Category Archives: hurt

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.

 

8 days

**I wrote this in the days following Addy’s funeral, but until now didn’t feel like posting**

addy’s life was short.

there is no way around this subject.  her life was short.  8 days to be exact.

while you may not agree with the next several thoughts, you have to allow me to believe them because i do.  we don’t have to agree, but we can respect each other.

when addy was born the odds were not in her favor.  she was 12 weeks early, she had the PDA, she developed the infection, and she had the massive brain bleed.  if she only had any one of those things (instead of them all), this story may have played out differently – but we will never know and playing the what if game is pointless.  with all of those complications we believe there is mercy in her passing.  we obviously didn’t want that to happen and we wanted the outcome to be different, but we were constantly reminded that we are not in control.  death is some times the most compassionate thing that can happen to a person, and we believe that to be the case in this situation.

even though the birth mother changed her mind hours before addy’s death she wanted us to be at the funeral.  we got an e mail from our caseworker with the arrangements.  we knew we wanted to go to support the mother and her family, we wanted the agency to know that we really did care, and while addy was alive i spent a lot of time with her and wanted to say goodbye.  so for us we knew that we would go.  we wouldn’t attend the grave side service, but we would go to the funeral home.  since the birth mother hadn’t told a lot of people that she was giving the baby up for adoption we didn’t want to go to the grave side service where people talk to the people around them afterwards.  we didn’t want to just say we were “friends” because we didn’t want the follow up questions.  the safest thing to protect the mother and the best thing for us was to just go to the funeral service at the funeral home.  when we got there we signed in and found a seat.  shortly after we sat down the pregnancy counselor came over to us and we stood up and hugged her.  she slipped something in my hand and told me that the mother wanted us to have it.  it was a tiny knit hat that belonged to addy, they also gave us a card signed by the people that worked at the agency.  i gave her a card and a flash drive of the photos that i had taken of addy to give to the mother.  we spoke with our caseworker and gave her a hug.  a few minutes before the service started the birth mother came over and gave me a huge hug and the dad came over and shook our hands.

i don’t love funerals – besides the obvious that someone is dead, but because i don’t feel like funerals capture a persons life.  i have been to a few funerals that have made me feel closer to the deceased, but most of the time i feel like funerals paint a picture that isn’t an accurate image of that person or their life, or that they are so far off on who that person was to the people they have left behind.  i will say that this funeral was no different.  it was painful.  i mean no disrespect for addy, her family, or the preacher that performed the funeral, but it was the worst funeral i have ever been to.

to begin with, it was a funeral for an 8 day old baby.  it doesn’t matter that we were connected through the adoption process and that she was so close to being ours, it would have been horrible even if that wasn’t the case.  it honestly felt like a pre-memorial service for pat summit (she was eulogized more than addy was).  i liked coach pat as much as the next person, but the tiny little body up there wasn’t pat summitt, it was addy.  the other thing that stuck out to me so much as being terrible was that in talking about pat summitt the preacher continued to say that millions will remember pat, but no one will remember addy.  that her life meant nothing.  she was insignificant.

maybe we misunderstood the point of what the preacher was saying, but we both would have misunderstood the same way, because we were both very upset when we left the funeral.  during the funeral andy’s hand would grip mine a little tighter and i returned the gesture each time something didn’t sit right (at one point in time it was just a continuous squeeze).  we couldn’t  believe some of the things we heard, and granted at a time like this it is hard to know what to say, but I feel like other things could have been said.  i silently prayed that the preacher would step aside and ask if anyone wanted to come to the front and say a few words – because i would have gone.  i thought about the fact that most people didn’t know of the adoption plan and thought “i don’t care, addy deserves better than this.”  he never left the podium, and never gave me a chance to speak. so allow me to say what i feel like should have been said in the first place.

one thing that the preacher did say was this: “how do you eulogize 8 days?”  that is how he started his sermon and that grabbed me, so i will keep that.

how do you eulogize 8 days of life?

you shouldn’t have to.  it isn’t fair and it is hard for us to understand why things happened the way that they did.  we can sit here everyday and say it was all part of God’s timing, but that implies that God was ok that her life was cut short.  or the implication can be made that he planned on her life to be short for a “greater good” or to “teach” someone a lesson.  i have a hard time believing that some people are born to die to show other people something because that would imply that their life is expendable – that God doesn’t value their life as much as other lives.  i don’t believe that we are God’s pawns that he just kicks us off the chessboard whenever he feels like it.  i just don’t believe that.  i understand from a physical stand point why addy died.  i know that she was early and that she was very sick.  i understand that her chance of survival was slim with all of the complications – so her death wasn’t a complete shock to us.  what i don’t understand is the spiritual side.  i don’t know why we were chosen to be part of her 8 days.  my heart tells me that there is a reason, but i can’t figure it out – and possibly i will never know the reason – and i have come to believe that this is ok.

addy came into this world with a dramatic flair – butt first; however, that first breath of life was her own.  she was a 13.75 inch long, 2 pound 10 ounce miracle.  for weeks before her birth she was our miracle.  her short life was full of tubes, medicines, tests, needle sticks, glow lights, beeps, and monitors.  her cry was never louder than a kitten’s meow. she never found her voice and we will never know the depth of it.  she never got to sleep in a real bed, only knowing the warmth of the incubator.  she will never know the silence on a starry night gazing at the moon, she only knew the beeps, constant noise, and bright lights of the nicu.  despite never holding her, and never being able to be that close to her, i was able to pick up on her scent.  the “new baby smell” that everyone talks about.  when i left the hospital after she was born to go to the hotel, i fell asleep with my hands next to my face drinking the smell in.  the smell that i associated with dreams coming true, hope, and our miracle. the smell that a few days later, triggered the tears to fall as i leaned my head against the incubator praying that the doctors were wrong.

it is hard to imagine what kind of person she would have been.  in her short life you could catch glimpses of characteristics of who she might have been.  when she was uncomfortable or in pain she put her hands to her face covering her eyes.  when she was completely relaxed she would hold her ear or put her hands above her head.  her heart rate reacted to music showing that she enjoyed music.  she would have liked to have been snuggled because she always responded to touch.  she was quick to grab your finger and to latch on and squeeze.  but beyond these things we will never know addy as being beyond 8 days old.  we can imagine who she would have been, but because her beginning was brief and the ending came too soon we will have few thoughts of her growing and living beyond the incubator and the nicu.

she was surrounded by love before she took her first breath.  her birth mother loved her enough to do the adoption plan, andy and i loved her more than any words i can express, our families loved her, and friends loved her.  she was a little girl that was never at a loss for love or prayers.  they poured in for her.  the nurses and the doctors loved her too.  i walked in several times to see the nurses talking with her and telling her that she was beautiful.  she might have just been their patient, but the love in the nicu was palpable.  addy received more love in her short life than some people get in a life time and for that i am thankful.

while her life didn’t reach millions of people (maybe not even hundreds of people) she touched lives.  deeply.  the people that she leaves behind have felt her presence deep within our souls and we mourn the loss of sweet addy.

and while i still don’t understand the “purpose” in her life cut short and i don’t believe that God “caused” this to happen to teach us something i do believe that we can use terrible things – this death – to find beauty.  we can find beauty in the fact that she wasn’t alone and that she died being loved by many.  personally, i am holding onto the beauty that this experience has opened my eyes and proved that i can love a baby that isn’t biologically mine.  there is beauty that relationships were strengthened surrounding the birth and death of addy.  the beauty that God never left us throughout this entire process.

i will never believe that she was put here as a dispensable life.  for some unknown reason her life was an essential part of our story and of our lives.  there is a part of addy that will remain in my heart, and i hope in the hearts of others, forever.

how do you eulogize 8 days of life?

her life was short and and her death won’t affect millions of people.  her footprint might have been tiny, but in the 8 days she was alive she left a mark – her mark – an impact and love that was immense, beyond measure.

goodbye sweet addy, goodbye.

desparation then devastation

there is a time in my life where I need to realize some truths and accept them.  I am working on this – every day.  there is a long list and I don’t feel like this is the time to divulge that list in it’s entirety, but rather just glance at that list.

with the infertility journey and the adoption journey one of the truths that I have learned is that in the grand scheme of things I have no control.  I have no “real” say in my life.  yes I make decisions about what I am going to wear, what I am going to eat, what I am going to do, but this journey has opened my eyes that I can’t control everything, despite my best effort I just can’t.  I can make lists to control the happenings in my life (and the organization of my home), but in reality I don’t have control – just an illusion of control that I cling to with every breath.  if I had control I would have said “listen ovaries – you have one job – it is time to do it” and it would have worked.  if I had control I would have looked at my doctor and said “you have no option but to make this procedure succeed.”  but I don’t have control and I am learning – still – that there is nothing that I could have done differently or additionally to change the course of our journey.

this is where I feel like I should say “in reality we don’t have any control because God should be in control of our lives.”  whereas, yes I agree God should be the center of our lives and our decision making, this isn’t that type of post.

as stated in my last post we have been officially waiting for a year.  we have been passed over numerous times – for an entire year.  with that type of response or in this case lack there of,  I can’t help but think.  that thinking often leads me down a dark and narrow road full of doubt and sadness and longing.

a road that causes my imagination to run wild with “what ifs” and “what is.”

what if we are never placed?  what if I never get to be a mom and andy a dad?  what if I have robbed family of having the experience of us as parents?  what if andy will really one day regret not taking the “out” when he could?  what if he starts to resent me?  what if my life never feels complete?  what if that longing and desire never goes away?  what if I never get to experience all the things that fuel my fears?  what if I sink into misery and allow me not being a mother to destroy my soul?  what is so wrong with us that we haven’t been placed?  what is it that caused people to skip over our profiles?  what is the big picture and can I survive not having the control to understand right now?  what is the reason God gave me this desire to be a mother and paired that with bad ovaries?  what is the point – is there a point?  is this some sort of punishment from above?

that dark road is sometimes dotted with street lamps – glimpses of hope, answers, or things that get me back to the sunshine.  talking with other people that are waiting to be placed and hearing that they have the same fears – that I am truly not alone in some of those thoughts.  when andy tells me that he loves me and doesn’t resent me despite all the reasons that I have given him to feel the other way.  when I know someone looks at our profile and passes us by because they want a family that already has a child.  a beautiful sunset or sunrise over the mountains.  street lamps that brighten up my mind.

but sometimes the things on my road aren’t street lamps, but rather lanterns.  a little light that shines bright enough to tide me over.  not nearly as bright as the lamps, but still light enough to get me through.

these things usually show up right before I have a breakdown full of complete and total doubt and tears.  when I feel like I have come to the end of my road.  when i start to question why we are doing what we are doing.  when I am grasping at straws.  desperation for that normalcy and control.

desperation: a state of despair, typically one that results in rash or extreme behavior

synonyms: hopelessness, anguish, agony, distress

usually my desperation manifests in lists.  lots and lots of lists.  I clean things and organize things.  I constantly am trying to reorganize and make better.  trying to drown my thoughts with lists so that I can’t do anything but focus on what is in front of my face.  I write, take pictures, and create new projects around the house to occupy my mind.  it helps.  in the process of focusing on anything else, those doubts and sadness ebb away.  that longing is still there, but without the doubt it just turns back into “just waiting.”

once I realized that we had been waiting a year and that we had to update a bunch of our paperwork I started to feel overwhelmed and to be honest – sad and a little (ok a lot) mad.

**side “semi relevant” note**

there are times where I start to wonder if God is “doing” this to us because he thinks I would be a terrible mother.  or that other people think I would be a terrible mother so God is like “i agree.”  there was this time that I was with a group of people (and a young baby just a few months old) and everyone, except me, was being called away for just a moment.  the parents were trying to decide who would miss out and stay to give the baby the bottle.  I offered since I was not leaving and both of the parents looked at me like I was crazy.  like if God didn’t trust me with a baby, they weren’t going to either.  the parents exchanged looks and did let me feed their baby the bottle, but their looks and doubts just fueled that thought process.  it is possible that I was over sensitive to the situation and that I misread the looks and the hesitation, but in the moment those looks emphasized that God thought I would be a terrible mother and everyone agreed.

**end semi relevant side note**

so in my sad and a lot mad state I found myself thinking back to those events, of possibly not being trusted to give a baby a bottle, and to the thought process that God thinks  I would be a terrible mother.  my thoughts are fueled by fear of the unknown and once it takes root desperation sets in.  hopelessness overcomes rational thought and where my behavior isn’t always rash or extreme my thoughts tend to become that way.  I found myself on my dark narrow road, running.  running into the darkness looking for a street lamp to ease off the desperation.  I found a lantern.

at dinner saturday night dad told me that he was going back to the farm.  there was a calf down and he was going to have to bottle feed it.  I had been a hermit in my house working on various projects and told him I would be glad to go with him.  andy ended up getting home before we left to go to the farm and he joined in with us.  we loaded up our gear and headed into the muddy abyss.  the calf had gotten stuck in the mud and was weak but drank the bottle (and a little more).  dad made sure that it was in a nice bed of hay and warm and we left.

mudpie

sunday after church, dad, mom, and I gathered our gear and went back to check on the little calf.  as we drove up he was stretched out and his head was semi back  I leaned forward and said – “doesn’t look like good news,”  dad agreed.  as we got a tad closer he blinked.  I was ecstatic – he was alive.  we gave him another bottle and repositioned him to be more comfortable and in more warm hay.  dad decided that the little guy needed to be moved to the barn.  later sunday gene (live in farm hand/manager) was able to take the tractor and get the little calf to the barn; however, his mother was no longer interested in following her baby or the tractor to the barn.  it was left to us humans to nurse him back to health.  after youth on sunday andy and I headed to the farm to check on the little guy.  he was in the stall with his legs tucked under him and he was dry and warm in his bed of hay.  I sat on a bucket and fed him his bottle and he was my little “mud pie.”  cows normally moo but a little cow with pneumonia purrs like a little kitten.  he was given several shots to make him feel better.  I rubbed his fluffy little head and ears and told him that I loved him.  I put my hand under his chin and lifted his head up and made eye contact with him and told him to have a good night and that I would see him Monday.  dad sent me a message Monday morning that he drank his bottle and that he wanted to stand up but was still too weak.  he was still purring a little bit too.

I told andy that mud pie had to live.  he became my desperation.  I didn’t have a list this time, I had mud pie.  he had to live.  he was my way of proving to God and to the rest of the world that I can take care of a living thing.  that I could give a bottle and love.  that I could be passionate and that I could be the role of a mother.

Monday night after work I went to the farm and got there before my dad got back.  I went into the stall and mud pie was in a weird sling that dad and gene strung up to help insure that his legs were getting blood flow.  I grabbed my bucket and sat down in front of him and rubbed his head and said hello.  when I was rubbing his neck he leaned into my hand like a dog would do.  I told him about my day and he listened – he is after all a cow that couldn’t go anywhere even if he wanted to.  I noticed he wasn’t purring as much and was tap dancing with his front legs.  I informed him that he had to get better.  he had to at least try.  he mooed at me.  it was a moo filled with passion and anger and rebellion.  a moo that told me that he was a fighter.  after that I talked to him about my desperation and I rubbed his ears and he semi mooed in understanding.  dad showed up and we gave him his bottle and he drank most of it, but it was too early to let him out of the sling.  so we came back a few hours later and freed him and propped him up in his bed of hay.  I told him good night and we turned the light off bathing the stall in darkness.  my Tuesday morning update was about the same as the morning before.  Tuesday after work we went to check on him and dad said that he had been in his sling but was out for the night.  I walked into the stall and found little mud pie snuggled in his hay.  he tried to stand.  I tucked his feet under him and held his head up and talked to him while he drank his bottle.  we made eye contact and I told him how much I loved him and what a good and handsome boy he was.  we had to go to a meeting and I knew we wouldn’t be back Tuesday night so right before we left I went in and rubbed his head, told him good night and sweet dreams and walked away from my little mud pie.

mud2

Wednesday morning I got my morning update.  the subject of the e mail was mud pie.  I opened my e mail and read “I am sorry!  We tried.”

devastation: severe and overwhelming shock or grief

I sat facing my computer and silent tears escaped the rims of my eyes rolled down my face.  I reminded myself to breathe and stared at the words.  mud pie was gone.  my lantern burned out.  my desperation morphed into devastation.  I was devastated that he was gone and that my attempts failed.  I couldn’t even do right by a cow.  I couldn’t save him.  my thoughts quickly went down the road that maybe God is right, maybe I am not fit to be a mother.

Wednesday night, with those thoughts circling in my head, I curled up in bed and cried.  my eyes filled with tears that rolled down my face and puddled on my pillow, followed by choking sobs.  a soul drenching cry.

I woke up Thursday morning with a throbbing headache – remnant of my tears from the night before.  as we drove to work I watched the clouds play on the tops of the mountains and with no other rational thought – other than it made me smile, I had found my street lamp and was finding my way back to the main road.

it was during this time of desperation that I realized a few things.  one is that I have no control.  I can cling to the illusion as much as I want, but it will always just be an illusion I create for my peace of mind.  another is that this process, from start until present, is just a constant ride of ups and downs: the waiting, the emotions of being rejected, the unknown, the way a person will walk by with a stroller and my heart almost leaps out of my chest, the looks of pity from other people, the hope that we will be the family that we always envisioned.  something that is difficult to explain and difficult for people to understand is that sometimes there are no words to make me feel better about this stressful time of just waiting and of the unknown.  that sometimes even the most rational comments and insight will not sound rational to me.  this time, my little mud pie, taught me that in my times of desperation, stick to the lists.

part 2 of 4: the inconsolable soul – a dark place

I’m my own worst critic and I think everyone in the band is a perfectionist. – Adam Jones.

i may not be part of a band, but i am part of this world and i can relate to where adam jones was coming from.  i think way too often we look at ourselves harsher than anyone would ever look at us.  i think we judge ourselves on things that shouldn’t really be judged.  i think we instill a perception of ourselves in our minds that isn’t ever really obtainable.  i think we expect more out of ourselves than is remotely possible.  i believe we are our own critics and we are the worst at criticizing ourselves.  i get it mr. jones.  i get it.

this is a side note to put a disclaimer out there.  my views of myself are not now, nor have they ever been, towards anyone else in our situation.  i can sit here and write all of these things about how i feel about myself and the situation. i can say how incomplete i am and have been and think i might always be, but i don’t see other people in the same light that i see myself.  i don’t think of them the way that i feel towards myself.  when i look in the mirror and see myself and our situation it is completely me, and when someone walks up beside me with the exact same problem and situation those feelings never project onto them, but rather a deep level of compassion and empathy pours out and my heart breaks even more for them than it has me.  it is as if my negative feelings and emotions have been locked inside for my own mind to wrap around.  it has become a strange phenomenon and a weird contradiction that i can make blanket statements and thoughts about me but don’t feel like they apply to anyone else.  i can’t really explain it and i don’t know that i ever will.

we were left with hope from dr. w.  he gave us homework.  he put me on several medicines to help get my hormones in check and to make sure that i was regular with my periods.  he wanted me to be on the pills for a while to get in my system.  he said to call him in two months and i would go back for lab work.  i called in two months and he said “wait one more month.”  after that additional month, he told me to come in and stated that everything looked great.  he said my labs were almost perfect, he had high hopes that we could kick infertility in the teeth and that i could get pregnant.  to say we were overjoyed at this point in time would be a complete understatement.  he rekindled my hope at a time where it was about to flicker out completely.  i was grateful for that.

it might be a good time to mention a few key things that were going on in our lives around this time.  we had a group of friends that we would get together with for game nights, dinners, cookouts, and any excuse to just hang out together.  it was 4 couples (which included me and andy).  out of the four couples, one or both of the spouses grew up with us (spouses that came later fit right in, making it a group of 4 couples instead of individuals) so out of each couple, we have been good friends for a long time.  we tried to get together each month.  sometimes we would get together more than once a month and sometimes there was a lull before we saw each other again, but we attempted to have our “group” get together as often as our schedules would allow.  each couple and each individual brought something new and different to the group and i believe that is what made our group unique.  i can’t speak for the other couples, but for us one thing was for sure – when we went our separate ways, we looked back fondly on the night with hurting cheeks from laughing and some new inside jokes.  all that to say that around this time, we found out that each of the couples were expecting (one couple already had a baby so this would have been baby two, and for the other two couples, this would be their first).  it was 3 out of 4 women pregnant and i happened to be that 4th.  i was the failure out of the group.  moving forward it would be 3 couples experiencing some of the same stuff at the same time and then there was us.  there would be fun conversations about nurseries, names, doctors appts, ultrasounds, heartbeats, a future of being mom and dad, and late nights.  and then there was us.  couple 4 – the infertile woman and her poor husband that got stuck with her.

this might also be an appropriate time to give a little background on the “group” before it was the 4 couples.  when we were individuals (not married), we were still a group: a few members varied depending on the year but for the most part we were the core group.  it was mostly me and one other girl (sometimes a third) and the rest of them were guys.  they loved to joke with us (especially about me being blonde) and about us being women.  it was all in good fun and we never got offended by their jokes.  i do blame them for my sarcastic sense of humor, stating that i had to develop it as a defense mechanism to put up with them.  we did guy things and that was perfect with our group.  we played poker (i won my fair share – but i knew to quit when i was ahead so that i can brag to this day).  we went to the batting cages (i didn’t do so well there).  we watched sports and action movies.  we went to concerts and cookouts.  i guess it fit my personality, but it was fun to be around the guys (less drama).  with that out there, the guys took advantage of the girls in their group.  they would joke that we needed to bring them refills and cook for them.  they were also an encyclopedia of “woman jokes.” one of their favorite jokes when the girls were giving their opinion on what to do or watch (usually it followed the suggestion of watching dirty dancing) was that a woman’s place is barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.  i will reiterate that we never took offense to their jokes – sometimes we laughed harder than they did.  we knew that they were just that – jokes.  i can honestly say that i believe they didn’t mean anything by them.  i can honestly say that they didn’t believe the jokes that they were telling.  they were just messing with us.

it wasn’t until i couldn’t get pregnant that their favorite joke knocked me off my feet.  i went into a panic thinking that the definition of a woman and a good wife (especially according to my very best guy friends) went with the image of a woman barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.  for years the jab hadn’t bothered me but now it cut me all the way to the core.  it has always struck me as weird that i put that definition on myself.  i didn’t see single women or women without kids and think any differently of them or that they are less of a “woman” – i don’t feel that way at all.  it honestly didn’t cross my mind.  it never caused me to look at anyone with this type of bias until i looked in a mirror.  it didn’t matter because dr. w gave me reason to believe that i could one day fit that image that i had put inside my head.

it was while we were waiting on my medicines to “work” and before any procedures that i sent a note to our close friends asking them for compassion and patience with us while we struggled to share their joy amidst our own overwhelming grief of the unknown.  it wasn’t that we weren’t happy for them, we were.  it was because we were having a hard time showing that joy and disguising our pain.  we still wanted to be a part of the group – but at a safe distance.  we got a lot of “heat” from that note.  i was told on the front porch of my own house that “if you just relax, you can get pregnant.”  (gee, i should try that!  why didn’t i think of that).  i felt attacked from several people and while i understand what they were saying, it only made me want to pull away more.

we still went to dinners and got together during all of this for a while when our schedules allowed us to.  it was hard.  i would give andy a look and he knew that meant it was time to go.  for the most part i was able to contain myself until we got in the car and then i couldn’t hold it in any longer.  andy would hold my hand or rub my back all the way home while i let it all out.  it was devastating.  it wasn’t that they did anything wrong – it was me, us.  as much as they said conversations wouldn’t dwell on the pregnancies and on babies, it came up – a lot.  i guess being an outsider to those conversations made it really clear how often they came up.  so did the complaints of “being pregnant.”  i would have given anything to not be able to drink alcohol, or to only sleep on my back, or to be miserably hot or uncomfortably cold.  i would have given anything to have had morning sickness – because that would have meant that i was pregnant.  with the heartbreak that i was going through, i would have gladly taken all of the negative and been absolutely happy about it.

***warning: the next several paragraphs might be too much information for some people – can’t say i didn’t warn you***

november came around and dr. w said the best chance we had would be to plan on doing an iui: intrauterine insemination.  the procedure sounded easy, safe, and reasonable so we agreed with him and decided to proceed.  he told me that timing would be important so on day one of my period i had to call the office and report that i was “actively bleeding”.  i don’t think i was ever so excited for day one (november 8).  i called the office and was told by one of his nurses to come in on cycle day 3 (cd3).  (ok so now i have to keep count and records of everything).  cd3 was a wednesday and i had to be at the office at 7 am for blood work and an ultrasound.  we had to wake up early and go to the office and wait in line.  it was first come, first served so we tried to get there early enough so that we didn’t have to wait long.  once they drew my labs, i went to the waiting room to wait on my ultra sound.  this would be a good time to toss out there that in this office, there were no “fun” ultra sounds.  they were all invasive.  when i was called to the room and ready for the ultrasound, i was expecting dr. w to walk in.  but no, in walks one of his partners. i guess my look of shock was evident and the doctor explained that when i come in for things, because of timing, i will most likely just have to deal with one of the other doctors (and their nurses).  (now my modest self has been “exposed” to so many people that i have lost count and by this point in time, i realize that i might as well toss that modesty out the door).  he does the ultra sound and says some numbers that meant nothing to me, but i memorized them so i could write them down later.  he tells me when to take my medicine (cd5 – cd9) and when to come back.  i go back on cd12 for yet another round of blood work and ultra sound.  i get the same doctor that i had a few days before and he tells me when to take my shot – cd12 and when to come back for the procedure (cd14).

my medicines.  i have always been a person that has never dealt with any side effects of medicines.  never – minus a few allergic reactions.  the thought never crossed my mind to even read what the side effects were.  big mistake. when i started the fertility drugs, i experienced almost all the side effects.  i was at work and all of a sudden i got hot. not just the “is it warm in here” hot, but the “i am going to melt” hot.  i ran to the bathroom to put water on my face to cool me down because my heart was racing and my cube mate asked if i was ok because i was “all red.”  i felt like i was melting from the inside out – a volcano building and building, ready to erupt.  no amount of cold water made them better.  i learned that i had to ride them out (luckily they didn’t last long – just several times a day).  only problem was, this was happening while i was at work and i was wearing long sleeves.  i couldn’t roll them up because i didn’t want people to see my arms.  i spent a lot of the time on the porch at work in the winter air.  my smooth sleek hair morphed into an frizzy fluff ball.  i also became very moody, highly sensitive, emotional and didn’t feel like my self.  i had other side effects too, but those are the ones that stick out as being the ones most memorable and difficult to deal with.

most of my medicines came in pill form – except one.  i had to give myself a shot.  i had hoped andy would be able to give them to me, but he couldn’t and i wasn’t about to have him stick me and pass out, so i learned to give them to myself.  the shot had to be kept in the fridge and i had to give them to myself at the exact time my doctor told me (which was usually between 5 and 8 at night – depending on my cycle).  fun stories to be added about that dreaded shot.

all of this time, i have been getting to work at weird hours.  trying not to alert people as to what is going on (i had my reasons).  so i would make excuses like, “i was unable to sleep, so i got up really early and decided to come in,” or, “i wanted to get out of here a little early so i drug myself in,” or, “i wanted to work later because andy had a meeting so i came in later to avoid over time.”  i was glad that it was november because i was able to wear long sleeves and jackets to hide my arms, which were pretty bruised from all of the lab work. when the bruises started to fade my arms looked rough.

our iui was scheduled for cd14 which happened to be a sunday.  i was glad because i didn’t have to make excuses.  dr. w preferred that i took the day off after the procedures so that i could relax. because it was a sunday, i could go have it done, go home and relax for the rest of the day.  we got up early and went to the office and we had our labs done.  afterwards we had to wait two hours so we went and had breakfast.  we went back to the office and prepared ourselves for the iui.  another doctor came in (not dr. w or the one we have seen before, but someone completely different- and there went my last shred of modesty and dignity).  he explained the numbers to us and told us he would be back with help and we were left for a few minutes to sit in silence.  part of the time i wondered if andy would pass out (since he didn’t do so well with my wisdom teeth experience) and the rest of the time i stared at the ceiling and prayed.  the doctor came in with a nurse i didn’t know and did the procedure.  it was uncomfortable and hurt a little, but not too bad.  he said goodbye and patted my knee which was still in the stir-up.  for some reason that struck me as a little rude (even though i know he meant nothing by it), but then again who cares.  the nurse eased my feet to a dangling position, told me to lay flat and still and they would be back. we waited and waited and i stared at the ceiling while andy talked to me and held my hand.  i teared up and he kissed my forehead and told me it would be ok.  my unshed tears were interrupted by the nurse telling me that if i felt ok, i could leave.  she helped me to a sitting position and made me wait a minute, then helped me to my feet.  when i didn’t fall over in the floor, she said goodbye and told me to get dressed and leave.  i went home and crawled back in bed while andy went to church – he made it to late service and told everyone he just over slept.  on cd18 i started more medicine, taking it every other day and on cd26 i went back for a beta test (blood pregnancy test).  on december 3, shane (dr. w’s nurse) called.  he said “sorry hun.  (pause) it’s a no.”   i was at work so i smiled, said thank you, hung up the phone, went to the bathroom, washed the hurt off my face, took a few deep breaths, and worked the rest of my 8 hours until andy picked me up.  my heart shattered to pieces on a friday.

i didn’t have long to wallow in self pity because cd1 was 3 days later and we had to decide if we were going to try again.  we said ok.  dr. w said he was pleased with all of the labs and the procedure itself, only thing was that it didn’t stick.  so cd3 we showed up at the doctors and saw a 4th doctor, had blood work and an ultra sound done.  i took my medicine from cd3 – cd7.  came back cd12 and cd14 for ultra sound and blood work (because on cd12 they didn’t like what they saw), added a new doctor to the mix.  shot on cd14 (which i gave to myself at work because of the timing of everything.  so when i went to work that day i carried two lunch boxes…one with my lunch and the second with my shot that i put in the fridge and told people i was eating dinner there because andy had a meeting and i had to get stuff caught up for the upcoming end of the year).  iui number one for december, cd16 (add another random doctor) and another shot that night (in the comfort of my home). iui number two for december, cd17. praise God dr. w was there to do the second one.  we did two iuis that month, back to back, because during one ultra sound they couldn’t find one of my ovaries and felt that doing two trigger shots and two iui’s in the same month would give us additional percentage of something happening.  i started my medicine cd21.  went cd31 for beta test in the morning and later that day, on a cold wednesday, shane called and said “hey hun.”  he paused long enough to take a deep breath and simply said “sorry.”  i sent andy an email letting him know because i knew i wouldn’t be able to talk about it without getting mad or crying so i just wrote him BFN (big fat negative).  he understood.

i had to work after both of the iui’s in december because i couldn’t come up with an excuse as to why i needed off so close together. that night i cried.  ugly cried.  cried gut wrenching sobs that wouldn’t stop.  i climbed in bed and otis curled up next to me i latched on to him and pulled him close.  he sank into my arms with his head on my pillow and didn’t move when my tears soaked his fur.  my hopes had been high and because we prayed and prayed and because andy said he believed that we were on the right track and he believed that something would happen it was even more devastating.  i believed because i “felt different” and my period hadn’t started and it should have.  i believed because i wanted it to be true.  i did everything the doctor said and i had hope.  in my tears my soul poured out.  my hopes, my dreams, my wishes, my prayers, my life, andy’s life, our everything emptied out of me in one of the most heart wrenching weeping episodes of my life.  there was no consoling – Lord knows andy tried.  i hurt from the inside out.  my soul was damaged – still never really recovered from before.

december was possibly the worst.  i was hopeful for a miracle because “tis the season.”  i was hopeful that we would be getting the best gift possible that no money can buy – well in our case, actually, money was “buying” it (but let’s not get too technical).  december sucked and for the second time in my life, my feelings for Christmas dimmed and i couldn’t wait to get the decorations down and for all of that “crap” to go away.  the spirit of Christmas failed me.

one morning right before Christmas, i had to run to target and pick up a few last minute items (Christmas and travel).  i will admit, i went in my pj pants and a coat – i wasn’t going to be gone long because i had a list and i knew i would be in and out in no time.  plus, that early in the morning, i knew that running into anyone i knew would be slim, so who cares if i wore my pj pants and coat! i got to the line and there was a woman and child in front of me. i smiled at the mom and she smiled back.  i smiled at the kid in the buggy because she was looking at me. i started to unload my buggy and rolled my coat sleeves up because they were getting in the way and the woman looked at my arms – which were bruised (from all shades of healing) and she quickly pushed her kid away from me and got away from me as fast as she could.  it only took a fraction of a second to realize that when she looked at my arms she believed that i was using drugs.  with the bruises and needle marks, i don’t blame her for the reaction or the assumption.  i just wish i could have explained – no it isn’t what she was thinking, but rather my desire for a baby so bad i would do anything…

i went on auto pilot.  i wasn’t myself.  once again i wasn’t given much time to process.  3 days later was cd1 and i called the doctor to set up for cd3.

it was january and it was cold and miserable which was fine because it matched my mood.  between all of the medicines, side effects and the misery of two failed months of iui’s, i wasn’t myself.  i looked in the mirror each morning and felt like a stranger – a messed up version of what i had hoped to be at this point in my life.

we woke up extra early on cd3 because they had been calling for snow.  everything was covered in snow and ice. when i called to set up the appt, i talked to shane about what we do if it snows.  he said they would be there because they had to be and when we saw the snow and ice we debated on calling and telling them never mind, but we knew that meant we would miss january all together and wouldn’t get to “try” again until february.  so we left the house and braved the snow and ice (we almost had a wreck which did nothing for my nerves) and went in on cd3 where we saw yet a different doctor and i was annoyed at that.  because of the snow, there was no one at the doctor’s office so i was able to fly through my lab work and the ultrasound.  i got to work really early that day and made some petty excuse of being early “because of the snow i wanted to leave early to give myself plenty of time and it wasn’t as bad as i thought it would be”.  cd3 – cd7 i took my medicine.  cd12 i came back for more labs and another ultrasound and was told to take two shots that night (instead of just my one).  i went back cd14 for the iui and was glad that dr w was there.  started my other medicine on cd18 and went in cd28 for my blood test.  shane called late friday afternoon and told me it was a no.  there was no sugar coating any of it anymore it was straight shooting.  i started to cry on the phone and told shane i had to talk to dr. w.

dr w called me that night and told me not to give up.  he still had hope for us even if he didn’t understand because he felt like my labs were so much better, andy was perfect and timing was working out perfectly.  he said to continue what we were doing because the important thing was that i was responding to everything – just not getting pregnant.

as far as the group of 4 couples…i told each of the pregnant females that i would welcome emails, texts, facebook messages, written letters, etc from them about their pregnancies but not to be surprised if i couldn’t ask because it was too hard at times to look at them without crying, let alone talking to them.  i stalked them on facebook and emailed individually several times.  even after the negative response from my email asking for understanding, we were still invited on their outings even though we had to turn a few down (we had concert tickets one time, church commitments another time, and a mini weekend getaway another time – our schedules just didn’t match up).  i did get accused of trying to “avoid” the group and was told that i should change my plans and was chastised when i didn’t, but it was truly a scheduling conflict.  in november while the 3 women were still pregnant, our schedules lined up and we went to dinner with them.  one of the couples found out that day what the sex of the baby was.  i wanted to show my support, but couldn’t just come out and ask – it was too much for me to be able to do.  so instead, i asked her 3 times how her appt went, hoping that she would feel free to share as much or as little as she wanted to (including the sex of the baby) since i brought the subject up.  she said “fine.”  with each of my questions, i got “fine,” so i didn’t ask again.  later she sent me a message, mad because “it would have been nice to have been asked” about the sex of the baby and the pregnancy.  i was enraged and hurt.  i did ask.  however, because i wasn’t able to ask the one specific question she wanted to hear, she refused to open up.

it made me mad because you wouldn’t ask someone who has ptsd (triggered by gun shots) to go hunting with you.  you wouldn’t expect someone who is dying of thirst to ask for a cup of water if you have it readily available just like you shouldn’t ask your friend struggling with infertility to pry pregnancy information out of you.  in all this time, some of the couples were expecting us to ask all these questions when we just mentally couldn’t and yet none of them asked me how i was.  how we were.  this situation was new to all 8 of us and no one really knew the right way to handle it.  i dealt with it the best i could and the way that made it hurt less, and others believed that my way was the complete wrong way.  now, i am not trying to say that one set handled the situation better than the other, but rather that all parties (including us) should have done better.

after that dinner, one of the couples had their baby in november after our first iui, but before we knew that it didn’t take.  a second couple had their baby in january, 7 days after our january iui.  the 3rd couple was still not due for a few more months.  we tried to be there (in person or through technology) but it was hard.  emotionally and physically, it was hard.

two days after I talked to dr. w, cd1 started and he told us if we felt like it, he wanted us to try again.  he felt very hopeful and felt like the odds would be in our favor.  cd3 i went in for blood work and an ultrasound.  took medicine for cd3-cd7.  cd12 and cd14 more blood work and ultrasounds.  on cd16 i gave myself a shot.  on cd18 we went in for the iui and dr. w was there.  i was glad.  he took a few minutes to come in before the procedure and talk to us.  he wanted to reassure us and talk about some things in person.  he stated that he felt like we were on the right track and that we were doing great with everything.  he asked each of us how we were handling things.  he cared.  on cd22, i started more meds and we went in for a beta test on cd31.  veronica (dr. w’s other nurse) called that morning (they never called before lunch) and asked if i could come back on cd33 for another beta test.  my heart lept in my throat and i could barely form words, but i asked why?  she stated that dr. w wanted me to have another test because he wanted to make sure the first one was right.  i asked, “does that mean it is positive?”  she wouldn’t answer, but told me to be there two days later.  on cd33 i had another beta test done and that afternoon i got the call.  my levels had been high, but they were back down.  BFN.

i was so infuriated that i called andy and we went to eat.  i flew between rage and hysterical tears at lunch.  i am not sure either of us really ate lunch that day, but we sat there staring at each other, waiting on someone to have something to say.

cd1 started 3 days later and we went back.  it was march.  blood work and ultra sound done on cd3 and my first round of medicine was from cd3-cd7.  on cd12 i went in for my blood work and ultrasound.  while i was laying on the table, i noticed the stir-ups.  they were metal but had socks on them.  in my mind, i recalled all of my other appts and realized that they changed the socks on them all the time.  at Christmas, they had snowman and tree socks and the ones i saw today were shamrocks.  it annoyed me.  they were bright green and happy and i wasn’t in the mood for them.  that night, i gave myself the shot and on cd14 i returned for my iui.  cd18 started more medicine.  on cd29 i took a home pregnancy test and it was a negative.  on cd30 i called the office and told them my period hadn’t started, did i need to come in?  they said no, but to take another test on cd32.  i did and it was still negative but my period still hadn’t started.  they told me to stop my medicines and see what happens.  i took two more pregnancy tests and called because they were both negative.  they gave me another medicine and told me to let them know if my period didn’t start in the next few months.

i called dr. w and he said sorry.  his voice didn’t have the usual effect it had on me.  it wasn’t calming – it rocked me to a state of complete and utter despair and back to that level of uncertainty that i had in the emergency room.  he sounded genuinely sorry for us.  he told me that he didn’t think any more treatment right now was a good idea. he said that we could try again in several months down the road.  he said “alison you are tired.  you need a break.”  i told him no, that i would do whatever. he said no, take a break.

i hung up the phone and looked at andy and i lost it.  he was already pacing (as he does when he is on the phone or if he is waiting to hear what is going on) and he came up behind me and wrapped me in his arms, keeping me from collapsing on the floor and rested his chin on my head.  i sobbed.  he held me tight.  all I could say was “I’m sorry.”  i repeated it over and over and over.  hoping that he could understand that i didn’t mean for this to happen to us.  that i didn’t mean for my ovaries to suck.  that i didn’t know this was going to happen when we first started talking about having a family and kids.  i am so sorry.  somehow he maneuvered us to the love seat and that is when i felt his tears.  i looked at him and knew that i couldn’t trap him.  it wasn’t fair for him.  he would be a great father and i was depriving him of that.  he deserved someone that had good ovaries and because i loved him so much, i had to let him go.  i pulled free of his arms and looked at his soaked face and told him he could have his out.  that he could walk away now with no hard feelings and no questions and i would understand.  i would make others understand too.  he said no.  i told him to really think about it because i couldn’t give him a son or daughter.  i told him to think about it, because i didn’t want to stay together if years down the road he thought that he would look at me with a look of regret or resentment or bitterness for what i was unable to do.  i told him to think about it.  he started to shake his head no and i told him i was leaving for a while.  i got my purse and keys and went to my parents’ house.  they weren’t home.  i don’t remember the drive.  i don’t know how i made it to their house because i was crying so hard.  i don’t know how i made it to their bathroom before i threw up.

i gasped in some deep breaths and closed my eyes trying to pace my breathing – in (pause) and out, in (pause) and out,  swallow down the bile, repeat.  i loved andy so much that i was willing to let him go so that he wouldn’t regret our marriage.  so that he wouldn’t despise me.  breath in and out.

my inconsolable soul.  i went home – to the house that andy and i had made a home.  when i opened the door, i found andy sitting right where i left him an hour earlier.  he didn’t look any better than i did.  i walked to the love seat and sat down next to him and he kept his arms in his lap.  i picked up his right arm and slid right next to him and he tightened his grip and we cried together in silence for a little while longer.  it wasn’t the devastated, end of the world, body shaking sobs but the quiet tears of loss.  of knowing that our illusion, of what we imagined our life together, was shattered.  of knowing what limitations i had placed on our dreams.  i was sorry.  i looked up at him through my tears and met his eyes through his and said “i am so sorry.”  he kissed my forehead and said it wasn’t my fault.  he said he wasn’t going anywhere and that i was his forever.

i went to bed that night alone.  andy went to the garage to work on some projects and told me he would be in later.  i just wanted to be asleep.  thinking that sleep would make it all go away.  thinking that sleep would ease the pain and the hurt.  when i thought there were no more tears to cry, i was proven wrong.  i wrapped my arms around my pillow and buried my face and wept until the darkness of sleep graciously consumed me.

a tractor, a limb, and a farmer…

what might sound like the beginning of either the best joke in the world or the worst is a story worth telling…

let me warn you by saying some of the photos are a little graphic and not for the really weak stomach.  (andy was able to look at them so most people should be fine other than the GROSS comment when you see them).

also as a side note with my family we joke a lot.  sometimes I think it is to eliminate awkward moments and to ease tension but this is how we deal with stressful situations so don’t judge me…

on march 8th andy and I had plans to go to Kingsport to do some shopping and so that andy could get his hair cut.  we decided at the last-minute to go to the farm and check on my babies.  on the way to the farm we pass my grandmother’s house and as we did we saw a tractor with the bucket lifted all the way up and a man standing in the bucket with a chainsaw.  there were several men on the ground holding a rope that was attached to a limb.  I did a double take and told andy to pull in because it was my dad.  (this is the don’t judge me part – because I really do feel bad I made these comments) I told him to pull in so that I could get a picture for life insurance policy proof.  we chuckled and missed the drive way.  we decided to go on to the farm but something inside me (and andy confirmed in him too) said to turn around and go back.  we made a loop and went through a field and I made a second comment that I didn’t see him in the bucket and I hoped that he didn’t fall out.  we pulled into the driveway and a guy came running over to us saying we needed to pull the car over to the group of people because someone broke something.  I walked over and andy drove over and we found my dad leaning against the tractor holding his boot, with scratches on his neck.  we loaded him up and went to the er.  we got him checked in and made him pose for pictures with his arm band.  (he still looks like trouble even waiting on the er).

dad hospital

DSCN8585 DSCN8586

the good news is that he thought he broke his ankle.  he didn’t.  but the bad news is he crushed his heel.  they splinted it and told him to get an appt when he got back home to see a surgeon.  the next morning he noticed blisters.

dad foot 1

(gross I know).  he went to the er when he got back home and they re-wrapped it and scolded my parents for unwrapping it to begin with.  they got an appt with a surgeon that does ankles and heels and was told they needed to see someone who only does heels and ankles.  they finally got in with the right doctor and he was not happy.  he stated that this type of injury needs to be taken to surgery within 48 hours of it happening.  and they were almost 3 weeks out.

dad foot

just gets better and better doesn’t it?!  after much discussion they decided not to risk surgery since it was a little late to be doing it.  the road to recovery will be long but it is what it is.  they had to cancel going to Bristol and going to fl but dad is doing good on his crutches and his scooter.  he is adapting to being non weight baring for 2 entire months and maybe more.  he is thankful that his new chainsaw didn’t get hurt when he had the forethought to toss it away from everyone when he was knocked out.  we are thankful that he wasn’t hurt worse (and that we have some gross pictures to share).

so when a farmer is in a tractor and gets knocked out by a limb…the important part to pass on to all of your family and friends is that a heel injury is not the same as a normal broken bone.  if you ever have one of those injuries as them to call in a consult for a heel specialist.  don’t let them send you away with the standard answer of swelling has to go down for surgery!