An Unworthy Cassandra

I’m officially full term today, by anyone’s standards! 38 weeks!

Those sentences are about as cheery as this post is going to be, so if that’s all you’re here for (you must come here…infrequently) you can quit reading now.

I’ve had two episodes so far of thinking “maybe…could this be…am I imagining this?” Both episodes involved me waking up in the middle of the night to cramping and contractions – and a full blown panic attack. Last night was the most recent one, and it was preceded by a whole day of period like cramps, an evening of irregular and far apart contractions, a teary panic attack, and then the nighttime wake up.

I feel absolutely ridiculous. The nursery is ready. The car seat is installed. I’ve passed off 90% of my work at the office, my out-of-office message is primed and ready. We’ve got tons of food in the freezer. My parents are on stand-by. I am physically uncomfortable and desperately anxious to meet our baby girl. So why the panic? Why the tears?

Well, for one, because it hurts.  And I lay there, watching the minutes tick by (3:34….3:35….3:36…) and think to myself, “Ouch. Fuck. That actually kind of hurt. Ugh, I hate period cramps and this totally feels like period cramps. Now I feel like I’m going to barf. Awesome. Wait, THAT feels like my stomach has been put into a vice. FUCK. That HURTS. FUCK THIS SHIT. TAMMY WAKE UP OW OW OW.” etc. And then I remember that, hey, I’m not even really in labor yet. Regardless if it is early labor (unlikely considering I’m not having contractions now, and only super mild cramping) or false labor, things are going to get a whole lot more painful before I’m done. And, to be brutally honest, I’m not sure I can stand it.

Emotionally, I’m a complete and total wreck. I’m cognizant enough to know it all comes from a place of fear. Fear of labor and delivery. Fear of the recovery. Fear of postpartum depression. Fear that I won’t somehow recognize my daughter. Fear that I won’t love her. Fear that Tammy won’t love her. Fear that she won’t love us. Fear that my relationship with Tammy will deteriorate. Fear that all those instincts you hear about just…won’t exist in me – that my trouble getting pregnant was some kind of indicator, some kind of Cassandra warning that I should have heeded.

Fear. Sickening, gut wrenching fear. Somehow, the birth of my daughter only became real in the past week or two. All through the months of fertility treatment and all through this pregnancy I never really allowed myself to imagine holding my child in my arms. And that fear, the fear that my dream would never happen, was awful and soul crushing but it only made me double down and grit my teeth. I was bound and determined that I would have a baby if it was the last thing I ever did. It became an all consuming obsession. Now that I’m faced with the reality of that obsessive, angry, steadfast drive coming to fruition, I find myself staring into the abyss – one of pain and darkness and I am unworthy of this.

Baby girl, please come out and prove me wrong.

Advertisements

Year in Review – 2013

Oh, Christmas. Always such a delightful pull and tug of thank-you-JESUS-I’m-on-vacation and holy-mother-of-god-I’m-going-to-kill-my-family. Some highlights for me this year include Tammy’s mother disowning her children (really); my sister and I spending the entire week squabbling over seriously stupid shit; and me, at almost 9 months pregnant making Christmas dinner from scratch for 6 adults (and thinking the whole time, this is bullshit, this is bullshit). The best part about Christmas this year was that it wasn’t last year. Reading that post makes me sad. I was so depressed and so angry and so deep in my own shit I could barely breath.

Since the post from 2012 was so damn depressing for me to read, let’s dive into the 2013 Year in Review, shall we?

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? The sustained pregnancy, obviously. Is that boring and obvious? Sorry. That’s basically my year. You can stop reading now! Phew!
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I actually didn’t do TOO badly on my first one from last year.  I did really well making homemade meals, at least until the first trimester barfs set in. I fell off that wagon hardcore and never made it back on. Oh well. I most certainly did NOT get back into yoga. I also did not take time to do things for myself. Resolution for this year: let go. You do not have to be in control all the damn time. Does it really matter if your mother puts the dishes away differently than you would? No, no it does not. Does it really matter if Tammy doesn’t pass that car when you would have? No, no it does not. Repeat ad infinitum.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes. I had a few close friends have babies this year. Plus my sister in law had a baby in November.
4. Did anyone close to you die? No. Quick, knock on wood and light some candles!! (Not that I’m superstitious at all.)
5. What places did you visit? [pause] Damn, did we not do anything this year? We went to the beach this summer with my family like we always do. We went to visit Tammy’s family a few times. But no, we really didn’t do anything this year. Wow.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? A happy, healthy baby. A job that doesn’t require me to be available 24/7, and ideally I could work from home sometimes and (even better) be part time.
7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? All of the IVF stuff and then the pregnancy stuff. I still can’t fucking believe it worked.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? See above.
9. What was your biggest failure? Trying to control everything.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I’m sick right now with a cold. Nothing super seriously in terms of illness this year, thank goodness!
11. What was the best thing you bought? IVF. Hands down, best money ever spent.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Tammy’s always. That girl is good.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? How much time do you have? I don’t know that my own behavior was “appalling” or anything, although I certainly wish I had done any number of things differently. Tammy’s mother’s behavior appalled me, and it certainly depressed me. I would say certain politicians appalled me, but eh, it’s kind of their job to be obnoxious, right?
14. Where did most of your money go? IVF. Even though it was the best money ever spent, it was damn expensive. Why must it be so expensive??
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Being pregnant. Duh. Right now I’m really, really, really excited about the fact that soon I will no longer be pregnant, and I will have a baby in my arms.
16. What song will always remind you of 2013? Hmm. I don’t really have a song in mind. Maybe this one?
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier.
b) thinner or fatter? fatter. Couch-to-5k, I’m coming for you in 2014.
c) richer or poorer? Financially poorer, richer in everything else.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I’d done more to make Tammy happy. I wish I’d done more for my health and fitness. I wish I’d carpe’d more diem.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? I wish I’d been less selfish and controlling. I wish I had worried less. I wish I’d spent less time stressing about work.
20. How did you spend Christmas in 2013? We always split the holidays between my family and Tammy’s – we go to her sister’s house for Thanksgiving and spend time with my family for Christmas. In the past we’ve gone to my parent’s house, but this year we made people come to us. Despite having to make Christmas dinner for everyone (which turned out to be pretty damn good, thankyouverymuch, it was a pretty good time.
21. Did you fall in love in 2013? Fell in love with the baby. Continued to fall for Tammy.
22. What was your favorite TV program? We’re making our way through past seasons of Sons of Anarchy right now. I also started watching Scandal, which is so bad that it’s good.
23. What did you do for your birthday in 2013? Not too much. I was gearing up for egg retrieval and was too sore and anxious to want to do anything. I think we went out to dinner.
24. What was the best book you read? My mom got me into a mystery series about a Chief Inspector in Quebec. I realize reading mystery novels makes me about 90 years old, but whatever. I wouldn’t say these were the best books I read though – that prize goes to The Goldfinch. I’ve been waiting for Donna Tartt to come out with a new book for effing ever and she did not disappoint. An absolutely haunting and magnificent novel.
25. What did you want and get? Pregnant.
26. What did you want and not get? The house to get much closer to done. The number one rule of home owning – everything takes longer than you think it will.
27. What was your favorite film of this year? No idea. We kind of stopped going to movies because after paying for the IVF things were a leeeetle tight around our household.
28. Did you make some new friends this year? Nope. How are you supposed to make friends as an introverted adult? How??
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? See above about what I wish I’d done more of and less of. This question is kind of dumb.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012? Revolving around the 3 or 4 maternity outfits I own. I dare anyone to say anything to me. Go ahead. I dare you.
31. What kept you sane? Tammy. Always.
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Eh? No one?
33. What political issue stirred you the most? Gay marriage is pretty high on the list again. Raising the minimum wage would be awesome. Providing paid maternity leave would be awesome.
34. Who did you miss? I miss my grandparents. They’ve gone over the deep end into dementia. I miss who I was before I started trying to have a baby. There’s an innocence and a happiness there I’ll never get back.
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. I haven’t “learned” this; I don’t think I ever will. I’ll have to continue to learn it, over and over for the rest of my life.

Gratitude

I’ve been pretty unhappy lately with the various physical realities of being pregnant. I’m super uncomfortable almost constantly; my back hurts, my hips hurt, I can’t breathe, I can’t sleep, I’ve gained too much weight, I have terrible heartburn, blah blah blah. But then I remember how I felt last year at this time. I had experienced my miscarriage  a few weeks prior and it was one of the worst Thanksgivings I can remember. I kept having to run outside at my sister in law’s house or camp out in the bathroom to cry, deep, soul ripping sobs. I felt sick, both in my body and in my heart.

And now look where I am. How privileged am I, that I have the opportunity to complain that I can’t take a full breath…because I have a baby inside me! How wild, and terrifying, and astonishing and dream-come-true.

You know that super sappy thing people do on Thanksgiving, where they go around the table and everyone says what they’re thankful for? Here’s what I said:

“I’m thankful to this family [meaning, Tammy’s family], for welcoming me and loving me. I’m thankful for my Tammy; she makes me happy every single day. I’m thankful for our baby. I’m thankful that we have the means and opportunity to grow our family.”

And now that I’m here, on my blog, I have to add that I’m thankful for all of you. Thank you for welcoming me into your community. Thank you for the support and advice. Thank you for sharing your stories with me, and allowing me to be a part of your journeys.

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving.

A Light in the Dark

A year ago this month we lost our first pregnancy.

This is a strange time of year for me, because of it. I was thinking the other day about how I really need to rake the leaves in the backyard and then I remembered, Oh! I was raking leaves the day before I started to bleed.

I had known it was coming – my hCG had dropped to 7 at my Thursday morning blood draw and the nurse told me it was a matter of days, if not hours. I took that Friday off from work and did chores all day, desperate for something to do, desperate for something to break through the heavy numbness that had washed over my body, and then sickly horrified when the next day something did.

That Friday when I got back from the grocery store, I headed out back and slowly, carefully raked the rotting yellow leaves into piles. As I raked, my thoughts skittered around in sharp jerks. I thought about those monks that created meticulous sand gardens only to destroy them. This thought was both strangely comforting and vaguely irritating. I thought about ladies in Victorian novels that were always dying of a broken heart. Previously this had seemed like a slightly pathetic yet amusing literary technique, and my know-it-all 10 year old self was smugly sure this wasn’t an actual, medical possibility. Now I questioned that former certainty. I thought about death. Would it hurt to die? Probably, I thought with detachment, it depended on how you died, but I wondered if your body reached a certain point and no longer felt anything? I hoped my baby wasn’t feeling anything. I hoped my baby was already dead, and my body was able to comfort it before it left, in the only home it ever knew. I wondered if a miscarriage would hurt, even one this early. I wondered if there would be anything to see. Would “it” come out resembling anything? Or would it just look like a period? It was awfully small, I thought, doubtfully.

Interspersed between these thoughts I was chanting over and over to myself. With each stroke of the rake I thought, “I’m sorry, baby. Mommy loves you. Mama loves you. I hope you’re not in pain. We’re so sorry. We couldn’t keep you. We couldn’t save you. I’m so sorry. I hope you’re not in pain. I love you. I’m sorry.”

I didn’t cry at all that day. I’d cried so much in the days preceding it that my body felt like a dried up and brittle husk. Each gust of the November wind threatened to shatter me into a thousand pieces.

I woke up early Saturday morning and thought for a brief moment that I was dying. The pain in my abdomen was strange and intense, but the pain in my chest gripped me so hard I could barely breathe. There was a howling in my head that seemed to echo around and around in my body.

I woke Tammy up at 5 and asked her to draw me a bath. My brain was only working in short bursts, and I could only seem to think one step at a time. All my brain could do was signal to my body to get somewhere warm, and float. So I did. The pain was coming in waves and I thought, how curious! I’m in the water, and the pain is like waves! My thoughts were stopped short by the realization of what those waves were. I lay there in the rapidly cooling water and thought, dully, “this is it.” I wasn’t bleeding yet, but I knew.

The howling and the waves of pain intensified as I stood up out of the now cold bath, and the first trickle of bright red blood ran down my leg. I watched it hit the tiled bathroom floor and said softly, “goodbye, sweet baby.”

Then I went back to bed.

I Need Some Advice

I feel like crap.

For the past two nights I’ve woken up every hour or so, and wake up a final time in the morning feeling like utter garbage. I wake up to pee, I wake up because Tammy’s snoring, I wake up because I’m uncomfortable, I wake up because I’m too hot, I wake up because I’m too cold, I wake up because my back hurts, my arm hurts, my what-the-fuck-ever hurts. And last night I woke up at 3am because my stomach hurt. I was up for almost two hours with stomach pain – menstrual like cramps, nausea, a few stabbing pains here and there.

So what the fuck people. I’m sorry if I’m coming across as a whining pregnant lady to a bunch of people who would love nothing more to be in my shoes, but I’m desperate here. I know it’s only two nights, but I’m a sleeper. I crave sleep. Deep, luxurious sleep that you melt into. When I don’t sleep, nothing works right. I’m clumsy, thick tongued, sore throated, queasy, short tempered, close to tears.

And today I have the added bonus of my stomach *still* hurting. Plus my fingers are swollen, which makes trying to type and do any kind of work freaking annoying.

What do I do? How do I sleep? How do I fix this? Any and all advice is welcome.

Comments

I got my first less-than-supportive comment.

When I started blogging, I expected that I would get comments that would regularly require a tough skin and a stern self talking-to (“you CHOSE to blog”). But I found you lovely people, and I’ve been impressed with the kindness you extended to me, a virtual (see what I did there?) stranger, coming over to emote in your corner of the internet.

It’s not even that the comment was so bad, but it did make me wince a little. It was on my post about sharing pregnancy news on fac.ebook:

“Popping out of lurking to say I can see why oyu are in a tough position. But to think you don’t have the email, or phone number, of your ‘less close’ friends’? So why bother telling them? If FB crashed tomorrow…oh me, oh my…you wouldn’t have ANY way to communicate with said friends? That’s weird to me. FB is your ONLY means of communication. With a potential move coming up, you may want to I don’t know, try to form more meaningful relationships, than just ‘liking’ something here or there. Just my 2cents.”

Before anyone jumps all over me, please know that I would have emailed her directly if she had left an email address or blog site. But she didn’t.

And before anyone jumps all over her, she does partially have a point and I DID ask for comments.

Before I decided to update my status about the pregnancy, I did think about why I should bother telling people who I’m not that close to. Why does it matter if they know that I’m pregnant? Here’s what I came up with:

1) We’re a lesbian couple, and I’m working hard to spread the idea that gay people having kids is normal and blase. Studies show that when people know someone who is gay, they become more accepting and tolerant. It suddenly is less of an abstract concept and more about someone’s life. Same idea with gay people having kids. I’m trying to up the tally for ‘acceptance’ in the ‘parents who are gay’ category.

2) There’s been so much about this process that has been hard, and I’ve so often felt isolated and alone. It’s a large part of the reason I started this blog. I didn’t know anyone IRL that was struggling to get or stay pregnant. I was desperate to talk to someone (other than Tammy and my mom) about it. Since getting and staying pregnant, I’ve longed for a return to some kind of normalcy. The scars that I have from this process (both physical and emotional) continue to haunt me. I wanted (for once!) to not feel weird. I wanted to be a normal person announcing a normal pregnancy. I wanted to bask in the happiness of my friends, even my ‘less close’ friends. I wanted the community affirmation, that this was a GOOD thing, and it was OK to be HAPPY.

But then on to the ‘ouch’ part of Kate’s comment:

“With a potential move coming up, you may want to I don’t know, try to form more meaningful relationships, than just ‘liking’ something here or there.”

Like I said, ouch. That comment hit a little close to home. It’s something I struggle with, maintaining friendships. I’m an introvert, but I also struggle with anxiety, often manifesting in social anxiety. I also struggle with depression. The infertility process has made both my anxiety and depression much harder to deal with.

I have people who I enjoy spending time with; friends from college, friends from work. But it’s HARD for me to maintain those relationships. I work at it, and I try, and sometimes I do better and sometimes I do worse. Since getting pregnant, I’ve been working hard on getting out of the house more, half for my sake and half for Tammy’s. She’s much more social than I am, and she’s often home with me more than she would like. We’re working on trying to find a balance.

But that comment also stung because she hit on the context of a potential move. It’s one of the things that scares me about a move; having to meet new people. I wouldn’t have the natural environment of work to socialize, and I would have to force myself to push out of my comfort zone and talk to people I don’t know (gasp!).

I have met with a psychologist off and on for years (since college). Sometimes I see her very frequently and sometimes a year or more goes by between sessions. But I’m aware that this is an issue for me to work on, and I’m aware it’s not something I will ever be “cured” of. It’s something I’ll have to fight against for the rest of my life. I know that.

Kate, if you’re still out there does this answer your question? Please don’t take this as an attack on you. Like I said, I asked for comments and you gave it to me. It’s highly probably that I’m extra sensitive about the topic given my history. It’s also likely that I over react to things. So no hard feelings?

Hope, or Something Like It

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

– Emily Dickinson

Blue Bird feather

Some days I think it will never happen. That it will never come true. That’s I’ll never see the second line again, or it will never go past a few weeks. Sometimes, a tiny voice, barely more than a whisper, tells me to give up. To stop trying. That it isn’t meant to be.

And other days I’m filled with Hope. Emily D. describes Hope as a thing with feathers “that perches in the soul”. In my mind, Hope is like honey. Sticky and thick, it oozes into the nooks and crannies of your soul, rather than perches daintily.  And like honey, Hope is almost impossible to fully clean up, wipe off, get rid of. I’m always thinking that this vitamin is IT! Or this shot will do the trick! Or this procedure! Or this new donor! But it never is.

**********************

I’ve been kind of down the last few days. I don’t know if it’s the weather (crappy) or the birth control pills (still barfy) or just the feeling that I’m sitting still while the world races on without me. I think that the birth control pills are contributing to my sense of stalling out. At least with the injections and the blood work and the office visits I feel like I’m DOING something. I’m actively WORKING toward having a baby. Being on birth control pills goes against every instinct I have, and my sub conscience is screaming at me.

My parents sent me a card this week.

photo

The inside reads:

photo (1)

Here’s Hoping.

blue bird