Thursday, December 31, 2009
Three years ago, when Gummy Bear died, it was an awful Christmas. I honestly don't know how we survived it. After losing so many babies in one year and the one pregnancy that had seemed ready to go the distance, I had no hope.
I think one of the hardest parts (for me) about infertility and loss is that there is so little that our society does to help us with the grieving. There is no memorial service, no plaque, no marking that a little body or soul was here. If your loss is prior to 20 weeks, you don't even get a birth certificate and, in some states, you don't even get that after 20 weeks. I was fortunate to have an employer with excellent benefits and was able to take a few days off with each miscarriage, more for my emotional recovery than for the physical, but I always was back at work within a day or two, simply because I knew that it was what was "expected."
Even though I put my game face on, even though I kept putting one foot in front of the other, I was a broken woman. I had very little hope or faith left in me. I was grieving so much, mourning the loss of what had been taken from us and desperately sad that we would never have a real, live baby.
My husband had a wonderful idea on New Year's Eve 2006. He said we should write letters to our Angel Babies and put them in a balloon. We then should "send" that letter to them by releasing the balloon over the Puget Sound. It was a cold, dreary day when we wrote those letters and sent those balloons skyward, but I felt my heart get lighter as we did it and I was happier than I had been in weeks. It was finally the memorial service that our children - and we - deserved. It was the start of hoping again. The next year, we were barely pregnant at New Year's, but I still had hope. Last year, we had our four month old with us, and I was filled with gratitude.
This year, we are going to let Will pick the color of balloons (for anyone that wants to do this, one balloon is just barely enough to carry even a small note upwards - so we do a whole dozen and we can see it in the sky forever - we have even attached glow sticks and blinky lights - wonder what people must think!). We write our hopes and dreams for the coming year on the letter now, as well as a few words for our sweet babies, and when we release those balloons, we are saying goodbye to the old and bringing in the new. And never forgetting what we have been so sweetly blessed by, both here and in heaven.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
One thing I have never talked about is one of the most shattering moments of my infertility journey. I am not sure why it sprang to mind just recently, but the imagine has returned to me, a painful part of my past that I buried and forced myself to forget about. Now that it's back, I can't get it out of my head. Writing here has always been healing to me, so I am hopeful that I can exorcise this image a bit. I don't want to forget it, per se, I just want it to stop hurting so much.
Perhaps it is the fact that we are nearing the next OB appointment. I fear that visit as I have feared every single ultrasound since discovering Gummy Bear's heart was no longer beating. I was 11 weeks pregnant then. I will be 11 weeks pregnant next week. The past definitely has been haunting me lately, as I alternatively cling to hope and yet try to steel my heart against possible pain.
In any case. . .
January 2006, we lost our first pregnancy at around 6 weeks, 2 days. I doubt the pregnancy ever got much past implantation, based on my last beta, but there was a little lump of tissue that came out after some especially bad cramps on the second day of bleeding. Whether it was a clot, or whether it was actually a part of our beloved baby, I will never know for sure. But it was different than other clots that I had before and after and I truly did believe it was the products of conception. . . or part of them in any case.
I remember passing that tissue or clot and it dropping directly into the toilet with a soft plopping sound. I felt it leave my body and turned to look at it out some sort of primal need to see it. I stared at that poor little lump as the emotions cascaded around me. I cried harder in my life than I have ever cried, even losing Gummy Bear. I sobbed and grieved and longed for a different ending to our tragic tale. I railed against everything that had ended this small life and taken away my hopes and dreams. And then the moment came to flush the toilet. . . and I could not. That was my child. It might have been just a clump of cells, but it was so very loved. To flush it like a piece of waste, to push down that handle, was something that was beyond me. I came out of the bathroom, sobbing, and my husband asked what was wrong. I told him what had happened and that I could not flush our baby. He understood, but I could also see that he didn't get it and perhaps even thought I was being melodramatic. He came into the bathroom,"ready" to do what needed to be done. And then he got it. He couldn't do it, either.
Instead, he knelt down next to me where I had once again crumpled to the floor. He took my hand. We cried, we railed, we sat in silence. And then, we did the most terrible thing that a couple ever has to do. We "buried" our child. It wasn't pretty, there were no flowers, no gravesite to visit, no headstone to mark the place. M did say some words, I just sobbed, so in many ways, it was like our memorial service. We reached out and pulled down that handle together and as the toilet flushed, I felt my heart going down that drain.
That moment in our bathroom was desperately awful. It is a moment that I hope and pray that no one ever has to go through... and yet, so many do. There were many times that I passed our sweet angels at home. I got "better" at flushing the toilet, if one can ever improve upon such a thing. M no longer had to do it for me. But it never got any easier.
I don't know why I remember this moment so vividly right now. I think sometimes, it is easy to forget everything that happened before. It is easy to get frustrated with how I feel about this pregnancy. I forget that I have a reason to be afraid, to guard my heart, to stand back a bit. The pain of losing your baby is something you never forget and that lives in your heart, changes the fibers of your soul. No matter how you prepare, no matter what logic you might apply, it will always hurt.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
My parents live at one end of the state, his at the other. Four hours apart.
Four hours doesn't sound like that much, and when it was just us, it wasn't so bad. Add in the dogs and things got more complicated, but still doable. Throw in a cat, just another mouth we had to think about feeding, but it was still okay. Will's arrival added a whole other level of planning, packing, and stress. Soon, we are going to have two babies to think about.
M's mom is single. M's dad passed away when he was little, and they were divorced prior to his passing. She never remarried or even seriously dated that I am aware of. All of M's extended family lives in the same town. We never miss an important holiday or family event and we are good about inviting her here, but due to various obligations (two part time jobs and animals to care for), it is difficult for her to get away.
My parents still have a teenager at home. My sister and her husband live in the same town as they do. My dad still works very part time. Getting away for them is not easy, either.
Our reasoning in traveling to our families has always been twofold. The obvious first reason is that we were only two people (now three, soon to be four!) traveling to multiple people. It didn't seem practical making 10 people travel to see us before we had kids. The second reason is that our house isn't that big. It's less than 1800 square feet. We do have (but not for long) a spare bedroom, but my parents, when they come, also bring three energetic dogs and a teenage boy. My brother ends up sleeping on the living room couch. My parents are great, but they bring a LOT of stuff. And mess. And chaos. The house looks like a bomb has gone off the entire time they are here. While I can just kind of "deal" with it, it drives M insane. He tries to corral the mess, putting it away, shoving it in a closet, only to have my mom make another mess faster than he can clean it up. I have to admit, it is astonishing how they can just "take over" the house in mere seconds after pulling into the driveway, but I figure it's temporary. We can always clean again after they leave.
So, most holidays, it has just been easier to do the traveling. We alternate holidays so that every other one is at the alternate family. Christmas is the exception, where we travel to both families to celebrate. Usually, that ends up being two fairly close together trips several hours away from home. We celebrate the weekend before with the "off" family (who had us for Thanksgiving and will have us for Easter and then Christmas next year) and then Christmas Eve and day of with the "on" family. This worked great for the first few years, but I have to admit, it's been wearing on both of us for several holiday seasons now. We do a lot of packing, a lot of driving, a lot of sleeping on uncomfortable hideabeds, and a lot more driving.
As we were driving home from my parents' this past December 26th, we had a frank discussion about how this, and other Christmases, have felt. To put it simply, we are "done." This Christmas we are both sick of the travel, the presents, the stress. . . all of it. We barely had a second to catch our breath, let alone really reflect on the true meaning of the holiday. We were with family, and that is important, but everyone was so stressed, so overwhelmed, that the time together wasn't relaxed. We didn't get to go to Christmas Eve services at our church and neither of our families attend church in their towns. I didn't get to make a holiday meal. We didn't get to enjoy the decorations at our house. As our family is growing, we want to start out own traditions. On the one hand, it feels selfish, but on the other hand, we feel it's kind of the "Circle of Life" when it comes to holidays. Our parents both got to celebrate their holidays in their own homes when we were little, so why can't we? We did make choices, such as moving to a city where neither of us grew up, but we also went where the jobs were, which at the time, weren't in either hometown.
Being sick this year and having a sick baby did not help our stress level. We are trying to decide if the feelings we have are a result of that or truly needing to change how holidays go. Keep in mind, if we do change our future holiday plans, we are going to face major opposition. From both families.
M's suggestion is that we have Christmas Eve at our house, do our own traditions, then travel late Christmas morning to whatever family we are supposed to be with and spend a night or two. I feel that still won't help our situation. We are still going to be doing the all of the traveling, which to me, is a big part of the burnout.
I guess I feel as if it is time that we Take Back the Holiday. We will give plenty of notice and do it kindly and gently, and tell them that next year they need to come to us. I expect hurt feelings and arguments about why that won't work, but I want to stand firm. There are a lot of reasons why it isn't convenient for us to go to our families, but for ten years now, we've been making that happen. With a toddler and young infant, it's going to be very difficult for us to do all of the traveling next year. This is also just a trial, to see how it goes. If it really doesn't work, then we can always go back to the old way the following year. This is not forever, either. As our children grow, it should become easier to travel again (she says with the innocence of a first time mom). It was already easier to pack a 16 month old than it was to pack an infant, so I expect it will only get easier in the future with this next baby, too.
At this point, M wants to send out an e-mail, asking our families for suggestions. While I understand what he is saying (give them an investment in the plan by letting them feel as if they came up with it), I am worried that it will open up a can of worms for even more disappointments if we don't like or take their advice. Since we already know what we truly want, I see no harm in throwing that out there, asking for the moon (them coming to us for the holiday), then seeing if there is a compromise if they don't like our idea. For example, next year would be our year with M's family, so perhaps we do Christmas Eve here and then just go to my MIL's for the afternoon on Christmas Day. Traveling for just an hour, not packing dogs, kids' overnight stuff, and bags, is much easier. Then, we can either have my parents here for the weekend before Christmas, or if they really can't make it, then travel a week earlier in the season so that we have some breathing room between trips.
I don't want to come across as selfish or as if we don't care about our families and what they need and want, because we do care. Hurt feelings are not our intention. I don't think our families understand our feelings because we haven't shared them, so we aren't even giving them a chance to help us find a solution. I feel as if there must be a way to compromise so that everyone gets a bit more of what they want. This bottled up feeling of frustration is bound to explode and I would rather formulate a plan NOW and give everyone lots of advance warning, rather than deciding last minute next year that we simply "can't" go through anothing holiday like this and leaving someone in the lurch.
How do you handle the holiday "split"? Do you think we should just suck it up and keep traveling or are we okay in wanting to have some of the holiday for ourselves? Advice (and gentle admonishment if you think we are being Grinchy) appreciated and welcomed.
Monday, December 28, 2009
I do like to relax, but even my "relaxation" includes expending some sort of energy. I love a good, hot bath, but I have to be reading a book while I soak. I would get bored just sitting there. I can rarely just sit back and watch a movie or t.v. show. I am usually on our laptop, folding laundry, or doing something. Pre-Will, my idea of a perfect Saturday or Sunday wasn't sitting around the house, but taking the dogs to our local "dog park," going to an outdoor market, or even browsing Target. Rarely, would you find me home for an entire day unless I was ill.
And now? Well, at first, I was intimidated by taking a newborn out. Will was unpredictable and I lived in fear of being stuck someplace and not being able to soothe him (as happened the first few times we did venture out). As he aged, however, he became more agreeable to errands and such and I found it was actually easier to entertain him out of the house than it it. Grocery stores, childrens' museums, the zoo, Target, library for storytime, bookstore to play with the train table, etc., we get out a lot. He seems to enjoy getting out as much as I do. We are still home for some of the day, and stick to a schedule for meals and naps, but we get out pretty much every day, even if it's just to a friend's house for a playdate.
Lately, however, I have a feeling this "on the go" mentality of mine might need to make a shift. First off, the always on the run feeling is not how I really want to feel. I hate rushing around constantly, and there really is no need for it. It is all self-imposed. In addition, Will has been pretty sick the past couple of weeks. He needs to be home, just to rest up and also to not be exposed to any more germs for awhile. Although I am careful and use hand sanitizer and still have a cloth cart cover, I am sure our recent bouts of illness and how much we got out to do holiday errands were no mere coincidence.
I have found that being home with Will for more than one day in a row can get. . . well, I will just say it. . . boring. I don't want to say that he is boring, but by day's end, we are both tired of the books, toys, and songs at our disposal. I really want to get better at this being home thing and with "Project As If" seemingly on track, I am going to need to get better at entertaining Will at home. I have visions of art projects, building forts, and baking together, but when I have tried those activities at this age, he quickly gets bored. He likes to eat the crayons more than color with them. He gets frustrated when he can't eat the raw dough when we try to make cookies.
We do all sorts of "structured" play throughout the day. I also let him play with his toys on his own while I get things done. We do flashcards, count, name colors, etc. We read, we sing, we dance, we play. Lather, rinse, repeat. Of course, we have nap, snacks, and meals to take up some time as well. Still, I find myself wondering at least once throughout the day, "What do we do next?" And coming up a bit short. I wouldn't care so much about myself being bored, but he seems bored, too.
What fun activities do you do with your toddler(s)? Will is 16 months, so things that are/were entertaining for that age would be especially helpful. I feel as if I need some fresh ideas and appreciate any that you want to share! Also, he has plenty of toys already, so I don't want to spend a lot of money on new things. I don't mind investing in certain craft supplies, however, so don't hesitate to mention a craft or project that works with kids at this age.
Here are some good links for ideas that I have tried already or am planning on trying. If you are also wondering "what to do" hopefully, these will help!
Disney FamilyFun link
Associated Content link (specifically, I want to make the jars they mention)
Okay, your turn!
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I noticed he was hoarse and grabbing at his throat a lot, but he ate breakfast, and was playing with his toys and seemed to be acting okay for the most part. M and I were hustling around, packing to leave for my parents. M was complaining of a sore throat, and I figured he was getting Will's cold.
As M was packing the last bits into the car, I noticed Will was making a funny sound when he took a breath. Almost a groan. I was concerned and listened to the noise for a little while, noticing it was getting worse. I took his temperature and it was 101. I glanced at the clock: 11:30. I knew that his pediatrician's office closed at 1 and I wanted to check in with the nurse really quickly about this strange breathing sound and temperature. After listening to the noise over the phone, the nurse said, "Get here in ten minutes so we can fit you in before the doctor leaves. I don't like the sound of that."
We live 10 minutes away from the office in ideal conditions. Christmas Eve traffic was hardly ideal. It took us almost 20 minutes to get there, and the doctor was literally walking out the door when we checked in, but he stayed to look at Will. His diagnosis? Croup. There isn't much that can be done for croup, but it sounds nasty and makes poor little kiddos feel pretty nasty. And for a first time mom, listening to her baby gasp for breath is scary. Scratch that, I don't care if you are a mom a million times over, it's scary to listen to that stridor.
The doctor said it was fine to go to my parents if they were okay with being exposed to the virus that causes croup. He said that the virus usually only makes children have the croup symptoms, but it can still make adults sick with sinus symptoms. I called my parents and they said to come on down anyway. At that point, Will still seemed to be feeling okay, and we were all packed and ready to go, so we went.
As we drove, Will sounded sicker and sicker. As we drove, M sounded sicker and sicker. By the time we arrived at my parents three hours later, I had two very sick boys on my hands.
My parents helped us unload the car. I had dressed Will in his big brother t-shirt to reveal "Project As If" to my parents. I took his jacket off and my mom said, "I knew it!" My parents were very excited for us, and my mom kept saying, "I knew you were pregnant!" My dad even said to her, "You were right." I guess I am not a good secret keeper!
As the day went on, I felt sick, though in a different way. I had taken 3 doses of my nausea medications and still was feeling awful. So, Christmas Eve was renamed Sickmas Eve. I felt sorry for my poor mom, who had made so much food, and Will had no appetite, M had no appetite, and I had no appetite. My sister and her husband are both recovering from having the H1N1 virus and decided last minute they didn't want any more sick exposure, so they didn't come over for dinner.
That night was a rough one for sleep. M was miserable, Will was miserable. Poor little guy would settle down to sleep and then a series of choking, barking coughs were rouse him. He was obviously scared when he couldn't breathe, so he would cry, which would make the coughing worse, which would scare him, which would make it a vicious cycle.
M was unable to get comfortable, he was achey and congested. He had a fever and couldn't get warm. Trying to sleep in the same bed with him was impossible. His coughs would also wake Will. I was alternating between caring for Will and trying to keep from vomiting.
At a certain point, there isn't much you can do besides just laugh at the situation. I think that's the perspective of 16 months working for me. I knew this was only a temporary situation and that things would look up soon. I was grateful for the pediatrician's visit that morning, since I knew it was croup and not something more serious like pneumonia making it so hard for him to breathe. I wasn't happy that my poor little one was sick, but I knew it was only a matter of time and he would feel better soon.
He was feeling a little better by morning, well enough to manage to eat some cinnamon toast and then ask his grandma for more. My mom was thrilled! She loves to cook, especially for an appreciative audience. We opened presents, M and Will took a nap, and then we had a huge dinner. My mom makes prime rib on Christmas Day and that is one of M's very favorite. I had gotten him some cold medication from the store (I suddenly understood the need for a grocery store to be open on Christmas Day) and he was finally feeling better. Will enjoyed his first taste of prime rib and shoveled in twice baked potato as fast as he could. I actually had enough of an appetite to eat enough to make my mom happy. It was finally a Merry Christmas.
I hope you also had a nice Christmas, though minus the sickness! It will certainly be one that I remember.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I know the holidays can be rough, especially if you are still waiting for your very own Real Live Baby. It is difficult to stand here, on the "other" side, and tell you to be patient, that your miracle is coming. Because that's the worst part of it all. When I was in the depths of infertility despair, it wasn't the waiting that killed me, it was not knowing IF I would ever become a Mommy. I knew only too well that life isn't fair, that people that deserve to be parents sometimes don't ever get to realize that dream. So, I won't tell you to be patient, have faith, or any other platitude. I will oh-so-gently advise you to have patience with yourself, however, and know that you are doing your best. Infertility is rough and it can do a number on your head, heart, and faith in everything you hold dear, so be gentle with yourself.
I did want to share with you a story that will hopefully warm your heart as it did mine. Every year, M and I adopt a family through a local organization. This year, they changed their rules and didn't do a specific family adoption, but we still gave our usual amount in money rather than gifts. Then, last Friday, we heard about a family in need of assistance through our church. The mom is single, there are three young children, and last week, their home was broken into. They are renting and did have renters' insurance, but also a very high deductible and poor coverage once they get to that. As a result, the mom would not have any gifts for her children on Christmas (even their wrapped packages were stolen).
As we had already done our other Christmas donations for the year, we were quite honestly "tapped out." But we looked at the situation and at our finances, and decided that this was something worth taking a bit out of savings for. We shopped for gifts for each of the children, something small for the mom, and then a gift card for groceries to help with Christmas dinner. It wasn't a lot of money that we spent, but we hoped that it would help them to know that complete strangers were caring about them during a hard time.
Yesterday, I went to drop off the presents and was feeling very "bah humbug." It took me a half hour to take what should have been a five minute trip to the drop off location. Will was being kind of grumpy and not interested in a car ride in a car that was barely moving. Holiday drivers on their way to score a last minute deal were cutting me off, honking horns, and giving one-fingered waves to everyone around them. When I finally got to the office of the person I was supposed to meet, I was almost 20 minutes late and frazzled.
I hustled into the building and a lady was there. She saw me, arms filled with Will and packages. "Oh!" she exclaimed. "Let get the elevator for you! Your little boy is soooo cute! I just want to pinch his lil' cheeks!"
She was friendly, offering to help me with the packages, and pressing the button on the elevator for me. Will flirted and she waved and then we went up to the office. The lady I was meeting was very kind and helped me put the packages in the mom's office. Just as I was about to leave, the lady from downstairs walked in. She was the mom of the family we were adopting.
She gave me a big hug, held Will for a minute, and then we talked about the break in and how traumatic it has been for her as a single mom and her young kiddos. We talked about the things that she lost that cannot be replaced, like antique jewelry from her great-grandmother and her wedding ring that she was saving to give her daughter. I told her that I wished we could have done more, but that we hoped what we had done would help a bit. She was very grateful. After another hug, we left, and I saw tears in her eyes.
I got an e-mail from the person who had set it all up. The lady said that we gave her family something that couldn't be wrapped up: We restored her faith in humanity.
It honestly gives me more than it could ever give to someone else when we adopt a family. The pure joy I get shopping for strangers, for children who otherwise wouldn't be getting anything, is immeasurable. The pressure is still on to make sure that they like what I choose, but only because I know it might be their only gift or one of very few. As I wrap the gifts, I feel an extra sense of care as I fold, cut, tape, and mark the labels "from Santa." As I pen those words, I truly know that there is a Santa, or at least the magical illusion of one. The irritation of the traffic today was no match for the feelings of peace that I felt knowing we had brought some Merry to that family's Christmas. That feeling has stayed with me today, and I hope it will in the days to come.
To all of you, I wish you peace, joy, and love this holiday season. Merry Christmas!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I did want to share this recipe, however. Whenever I make it, I double it and freeze one. It freezes and reheats incredibly well. . . in fact, I think it might taste better when heated the second time. Because it is all pre-cooked, it is just a matter of thawing and reheating (you could even microwave it in a pinch). I usually serve this with a green veggie (even though it already has corn in it) and a salad or fruit. It has been a hit with both M and Will. It isn't my "favorite" meal, but it is filling and economical, and, most importantly, easy.
1 pkg yellow rice
1/2 stick butter or margarine
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. sour cream
2 cups cooked chicken
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1. Prepare rice according to package directions.
2. Add cooked rice with all other ingredients (reserving 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese) and stir until well-blended.
3. Pour into 13 x 9 baking dish and top with remaining cheddar cheese.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until bubbly.
If you are going to freeze it, do so before the baking step. The day you want to serve it, just put it in the oven as you are preheating and then add about 20 to 30 minutes to baking time.
* I have used canned chicken before and it works well.
** I usually use frozen corn.
*** I have used shredded monteray jack cheese or a blend of cheddar.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
No one really talks about the reality of this transition. Oh, I am sure there are books about it, but really, women should just be more open with other women. Then again, it might just be one of those things you have to experience for yourself to completely understand. Just as the fertiles of the world tried to tell me how exhausting having a newborn would be, I really didn't "get it" until I got it.
I remember when I was about three months pregnant with Will and my mom did try to warn me. She told me that my husband would become a lazy arse, I would hate him, and he would resent the baby. I pretty much laughed in her face and and told her that would certainly not be the case. Not my husband, the man who would run all over town looking for the "right" kind of lemonade for his queasy, pregnant wife. Not my husband, the man who was such a good Daddy to our furbabies. Not my husband who went to every. freakin'. doctor appointment without fail. She just said, "You'll see. . ."
Now, to be fair, my husband did not become a lazy arse, but it sure did feel that way sometimes. Not all of the time, mind you, but on weekends, when he considered himself "off" for 48 hours, but I was still on fulltime infant duty, I would look at him and think "What the heck?"
When Will's diaper was poopy for the 4,325,945th time and I asked him to do it and he said, "No." As if No is an option? I guess for him, it is. Not for me. Can't let the baby sit in his own feces and he sure isn't going to change it himself.
When all of the laundry, dishes, vacuuming, scrubbing toilets, scouring floors, etc., became my "jobs" now that I wasn't working outside of the home, but he would lay on the couch during Will's nap time? Yeah, I guess I felt as if he was being pretty darn lazy then.
Whew, getting a little fired up here. That is not the purpose of this post, but I wanted to give some examples. Now, please don't misunderstand me here, my husband is a good man. He gets up every single day, goes to his job, which he works hard at and is very, very good at, he brings home a good living, and he also manages our household budget, which is another very big responsibility. But it did seem that when Will came into our lives, a lot changed for me, but not as much for him. And while it seemed my workload increased exponentially, his seemed to stay about the same.
In talking with other newer moms, I see a definite pattern. Husbands defer the bulk of childcare to the wives. This seems to be the case regardless of whether the mom works outside of the home or in it. On weekends, husbands might eagerly play with their off-spring, but when it comes to the dirty jobs, they gladly hand it all over to their wives. Now, if this is not the case for you, I am really happy for you (really, no sarcasm intended or meant), but doing informal polling a lot of my friends and reading blogs, this seems to be the general case.
I have talked to my husband about this, and he does not see this to be true. He thinks that I "prefer" to do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to Will, that he thinks that he cannot do it as well as Mommy can. I feel badly, because if he thinks that, it must be that I have conveyed that. If I am honest, I definitely know there was a time or two (or twenty million) when he wasn't doing it the "right" (my) way and I stepped in and took over.
To show both sides here, an event that clearly illustrates this is the day that my husband was feeding Will lunch while I was doing some dishes. He turned to me and asked me if he could feed Will some more green beans. I automatically answered, "Yes."
Then I stopped and thought. This man is this child's father. He shouldn't have to ask if he can feed him something. . . especially something as innocous as green beans, but really anything for that matter. I never turn to M and say, "Can I do X?" when referring to anything in his day-to-day care. I might ask his opinion on some larger issue, such as discipline or whether to enroll him in a certain activity, but honestly, I probably already have my mind made up there, too, and would only change it if M had serious reservations. Why does M feel the need to ask my permission to do something so. . . simple? It is pretty clear to me, folks, that I was steam rolling my poor husband and being controlling when it came to taking care of my child. No wonder he hesitates to step in and help.
So, in the spirit of being completely honest, is this the classic "chicken vs. egg" scenario? Are men the ones that are lazy or do women take over? Since I find this repeating in so many households, I have to say that it can't just be me. I see it happen with all of my friends as they grow their families. So many have told me that when they add another baby to the mix, their husbands really step up and become more involved. I wonder if that's because the wives don't have the time and energy to take over as much and have to start letting go.
In addition to shifting roles and responsibities, becoming parents adds an entirely new dimension to the relationship. This dimension is both wonderful and unsettling all at once. Some of my favorite moments in my marriage have been watching my husband with our son. M is responsible for putting Will to bed everynight, and sometimes, I stand on the other side of the closed door and my heart just melts as I listen to him talk to Will.
The other side of the coin, however, is that there have also been times when M has let me down as a husband since we've had a baby. I'm not exempt here, either. Will definitely took first place for me for a long time, especially in the newborn days. Our marriage took a backseat while I was adjusting to mommyhood and while I know M "understood," it was something that we both had to get used to.
There is much to say on this topic, but I know that there is probably a lot that you can add about your experiences shifting from a couple to a family. What do you think has been the hardest part? The easiest? The lowest point? The highest?
Monday, December 21, 2009
Somehow, in the hour drive between our house and my mother-in-law's, we decided to go against all logic and reason and to tell the family. This had a lot to do with me being really sick and not wanting to have to hide it. It's so much effort to sit at a table with food all around me and my MIL is a "feeder," so it would have been an extra chore. Will was also feeling under the weather, so the combination was a killer on Saturday morning. Plus, it all boiled down to one essential element: M wanted to tell his family. I don't blame him. We had never gotten to tell his family before. With all of our other pregnancies, they didn't ever know about them. We only told them about Gummy Bear after the pregnancy was over. With Will, they knew we were doing IVF, so although they were thrilled, it was hardly a surprise. So, this was his chance to have his "Hallmark" moment with his family.
We dressed Will in a Big Brother t-shirt. We let him walk around, waiting for their reactions. M's aunt noticed right away and her eyes widened in surprise and went to my waistline. I nodded confirmation, then put my finger to my lips, urging her to let my MIL and M's grandma find out on their own. My MIL was a few minutes behind in noticing the shirt and what it said, and even when she did read it, she still wasn't sure. She looked at me in confusion. I nodded and told her that on or about July 26, Will is going to be a big brother. She whooped and gave me a big hug. M's grandma still didn't get it. M's aunt and mother were hugging me and him, crying and laughing, and finally, M said, "Read Will's shirt, Grandma." She still didn't get it, until M told her, "Katie is pregnant."
Well, she got it then and was pretty excited! They all were. It was a pretty neat moment. I feel like we deserve another "As If" moment.
That being said. . .
I am nervous. Nervous that we told them. Nervous that we dared to do something like this. Who are we to think that we could actually have this baby in July? I have this weird feeling about it, as if we are inviting them into our happiness, but also perhaps inviting them in to share our pain. We only told them about our losses after they had happened. Although his family was sad, I think it's hard to get as upset about something you know is never going to be. To never have the hope and excitement is tough, but it also means less pain. We have saved them that in the past. This time, I hope we have not done damage.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Two weeks ago, we visited my MIL and she was dying to take Will to see Santa. We were unprepared for this impromptu Santa trip, so he was dressed in play clothes, rather than the usual finery I would prefer. I was also not dressed for the occasion, having only decided last minute to join M and Will on their trip, and not even wearing makeup. But I figured, what the hey, we need to get a Santa picture this year and it will make my MIL happy.
We are used to pretty fancy-dancy Santas here in our area. It's usually a rather professional set up, complete with a digital viewing of your pictures and printouts and CD ready to take on the spot. Well, this was in the basement of an oldie-but-goodie kids toy store, and it was less-than-professional.
First off, you couldn't see the pictures before ordering them. And I am positive it was not a good picture. I was in it, Will was crying, and well, I just have no hope for the pictures. But I also feel badly when you take up someone's time and then not buy the pictures. They had no CDs available, couldn't take credit cards (we barely had enough cash), and didn't give receipts. It's been two weeks (we were supposed to get the pictures within a week) and we haven't heard a thing. I figure we just made a nice donation to their fund. Tis the season, right?
But the part that, shall we say, reeked of unprofessionalism? Santa himself.
The jolly old man was decidedly jolly, all right, and reeked of the liquor that had put him in such good. . . uh, spirits. The good news is that he didn't seem to mind Will's reluctance to sit on his lap and even eagerly invited me to sit on his knee. The bad news? He told Will that he would bring him coal for Christmas since he'd been a naughty boy. Coal?! Naughty boy?! Now, I know he probably didn't understand a word, but what kind of Santa tells a kid that he is naughty and is getting coal? And, for the record, although he didn't want to sit on Santa's lap by himself, he wasn't naughty and actually waved goodbye to Santa when it was all done and told him "tank you."
Fortunately, we have the picture from yesterday to make up for it! I present to you our Christmas 2009 Santa Picture. . . pay no attention to the knee behind the curtain!
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I had a "good" day of morning sickness today, which means that lunch actually stayed down. Of course, that makes me nervous, but I do remember that from my pregnancy with Will. There are just days that are better than others, and I have to learn to enjoy and take advantage of them. This was the first meal I had kept down in a long time.
I took Will to see Santa today. It was a surprisingly pleasant experience. I had thought that it would involve a lot of crying on his part, but they actually had a little stool for me to sit on, so Will could sit "next" to Santa. I was out of the picture (well, you can see my knee under him in the picture) and it looks as if he is sitting on the arm of the chair with Santa leaning in. As a result of this system (and the help of an inventive photographer and an Elmo doll), Will is actually smiling in his Santa picture. The only weird thing about it is that they didn't give you the CD right there of the picture. You have to e-mail for it and wait 24 hours. As I am already kind of "waiting til the last" on this one, I was a little disappointed, but our cards just might be New Year's cards this year. Oh, well, I doubt anyone's holiday is hinging on our card arriving in the mail!
You also have to purchase at least one print (which they do right there) to get the image and, of course, they charge a lot for the one picture, but. . . well, I think it's worth it. You only get one chance per year at this and I know we'll treasure this one in the years to come. I already have the picture framed and on display. It's pretty cute.
When we got home, Will was very hungry. This is where the footage from the above macaroni and cheesepalooza came from. He must have decided that this was the faster way to eat! Who needs a fork? That's my boy!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I continue to feel awful, which most people would consider a good sign. I was this sick, if not sicker, with Gummy Bear, and we all know how that turned out. However, I do think it's a good sign most of the time.
The spotting was red and pink yesterday, but has slowed to a brownish sludge that really only shows up when I look for it. That is good news, I think, although I would feel better if it would just go away altogether.
I still have so much to do before Christmas. We celebrate with M's family this weekend and I finally have everything purchased, but nothing wrapped. I will probably just do gift bags, as that is decidedly easier and I have a bunch already. They are the "already been used for six Christmases" variety, so wrinkled and faded, but they will do. It's the thought that counts, right?
Thank you for the comments and advice. I really appreciate it all.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Reddish, pinkish streaky spotting.
*Updated: My OB's office wants to take a "wait and see" approach until Wednesday. They want a week between ultrsounds to assess growth and development. If I am no longer spotting by Wednesday, it's business as usual. If I am, then we'll schedule an ultrasound. If I start cramping or the bleeding increases dramatically, I have to call back.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I feel overwhelmed. I am sick. Even with my Zofran and phenergan combo, I am still nauseous all day. I can only occasionally keep food down. I have lost at least five pounds, probably more. I am hungry, but nothing sounds good, even when I manage to find something that does appeal, it usually won't stay put. I am lightheaded from lack of nutrition, feel dizzy most of the time. I am keeping some fluids down, and I know that is what really matters, but it is still frustrating.
I am exhausted. I could sleep all of the time, except I can't sleep all of the time. Will needs me.
Christmas crap is everywhere in our house, well, everywhere except where it should be. The spare bedroom has a pile of gifts (though not all of the gifts we'll need, I still need to do some shopping) that need wrapping, a pile of wrapping paper and bows that need to be put on gifts. The tree is up, but the box of ornaments just sits next to it. My nativity scene is out. . . in boxes on the floor. The table I usually put it on is no longer in our house, so I don't know where to put it. I don't have the energy to unpack it all, anyway. The stockings are hung at least. But nothing is in them.
Dishes are piled in the sink. Laundry is heaped in the hamper. The two loads that I have managed to wash and fold are still sitting in piles on the kitchen table. Vacuum? What's that?
My sister-in-law (who does not know that I am pregnant as we have not told our families) is supposed to come on Tuesday. She is an immaculate housekeeper. I shudder to think of her seeing the house as it is. I shudder even more to think about finding the energy needed to clean it.
Between (trying my best to) keeping up with Will, hanging my head over a toilet, attempting (and mostly failing) to keep something down, I am falling behind on everything else. I feel overwhelmed. I feel as if I am failing Will. I lay on the playroom floor, a bucket next to my head, and listlessly help him stack blocks or push a toy car on the floor. I gag as I read his beloved stories. I feel as if I am failing M, as he warms up his fifth frozen pizza in a row and pushes through the laundry basket in desperate hope of some clean boxers. I feel as if I am failing this new baby, as my excitement for the pregnancy wars with my fears it measuring too small. I wonder how I will handle it all once the baby is here, when I can't even handle this very well right now.
I am thankful to be pregnant, and I am trying to take it one day. . . no, that's too much, one hour at at a time. I am eager for the second trimester, for the ease of mind for it will bring, for the ease of this unrelenting sickness.
In the meantime, this is tough. I am overwhelmed.
Friday, December 11, 2009
I look back on posts from the newborn days and it is really sad how I focused on scheduling Will and getting him to sleep and eat when I thought he should. I know it all came from a desire to do everything right, to start things off perfectly, to be the mom he deserved me to be. I also think it came from the post partum depression. Within a few short weeks, I had stopped working, had a baby via an unexpected c-section, my mom had a nervous breakdown, and I experienced the shift in hormones that every post-partum woman has. Everything seemed out of control and my old life gone forever. Not that I wanted my old life back, but I needed a touchstone of sorts. I have always been a schedule person, your typical type-A.
I figured that if I could just get some semblance of order to my life, just offer Will stability and structure, just. . . Well, looking back on it, it was a lot more about getting stability and structure for both of us.
I was extremely anxious, unable to sleep or settle down, desperate to organize things (I remember folding laundry obsessively, and that is so not me). I was sad, too, but it was more of a desperate feeling of quiet panic. I remember I would cry at night when M came home and was holding the baby, who had finally stopped crying, and I was frustrated because I couldn't get him to stop. Then, when I learned a certain way that he liked to be held, with a firm pat on the back and shhhhhing in his ear, I wouldn't let anyone else hold him if he was crying, even M, because his cries would pierce my heart and my anxiety would rise. Everything made me anxious.
I remember the night that my anxiety really peaked. I was changing Will's diaper and he looked at me with those newborn eyes, so filled with trust, and instead of feeling an "awwwwwww" moment, I felt nothing but pure panic. I had no idea how to really care for this tiny human. I mean, yes, I could address his basic needs such as food and shelter, but I couldn't help him sleep, couldn't stop him from feeling pain, couldn't soothe him when the gas pains made him cry for hours. I think that every new parent feels this way, but through the shroud of post partum issues, it feels like a death sentence. To have this perfect creation and not be able to do right by it. . . well, you feel like crap.
I was in a gray area where medication probably should at least have been a consideration for me. I did get through it without medications, but I also think that it could have been easier for everyone if I had taken some. Like other moms that have described their post-partum depression, I felt guilty and ashamed, especially after all that we had been through. I felt as if my life should be sunshine and roses and that it was my fault that it wasn't. I didn't really talk to anyone about how I was feeling. I am good at faking being okay, so I don't think anyone really knew how anxious I was, how overwhelmed.
At the time, I was proud of myself for "toughing" it out, but looking back on it, I wish I had gone a different route. Now that I am pregnant again, I am planning on behing a lot more honest. And that starts with talking with my OB about it now. Because I know me. I know I will probably try to play "SuperNewMomofTwoUnderTwoAndWhyWouldIBeAnythingButHappy" again. Right now, when I am not in the middle of the post-partum issues is the best time to address it.
Not that I want a situation where I will be "forced" to take medication and not that I am expecting that this will happen again. But I want to be more prepared for these feelings and have a better plan for addressing them, and that might (not necessarily) include medication. Last time, I had tacked up a list of postpartum depression "signs" to watch for. I had almost every single one (this list was specific to postpartum depression, not postpartum psychosis, which is far more serious and can include thoughts of harming or actually attempting to harm your baby or yourself) and yet I didn't reach out for help.
I also am posting this here so that if you notice any symptoms even through my writing, I ask that, as my friends, you send a gentle e-mail or even call me out with a loving comment. I think the problem for so many women is that they think it is just happening to them, so then they feel "weak" or "strange." Admitting you have a problem might be the first step to healing, but talking about it is just as important.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
My OB's office called back this morning and after reviewing the results himself, Dr. S is really not concerned. He feels that any measurements within a week of the estimated gestational age are okay, especially at this early stage. We are scheduled for another ultrasound on January 5th, when I will be 11 weeks, 2 days pregnant (by my dates). It is tough to think about waiting so long to check in on things, but honestly, I am not sure how much better I would have felt having an ultrasound at 9 weeks, even if the baby looked good. Gummy Bear looked great at 9 weeks and still died, so I probably won't feel 100% okay until we are safely out of the first trimester, regardless of another ultrasound in the middle.
So, again, we wait.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Okay, so first things first. We have a heartbeat. 120 BPM.
But the not so great news is that the baby is measuring behind. Anywhere from 6 weeks, 1 day to 6 weeks, 4 days. I am 7 weeks, 2 days if my dates are correct. But what makes me think that my dates are correct is that the sac measured at 7 weeks, 2 days. Plus, I know when I ovulated, I know when we did the deed, so we are 7 weeks, 2 days according to that.
That heartbeat is fine for the size of the baby, but a little slower than we'd like to see in a 7 week, 2 day baby. But again, it's perfectly respectable for a six weeker. The ultrasound tech and radiologist cleared us to leave with a big thumbs up.
Dr. S's office called about an hour later and asked me to call them in the morning so we can review the ultrasound results. The nurse said "not to worry," but they would like to schedule us for a follow up ultrasound in two weeks just to make sure everything still looks okay.
Well. . .
The bright side? There is a heartbeat. It's in the very low normal range, but still normal. On the best measurements from today, we are only five days off in growth. That's within the range of normal, especially with an early ultrasound.
The not so bright side? I felt a vague sense of deja vu with my pregnancy with Gummy Bear. Measuring behind, heartbeat "okay," but not what we were hoping for/expecting.
M has decided to look on the bright side. I am trying to do the same, but to be completely honest, I am feeling a little scared and sad. I don't really want to play this game again, but I guess it's what us subfertiles must do.
Well . . .
But the time is upon us. We are leaving in about a half hour for the ultrasound.
So many thoughts are crowding into my head and my heart. I alternate visions of an empty uterus of death with visions of a little blob with a flash in the middle. I can't seem to settle on either for more than a few seconds. I find myself hugging Will a bit tighter these days, simply because he is so cute, and also because these early days are reminding me again of what a true miracle he is.
Of course, I will post an update as soon as I can. Thank you for your thoughts.
Please don't forget to check out the cross-pollination post below.
Monday, December 7, 2009
I took a leftover phenergan from my pregnancy with Will and it made me very tired, but didn't really quell the nausea. This kind of scared me, since it worked like a charm before.
Ultrasound is Wednesday at 3:45 PM. A healthy heartbeat will make this all worth it.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I feel that morning sickness is kind of like those birthday monsters, only my little guests are the Queasy Monsters. They barge in and make me feel like crap.
I am grateful to feel like crap. I know that feeling like crap is something that a lot of women would kill for if it meant a healthy baby. But it is still hard to feel sick and manage a toddler, just as it was hard to feel sick and work outside the home last time I was pregnant. The only difference is that Will is obviously a 24/7 job that gives no evenings or weekends. When I was having a really awful day, I could also call in sick. There is no calling in sick to motherhood.
It still does come and go through out the day. Sometimes, I feel okay, sometimes, I am looking to make sure the path to the bathroom is clear. I alternate between being really hungry, but nothing sounds good to being full on nauseous. I feel as if this is starting a bit earlier this time than with Will. I didn't really start to get the sick feeling until later on in week six and more like early week seven and I have the blog posts to prove it. I don't know if that means anything regarding gender or prognosis of the pregnancy. I have been pretty sick in all of my pregnancy and was actually the most sick with Gummy Bear and I have had friends who felt different in each pregnancy and had a boy or girl both times. So, I don't necessarily believe in the wives' tales of sick mom = healthy pregnancy or sick mom = either gender. What I do think is that in general, it is a good sign. And I will stick with that for now. I suppose if you have to feel crappy, it should be for a good reason, right?
Like the Birthday Monsters, who eventually do leave behind nice gifts for your birthday, the Queasy Monsters do leave behind a pretty nice gift, too, in the form of a baby. So for that reason, I "welcome" my new friends. Remind me of that in the coming days, won't you, please?
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I do remember that I did not always feel this way. I remember the Christmas right after Gummy Bear died, when I thought I would never be truly happy or feel blessed again. I sat at my parents' dining table that Christmas, in the exact same chair where I had sat that past Thanksgiving, nine weeks pregnant and filled with hope. Only as I sat there now, barely a month later, I was devoid of any happiness. I pasted a fake smile on my face, for the benefit of my family, so I would not steal their joy along with what had already been stolen from me.
I kept that smile pasted on for so long that there were times that I almost forgot it was fake. I kept on my mask, hiding my grief from the world, so I would not burden others with my pain.
Today, something happened that reminded me so starkly of those days of hidden sorrows. I was at the grocery store with Will and we were in a hurry. I had a cart filled with groceries, he was starting to get grumpy, and I was eager to get out of there and home for his nap. As we approached the register, another lady got there about a fraction of a second after me. It was basically a tie, but I could have taken the front place if I had wanted to. I almost did.
Then, I looked at her cart and realized that it didn't have very much in it and that the nice thing to do would be to just let her go first. So, I nodded, indicating she should go ahead and she did, casting a grateful glance back at me as she unloaded her few things on to the conveyor belt.
"Thank you," she said, smiling at me. "Your son is adorable."
And he was being extra cute. He had stopped his grumpiness for the time being and was flirting in the best of Will-styles. She played peek-a-boo with him while we waited.
She told me about her own son, and how Will reminded her of him at his age. Then a strange look, a shadow, crossed over her face.
"My son died two weeks ago. I am just bringing these things to my daughter-in-law. She is pregnant and due next Friday. She is having a rough time. I am hoping she'll eat something, anything."
My heart constricted in my chest as I expressed my sympathies. She dabbed quickly at her eyes, thanked me, and then cleared her throat. To look at this woman, you would never have guessed that her world had crumbled. She was well-dressed and manicured, and the haunted eyes had only come out for a few seconds. She was already retreating back behind her mask, playing peek -a-boo again with Will. . . and the rest of the world, too.
I am not glad for this woman. I am so sorry for her loss and for the pain she is experiencing. What I am grateful for, however, is the reminder that she provided me.
I will pass many, many people this holiday season and beyond. I will not know their stories, not have a clue what lies behind their smiles. It may be that they are feeling genuinely happy and blessed at this moment in time, or it may be that they are wearing a mask that I won't ever get to see behind. It reminds me to be kind with everyone because I don't know their story. I don't know what their real feelings are, what they are grappling with underneath their outward appearance. Everyone has their own road to travel, their own pain and triumphs. We may never know what a stranger is facing, but we should strive to never make their obstacles any greater.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
In the spirit of my "Act As If" Campaign, I have put the little widget up there to the left. I am a little nervous about it and have almost taken it down 1.4 million times in the last five minutes.
But it will stay there until I have this baby in July.