Sunday, June 10, 2018

Happy FIRST Birthday!

Happy 1st birthday my sweet little Lucas!  It is hard to believe a year has already come and gone.  That one year ago I welcomed you into my arms, snuggled you tight, and said goodbye.  That is has now been 1 year since I last saw you.  Oh, how I miss you so very much.  More than I could ever put into words.  But you are still so very much a part of our family.  We remember you all the time - every holiday, ever special moment, every time there is another little boy that would be about your age.  And we wish that we were able to know life with you, to watch you grow over this past year - see those first smiles, comfort you when you cried, watch you figure out sitting and crawling and walking.  It would have been such an incredible year.

But instead, you are celebrating BIG TIME up in heaven.  You have so many little brothers and sisters there to have a party with.  And I'm sure Reagan is showing you the best things to do on a first birthday.  And Jesus is there too, that must make for an extra special birthday.  I cannot wait until we can celebrate with you one day.  Until then, we do the best that we can.

This morning, daddy made a special breakfast, just for your special day!  He cooked eggs, bacon, and breakfast potatoes.  Then omelets and toast because, well, Savant boys love to eat!  We made smoothies to drink from Dean's new cookbook.  And then we worked outside in your garden - we fixed your flowers, pulled out the weeds, pruned everything so it didn't get overgrown, and put out some new mulch.  Then we had a little pool party.  You're big brothers are learning how to do cannon balls, you wouldn't have been far behind them!  Hannah still doesn't like to jump, but she will soon.  She follows whatever her brothers are doing, loves to copy them.  I imagine you would have, too. 

After lunch your brothers made you the sweetest cards.  They wrote every letter themselves.  Dean drew a snake and a goose and a lion with trees and a rainbow.  Warren drew you an amazing sunset and a rainbow cake with lots of candles.  They finished up while I took Hannah to her dance recital.  When we got home, we made homemade pizza and cooked it on the grill.  Then we enjoyed your birthday cake and sent you up some balloons with messages from each of us.  I think you would have enjoyed the special day we created for you, and I hope you were able to look down and see how much we love you. 

I miss you so much Lucas.  So very much.  Sometimes it still catches me off guard, takes my breath away, even a year later.  I'm sorry we couldn't keep you here with us.  Always know that you are loved, you were wanted, and that you are so special to us.  All my love, always and forever sweet boy.

Mommy








Friday, June 8, 2018

Anticipation

The anticipation of the first birthday in heaven is always the hardest part.  With Reagan, we had the distraction of tiny baby boys who were still learning how to eat and life was about measuring their volume intake and making sure they hit their minimums, and trying to get them to sleep for a few minutes at a time before the pumping/nursing/bottle feeding schedule resumed.  But I still remember breaking down almost constantly in that week leading up to her birthday, not knowing what to expect, unsure if I would make it through the day.  Her actual birthday was a really sweet time, a chance to celebrate her life and remember our time together.  Maybe it helps that she was born on the day after we learned she had passed away?

This year is much the same, only it's been followed by grief upon grief.  Only this year, I have learned I will never have that rainbow baby, never carry another child.  It's been 1 month since we officially learned that our last babies were gone.  There are too many "should have beens" to even keep up with anymore.  And I find myself feeling panicked about the weekend, about our sweet Lucas' first birthday.  Because he was the last baby of mine I will get to hold.  And so, in addition to grieving everything we are missing with him, in addition to trying to help his birthday feel like a special time just for him (while juggling dance recitals and whining 4-year-olds - because when you're baby #5, that's what you get), I am also still grieving the loss of 8 other babies and the reality that we are done.  Even my body is reminding me of the failure.

I miss my Lucas so much.  These reminders, pictures of him at his last ultrasound healthy, remembering that one year ago, we were happy and completely unaware.  That one year ago was the last time I would every feel him kick.  I am still a bit in shock by it all, even a year later.  I know I have given everything I have to these babies, given them the best that I had to offer.  It's just so hard knowing that it wasn't enough, that I wasn't enough.  Though I know there isn't anything I could have done differently, I live with that guilt every day. 

If we had known something was going wrong, if we had known about the cord, we could be celebrating our sweet boy's first birthday today - on the last day he was healthy.  I keep thinking that I somehow missed a warning sign, that I should have known.  I'm the mommy, that was my job.  But I didn't know until he was gone, didn't have a clue.  And so, this weekend, we will celebrate our sweet boy.  We will make him cards and bake him a cake.  We will look through our pictures and have a special day to remember what it was like to hold him for those few hours. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Hardest One Yet

Mother's Day.  It started with the world's biggest hug from Dean, as he called out Happy Mother's Day and ran toward me, jumping into my arms.  Oh my sweet, big boy.  He was quickly followed by Warren, who informed me that gluten free pancakes were coming my way.  These boys are obsessed with baking me gluten free goodies.  And so, I was sent back to my room to wait on the breakfast.  In toddles Hannah, with her hair all a mess, her soft curls bouncing every which way as she climbed up into my bed and arms.  "Happy Mudder's Nay" she says.  Sweet girl, and my heart melts a bit.  It was as promised, gluten free pancakes (of which I get about 3 bites before little hands reach in and grab the rest).  Served alongside some sweet handmade cards.  Dean's was my favorite this year, as he chose to draw our family.  Cue the tears.  There in a line are the 5 of us, plus Lucas, Reagan, and Noah.  No one ever has to remind Dean to include those 3, he does it automatically.  They are as much a part of our family to him as those siblings he gets to fight with every day.  I LOVE that, the sweet innocence of it all.  Often Jesus is in our family pictures too, since that is who is taking care of the others.  He probably would sit and draw all 11 if he knew about those babies too.  And, here's the thing, I waited so many years for these moments, for the chance to have handmade cards filled with the things the kids love.  I wouldn't change that, our morning family time.  It was exactly what I needed.

But as the day has gone on, it's all getting to me.  The physical pain of this miscarriage is worse than I expected.  And way later than the others.  And it just feels like a slap in the face to be facing it today of all days.  And it makes me angry.  And immeasurably sad.  Last Mother's Day I was pregnant with Lucas, woken by his little kicks.  I remember feeling overwhelmed with it all at brunch as I struggled to picture myself being able to manage a 4th kid when the oldests were only 3.  It seemed impossible.  And now?  Now, I will never know.  I'll never get the chance; it was taken from me.  The finality of it all seems to be pushing me over the edge today.  This deep longing for the children I never got to know.  It's like this whole last year has been a complete waste, full of nothing but pain and grief and agony.  Part of me is still stupidly hopeful for a miracle, part of me is so jaded and bitter with it all that I am overcome with hopelessness.  It's a constant back and forth until the emotional ups and downs get the best of me, and I return once again to numb.  I don't know how to get through this one, how to go forward from here.  It just all hurts too much.  Especially today

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Bereaved Mother's Day

The first Sunday in May is the International Bereaved Mother's Day.  A day you just don't really even know about unless you have lived through some sort of trauma related to being a mother.  For us, that trauma just seems to keep piling up.

There have been so many Mother's Days over the years when it has been a struggle to even get out of a bed.  So many years of longing to be a mother and being barren, years of having a day where I wouldn't receive that flower at church, where I had no handmade art or breakfast in bed.  And then, my first "real" Mother's Day, our sweet Reagan was gone and I was hospital bound with the boys, still being told they would not survive.  I'd like to say it got better from there, and to some extent it did, but the scar of those early years in our marriage certainly never left.  But, between last year and now, I have lost 9 babies.  This time last year, I was pregnant with Lucas and had 8 embryo tucked away in the freezer.  Today??  Well, I have nothing.  No babies to hold, no babies growing inside of me, no babies in the freezer, and no hope of ever carrying one again.  The agony of it all is almost unbearable.  I am broken - my spirit and my body.  I have failed again.

There are few things worse than watching the positive pregnancy line fade into nothing as the days go on.  To have those moments of hope and joy come crashing to a halt.  No matter how many times I told myself "don't go there yet," no matter how many times I repeated the statistics to myself, no matter how much I tried not to get invested, well, I was lying to myself.  I jumped right into this again, like a big stupid idiot, thinking that THIS time would be different, that THIS would be our happy ending, the miracle we had been praying for.  I let myself get swept away in it all.  And I don't know where to go from here.  The idea that I wouldn't have more children never even crossed my mind until a few months ago.  After 5/5 successful transfers, I just assumed the others would work too.

So, I end my journey as a new mother.  A little ironic that it falls on this day.  No more maternity clothes, no more baby gear, no more night feedings.  The last child I will ever birth was our sweet Lucas, and I only got a few short hours with him.  I'm not sure how to do this.  How to keep moving forward when there is just so much pain.  How can any person lose so much and ever be normal again?  How could I have carried 11 babies that I will never get to parent?  So today, on Bereaved Mother's Day, I get to be sad.  I get to cry the big ugly tears on the bathroom floor and let everything fall apart around me.  Today is my day.  Today is about the 11 that are gone.  Because next Sunday, well, next Sunday is really about my living kids, about doing something special with them, about celebrating the 3 we have here.  I have to pull myself together and go on.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Babies 13 and 14

Yesterday, we met our final two embryo.  We started this IVF journey six years ago. Six. And so, these babies have existed for us for the last 6 years. It’s really crazy to think about that, how the science of it all works. This time last year Andrew and I were wondering what in the world we were going to do with all of our extra embryo. At that time we still had 8. It was a huge question mark in my future. And felt like it was going to be so much pressure to decide. How could I ever turn my back on any of these little ones?? Yet how could I keep having babies. The last year has been the hardest of my life by far, as we lost 7 in a row. Each child took a little piece of me with them, broke me a little bit more. And here we are, at the point of having no embryo left. Babies 13 and14 are now tuck away inside of me. And we wait. For 12 long days, we wait. And pray. And hope.

Going in to the transfer, I felt surprisingly calm. There was no moment of stress, no anxiety. I’m sure a good dose of Valium helped, but even before that there was peace. A peace I know only comes from above. Even when I have these doubt of God’s goodness towards me, He shows up, holds my hand, and carries me through. It’s a beautiful picture of Him as Father. One I could miss if I wasn’t looking. So, for all those who were praying for me, for us, thank you. 

I also just realized this is National Infertility Awareness Week. I’ve just had a few other things on my mind recently and missed that. A little ironic we end our infertility journey this week, one we really started 8.5 years ago, long before we ever decided on the IVF route or met the team of doctors who would hold our hands through the process. For us, our infertility issues could never be fixed, despite numerous surgeries and medications, despite diet changes and supplements, there was no way for us to conceive on our own. We didn’t have a low chance, we had a no chance. But now, we have 3 healthy, happy, crazy kids who bring so much joy (and frustration) into our home. Though my years of being childless are over, my infertility is not. We are still here in Charlotte doing our transfer, my body is scarred from the daily injections, my emotions are all over the place from the roller coaster of hormones. And we still don’t know if we will get to bring either of these little ones into our home. Infertility is a silent struggle, it permeates so many areas of your life. For years, we lived with this constant longing.  Every time I saw a pregnant woman, every time I saw a diaper commercial, every time I saw kids playing down the street, and every year on Mothers Day, always this ache. I broke the silence 2 years into our walk because I was tired of pretending and tired of being asked when we were going to have kids. And I am so glad I did, because I couldn’t imagine the pain of walking through this alone.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

6 months

Today is Easter.  If I were stronger, I'd dig deep and do another Easter post.  Because ultimately, Christ's sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection are the only hope I have.  I know that because God lost His Son, He can relate to my ongoing pain.  I know that this is not the end of my story, that one day there will be a happy ending.  It is only because of what Easter symbolizes that I am surviving, that I am waking each morning and doing what needs to be done and living a life as a functioning human being.  Otherwise, I would be completely broken.  Otherwise, I would live life in utter despair.  Don't get me wrong, I often feel as though I am living in utter despair, but I know the truth.  And, so, I chose to cling to the cross.  Even when it's hard, and even when I'm angry at God, and even when I don't understand, I cling.

But, today marks 6 months since I went into the hospital with Noah.  Six months since we said goodbye to a child I would never know and never hold.  And the first day of the month in which he would have been born.  To add to that pain, today we packed up the last booster seat for the table.  Stacked it right on top of the empty infant seat.  Right next to the box of baby clothes, the brand new rock-n-play, and the never worn maternity clothes.  All things purchased for Lucas, all things we expected to use with Noah, all things that are simply collecting dust.  I now have no kids in diapers and no kids in need of being strapped in for eating.  They're all big enough to choose their clothes, to brush their own teeth, to get their own water, clean up their own mess.  (NOTE: when they choose to...).  This is a moment that most mothers celebrate, the beginning of some extra freedoms.  But for me, it only makes the emptiness more profound.  It only makes the longing stronger.  Holidays always hold a special but difficult place in my heart, as I wonder what Reagan would have looked like, 5-years-old and dressed to match little Hannah; Lucas, nearly 10 months old and matching Warren and Dean.  All these precious moments I will never have.

This week marks the beginning of the end of menopause, and a quick shift and hormonal transition on Friday as we begin estrogen medication.  My heart is so fragile, already broken.  I often feel like I'm just hanging on by a thread.  I know that I will not get through this process without prayer, and I'm out of words.  We're looking at a transfer at the end of this month, our last attempt.  I keep telling myself it probably won't work, but honestly I don't know how I will not completely break if it fails.  If our story ends with the loss of 9 children in a row.  If the last delivery I have, the last baby of mine I hold, is Lucas' still, silent, but beautiful body.   I just can't.  I can already feel the bitterness creeping in alongside the tears as I anticipate what it will feel like to get that negative result.  To learn that my hormones are dropping instead of doubling.  To go in and see the empty chest, yet again.  How many times can I do it??  I know that God can carry me through, I know that he can heal my body and I can have a "normal" pregnancy with a healthy baby - He did it with Hannah.  But it's hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I have been pregnant 7 times with 12 babies and have only made it to full term once.  That I've only had an experience with "normal" once.  That every other time, there has been immense heartache involved, even though Dean and Warren survived, I lost a huge part of who I was during that pregnancy and their NICU stay, living in constant terror.  I may never feel safe again.  But, I know without a shadow of a doubt, that our family is not complete, not yet.  So, we're praying fervently for babies #13 and 14 in this IVF process, that they get to spend a few (or 60) years with me here before we are separated.

Friday, March 9, 2018

All the feels

Today, I start menopause month 2.  It also happens to be Reagan's due date, 5 years later.  And 9 months to the day since Lucas passed away.  So many things should be true that are, in fact, not true.  I should be huge and uncomfortably pregnant with Noah.  I should be ~15 weeks pregnant with the next set of twins, or even just announcing my pregnancy with our most recent transfer.  Instead, I am barren.  Empty.  I have 3 kids whom I love and adore, and yet our family feels woefully incomplete.  And I am already beginning to have panic attacks about the last transfer, because it is the LAST.  I don't ovulate, so I know pregnancy without intervention isn't in our future.  Add to that my "advancing maternal age" and, well, it's a bleak picture.  I'm in need of another surgery before our final transfer and find myself still fighting to get a doctor who is qualified to perform it as we are rapidly approaching the deadline.  All the hurts and emotions and stressors seem to collide today. 

And then, our fish died.  A stupid little fish I have no emotional connect to.  I took him to our preschool "pet shop" this morning and he did just fine.  But on the drive home, his bowl flipped over.  I'm still not quite sure how it happened, I was going about 10 mph.  The kids kept asking if there were old people around (they equate old people with slowness in the car, can't imagine where that came from...) but NO, I was just going slow to keep our fish water from splashing.  Yet, somehow this bowl turned completely on its side and dumped out the water, the rocks, and Tiger2.  I was about 30 seconds from the neighborhood so we raced home, but no luck.  Tiger2 was gone.  Dean sobbed for about 30 minutes over this fish he had ZERO interaction with.  But, it was his Lucas replacement.  It was the one thing he cried about the day after Lucas died, that his fish had died.  It broke the tension for Andrew and I, helped bring a bit of light into that day, but it was Dean's way of connecting with death, his way of grieving for his brother.  We brought home Tiger2 that day, a replacement for Tiger the original who had died right before Lucas.  It seems like such a silly thing, but it's kind of a slap in the face too.  For it to happen on this day in such a weird way.

So, here I am, continuing to grieve Reagan and Lucas (and Tiger2) while riding the emotional highs and lows of menopause and anticipating what I only expect to be failure in the future.  Better days have to be coming, right??