Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Taking Care of Me

When you're after a baby and circumstances make that difficult, it's pretty common to let yourself go a bit.

I finally woke up to the reality I'm sure everyone else could see: the weight I was holding on to was much more than pregnancy weight. It was the weight of thousands of tears, of seeking small comfort in sugar, carbs and wine. It suddenly dawned on me that I was holding myself back with this pattern of instant gratification. And I stopped doing it, cold turkey.

I don't think I've had a bite of refined carb in two weeks. I'm still allowing myself wine in moderation on weekends and the occasional special event during the week. And I feel fantastic. I'm noticeably thinner and have more energy, and my skin breakouts (another topic for another day) have cleared considerably.

Before H, sticking with a PCOS-friendly (low carb/sugar) diet was a way for me to feel in control and stay healthy as I tried to conceive. I slipped after he was born, then started conceiving naturally -- so I guess it registered that maybe it was unnecessary. Then came the miscarriages and the medicating with food. But it's a new day. My body is mine again, and I need to take care of it.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


Yesterday, we took H to the library for story time. My husband (who works from home) wanted to go too, because they were doing a special tour of the conveyor belt book return system and, well, he's a guy and likes such things.

On our way downstairs for the tour, there was a gaggle of moms talking about how wild the boys in the class were, and how one of them should know because she has three of them. You can imagine where the conversation went. She should have another! She'd get her girl! Oh she hadn't decided on a fourth yet.

Decided. A fourth child. A question of will, not of chance. Not of daring and struggling or pain and suffering.

R and I met eyes. I explained later that I encounter some form of that conversation at least once daily. He shrugged his shoulders as he does. What can we do? That's how it is for most people.

I'm tired, guys. I'm just tired of it all. Tired of waiting, and wondering. Tired of still wanting something that's so hard. Tired of this horrible position I'm in, of having the first half of what I want in the freezer, and a horribly unclear and difficult path ahead for the second half -- yet no alternative. What can I do? Let them go? It's impossible. I have to do it. And I'm terrified.

Mostly, what scares me at this moment is that the clinic will say yes to the truly lovely potential surrogate we've found, whose records they are reviewing. And we will go down this path with her and spend all the money and then something will happen -- she won't get pregnant, or she will and we'll bring her into our reproductive den of doom. And then we'll have less money and still no baby.

That line of thought leads me to adoption. From there, I'm with the embryos, and knowing for sure that if we adopt it will bring us joy but also horrible pain over letting those embryos go. And possibly regret, and possibly some low-lying resentment toward the adopted child. Which obviously cannot be allowed to happen. Around and around we go.

And then I wish we didn't have the embryos. And then, horrible guilt over that thought. Then anger over being in this terrible predicament with no one to bail us out. With nothing to do but keep going and take the risk.

When I look at H and feel a sense of loss over the early childhood/pre-school years I can see evaporating before my eyes, I don't know if I should feel hopeful that we might do it again, or if I should cling more closely to this time, because it's the only experience of it we'll have. The answer is probably both, but the way I experience it is pure and painful limbo.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Modern Medicine

About a year ago (I am still too traumatized to look at dates or otherwise dive too deeply into the day), I was rushed to the hospital where they had to do a second D&C to remove the remaining pieces of my poor, broken baby.

My broken heart is another matter. Those pieces are still coming back together.

I want to mark this unfortunate anniversary with a comment on our health care system with regard to OB/GYN care. Miscarriage -- and other unfortunate complications of pregnancies -- is incredibly common, yet there remains a huge disconnect in the way providers address women who present with it. Warning signs are dismissed. News delivered insensitively, even harshly. Hurtful offhanded comments made. The entire (hugely relevant) emotional experience of miscarriage remains largely -- notwithstanding the rare, evolved obstetrician -- ignored.

I have been handed ER discharge forms referencing "fetal parts." Been told it's probably nothing. Given advice about it being meant to be, and told to "just try again." Last year, I called the doctor with a huge warning sign the day before I hemorrhaged at home and bought myself an ambulance ride, and was told to "monitor it" and call on Monday for an ultrasound. I still think about how nice it would have been to avoid one of the most significant traumas of my life by being brought in, calmly told there was remaining tissue and brought to the OR without drama.

And then, perhaps the most significant indignity of all, the one I shake my head at every time it pops in. After the second D&C, they brought my loopy, exhausted, shattered self upstairs to the maternity floor to recover. They put an ice pack in a newborn diaper for me to use. I heard cries through the walls. I had to see that fucking hospital channel that tells you how to take care of the baby you just had, if you were lucky enough to bring it out alive.

Get it together, doctors.

To every girl who has been there, may your own moments have made you a little tougher, a little wiser, a little kinder, a little better. "In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer." -Albert Camus.

Monday, April 27, 2015

If Only It Were This Easy

I just got an email from Target with this subject line:

Baby Sale at Target

Are babies for sale? Because I am definitely interested, and -- in contrast to the Lilly Pulitzer offering -- I would actually line up for this.

In real life, things are a little tricky. We may have found a surrogate, but every step feels precarious.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Not a Weight Loss Plan I Recommend

One of H's teachers commented this morning at drop-off that I am looking great -- thin, but not too thin. Have I been working out?

Nope. Just lost the dead baby weight.

I said that in my head. Don't worry.

Monday, March 23, 2015

An Involuntary Mission

Here's what kind of everyone needs to know about me. This quest for another baby, this never-ending mission? It's not voluntary. It doesn't feel like an optional choice to me. I have four PGD-screened embryos with the same genetic makeup as H in a freezer right now, and the drive to bring one of them home where he belongs feels as obvious and vital to me as taking in air several times a day.

I get it. I've been at this for a long time. People are sick of hearing about it. I'm sick of hearing about it. I'm sick of talking about my reproductive plans publicly. I didn't ask for this to be my "thing" in life. But it is what it is, and it's part of me, and I need to talk and write about it to understand how to think about it. To keep my prefrontal cortex from malfunctioning. And I need to keep going. I need to try until there are no more options. Because I still -- despite all the evidence to the contrary that's presented itself over the past four years -- I still believe he's out there.

So you don't have to understand or agree with my willingness to put my embryo inside another lady and go broke in the process. But just know that that choice was made for me when five embryos tested healthy in November 2013. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

One Year Later

These are the moments that still break my heart:

It was still cold, snow everywhere, and we bundled up early in the morning to get to the appointment. The three of us. I couldn't find child care so my poor H was along for this terrible ride.

We had just gotten H a booster seat, and before we left he told me he wanted to give his old convertible seat to the baby.

I was still careful, shielding my obviously pregnant belly as I walked across the ice to the car. I was so nervous, and yet ready to have it over with, to know what, if anything, the high AFP meant. I thought they'd find something with the placenta.

On the way to the hospital, Pharrell's "Happy" came on the radio. I loved the song, and hoped that hearing it in that moment wouldn't ruin it forever. At some point my husband changed the station and "Route 66" was on, a song we had all just heard on the soundtrack to the "Cars" movie we'd watched together. One of the last happy moments of the pregnancy.

The ultrasonographer called us back from the waiting room, and as we walked back she asked if I had to use the bathroom. H answered instead: "No, thank you." We all laughed.

H's face as everyone else realized what was innocent to the horror unfolding. Unaware he had just lost his brother.

Coming back home to the business of it. The calls to doctors and the insurance company. The search for someone who could do the surgery. Essentially being told good luck by my OB's office, whose high-risk doctor, the only one skilled past 13 weeks, was on vacation. Having to slog through all of the moments to come.

Telling H there was no longer a baby.

Standing in the hospital bathroom before going to the OR, saying goodbye, and I'm sorry. Terrified of the pre-surgery warnings, wishing I were with my H, having a fun day in my beloved city.

Realizing how old my second boy would be today. Wishing I knew if he liked oatmeal, or was quick to smile like his brother. Wishing I'd had the chance to be his mama too.


Marking a year since the death of your baby is a lonely exercise. There is no way to get others involved without striking them as melodramatic. Once again, I'm the only one who can carry this.

I wish I could tell you that the past year has changed me for the better. That I've somehow been enriched by the epiphany of grief and suffering. There may be some of that, but mostly it's been a matter of making it through days. And on some, I thought I'd break. So there's this: I survived.

It does help that this year's March 18 feels brighter and warmer than last year's. After every winter, a spring.

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