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Sunday
Jan252015

An (un)happy ending?

I really thought I might be pregnant this month. Everything was in perfect order. When I lost my "May baby" I did the math and realized there was a good chance I could get pregnant again in January and have an October baby. I fell in love with that idea for many reasons:

  • My mother's birthday is in October, and so was my great grandmother's. There is a family ring, an opal, October's birth stone, that was recently passed down to my mother when my great grandma passed away. Because my mom didn't have any children in October, the idea was that the ring would go to a grandchild born in October. So far there have been none. I loved the idea of that ring.

  • My first pregnancy loss happened in January, and then a year later I had Mo in January. It was poetic in a way. My recent miscarriage was in October, so wouldn't it be poetic if I had a baby this October?

  • There is a lot that goes on in our lives at different points of the year, and fitting a baby into and then indefinitely celebrating birthdays during those times would be difficult. After two losses and so many months of my life spent struggling to get pregnant, I could never be the the kind of person who is picky about when I get pregnant or have a baby. But an October baby was very appealing in the grand scheme of our lives.

  • I will be out of town during my fertile period in February, which means if I didn't get pregnant in January, I'd have to wait two months to try again. In the life of someone who desperately wants another baby and who has already lost five months due to a miscarriage, that is unfathomable.

So there was a lot riding on getting pregnant this month. I religiously tested with ovulation predictors for a week and a half, waiting for prime time, and we timed everything just as we should. And let's just say there were ample opportunities for it to work. Then I spent 11 days in purgatory, waiting and wondering. 

I researched the best tests for predicting early pregnancy, and devoured information on how soon I was likely to get a positive read if I was indeed pregnant. And then yesterday morning, 11 days past ovulation and 4 days before my expected period, I woke up at my sister's house, where I was spending part of the weekend to distract myself from the waiting, with a desperate need to just know already. It was before anyone else was awake, and I grabbed one of the First Response Early Result tests I had with me. According to those tests, they are 96% accurate 4 days before a period. Whatever the test said was likely to be the truth.

Two nights before, Thursday night, I couldn't sleep, so I grabbed a pen and paper and sketched a vision board. I drew my hopes: A pregnancy test with two lines and the date 1-24-15 written on it. A pregnant me. A baby and the word October. An opal ring. A stick figure family portrait of Mike, Mo, and myself with a baby in my arms.

As I waited for the test results, sitting on the floor in my sister's bathroom, I pictured that vision board. In my mind's eye I saw two lines on the test sitting next to me. I steadied my breathing as best I could for three minutes, and then I looked.

One line.

Negative.

I know there's a chance it's not accurate, that it was just too early to test. That maybe I really am pregnant. But I don't dare to go there. That has not been my life - in my experience, I don't get the surprise happy ending when things look grim. I don't just mean that in a woe-is-me kind of way; I have a track record to prove it.

When I was trying to conceive the first time around, I had many missed periods. I'd go days thinking maybe this time I really am pregnant! And I never was. I was always not pregnant. It wasn't until we figured out I wasn't ovulating and I got on Clomid that I got pregnant.

With my first pregnancy, I started spotting very early. Every one told me, including the doctors and the internet, that it could very easily be nothing. This was totally normal and everything is probably fine. But it wasn't fine, it was an ectopic pregnancy.

With my most recent pregnancy, when I had that first ultrasound and the baby was measuring small and there was no heartbeat, I was told that it's probably nothing to worry about. Maybe it's just too early, maybe you're not quite as far along as you thought. I googled the crap out of my situation and found an abudance of happy endings. But I didn't get one for myself. I miscarried.

Yes, I had a very happy ending with Mo. But there was never a point where things didn't look good. I found out I was pregnant with my first test, I never had any spotting, ultrasounds were all good, she was always healthy and so was I.

I'm thankful for that happy ending, but my point is that when things are dismal, at least in the world of trying to conceive, they don't turn around for me. The bad news doesn't (surprise!) turn into good news.

I haven't completely given up hope because what are we without hope? But I'm not letting myself fantasize about a happy ending, and I'm not letting myself google other people's happy endings. I've already starting calculating the next opportunity we'll have to conceive, and when that baby might be born, and what that could mean for our lives. 

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. That's the best I can do.

Wednesday
Jan142015

My Mo is two years old

Two years ago, I gave birth to a baby. I. Gave birth. To a baby. It was a miracle, it was incredible, it was a life changer. That 6 pound 15.5 ounce wiggly baby is now a slender, curly-headed two year old with energy to spare. 

The first year flew by, it was a blur of emotion and milk, fatigue and diapers. But the second year went even faster. We settled into parenthood, we built routines, Mo became more independent, an active participant in our family. And the time just disappeared. Only yesterday we were celebrating her first birthday, and in a flash came spring, summer, fall and here we are again. She's two.

I've documented a lot about Mo here, but many of you have never met her. On her second birthday, let me tell you a little bit about what you'd notice about Mo if you ever did meet her.

The thing you'd notice first about, upon meeting her, is that she is happy. Children are often pretty carefree if we allow them to be, but they are also often easily bothered. They don't understand the world and its rules and that can be frustrating. Mo doesn't really care, she just loves life. She is not only content but happy in almost any situation. The other day we were at swim class with my sister and nephew. In the locker room, Mo got a little frustrated - no crying or screaming or yelling - just a little agitated because she wanted me to hold her, not put her down to get her dressed. I was frustrated with her because I was dripping and cold and just wanted cooperation. I mentioned it my sister later and said, "You just saw us at our worst!" and she thought it was pretty funny that that was Mo at her worst - such a minor blip in her otherwise constantly uplifting mood - but it really doesn't get worse than that. Not right now at least. She's just so easily happy.

She is all smiles and dancing and laughter.

The other thing you would notice is her love for people. When we sent invitations to family for her party this weekend, we mentioned that gifts were not necessary. Not only because she truly needs nothing, but because Mo's favorite gift is company. She loves to be around people, she loves a good party. When someone visits, she gives them her full attention, she crawls in their lap, shows them her drawings, offers them hugs. When lots of people visit, she buzzes around the room, bringing smiles to everyone. I am an introvert. I get energized from quiet, alone time. Mo is an extrovert. She is energized by the energy of others. She doesn't need to be the center of attention, she's not a showboater, but one of the first things people say about her is "she's so social." I think that is a gift to all of us.

You'd also notice Mo's armful of...things. She finds great joy in her stuffed animals, and has quite the collection that she loves more than any other toys. Right now she's latched on to four things in particular: Pump, the pink blanket she got at birth and took a liking to awhile ago; Foofoo or Puppy, the little scrap of a stuffed animal she got on her first birthday and has loved every since; Tot (or tat...cat), the grey kitten she received at Christmas; and now this odd, pink stuffed dog she found in the bottom of the stuffed animal pile the other day. I have no idea where that last one even came from. Every morning, as soon as we walk into her room, Mo scrambles to collect these items and struggles to keep a hold on all of them, and they all come downstairs with us. We used to try to keep them in her crib so they didn't get lost, but then she got sick and we let her keep her lovies, and we haven't attempted to break the habit. I love watching her toddle around the house with an arm full of these dirty scraps of fabric that she adores. When she gets hurt, she wants her mama and she wants her Pump. And her Foofoo. And usually her Tot and the dog, too.

You'd notice that she loves affection. There was a time she wasn't very cuddly, but now she loves a good cuddle. Shecrawls into my lap all the time to snuggle under a blanket with me. She'll frequently turn and give me hugs for no apparent reason other than she loves me and wants me to know. I cherish those hugs. She has still been having the occasional nightmare, and when I go to her and pick her up, she wraps herself around me and burrows in until she falls asleep again. And then I hold her quietly and breathe her in and thank everyone and everything that she's mine. I cherish those moments too.

You'd probably also notice how much she means to me. In my struggles following my recent miscarriage, I've come to appreciate what I have in Mo even more than I did before. My road to Mo was long and bumpy and painful, and when she was born, I knew how lucky I was. I've known that every day of her life. I didn't think I needed to learn that again, I don't know why this miscarriage happened, but it did reinforce the blessing I have in Mo. I was reminded that if she is all I'll ever have, that would be enough. She is more than enough.

My daughter is my love and my light. Before her, if I had read that sentence from another mother, my eyes would have slid right past it. Yeah yeah, mothers love their kids, we all know. But now I get it. She is a part of me, and I can't believe she's been in my life for two years. If you were to meet her, I'm confident you'd be glad she was part of yours, too.

Mo cowboy hat

 

Friday
Jan022015

2014 in Review

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?

Mothered a one year old. It's all new territory!

 2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year

I didn't make any, and won't this year.

 3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

There were a lot of babies. They were all over social media. 

 4. Did anyone close to you die?

My great grandmother, at the age of 99.

5. What countries did you visit?
None, unfortunately.
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
A healthy, full-term pregnancy. I didn't expect a baby in 2014, but I did hope to be pregnant. Well, I did get pregnant, but I won't be having that baby in 2015.

7. What dates from 2014 will remained etched upon your memory?
October 7, the date of the ultrasound where I first learned my pregnancy was probably not healthy. October 22, the date of my D&C.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Raising a wonderful daughter from age 1 to age 2. Her birthday is in a couple weeks, and I can't believe how much she's grown and changed this year. I'm very proud of her.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Can I say losing the pregnancy? It sure felt like a failure.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Miscarriage.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A pair of sweatpants. I bought them so I'd have new, comfy sweatpants to wear to the hospital. Such a small thing, but I love them and want 6 more pairs.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My friend Robin. My whole family and all my friends were incredibly supportive during my miscarriage - I appreciate them all so much - but Robin was the person I went to with my darkest, most awful thoughts, and she never spewed any bullshit in return.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
So many people in this country, this world. 

14. Where did most of your money go?
Nothing exciting: mortgage, insurance, student loans. Medical bills for my D&C. We are saving for a vacation though!

15. What did you get really excited about?
My baby turning one (but also sad - time is going to fast!). And that positive pregnancy test.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
Skip. I have no idea.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- happier or sadder? Sadder. Overall I'm happy because I'm so blessed, but I am sadder than last year.
- thinner or fatter? Neither.  
- richer or poorer? Richer, but barely. I got a small raise, Mike got a small pay increase with his new job, and we paid off the van. But we've redirected all of that, so it doesn't feel like anything has changed.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Traveled. I always wish I'd have traveled more, but it's just not in the cards right now.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Cried.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
All over the place! Well, only near home, but we had about 12 different holiday parties.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?
No. But I will forever miss the baby I lost. And I fell more in love with Momo and Mike.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
I started watching Downton Abbey on Amazon and quickly became obsessed.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Nope!

24. What was the best book you read?
I read about 45 books this year. I guess the best was Wild. I was given to me by Robin (see above) after my miscarriage, and that was a good time for me to read that kind of story.

25. What was your favorite musical discovery?
Skip.

26. What did you want and get?
Continued health for my family. I try to never take that for granted.

27. What did you want and not get?
Must I?

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I've got nothing...

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 34 in December. I took the day off work, got a massage, had lunch with a friend, saw a movie. Mike made me chicken parmesan and tiramisu!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I think it's obvious by now.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Desperate. I have no idea how to dress myself anymore. Nothing fits right, and I struggle every day. One day I purged everything that didn't fit right, but I was left with very little that works together. I acquired some secondhand pieces from my sisters, but those don't fit quite right, and I'm back where I started.

32. What kept you sane?
Celexa. While I was breastfeeding, I felt really good (happy hormones!) and I stopped taking it. After the miscarriage, I should have gotten back on it right away, but I didn't. I've started taking it again, and it has helped greatly.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Ugh, nobody.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Basic human rights. Why is that one so hard for so many?

35. Who did you miss?
I'm pretty lucky to see most of my family and my closest friends pretty often.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
I don't meet many new people.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Things can't be that good. I have so many wonderful things in my life, I truly know that. But when I got pregnant, I thought that I couldn't possibly be lucky enough to have two healthy pregnancies in a row. I just knew it couldn't be that good. I tried to convince myself it could be, but turns out my initial idea was right.
Monday
Dec152014

Mo - 23 month

In (just under) one month, Mo will be turning 2. With no exaggeration, it seems like only a few months ago that I was at her first birthday party. How it has been 11 months since then, I have no idea. How she transformed into a completely different child, from a baby to a child really, I do not know. I love to watch her grow up, but I'm holding on to this last month of her one-year-oldness with a tight grip. So today we celebrate that Mo is 23 months old!

Mo in mom's big flower turquoise hat

She's amazing, you guys. Everyone loves their own kid(s), everyone is lucky to have the kid(s) they have, so I know I'd say this about any child of mine. But Mo is truly amazing. She is so good, so kind, so fun, so funny. I hear and read and witness regularly how difficult toddlers can be, but I often can't relate. Mo makes having a toddler seem easy. I can't take any credit, or at least not much. She was born that way. She has a beautiful spirit that everyone recognizes almost immediately. 

IMG_5307

OK enough humble bragging. Here's a little more about what she's up to lately.

Her favorite things to do are:

  • Watching "moonies" (movies)
  • Drawing
  • Dancing
  • Eating candy

Unfortunately, her favorite thing is TV. How did we get here? Are all almost-two-year-olds this obsessed? She constantly asks for a moonie, and even though she doesn't sit and stare at the TV for hours - she gets up and plays, dances, draws, reads - but as soon as a show or movie is done, or even if we just mute or pause it, no matter where she is or what she's doing, she runs over with a remote and says, "Moonie on peas!"

Next to TV, her favorite thing is drawing and coloring. She is an artist! We have notebooks all over the house full of her scribbles art. She usually just scribbles, but sometimes she tries to draw specific things. She'll draw a blob and say titty tat or something. Though, once she drew a house that kind of looked like a house, and a ball that looked like a ball. 

Mo drawing

Mo also loves to dance. She shuffles and hops in a circle whenever there's music, even just a little jingle from a toy. And the candy. We limit her intake, but oh how she loves her candy! We started doing an advent calendar with her, and she quickly learned that the calendar contains candy. So now every morning, the first thing she does when we get downstairs is yell, "House!" The calendar is shaped like a house. She wants candy for breakfast. One day, behind the door she found only an eraser, and she immediately stuck it in her mouth, thinking it was candy. I had to go back and add a piece of chocolate to each day so she wouldn't try to eat rubber or plastic.

Mo "hat"

Mo knows her colors. Sort of. She knows what colors are, and knows the names of her colors, but she doesn't always get them right. Except yellow, or I mean lellow. She recognizes when we pull into our neighborhood and yells, "home!" She is crazy about her little stuffed puppy (oof oof), as usual, but the kitty (wow) has temporarily been replaced by her blankie, which she calls Pump for reasons we have not determined. 

We've back tracked on the potty training a bit. She lost interest, and we're not pushing it. Also, I keep reading that to be ready, they should be able to dress and undress themselves, get on and off the toilet by themselves, and start to recognize urges. Mo likes to try to dress and undress herself, but it definitely doesn't happen in a timely manner. We use the toilet adapter seat rather than a child toilet, and even with a stool, she can't get on or off without some help. And I have no idea if she recognizes urges. If she does, she makes no mention of it. So even though she was interested for awhile, I don't think we're there yet, so we've put it on the back burner.

Mo ponytail car big girl

We recently went to the light display at the ballpark. Mo got to sit up front and stick her head out the window, and she loved it. 

We also went to my nephew's birthday party at Chuck E Cheese yesterday. At first, Mo had a little heart attack when we put her in a ride next to a fake life-sized mouse. But then she had some pizza and rallied and had a blast. And then the three of us sat down in the sketch booth, and magic happened.

image

Tuesday
Dec022014

What I wanted

I was fine. Or I thought I was fine. Thanksgiving started as a tough day, dining with two pregnant relatives. Those who know about my miscarriage were very respectful, but inevitably there was happy chatter about those in happy (pregnant) situations, as there should be. The day turned around a bit when, just over five weeks after my D&C, AF (as they call it on the ttc (trying to conceive) message boards) came to visit. I was elated because it meant forward motion. Now we could decide if we were ready to start trying again. I felt great, happy even, and I told everyone so.

Then Sunday night I was reading a book, and there was a small mention of a newborn baby, and suddenly I was crying. I cried for a good long time for what I lost. Again.

Somehow this loss is different than the first. Not better or worse, but different. My first pregnancy came on the heels of many painful months of trying and failing to become a mother. We were trying to conceive, trying to adopt, nothing was going well. Then I finally got pregnant, and within days it was ending. I hadn't had a chance to really connect with the pregnancy, to bond with the baby before it was taken from me. That loss felt like the loss of possibility more than the loss of a baby. I thought I might never be a mother, that this may have been my one and only chance. I was devestated.

This time, I'm already a mother. I have my amazing Mo, and if she's all I ever have, it will be enough. I no longer long to become a mother - I am a mother. So this loss was not about the fear that I'd never have the opportunity, it was truly about the loss of a baby. A baby that I wanted very badly.

I'll have another. Or at least I very much hope I will. And that baby will be exactly what I need and want. But Sunday night it really hit my heart how much I wanted this baby, the one I lost.

I held my pillow while I cried because I needed something to fill my empty arms. And I murmered over and over: I wanted that baby. I wanted that baby.

Even though my life is moving on, even though I'm thrilled my body is getting back on track and we can start to try again, I'm still incredibly sad for this loss. I wanted that baby.