The Fraternal Order of….

September 11, 2009

“There’s a special fraternity for those of us who’ve lost spouses and children.” – Joe Biden, Ground Zero, 09/11/2009

Yes, I can tell you what I as doing eight years ago when the families of 3,000 men, women and children were initiated into that “special fraternity.”  I worked for an elected official in Los Angeles – a place that truly believed they were next in line to be attacked.  It was a long and scary 48 hours.  Until March 2008, September 11th, 2001 was the worst thing that had really happened in my life.  It will be a defining moment for my generation.  Yes, I had lost loved ones but it was always a “good” death.  Not surprises, not traumatic deaths, usually an end to some long-suffering illness.  No, September 11th was my first real brush with overwhelmingly senseless death.  Sadly, it wouldn’t be my last.

Now, I’m obviously a much different person.  I belong to that “fraternity” Vice President Biden spoke of – he and I can share in the secret handshake.  I looked at the families of those that lost their loved ones that day and I sympathized.  Several months after 9/11, I shook hands with a woman whose husband was a firefighter who died that day.  I felt horrible for her but I couldn’t understand that level of grief and pain.  I can now.

We are out there, members of this “special fraternity” who have had children die.  You can’t tell us from the rest of the world.  You can’t see the pain we hold in our hearts.  You can’t know the tears we cry at night…or in the day…or all the time.  Only difference is, we don’t have a pool to stand at and read the names of our babies gone too soon.  So instead we write about them.  We write about our pain.  We write about our hopes and dreams for the future even though it doesn’t hold the babies we so desperately wanted and loved.  We read each others thoughts and help fellow “fraternity” members get through anniversaries, due dates, additional losses, failed medical procedures, inconsiderate family members, and unkind friends.  We treat each other – total strangers – with compassion and love because we are members of this “fraternity.”

I guess my point is this.  I hate that I am a member of this “fraternity.”  I hate that there are those of you reading this who belong too.  I’m sorry for the people who lost loved ones eight years ago today for they were someones’ child just like my boys are my children.  But I am grateful everyday for the kind and compassionate words I receive both from my real life and bloggy friends.  I’m thankful to be able to read others words and know that I am not alone.  I’m honored when others read my words and feel comforted.

But I would give anything to be able to turn in my membership pin….

Mending My Heart…

July 17, 2009

I called on Monday to have the boys’ death certificates amended to include their names.  We didn’t give their names to the doctor at the hospital, I can’t remember…morphine….

The boys don’t have death certificates.

They never drew a breath outside of my belly.  I was told that they aren’t entitled to any certificate.

Why does this bother me so?  Yeah, I don’t know.  I discussed this at length with the therapist and she thinks that I just need something to hold on to so that I don’t feel like they are slipping away or that I needed this for closure.  I don’t know.  I feel like the universe gave me closure when it took them from me.  I’ve struggled with how I wanted to remember them, what I’ve wanted something that I could look at if I wanted to but put away if I needed to.  A tattoo is not something I can just put away…a piece of jewelry maybe?  Nothing I have seen has spoken to me in away that I would want to remember the boys.  I have a great key chain that I love but I can’t decide if I want something I can put in their baby book or…I just don’t know….I feel unsettled…

I took a deep breath this morning, swallowed my tears and emailed a friend who draws – J, she’s a sorority sister who lives in San Fran.  I wanted to call her but it’s been to hard to even say the words to Hubby.  He doesn’t know there are no death certificates.  I don’t know if it will matter to him.  Anywho, I’ve asked her to make me certificates for the boys.  I have no idea what she will say…it’s a lot to ask someone – “can you sit down for a couple of hours and make a little memorial to my dead babies? ”  Good times.

I’m hoping she will say yes but if not, I will find something else…I think I need to do this.

It’s Not About Me…

April 24, 2009

This isn’t a post about me or maybe it is…

Someone I care about very much has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder – we will call him “H” for Husband and her “W” for Wife.  It’s been a hard road for this family to get to where they are right now.  Both H and W have been down a road with lots and lots of obstacles – some seemingly insurmountable and unsurvivable but still, they have endured.  H finally will get the help that he needs.  I’m so proud of the way they have handled things – especially W, she has a grace and presence of mind that awes me daily.

So why am I writing about this on my blog?  One, because I love them and two, because it’s a reminder to me that I need people in my life who support me and I want to have people who I can support back.  Sometimes I feel like I have taken more than I have given in the last year.  I know that’s “allowed,” I know that’s okay given the circumstances but I’ve never been that person before…someone so needy, where it’s all about me…I guess it’s a little glimmer that I’m getting back a little of the me that isn’t heartbroken, lost and hurt.  I know she’s in here somewhere, she just has a hard time swimming to the surface…

There is a song by 3 Doors Down called, “Let Me Be Myself” and while whole the song speaks to me, two lines really explain how I feel lately:

 “I’ll never see the light of day living in this cell.” 

“It’s time to make my way back into the world I knew.”

Maybe that’s where H is right now – making his way back.

Alternate Universe

February 16, 2009

Okay, so this may sound crazy but I have something to share (mainly in the hopes that other people have had this happen and I am not really crazy).  I still have thoughts of the boys.  Except they aren’t dead in these thoughts.  It’s like they are memories that I have yet to have or memories that I didn’t have or couldn’t possible have had…I have these visions of what life should be like – me getting up to feed them, playing with them, changing diapers.  Just this morning I was loading dishes into the dishwasher and I thought, “I should be loading baby bottles in here…”  I have looked in my rear view mirror and imagined that they are back there in their car seats.  It’s been nearly a year – a year since my world stopped.  I just don’t feel like I can get it started again.  I get up, eat, work, swim, go to yoga, eat again, and go to bed.  I go to dinner with Hubby, go to lunch with the girls, go to therapy dog training.  I pee on ovulation tests, pee on pregnancy tests, get blood drawn but now, not only do I long for another baby, I still long for those boys.  It’s like I have doubled my pain. 

I want my old life back but in my old life, I didn’t have the boys either.  They didn’t exist then.  I just feel so stuck.

Pity Party, Table for 1?

February 4, 2009

So thank you to everyone who sent me lovely notes after my post yesterday.  I was having one big pity party and feeling really sorry for myself.  Like my wise friend Karla said, “if this test had been required two years ago, it would be no big deal.”  She’s right, I would have rolled with it no problem but now everything seems overwhelming and is just another thing that the universe is throwing at me to handle.

This is what I wanted.  I wanted the doctors to be thorough and make sure that everything is fine.  I wanted the doctor to tell me that the only thing stopping us from having a baby is the genetic issue because as hard as it is to continue to have losses, eventually, the law of averages will work in our favor.  I had the boys and they were fine.  It will happen again.

So I am not giving up.  I take it back, I am not done but I do reserve the right to throw my hands in the air and yell, “OH COME ON!”

Thanks again guys.

So Dr. S just called.  Apparently she does not share the same philosophy as her colleague.  She would like to perform a Hysteroscopy.  That would mean putting me under, inserting a camera into my uterus through the cervix, checking for the polyps and if they are in fact there, zapping them with a laser.  I would be out in of surgery in about an hour but would be down for the count for the rest of the weekend.  She did give me the option of another Hydrosonogram but then, if the polyps were there, we’d have to schedule the zapping at some point anyway.  I’m all about efficient use of time off from work, let’s just get it all done at once.

My question is, how the hell did I get to this point?  What happened to “let’s have a baby” and “oh I am pregnant” and “oh it’s twins” and “oh we are so lucky” to “I’ve cried so much my eyelashes haven’t fallen out – twice!” and “I’m so sad that I can’t stand myself” to “let’s schedule a photo shoot with my uterus.” 

Did you ever see that episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” where the girl has some condition where she falls and breaks bones.  She’s to the point where she can’t even leave the house because she’s so afraid of breaking something else and she’s just given up a relationship with a guy that she’s convinced was “the one” because she’s scared to have another broken bone.  The whole time she just looks up at the sky and shakes her fists and yells, “OH COME ON!”

I’m done.  I give up.  I can’t do this anymore.  It’s just too much. 

OH COME ON!!!!

Today is our appointment with the RE.  I had hoped that I would be able to walk in and say, “oh by the way, can you do an HCG test on me, my period is 6 days late, my boobs are sore and heavy and I have intermittent cramping – basically, I think I am pregnant.”  Well, those symptoms went away on Saturday and I got my period Sunday morning.  I’m guessing another chemical pregnancy but since I was too scared to take a test, I don’t know.  Besides, chemical pregnancies don’t usually generate enough HCG to trip a test anyway.  The other option is that my body is just now recovering from the miscarriage to have a period and the “symptoms” were something else but I am getting pretty good at knowing when I am pregnant.

So because of that, I’m a little down plus the fact that I feel like this appointment today isn’t going to tell me anything that I don’t already know.  I am predicting that the RE will say, “your repetitive pregnancy losses are due to the genetic issue and all you can do is keep trying and suffer through the continued miscarriages.”  Not anything I don’t already know and think about all the time.  I mean, is it worse to get pregnant and lose them or never get pregnant?  I don’t know but I keep trying to remind myself of the law of averages – that eventually the statistics will swing in my favor and that the boys were fine, they didn’t have the genetic issue but died from something else completely unrelated and unpredictable.  It happened once, it will happen again.

Do I let this doctor do a bunch of tests on me to rule out other possible issues when this genetic issue is staring right at me?  Hubby thinks it’s a little weird that a fertilized egg bounces around in there for a couple of days and then just doesn’t implant.  We have had at least 3 chemical pregnancies (2 we know of for sure because the doctor did blood work and the HCG level was over 5 but never got to 50 before I started bleeding).  A bum egg or genetically not viable egg would just bounce around and then disintegrate though.  Hard to say.  Dr. T recommended a Hysterosalpingogram or HSG.  I know some of you who read this blog have had one but for the unfamiliar it’s an x-ray where they shoot dye into the uterus and watch it come out the tubes.  If there is blockage in the tubes, the dye doesn’t come out.  I don’t think I have blockage – my eggs are all dressed up in their favorite dresses and heels, going out and hitting the bar and getting picked up by the sperm.  In other words, I get pregnant, I just don’t stay that way.  My best friend from high school is a L and D nurse and she got a list of tests that her friend recently had done.  Again, I will take to the RE about that list with me but if those are tests for unexplained infertility, they aren’t going to help me.  I get pregnant, I just don’t stay that way.

I know that this is an exercise in hope and patience.  I get that, I do.  That doesn’t make me less frustrated or sad that I can’t just have sex with my loving husband, get pregnant with a healthy baby and STAY THAT WAY for 9 months.  Today is Chinese New Year so I thought it was fitting that I wear a new outfit, go see a new doctor and hope for a shiny new baby.  We shall see.

One of Those Days….

January 14, 2009

I go through these phases where I accept the fact that I have been labeled “RPL” (recurrent pregnancy loss – I need to write a whole blog on how a label is extremely damaging to an already tired, grieving and frustrated woman).  I understand that eventually, I will have a baby but that I will likely miscarry a good number more times before getting that healthy baby gets here.  I sort of just figure, this is the way it’s going to be and while I can shake my fists at the universe and ponder why some people get pregnancy standing up wind from their husband and have little or no compassion for anyone other than themselves (if you read my blog regularly, you know of whom I speak), it’s not going to accomplish anything.  We just keep timing sex each month and waiting for the next positive result and hopefully it sticks.

And then there are the days that I just get pissed and I do shake my fists at the universe and scream, “Why me?  Why me?  WHY ME?”  Today I am pissed.  I woke up pissed.  I’m sullen and angry.

But that’s okay because I am allowed to be angry and mad today because tomorrow, I won’t be.  Or maybe I will be.  Who knows.  Part of this whole experience, for me, has been not being tied to one single emotion all the time and knowing that is okay.  I just have to ride it out.

On another note, here is a great blog about announcing pregnancies and I think it’s good for everyone to read.  I was guilty of this with the boys.  I just told everyone regardless of what happened in their past (in my defense, I didn’t know that some of my friends had lost babies – part of that culture of silence and shame that surrounds miscarriages and hopefully, blogging has taken away) and for that I am sorry.  Trust me, I’ve been schooled. 

http://staceysthoughtsoninfertility.blogspot.com/2009/01/announcements-part-one.html

My friend Deb, who had losses before I was pregnant with the boys, called me and told me over the phone (we live 3,000 miles apart).  I was grateful for her directness and honesty and not letting me find out another way.  I was able to talk with her about her fears and concerns and it made me more aware when I got pregnant again.  Another friend has yet to tell me that they are pregnant but I know because they have a Facebook page.  It’s more painful to me to learn that way – it makes me think you can’t trust me and my reactions.  I know that you don’t want to hurt me but guess what?  I got hurt in April when I lost the boys, you had/have no control over that.  I will be happy for you but I will be sad for what I have lost.  There is nothing you can do about that and your deception only makes it worse.  It makes my loss about you instead of just your joy being about you. 

That being said, all in all, I’m doing okay even being sullen and angry.

Thompson Twins anyone?  Did I just show my age there?

Hubby and I went to the therapist on Friday.  She was nice.  I don’t think she’s the person for us for a couple of reasons.  One, she’s not on our insurance plan like her website said she was.  We had to write a check for her services at the end, which is fine but I don’t want to spend $75 every 2 weeks when Hubby gets 30 mental health visits for a mere $25 co-pay.  Second, she wanted to focus a lot of the time on my relationship with me mother.  I agree, it sucks and needs work.  However, I am more concerned with my relationship with Hubby and our future attempts (and certain failures) with concieving a child.  I repeatedly told her this and while the session started out with her wanting to discuss the losses and what they were doing to our relationship, she moved quickly into my relationship with my mother, effectively leaving Hubby out of the session.

I did take away something that, while I think I already knew it, it helped to hear.  She said that it’s normal, at this stage, to still want to give into the grief even if it’s just for a small time everyday.  What’s not normal is to sink so low into the grief that you can’t face anything else.  Everyone loses something, everyone experiences a grief, but it’s how and if you try and work to recover from that grief that sets people apart.  One of the biggest concerns that Hubby had was that I was never going to recover from the loss of the boys.  The therapist said that while we would never be the same, we would move forward – that we were moving forward – otherwise, we wouldn’t be seeking counseling, going to work, going swimming, going to yoga, etc.  Makes sense.

I felt much better after the session.  I slept a lot this weekend, probably making up for all the bad nights of sleep that I have had in the past couple of months.  I think therapy is going to be good for us because it’s a place where it’s acceptable to cry – even encouraged.  That’s something that I feel I don’t have right now – someplace to cry.

On another note,  I am finally getting Lasik eye surgery next week.  I was scheduled to have it last year (2007) , right after Thanksgiving but found out the day before the procedure that we were pregnant.  Then, I was scheduled to have it done right before Christmas (2008 ) this year and bam!  Found out we were pregnant again.  This time it’s scheduled during the two week wait.  I might be pregnant, I might not be but there is no way to know and hence, eye surgery!

So all in all, things are good.  I’m hopeful and feeling positive.

Proactive Me.

January 8, 2009

Went to the doctor yesterday for the “annual” exam.  I joke that I’m like a smoke detector, I need to be checked out around New Year’s because otherwise I forget and the house might burn down.  The lady parts are fine.  We have been referred to an RE for additional testing.  I think it’s a waste of time because the source of our miscarriages is the translocated chromosome but can’t hurt to rule out other things too, right?  I have embraced the fact that while 2/3 of my pregnancies will fail, 1/3 will not.  I have had 3 pregnancies, 2 have failed and 1 has not (for the genetic issue anyway).  I’m basically back to the beginning.  New year, new slate, new pregnancies.

And we see a therapist on Friday afternoon.

And the diet started Monday.  I need to lose the remaining 15 pounds that is leftover from the twins.  I have had this attitude of “oh well, it won’t matter because I will be pregnant again soon and then I can be as fat and unhealthy as I want to be.”  Wrong.  My blood pressure was 139/78 yesterday.  My blood pressure is never over 118/68.  Could have been the argument with Hubby the night before, the fact that I didn’t sleep well, that going to UNC makes me anxious in general or that I took some Benedryl to help me sleep but I wasn’t pleased with the number I saw when I stepped on the scale either.  Hanging on to the weight is not going to make it any easier to conceive and while getting pregnant isn’t the issue, why make it the issue, you know?  I lost 15 pounds right before I got pregnant with the twins and I loved the way I looked.

I have developed some bad habits over the past month or so.  I could chalk it up to the holidays but I have been drinking a hot chocolate from Starbucks just about 4 times a week, skipping the gym, eating meat, and snacking on candy and cookies with regularity.  I found out yesterday that those hot chocolates I love from Starbucks (the Signature Hazlenut Hot Chocolate is my favorite), despite being made with non-fat milk – has 650 calories.  That’s right, 650 calories.  A simple switch to a non-fat, sugar-free vanilla latte (decaf, of course!) is a savings of 450 calories right there! 

So cutting back on calories, no more meat, lots of veggies, back to swimming 3 times a week and Kelly has offered to go to yoga on Wednesday nights instead of mid-day (remember? I can’t deal with the pregnant yoga teacher so I just stopped going) is the plan.  Yoga and swimming will make me feel better and losing weight will boost my self-esteem.

So moving ahead trying to get me back.

Hell, I sound almost normal, don’t I?

Nahhhhhhhh.