Sunday, January 30, 2011

Queen of Excuses

I am the QUEEN of excuses. No, I don’t often use them on unsuspecting friends (as we prepare to move, I’m sure we’ll hear our fair share... “What? EVERYONE we know is working and/or ill this weekend? Wow!”). The excuses I’m referring to are the ones I tell myself. They occur when I’m thinking of the future, most notably when I don’t want to do something I know I should. For example, I have been talking about serving at SWITCH on Wednesday nights, the youth ministry of our church. I plan to minister to 6th grade girls. Enter excuse of the day here _______________. When we move and are settled… When I feel better…  When I’m not so tired by Wednesdays that I want to sleep for a week…  You get the idea. We have also been throwing around the idea (prayerfully of course) of hosting our own marriage LifeGroup. This would be a big step out of our comfort zone, but we both feel led to do so. Good thing the avalanche of excuses is ready and waiting to bury said idea. When we have more time… When our church has the training…  When we are settled and moved (I am particularly fond of this one obviously)… 

I have begun to realize that my whole life lately has been one big excuse, so much so that I am not living in the present. If I’m truly honest with myself, I have been consumed with one excuse in particular, my go-to excuse. When we have kids then I…  Forget the amazing life I have right now, it doesn’t start until we have kids. When we have kids then I will spend more time with Erik and with our families. When we have kids then I will stop working so hard. When we have kids then I will be happier, more fulfilled, more candy-and-hearts adjectives. Frankly, I am tired of living in the future. What exactly is so wrong with my present? I see so many people around me focusing on the next big step…marriage, kids, promotions, a NEW HOUSE! I have seen too much sadness around me to know that the next “when” is not guaranteed. I am done with being the queen of excuses…the only excuse I want to make from now on is “Sorry, I’m too busy living my amazing life right now!! Maybe tomorrow…”

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Doctor Update #4

As I sat today in Dr. GB’s office, pondering his lack of bowtie AND grumpiness, thereby making his nickname irrelevant, a movie quote came to mind. Amidst all of his brilliance, and he truly is brilliant, he does not have an answer for us. His hastily spoken suggestion the other day of using a sperm donor was just one in a list of things we can try. Key word being TRY. He confirmed today that based on all of our results, we will most likely have a baby at some point with or without medical intervention. If however, the problem is something beyond all doctors’ knowledge and awareness, then these miscarriages will keep happening. Either way, he doesn’t know and there’s no way to tell. This brings me back to the quote. It’s from one of my favorite movies, Rudy, and it’s spoken in the church when Rudy is asking the priest if there is anything more he can do (to get into Notre Dame). The priest answers back, “Son, in 35 years of religious studies, I’ve come up with only two, hard incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and I'm not Him.” Essentially, this is what Dr. No Longer GB is telling us.

I find it ironic that just as I’m starting to warm up to said doctor, we may never see him again. You see, because our insurance hates all persons having fertility trouble (proof being that they no longer cover ANY Reproductive Endocrinology visits at this point) we had to pay for this visit out of pocket. Considering the exorbitant prices of RE visits, this practice will not be continuing. No more tests, no more guesses, no more professorial lectures imparting his expertise. Seriously, I think I learned enough from him today to write a textbook. Like I said, brilliant. Anyway, we are going to try again, but this time we will weather the storm without any medical involvement. As we were leaving, Dr. No Longer GB said something that will forever endear him to me. With fervor that rivals my own, he said, “I see so many couples leave here with healthy pregnancies and I get their birth announcements. I just want you guys to be one of those couples.” *Tear!* So long good doctor…keep an eye on your mailbox. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Our "Marriage Masks"

I’m watching the Bachelor (lame I know), but I can’t help it. Must. Watch. Can’t. Look. Away. Anyway, one of the girls just said something that after 7 years, I know to be a lie. She said that marriage is all about finding the right person, and when you do, the rest just falls into place. I could go off on my soapbox right now, but I won’t. I prefer to speak from experience, from the heart.

I spoke in a previous blog about the “marriage mask” that Erik and I wore for too long. Why did we wear it? We had many different reasons through the years. No one told us the first year of marriage would be the hardest year of our lives. Surely when you found the "right person" you didn't fight everyday, especially during the reportedly blissful honeymoon stage!!  Masks on! Then we coasted for a few years, masks off and on at will, until BAM! We woke up one day and we were roommates. We had grown apart. A typical reason for a divorce these days. We could not see past the negatives in each other and our lists grew longer by the day. We were faced with a difficult choice…did we want to fight for our marriage or did we want to give up? Fighting for it meant taking off the masks permanently and getting real with others and harder still, ourselves. Giving up would have been so much easier, but for us, the hardest thing and the right thing were the same. (A little tribute to The Fray) I am so, so thankful that I didn’t believe the lies that we were exposed to everywhere. I heard over and over, “Just do what makes you happy.” “If he was the right person, you wouldn’t have to try so hard.” I am ashamed to admit I almost bought into this disposable mindset.

After a full year, yes, a YEAR, of marriage counseling and amazing support by our marriage-centered LifeGroup, I can tell you that he was, and still is the right person, not because he gives me butterflies, but because I choose every day to love him, and vice versa. Instead of letting things “fall into place,” we prefer to make sure they do. It’s not chance or chemistry, it’s work. And it’s worth it.

“I have no way of knowing whether or not you married the wrong person, but I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage and what it takes to make that marriage happy and successful. I'll be the first to admit that it's possible that you did marry the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all. On the other hand, if you marry the right person, and treat that person wrong, you certainly will have ended up marrying the wrong person. I also know that it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person. In short, whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you.”
Zig Ziglar

****LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this quote.****

Sunday, January 23, 2011

House Hunting Continued...

Decisions, decisions. When it comes to making decisions, I am your classic “I don’t care” answerer - all the while harboring very strong feelings that I keep to myself. You know, one of those people that you hate to decide where to eat with because you are certain that they have somewhere in mind, and indeed they do, but they insist that they don’t care, only to tell you AFTER you eat that they, in fact, HATE that restaurant, but they didn’t tell you because they knew you liked it. Again…working on it. :-)

Now, imagine trying to buy a house with that same annoying person! I definitely have my opinions, but ultimately, I don’t want to be the one responsible for a bad decision that just happens to cost a small fortune. I would prefer for any future resentment to land squarely on the shoulders of the final decision maker (anyone but me please). Alas, that passive approach does not work so well when purchasing a home.

Not surprisingly, my husband takes a different decision-making approach. He is more of a brain-storming analyzer, a list maker, a pros and cons pro. You know, one of those people that you love to decide where to eat with because they can name all of the restaurants in the area, explain to you how to get to each one (and tell you the fastest route), and warn you of the calories in each dish so as not to increase your waist-line. Hazards of this responsibility super power include frequent mind changes and stress over making the absolute right decision.

Now, imagine trying to buy a house with that same amazingly conscientious person! He definitely has his opinions, but ultimately, he doesn’t want to be the one resented for a bad decision later either, ever-wavering. Believe it or not, despite our massive decision-making differences, I think we have FINALLY come to the same conclusion. We want house #3. I am trying not to get my heart too set on said house just in case, but if all goes well, I will be posting pics of OUR NEW HOUSE in the next couple of days. Sometimes 2 heads (however border-line dysfunctional) really are better than one! :-)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Super Hero?

I am not a Super Hero. Shocking, I know. People have been commenting lately on my amazing strength and resilience. Well, it’s time to set the record straight. Despite my best efforts at seeming put-together and my “embrace the sunshine” goal, I still have melancholy days. Days where I listen to the same depressing songs over and over just to feel the tears run down my face. Days where my mood swings give Erik whiplash. Days where, if my outside actions matched my inner turmoil, there’s a good chance I would be in jail or a special hospital, complete with straight jacket.

There are times when hearing someone complain about their pregnancy weight gain or lack of sleep from their newborn baby is enough to cause me to make a scene (in my head). There are moments when the words, “We want to have a baby by the time I’m _______ years old” sets my teeth on edge. As if it’s just that easy. I want to scream out, “Don’t you think I used to say the same things!? And look at me now!!!” Usually I just settle for a laughing, “Sometimes God has a different idea!” hoping to remind them to use a little sensitivity.

Lately, however, I’ve realized that I’M the one being insensitive. People have the right to talk about their goals, grumblings and goings-on without walking on egg-shells around me! The only way that you develop hyper-sensitivity like mine is to live through something like this, and I certainly wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It is beyond selfish to expect others to analyze every word before they speak, trying to decide if it will offend me. I certainly wouldn’t want to be around someone like that for very long!!

Goal # 1,000,001 is as follows: Stop being a big fat baby every time you hear a sentence containing the aforementioned word!! (See, even I use it without thinking occasionally!) Thanks for the sincere compliments Friends; they are making me want to be the person you think I am. Love you all!! J

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Last weekend our pastor preached another great message. One line in particular has been such a comfort to me this week. “Do what you can do, and let God do what you cannot do.” So simple, and yet so profound. It is very similar to the adage, “Let go and let God,” but for some reason his version just spoke to me more clearly. I have to admit that his statement goes against every bit of my hyper-controlling nature. Slowly relinquishing the idea of control has been very much a part of this whole baby (and even house-hunting) process.

I can control which doctors I see, which medicines I take or don’t take, even how many ultrasounds I get to have. But I have been exposed to many of the things that I cannot control through all of this this and they alone are enough to fill a few hundred books. We can also choose which house we make an offer on, which addition we want to live in, and how much we want to spend. However, we cannot keep people from buying a house out from under us or offering more money than we are willing to pay.

Control is an illusion, and an oppressive one at that. Deciding to let go of the idea that I have control (and therefore blame) over whether or not we have a baby has been very liberating for me. I can do what I can do...limiting caffeine, taking vitamins, even getting daily shots, but that’s all. Ultimately, it is not up to me. And that revelation is much, much more earth-shattering than I care to admit. My name’s Amber, and I’m a recovering controlaholic. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Doctor Update #3

So my husband has this autobiography by Hamilton Jordan entitled “No Such Thing as a Bad Day.” That title has been rolling around in my head this evening. Can you imagine the strength it would take for a person to live their lives in such a manner? He faced cancer (3 times no less), and was so grateful for his survival that he proclaimed that any day he woke up to see the sun could not be a bad day. That perspective and attitude towards life is my new goal, but it is not going to happen today.

As you’ve probably guessed, today was BAD. We were planning to make an offer on a house today at 3:30; we were told upon arrival that it was sold last night. LAST NIGHT!! Can you imagine? It is amazing how attached you can get to something that was never even yours. Stupid wood floors and theater room luring me in…

Then I got a phone call from Dr. GB (the Reproductive Endocrinologist) that shook me to the core. As if hearing his grumpy voice wasn’t bad enough…  He wanted to speak with me personally about my blood panels from when I was pregnant and about some of the research he has been doing. Evidently he has been poring over all of my results and looking through some newly published medical journals (since I am such a mystery) and just truly does not believe it is me. At heart, doctors are scientists, and he wants to change one variable at a time in order to see if the outcome will be different. Henceforth I am now a human guinea pig. Experiment #1: to see if I can have a healthy pregnancy with a sperm donor. Yes, I know. My mind is still reeling. I cannot even vocalize yet how this suggestion has affected me, so I won’t try. I’m sure you can imagine. Just for tonight, I need time to mourn the idea that a baby of our own may never be a reality. I’ve never, NEVER allowed that possibility to cross my mind. Tomorrow I will consider the alternatives: that Dr. GB could be wrong, that we can adopt, that God can do all things and heal all things. Tomorrow I will embrace the sun, but for tonight, just for tonight, the darkness seems more fitting. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Doctor Update #2

Confession time…I called my doctor first thing this morning. I am weak, I am impatient, I am working on it. Honestly, I found the notion of waiting on pins and needles for 2 weeks to find out if they even SENT for the genetic tests on the baby to be ludicrous. Thank goodness I did call, because 2 weeks would have been a long time to wait for nothing. Yes, that’s right, NOTHING. They did, in fact, fail to order the genetic tests. Pathology reports were clear, but genetic results will remain unknown. The nurse, while holding my chart, said, “Well, they usually don’t order them after the first miscarriage. This is your first, right?” Let us pause for a moment of silence for incompetence everywhere…

Because of these consistent problems with Dr. Never Again’s staff, and his love of the phrase “bad luck,” the use of which truly makes me want to strangle someone, I have made the decision to find a new doctor. Now, before, I ask for recommendations, let me preface this by saying, I LIKE Dr. Never Again. He has been delivering for many years, I hear nothing but the best things about him, he is very calm and sympathetic, I just LIKE him. This seems to be the #1 prerequisite for an OBG recommendation, and it’s just not enough anymore. I need someone who is familiar with these types of situations, who isn’t so busy that they can barely keep up with what labs go where, and who delivers out of Baptist or Mercy. I would love to hear your suggestions, keeping my needs in mind. There’s part of me that is very sad and worried about the unknown with a new doctor, but I’m hoping maybe this change will be the start of a new beginning. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Our pastor preached a message a few months ago on one word. Masks. Here are some of my own thoughts on the subject:

At some point or another in our lives, we all wear them. Masks shield us from judgment, they protect us from unwanted questions, and they keep other people at arm’s length. I have worn many masks in my life. There’s been the common “I’m Fine” mask, put on after grief, a big fight with someone, or even when I just didn’t feel well. It resembles a tight smile that warns others not to pry. The “½ of a perfect couple” mask was worn in the past to alleviate the stress of others sizing up our marriage. I knew that if the mask slipped, other people would see a mess. This mask is most effective when the other partner is wearing it too; throw in some hand-holding and you have a full-blown costume. Most recently, I have been trying on the “No, it doesn’t feel like a knife to the heart when I see your newborn baby/swollen tummy” mask. This mask is complicated because although I am TRULY happy for the person sharing such great news, this mask is only successful if the person is looking at your smile and not your eyes, because your eyes will show the pain behind them.

Because of my past expertise in mask-wearing, I have really begun to notice those around me lately. It makes me question everyone…what masks are they hiding behind? Is their marriage crumbling? Are they having financial stress? Is their child heading down the wrong path, while they sit by feeling helpless? Having been on both sides of the mask, it is tragic to me that we feel the need to put them on at all. When you are mask free, people open up to you. They share their pain and struggles. After reading my blog, virtual strangers have poured out their sadness and hurt to me. I have reconnected with friends that have gone through the same issues as I have; I never would have guessed had I not opened up first. Instead of hiding behind our masks thinking others will never understand, it is healing beyond words (not to mention a huge relief) to be real, for people to accept you as you are, and to truly begin to OWN your past. My mistakes and struggles do not define me, and they haven’t changed how my true friends feel about me either. If anything, they have made me more human and accessible. Being mask free is when the true renewal takes place, and I promise, it’s the best way to be.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Doctor Update #1

We went to the D&C follow-up visit on Wednesday afternoon. It was anticlimactic at best. For all of you wanting an update, it is as follows:

30 = # of minutes spent waiting to see Dr. Never Again
5 = # of minutes ACTUALLY spent seeing Dr. Never Again
4 = # of times Dr. Never Again used the phrase “bad luck”
4 = # of times he almost got punched in the face for using the aforementioned phrase
0 = # of times I cried
1 = # of times I ALMOST cried, especially upon hearing that he thinks the hospital lab “failed” to send off the baby for genetic testing
2 = # of weeks it will take to find out if the hospital did in fact fail (don’t ask me why)!
14 = # of days in those weeks that I will think about it with anger and resignation
14 = # of days in those weeks that I will use my steely resolve to NOT call and beg for results
Uncountable = # of people we have praying for and thinking about us
Immeasurable = # of ways in which we are blessed in this life

Friday, January 14, 2011

House Hunting

So, as most of you know, we’re looking for a house. When I tell people, they always comment on how much FUN it is! I would argue that looking at houses is more like marriage. At first it is exciting…the experience is shiny and new. After about the 30th house, you begin to nitpick every little thing. You start to point out only the negative aspects of each house. “What is that paint color? Ugh!” “I can’t believe they used marble instead of granite in the kitchen!” With each house your criticism gets more and more enthusiastic. “OH MY GOSH, did you SEE the chrome faucets in the bathroom! What was the builder THINKING?!” You begin to miss the whole picture, the true beauty of the house you are standing in, the 99 amazing features out of 100.

Erik and I are coming up on seven years of marriage next month; I have noted the parallels. It is so, so easy to pick apart your partner as the years go on, to be annoyed by their one bad habit (or two), when in reality they are SO much more! In searching for the perfect house, we are searching for the one that best suits us in every way. Not the one that is the best-looking, or without any flaws, but the one that can meet our needs on a daily basis, the one that is the best long-term investment. When we find that house, we won’t let it go! Something for me to remember on the days that I’m only noticing the lack of a gas stove…or the dishes in the sink again. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Flashy Thingy"

A fresh start. After loss, tragedy, and pain, isn’t this what we all seek to find? Everyone tries to find it in their own way. A new haircut, a new style, or in our case, a move across town. Wouldn’t a fresh start be easier if we just had one of those “flashy thingies” used in Men in Black (known as Neuralizers to all the true fans out there)? A burst of light and BOOM, the memories of the pain and hard times are all erased. Back to blissful oblivion!

I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like with a visit from Will Smith & Co. I know what you’re thinking…I just want to be regaled with a live version of “Whip Your Hair.” Actually, I might include that very song in the “flashy thing” erasure. Anyway, after the momentary confusion, who would I be? Would I be a light-hearted free spirit? Would my cynical nature be replaced with a peaceful light from the inside, attracting even the most skittish of animals, a modern-day Cinderella? Would sarcasm be replaced with sugary sweet words of affection?

The truth is, I have no way of knowing who I might be without those experiences. And I really don’t want to know. Overcoming adversity is the quality that I most respect in others…having the strength to deal with my own “bad luck” has helped me appreciate myself. I can say that self-reflection didn’t happen often in my life during the easy times; through the rough times the self-analyzing has been fast and furious. And with the reflection comes the ability to be the person I WANT to be. Cinderella, eat your heart out!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Now I know that I have many friends out there, who, at the risk of sounding like a #3, have refrained from asking all the questions that they have. It’s only human and I am a fellow recovering #3…we have a curious nature! The question that Erik and I have been hearing over and over is an all-encompassing “What now?” What a vast 7 letter question that is! First of all, we are waiting to get the test results back on the baby so we’ll know what we are dealing with. Is this just the infamous “bad luck” striking again? Is it a recurrent genetic problem? Is it me? Each result will naturally have a different scenario.

If it all comes down to our “luck”, then the first thing we are going to do is play the lottery, because our luck has GOT to change and luck owes us, BIG TIME. Following our imagined winning and spending, we will indeed try again. I really am committed this time around to giving my mind and body a healing period. I’m not going to plan, because that obviously hasn’t worked out so well in the past, but I would like for “luck” to visit us around May or June of this year.

If it is a recurrent problem, that poses a whole new round of possible solutions. We have considered surrogacy if the problem is on my end and even have a few amazing people in our lives that have offered to be a part of the selfless process. We have considered adoption as well. The mind-blowing thing about both of these options is the sheer cost. It is definitely an insult to injury. (This is where our lottery winnings will come in handy).  The only certainty at this point is that God is good, and whatever scenario we will inevitably face, we will do it with Him by our sides. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

The "Grief Bubble"


In talking to other people who have dealt with loss, I have found that we have something in common. After every tragedy, there is that one defining moment that snaps you out of your “grief bubble” as I call it. Many can recall the exact second, however innocuous it may have been. It can be as simple as opening your front door to see the UPS man delivering a package or a garbage truck driving down the street. Suddenly you realize that yes, the world is still spinning. Life is still going on all around you. The neighbors are obliviously getting their mail, unaware that your life has stopped in its tracks. The dog next door is pooping on your lawn - simply carrying out its maddening daily ritual. And you want to scream to break the monotony of it all…the sheer idiocy of our routines. Grief has opened your eyes to the fact that life is short and we have to make every moment count. You NEED others to understand this. But instead you close the door and lean against it, knowing that YOU are the one that has just had the epiphany, and that is a bell you can’t unring. No more pajamas and comfort food. No more sleeping the day away. Life is passing YOU by, not the other way around.

As far as I know, there is no timeline for this day…it hits you out of the blue. Some people may walk around in their “bubble” for months, some people only days. It can almost have a hint of betrayal, that decision to live again. How can you do the loss justice without round-the-clock mourning?  And the first day you don’t think about it at all and then realize this the NEXT day…that seems to be treason! But it’s not. It’s healing. And it’s a journey that is just beginning. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

CLIMBING OUT (Part 6 of 6)


The next day we met with Dr. Never Again to discuss my options. He recommended another D&C, which we expected, and so the procedure was scheduled for Thursday, 2 days after we had found out. Dr. NA assured us that this time they would do testing on the baby (I refuse to call it a fetus…blech) to see what, if anything, they could find wrong. The D&C went smoothly enough and I was glad for the closure. The progesterone shots were fooling my body and my levels were so high that it would have taken weeks to miscarry naturally. This time my body healed a little slower, is still healing. Lots of pain, fighting a fever, night sweats. All fun reminders of what might have been, along with the baby fat I gained.

The physical pain was actually a nice distraction from the real anguish. This latest loss has affected me differently. They say there are 5 stages of grief…I’ve been stuck on the anger stage this time. Anger at both doctors for their optimism and making me believe this was IT, anger at myself for every little thing I could have possibly done wrong (drinking that sip of Coke!), and anger at God for not answering my fervent prayers. It is painful for me to admit that I have felt that way towards God. After all, He has been my strength through all of this. But the statement “It’s not fair” had been replaying in my head until the bitterness was threatening to overtake me. I’ve had to let go of the anger for my own sanity. And it’s still not completely gone. There are still days when I have to fight the thoughts out of my head with a song or a prayer. Because you know what? It’s NOT fair. But it’s also not fair that one of my favorite friends lost her newlywed husband in a tragic accident. It’s not fair that a student at school’s brother is fighting cancer at such a young age. Nothing is fair in life. And thank God for that. If life were fair, no telling where I’d be…certainly my biggest worry wouldn’t be carrying a child. We all have more than we deserve. And that’s my current mantra…the old Dave Ramsey greeting. How are you? “Better than I deserve.” 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

CRASHING DOWN (Part 5 of 6)

Christmas was on a Saturday this year. That is not relevant, but it gives you a timeline. I felt absolutely horrendous that day. All I wanted to do was lie down and sleep. At the risk of seeming antisocial to Erik’s extended family, I did in fact lie down a few times just to feel “right” again, but I fought the sleep. The next day we went shopping for a good portion of the day, enjoying the hunt for our annual after-Christmas bargains. Monday we went to Tulsa to see my grandparents and cousins. It was a great day and I remember being so excited because Tuesday was the 8 week ultrasound day! It was a milestone in my mind because we had never made it that far. With this pregnancy I had actually started filling out a pregnancy journal and calendar. As much as I hated to admit it, I was allowing myself to get excited about a pregnancy. After the first miscarriage I had not allowed myself to search for baby bedding on the internet, paint the nursery in my head, or even let my mind drift to a future that included us with a child. This time, I was starting to go there. Dangerous territory indeed…

On Tuesday Erik had to work so my mom agreed to come with me to the ultrasound. Looking back, God had a hand in that because I usually just went alone. We waited forever to get into the room with the “good” ultrasound machine and while we were waiting we overheard/saw snippets of a woman passing out from a blood draw. Mom and I were observing the somewhat humorous spectacle and talking about shopping or something equally mundane. Dr. GB finally came in to do the ultrasound and I immediately knew that something wasn’t right. I didn’t see the familiar little flutter on the screen indicating a heartbeat. My heart started pounding and I felt sick to my stomach. When he called out the measurements, the baby had barely grown from the previous week. After he was done, he confirmed what I had already figured out. The baby was gone. He guessed that it had probably stopped growing on Christmas Day. The day that I had been waiting on for 8 weeks had turned ugly and dark. No matter how you steel yourself against the pain, it still takes your breath away. In that moment, I saw the ending. I’d been there before, 3 times. I already knew about the pain, the grief, the emotional toll I was positive it would take on me. What I wasn’t sure about was if this news would be what finally broke me, shattering me into a million pieces, unable to be put back together again.  

Friday, January 7, 2011

THANKSGIVING 2010 (Part 4 of 6)

So this may sound crazy to everyone but me, but this time (having had some experience) I KNEW I was pregnant, despite the 3 negative tests declaring otherwise. I felt God telling me that I would find out that I was pregnant on Thanksgiving Day. I know, crazy. I took a test the morning before Turkey Day. Nothing. Patience is not my #1 virtue, or really on the list at all, come to think of it. On Thanksgiving morning I took a test as soon as my eyes were open. I saw a line. The faintest line in history according to Erik. I immediately decided that I must go out and buy another test of a different brand to confirm. Yes, we spend ungodly amounts of money on pregnancy tests. It’s a problem. Anyway, the more expensive (and therefore more reliable I’m sure) test said PREGNANT. I was exhilarated, but once again terrified. However, I had the promise of needles in the hindquarters to reassure me that this time we were going to do everything humanly possible to keep this baby.

I called Dr. GB as soon as possible after the holiday. He got us right in and a nurse showed Erik how to administer the progesterone shots into the muscle of my bum. “Like a dart,” was her best advice. Looking back I’m not so sure…Anyway, the nightly shots were excruciating for me. Usually it had nothing to do with the pain of the shot. It was all mental. The exhaustion they caused. The reminder to me that the shots meant I wasn’t “normal.” The excitement they took away from the pregnancy. But every morning I would wake up renewed (and sore) knowing that this time was different. After all, finding out on Thanksgiving Day had to be a sign, right?

Dr. GB had me coming in constantly, sometimes up to 3 times a week. The appointments were before school, and those early mornings coupled with the long drives were exhausting. They kept me in good spirits though, as I knew that every time I went, I would get to see our baby. This baby had more pictures taken of it then some do AFTER they’re born! 5 weeks = picture. 6 weeks = picture and a heartbeat of 110. 7 weeks = picture and a heartbeat of 130. I have to admit that this time, against all of my pessimistic (I call them realistic) tendencies, I knew that this was it. Thanksgiving, a new doctor, shots every night, the doctor’s good reports…God was answering our prayers. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

JULY 2010 (Part 3 of 6)

By now you can probably guess the pattern here…SURPRISE! This time I was blown away! So soon after a previous miscarriage? “That can’t be good,” I told myself. However, armed with the doctor’s perpetual optimism (I shall henceforth refer to him as Dr. Never Again), I tried to keep the negative thoughts at bay. This time, I demanded to be seen early. At 6 weeks we got a picture AND saw the heartbeat. I’m not going to lie, I think I wiped a few tears away in that moment. Me! The robot! J The heartbeat wiped all thoughts of losing this baby out of my mind. It was here to stay! Dr. Never Again tricked me…again. 2 days later I started bleeding. Another ultrasound. Another heartbeat. Another “It’s not going to happen again.” Another miscarriage. At home. Alone.

Alone. Was I? It is especially during this miscarriage that I found solace in those “alone” moments, because I found that I wasn’t. I cried out to God so many times in those days following. Asked Him for peace, understanding, help, reassurance. And I found that through the pain of it all, I did, in fact, find healing.

I’m sure by this point any normal person would be asking, “What’s wrong?!” Believe me, I was. EVERYONE was. After some consultation with Dr. Never Again, we decided that the best course of action was to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Fancy title = costs lots of money. Anyway, upon first meeting him, I remember thinking that he was eccentric, but brilliant. I was impressed with all of the tests he recommended. Surely in the 9 vials of blood they could find one reason for all of this? Well, 9 vials of blood, 2 months, and a few uncomfortable tests later, they found nada. Zilch. The frustration at having no answer was irritating, to say the least. With every visit, I found myself liking (and therefore trusting) the doctor less and less. From here on I shall call him Dr. Grumpy Bowtie or Dr. GB, given his propensity for being grumpy and wearing hideous bowties. Did I mention that he’s somewhere between 60 and 100? Evidently Dr. GB is the only RE in the state that accepts our insurance. Anyway, he cleared us to start trying in November, with the promise of fun things like shots in the rump and tummy once we conceived. Needless to say, after all the fun I had been having lately, my plan was to start trying in February or so. I needed some time for my body to recover. Maybe hit the gym a bit. Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans…

MAY 2010...LIFE LESSONS (Part 2 of 6)

Surprise! Another positive test without even trying!! This time the results were met with excitement, but tempered with some apprehension. The doctor’s voice was on replay in my head. “It WON’T happen again.” I should have gotten that statement signed and notarized. Less than two weeks after the test, I had a miscarriage. At home. Alone. Nothing and no one can prepare you for that experience. It is a disgusting, gut-wrenching process that leaves you emotionally exhausted. I was teaching summer school at the time, requiring me to bounce back quickly as I knew that there were no substitutes to cover my class. I put on my “never let them see you cry” face and powered through the pain. Another visit to the doctor. Another “It won’t happen again.” The doctor seemed confident that it was “bad luck.” Oh, how I’ve come to despise that phrase.

The funny thing about a miscarriage is that many people have no idea how to treat you afterwards. There’s no funeral for closure, no public tears. Does it warrant a card? A hug? There are several reactions that I’ve witnessed firsthand.

1)      The Avoider - They don’t acknowledge it because they don’t know what to say or don’t know if you want to talk about it, leaving you to profess to your husband later that they must not care, even when you know they do. And you know deep down that you might actually be pushing them away because that’s what you do…
2)      The Storyteller - They tell you all about their own experiences or those of someone they’ve known; the stories are told to reassure, but can feel a little flippant when the pain is fresh. “Really, your cousin’s wife’s sister had 10 miscarriages and then got pregnant? Wow! There’s hope for me yet!!”   
3)      The Interviewer - They ask you questions like any normal, curious person. “What did the doctor say caused it? What are you going to do to prevent it? Why does it keep happening?” What they don’t know is that these are the questions that you ask yourself in the privacy of your bedroom, at night when it’s dark, when everyone else is asleep. They affirm your fears that it just might be your fault.
4)      The “Friend” - They stop talking to you altogether. Whether this is a result of not knowing what to say, or the thought that a miscarriage might be contagious, I’m not sure.  
5)      The True Friend - They react like the amazing friend they are. Maybe they encompass some of the above, but in the most well-meaning way and with some texts, cards, facebook messages, hugs, phone calls, dinners, and even tears sprinkled in…these difficult moments bring out the best in the best of friends. J

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Here goes...(Part 1 of 6)

So this is it. My first sentence as an official "blogger" is complete. The stress of having something profound to say, the pressure to change the world with my unique insight and make people laugh with my acerbic wit was enough to delay this journey for a full 2 years. Recent events in my life convinced me that I needed to begin a blog...for ME. This blog is not for anyone else, although I may share my posts with a few trusted friends. Writing for me has always been therapeutic, even more so when I don't have to analyze each sentence for possible quotes in the making. Perfectionism has indeed held me back for far too long. So it begins...

Because this blog is about healing, I have to go back in time, back to when it all began. July of 2009. It's no secret to our closest friends that Erik and I were having major marital troubles. Not your typical "I hate your Star Trek shows" and "You spend too much on clothes" troubles. MAJOR troubles. We had just begun counseling to try to hold it all together when I peed on a stick. Well, not exactly like that, but you get the idea. I was pregnant. I am ashamed to admit that, at that time, our first reaction was not excitement a la the commercials in which couples scream, hug, and trade in their sports car. We were overwhelmed, shocked, and angry. We continued working on our marriage in between my hormone flare-ups and morning sickness. Meanwhile we were both anticipating the date of our first appointment and ultrasound. Don't babies always fix marriages? I digress. The ultrasound yielded...nothing. A sac, a fetal pole, no baby. While we were taken aback with grief, we were also assured that almost half of pregnancies end in miscarriage and that it would NOT happen again. We continued to improve our marriage and lo and behold, come May...