Tag Archives: pregnancy loss

Worth It

A few weeks ago we ran into a teaching acquaintance of C’s.  She was from the school where he was working when we lost Abby, so she was aware of our struggles to get to where we are.  She cooed over Max, like everyone does a new baby.  But it was what she said that left an impression.

“It makes it all worth it, right?”

When I look at my beautiful, perfect, little baby boy, am I glad I didn’t stop fighting?  Hell yes!

But was it worth it?  I don’t know why this has stuck with me.  Perhaps it was the flip way that this stranger said it to me… because I don’t know her at all.  Maybe I’m too sensitive.  To my ears, it almost sounded like what she meant was that everything we went through, the infertility, the loss, is what is expected to get a baby at the end.  That if you fight hard enough, it will happen.  An infertile knows this isn’t true.  It’s sheer luck.  Maybe it strikes a chord, because I’m still so incredibly envious of all the people who make it look easy.  Snap their fingers and they have all the babies they need to make their families complete.  I’m working on it.  I really am.  I’m trying to let it all go.  But it’s a process…. backed up by lots of years of disappointment and hurt.

Was it all worth it?  Would I do it all again to get to my son?  How do I say ‘no’?  How do I say ‘yes’?  Losing Abby broke me in ways that I’m not sure can ever be fixed.  Have I walked away from that experience a stronger person?  Sure.  And it sure as hell has made me value every moment of my son’s life right from the very beginning of knowing he survived transfer and burrowed himself a spot inside me.

Why did it have to be so hard?  Why did the path have to be so long and windy and full of potholes?  Will I ever find meaning in the “journey”?  Will that make it better?  Will it all make sense one day?  I don’t know.  I might just need to eventually let it all go and stop searching for a greater purpose.

Was it worth it?

My son is the best thing I ever did with my life.  Being a mom is the most important job I’ve ever had.  He makes me want to be a better person and the best momma I can possibly be.  That’s all I know.

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The Visit

A couple of weeks ago, Max and I made the trek back to our fertility clinic to show him off.  I have stayed in touch with my favourite nurse, and had emailed him when Max was born with a picture and the details.  I also sent a Christmas card with Max’s newborn Christmas photo in it, but it was time for a face-to-face meeting.  The clinic also has a “wall of success” (actually several walls now) where they put all the babies’ footprints.

I have waited so long to have footprints on that wall.  The way the clinic is set up, one has to walk past these footprint-decorated walls to get from the waiting area and blood rooms to the ultrasound and other treatment rooms.  I walked through with longing on so many occasions.  So many times, wondering if I would ever have my child’s feet on that wall.

maxfoot

 

It was so emotional.  To walk through those doors with my little miracle.  I know they see them all the time, but it was an inexplicable feeling.  Tears were shed as that little foot went on the wall.

I got pictures of Max being held by my favourite nurse — he was instrumental in this journey — and pictures of him being held by Dr. M.  I couldn’t tell you the name of the doctor who delivered my baby, and while I could tell you about my actual MFMs, nobody in the medical field was as important as the people at that fertility clinic.  We wouldn’t have Max without them.  I am eternally grateful for the day that my favourite nurse picked up the phone and told us we could come back — it was one of the darkest days of this infertility journey where I was absolutely sure I would lose my mind (and my will to keep going) and he saved me by doing what they do — helping people (all people without discrimination) have babies.

When Dr. M was holding Max he asked when we’d be back to make another.  I told him we had one little frostie in the freezer and that I hoped he could work his magic again.  I don’t know if we’ll be lucky enough to strike gold twice, but we’re sure going to try.  There’s room for more feet on that wall…


The Club

The infertile is an outsider to a very important club.  The mommy club.  We’re like little children standing outside the toy store window — always on the outside looking in.  So desperately wanting in.  I can’t count how many times I was asked “do you have kids” and when I answered “no”, it was like I was immediately disqualified because I couldn’t possibly understand if I didn’t have kids.  It was like a kick to the gut every time.

One of my biggest peeves is when clients would do it.  Not necessarily to me (although sometimes), but towards their F&CS workers.  “Blah, blah, blah… stupid worker doesn’t even have kids, what does she know?”  Yeah, because if F&CS is at your door, you’re obviously doing a bang up job.

The first time I realized I was part of the club was right after Christmas.  Max was almost one month old and we were out doing some “boxing day” shopping.  I left Chris with Max in the stroller to try on some clothes in the change room and the sales woman started talking to me about sleep deprivation and having a new baby.  Soon, a woman who was waiting for someone in the change room chimed in.  And we were all talking about our babies and sleep and feeding.  Just like that, I was part of the club.

Most days, it still doesn’t feel real.  There’s a part of me that keeps waiting for someone to take him away from me.  “Time’s up, we were just kidding, give him back”.  It’s probably why I don’t want to miss a moment of time with him.  Sometimes I find myself holding him while he sleeps and I’m thinking of all the things I could be doing if I just put him in his swing to sleep.  But I keep holding him.  Because even if no one takes him away from me, one day he won’t want to be held all the time.  I feel like I need to make the most of every single moment.

I wonder if all parents feel this way or if infertility and loss does something to you?  Does it make the parenting experience different?  Did my hard-fought battle to join this exclusive and elusive club make me a different kind of momma?  I’m not sure.  I just know that it has made me the kind of momma — the kind of person — that doesn’t take any of this great gift — this club membership — for granted.


Time Passes

I blink and weeks have passed since I’ve written here.  I compose posts in my head but I always opt for Max-snuggles over screen time.  In fact today, a snowy day in Southwestern Ontario, I did little more than snuggle my son.  I could have put him down once he fell asleep but why?  Time passes so quickly and one day I won’t be able to snuggle him all day.

So I’m going to offer up a summary post of things and goings-on.  Each deserves it’s own post likely, but you do what you can do.

Abby Day — Another January 26 came and went.  Two years since we said goodbye.  A little easier this year but I’m still haunted by the wonderings of what might have been.  In some respects, it’s almost harder to think of Abby while holding her little brother.  I look at him and feel such sadness that I never got to look at her in the same way.  I’ll never know what kind of kid she would have been.  Having a baby is no longer an abstract concept for me and it has changed my grief for the one that I lost.

***

Breastfeeding — Thank you for all of your comments and support.  I bawled my face off the day I decided we were done but I’ve accepted where we’re at.  I’m still pumping 4-5 times/day, so Max is getting about 1/3 or more of his daily milk from me.  I’ve decided I’ll pump as long as it’s worth it in terms of output and until it drives me nuts.  And he’s still doing his morning feed from the bo.ob.  Funny thing is, when we decided to stop nursing, he became a better nurseling!  So sometimes he’ll nurse throughout the day too when I haven’t pumped in a while and my bo.obs are extra full.  It’s enough for me.  Because if I was being completely honest with myself, I didn’t love nursing.  I loved the idea of it and I would have loved it if everything worked perfectly.  But it didn’t and it just stressed me out.  And I’m not a big fan of nursing in public places.  I hate that nursing cover and I wouldn’t just let it all hang out because I wouldn’t want to make other people uncomfortable.  Maybe it all would have been different if things worked properly.  I watch other breast-feeding moms do it with such comfort and ease and there is still a sense of “why not me”.  But then I give Max his bottle and watch how happy he is to drink his milk and nothing else really seems to matter.

***

Max — oh my goddess how I love this child!  He’s smiling and cooing and more interactive now.  He’s such a sweet boy and an easy baby.  He cries when he’s hungry and when he’s tired.  Can’t ask for better than that.  Sure, he has his fussy days but it’s really nothing.  And he’s finally growing!  After weeks of barely skimming by at his weight checks with the LC, at his 2 month appointment/vaccines, he had gained 2 lbs in two weeks!!!  Which kinda made me feel like an asshole because he clearly wasn’t getting enough milk.  Now he needs to slow down on the growth because my almost 10 week old baby is almost all grown out of his 3 month clothes and sporting some of his 6 month clothes.  He’s 14lbs 5 oz and 24.5 inches as of last week.  My healthy boy!


The Room at the End of the Hall

Now say that title again… but hear it the way I do… to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun”…  “The Room… at the end… of the hall”.

Anyways….

Five years ago we bought our first home.  When we were looking for a place to buy, our future family was very much a part of the decision process.  We wanted a house that we wouldn’t have to move from.  We could have bought a “starter home” but we were ready to start baby-making and didn’t want to have to move with little kids.  So we bought a house that we could put our family in.  For being in the city (not downtown or anything), we have a fantastic backyard.  It’s big and while we’ve had to do lots of work to it to make it what we want, it’s a great yard for kids to play in.  It’s a 3-bedroom house with all bedrooms on the same level.  Not big bedrooms, but perfect for the two kids we wanted.

But life didn’t play out the way we intended.  The “spare” bedrooms remained guest bedrooms… rarely used.  The closets became places to put our out of season clothes.  And then the smallest room became my dad’s room when he needed someplace to be while recovering from cancer treatment.  Not who we thought would occupy that room.  He got the smallest room, because at that time, there was a babe on the way.  The other room would know it’s real purpose soon.  But the story continued to detour from it’s intended end.  And the room at the end of the hall became little more than storage.  A place to put teacher books, extra linens, Ba.th and B.ody Wo.rks haul, Cos.tco size supplies of toilet paper — everything except a baby.  And the door closed.  Why circulate heat/air through a useless room?  Why force ourselves to look at it’s vast emptiness full of crap?  I’m thankful that although we were stupid enough to buy some significant baby things last time, we never touched that room.  We never started to transform it into the baby’s room.  It remained the “orange room”.  (Named for the colour on the walls of course.  It’s a much nicer colour than you’d think.)

Now, the Room at the End of the Hall is starting to transform.  We’ve begun to face the reality that maybe, just maybe, there might be a living, breathing baby to put in there.  And as much as I’m terrified to start the transformation, summer is the best time to do this because my husband is off work for two months.  The room has been cleared of the double bed and the miscellaneous crap… or most of it.  The closet has been emptied and dismantled.  The mid-wall trim has been pulled off and the nail holes have been filled.  But I’m not quite ready for paint.  Paint seems like a big commitment.  Because right now, it could still be just the spare bedroom…. under construction.

But nursery things have started to creep in.  A trip to Lay-Z-Boy resulted in a nursery chair that was on sale.  I reasoned that if something bad happens, that chair could go somewhere else in the house.  And today, a little area rug came home with us from Cost.co … because if you don’t buy when you see it at Cost.co, it will be gone next time.

I’m caught between being excited to finally decorate a nursery and wanting to slow myself down… because I’m afraid that if I let my guard down too much, bad things will happen.  I will wake up and this dream will be just that.  That this wiggling, kicking, aerobics-doing little love of my life will vanish and once again the universe will laugh at me for being so gullible as to believe in happy endings.

 


Grief waves

I’m not sure if it’s hormones or the time of year but I’ve been a bit of a mess lately.  July 8 was our EDD with Abby.  It’s not a date that should matter so much — it was never hers.  January 26 is hers.   I had myself a good, ugly cry yesterday. Like the kind where your nose is so full of snot, breathing becomes a mouth job only.  All triggered by a glimpse at C’s tattoo.  Today, the trigger was driving past the funeral home where Abby was cremated.  I was able to reign it in today, but only because we were on route to the grocery store.  Can’t be a cryface in the the grocery store. I explained to a friend that it’s like grief comes in waves and sometimes you’re just surfing along, riding the waves and everything is okay.  And then a big wave comes and knocks you the fuck down.  But we climb back on and surf on, don’t we?

I just feel emotionally exhausted.  Work has been very stressful.  My boss creates a very hostile work environment and has kept me in a position that is different from the position I left when I went on sick leave as a form of punishment for having the audacity to go on leave.  I should be happy b/c I work a hell of a lot less in the current position, but I miss my old position.  I don’t like to be bored at work.  And that’s how I feel.  I’m bored and unfulfilled.  I dread work days and I’m counting down the days till I’m done.  I’m hoping I can come with a reason for them to take me off early on medical leave, because November seems so very far away.  And that’s not like me at all.  I’m not one to fuck the dog.  I usually love my job and I’m a hard worker.  Not so much any more.

And there’s been family drama recently that adds stress.  So I just feel drained and I think that makes me more emotional… and I’m sure the hormones don’t help.

I know it’s silly, but I felt badly yesterday about having my little breakdown.  I don’t want Bubba to know that I’m sad.  I just want him to know how much I love him and how much I hope he comes home safely.

I wish I could just tap into the joy I feel over being given another chance at being a momma all the time.  But it’s all so complicated.  The joy doesn’t erase the grief… they exist together.  I’m so excited to be pregnant again and experiencing things I never got to experience last time.  And it makes me sad for all I missed out on with Abby — the life she missed out on.  I want them both — Abby and Bubba.  If Abby were here, she’d be one.  And Bubba would not exist.  It’s a weird place to sit.


Abby Day

It came and went.  January 26.  The day that will forever be associated with the day the bottom fell out of my life.  The day that I changed forever.  The day that everything changed.

Her birthday?  Her deathday?  What do you call it?  I simply decided that it’s Abby Day.  And what were we supposed to do?  C said to me on Thursday, we should “do” something.. go out for dinner or something.  And I said.. that feels like we’re celebrating.. and I’m pretty sure we’re not.  There was no cemetary to visit — she sits in a heart-shaped urn on our dresser.  There’s no river or park or woods or anything where ashes are spread — because I can’t bring myself to do anything with them — because then I wouldn’t have the only thing I have left of her.  And it’s January so it’s fucking cold outside!!  I don’t need to freeze my ass off wandering through some outdoor frozen-ness reflecting.  And her garden is still only a tree… and it’s January.

So, I cried for her.  I cried for how much I miss her and I cried for a life that never was.  And as always, I cried for us and the sadness that infertility causes — the fear.  Because it’s all tangled up together — the grief and the infertility — I feel bad that I can’t separate it but it’s all in one big, sad, ball of mess.  I wondered, briefly, if it would feel different if there was a sibling to help fill the void in my heart.. instead of just the scar tissue of failure that fills it currently.  For an even briefer second, I allowed my brain to wonder what it would be like if there’s never another child to love.  But I can’t stay there for very long… I just can’t.

And when I was done crying, we went on about our day.  Without saying what it was, we just decided to do something to distract us from the sadness of the day.  What says “I’m grieving my baby” better than a little movie about torture and capturing a terrorist in the Middle East?!  We had some lunch, watched the movie, shopped, had some Star.bucks and came home.  And then I scrapbooked.  And then somehow the day was over and the sun rose on the 27th.  And just like that, Abby Day was over.


Abby’s memory book

It will be nine months on Friday since we said good-bye.  It took me a long time to be able to do her scrapbook.  There’s something about the finality of things once you scrapbook them.  Yes, they are there to go back to and relive the memories, but the event or whatever, is now officially over if it’s been scrapbooked.  Perhaps that’s why I’m still not done my wedding scrapbook 4 years later.  Anywho, it was really important to me to be done Abby’s book before we had our transfer.  I wanted to be able to focus all my energy on loving her embie-siblings.  Does that make sense?  Not that I’m “done” with Abby… that could never be… but I guess more so that I could differentiate between the two experiences… whatever happens with these little guys.  Does that make sense?

 

Well.. here ya go…   If you want to read the journalling, you can click on the individual pictures and it should bring it up bigger.


My Tattoo

Telling you about the meaning behind my tattoo has been one of the posts that has been tucked away in my brain, waiting to be released.  A friend asked me about it a few weeks back and I realized, I should probably get on it and tell you the story.

I’ve wanted a second tattoo for some time.  I have a small blue daisy on my left breast, acquired at the tender age of 18 — because I could.  No real thought put into it.  I just wanted one.  Blue because the tattoo guy said white wouldn’t look right and would fade.  Flash forward 16 years (fuck, when did that happen?!), and the adult me wants to put something special on my body forever, not something random.  When I got pregnant, I figured I’d eventually get a tattoo with the baby’s name somewhere.  When Abby left us, I knew that I would still get that tattoo.  But I wanted something more than her name.  I love my husband’s tattoo, but it makes me so sad when I see those little feet.  And I don’t need a visual reminder of her tiny-ness on my body because the images of her tiny little self are forever burned in my brain.  (I’m not saying my husband’s tattoo was a bad choice.  It was a great choice, and it was his choice and I love it.  It’s just not what I wanted for my body.)

The image of the dandelion (gone to seed) have been something that have represented my infertility for some time.  I’m not really sure where I picked it up… I think I saw it on a website once.. and then on the cover of a book I read (When you’re not expecting by Constance Hoenk Shapiro) — obviously it’s represented for others as well.  It just made sense to me.  I added a graphic to my blog — it just became like a symbol to me.

Dandelions are generally a nuisance on your lawn, but they also represent strength and perseverance — it’s hard to kill the darn things!  Gone to seed, we often pluck them, blow and make a wish.

More than that, to me,  they represent messages from Abby.

In March, during our unseasonably warm weather in SW Ontario, I was out on our patio enjoying some sunshine and thinking about my baby girl when a single dandelion seed landed on my chest above my heart.  It was like she was saying to me “it’s okay momma, I’ll always be right here”.

A few months later, I found a single seed again in a box of fresh strawberries.  When I was pregnant, I couldn’t get enough fruit, so I always think of Abby as loving her fruit (like her momma!).  And I said to C. “look who I found in the strawberries”.

And yet another time when I was losing my mind after the horrible experience with the new clinic and on the phone with the old clinic begging for help, C. saw a whack of seeds drift by in the wind.  I never saw them through my tears, but C. did and took them as another message that it was Abby saying everything would be okay.

So now, whenever we see a dandelion gone to seed I take a minute to pluck it and blow the seeds off — sending all my love to Abby.

I found this description of meaning of dandelions on a website:  “If you see a dandelion puff ball blowing towards you it can also mean that you are receiving a message from a guiding spirit or an angel.  Yet another magical purpose of the dandelion is to send someone you love a message by blowing the seeds (thoughts and magical energies) to another.”  That description gives me chills.

Thus was born my tattoo.  Strength, perseverance, a wish for my children to find their way into my arms.  And if you look really close, some of the seeds are a pale, pale pink.  Those seeds are for Abby.


Why not me?

I feel like I need to get all the hopeless, negative, self-loathing, self-pitying posts out of me in preparation for our rainbow IVF cycle.

A over at A Thousand Oceans wrote a beautiful post about feeling like we deserve something to work out for us after infertility and loss…  and how reality couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Like her, I felt like after all we went through to get pregnant, we deserved to bring home a living baby.  I never once took being pregnant for granted.  I tried to enjoy every moment, always being mindful that it could all be taken away from us in a snap. But never did I really believe that it would be.  Because if we went through so much to make a baby, surely we’d get to bring her home.

I’ve been stuck lately in the land of ‘why not me?’. When we started trying to conceive nearly 4 years ago, only a couple of friends had children.  In four years, we are the only ones left without children.  We have been surpassed by everyone, including the people who didn’t want kids.  And some of those people will be announcing number 2 soon, I’m sure.  And all I can say is, why not me?

What is so intrinsically wrong with me that I can’t make a baby without invasive medical assistance?  When we lost Abby, I wondered if this was the universe’s way of saying, “listen, I said NO!!”. I’ve been trying to figure out why ever since.  But all I come up with is nothing.

Logically, I know that I’m “personalizing” and that it’s just life happening.  But I still can’t help but ask, ‘Why not me?”.  Everywhere I look, people make it look easy.  I just want to be normal.  I had a wee meltdown on Friday (exacerbated by the Pill, I’m sure) about how much I hate my life right now.  How miserable I am on the inside, despite looking like I’m doing fine on the outside.  There’s more to it than I care to elaborate on right now, but I just want what everyone else has.  I want to go into this IVF cycle believing that I’ll get pregnant, and that that pregnancy will bring me a healthy, living child.

I was meeting with a pregnant client the other day, and while I don’t want to trade lives with this poor addicted and tortured soul, I couldn’t help but wonder why she got pregnant with her daughter while smoking crack every day, while mine died.  I listened to her talk about banging heroin even after finding out she was pregnant and (at least) feeling so bad about it.  And how she drank for a few weeks after getting out of jail, because she felt like she needed something to do with her hands.

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, TAKE UP KNITTING FOR CHRISTSAKES!!!

This poor girl appears to love her baby, and has stopped using and is wanting help to stay clean after the baby is born.  Maybe this child will save her life, but the odds aren’t really in her favour. More likely, that baby will end up in foster care… and maybe will find her way into the loving arms of some infertile adoptive couple.  (I’ve long maintained that drug addicts have babies so infertiles can adopt them)

How do I make sense of a world that allows a baby to be born into a world of addiction, crime, poverty, and goddess knows what else, but doesn’t let a loving, hard-working infertile couple bring their IVF conceived daughter home?

This is just getting rambly, but I needed to get it out of my head.  I hate that I feel this way and have such judgmental thoughts.  But it just is what it is.