Social Icons

Jan 30, 2017

It's Been a Month...


...since I miscarried.
One month since God put a big, fat cherry on the shit-cake that was 2016.

How have I been coping, you ask?

The first couple of weeks were a complete blur.
Everything was slow and fuzzy and confusing.

My main goal was to get a shower in each day, only to dress myself in the same pj's I was wearing, and had worn....for weeks.

On the plus side, I realized when you're going through a crisis, you don't have to worry about keeping up with laundry.
In January, I finally did a load of my own laundry, and it was barely full.
I wore exactly 3 pairs of pj's and two work outfits.

The bleeding finally stopped about a week after, which I think is normal.

I did get my ass back into work four days after the miscarriage.
Only to realize just how much I had neglected.

Everything was screwed up and I needed to try my best to get back at it.
But my tenacious attitude was missing.

The next week my goal was to get up, every day, and get into work. All five days. All on time.
Picking out normal clothes each morning and putting make-up over my sullen, sunken-in, pale face was exhausting.

I headed in for a blood draw to see if my body had anything to contribute to the miscarriage.
And the gyno told me one of the FIVE vials of blood drawn ended up freezing en route, so I had to have it re-done.

Back I went.

The panel revealed that by body had not contributed to the miscarriage.
All the tests performed came back within the normal range, or were negative.
I am blessed to have this information, but it doesn't help the looking for an answer issue that seems to always be lurking in the back of my thoughts.

And had a follow-up uterine check to make sure I healed correctly.

That appointment was tough.

The waiting room was packed when I arrived.
The doctor's were behind in their appointments, and every. single. woman in that waiting room was pregnant, and likely carrying another baby in tow.

I sat in the corner and closed my eyes while a young mother sang The Wheels on the Bus to her baby.

Throughout this entire process, I have never been angry, or jealous, or sad about seeing other pregnant women...but that night was too much for me.

I pushed past tears and finally made my way back to the exam room, sitting on the paper runway, as the doc gave me his condolences and confirmed my body was back to normal.

I hated having those feelings of sadness, looking at the women that may or may not have had an easy time conceiving.
So instead of dwelling on what I didn't have and what they did, when I got home I wrote a prayer that all the women in the room with me birth babies free of complications and genetic abnormalities.
What they are going through is very different from what I am going through, but not necessarily any easier.

I also got chewed out at work for completely slacking off since October.
And I cried in my bosses office....because as much as I knew it was 100% true, there was nothing I could do about it.

I told him I wasn't trying to make excuses...I fully accepted responsibility for my poor performance, but I stood my ground.

I told him that while he was aware of some of the bigger aspects of my life in 2016, there was much I didn't bring to the table because I wasn't one to constantly complain about how shitty things seemed to be getting. I was strong. I would get through it.

But I guess I was wrong.

The thing is....most of what we went through in 2016 is normal.
Although not fun in any way, dealing with these things could likely happen in every person's life at some point.

The kicker was....it all happened in one year for us, as opposed to spread out over the course of 10-or-so years.

And I flat out told him that someone who may not be as strong as I was would have taken a good portion of the year off to deal and rehabilitate.

But I like my company and my co-workers and my job, and I want to fix this.
So I'm sorting everything out and trying to get back at a normal pace.

I'm giving myself grace to push myself, but not too hard.
Every day is different.
I try to laugh every single day, but that doesn't cancel out the overwhelming sadness sometimes.

I pull into my driveway every night and I stop just around the turn, to watch the little star we placed on Crash's grave change colors. And I think about his alert barking, that I miss so dearly, as I would pull into the driveway every evening. I think about his snoring and his snarly, crooked teeth.

I catch myself clutching my baby's wubby too tightly some nights, praying my belly was still expanding from him.

But these moments are more and more fleeting as the days go on.

Crash (would have) turned 11 on January 23rd, and because of the over-sharer I am at times, I also started my first post-miscarriage period that day.

In a way, I felt like that Monday was a new starting point for me...for us.
A fresh start, a new cycle, to take the lessons from 2016, put them in my back pocket as a token of wisdom for the future, and keep walking forward.

Mark and I have our break-downs and bicker (and scream at each other sometimes), I won't lie, but for the most part stay close and wind-down with a cocktail and a funny show each night.

We play with fetch with Burn, and laugh while cooking dinner, and pamper the cat.

It's very ritual and mundane, but I crave the simplicity in my life right now.

I am getting stronger, mentally and physically, and by the time the weather breaks and the sun starts shining more, I know I will be back to fighting shape.

Thanks for reading. XO

Jan 17, 2017

Communication With Your Spouse When Grieving


Although all a lot of the intimacy gets put on the back-burner when going through IVF...what you never realize is just how much you are going to need to lean on your spouse through the process.

Looking at the above picture, you would never know that we just spent the last 4+ years battling infertility...and, at the time, we had won, so I suppose that trumped all the worry-filled days.

On the flip-side, if something atrocious occurs and you finally beat infertility, get pregnant, only to miscarry?

LOOK OUT.

Because this is the point where any semblance of a marriage can easily crumble around you if you're not careful.

Here is what I am learning through the grieving and healing process.
*This is not a catch-all or a how-to...it's simply a few tactics Mark and I found helpful going through the first few weeks after the chaos of 2016 came to a close.

1. Emotions are going to change often and will not necessarily align with your spouse

At the moment our miscarriage actually happened, Mark and I did very different things.

As I always do in a crisis, I needed to think through the logical next steps and just get through everything.

Find a box, put baby inside, clean up blood, put on a pad, put pants on, start car, get to doctor.

Mark got sick to his stomach. I coached him as best I could so that we could get to the doctor as quickly as possible, which, obviously, looking back, is sort of weird, I guess...but we were in survival mode at that point.

When we got home, I lost it. I cried so hard and so loudly.
Mark was the strong one at that point. He didn't say one word. He just held me.

When I was mad, he was my rock.
When he was angry, I was the gentle hand on his shoulder.

You will likely have every emotion under the sun and they will hardly ever align with your spouse. That's okay.
Don't add fuel to the fire and get mad that he isn't feeling what you are feeling.

You are two different people trying to survive.

Hug each other.
A lot.

2. Allow yourself to have every emotion you need in the early days

At first it was minutes, then hours, then most days would go by where I wouldn't cry.

I was depressed at times.
At my lowest, I felt as though I could actually die.
I felt angry, and heart broken, and furious, and livid, and bat-shit crazy too.

Mostly, I just let the crazy happen.
I just let it do its thing.

I always felt like I needed to get over all these emotional hurdles to move forward.
I think it has helped...to not bottle things up.

And emotions can come on at the weirdest times.

We were watching a comedy and then out of nowhere Mark was furious.
Instead of flying off the handle, I simply asked....about what happened?

He said yes, and instead of drilling him about poor timing and how to fix it, I held his hand and went on like it was normal. Getting the shitty emotions out is therapeutic.

3. Allow space and time away from your spouse

Mark spent a lot of time in the garage, doing, well...I don't really know what he was doing.
Guy stuff.....I guess.

I spent a lot of time zoning out in front of the tv, hugging our dog and purging and organizing every last nook and cranny in our home.

I also spent a lot of time talking to friends and loved ones...especially people that had gone through what I have, in some form or another.

Mark needed to pretend like this didn't happen. He wanted to move on and forget about it.
I wanted to fix it. I researched and dove into options and plans to bring my baby back.

And guess what? Neither option is going to actually fix what happened.
But we both welcomed our distractions as we felt we needed them to get through another day.

4. Tell your spouse what you need to heal

I realized almost immediately that in the first couple of hours after we went to bed each night, is when my mind would start racing. I would get incredibly emotional and cry harder than I had all day, to the point where I could hardly catch my breath.

At first I would hide this crying as I didn't want to wake up or disturb Mark.

Wrong.

I finally moved back to bed but couldn't stop the tears. Mark, realizing he needed to be present during these times, helped stop the crying and soothed me. Yes, we got less sleep, but it's okay to ask the other person for help sometimes, even if it might be inconvenient in your eyes.

Mark on the other hand....simply didn't want to talk about it.

Sometimes I would get caught up in my thoughts, not realizing I was re-hashing a lot of things that triggered his sadness.

He would get angry with me and this would lead to un-necessary fighting.
Now he clearly says I don't want to talk about this....and I stop.
No further questions asked.

5. Don't Make any Final Decisions

If you were to ask both of us what we see in the future, you would probably get very different answers.

Plans set in stone, baby-related or not, cannot be committed to in these early weeks, no matter how badly you want to get back to some sort of normal.

Because guess what? Your old normal doesn't exist anymore.

You have this new normal, and you have to decide if you are going to continue to make all these definitive plans, or just take life as it comes.

Hint: It's easier to just go with the flow right now.

Mark got real ballsy at one point...after he didn't see me cry in a few days, and flat out told me life with kids was over. To get over it. (remember his way of healing?)

And shockingly, the Type A psycho-mama in me came out in full force.

After I flipped out and locked myself in the bedroom with a bottle of wine, the shittiest of futures ran through my mind including divorce....because, in this dramatic state....it's my way or the highway buddy!! And...he'll never understand me!!

But neither of our accusations were fair to other person.

After we made up, we both agreed to stop talking about the future right now.
Let's circle back when our minds are clearer and the weather is better. Because we all know sunny skies and warmer weather make a lot of situations easier to handle. :)

6. Do you boo

Research still helps calm me in times of stress. I like to know my options and feel like I haven't left any stone un-turned. I don't find a lot of pleasure in shuffling through trashy magazines to fill my time...I like it to be more productive.

Mark still doesn't really want to talk about it.

And that's okay.

Sometimes we cross over into each other's worlds.

Mark will ask me what I'm reading about....but I always ask him first....do you want me to get into it?
If he says yes, then I give him the Cliff's notes, otherwise, we move on.

And sometimes we just get drunk in the hot tub and pretend like it never happened.

7. Remember why you married each other

You probably didn't fall in love with each other because you thought you would each be good parents.
That was probably the last thing on your mind.
At least, it was for us.

You fell in love with your spouse because of the way they conduct themselves, their kind heart, their patience, or their giving attitude, or how well they compliment your life.

If they are easy on the eyes, I'm sure that didn't hurt either. ;)

You fell in love because you felt safe with them, because they were your rock, because they got you.

When life gets tough, (and it WILL happen at some point, in some fashion) you have to rely on the original reasons you married this person to show who they really are.

It gets messy, no doubt, as you ebb and flow between the highs and lows of healing.

But keep talking, keep hugging, and try and find a bit of laughter and joy in each day, even if small at first.

It gets better.
Thanks for reading. XO

Jan 10, 2017

Currently


BUYING:

I put a lot of few things off that weren't necessary in 2016. But now I have some breathing room and no pressing commitments on my money, so I thought I would purchase a few things that I need in my life that are fun, necessary and therapeutic.

- A pretty notebook: In 2016 I purchased my first ever hard-copy planner. It was something I could carry around and update as my IVF schedule became more and more hectic.

Hectic would be an understatement...but I definitely used the ever-loving shit out of that thing.
I'm glad I did...because I am constantly referring back to it for timelines and dosages.

2017 will hopefully have a different tone to it. There will always be planning, but I'll be using my mobile Gmail calendar more often, in lieu of another planner.

That 2016 planner kind of gives me a shitty taste in my mouth, and I don't really want to go back there by doing the same thing this year.

So, I bought a notebook with a bunch of blank pages.
I am not the most spiritual person, but I would be lying if I said I didn't reach out and pray often when times got really tough last year.

But, I don't think it's really fair to reach out to a higher power only when I feel like I'm lost...my thinking is maybe I need to try and make it a more consistent thing.

I'm not looking to dive into a bible, or read scripture, but I thought it would be nice to write something each day.

I'd like to write a thank you for something or someone I am grateful for each day.
I'd like to write a prayer for someone or something in my life that needs one.
I'd like to write down something that made me laugh that day.
...and leave it at that.

This would be my attempt to level out and bring the focus of the good in my life more in line with how piercing the bad was, and can be.

- Shoes. I'm not looking to buy out a store or anything, but there were two distinct instances in the last year or so that I wish I had a few extra dollars to replace a couple pairs that broke or hurt my feet too much.

I have a pair of black booties that I wear during the winter that have been re-cobbled 5 times. I have owned them since 2009 and they have taken quite the beating. They don't look overly shabby, but I think it's time to replace them with something a little more on-trend (and don't have electrical tape hiding all the scuffs on the heels)

I also purchased a pair of leopard-print heels from Target in an attempt to look cute and save money. Um....so about how Target shoes are basically garbage. Sorry. The pair I purchased looked adorable, seemed well-made. But after wearing them about a month or so, they stretched out so much that I had to constantly flex my foot to keep them on during the day.
Thanks but no thanks. I'll drop a few more dollars for something that will last for years.

- Glasses. I have been putting off getting an eye exam and some new frames for years. Without vision insurance I never bothered going, but I totally know I should. I was trying to read some smaller print last week and realized how badly I was squinting in my glasses.
It's time for a new Rx and some trendier frames.

WORKING ON:

- Getting back in the gym. Sounds easy enough, right? Just set my alarm, put pants on, and go.

The first full week trying to get back to a normal routine of working full-time was exhausting.
Will it be like this next week?
Probably not.

But between Crash's death, my ebola sickness, my miscarriage, and the Holidays...I basically went to work three times in December.

I'm not weak. I just don't feel it's appropriate to push myself and spiral out of control.

I started back at the gym over the weekend.
I weighed myself...130....which means I lost 6lbs since November 1.
Exercise restriction and an immense amount of stress and grieving will do that to me.

But, I will get there. And again, I'm not looking to break any goals. I just want to feel good and not have an asthma attack after I climb a flight of stairs, ok?

UPDATING:

I need a project. I was supposed to be planning a nursery during the shittiest winter months, so now I need to turn my focus on something else.

- Our living room. I re-painted a wine cabinet and bought a shelving-ladder for our living room just over a year ago, and I think I have grown to hate them in the last year. I need to re-stage the wall they are both placed on with something a little more uniform and clean-lined.

- Our kitchen. We are YEARS away from a complete overhaul on this space, but since Crash passed, the area where we kept his crate is barren. We have both commented about needing something for that space. Eventually it will be a built-in beverage station with an ice-machine, wine storage, the whole-nine...but at this point, I'm thinking a movable kitchen island may be the ticket.

ORGANIZING:

- One of our bedroom closets. We have a smaller closet that has been used for storage only. I have a small pile of older coats, boxes of stuff from our move that we never rifled through again, tax paperwork, IVF paperwork, fans, old electronics....you get it. It's kind of a catch-all.

I'd like this space to make a little more sense. Maybe add some shelving and baskets. I'd like to take some time to purge and clear-out the clutter that I know is hiding behind that door.

READING:

It Starts With an Egg: I don't know what the exact game plan is for this year, but I do know that supplements and vitamins and lifestyle changes take more than a couple weeks to kick in.  If I only get one more shot, I'd like to prepare myself as best as possible.

I am on track with my daily vitamin and supplement intake.
I started drink 8oz Red Raspberry leaf tea to normalize my menstrual cycles.
I dumped all my plastic containers, switching tupperware for glass and my water bottle for stainless steel.
I overhauled my skincare and shower routine, attempting to buy lotion, shampoo, conditioner and body wash with limited, organic ingredients.

The book is far more detailed about scientific evidence and suggestions, but I'm doing my best without getting overwhelmed.

I'm happy at the progress I've made and hope it pays off in the future.

VISITING:

We haven't been able to go on any sort of trip away from the house, more than day-trips, due to having two dogs that fought with each other, and a jam-packed IVF schedule.

Well, right now we are down one dog, giving us a bit of breathing room in terms of the nerves that come along with dog-fights, and the nerves to have someone else care for them that isn't accustomed to their antics.

And IVF isn't necessarily a hot-topic of discussion right now, so we thought we would try and squeeze in a couple smaller getaways before summer is in full-swing and our free time is spent lounging by the pool, entertaining, and taking the boat on Lake Michigan.

- Wisconsin Dells. An indoor water park with family complete with a lazy river and pool-side margaritas sounds divine when you're a child at heart and the weather caps out at around 15 degrees these days.

- Somewhere warm to buy a car. The need for an upgraded car has been on our minds for years. I have been driving the same 1999 Trans Am for 11 years, and while I love the style and speed, I think I'm due for something a bit sleeker.

Obviously we wanted a four-door with the baby, but I think a four-door in general is necessary. Piling groceries in the back-seat of a two-door with the t-tops off taking up precious trunk space isn't exactly....accommodating.
Mark and I think it would be fun to set our sights on the car we want, but in an area of warmer weather.  With all the points I accumulated from IVF last year, we're hoping we can find a sedan in the South, take a one-way flight to get there, buy the car, spend a couple days in the area, then drive it back. Like a mini road-trip.

So, this is what's on deck in the coming months.
Outside of these smaller goals...we will just be L-I-V-I-N.
No expectations, no deadlines, no pressure.

Cheers. XO

Jan 3, 2017

One day at a Time

Happy New Year, everyone.
I hope you found yourself, surrounded by the things and people you like most, as we all headed into 2017.

It has been just over a week since we lost our baby, and I am moving slowly, trying to work through the emotions, to level out, to decide what I should write about, or not write about, etc.

I am sure no one wants to read about constant wallowing and self-pity, but I am more than allowing myself to feel those emotions when they rise up in my throat.

I am very fragile right now.
Physically and emotionally.

I have learned over the last week that, although I probably weigh the least I have in years, I am not physically strong to take on normal tasks.
Putting away Christmas decorations and general purging and organization used to be met with a cut-throat, get-er-done attitude, but after three hours of work in a day, I am generally exhausted.

And my emotions...well...ha...obviously they are all over the place.
Tip-toe lightly around me, and try to stay neutral and up-beat, and I'm golden.
Mark, innocently enough, thought that by joking around with me, would help me forget about everything....but I guess I'm not in the mood right now for crazy antics.

I have not been sleeping well at night.
That is the time when I am all alone with my thoughts, and boy do I have many.
Be it questions, or flash-back to the event, or sadness, or anger....it all comes flooding back.

I tend to spend a couple hours doing research on my phone until I'm too exhausted to think anymore, and can finally fall asleep.

What answers am I looking for exactly? Not sure.
As futile as it may be, I'd like to know if there is some measure we could have taken to help prevent what happened.

I know most people are quick with the "you can't blame yourself" pep talk, but honestly, I am absolutely okay knowing that if it WAS something to do with me, and not the baby, that could have been remedied.
I'm all for knowing.

See....IVF, regardless of all the technology and science behind it, still has a very wait and see approach.

Sure, there are things to test with at the start, but turns out, there are a lot of variables that don't remain constant. All the expensive, invasive test we put our embryos through don't guarantee anything.

I pushed for a follow-up consultation last week, while infertility coverage remained, and the doctor asked a lot of questions about me in the weeks prior to miscarrying, then provided a lot of information and insight about the baby and its development.

He asked about my cold...and what my fever was at it's highest.
A high fever in the first trimester could lead to miscarriage.

And then there is my immune system...sometimes inflammation can cause an increase in these cells called natural killer cells, and maybe that had something to do with it.

He recommended I get a miscarriage blood panel completed this week to hopefully rule out these things.

But of course, ruling them out doesn't give us any more answers other than it wasn't my fault.

So then you need to question the embryo.
The PGS tested, chromosomally normal embryo.

And what we learned was that, after the embryo implants and starts developing, it can actually develop an abnormality that wasn't previously caught in the PGS testing.

Fun, right?

Because the cells that are biopsied for testing after five days of development do give a clear picture...but then the cells multiply, and continue doing so...and this could likely breed new complications, which could mean something like Down's syndrome...which could lead to a late, spontaneous, first-trimester miscarriage.

That's why they always recommend additional, in-utero testing.

And here I thought it was just to re-confirm what we already knew.

Silly, silly me.

The nurse asked me if I wanted to biopsy the baby for this testing, and naturally, I declined.
Fuck you cutting up my baby. My precious, baby boy.

Because this was three days before I received the information that the baby could possibly develop something bad that could terminate the pregnancy.

If my blood results come back negative, we have to assume the baby was growing incorrectly.

So, this is where we are at.

And of course, I'm sure you are wondering about the future.

The truth is...we were given options...one's that included taking a forever-break, trying again, donor eggs...everything was laid out on the table for us.

At this point it comes down to sanity.

Could I do another round of IVF? Sure.
I'm a logistics queen. I can set-up insurance and get pre-authorizations and budget the ever-living hell outta this thing.
Those needles and early morning appointments don't bother me, and they sure as Hell didn't give me any crazy weight gain or other terrible symptoms (aside from being bat-shit crazy half of the time).

The hardest part isn't the needles, or the surgeries, or the...gulp....money.

It's the waiting.
The worrying and waiting for results.

You suck out the eggs and they give you a number, and then you spend up to seven more days watching those numbers plummet, hoping you have anything left for testing.

And then you get them tested.
And you hope and pray for three weeks that what little amount of embryos you had, anything will be normal.

And if you get some normals?
That is so great!

So you prepare for a transfer.
And you transfer one of those normal embryos, and you wait for two long weeks, praying and worrying and wishing time away...for your beta result, that has a 70% chance of being negative.

And then maybe you slide by with a positive?

Well....we now know that you can't just assume all will be well....you have to do more testing, and more worrying and more waiting....to see if you can carry a pregnancy past, well....10+ weeks...the supposed safe zone.

At 10 weeks of pregnancy, after you have a confirmed heart beat....you know what the percentage of miscarriage is?

2%.

Hi...nice ta meetcha....I'm Mrs. 2%

And there are countless others.

The roller-coaster of emotions can literally drain you of everything you ever recognized about yourself. You are just a shell of a person with a smile on their face, trying to get through another fucking day.

But you know what trumps ALL OF THIS?

Hope.

The hope that maybe, just maybe....we could beat all this.

The hope that my dream to become a mom may actually happen.

So that's where I'm at...stuck between hope and a hard place.

Time will tell, loves.
Until then, we are making plans for fun outings.
We will reconnect with friends.
We will likely buy a sensible, grown-up car this year.
We are going to live simply, one day at a time.

And see how it goes.
I'll check in from time to time, to update about life.
Because it's going to keep going....
Thank you for reading. XO