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One year later

Last March was the worst month of my life.

The whole month of February was spent in blissful naiveté. Then March 1st it felt like my world fell apart.

I feel the sting in little reminders. Like yesterday, I went to get a prenatal massage and in filling out the form I had a tiny little punch to the gut.

2nd pregnancy 1st birth

Then I had to talk about it to the massage therapist. She was chatty.

I also keep thinking about that first ultrasound. There was nothing to see except my empty uterus and yet I cannot stop thinking about the picture that automatically printed. My mind replays my doctor ripping it off the machine, crumpling it up and throwing it in the trash over and over. I didn’t ask for it. I wish I had although I don’t know why exactly. There are many moments that replay from that day but that one stands out the most. Such a stupid little thing.

After that ultrasound we spent 12 days in torturous limbo and then I took what little control I could of the whole horrible situation and opted to have a D&C.

That was one year ago today.

For me personally it was the best decision I could have made. As weird as it feels to say it, the actual procedure was a very positive experience. A large part of that was the wonderful hospital staff and the other part was just the fact that I was taking control of a situation that I was completely out of control of otherwise. When it feels like your world is completely spinning out of control any grasp of control can make that spinning feel slightly less overwhelming.

While that day started the healing process, it was a long, hard road to feeling like myself again. Although saying “myself” doesn’t feel quite accurate. I’m not the same person I was before all this happened.

I think that’s a good thing.

It has taken a year’s worth of time to gain perspective because in the moment and aftermath I could not fathom how anything good could come out of losing my first pregnancy.

I know Joel and I are so much closer than we ever were. Tragedies can make or break a relationship. Thankfully it made us. We had several marriage struggles in the years before our first pregnancy. I blame the fact that we were practically babies when we got married. I was only 20 and Joel was just 24. Babies. Somehow we made it through those and then, instead of letting the blinding pain of losing a pregnancy rip us apart, we relied on each other in a much deeper way than we ever did before. I wish I could give more insight into how we did that but I either do not have enough distance from that time or there is no answer. Either way, I have never felt happier with our relationship or more in love with the man I call my husband.

Another good thing that came out of this was my ability to share my experience. I hate that anyone else in the world has to lose a pregnancy. But at least now I can offer my empathy instead of just my sympathy. Everyone’s journey is different but when I was in the middle of my worst pain other people rallied around me and it help me so much. Now I can be one who rallies around others. If sharing my experience helps even one other person that is a positive thing.

I also get my Wesley out of this. Sure, part of me has struggled with the mixed feeling of missing my other almost baby and being happy about this current one. Now that I’m thisclose to holding our Wesley in my arms though I have a hard time imagining I’d change anything. I love the little boy inside of me. My rainbow baby. My little lucky charm. My Wesley. I wouldn’t have him if it weren’t for my other loss.

I’m glad this year is over because it was freaking hard. I will never forget my loss, it has forever changed me. Change is not always bad though and I anticipate beautiful things in my future both in spite and because of my loss. And the change I look forward to the most is my son. You’re welcome any time, little guy.

Little reminders

pregnancytestI’ve been kind of quiet the last couple of days. Certain dates snuck up on me, almost without me realizing they were coming. It’s a bunch of stupid little things, but they throw me.

The Chicago Auto Show is this week. I have so much fun at it every year but last year felt extra special because I was in the extra giddy, we just found out we’re pregnant, phase. I’m still pregnant again, a year later. When I say I feel like I’ve been pregnant forever, I’m not kidding.

Girl Scout cookies are on sale again. Thin mints used to be my favorite thing ever. Even though my nausea and food aversions are not too bad most of the time now, the idea of eating them turns my stomach. I’m afraid the mental association may have ruined them for me forever.

I’m doing Fat Mum Slim’s photo a day on Instagram (By the way, are you following me over there? If not you’re missing a bunch of pictures that never make it on the blog.) I’ve started this January. The first time I tried her photo a day was last February and it was part of how I announced to the internet that we were expecting.  I didn’t finish the year because on March 1st it just didn’t seem that important anymore.

After my original due date passed it was like a giant weight was lifted off me and I really was completely absorbed in this current, healthy pregnancy. It’s not that I never thought about my loss but it didn’t weigh on me like it did before. Now that I’m back to the same time of year as when we first found out we were pregnant I’m feeling a bit more introspective and sometimes even downright sad again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still so much more happy and excited than sad lately. I’m getting so close to meeting my little guy and I am very much looking forward to that.

But amidst that excitement the dates that are now coming up again on the calendar throw me back. Back to a time when I was more innocent and naive. The thought of that pregnancy not working out was barely a blip on my radar, I just assumed it would. Last February I never thought I would still be pregnant this February. I know I got a couple month break but that doesn’t make it feel any less endless.

It’s nice that there aren’t too many bad dates coming up. There are definitely more good ones to look forward to. I’ll be happy to finally have my little guy in my arms. Next year I have a feeling February and March will seem much brighter.

 

 

 

Why we waited

ultrasound 6w4dswI wrote this post awhile ago but couldn’t seem to find the right time to hit publish. I hope by publishing it now it might help someone else who is struggling after a loss.

The first time we got pregnant we shared with the world right away. The day I peed on a stick we excitedly drove literal hours to be able to tell our family in person and not long after that we started posting about it.

And then we lost the pregnancy.

The support and love I got from everyone in my life, including virtual strangers was overwhelming. I honestly am not sure how I would have gotten through it without the unbelievable outpouring of support. I have absolutely zero regrets about sharing as early as we did because otherwise we would have had to walk through that dark time alone.

I honestly didn’t expect to do anything different this time around.

Then I got that positive test. And instead of joy and excitement I felt complete terror. The only person in the world I told that day was Joel, and since he had left for an out-of-town business trip I told him via text. Over the next few days I told a few members of my immediate family but just over the phone, trying to sound happy but choking back tears the entire time. Their excitement almost startled me.

It was not the happy time I felt like it should have been. Instead I felt depressed and scared. I sobbed into my pillow at night. It was so confusing. There was a tiny part of my that was cautiously hopeful. I wanted to be excited. I just could. not. get there.*

My doctor was so understanding and ordered blood work immediately to check that all my levels were where they were supposed to be. I passed with flying colors. You’d think that would have encouraged me but since I didn’t get blood work done the last time I didn’t know if it was truly a good sign or not. For all I knew my hormones were perfect then too. Or not. Who knows.

Joel seemed less apprehensive than me, but still he always phrased his excitement in mights” and ifs.”

I’m so excited that I might be a dad…

If this baby is born…

I hated those mights and ifs. They stung. I can’t blame him though, I talked the same way.

The three weeks from the positive test to when I could finally get an ultrasound seemed like an eternity. Still, only my very immediate family knew. There was a part of me that wanted to share with others but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The pregnancy did not feel real to me. I could not let myself get attached. I couldn’t let myself feel any real excitement.

That was why I stayed so quiet, why I didn’t share with the world. I could not bear to hear excited congratulations when I couldn’t muster up any excitement myself. I felt enough guilt over not being over the moon about my (potential) future child. I couldn’t imagine faking giddiness for someone else.

I refused to let strangers be more excited about my pregnancy than I was.

That first ultrasound I nearly crawled out of my own skin sitting on that table. When the ultrasound finally began I strained to see anything in that round black blob on the screen. It wasn’t empty. Or at least it didn’t look empty to my inexpert eye. Of course my doctor took what felt like years to say anything and when he did he began with the exact same Well…. in the exact same tone that started the bad news last time. But this time that well ended in “…there’s the heartbeat.

I stared at that tiny, flickering blob through tear filled eyes and finally felt the first surge of attachment. Hope. Excitement even.

It would still take me awhile to feel excited enough to share with my extended family and even longer to share with you wonderful internet people. I’m eternally grateful this pregnancy has turned out to be healthy so far because I definitely would not have wanted to walk through another loss alone. But I needed to always feel that I was the most excited about this pregnancy, no matter how little that was. I couldn’t rush the excitement. I’m glad I didn’t rush it.

Because trust me, now? There is no one more ecstatic and in love with this baby than me. I’m glad that’s the way it always was.

*The post I linked to was something I wrote anonymously on Band Back Together just after I got the positive pregnancy test. It is an incredibly raw look at how I was feeling at the time. I’m so grateful that I had that resource to voice my feelings and receive some support, even though I couldn’t thank those people at the time since I wanted to remain anonymous. It really is an invaluable resource.

A question of loyalty

Someone I follow on Twitter tweeted a link to this video they made as a tribute to their loss earlier in the year. It is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. They mentioned that they should have had a baby to cuddle this Christmas and all of the sudden it came rushing back that I too should have had a tiny little two month old this Christmas.

From a memorial we attended for our miscarriage. Our last name is hard to spell, clearly.

From a memorial we attended for our miscarriage. Our last name is hard to spell, clearly.

I felt overwhelmed with sadness. Then my little boy kicked me and my sadness mixed with guilt.

If I had never lost that first baby, this one wouldn’t exist. Wishing that baby was here means wishing this baby away. On the other hand being happy this baby is here means being happy the other is gone.

Or something.

I’m so mixed up about it all. I love this baby boy in me already. Fiercely. Feeling him move made him a real little person to me. It also made the one I lost seem so abstract and so much further away.

I didn’t realize it until now. Somehow saying goodbye to my loss baby on it’s due date seemed to free me from mourning it constantly. Is that what closure feels like?

That date loomed like this terrifying thing for months and when it passed I felt free to love the baby inside of me more completely. Then, with my belly growing and more doctor visits and things I feel like I’ve been swept away in this pregnancy.

I thought Halloween would be nearly impossible to get through because it was supposed to be our first holiday as parents. Somehow instead I was distracted by whether my belly would be big enough to do one of those silly zombie mom costumes (it wasn’t).

Thanksgiving I enjoyed the freedom of maternity pants and the fact that I could eat to my heart’s content instead of being sad there wasn’t a baby in my arms.

I did glance longingly at the Baby’s First Christmas onesies and ornaments this holiday season but mostly I was distracted by people oohing and aaahing over my bump and making sure I got the right pictures featuring it in front of the tree.

I have gone whole stretches of time without focusing on my loss at all. I haven’t forgotten, not for a minute, but it doesn’t sting as much already. I wonder if it’s too soon for the sting to be gone.

Loving this baby as much as I do feels disloyal to the one I lost. In a way it makes me wish we would have waited to start trying until after my due date. Then, even though improbable, them both existing wouldn’t have been impossible. As it is, there’s only the choice of one or the other. Obviously there wasn’t really a choice. I didn’t terminate my first pregnancy, it just wasn’t viable.

Why then does it feel like loving either one is disloyal to the other?

Today was my due date

Phoebe gets worried about me when I cry

I should have been in labor today.

Or I should have been big as a house and wishing I was in labor.

Or maybe I’d already be working on getting the hang of nursing and diaper changes and sleep deprivation.

Seventeen is a special number to me. It’s the date of Joel’s (November) and my (January) birthdays and it’s the date of our anniversary (April). When we found out the due date it just seemed meant to be.

It wasn’t.

I’m happy that I have been able to go on and have a healthy pregnancy so soon after my loss. I’m lucky, I know I’m so lucky. But today, just for today, I wish we would have waited. Because today all I am is sad that I’m not holding a full term baby.

This day has hung like a cloud over me ever since March when we found out there was nothing growing in my uterus anymore. Fittingly today it’s thunder storming. I’m allowing myself today to just be in the storm. I’m going to cry, and remember the baby I never had. Later tonight Joel and I will light a candle on a cupcake in honor of the birthday that will never be.

Dear almost baby,

I miss you. I wish I was meeting you today. I dreamed last night that I went to Alaska. I’d like to think that was your way of telling me you’re in heaven with your uncle. I hope you’re safe and happy. I hope you know how much I wish I was getting to know you right now. I hope you know how much your daddy and I love you. You’ll always be in our hearts even though you were never in our arms.

All my love, Mommy

 

All clear

I visited my doctor for the follow up on my D&C. Everything is normal and we now have the all clear to resume, ahem, martial relations.

Side of TMI: Five weeks is hella long to not have sex, especially after enjoying a couple months of protection and worry free married fun.

Anyway, he showed me the results from the tissue they removed and it was confirmed there were genetic abnormalities. He made sure to emphasize that it means nothing I did or didn’t do caused it and that it’s very common to have have healthy pregnancies after this kind of loss.

And, even though it was only (my word, not his) my first loss, he told me to call the minute I think I’m pregnant again and that we’ll do extra blood work and a very early ultrasound to make sure things are going well.

I love my doctor.

From what I understand up to three miscarriages in a row are considered normal. Three. Apparently some doctors don’t start any extra tests or anything before a third loss. That just blows my mind. Thankfully I have good insurance and a doctor who is very compassionate and seems to want to put my mind at ease.

The next pregnancy will still be nervewracking but at least I’ll know that everything possible is being done to make sure there is a better outcome.

So that’s my happy news for the day. I don’t know if Joel and I will decide to start trying again right away or if we’ll wait a little while still. At least I know that I’ll have extra assurances once we get those two little lines again.

A clean start

I’m so happy to put March behind me. The whole month was pretty awful. Sure, there was some really unusually warm and beautiful weather. (80+ in Chicago in March? What planet is this?) But I was too busy trying to resist the urge to dig a hole and crawl in it forever to really enjoy the weather.

About halfway through the month though, when I stopped being sure I’d never feel happiness again, I started a purge of the junk and clutter in our home.

I am a pack rat. I come by it naturally. My dad keeps everything. Old magazines with articles he wants to read, church bulletins, broken things that he could fix. He was even telling me he has old ration stamps back from WWII. No lie.

A combination of those tendencies of mine, a small one bedroom apartment with a serious lack of closet space and sheer laziness led to an embarrassing amount of clutter in our house and garage. And one day, for seemingly no reason at all, I had enough.

Joel and I spent all day on St. Patrick’s Day cleaning out our garage. We threw out a ton of stuff, donated a decent amount of other stuff and then made sure that what we were keeping was neatly in labeled boxes. Then, over the last couple of weeks, I tackled the apartment.

Now, I don’t want you to get the idea that our apartment or garage was Hoarders-worthy. I didn’t work hard on it all day every day the last couple of weeks. But little by little I sorted and organized and last night I realized our apartment is actually clean and organized for the first time in… ever?

There is still a lot of stuff. I will always hold strong emotional value to objects, it’s just in my DNA. I really think that’s okay. However now a bunch of my favorite photos are in frames and hung or displayed. The treasures I’ve picked up on my travels are out on shelves where I can be reminded of the trip on which I bought them. My books are in neat lines on the shelves instead of crammed on top of each other.

But I feel like it’s clean. I feel relaxed in my house instead of guilty that I’m not cleaning. I know where everything is if I need it.

Everything isn’t fixed with a clean house. But it sure is a great start and I hope that it’s an indication that this month will only get better.

Thank you

It has been four weeks since we saw nothing on the ultrasound.

Three weeks since it was confirmed that the pregnancy was not viable.

Two weeks since my D&C.

In that time I have received a lifetime’s worth of love from each and every one of you. It has taken me so long to write this because I don’t know how to do justice to how much your words have meant to me over the last month. Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough.

Every tweet, every comment, every email, every phone call, every kind word was like a hug. Each word was like air when I was drowning in pain.

I cannot express how much it all meant to me. Still means to me. My words are not enough to express how incredibly grateful I am to each and every one of you. I wish I could personally hug each of you.

At a time when I felt so utterly lost and alone and honestly wondered if I would ever find any light or any happiness ever again you all sent me that love and light through your words. Without you all I have no idea where I would be. Probably still drowning in despair. Instead I am healing and each one of you deserves some credit for that.

Thank you.

Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you.

I often find it easier to communicate through music. I listened to this song on repeat during this whole process. I first heard it on Weeds, and apparently that’s all Youtube knows it from also. Ignore the background, it’s about the words.

Holding onto the happiness

Tonight was a beautiful night.

I missed four dance classes while I was in hiding so I am taking a jazz class right before my company class for the next four weeks to make up for it. That means two hours of dance in a row. After two weeks of doing almost nothing but lie around my muscles were nervous.

It was positively blissful.

I worked hard and sweated like crazy and my body is pretty sore already. The thing is, I laughed so much I’m not sure if my sore abs are from the dancing or the giggling. It was just that much fun. I’ve been taking lessons there since October and this whole ordeal made me realize that in that time I made friends. Not just other students who take classes with me, but friends.

Tonight I received more hugs and words of sympathy but in a way more importantly I had fun. I laughed. A lot. It felt so good.

I’m not over it. I’m starting to realize that getting over it is probably an unrealistic goal. From what I’ve been told no one really “gets over” a miscarriage. It’s a part of me forever whether I like it or not. That was such a depressing, overwhelming thought before.

Tonight I realized that even if I’m never over it I can still find myself again. I will laugh and have happiness. My future doesn’t have to be dark.

I’m holding onto that feeling. Happiness is worth holding onto.

Loss

Had to drop by and update so there is no confusion. We lost the pregnancy at about 8 weeks. Not exactly the news I hoped to write on here but it is what it is. I’ve blogged about the whole thing on Skymommy and will continue doing so. If you want to follow my journey that is where it will be and I promise it won’t always be such sad news.

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