Wednesday, January 10, 2018

7 months

The last 2 embryo transfers have started off with the need for emergency, last minute surgeries.  I have been poked and prodded and violated more times than I can count in our desire to grow our family.  When we first found out we had 19 embryo, when we were able to freeze 14, we didn't know what our future would look like.  We used to joke about a reality TV show if we had them all.  We used to wonder what we would do with those that were frozen toward the end, those we wouldn't ever know.  Especially when I was pregnant with Lucas, preparing for the 4th baby I would raise, knowing that we had 8 more embryo and I seemed to get pregnant no matter what and we were only transferring 1 at a time.  And now?  Well, now we have 4 left.  We have 2 attempts, and then we are done.  I am realizing this may be it for us.  And, then what?  Our family doesn't feel complete.  But, maybe that's just the circumstances, maybe it never will. 

Today marks 7 months since I delivered our sweet baby boy.  Seven months since we welcomed Lucas into the world, only to have to say goodbye.  Seven months ago I was able to hold my sweet boy in my arms, to soak up every second of time with him.  And now, seven months have gone by with empty arms and a broken heart.  Again.  I miss my Lucas, every second of every day.  I still twinge when I see a baby boy, still feel my breath catch as I walk past the baby section in the stores.  The difference this time around is that I have no shelter, no way to hide from it all.  And no babies growing in my belly.  I always thought pregnancy loss would be easier if I had other kids at home.  It is not. 

2017 sucked.  That's really the best word I can type out to describe it.  We lost so much, and there is so much pain there.  I will never see my son grow up, never hear his little baby cries, never nurse him to sleep, never grow exhausted with the midnight feedings.  I am missing so much.  And, I should be right at the same point with Noah, 23.5 weeks.  And instead, nothing.  I am back on hormones and all sorts of new drugs, an attempt to prevent the future loss of any more babies.  But, as I spoke with my MFM, with each loss our odds go down.  Now, I know better than anyone that the statistics mean absolutely nothing.  In the best and worst of ways, we defy the odds.  But, on days like today, when the grief and loss are so raw, my mind goes back there.  Oh, what I wouldn't do to have my sweet boys back.  To have them all back.  Reagan.  Lucas.  Noah.  These last 2 we didn't even get to name.  I lose so much of myself with each loss.  And the thing is, I keep telling myself that, at least I can only lose 4 babies this year.  But, with that is the end of our chances, the complete closure of this chapter of my life.  And that, that is terrifying.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Broken again

This week, we said goodbye to another 2 baby Savants.

I am so ANGRY to be typing these words.  I fully planned on talking about the miracles growing inside of me and the anticipation of a better 2018.  Now, the only positive I seem to come up with is that in 2018 I can only lose 4 children instead of 5.  Cynical?  Sure.  But I'm just not sure how much more one can endure.  I keep thinking that I've suffered enough, that it can't be my turn yet again.  But the truth is much harder than this fantasy I want to live in, and we are left ending this year in the same way we started it - barren.

We had a very brief 24 hours of hope.  Twenty-four hours when I had a faint positive on my pregnancy test.  I've been there before, walking the line of faint tests, which always darkened as the days went on.  I had years of negative tests, month after month.  I know what those look like and the heartbreak that accompanies them.  And, because of that, the faint positive is SUCH a huge thing, something I never had in those years of waiting.  So, for 1 full day, I clung to that.  And then the next day - it was gone.  These babies existed for only a few weeks,  I'm not sure that they ever count in my medical charts.  But for us?  They were everything.  They were our hope at the end of a difficult year, they were a promise of something to look forward to, they were two little people we loved so desperately.  Miscarriage isn't easy at any stage.  I used to think that miscarriage before that first ultrasound wasn't so bad.  But, here's the thing, from the MOMENT you see that faint little second line, you make plans.  You dream.  You talk about names.  You hope.  And to have that all come crashing down is hard, whether that child is loved for a few weeks or months.  We knew these babies for 12 days, saw them for the first time 12 days ago.  Not long at all.  And yet, still so painful.  To make it all worse, two new big boy beds were delivered this week.  Two new mattresses, new accessories, new bedding.  I have a once-nursery, now spare bedroom, filled with unused cribs and changing tables and baby gear...

I'm not sure what lies ahead for us, I'm not sure what our plans are.  We have 4 embryo waiting for us, so I am confident we will meet all 4 in some fashion.  But I'm also coming to grips with the reality that this big family we have dreamed of may not be what God has planned for us here.  That we may continue to watch our extended family grow while also watching our own children die.  That I may only be raising these 3 crazy ones here - a Warren, a Dean, and a Hannah.  And we may not know our other children until they are grown.  I have a pile of maternity clothes that I ordered while pregnant with Lucas that came in a few days after he passed away - those may never be worn.  But, I still feel like our family is not complete.  Like something or someone is missing.  And I still feel like it's a set of boy-girl twins. As much as having twins again terrifies me, that's still where my heart is.  I just don't understand why there has to be so much pain in the journey to get there.

Our only picture of this set of twins

Sunday, December 10, 2017

6 months

I cannot believe today marks 6 months.  How is that even possible?  Six months since I gave birth to my sweet son, in the silence of a delivery room.  Six months since I held my boy, since I rocked him and sang him songs, since I gave him his last kiss, since I said goodbye.  Our whole story is written in past tense as I look back to our one, final day together.  Oh how my heart breaks, as I cry these ugly tears and try to figure out what to say.  Because for the most part, there are no words.

Oh Lucas, I am so very sorry.  I'm sorry I failed you, in the most permanent way.  I make mistakes all the time as a mother - some based out of my own sinful nature, so simply because I don't have a clue what I'm doing - but I get to apologize, give hugs and kisses, share about grace, and ask for forgiveness.  I never got to do that with you.  I'm sorry son, I'm sorry for every moment I complained about feeling sick or tired or run down.  I'm sorry for feeling disappointed for a second that you were not the girl I had planned you to be.  I'm sorry for not buying you much of anything special, things that were just for you.  And most of all, I'm sorry my body failed and I couldn't keep you alive.  I wish we had known to try things differently.

June 10, 4:41am, you entered this world, my only child to ever be handed right to me.  You were so small, just shy of a pound, but perfectly formed.  We have the most amazing hand and foot prints from you.  And, in those first few moments, I tried to soak up every tiny little detail.  The cleft in your chin, the slight pudge in your cheeks, your long feet and even longer finger nails, your little unibrow, your 2 single eyelashes, and your pouty lips.  Little pieces I can see in Dean, Warren, and Hannah every single day since.  In the short hours that followed, we attempted to create the only memories we would have in this lifetime.  We tried to make every second count.  I don't really remember too many tears in the delivery room after you were born.  It was like mommy instinct took over and I didn't want to waste a second of our time together being sad and missing out.  I knew from Reagan the importance of soaking up every single moment together.  The other emotions came later, but in the moment there was mostly joy and peace.  I kind of forgot that until now, how strongly I felt God's presence at the hospital.  Because, since coming home, there has not been a lot of peace or joy.  More angst and despair than anything else.  So, I am grateful for that day especially, and for the memories I have.

So today, sweet baby Lucas, we celebrate you.  We remember you and love you and want to do something special for your 6 month birthday.  We are baking you some cupcakes, that each one of us can decorate with whatever makes us think of you.  I imagine this will entail SO. MANY. SPRINKLES.  My child, your siblings love some sprinkles.  I will be sure to take some pictures for you.  Warren wants to send you a balloon, because that is what he knows.  So, be on the lookout for a few blue balloons headed your way.  And we'll make you some cards, carefully decorated and written on.  Probably at least one of them will get crumbled in a ball.  But don't worry, we'll flatten it out and place it gently in your memory box.

Oh Lucas, how I love and miss you.  I wish these last 6 months were filled with memories with you.  I wish I could be sharing about what your favorite book is and what calms you down, how well (or not well) you are sleeping, and new milestones you have reached.  I will never have that post.  I will maybe never know these things.  But know this, you are loved beyond words, my son.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tentative steps

Well, it's been a difficult 6 months for sure.  Nearly 6 months ago, Lucas was born.  Since then, it's been a whirlwind of medical procedures, tests, surgeries, and more pain.  Some days I'm not quite sure how to go on, how to get out of bed and face the world and all the painful reminders.  My heart aches for the feel of our son safe in my arms.  Oh, how I long for those sleepless nights.  August brought another surgery to ready my body.  In September, we did transfer, saw another 2 little baby Savants, fell in love.  Only to have everything come crashing down again just 7 weeks later. Those sweet babies I never even got to feel kicking inside of me.  Then, we planned on doing another transfer at Thanksgiving, only the testing leading up to it lead us to a dead stop.  Everything looked great, but I had retained some placental tissue from Noah.  My body was not yet ready.

Fast forward to December.  We are mid cycle again, and facing more problems than I would like.  Tomorrow I head back to the hospital for yet another surgery, this time to remove an ovarian cyst.  Why?  WHY??  I want to scream at it all.  It's not the procedure itself, it's fairly simple.  It's not the inconvenience of it.  It's just the accumulation of one more thing, one more obstacle.  Some people just get to have sex.  And just like that, the bitterness takes root.  And I find myself questioning over and over again, what's wrong with me?  Why is it always me?  At this very second, I should be nursing my sweet baby.  Or, 17 weeks pregnant.  Instead, I am barren.  Empty.  Prepping for another medical procedure with the hopes that I will one day be able to raise those sweet babies.

So, here is how you can pray for us.  First, the surgery tomorrow.  It's being done by a doctor I've never met in a practice I've never heard of.  He says he can do it, no problem, so we'll see.  I'm also electing to only have local anesthesia as the hubs is out of town.  Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE all these things, and that I much prefer to be completely out for anything that happens in an OR.  Second, we have a transfer on the books again.  On 12/19, we'll be meeting 2 other little baby Savants.  This is hard to share in advance.  I blogged my way through the entire process with Reagan and it was a really beautiful time.  Since then, we've been fairly secretive about the process for some reason, choosing not to share until late in the 1st trimester, after several ultrasounds and labs confirming everything looks good.  And through that all, I've learned it's certainly not any easier that way.  More times than not, my babies still die.  This time, I feel like I need an army of prayer warriors surrounding me, so I'm choosing to be vulnerable instead.  I'm saying goodbye to the cute little surprise facebook announcement because this is infinitely more important.

As I look into the future, I have a hard time imagining that anything will work.  Testing has revealed some things that may or may not be treatable and may or may not be contributing to our losses.  That doesn't leave me with any warm and fuzzy feelings.  Statistics are scary, with up to a 25% chance of recurrent stillbirth.  That is very high, too high some might say.  But, we were given these embryo for a reason.  I have 6 more babies, babies I've never met, babies I would love to know.  So, less circumstances change and close this door to us, we will move forward with the transfers, trusting that God is good even when He doesn't appear to be.  Trusting that He knows best, even when I think I could do it better.  It's not a fun place to be, but it's where I am called right now.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The second 1st Thanksgiving

Holidays, family reunions, weddings – they’re all so hard.  Not because of something our families have done, not because it’s hard to be around them, not because we don’t like them.  I hear people grumbling about these events simply because they don’t wish to be around their families – that’s not me.  For me, it’s a huge reminder of everything I am missing.  I feel this deep hole so much more so when “all” the family is gathered.  Because I know it can never be ALL.

We were reminiscing about some interesting Thanksgiving stories earlier this morning, some carefree times.  Know what they all had in common?  They were 2011 or earlier.  Because 2012 was 3 weeks after Reagan died.  And that year, and every year since, I’ve felt this hole inside of me that at times only seems to be growing bigger.  My children are not here with me.  I’m missing seeing the joy on their faces as they taste pumpkin pie for the first time.  They won’t be helping me in the kitchen.  Reagan would certainly be old enough to this year.  Their little sweet faces will not be sitting around our dinner table, will never entertain the other kids at the kid table, will never fight over who gets the biggest piece.

This is our first Thanksgiving without Lucas.  And it’s catching me off guard with how hard it is.  With Reagan, it was SO recent, it was all I could do to get through the day.  But Lucas?  He was born 5.5 months ago.  The pain and grief is not quite as raw.  But, here we are.  Unable to get through the day, unsure how to go on.  I so desperately want my sweet boy back.  I want his cries to be adding to the chaos of the day.  I want these tears to be simply because I’m overwhelmed, not because of overwhelming grief.  Knowing there is a good chance it was my fault makes it so much worse, adding that layer of constant nagging guilt. 

But this is also the first Thanksgiving without Noah.  Without his twin.  Knowing that I should be pregnant, 17 weeks.  Knowing that, if I didn’t have my Lucas to hold anymore, we should be celebrating these lives growing inside of me.  Instead, I am empty.  Barren.  Broken. 

Of course I am thankful for my children that I get to raise.  I am learning more each year just what a miracle they are, how special they are, how blessed we are to have them.  But it does little to take away the pain of so many children we’ve lost through the years, named and unnamed, public and private.  I so long for that day when I will be reunited with my babies and our family will once again be complete.  Living in this broken world, well, sucks.  The only hope I have is the Hope in our future together because of our Savior.  Some days that brings me great peace.  Some days are still very much a struggled to even get through the requirements of the day.  Today happens to fall in that second category.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hannah Grace Turns 2!!

Happiest of birthdays sweet Hannah Grace! 

I'm not sure I've ever met a child who is so full of joy!  This past year has been a difficult one, but you have continued to bring joy and excitement into our lives.  I love playing tea parties with you - and hippo and puppy.  I love the care and thought you put into exactly how you set each place and who gets what food.  I love seeing you interact with your brothers, holding your own with those big boys and yet still being so sweet.  You love those boys so much - they're the first people you ask for each morning.  Dee?  Yaya?  And you go running into their room, sure to be knocked down, but fearless nonetheless. 

I love how you still cuddle with me, my only child who is calm enough to just rest with her mama.  I love how you need me - how you cry out for me when you can't sleep or reach up for me when you are scared.  I love that you still cling to my legs when I try to drop you off somewhere.  I love reading you books, hearing you learn new words and point out new things on the familiar pages.  I love rocking and singing to you each night.  Even though you sometimes look up at me and quietly say, night night mama.

You are such a happy little girl, waking each morning with a smile.  You've spent much of your live just along for the ride, and seem content to do that.  And today??  Today, my precious girl, you are 2.  TWO.  How can that be?  How can you be growing up so fast??  I had so much fun celebrating your birthday this morning, having a special date morning with my now big girl.  In the past year you've learned so much - you've started to run and throw and tackle with your brothers, you love to ride your bike or the wagon and just take in what's going on around you.  You play dinosaurs and roar with the best of them, yet you are never without a purse and especially love shoes. 

I am so very thankful for you, Hannah Grace.  I'm so blessed to be your mommy, and only beginning to realize what a miracle you really are.  And I love you even more for that.  Thank you for being you - my sweet, spunky, stubborn, adorable little girl.  Happy birthday baby!!



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy 5th birthday!

Happy 5th birthday my sweet baby girl!

I cannot believe it has been 5 years since I met you for the first and only time.  I remember having so many fears as I walked into labor and delivery, so unsure of what was going to happen.  I was afraid it was going to break me, the emotions and the pain of it all.  How could anyone survive?  I remember walking up to the desk, holding you protectively in my belly, praying that this wasn't actually happening.  I vaguely remember them talking me through the process but I didn't have a clue what to expect - you never should have come that early. We weren't ready for it.  Throughout that day, your daddy was my rock.  He rubbed my back with each contraction and read to me for hours.  As labor intensified and I knew you were almost here, I got so scared.  I didn't want you to be born yet, because then it would be over.  I would never physically feel any of you anymore, and that just seemed too much to handle.

But then you were born, and this switch happened just like I always dreamed it would.  In an instant, I was a mother.  I loved you so incredibly much.  There  you were, this little piece of me.  You looked so much like me, even though you were so little.  Same little nose, same eyes, same little crinkle in your forehead - Hannah actually has it too!  There was so much joy in your birth.  Daddy and I are still amazed at what a gift that was.  Such precious time together, time I will never forget.  I so vividly remember holding you for the first time, feeling you in my arms.  I remember singing you your first lullaby in the rocking chair, reading you your only little book, holding you close.  I am thankful for every second we had together.  And I've missed you every day since.  Even 5 years later, your absence is felt.  I wonder what you are doing - do you love tea parties like Hannah?  Do you run wild and carefree like Warren and Dean?  Do you pick flowers for us like we do for you?  Do you know how much we love you?  Because, sweet Reagan, we love you immeasurably.

So today, on the day of your birth, we celebrate you.  Well, we tried to anyway...  I imagine if you were still here, the day might have been a good indication of what you could have expected.  Temper tantrums from your brothers.  Followed my more temper tantrums.  Some potty on the floor and pooping in the tent.  A little bit of trick-or-treating with fights over candy.  We so desperately want you to have one super special day, but that doesn't seem to be real life at this point.  So, we did the best we could.  We made dinner and had some birthday cake.  We made (well, started...) cards for you with all the glitter you could ever want.  We sent you some balloons (only 3 this year - the kids popped 2 of them...)  And now we're settling down to look through our pictures with you.  Precious shots of us holding you exactly 5 years ago.

I cannot wait until I can run up to you in heaven and wrap my arms around you and have you return that hug.  To feel your arms around me.  I am so thankful that I was chosen to be your mommy, thankful for the profound impact you've had on my life and those around us.  I love you so much Rea Rea.  Always and forever.