Double Bagging It.

I need to write about my boobs.  My body is playing tricks on me and it’s driving me mad.

Since our failed cycle of IVF, we have officially stopped trying to conceive. Because we’ve had so many losses, it’s not really safe to try on our own (without medication).  I’m not ready to risk another loss at this time.  Never say never, but right now we’re not trying.  I’m trying to focus on our adoption and just hoping it goes through quickly.

By “not trying” I don’t mean that I’m on the pill, we’re not using birth control at all (it seems WAY too counter intuitive), to put it politely, we’re using the “withdrawal method”.  I know this isn’t 100% but that’s a risk we are willing to take.

Today is the eleventh day of symptoms.  My boobs have been SO swollen and sore.  Seriously, I’ve been wearing TWO BRAS (or as I put it on twitter, “double bagging it”)!  I have acne on my cheeks.  I’m tired, nauseous and grumpy.  These are all symptoms that I’ve had in my previous pregnancies.  These are symptoms I was hoping for during my IVF cycle.

I’m trying not to worry too much about it (yeah right). I’m doing my best to stay away from Dr. Google.   The chances of a pregnancy are so very slim. It’s just so frustrating  and physically uncomfortable. Maybe this is the proof I needed that my body needed a rest.  In the past couple of years I have been pregnant three times, done several medicated cycles, done an IUI and IVF. I’m sure my hormones are a mess.

I’m hoping that time will allow my body to go back to normal.  Constant pregnancy symptoms are making it really hard for me to stop thinking about trying to conceive.  It also makes it hard to put all I have been through into the past.  Let’s hope I can feel “normal” again soon…at least physically.

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Anniversary of a due date

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the due date of my third pregnancy.  My baby would be turning one.  My good friend was so excited when my doctor told me the date because it is also her son’s birthday.  This is the baby that I carried at my wedding. This is the one my doctor was so sure of.  My hCH levels were so high she originally speculated that it was twins.  This was the third time I was pregnant.  It was the second heartbeat that I got to hear. We got to keep a print out of the ultrasound.  I cried for joy.  I was so sure that three times would be a charm.  This was also the LAST time I was pregnant.  Since this third loss I haven’t even been able to conceive – not with monitoring, medication, IUI or IVF.

Due dates have been hard on me.  This time it isn’t AS bad.  Maybe I’m finally starting to get numb to it.  I’ll never be able to get those dates out of my head.  March 14, June 26, January 18.  These days will always represent what was lost and what could have been.  All I can hope for is that every year it hurts a little less.

Memory Lane

I caught myself watching one of my own memories today as if it were a movie.  The memory was so clear, I could feel it, touch it and smell it. It was a memory of a time shortly before everything went wrong.

I was almost two months pregnant.  It was my first pregnancy.  My husband and I were both glowing with excitement.  My husband was on board with starting a family but it wasn’t until I was actually pregnant that we both realized how much it really meant to him.

We were at a barbecue at a friend’s rooftop pool.  It was a beautiful warm day. The sunlight was bouncing off the water. I didn’t swim, but I put my toes in the water.  The view was amazing.  Everything felt perfect.  When our friends were all swimming, my husband and I had some time alone poolside.  We sat on a beach towel on the deck.  He looked so happy.  He was actually tearing up.  He put his hand on my belly.

“I was thinking”, he said, “that after we have this little chicken, we could adopt a sibling for that chicken”.

For him to say that meant so much to both of us.  It meant that we could have more than one child. It meant that we hadn’t abandoned the idea of adoption even though I was pregnant.  It meant  that his ideal family was based on the model of his own family.  Our life was really beginning.  We had so much to look forward to.  Both of our dreams were coming true.

It was hard for me to “watch” this memory.  This is the part of my life that I now have to file under “before”.  It seems so long ago.  I feel like we were different people. I have since lost three babies.  I have cut friends out of my lives who have had babies since.  I have watched the world move on as my world seems to stand still.  I have been living in pain. My life has revolved around fertility treatments.  Adoption has evolved from a way to grow our family to quite possibly the only way we’ll be able to grow our family.  Our sex life has been scheduled to the minute and full of the fear of a miss-timed broken pregnancies.  I miss my life.  I wish I could go back to the pool and dip my toes in the water and not worry about anything but a sunburn.

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Boot Camp Baby Bomb

Last year, around this time, I signed up for a boot camp with a friend.  It was in the time just before I got into the fertility clinic. Another little window for exercise.  I stopped the class when we started to “try”. There was no way I was going to lose another baby.  I know that exercising is very likely NOT the reason that I lost my babies, but in the back of my head there is always the wonder and blame.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have gone swimming”

“Maybe I shouldn’t have done those push ups”

“Maybe, maybe, maybe….”

To take the class in the first place, I of course had to fill out the medical questionnaire.

  • Recent Surgery? Yes, two D&Cs
  • Medication? (insert long list of fertility drugs here)
  • Recent Weight Gain? Yes (see above)
  • Reason to want to “Get Fit”?  So that I stop looking pregnant/ So that I can get pregnant

Tonight I went back to Boot Camp.  I have a small window to “Get Fit” so it seemed like a great idea! (And I’ve already filled out the stupid form, so I won’t have to fill it out again!)

Feeling extra sporty, I rode my bike to Boot Camp. I got there a little early and was waiting outside the studio with my friend.  A woman who had been in the class with us the first time arrived and spotted me.

“It’s so great to see you!” and she gave me a big hug.

As her body pressed up against mine, I realized that for someone who’s been doing Boot Camp for a year, she hasn’t lost ANY weight.  Then I realized why her stomach was so big.  I almost threw up.

I thought I was going to be ok.  I held it together and kept eye contact with my friend.  This will pass.

Then the woman came into the class with us.  She was going to do Boot Camp.  My eyes started to well up and my friend (bless her) pulled me outside the studio right before Niagara Falls started to pour out of my face.  I tried to explain to her (whilst blubbering like a three year old and gasping for air) that it was just so hard for me to watch pregnant people working out. Especially a class like that.  Don’t they have their OWN classes to go to?  I know that it’s healthy for pregnant women to work out, but after so many losses, it’s hard to watch someone putting their pregnancies at risk right in front of me.  I’m sure it’s not even a risk. I’m sure she’s doing all of the right modifications etc., it’s just difficult for me when EVERYTHING I do is a risk. It’s difficult to watch someone who is pregnant be easy and care-free about it.  Those days are so long gone for me.

My friend was amazing.  I can’t say it enough that I have the best “team”.  I told her how important it was for me to do the class and use this time to get in shape.  She helped me build up the courage to go back in, and she even blocked my view of Ms. Pregnant the whole time.  Thanks to the support (and the blinders) I left feeling great and I will go back.  “Get Fit!’

Running On Empty (Empty Uterus)

Yesterday I “failed” yet another pregnancy test.  Another month of early mornings, ultrasounds, blood tests, stomach needles and suppositories for nothing.

The phone call with the negative result always hurts.  It’s happened so often now that I have the conversation memorized.  The doctor’s secretary gently confirms that it’s me on the phone.  She awkwardly asks if I already know the result.  I tell her I didn’t get the blood results but that I have a good idea (read 10 pee sticks).  She apologizes, tells me that it’s negative.  We discuss protocol and she wishes me luck the next time.  Yesterday’s phone call hurt a little more than usual.  Today marks an anniversary.

One year ago today, I was in the hospital for the D&C.  It was “play day “at my school.  The hospital is right across the street from my work.  I heard the music playing and the children laughing as my husband brought me in for the procedure.  The baby shower for one of my “Belly Buddies”, a colleague, was scheduled for that same evening.  The date was very close to my second due date, June 26th.  I couldn’t help but thinking that if things had worked out, I may have been in this same hospital that day having a baby, not waiting to have yet another failed pregnancy removed from my body.  One year ago today was the last day that I had a baby in my belly.

A whole year has gone by and I’ve been empty the whole time.  The previous year I was pregnant 3 times!

When I got pregnant the first time I was 35 years old (just a few weeks away from turning 36).  A few weeks from now,  I turn 38.  I still don’t have my baby.

I’m frustrated, I’m sad and I’m feeling very discouraged.

 

My Mother’s Day Gift to Myself: Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-sSeXv9QDAPQ/UVxS6yMwuhI/AAAAAAAAFXc/CJdrF9ZnnMM/s1600/VARDALOS_InstantMom_HC.JPGAdmittedly, I steered clear of this book when I first heard about it.  Books with “Mom” in the title simply don’t appeal to me right now.

I started hearing little bits and bobs about the book in the media and downloaded it to my iPad.  The preview of the book sat on my “bookshelf” for a while.  I still wasn’t sure that I could read a “Mom” book.

Mother’s day weekend came.  I was feeling really down and felt like I needed to acknowledge the day.  I knew I wasn’t going to get brunch, flowers or a card so I had to do something for myself.  I bought myself the book.  It was empowering.  It made me feel proactive rather than mopey.

I started reading and I could not put it down.

Within 20 pages I was sobbing and laughing (simultaneously – a very attractive look).  I immediately contacted friends and created an impromptu book club.  This book not only needs to be read, it also needs to be shared and talked about.  I shared it with one friend who has struggled with infertility and is now a mom through adoption of the cutest curliest haired girl I’ve ever seen.  The other friend is one of my closest friends and the sister of Lil Curly’s mom.

I fell in love with this book because it was so relatable.  The first half of the book follows Nia Vardalos’ personal struggles with infertility. Being a comedy writer (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), she is able to share stories about infertility, IVF, multiple miscarriages and surrogacy painful but still able to laugh  – much the way I try to approach my own life and my blog.  There is so much sadness in my life right now, I have to find some things to laugh at and I have to find the joy.  Nia’s (yes, we’re on a first name basis) voice was so refreshing.  I described it my friend (when I told her she had to read the book)  “this lady is our people”.  My friend agreed whole-heartedly.

Nia’s stories about infertility brought me to tears (and still do upon re-reading).  It really felt as if my own feelings were being articulated through someone else’s words.

One of my favourite scenes was her description of a Mother’s Day party.  Being Mother’s Day when I read it made it even more significant.  She describes Mother’s Day as “the worst day of the year”.  At the party she gets all of the dreaded questions including the classic, “When are you due?”  (WHY?? WHY do they ALWAYS ask that???)

Reading this passage, similar to the way I feel when reading other blogs, I no longer felt alone.  Someone out there gets it and is sharing her story very publically.

After years of struggling, the story moves on to Nia’s decision to adopt.  She and her husband (who sounds like an amazing husband by the way) considered and tried different avenues including private adoption and international adoption and finally came to the conclusion that foster adopt was the best route for their family.

The second half of the book, which focuses on the adoption and first few years with their daughter were much harder for me to read.  I feel so far removed from my “happy ending” right now that it’s hard for me to go there.   It comforted me that Nia acknowledged this feeling in the book,

“I could here a hundred fantastic adoption stories in a row and then be stopped in my tracks by a negative one”.

I kept reading and was very glad that I did.  Nia’s story is so honest.  She describes the process from the Home Study to the adoption ceremony.  Her daughter was adopted as a toddler and with that came the struggle to attach and to adapt to a new life (and to sleep).  The way that Nia approaches these challenges is heart warming.   She parents the way I dream of parenting one day.  She reminded me that when I do get my family that my wounds will begin to heal. More laughter, more tears, more hope.

Thank you Nia Vardalos for sharing your story.  Thank you for telling all of our stories.

*Here are the book club questions that we discussed (through sobs and giggles).  If you read the book, feel free to join in the conversation!

  • Which part of the book did you relate to the most?
  • What unique challenges Nia Vardalos face as a celebrity exploring adoption?
  • What were your favourite Canadian moments in the book?
  • What surprised you the most?
  • What made you sob?
  • Favorite quote from book.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is a very difficult time of year. It’s right up there on the long list of holidays that hurt (Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Father’s Day, my birthday).
I feel like a mother who has no children. I received a pamphlet from a pregnancy loss support group once that referred to me (the reader) as a parent. Am I a mom even if I never met my babies?
This is a really hard week to watch tv, listen to the radio, go to the mall or even go on social media. It’s especially hard to be a primary school teacher this week. So much of my energy went into creating the perfect gifts and poems for mom with my little students. I’ve been asked about being a mom (from children and adults) more than usual lately because mom-hood is in the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Yet another year has gone by and it’s still a holiday that doesn’t include me. No card, no gift, no poem.
I bought myself a gift. I bought a book, “Instant Mom” by Nia Vardalos. I’ve been reading it through tears this week and it makes me feel less alone. This book deserves an entry of its own, so I’ll go into more detail in the next one. I just have to get through the next couple days. A couple more days until the Mother’s Day commercials stop airing and another couple of days until my next (monthly) pregnancy test.