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i’ve been working on my resume and job-hunting a bit this week, as i contemplate my new role as mother and career woman (or so i am hoping).

in perusing my files i came across a short essay i wrote for a vocational and occupational class i took in 2008 as part of my graduate education.  it was to be my statement of intent—a declaration of my career goals and pursuits.  i wrote it just one week after the first day of my very first miscarriage, when i found it difficult to declare even what i’d wear that day, much less what i was going to do with my life.  my graduation was just a few months away and i didn’t care anymore…it reads as follows:

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A mere eight weeks ago, my statement of intent may have read: when I graduate I plan to celebrate in a big way—months of celebration, culminating in a two week exotic vacation with my husband who consistently believes in my ability as a therapist even when I do not.  Along with celebrating, I also intend to begin the process of setting up my private practice by securing office space and designing my webpage.  I also intend to pursue possible agency work to gain experience and hours in a clinical setting.  I set goals for myself including securing fifteen clients by December 2008 and creating an office space that reflects warmth, tenderness and safety.  I felt like I would burst into the sky like a rocket ship from anticipation at the thought of embarking on fulfilling these goals and dreams.

Just four weeks ago, my statement of intent completely shifted when I discovered I was pregnant.  Fear and delight gripped me at the thought of rearranging my timeline, my vision of what life would look like in the coming months as I would need to make an enormous amount of space in my life for a tiny little bundle.  I had not previously known how deeply I desired to mother.  Then, my intention was to put my professional aspirations temporarily on hold, perhaps facilitating a group one night per week until I felt freer to pursue my goals.  I envisioned pushing back my “fifteen client” goal about two years from now.  I was beginning to wrap my mind around the possibility of being a mom and a therapist as a new “timeline” began to take shape in me.

In the wake of my miscarriage, I no longer have a clue what in the world I will be doing (or even feeling like doing) tomorrow, much less in three months.  At this moment in time the idea of making a declaration of my intentions, professing my hopes and dreams, feels unbearable.  I feel enraged.  I feel scared.  As it turns out, I was on the rocket ship Challenger, which exploded in mid-air.  In the wake of trauma and death, I am again so painfully aware of the fragility of life.  Making declarations such as these requires a level of bold courage and hope that I am currently not able to locate within myself.  However, I believe that tiny little pockets of hope are hidden among the ashes.  I will wait for them to bubble to the surface and I will honor my desire by continuing to hope for a future as a therapist and a mother, whatever shape that will take.  When I graduate, I intend to remain close to my heart, give myself as much space as possible to grieve and heal, and retain the tenderness and passion I have come to love about myself as a therapist.  Beyond that, I am unable to say at this point.  I will keep you posted.

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may i say, i am SO relieved to be past those early, early days.  i do not know how i got through them…i do know that i felt clueless as to where i was headed or why.

and while the memories of my much desired pregnancies remain ever with me, i feel so different today.  i feel content in a new way that i’ve not previously known.  i feel inspired to pursue my career goals more freely and more fully than i have up to this point.  i feel empowered.

and i still don’t have a clue where i’m headed…but i know where i’ve been and i believe and trust that my biggest asset today is my ability to find my way through those painful, horrific seasons with some sort of dignity. 

what i know now that i didn’t know then is that i’d one day have a lil’ bear whose smile melts my heart to no end.

and she’s exactly 12 weeks old today!

i.am.so.grateful.

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today marks two years since our first miscarriage. 

two years. 

two years ago i awoke to bright red blood.

today i awoke to a moving, stretching baby in my womb.

two years ago we went to the er (something i would never do again for a m/c, unless hemorrhaging) and sat for hours all the while being told that what was happening really wasn’t happening.

but i knew it was.

it did.

we found out that day (though the docs and nurses were no help in confirming this reality) our blueberry never grew to be more than a little round berry sized being.

this was one in many life changing days we’ve experienced in the past four years.  and while i’d never want to go back, i also never want to forget…our sweet little berry and all the naive excitement we felt in those short weeks.

on this day one year ago, the huz and i went to see a movie…seven.pounds.  just before we went into the theater, but after we bought our tickets, of course, i started to bleed.  so there i was at the movie theater, bleeding from m/c #3 had commenced and i was determined to be a normal person…i was going to see a movie with my huz no matter what. 

what’s a girl to do in this case?

run from movie theater to the store, of course, to obtain two necessary items:

pads

and

pad-fitting undies

with these in hand, i ran into the bathroom to get myself comfortably situated…then headed back over to the theater to join my huzzy.  i watched the movie like said “normal” person, went home and felt defeated, hopeless, horrible and anything other than “normal” or “person”.

last night on the way home from our new year’s celebration we were remembering this time last year.  we both agreed that the worst part of m/c #3 wasn’t the actual bleeding or not being pregnant, which felt so incredibly painful with m/c’s 1 and 2…..no, this time the worst of the pain, grief and anger centered around our fears that we might never be able to carry a baby to term.  after all, with the 3rd conception we didn’t even make it to our typical landmark of week 7 before bleeding.  what did this mean for us?  for our futures?

turns out, so far it meant a six month hiatus to ttc.  it meant a ferocious endeavor on my part to assist my body in the healing process….three failed pregnancies in 9 mos is just plain too much for one’s body and heart.  i needed–we needed–time to rest and heal a bit.  it was a much-needed and very nice break.  after those six months passed, it turns out i decided to start acupuncture for fertility and began to see dr. naturo for fertility blood work. 

it also turns out we conceived a fourth time and here we are today….27wks 4d pregnant with a little girl baby bear.  all the way back on new year’s day of 2009, though, we didn’t know all this.  we didn’t know where we were headed or what the outcome would be or if our hearts could take another loss.  we didn’t know that acupuncture would be so healing for my body and we didn’t know that working with dr. naturo would give me the sense of support that i needed…support that the medical community doesn’t offer, in our experience.

that’s the thing about pain and loss and grief and infertility and life in general….there’s no way of knowing where it will all lead to…if it leads to anywhere at all.

we don’t take for granted one moment of this experience—or at least we try not to….and it’s pretty amazing to find ourselves on the dawn of 2010 entering into the third trimester of this pregnancy.

we are more than grateful.

today marks one year since our blueberry’s due date.  that little being would have been one year old sometime around now…maybe in a couple days since they say your first usually goes late. 

 

i remember last year feeling quite sad right about now…having racked up another miscarriage by that point and not knowing if i’d ever be able to sustain a pregnancy…somehow i thought that if i was at least pregnant by our blueberry’s due date, that would help.  then when that didn’t happen, i thought that as long as i was pregnant by our beanie’s due date, i’d be fine.  that didn’t happen either.

 

now, here i am a year later, almost 18wks pregnant……and guess what?

 

it doesn’t help.  yes, i feel distracted b/c this baby and my changing body consume most of my energy and time….but when i tune in to my feelings, beyond my baby-euphoria, it still hurts.  not knowing our blueberry, all the pain that i felt at the shock and horror of suddenly miscarrying, all the questions and fears about my body and my fears of not being able to sustain life—fears about what that might mean about me….that’s all still real…pregnancy or no pregnancy…i still feel those feelings, remember the acute pain and rage and confusion.  i feel the fears and the sleepless nights.  it’s all still with me. 

 

just as my little blueberry remains with me.  no matter where i am in my fertility hunt, you always remain, little one.

for those of you who’ve been reading since the beginning (so that’s two of you probably—my life long friend and my sister!), you know that i planted flowers last spring in a pot on my front porch as a memorial to our three little lost ones.

i planted three yellow ranunculus (spelling?) amidst a sea of creamy pansies.  well, the yellow flowers died somewhere along the summer and while i knew this, i wasn’t yet ready to feel the symbolism or at least i wasn’t ready to yank the dead plants out of the pot.

so i let them be.

my neighbor with whom we share the front porch/deck, however, did not let them be.  i noticed a few weeks ago that the dead plants were missing from our pot.  i thought…oh meanie pants must have pulled the plants out!  (we call her mp for short—she was mean at first; now she’s just controlling and overbearing, but the nickname stuck.)  i was a little surprised, but not really.

today, i am surprised.  i opened our front door, which we don’t do very often because we don’t like the possibility of people looking in (huz esp doesn’t like this), and what did i see? 

not my sea of creamy pansies.  no.

i saw a completely different design in our pot (the pot we chose specifically for our baby memorial)!  our neighbor planted tall grass in the middle of new, fresh pansies to match what she planted in the pot that’s on her side of the porch.  in addition she put two chairs on our side to match the chairs she has on her side!

now, let me say in all fairness….the arrangement is beautiful and the chairs are inviting.  actually, i’d thought at various times that maybe they would have some extra chairs or a bench or something that we could put on our side of the porch….but i thought maybe we’d at least talk about it first?

oh my.  what is there to say really?  how do i even begin to explain what my meager, dying pansies meant to me even if they looked bedraggled?  and do i even want to explain it?  no, i really don’t.

i’m just going to say thank you and let it be, i think.  maybe i’ll ask her to take over our balcony in the back of our place, too….come to think of it, i won’t need to ask her—i’m sure it’s on her to do list already!

this saturday, august 1st, marks one year since we lost our beanie…my second of three miscarriages to date.  the irony is that the first weekend of august is my favorite weekend of the year here in my city.  for the past five years i’ve looked forward to this weekend and i continue to do so because of some special events that take place each year.

 

and yet, this year i’m also remembering what we were going through this time last year…first the week of waiting to bleed from when we found out through the ultrasound at 6w2d that the pregnancy was not viable until the miscarriage process began.  i remember that week pretty clearly…that’s when i first got into tori and dean.  and the real housewives, although i didn’t see my favorite housewives until this winter (new jersey, of course!).  that’s when i spent almost an entire week in my bed watching tv.  i didn’t want to see anyone and i didn’t really want to go anywhere and i didn’t work for maybe a month or five weeks after we first got the news. (thank you, huz, for carrying the financial load, yet again…)

 

i distinctly remember august first.  the bleeding began and i knew it was only a matter of time before the tissue passed.  i wasn’t prepared for the level of pain i would feel because my first miscarriage was virtually pain-free—-at least, physically pain-free.  i wanted to stay “active” that day to assist my body in passing the tissue and one way i did that was by helping my huz put together our grill out on our deck…until the pain got too severe, that is.  and by the way, i wasn’t really helping…it was more like i was bossing him around, agitating both of us and encouraging him to toss the directions and just put it together any old way.  i’m sure he was more than relieved when i needed to go inside.

 

i remember choosing not to take any pain meds because i wanted to know what was happening in my body.  i wanted to be present and alert and i felt strongly that it might be the closest i’d ever get to experiencing the natural birth i’d been wanting.

 

i remember my huz shutting down and getting rather short tempered once he came inside.  i told him to snap out of it and go get me some ice cream—a lot of ice cream—please.  he brought back a big serving of my favorite flavor.

 

i remember feeling sad, lonely and angry when he went to bed while i couldn’t sleep.  i stayed in the living room and watched tv…wrote an email…and breathed through the pain.  i remember the pain reaching all the way down to the tops of my feet…throbbing, aching pain.

 

i remember getting up to use the bathroom around 6:30a (roughly 12 hours from the first sight of blood)…i passed the first large-ish piece of tissue and felt immense relief, physically and emotionally.

 

the waiting was over.  i really did miscarry.  it wasn’t some freak ultrasound tech mistake.  i could stop torturing myself with irrational hopes and move on to torturing myself with what-if’s.

 

i remember getting some sleep after that…but not much.  i never sleep well during seasons of grief…it seems the first comfort to leave me.  i remember that for some reason my huz was gone that day…i can’t remember why, but i remember being simulataneously relieved and angry that he was gone…grief is so complex.

 

i remember attempting to drive to class that morning (i was finishing my master’s and it was to be my last day of class, an intensive).  i stopped in a mall parking lot to call the ta on my way, bawling and letting her know i didn’t think i could do it.  she was very gracious as she herself is fertility challenged.   i remember my dear friend coming over and bringing my favorite donuts with him.  i remember going to the annual festivities the next day, the events that i look forward to each year.  and i’m glad i did.

 

so many memories and yet there are countless ones that are lost to us, lost right along with our little beanie…memories we will never know.  and yet so much remains.

it’s not like they did it to hurt me personally.

 

but that’s what it feels like every time i think of people i know (or have heard of) who had babies around the time our first would have been due.  i feel a range of less than desireable emotions that i feel ashamed to admit……hatred being on the top of the list.

 

i know, i know, i know that it’s no one’s fault that my babies died while many others lived.

 

but knowing that doesn’t make me feel different.  i have become well-acquainted with primitive emotions like envy and rage in the past year and a half.  and the silver lining is…………….at least i am able to acknowledge them?

holy moly.  had an acupuncture appointment this evening…probably 30 needles in me…definitely more than 25.  i kept losing count (because i was so relaxed)…i couldn’t keep track. 

 

let’s just say it was a lot of needles.

 

i forgot my camera again.  i promise one of these times i will think of it before i’m lying on the table! 

 

speaking of lying on the table, while i was up there with my 30-ish needles i was feeling a mixture of hopefulness (maybe i’ll be one of the lucky ones who gets to post a-look-at-our-newborn-baby picture in the office–a success story) and hopelessness (i’m probably going to be one of those unlucky few).

 

i guess that’s just the thing: we don’t know.

 

there is no way of knowing the twists and turns of this journey ahead of time.  no advance notice given.  no gps system to guide us along the way.

 

each decision involves risk.  i just wish it required the kind of risk it takes to play the penny slots in vegas, rather than the level of risk it takes to sky dive without a parachute.

i’ve wasted a fortune on pregnancy tests and another very small fortune on ovulation predictor kits…and really the one opk wouldn’t have even been that expensive if i hadn’t become obsessed with needing to buy it in the middle of the night when only the grocery store was open…

 

i’m here to tell you ladies….do not expect your local grocery store to cut you a deal in the middle of the night for an opk!  in fact, that reminds me of something horrifically embarrassing that happened that night at the store…

 

i was in line, minding my own business, about to waste my money on an overly fancy and way too expensive kit.  when it was my turn, i handed the goods over to the manager who was running the register (you know it’s either really late at night or super, super busy in the store when the manager is running the register…in this case it was the former).  he scanned the kit and said,

 

“my god, $38!  for that price it should at least come with some videos!”

 

i was in a hurry because i was feeling guilty about wasting the money on it so in the moment his comment didn’t really faze me too much more than my own guilt already had.  it wasn’t until i got into my car that i realized what he said, what i was buying, and what he probably meant…now, that’s just unprofessional!

 

i wish i would have said something like, “i’m sorry, but i don’t need to be watching people with better bodies than me doing better moves than me while we’re ttc—believe me, i have enough insecurity, guilt and shame about my infertility issues as it is….i do not need to add to this by watching other people do it.  but thank you kindly for the suggestion.”

 

anyway, that whole story got me way off the trail…where was i?

 

oh yes!  i’ve spent fortunes on pregnancy tests and opk’s.  and i’ve read on multiple blogs that the tests and kits are much less expensive when purchased over the net…and when using them compulsively, as in my case, expense matters! 

 

so i passed another milestone on my fertility hunt—i bought a huge combo pack of pregnancy tests and ovulation predictor kits on line last night…and let me tell you, i got a steal of a deal…these tests actually included the videos just as that manager suggested!

 

just kidding.

 

but they were really affordable and now i can feed my compulsion to test any old time of the day or night with very little guilt over the expense…i will say, however, that i felt saddened after the rush of excitement over knowing i’d be able to test to my heart’s content passed…saddened that our efforts to have a baby have come to this.  scheduled sex.  intense hoping followed by devastating disappoinment and loss.  i so much wish we would have been one of those couples who just–oops!–got pregnant and 40 weeks later held their healthy baby in their arms.  i so much wish our blueberry would have lived…

 

but that’s not our story.  recurrent miscarriage is our story so far…i’m grateful books have many chapters and i’m hoping to start a new one very soon.  this storyline is getting rather tiresome.

i never would have become a woman obsessed if it wasn’t for that damned ovulation predictor kit.  believe-you-me, i fully intended to obey dr. naturo’s orders to wait a while longer before ttc.  you may have even read about it here.  then you may have noticed my resolve waning a bit if you read this.  but all in all, i was feeling pretty confident that i would not try to do everything in my power to convince the huz-man that it was okay for us to start trying again this cycle.

 

somewhere along the way, i decided to ask my naturopath to do a few more blood draws, which you may have read about here the other day.  well, in order to do the pooled progesterone test, i needed to know when i was ovulating.  dr. naturo told me to use an ovulation test kit to predict it, which would then help me determine days 5-9 of my luteal phase this cycle.  then i was to go to the lab three out of those five days for a draw.

 

okay, i thought.  no problem.  anyway, i never really thought i’d get a positive on the lh kit because i never have in the past when we’ve used them.  truthfully, we’ve only used one kit; it never gave us a positive and we conceived that month anyway….so, i went into it this time expecting nothing from the sticks.  i thought i’d never see a positive and i’d just assume day 14 was ovulation day for me and start counting from there.

 

well, the first stupid stick gave me a smiley face after three minutes!  and there you have it peeps—that friggin’ smiley face triggered a deluge of biological clock longings more vast and devastatingly urgent than a tidal wave.

 

after i saw that damn smiley face, i begged and pleaded and cajoled and, finally, convinced huz that it would be okay to start trying this month even though dr. naturo told us otherwise.  to be fair to myself, huz wasn’t a tough sell.  he’s excited about potentially being a dad one day, too.  the waiting is hard on both of us.  sometimes we get a little over zealous in our hopefulness and lose track with reality.

 

we got the preliminary results on the majority of the tests back today.  i am meeting with dr. naturo on friday before i head over for my acupuncture appointment to discuss the results more fully.  but she told me that it looks like i’m deficient in vitamin b-6 (which my sister practically diagnosed already on her own—i’m telling you, sis, medical school is the route for you).  the pooled progesterone blood work showed my progesterone is low (i’d have thought the western medical doctors might have clued in on this one already, given all the previous blood work-ups i’ve had done, but i guess not).  and then there are the couple of test results that haven’t come back yet–i think my iron level is one for which we are waiting.

 

let me just say, it’s a very bizarre phenomenon for me to find myself desperately pleading and wishing and hoping that we were UNsuccessful in fertilizing an egg this month.  i know we should have listened.  i know we made a mistake and i’m begging for mercy on our souls….i will be greatly relieved to get my period next week.  please, please, please, not this month.  we need time to get my progesterone leveled out, figure out the b-6 deficiency, etc.  we need just a little more time.