A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

"Visualize a being you are responsible for," she said.

I thought of my m&m--a little pink shrimp curled around its own tail with big black spots for eyes, safe in a gelatin sac.

"Think of something you can do for this being. Some way you can improve your care of it."

Hope, I thought. I can have hope.

I breathed in (baby) and breathed out (hope). I'm not very flexible and I'm not very strong, so sometimes I thought more about my body, more about the pain of the stretch or the stiffness of the joints, than about my breath. But whenever I remembered, I breathed in (baby) and breathed out (hope).

Lying on my back in the dark, eyes closed, the room still, the m&m floated through my interior vision, a crystal champagne bubble on a field of black.

"And now, let that image go."

The sac drifted away, melted into darkness. I felt my cheeks wet, but I didn't try to keep it with me, to hold it back from where it needed to go.



Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Of Mice and Men; or, My Best Laid Plans

Okay, I lied (just a little) in my previous post. I do have some--let's call them "intentions" for 2010 beyond the babymaking that lies in the realm of the wished and longed for. I still refuse to call these "resolutions," because that term implies to me a desire to radically unmake or alter or shift or switch the current course of one's life, and that's not what I'm planning to do. I don't need to lose 50 pounds or change my career or move to a new state. I just need to advance a little farther along the path I've already set for myself.

So that being said, here are two categories: Intended Achievements and Intended Explorations.

Intended Achievements in 2010

1. Finish my course work for my PhD, including all incomplete papers.
2. Put together my Oral Exam committee.
3. Draw up my Exam lists and begin reading.
4. Take my Exam (possibly deferred depending on certain life changes that may necessitate taking a semester off next year. No more needs be said).
5. Help my husband more with housework.

Intended Explorations in 2010
1. Develop a yoga practice.
2. Travel to Scandanavia
3. Visit at least one new restaurant in Brooklyn each month.

So there we have it. What I wish and what I intend, what I'll accomplish and what I'll explore. Modest but important goals that I anticipate successfully completing.

Not a bad way to start the Awesome Year of Hope and Achievement, no?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

When You Wish; or, The Anti-Resolutions

I'm not making New Years resolutions. What's the point? I can't "resolve" to get pregnant. I can't "resolve" to carry a healthy baby to term. So much of what I hope and long for is outside of my control. I get that. I'm even starting to be (just a little) okay with that.

So these aren't resolutions. There are wishes.

1. I wish that I will get pregnant in 2010.

2. I wish that my body will nurture and protect a healthy baby.

3. I wish that I will accept the timing of this pregnancy--however long it may take to get there--with grace and humor.

4. I wish that I will remember my life--the every day of school and teaching, of loving my husband and talking to my friends--is just as important as the dreams I have for my future.

5. I wish that I will accept my body for what it can do and what it can't do; that I will love it even when it takes 30 days to ovulate or switches up my luteal period, or gives me BFN after BFN, because its the only body I have, it's a gift from God, and it didn't fail me (or I it).

6. I wish for 28-day cycles with ovulation on day 14. Like clockwork.

Since I'm wishing for things, and all.

Edited to add: Merry New Years Wishes to all!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oh Dear; or, We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Cycle to Bring You...

The Time: Last night.
The Place: Oh, hovering about 5 inches above the toilet.
The Cast Members: Secret Sloper. And Egg Whites. A lot of them.

Cue Internal Dialogue:

Huh? Egg white CM? The super gloopy, just-came-out-of-the-egg kind? You shouldn't be here yet. I'm only on CD 7. You're a good 2 weeks away.

Unless-- maybe those 4 days of heavy spotting last week weren't a period. The bleeding was really brown. And consistent, but not heavy like usual. With no bright red flow. I assumed it was an effect of the d&c. But maybe it was just some kind of whacked-out post-miscarriage body readjustment that only seemed (and felt) like a period.

Maybe this is CD 34. Maybe I'm ovulating really late. Maybe it's CD 7 and I'm ovulating really (really, REALLY) early. Maybe I'm not ovulating at all and you're just a big old party crasher.

Maybe we made a baby yesterday morning.

During the cycle we're supposed to be avoiding.

Shit? Yay?

*End Scene*

Should I be happy? Freaked? Concerned? I'm definitely confused.

And yeah--we had sex again last night. Just in case.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ring Out the Old; or, 2009: The Year of Suck

I just got home from my niece's second birthday party (husband's brother's child). She's very sweet and I enjoy spending time with her. It was mostly family, and I think I handled it fine. I put on my game face, and whenever anyone asked me "How are you?" with that furrowed brow of concern and oh-so-significant stress on the are, I just gritted my teeth and smiled and said, "Doing okay, glad the semester's over."

It's not that I don't appreciate people's concern, because I do. And it's not that I think I need to hide how I feel about my loss, because if anything I'm too indiscriminate in telling people and unloading my sorrow onto them. But this day was about my niece, it was about celebrating a living baby, and it was a gathering full of my SIL's cousins and aunts and uncles and whatnot--people I could barely pick out in a line up and people who do not need to know exactly how shattered I am. If I let my guard down, it would all come rushing out, the tears and the anger and the horrible self-pity. And I was just not going there today.

All of which is preamble to the fact that I'm tired, I have a headache, I cried on the way home, and I want to bitch a little. So here you go, 2009: The Year of Suck.

- I spent 7 months agonizing over not knowing whether I could (or would ever) get pregnant, turning what should be a happy time into something stressful and depressing.

- My dad spent two weeks in the hospital with a near-fatal case of double pneumonia in June.

- My dad has suffered from cardiac issues all year long (which didn't help the pneumonia situation)

- I have heard 10 pregnancy announcements from friends and family since we started trying to conceive in March.

- My husband didn't make partner at his law firm and was brutally disappointed.

- I felt beaten to a pulp by my teaching/course schedule all autumn--and this was before I got pregnant and started falling asleep at 8:30 every night.

- One of my closest friends lost her mother to cancer; another friend's father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.

- I lost my baby, experienced the joys of dilation and curettage, missed two weeks of teaching which I had to make up at the end of the semester, and basically zombie walked through the last month of school.

- Yeah, I think I can repeat it one more time: I lost my baby. The baby I dreamed of for 7 months of TTC and for the two years prior that my academic schedule forced us to wait to start trying even though I desperately longed for a child. The baby I sang to in the shower and whispered to at night. I lost my baby.

I know that in the grander scheme of human sorrow and tragedy, this list is a blip. I know I have SO much more to be grateful for than to resent in my life, and I truly try to express that gratitude every day. I feel rather guilty even voicing my frustration with this admittedly petty list of disappointments.

But I felt those disappointments. I feel them. 2009 had a bitter sting that all my attempts at Pollyanna perspective can't quite remove.

So I write them down and send them into the world. Goodbye, 2009. Goodbye anger and sadness and dismay. Goodbye disappointment and depression.

Hello--something new. Maybe better, maybe not. But something new.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ring Out the Old; or, 2009: The Year of Not So Bad

I was planning to post 2009: the Year of Suck today. But I'm sitting on my couch, watching the snow blanket the city, enjoying the quietness and peace of the weather and the fire in our fireplace. Lawyer Guy is home from a week-long business trip, we had a delicious brunch, we're listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack and we're planning to spend the afternoon baking cookies. Life just feels too good to dwell on the Suck.

So I bring you 2009: the Year of Not So Bad, my intended follow-up, instead.

- I presented my first paper at my first professional conference and I didn't make a total fool of myself.

- I traveled with my husband to Rome and London.

- My sister just below me in age (I have three younger sisters) moved to NYC after ten years in Montreal, China, and San Francisco.

- That same sister got engaged to a really wonderful guy who makes her very happy.

- My husband's job remained secure and he received a raise during a tough economic time.

- I realized I enjoy teaching, despite its challenges.

- I've had a really good hair year. Seriously, my colorist's done a great job, it's growing out nicely, and it's very soft and shiny.

So that's been the good. And I'm honestly appreciative for all of it (especially the hair part--it's taken me years of restorative treatments to get to this point. And I'm only slightly kidding about this).

I'll still post on The Year of Suck, probably when I'm feeling pissy and cranky and fed up with life. That day is not today.

Coming up: 2009: The Year of Suck and Plans for the Awesome Year of Hope and Achievement

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ring Out the Old; or, Ring in the New

As the heavy haze of anguish started to lessen a little in the days after learning we'd lost the m&m, I turned to my favorite activity: mathematical calculations. Now, don't get me wrong, I am no mathlete. I didn't even make it past pre-Calc in high school (my talents lie in more literary directions). But TTC for--jeez, is it 10 months now?--has turned me into something of a human abacus, if everything you need calculated comes in increments of 9.

So, I started adding: one week + four-to-eight weeks + 18-to-24 days = no chance of getting pregnant again this year. Awesome. I felt sad, defeated, useless and empty. No 2009 pregnancy left for me. No babies in 2009.

Well, fuck 2009. What did it ever do for me, anyway?

So in honor of 2010--which I have determined will be the Awesome Year of Hope and Achievement--I'm doing a series of blog posts about New Years. I'm looking forward to that day in a way that has nothing to do with balls dropping, corks popping, or kisses at midnight (though I will enjoy a few of those, I'm sure). I'm ready to clean out the muck of sadness, anxiety, and inadequacy that bedeviled me all year. I'm ready to make things new.

Stay tuned for: 2009: The Year of Suck

Monday, December 14, 2009

Unexpectedly Expected; or, A Different Kind of Hopefulness

I'd come to expect the unexpected when dealing with my reproductive organs. Cycles of varying lengths were par for the course. Unpredictable ovulation times were routine. Even my luteal phase liked to keep me guessing. So waiting for my period to come post d&c isn't an unfamiliar experience to me. A 4-8 week timeframe? Yeah, I'm used to that. And I fully expected it to fall in the latter range.

What's not expected is this: two days shy of the four week mark, I'm crampy, bloated, and spotting just a little bit.

This could be nothing. It's probably just my uterus smacking me around a little more. But if I get my period this week, right on schedule--heck, even early!--I'll feel the kind of hopefulness I haven't experienced since the morning I peed on my first positive pregnancy test. Since the day we decided, "Let's make a baby."

I never thought I would look forward to peeling off a tampon's paper wrapping with so much relish.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Today; or, Good Things

Today we're going to decorate our Christmas tree.

Today I'm going to put the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas on repeat.

Today I'm going to drink hot cocoa and cook with my husband.

Today I'm going to grade my students' papers.

Today I'm going to sit in front of a warm fire on a cold night.

Today I'm remembering why I love living in this neighborhood.

Today I'm going to be happy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Letter to My Baby

Dear m&m:

Today was supposed to be a very happy day. Today is your daddy's birthday. Today you would have been 12 weeks. Today we planned to have dinner with our closest friends and tell them all about you and how excited we were to meet you.

Today it is one month since we found out you were gone. November 11 is Remembrance Day, and when we scheduled your ultrasound for that day, a little voice in the back of my head said it wasn't a good idea. But you were already gone when we showed up at the doctor's office that morning. You had already left us. 11/11 is just a series of perfectly symmetrical numbers that don't point to anything, in the end.

I still cry every day, because I wish you were here with me so badly. I wish you were snuggled inside me, growing strong and healthy and getting ready to meet all the wonderful people out here who would love you so much, your daddy and me most of all.

I still talk to you every day, too. Sometimes outloud and sometimes in the quiet space inside my head. I don't know if it's you I talk to when I tell you how sad or how angry I am that you were taken from us. It could be you, the spark or soul within that heart that beat with life--that did beat with life, no matter how briefly. It could be God, or myself, or some dream vision of the future baby I hope I have, that I sometimes think you will become. It could be no one at all.

I miss you. I love you.

Your mother

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What We Think; or, What We Can't Say

Before I started trying to conceive, I spent a few months visiting IF and loss blogs. I'm not sure why--intuition? fear? happenstance? I found one blog through The Nest (as it was pre-Bump), became entranced in the writer's story, cheered when she got her BFP after two long years, rejoiced when she brought her daughter home. And from there, I discovered dozens of other blogs that made me laugh, cry, and--eventually--gave me comfort of my own.

In my early blog reading, I encountered an essay, or a prose poem. I can't remember all the lines, but I know it began with something like "There are mothers who have everything come easy to them, and I know they are good mothers, but I will be better."

I didn't agree with this, in those pre-TTC days. In fact, I was a little offended. "There are fantastic mothers who get pregnant at the drop of a hat," I thought (assuming, of course, that I would soon be one of them). "And there can be abusive mothers who struggled with IF, loss, and adoption." And of course, the opposite can be true, too. How one becomes a mother does not dictate the kind of mother (or person) that one is.

But now...how to confess what I now feel? What I tell myself to make this pain more bearable?

I tell myself that I will be happier when I hold my first child in my arms. I tell myself that the joy nearly every parent feels on that incredible day will be just a little better, a little sweeter, with the memory of my sadness to heighten it.

I tell myself that my family and friends will cry with me and laugh with me and celebrate with me in a way that they couldn't or wouldn't if we hadn't been through this. Just as I celebrate with my whole heart when a woman who has faced conception struggles (whether a blogger or real life friend) finally welcomes her child.

I don't tell myself I'll be a "better" mother. But when I talk to my pregnant and recent-mom friends--even my dearest and most beloved--in the back of my mind is a little thought. "One day I will be happier than you can even imagine."

I don't know if it's true. I doubt that it's fair. And maybe it's not healthy. But for those few moments I have that thought, I feel like I can suck it up and muddle through.

So that's what I tell myself.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quick & Dirty; or, Open for Business

My crotch is ready to rock. My cooch is on the loose. My vagina is going to China.

That last one's probably not happening, actually. And please forgive these awful odes to my reproductive organs. But I am officially no longer at risk for infection and can now put things where the sun don't shine. Things like tampons. And my husband.

(Can you tell it's been a while since we had sex?)

The wait for my appointment took forever, as it frequently does with my doctor. But she is so caring and compassionate, I can always overlook it. The exam was quick. She said everything's looking fine and healthy, that I shouldn't be surprised if I spot this entire "cycle," and that I can expect my first post-pregnancy period in 2-4 weeks. In the meantime, we have to break out that box of condoms that's been sitting in a drawer since last winter.

Birth control. Huh. That's something I haven't thought about in a while.

In non-Crotch Watch 2009 news, I've been up-and-down with my emotions these last few days. I'll feel fine and relatively content for several hours. But then whenever I tell someone about the miscarriage (i.e., the professor I met with yesterday after missing out on 2 weeks of classes) I just can't control my tears, and I'm usually pretty weepy and low in spirits afterward. Sometimes I'll hear a song--the final trio from Der Rosenkavalier, or one of the songs I sang to the m&m when I was pregnant, or something else that just makes me think of pregnancy and babies--and that can start the crying off, too.

But overall, I'm doing better than I was three weeks ago. My eyelids no longer resemble two slabs of raw liver and I can actually form coherent sentences. I'm setting the bar for improvement pretty low.