going on.  When she reentered the room she stated that the doctor would be joining us in just a minute, because they like to be there for ultrasounds.  I knew right then and there that our MKB was gone.  The tears started to fall silently.  He came in and she started the US.  He stood there staring at the screen.  I don’t know if he was willing something to happen or if he was hoping that he was missing something.  He could have been trying to come up with the words that would shatter our lives a little less.  In the silence of the room, I said from the table, “the sac looks empty.”  He took a deep breath and said sorry he just wasn’t seeing anything there.  There was no heart beat.  There was nothing viable.  We lost our MKB and the doctor confirmed it.  We cried.  We were given options and we cried.  I opted out of surgery and elected for the miscarriage to happen “naturally.”    He didn’t know my history so through tears I walked him down our long road to this moment and I asked him if this was a fluke.  Was this just a cruel punishment for something?  Why did this happen now when all those years ago treatments didn’t work?  He showed compassion and empathy because him and his wife had been in this same position (miscarriage).  His answer was one that made me feel better, but also didn’t.  He said he didn’t feel like any pregnancy or baby was a fluke.  He completely understood why I asked that – given our history.  He said he wished that he had an answer but that he couldn’t provide an answer to why now.  What he did say was that he didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t try again.  Try again?  We didn’t “try.”
This was just one more reason to not be excited about my birthday.  On the way home I forbid Andy for uttering one word about my birthday, this time he didn’t have any smart remarks.
The next day was my birthday.  I went to work and acted like my life was fine.  On the inside I was shattered, broken beyond repair.  I spent my birthday bleeding.  The life literally draining out of me.  The next day I was scheduled to be in a different office to help cover people being out so I couldn’t call out myself.  I took my heating pad with me because the cramping had already gotten so bad.  I sat for 8 hours tattered to a heating pad and popping Advil and Aleve like they were candy.  I sat there wanting to cry, but not having the tears.  Wanting to be at home, but not wanting to be alone with my thoughts.
My thoughts that were fractured and broken already hurt in a completely new way.  At a time when I thought the next heartbreak from this journey was admitting failure and having to withdrawal our name from the adoption agency – not this.  Thoughts on miscarriage and what the world doesn’t tell you.  Harsh realities that you don’t know until you walk that path.  A path that isn’t the same for every person that miscarries, but similarities that cross over into different stories.
Things like:
Miscarriage is a taboo for most people, like infertility struggles.  People don’t want to talk about it because it isn’t “happy”.  And that because people don’t want to talk about it, you feel shame.  Shame because your body rejected your baby but also shame because you will make people uncomfortable.  Shame because these thoughts stay in your head and eat away at you and feed your self doubt.

What the world tells you about miscarriage is silence.  Is this unfair to say?  Yes it is.  People can’t reach out to you and support you if they don’t know.  For the people that we actually told, we mostly got support.  Is it unfair to hold that information to yourself and expect that other people will pave the way for you in society by sharing their painful stories?  Yes it is.  I can’t expect other people to share their miscarriage stories, when I am too ashamed and sad to share my own.  A double standard, clearly, but one that is hard to navigate inside your own head let alone sharing those things out loud.

What the world doesn’t tell you….

When the ultrasound tech starts the ultrasound and decides to switch gears and goes out of the room so you can get undressed and says be back in a minute, but it takes 10 minutes – expect the worst.  She has gone to get the doctor to deliver the news that is coming that she doesn’t want to say.  It isn’t her responsibility to shatter dreams and hopes and tell you that your prayers didn’t work.  When she comes back and says doctors like to be in the room for the test (but you have already had ultrasounds in this facility and know they don’t – unless something is wrong).  It is ok to let tears fall after she comes in and she says sorry for the delay but she was waiting on the doctor to come out of the room he was in to “let him know you are there.”

That the doctor comes in the room and is squinting at the empty sac turning his head like a German Shepherd puppy (minus those amazing cute floppy ears) trying to see something that isn’t there and trying to come up with the words to soften the blow.  When you say from the exam table “the sac is empty” and he breathes almost a sigh of relief that I already know the inevitable, so the next words coming out of his mouth won’t be the complete shock he thought they might be.

That his hasty retreat from the room isn’t to be rude (at least in our case) it was to research my chart and try to provide answers once we are moved to an actual exam room.

That after this kind of news the ultrasound tech changes her tone and won’t make eye contact because she looks like she wants to cry with you.  That her “I am so sorry” was the first of many at the office and had pain behind it because she knew that she was instrumental in bringing this reality to light and even though it isn’t her fault – changing our lives for the worst.

The walk of “shame” from the ultrasound room to the patient room to talk to the doctor is one of the most emotionally difficult walks there is.  Wallowing in the floor sobbing was not acceptable when that is what I wanted to do.  Punching the wall and leaving a dent was not acceptable when that would at least give me some outlet of frustration.  That tripping the next person that walked by smiling was unacceptable (granted that would be mostly unacceptable any time) but when you are that sad and frankly pissed off you don’t want to see happy people.  In the matter of one minute from US room to exam room all of these emotions slam into you like a semi barreling down the highway.  People staring at you trying to decode the tears as you attempt to slow the sobs.

That even when you felt like you knew what the answer was going to be, that it would hurt just the same.

That behind the closed doors clutching your spouse those emotions just turn into tears and sobbing.  Angry tears, sad tears, devastated tears, frustrated tears, dreams ending tears, jealous tears, distraught tears, failure tears, shame tears, what if tears.  They streak down your face like the ocean leaving a salty streak that you won’t notice for hours.

That for a few minutes you would be grateful for the time alone with your spouse to cry and be alone so you can wrap your head around things and process before the doctor comes in to talk to you.  But after a few minutes you would wish and hope the doctor would just hurry and come in so that you can leave and escape this place.

That when he comes in he talks to you, not at you, and he apologizes over and over.  His compassion is there and as you are sobbing you cling to his compassion and that holds you together for the time being.

That when the smiling check out girl takes your encounter form and looks at you and asks how you are and you try to be polite and say “I’m ok,” then she looks at the form and sees the code for miscarriage and she stops smiling and says “I am so sorry” with such sympathy.  Then she excuses you from the rest of the check out process so you don’t have to be in the “baby office” anymore since you don’t have your baby.

That when you call to cancel your next OB appointment and the f/u from the miscarriage appointment, the person on the other end offers to pray for you and that is nice, because you are having a hard time finding the right words to say to God.

That you want to sleep.  When you sleep, you don’t feel the cramps and you can escape from the pain – physically and emotionally.

That with each passing “milestone” you think, if you lived you would…  (be certain gestation, size, due, first holidays, age, etc).

The cramps are horrible and add to the emotional aspect.  The bleeding is horrible and gross with clots and just weirdness.  That your cervix opens to pass the “biologic material” or “biologic remains of tissue” – and you can feel it.  That the only time you will ever “hold” that child is when you wipe them away.

That there is an emptiness, a new broken, and your heart hurts.  Each time it beats there is a searing pain.

That there is a grief so deep and wide.  And aiding that grief is that shame.  That you don’t want to tell other people because it would make them sad.  That our road has already been a difficult one and people supporting us don’t need to add one more chapter of sad disappointment to it.  Telling people would lead to those looks of pity.  Telling people would admit to the failure that happened.  Not that you did anything (so to speak) wrong, but that things went horribly wrong and you had no control to stop it, to protect your child.  That you don’t want to tell people because you don’t know if it would ever happen again, and the added stress of people asking you if you are pregnant again would just add to your anxiety and shame if it actually never did happen again.  That asking would emphasize that you lost something already.  That you would interpret people asking that question to mean that your baby that is no longer here doesn’t matter and possibly never did.  That I wasn’t far enough along for me to really care or be upset or for “it to count”.  That people wouldn’t understand that a loss is a loss, and it is hard.  That your grief goes beyond the physical loss and extends into the loss of dreams and ideals.  That the hopes that were tied up in our MKB were lost and with that comes a profound grief as well.

That they can tell you to “try” again and there is complete fear in that simple word.  We didn’t try in the first place and what if it doesn’t work.  How invested do we get in opening up these old wounds?  How far are we willing to go to prove this was or wasn’t a fluke?  How much money are we willing to sink into this and add to the money we have already sunk?

There is so much to learn in the world of miscarriages.  There is so much I have to tell myself, to remind myself it wasn’t my fault, even though when the world crashed down around me it certainly felt and some days feels like it is because I couldn’t hold it up.  I have to remind myself that there is no shame in our infertility journey.  That even though it is sad and heart breaking and that sometimes people don’t want to talk about Addy (and now probably MKB), because it is too sad, that it is our story no matter how broken and messed up it is and that is ok.  That our children matter to us and we talk about them all the time.  That even though our children aren’t breathing they live inside us.  That broken can be beautiful.

As we approach my birthday for 2019, I remember those moments of joy and elation last year.  I also remember the devastation that lead to my birthday boycott.  In almost a years time, since our loss, Andy and I have been on a roller coaster with so many different things.  Highs of Andy graduating and work done on the house to lows of Otis passing and the loss of family members and the uncertainty of was MKB just a fluke?

After the darkest and most horrible storms come a rainbow.  We are excited (and yet cautious) to say we are expecting ours 10/6/19.  Working with the doctors we tried again and just when I was about ready to toss in the towel we got news that we are pregnant.  Our doctors are great and have done a lot of hand holding and double checking to make sure we are on the right track.  I appreciate everything they are doing for us to keep us calm and reassure us.  This excitement doesn’t erase our journey this far.  This doesn’t make all of that “ok.”  But it does help.  It hasn’t completely healed our brokenness, but it has helped.  This doesn’t take place of Addy or our MKB.  This baby will know of their siblings in heaven, Addy that we saw and loved, and MKB that we felt and loved.  While we are over joyed at this miracle we long gave up hope for, I am still feeling anger and bitterness towards God.  Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thankful for this chance at carrying a child and being a biological mother and Andy a biological father, but there is still this feeling of why.  Why did it take this long?  Were our prayers not good enough then?  Why did Addy have to die?  Why has this road been our road?  Why did we have to experience so much heartache?  Why did we have to empty our bank accounts before?  Why did we have to go through the adoption processes?  People saying that this was all in God’s plan or timing – they may feel that way, but to me that is not comforting.  To me that minimizes Addy’s birth and death as well as our weeks carrying MKB and that tiny heart beat that stopped too soon.  That takes away from their stories.  That takes away from this long road we have been on.  That makes it seem like we should just “get over” all that we have been through instead of allowing it to be part of our story, no matter how sad.  This does not minimize the years we have dealt with infertility – this does not ease that hurt.  It changes it – yes – but that sting lingers, as I have been told by other infertility friends it always will.  My God is big enough to deal with my bitterness, anger, continued sadness, and lingering grief.  He is so great that he can see those emotions and walk with me through them and at the same time see the joy and happiness and how thankful and blessed we are.  He knows that my heart has been shattered to pieces and that while this fills my heart with so much joy there is that possibility it might never be entirely hole again.  He is ok with that.  He understands my fears that this will all come crashing down around me and that I won’t be able to breathe easy until I hold this baby in my arms.  And that after that I will hold my breath as we reach each milestone until the day I take my last breath.  He understands that this happiness comes from a road of pain and tears, and that we will embrace all of that road and will remember where we have been to get this far.

Infertility messes with your head.  It creates self doubt and feelings of worthlessness.  It has this taboo and shame that no one wants to talk about.  I understand all of that.  The statistics glare at you.  1 in 8 experience infertility.  1 in 4 experience child loss.  I belong to both of those categories.  This pregnancy doesn’t erase those facts.

We are grateful and blessed.  Our journey is not over.  Our road is not final.  Our story starts with a new chapter.  My heart still aches for the heartache of the past and wounds that have been open too long; but it beats for the hope and love of the future.

oliver plot twist

writing

So I had a list of all the things I was going to catch up on and write about when I took a break waiting to gain more storage.  But I re-read that list and there wasn’t much on there that actually seemed important now.  So I crushed it in my hands and tossed it in the trash.  So with no prompts or lists of topics I am just going to write.

For a long time writing has been therapeutic for me.  I have so many documents in word and drafts in my e mails where I just free write to get things out of my head.  It is so funny to go back and read some of the things I have written and seeing where I was at that time in my life.  Then sometimes reading the things that I have written just takes me back to places I don’t really want to be again.

Over the past several years infertility has been my demon.  It is something that consumes a lot of my time and thoughts.  The what if’s roll though my head.  The why plays over and over in my mind and heart.  The insecurities are crystal clear in the writing.  The blame I placed/place on myself and God are there.  The frustration creeps back in.

Let me be very clear that while I am living and breathing infertility and it consumes so much of my life – it does not consume everything.  I have moments, days, weeks, and months even that I exist with this label and don’t bat an eye.  That I push it to the back of my mind the best I can and enjoy life without worrying what happens next, without feeling like I have to be an advocate, without feeling like I have to explain why we have no children or defend why we haven’t been chosen with the adoption, without feeling like everyone that glances at me has a look of pity for me.  Where the past and the future don’t taunt me.  So while infertility is my demon – I still have some freedom to hide from it.  But that is all I can really do is hide.  Eventually it finds me.  Eventually it allows those thoughts to flood back in and I become that infertile girl again, and she warps into this monster.

As I read back through and think about where I have been and where I am, I realize I am caught between despising who infertility has made me and being proud.  With Mother’s Day approaching I swing closer to the despising side.  I think about the years I have missed out on that holiday and how each year is breaks my heart a little more.  Yes I celebrate my mother and other women that have “mothered me” but with each year that passes my time feels further and further out of reach for me to actually get to be on the receiving end of Mother’s Day.  It hurts.  It makes me mad.  It frustrates me.  I hide on that day because I worry that the monster that infertility has created will do something or say something stupid or offensive to someone.  That my bitterness will be more evident and that I will hurt feelings and people will make me feel guilty because I don’t have a child, that make me feel selfish because I can’t just “get over it and be happy.”  In years past I avoid church and will this year as well.  Sad but oh so true.  I can’t do it.  I avoid facebook and other social media.  I do my best to avoid going out to eat.  I attempt not to communicate with people in public because strangers tell women “Happy Mother’s Day” even if you don’t have a child with you.  And sometimes people that know you don’t have a child will speak that phrase to you and makes you wonder why?  Why in the world would you say that to me knowing the road that I have traveled.  And those three words when spoken or texted to me cuts straight through my soul.  I don’t deserve them.  I am not worthy and those words are wasted on me.  I despise that part of me.  The part that hides from the world – that allows the bitterness to creep in and fears that I will forever be 1 in 8 and never get to experience what motherhood is.

So this year as we get closer to Mother’s Day I find myself surrounded by emotionally bad days, the monster that comes with those days breathes bitterness and disdain and hopelessness.  Not with everything in my life, but with everything infertility related.  That monster has crawled into my head and heart and set up a tent, built a little camp fire, sitting all smug in a chair roasting marshmallows.

 

our little twitter-bird

I have started and deleted this post so many times I have lost count.  Nothing seemed right.  Nothing seemed to do it justice.  One time it would be too detailed and too much information for the reader and other times it was so vague that it didn’t feel right either.  So I will start this post again and see if I can find some middle ground.

When we were chosen by the birth mother at the end of May 2016.  We were told she was due in September, but that she always went early so to be ready by August 1.  We made our lists of things to do before we were to bring the baby home.  We bought furniture and had it delivered to the house while we were at Montreat.  We started to talk about paint colors for the nursery, and we started to discuss what we would need immediately vs what would be on our wish list for later.  We had a plan pretty much for each week until August 1st.

We were chosen (officially) on June 1, 2016.  We went to Montreat as planned and while we were there we got a call on June 14th that our birth mother was in the hospital and they were trying to decide if they were going to do strict bed rest of go on and induce and take the baby because both mom and baby were in danger.  We were told to be on stand by.  June 15th we got a call stating they were going to induce as mom was now 28 weeks and they couldn’t wait any longer.  They were planning on starting the process at 5:00 pm.  We decided Andy would stay at camp with the kids since he wasn’t going to be in the delivery room anyways.  I made my way to the hospital and we waited.  5:00 came and went and nothing was started.  It was around 9:00 that night that they actually got things started with the induction.

This is where I end up being way too detailed or not detailed enough.  I remember every second (mostly) and detail about the time I spent in room 10 of the labor and delivery floor.  It was an experience like no other and that words don’t completely capture the essence or the magnitude of the moments we spent together.  Exactly 2 weeks after we were chosen, two weeks and a day after we met this amazing woman we were tossed into a whirlwind experience.  We hadn’t had our next scheduled meeting because we thought there was time.  We hadn’t had time to completely process the extent of our relationship and how connected we were because we knew the other existed for only 2 weeks.  We thought there was time to get the furniture assembled in the nursery.  We thought there was time to meet the birth father.  We thought there was time, but what we didn’t have was time.  It was here and now and all of my plans and lists were null and void.

I write about the timeline of events that happened in June 2016 and am thrust right back into the calm before the storm and then the absolute chaos.  And while all of those elements are so important to Andy and I, they may not be as important to anyone else, and that is ok.  Maybe in the moment those details would have been important to other people beyond Andy and myself, but this far out from that date, I just don’t know.  It is hard sorting out what others might feel is important and what I think it is important for other people to hear.  I can describe in detail the induction process and when things stalled or progressed.  I can describe to you how truly amazing it was to listen to the heart beat on the monitor.  How in the quiet of the night it would slam into me with so much emotion I would escape to the bathroom to gather myself.  How the chairs were arranged in that room and each person had their spot, but when they rotated, where we all went and how often we moved around.  How we took shifts to make phone calls, get drinks, ice chips, and eventually something to eat.  How birth mom would wake up during the night and ask if her “baby mama” was still there.  Those details are there and etched in my brain.

What is important regardless of how much time passes is the beauty that encompassed room 10 and OR room 1.  Two families connected through adoption.  The birth family and the adopted family supporting each other, barely knowing each other.  We laughed together, we got choked up together, we sat in silence together.

The awkwardness I thought would be palpable wasn’t there.  The conversation flowed between procedures and contractions.  The smiles and tears were genuine.  The concern was real.  She apologized to me so many times for having to be induced and the magnitude of the situation didn’t elude me.  She was saying sorry to me and yet she was about to give me my hopes and dreams for so many years.  It didn’t seem quite right.  I thanked her over and over.  We held hands like old friends.

Around 2:15 in the morning of June 16th I found myself sitting alone in the cafeteria eating the first food I had in hours and reflecting on life.  A terrible piece of pizza and a luke warm cranberry juice was all that was available at that time of morning.  I sat in the booth staring off into space, tired from being awake and exhausted from trying to be supportive and remaining hopeful and calm.  We were not delusional to think this delivery at 28 weeks would be without complications.  I knew what we were up against.  Andy did too.  But we held onto the hope that things would be ok.  The heart rate was perfect and I held onto that thought.  For the first time in years I imagined our life as a family with a child.  I grabbed onto that hope that it was really happening to us.  I reached into the back of my mind where I stashed all of those thoughts and feelings and allowed them to resurface again.

Birth mom and most everyone else in the room fell asleep around 3.  Myself and another lady stayed awake until about 4:20.  We were awaken at 4:40 by total chaos.  Birth mom was rushed to the OR to deliver there (as a precaution).  I was told to wait by a door to see the baby as it went by the door on the way to the NICU.  The friend that was in the OR with the birth mom was texting the pregnancy counselor and the pregnancy counselor was sending me the information and I was sending the information to Andy.  It was a long line of cell phone communication.  My favorite was when I got the text that she was here.  Our little girl.  She was 2 pounds 10 ounces.  I got to see a video of them taking her to the incubator.  They stopped by the door and I could see her.  The NICU doctor was with her.  I hadn’t been able to speak with her earlier so she stepped through the door and answered some of my questions.  She said the good news was that they didn’t have to intubate right away that she was breathing on her own (she warned me that could change at any moment).  She wanted to go to the NICU with her and told me I would be able to come see her and find out more information after their first assessment.  I went back to room 10 and watched the sun rise.

The day our daughter was born I saw the beauty in the creation of not just her life, but in the world around me.  In my tired state I marveled over the colors dancing in the sky.  It didn’t matter that it was coming up over construction and dirty machinery.  It was the most beautiful sunrise I ever saw.

I waited for what seemed like hours and was finally able to go to the NICU and be with our girl.  I was educated on how to scrub in and went through the dragonfly covered door to her little incubator.  I will admit in full honesty that I was glad Andy wasn’t there for my first meeting with her.  Biological mothers get to have that bonding time for 9 months (or so) while the baby is growing in them.  I hadn’t had that and was so happy that we could have a few minutes to bond alone.  I know that is selfish, but hey at least I willingly admit that.  The nurse was amazing.  She walked me through everything about the NICU.  I knew what to expect in the coming hours and what to hope for with the first 72 hours (what we were told would be the biggest challenge).  We were guarded but so far everything was ok.  She had a PDA (hole in the heart) and they were starting to treat that.  She would have cranial US to check on bleeding on the brain.  I was able to open the little door on the incubator and she grasped my finger and in that instant, my heart.  I talked to her and sat in silence staring at her.  Taking in her tiny little fingers and toes.  Watching her chest rise and fall.  Listening to the beeps and looking at the machines she was hooked up to.

With stories from the NICU.  I have a hard time knowing what to share.  Things happened quickly some days and other days not so quickly.  The omission of the massive amounts of details of what went on in the dragonfly wing of the NICU isn’t due to be uncaring or flippant about all that happened.  But rather I still can’t grasp what to say about it.  I almost feel callous in not writing more.  Most days were similar to the days before.  I would get to the hospital and go see the birth mom (she remained hospitalized after birth due to complications), then I would go to the NICU and scrub in.  I found a chair and would roll over to the incubator.  I would normally be met by the nurse and updated on progress or set backs.  I would then climb in my chair and talk to our sweet girl.  I would hold her hand.  Stroke the side of her face.  Tickle her tiny little toes.  It was just amazing and the images still come so vividly to me.

After the first doses of medications she still had a PDA and they were going to try another dose of medicine before they considered surgery.  Her oxygen was still good.  She had some help from ventilator, but wasn’t intubated.  She passed her cranial US with no bleeding.  She was a rock star.  She did have some episodes of Brady’s (forget to breathe), but I was assured that was normal with NICU patients.

One day I was at the incubator and the birth mom came in and we stood on each side of her and semi held her up for a family photo.  It was a moment I will never forget.  We marveled over how tiny she was and how dark her hair was.  There was a silence among us and looks of understanding, appreciation, and love between us.  A relationship that was so new and yet very deep.

Andy coming to meet her before he went on his next trip made me almost weep.  He couldn’t believe how tiny she was.  I told him, but he said seeing it for himself was surreal.

She passed the 72 hour mark with very little complications (except the PDA).  All of her cranial US came back normal and her blood work was great.  She was doing wonderful on the ventilator, but still wasn’t intubated and was breathing on her own too.

Day four is where things changed.  I got to the hospital and the nurse said she seemed a bit off the night before and now.  They were waiting on lab reports to come back, but thought she had an infection.  She was fussy and not comfortable.  The nurse showed me how to tuck her arms and legs into my palm and hold her securely in the incubator.  That seemed to help calm her.  Otherwise she would flail her arms and legs and cry (he tiny cry sounded like a kitten).  I sat with her for hours holding her arms and legs in the palm of my hand so she would be comfortable.  You could see the distress on her face and in her actions.  You could see it in her vitals and on the monitors.  It broke my heart.  There was nothing I could do to really help.  Touch seemed to help and I just wish that I could have held her.  I was informed that if she continued to have problems they would intubate to help relieve some of the stress on her body.  I asked them to call and let me know if they did that.

Results came back and she did have an infection and they started antibiotics.  They did intubate.

Wednesday morning I got a call asking me to come to the hospital because the doctors wanted to meet with us.  They informed us that she had a massive brain bleed likely caused by the severe infection.  We were all devastated.  Andy drove over from camp to talk with me and the doctor and to visit with our sick little girl.  Things changed so quickly it was hard to breathe.

Friday morning 8 days after her birth I got a call that the birth mom changed her mind and wanted to back out of the adoption plan.  I feel like there were so many factors in that decision and we will never know the extent of why she changed her mind, but she did.  That was her choice to make and we respect that decision.  Her decision kept us from having to make the decision to continue with the adoption verses backing out with such a poor prognosis.  A decision that neither of us wanted to make.  After the call I climbed in bed and grabbed onto Otis and cried.  For 8 days I had a little girl that I loved so much.  For 8 days I was a mother, not legally or biologically, but I loved that sweet baby with everything I had.  She was mine and I was hers.  It was an experience that showed me without a shadow of a doubt that shared DNA didn’t mean love.

It is important, I think, to note that we had a name picked out for our child.  Ever since we did infertility treatments we had a name.  The birth mother had chosen a different name and we planned on changing that at finalization to the name we fell in love with.  While I was alone I called the baby the name we intended to change it to.  But while others were around I respected the birth mother and called her Addy.  Since the birth mother changed her mind we have taken to remembering our time with her as Addy.  That is who she will always be to us.  Addy our little twitter-bird.

We were notified on Monday by our adoption agency that hours after the birth mother changed her mind.  Just 8 days into her life, Addy passed away.

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a frustrating reality…

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

today is not a good day…actually the last few weeks have not been too good.  i try to maintain a persona that, yes i have bad moments, but that i am completely ok with everything that has happened and everything that is going on.  i have been hesitant to write anything negative in a while dealing with the adoption or infertility because the fear that i have that my words will be misconstrued or used against me somehow.  when i have my “poor me” and “bitterness” episodes i fear that people (i don’t have a specific person i am looking at – but rather just people in general) will take what i am saying out of context.  that they will say i will be a terrible mom if we are ever placed because I still have insecurities about the hand that was dealt to me.  i fear that someone will take what i am saying and make generalizations that i am unhappy and bitter towards all people who have biological children.  i fear that my words will be mixed up and used to imply that deep down i always feel this way.  i fear that people will look at me and say i deserve everything that has happened.  i fear that people will look at me and say it is all my fault.  i fear i will be considered selfish (again).  i fear that i will become one of “those people” that people won’t feel it is genuine when i have positive things to say about our situation or about theirs.  i fear that people will be nervous around me so that they don’t “upset” me or will constantly be worried that they will make me mad.  i worry that people will walk on egg shells around me just in case i am having a bad day and that they won’t share things about their kids/pregnancies/etc.  i fear that one day my child could use my words and thoughts against me and question my love.  but mostly, i fear that my thoughts make me a horrible monster.

 early on when we were dating we dreamed of being married and having a family.  we had no reason to suspect that when we were married that it would be difficult to have kids so we dreamed of the days that were to come and the excitement and adventure of the milestones that we would get to experience.  after we got married i was living out my fairy tale and day dreaming of the possibilities, waiting on the moment that we decided the time was right.  when the timing was right i was elated at the possibilities (and my day dreams got bigger and my hopes soared).  after several months when panic was starting to set in it wasn’t so fun.  it wasn’t until then that i realized how much hope i had in those milestones.  how much i wished that they would come true.  how my daydreams had pretty much ruined me and finally how my world came crashing down all around me.

after the months of treatments and the time after where we talked about what we wanted to do next, part of me didn’t want to admit anything about the treatments or about the adoption because i felt like i was giving up on my dreams – on what i always wanted.  i was acknowledging that i would miss those milestones and that i lost faith in me and i was giving up on myself.

in my devastation that i wouldn’t be able to expand my family in the way i planned, those milestones flowed through my head like racing hot lava.  a list, constantly growing, formed and circulated around in my thoughts causing my heart to break a little more with each bullet point – when i didn’t even know it could hurt any more.

 i will pause from my pity party to emphasize that we HAVE gained from this experience, but there are times when it is difficult to see the positive and to not dwell on the negative.  this is one of those times.

let me be dramatic.  each mother’s day i feel like a little bit of my soul dies.  i feel like my heart is being shredded from the inside out and the bile rises up and the taste lingers in the back of my throat.  it isn’t that i am not thankful for my mom and all of the women who have been wonderful influences in my life.  it isn’t that i don’t think about all of my friends and family who are mothers or are about to be mothers, because i do.  i give thanks for them and for their children and pray they know how blessed they all are to have each other.  it is the day that constantly reminds me of what i am not able to do.  that i have to rely on someone else to pick me to make my dreams come true.  the reality is that someone has to pick me out of a lineup and read my profile book like they are buying a car and i hope that they do it quickly so we can be done waiting.  it reinstates those negative feelings i have about myself.  i expressed those thoughts with someone and was asked, “don’t you think that will change once you are placed?”  my answer is simple.  it will change but not in the way one would think.  if that day ever comes i will be thrilled (for the biggest understatement of the year) but that day will always be a painful reminder of our struggles.  it will be like a birthday of someone who has passed away or the anniversary of the death of a loved one – it will be bittersweet.  i will relish the homemade gifts and crafts (hint: andy, remember that).  i will act like my over done pancake breakfast in bed is the best thing i have ever eaten.  i will slip my macaroni necklace over my head while tears of joy threaten to overflow.  i will take a huge breath and will look at my child that will call me mom and i will look at my husband who has stuck with me, even when i gave him an out, and will smile.  but later that night i will kiss my baby on the head and will tuck them in bed, andy will be reading a book, who am i kidding, watching something on tv, and i will slip out of the house to sit on our porch swing and take 10 minutes to stare at the stars while the tears roll down my face in memory and silent reflection of all that has been lost.

all of the times i prayed and begged to be pregnant “this” month, all of the treatments and tears, all of the negative pregnancy tests, when the doctors gave up on us.  in all those times and more infertility has robbed us.  it has taken from me so many different milestones that we promised each other.  it took away part of me:

i am hesitant to continue, but writing has been surprisingly therapeutic and why pay someone when you can write?  i feel like when i put my words down in black and white i can look back and see them and there is something tangible that i can hold on to – i can look at them and feel like my feelings and my rampant thoughts are conveyed and together.  it organizes the chaos that is in my mind, somewhat.  i feel that i am too far gone and despite my hesitation here goes…my compiled list (thus far) of how infertility robs us.

i will never know what it is like:

1. to see that plus sign on a pregnancy test and feel the excitement of knowing a tiny human is growing inside me.
2. to use one of the many ways i came up with to educate/reveal to andy that he was going to be a dad.
3. to go to the first doctor’s appt after the positive test and to see that black and white image and hear the heart beat.
4. to grab andy’s hand and cry with him as we listen to the heart beat.
5. to have andy look at me the way expectant husbands look at their wives.

6. to have andy place his hand on my belly and talk to our baby.
7. to have that print out of the ultrasound (and possibly have a fun ultrasound – for once).
8. to use one of the hundred ways we talked about to tell our parents and then our families that we were expecting.
9. to dress in maternity clothing and apparently use maternity pants as buffet pants on down the road post birth.
10. to have weird cravings (and for that to be socially accepted and expected).
11. to take “bump pictures” (even though i hate pictures) and to post them along with updates on “today my baby is the size of an orange”
12. to feel the baby move – which people constantly will say is their favorite thing about being pregnant and people constantly say that is the time when they felt like they “connected to their baby.”
13. to pee all the time (ok with this one it is more of the excuse of the pregnancy to pee all the time – seriously i could drink a ton of water and pee more in a day than any pregnant woman).
14. to pee a little when coughing or sneezing (ok the older i get i think i don’t have to be pregnant…)
15. to use mommy brain as excuse for everything (once people announce they are expecting EVERYTHING becomes “due to mommy brain”)
16. to cry at everything for no reason but to have an excuse that people accept.  people don’t like the crying for no reason because of treatment side effects.
17. to bond with the baby inside me.  to ride down the road in an empty car and to know that i am not alone.
18. to experience the bonding with andy over the pregnancy.
19. to have andy pull me into his arms and thank me for making his dreams come true as well.
20. to take naps “for the baby” (everything becomes “for the baby”)
21. to have people ask me if they can touch my belly or ask me other exciting questions because i am pregnant.
22. to park in the expectant parent reserved spots at the stores.
23. to experience the birthing class with andy.
24. to have weekly doctor appointments where i can “see and hear” my baby.
25. to experience some ice cream or take out tradition after my doctor appointments.
26. to pre admit for the birth and have a tour of the labor and delivery center.
27. to pack the suit case for the hospital and worry that i will forget my pillow.
28. to have baby showers that are normal and where games come directly from being pregnant.  where there isn’t a fear of “giving back” gifts because a mom changed her mind.
29. to participate in pregnancy nesting and having a pre-baby to-do list and crossing things off that list.
30. to have the frantic ride to the hospital if my water broke at home.
31. to have the dull ride to the hospital if being induced.
32. to experience the entire birthing process.  sitting in the hospital bed, getting an iv, being hooked up to fetal monitors, seeing the lines move predicting contractions, holding andy’s hand during bad contractions, watching andy turn various shades of white, having andy tell me that he loves me before things get crazy, getting the epidural and watching andy create an excuse to leave the room to update family, knowing that family is out there or close by waiting, pushing, the nurses and doctors being in the room, the excitement and the rushing.  the end result.
33. to hear the doctor announce boy or girl after months of waiting to find out.
34. for andy to kiss my forehead after that announcement.
35. to hear that first cry.
36. to have the baby put on my chest and to know that immediate love. and to know that one of the first people other than the medical staff holding my baby was me or andy.
37. to have those moments right after everything has calmed to be a family of 3 without the rest of the world in our room, where andy would present to me an awesome push present.
38. to see the face that i have carried for 9 months and know that “we made that”
39. to have family and friends come in so they can be introduced – and to tell everyone their birth story.
40. for andy to go to the waiting room and simply say boy or girl.
41. to experience the post birth shower that everyone claims is the best shower ever and if you never experience it – you haven’t ever really showered…
42. to experience breast-feeding and once again that “connection” that people talk about.
43. to not wonder if it was something that i did wrong years ago and wonder what i could have done differently.
44. to not worry that when we are placed the parents will change their mind and come back for their child.
45. to not worry that one day my child will ask me about their birth story and to possibly have no clue – thus making my child feel different.

46. to not worry that whatever child we are placed with will resent us at some point in time and tell us that they wished they were with their “real” mom and dad and that they hate us.

as i sit here and read back through my words i have mixed feelings.  i have such bitterness that boils up and anger that bubbles to the surface and both of those roll into one ball of irritated, irrational, frustrated, rage.  another part of me has weariness and fear: weariness that we have waited so long to be parents and a fear that we will never be chosen to be parents.  there is a part of me that reads through that list and has a list just as long as the things that we get to do because we are adopting that “normal” expecting couples will never get to experience – and that really is exciting.

i spoke to a friend and to make a long story short she asked how i was.  i will admit it hadn’t been a great day and with the thoughts above running rampant in my head i jumped on my soap box before i even really realized it and felt bad about it.  my words (not directed at her in any possible way) were dripping in annoyance and hurt.  i told her that i was sorry i got up there and she said it was ok that “i think your soapbox was right on point” and “you deserve to be frustrated and have your grief.”  she didn’t call me selfish or overly dramatic or insensitive and those simple words of acceptance and understanding came flying at me during a time i needed my feelings to be validated.  so yes i am still sulking and mulling around all of the ways i have been robbed because of infertility (as i do from time to time) but they are becoming, more and more, just bullet points in a mere chapter of our story.  a story, that like most, has highs and lows.  as the bitterness simmers, and i work my way back to dwelling on the positive i tuck my ever growing list somewhere deep in my mind.