Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SERIOUSLY?!

Okay, I had to write this post to vent out what happened to me today.

So I'm at a Sparrow lab getting my blood drawn.  Ann Arbor is monitoring my HCG Beta levels as I "come down" from my miscarriage.  They are looking for my number to be less than five because then I will be officially and completely "not pregnant."  I have to get it drawn every week.  I'm sure you can imagine how enjoyable this has been for me. 

After waiting, I'm in the room about to get my blood drawn and another Sparrow employee and a younger women walk into the room as well. 

I hear the Sparrow employee ask her, "okay, so we're checking your progesterone and HCG BETA then?" 

REALLY?! I have a newly pregnant person in the room WITH me?!  This has got to be some kind of sick joke.

The young women answers that she has "no idea" but just knows whatever she's getting checked she needs to get checked in another 48 hours.  

I am already steaming because when I've been lucky enough to get pregnant, I kept track of every single appointment, every single number, every single blood draw.  How could this person not even know what she was at the Sparrow lab to do?! 

Then...it gets worse...

The patient is clearly a talker.  She begins telling her story explaining that she is twenty and happened to go in for a physical and the doctor told her she was pregnant.  SURPRISE!  Then she goes on to say that she is shocked and that she's so proud of herself because her mom and dad were 17 and 18 when they had her and her sister was 19 when she had her first baby.  She got to the oldest age before being pregnant. 

How is this fair?  How is this just?  How is this right?  

I'm getting blood drawn to signal the official death and end of my baby: a baby I prayed for, saved for, planed for, begged for, tried so hard for, and wanted so badly.  This women and I could not be more different and could not be in more of a different place. 

I'd like to say that this is the first time something like this has happened to be over the last twoish years, but it's not.  Things like this have seemingly happened over and over and over again.  God, you're a real wise cracker. HILARIOUS!  

I want to scream.  I want to throw things.  I want to start sobbing.  I want to escape.  

I, of course, didn't do any of these things.  I let them prick me for the bagillionth time, put a smile on my face, and walked out. 

Anyone else have these this happen or am I just lucky? :)

I hope this teaches, heals, connects, and maybe even provides a well needed laugh at how funny life is. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Difficult to Deal

This time of year will always be difficult for me...

The rest of the world is celebrating spring: everything is budding, sprouting, and growing.  This time of year is a time for see and acknowledge new life because it is everywhere!  While everyone else is doing that, I am thinking about death, loss, and what might have been.  These two perspectives could not be more starkly different. 

For me, two of my greatest losses are recognized at this time of year. 

Today, April 21st, is my brother Eric's birthday.  He would've been 26 years old.

At the end of this month (thankfully with no actual date, which does make it easier) my first child, we nicknamed him/her "Champ" during the short time I was pregnant, would've been born this year.  

Both of these people were taken from me within two days of each other: tragically, suddenly, and seemingly very unfairly.

I find myself thinking about what today would've been like this year if neither of those things would've happened...

I would be absolutely huge, almost to my due date. I'd most likely be uncomfortable, hot, sweaty, incredibly appreciative and grateful to be uncomfortable, hot, and sweaty, and so ready to meet the life that's been growing inside of me for nineish months.

I'd hobble to the car and Josh and I would drive to my parent's house to spend some time with my family and eat cake and ice cream and open up presents with my brother.  

My brother, would most likely make some sarcastic and funny comment about how "fat" I was getting, but I know inside be so excited to be an uncle.  He was absolutely amazing with kids.  I like to think that he'd be happy, be almost finishing up another semester at school, and that we'd all be celebrating that he was on the other side of drug addiction.  The hope, appreciation for life, and empowerment for what was to come would be written all over his face.  

It's crazy how different hopes, dreams, and plans can turn out.

Today Josh and I will still get in the car and drive to my parent's house.  We will still have cake and ice cream.  We will still, through and despite our grief, celebrate Eric's life and the 25 years we were blessed to have him with us.  And finally, there will still be a whole lot of love at my parent's kitchen table even though the hole for Eric and Baby Champ will be there.

Hug your family tight today...I know I will.

I hope this teaches, heals, and connects.   

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Some Tips on Coping with Infertility

I can say with certainty and experience that fertility struggles are no fun.

Our family is not where we thought it would be at this time in our life.  I would love to have a child turning one with plans and dreams for a second baby.  I find myself asking many questions about what our future will look like and wondering if we could've done anything differently. 

As I reflect on some of the lowest moments over these last 22 months of fertility struggles, I ask sometimes how Josh and I are still standing so firm in our love and commitment?  How do we still have faith?  hope?  How do we still laugh?  have fun?

I want to offer some tips at how we've been able to cope with all the things that come with an infertility struggle: the millions of doctors appointments that end up running your whole life even when you try your hardest for that not to happen, the injections, the bad news, the set backs, the loss of hope, the crushing of dreams, and for us even, the loss of two babies.

Tip #1: Have faith, faith, faith
My mom (an RNICU nurse at Sparrow) told me a quote that a women that she met in the NICU said as she visiting her very sick premature son.  In tragedy or struggle you can choose to "Run to God or run away from God."  We, like her and her husband, have chosen to run to God.  It is not always easy to have the faith and hope necessary, but I try to have it each and every day.  I know my relationship with God and my faith has gotten stronger since this process has started.  I have all the normal human doubts and go through my stages of being frustrated and downright angry with God, but I know He's taking care of us, I know He has a plan for me.  Someone like me who is a Type A planner/control freak can have a difficult time surrendering to God, but I've worked very very hard to do just that.

Tip #2: "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."
People in our situation could have an attitude full of doom and gloom because, let's be real, most of pieces of infertility are negative and the news is usually bad. 

Josh and I have tried very hard through lots of prayer, reflection, and lots of conversations to change our thinking about this in two ways. 

First, we know that God has a plan for us and that everything happens for a reason.  Sometimes I have to say this to myself twenty times a day, but I know in my heart it's true.  God is taking care of us.  It helps.

Second, we continue to look at this time as an opportunity for us to get more time together just him and I.  We have no idea what the future might hold for us and so we both try to take advantage of this time in a positive way.  I'm a lucky gal to have had the pleasure of this man's company for 4.5 years so far all to myself.  I know that when we do become parents, the time we'll have had alone together (however long that may be) will just help us.

Try though the tears and heartaches to take advantage of this time alone with your spouse.  So many people do not get this opportunity. (notice even the word I'm choosing to use, opportunity?)

Tip #3: Have things to look forward to
I've found that this has been vital in Josh and I being able to survive all that we've been through.  We consistently make plans and goals during this time for fun  and enjoyable things we can do together.  It could be as small as planning some really nice dates, or as large as some big travel plans and anything and everything in between.

For Josh and I, we have chosen to always be planning our next vacation to cope with our struggles in infertility.  We are consistently saving for vacation or baby.  We know that a baby is far and away the number 1 thing to be planning or and saving for, but a trip to Cancun, Las Vegas, California, Niagara Falls, Disney, or Europe is a pretty good second place. 

It really really does help you heal and continue on in life having things to look forward to.

After we lost our first baby, we began planning our second trip to Cancun.  After the miscarriage we have just went through, we have planned and booked a trip to Italy and Paris for the summer.

These trips are things Josh and I would've gladly not experienced if our family was currently growing, but we are thankful to have the means and the time to be able to do a little bit of world traveling while we wait for our greatest gift and experience: being parents.  Here are some pictures of where we've been since we've been trying to have a baby...

 
Josh and I at the Bellaggio Fountains, Las Vegas: August 2010  

Playing in the Pacific Ocean at Newport Beach, CA: August 2010

Disneyland: August 2010

Disney World: December 2010

Chichen Itza, Mexico: April 2011

Niagara Falls: July 2011

Cancun, Mexico: December 2011

Tip #4: Do NOT isolate yourself
I will admit honestly that this tip has been one of the hardest things for me to be able to do personally.  It is SO easy and maybe even tempting to struggle with infertility by yourself, but that can be toxic to your well being.  Babies and pregnany are EVERYWHERE especially, it seems, when your dealing with a loss or set back that can come with fertility struggles.  I have NOT answered the phone, NOT been on facebook, NOT eaten with others at weekly breakfasts at work, NOT gone to get togethers during this 22 months of difficulty.  Having those behaviors is bad, bad, bad.

Thankfully, I have so many friends and family that have refused to allow me to do this to myself.

Everything has been better for me since I was open and honest with what Josh and I were dealing with.  I feel like the real me is out in the open again and it feels liberating and great.

Please, go out to dinner with friends, go visit with family, make a drive to go spend time with important people, share your story with people you work with, reach out and ask for help, and please please, make sure you are taking care of you and your marriage.  All of this is hard enough by itself let alone trying to cope with everything all by yourself.   

I am hopeful these tips teach, heal, and connect...

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Am An Angel

As we deal with our second miscarriage in less than a year, I found a wonderful poem that helped as we mourn...

I Am An Angel
Don't let them say I never lived,
Though something stopped my heart,
I felt the tenderness you gave,
I loved you from the start.

Although my body you can't hold,
It doesn't mean I'm gone,
This world was worthy, not, of me,
God chose that I move on.



I know the pain that drowns your soul,
What you are forced to face,
You have my word, I'll fill your arms,
Someday we will embrace.

You'll hear that it was "meant to be
God doesn't make mistakes",
But that won't soften your loss,
Or make your heart not ache.

 
I'm watching over all you do,
Another child you'll bear,
Believe me when I say to you,
That I am always there.


 
There will come a time, I promise you,
When you will hold my hand,
Stroke my face and kiss my lips,
And then you'll understand.


 
Although I never breathed your air,
Or gazed into your eyes,
That doesn't mean I never "was"
An angel never dies...


I hope this teaches, heals, and connects...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Spring Break Plans

I hope your spring break plans don't look like mine...

Josh and I found out officially on Friday that the baby I've been carrying no longer has a heartbeat. 

Although I should be about ten weeks pregnant by now, our baby never showed growth past about six weeks.  While we never gave up the very small shred of hope that things would miraculously change, this news is bittersweet. 

Both of us prayed that the next step would be clear the next time we went to the doctor.  If things were going to get better, we wanted them to get better, but if things were not, we wanted to be able to deal with this miscarriage while I was not at school.  I have to be honest in saying that I also didn't want this to be drawn out anymore than it was as that is the piece I am struggling the most with.  If this baby was never going to be, why put us through this?  Why get the very small amount of people in my life who knew I was pregnant hopeful and excited that something might FINALLY work for us?  Why make it so that we would lose all the months between February and June not being able to try again? 

The doctor called our miscarriage a 'missed' miscarriage this time because my body hasn't miscarried on  its own.  I have had no bleeding, no cramping, no nothing.  I am thankful to be able to be seen so early in my pregnancy (we had our first visit at 7 weeks) because anyone who is 'normal' wouldn't even know anything was wrong.  Thank you Ann Arbor for continuing to take SUCH good care of me.  Oh that office is amazing! 

God, I struggle so much to see your plan.  Please trust that I know it's there, but I am a Type-A control freak.  You know this about me and love me anyway.  Surrender is the place in our relationship that I have the most trouble with.  You know this about me too.  It's difficult to understand why You would put us all through this and not end up with a baby at the end. 

This was not a positive way to start my first day of spring break and the next part of spring break will be even worse...

Tomorrow I will have a Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) at my doctor's office in Ann Arbor.  This is a surgery that will essentially suck everything out of my uterus (sorry to be graphic, but that's what's happening).  Our baby will then go to a lab to get tested to see if there was anything wrong.  I don't know if I want the answer to be yes or no.

Although I'd much rather be in Cancun or really just about anywhere doing anything else with my break, I am thankful to be able to have this surgery on Monday and be able to use the week to heal and grieve without having to worry about my 55 sixth graders.  I know I need to take care of me and I'm appreciative for the opportunity to do that.  

I have to compliment Josh here too, who continues to be the most amazing partner.  He has been going into work this weekend just so that he can take some time off to grieve as well.  

I hope this teaches, heals, and connects...   

The Luckiest: No Matter What!

So after a lot of gentle, and not so gentle shoving to tell my story, I surrender!


Writing and sharing about Josh and my struggle to have a baby and all that goes with it has been a strong force for while now.  The feeling to write and share has woken me up in the middle of the night, has popped in my head throughout the day, and I've gotten a lot of feedback from my post on facebook about sharing more.  I truly believe God has been leading me in that direction. 


Today I got up way too early in the morning with the feeling again so I decided to move forward.  I decided on blogspot and then it came to deciding on a name.  My students would be able to tell you that this would normally be my favorite part of the writing process.  I LOVE coming up with titles and stupid silly names for things.  When my students are writing and they have a block for a title, they run directly over to me knowing that them needing help on a title will 'make my day'.  I have names for so many things in my classroom:  Smarty Pants vocabulary (made out of pants of course) a Stop and Think (SAT) board where my quotes are, Tuesday Newsdays, etc. 


My students would be shocked at the amount of trouble this blog title gave me, but how do you convey all that this blog could be?


I thought about titling it something having to do with fertility, but my hope got in the way of that.  I don't want to always be blogging about fertility issues after all!  I saw examples all over the Internet today of people who had infertility blog titles, which  made them easy to find, but these people had gone on to have kids (praise God!) and then were blogging about birthday parties and family vacations under blog titles about infertility.  Then my passion for music made me look for lyrics or titles of songs that could fit with themes of hope, love, struggle, perseverance, etc.  I came up short.  Josh tried to help me, but still nothing.  Finally, something came to me...


Nothing: the good, bad, or ugly would be possible without the commitment Josh and I made 4.5 years ago on October 20, 2007.  Our wonderful marriage is the foundation for everything in our life.  On October 20th, we danced our first song as man and wife to "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds. 

No matter what life has thrown or will throw at us, the fact that we are the two luckiest people on earth because we found each other does not change.  We are the luckiest, no matter what.

My hopes for this blog:
  • It teaches- Many people (thankfully) don't know very much about the struggle so many have to be able to have children.  I want people to be able to learn new information that may help them to be a better family member or friend to people in their life who may be going through things like Josh and I are.
  • It heals- I hope this helps people, myself included. period.  
  • It connects- I want so badly for people to be able to make connections with others through my blogs.  This infertility stuff can be SO isolating and it shouldn't be.  I hope people make comments, I hope people open up (even if it's just to me maybe) and I want people (myself included) to keep seeing that they're NOT alone.  I have chosen to put myself out there so use me!  Come to me, ask me questions, etc, etc. 
Here we go...