She’s here.

5 Nov

Last Friday, October 26th, at 10:25 pm, we welcomed our little Elsie into the world. It was a long labor, stretching to 24 hours with just over 4 hours of pushing. The birth was incredible, amazing, trying and life-changing….but I made it a point not to expect it to go any particular way, and although decisions had to be made that I was hoping not to have to make, it was still perfect in every way.  My doctor was incredible and the nurses even more so.  Tim was by my side the entire time and was more amazing than I ever could have imagined.  I feel so lucky to have had the birth that I had…and more importantly, to have a healthy baby in my arms.

She’s here. I can’t believe it, but she is. I look at her face and it’s as if I’ve known it my whole life. There were so many times where I never thought this moment would come true. A year ago almost to the day (in fact, on her due date) I had given up ever believing I’d become a mother.  I was ready to give it one more try then move on knowing 5 losses would be my limit in heart break. But that one more try gave me her.  She’s my one more try.

She’s amazing.  She looks so much like Tim…she even has Chinese features and dark hair (for now).  I’ve never been so in love.  She was worth all the tears and pain because all of that brought me to her.

I apologize for taking so long to give you all the news of her birth, but man, I don’t know how you moms who post right away do it!  I’m super impressed.  Do you want to hear the birth story, or is that too much?  I want to respect those that are still in the middle of it, but I’m proud of my birth and would love to share it.  After that, I’m not sure if I will continue to use this space.  I know this is a common struggle for everyone in the ALI community once they have their babies….but since I’ve been feeling unsure of this space since becoming pregnant, it just seems more and more  like it’s the right choice not to continue here.  I would like this to remain a space of comfort for those going through loss and infertility, a space where they can feel like someone else knows exactly how they feel…not one where they have to dodge tales of baby-raising to get to the support they were seeking.

Thank you to everyone for checking in.  I still can’t believe this is real.  I can’t believe she’s finally here.  What a journey this has been…

Thinking of you

15 Oct

Today I’m thinking of all of you who lost your little ones too soon.  Even as I’m approaching my daughter’s birth, not a day goes by that I don’t think of the 4 that came before her. I feel so fortunate to be in this position after so much heartache and tears…I hope each and every one of you out there still trying for your own miracle has a chance to feel what I am right now, and that somehow, my story can give you hope to keep going.

Sending all of you and your little ones love.

Courtney

Transitioning to positive

27 Aug

Tonight Tim and I are going to visit the hospital where we plan to give birth.  I’ve been really excited for this because I’m a planner and I need to be able to visualize things in order to better plan.  There are supposedly new birthing suites that are really nice, with your own room and shower.  I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now, and I’m really excited to see where we’ll be welcoming this little girl into our lives.

Except, I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of this before now, but it’s the same hospital where I’ve had to leave 2 of my babies behind and there may be some difficulty walking into those doors tonight.  I mean, the thought had crossed my mind that I’d be giving birth in the same place I had my D&Cs, but I guess I was choosing to ignore it.  But now that I’m facing it, I’m nervous.  Walking through those doors where all I’ve ever felt is sadness, fear, and grief, may not be easy for me.

I remember after both surgeries having a hard time leaving the hospital.  What remained of our babies were no longer in me, I was empty and I was leaving them behind in the fluorescent lights and medical waste receptacles, not in my arms.  Those moments still stand out to me.  I left my hopes and dreams behind in those sterile and cold walls; going home was the last thing I wanted to do, where only tears and devastation were waiting for me.

I know I have been given a gift to turn these experiences into something positive.  To make that hospital into one that will give us life, instead of one that takes it away – a gift that so many have unfairly not been given, and I do not take that lightly.  I know that if I can get past the initial sadness it may give to me, it will be followed with so much joy and love.  And for that, I am deeply blessed.

Nothing will take away from what I’ve gone through.  Nothing will erase the pain of those losses, of having my babies so unfairly taken from me.  But tonight I will walk in focusing on the little being inside of me, the one that is still thriving and growing – the one that fought so hard to be here – while remembering the ones that came before her.  It’s time for me to reclaim my hopes and dreams, and finally take them home with me.

28 weeks and blessed

6 Aug

I never thought I would be here, greeting the third trimester of a pregnancy.  In a few short weeks, I will get to meet the baby I have worked so hard for for years.  I still can’t believe it’s happening.  There are times even now that I look down at my belly and think for sure it’s someone else’s body I’m looking at.  But I’m reminded quickly with a jab from a little girl inside that it is indeed mine. This baby who creates the ripples in my stomach and keeps me up at night already…she’s mine.  After the depths of a grief I didn’t know existed, I’m here.  I have no idea how I got here, but I did.  We’re going to have a baby.

Thank you so much to those of you that have checked in on me…I’m forever grateful to you, and feel honored that you even still think about me.  I had been wanting to write an update and your inquiries was just the nudge I needed.  So here I am, 28 weeks.  Insane.

I’m afraid my past few posts may have led you to believe that this has all been so easy for me.  I meant every word that I said, but you should know that that certainly hasn’t been the case the entire time.  Around week 21 the fear that I had kept at bay for most of my pregnancy, kept stealthily creeping in and I found it more and more difficult to push it away.  I think being so close to vitality and with my track record from the previous 4 pregnancies, I thought for sure it would end before I made it there.  I couldn’t get it in my head that this pregnancy was different — that from the moment I hit 11 weeks, this was a whole new ball game for me.  Tim was understandably frustrated with me during this time because I had made so much progress, and all of a sudden it seemed like I was reverting back to my fears of the past two years, torturing myself all over again.  But that feeling of doom is a hard thing to shake after years of it being my reality.  I knew what really happened to people in this world, I knew not to believe a happy ending was a given.  But after a few weeks of that ever-familiar fear, then finally hitting that 24-week milestone, I made a choice to believe that this was going to happen.  I didn’t want to feel that way any longer, 3 years of it had been enough and I was tired.   This little being inside deserved for me to believe she’d be coming to me in a few months.  After all, she had fought to be here too, and I needed to start acknowledging that.

There are some mornings I wake up thinking it must have all been a dream.  Not in a woe-is-me way, just a moment of in-between consciousness where I’m not sure of reality just yet.  I figure when I look in the mirror, I’ll for sure be empty once again.  Then I feel her kick (and kick and kick and kick), and I am overcome with gratitude.  The body that I felt had betrayed me for years, is continuing to prove to me that all along, I just needed to believe that it would happen.*  Every single day I feel blessed that I have been given another day of this pregnancy and refuse to take it for granted.  Even when I tore my abdomen muscle a few weeks ago (ouch) and was frustrated in my body, I still felt blessed.  My muscles were weak because of my growing belly, and as much as it pissed me off that I was in pain (a lot of freaking pain), I was in pain because of my baby…the baby I had fought for for so long.  I could take a little more pain.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve looked back through my archives here and have been awestruck by what I went through.  I honestly don’t know how I made it through all that fear and gut-wrenching sadness.  Then I think of all the women still in the midst of that hell, and my heart stops.  I don’t know why it is I was chosen to be here, I constantly blown away by that blessing.  And after years of time moving in slow-motion, these months are flying by at a speed I’m not accustomed to.  Before I know it, I’ll be holding this baby in my arms and a whole new adventure will have begun.  And I can hardly wait.

I have a feeling I’ll be back here a few more times before the end of October.  I’d especially like to write out how I’m feeling about the coming birth, and this space has always been the best outlet for that.  But right now I need to try and get some sleep, as it’s been hard to come by these past few weeks.  Thanks again for checking in on me, you are all amazing and I’m constantly praying each and every one of you get to know this feeling.  You all deserve it so much.

* As if it were that easy!  Ha!

 

18 weeks 4 days

30 May

I just wanted to pop in to let anyone who is still out there know that the baby and I are doing really well.  We just had our anatomy scan and everything looks just as it should be.   AND……IT’S A GIRL!!!

I just feel so relieved.  After the appointment Tim held me and I just couldn’t stop crying.  It’s finally happening.  All that heartache and grief…all those years of loss and thinking this will never happen….and we’re finally here.  I know there’s still 20+ more weeks to go, but I’ve made it this far.    We’ve made it this far.

Maybe now this will start to feel real.  For the past few months it has felt like it was happening to someone else, even though it’s my belly that’s growing.  I’ve been in it mentally from the very beginning, I’ve been present and happy…but it still felt (feels?) surreal…like after years of loss, how can this finally be happening?

But it is.  That’s our little girl inside who flutters around at night and gets stronger every day.  She’ll never erase the past two years, but I know she’ll make them worth it.  She already has.  It’s still hard to imagine we’ll be bringing a baby home in October, but I feel like that’s okay.  One day at a time.  And today?  There’s joy.

Sending all of you love and strength…I hope each and everyone of you gets to feel this happiness in one way or another.  I believe you will.

Love,
Courtney

Five pregnancies, two and half years, & two hundred posts.

27 Apr

flowers and shadows

Tomorrow I’ll be 14 weeks.  14 weeks.  It seems surreal.  It’s hard for me to believe that I’m not still stuck in the first trimester, as I was for two and a half years.  Last week I entered my very first second trimester in five pregnancies.

I’ve had my genetic pre-screening done and everything looked fantastic…the baby is even measuring a few days ahead (which is definitely a first for me).  The tests all came back negative, with the downs chance basically non-existant.  Who would’ve thought we could make a genetic superstar?  I’ve had many chances to take a peak at the little one waving and kicking up a storm – my last one just yesterday – and it never gets old.  I thank this little baby every single night for growing stronger every day, for beating the odds to still be here today.  I put my hand on my belly and even though I can’t feel him or her just yet, I feel life.  I realize that makes me sound crazy, but every time I start to worry, I press my fingers to where he or she is and I feel butterflies.  After all my heartache, it’s the best thing in the world.  Forget genetic superstar…this baby is a superstar plain and simple.

I feel like I’ve let many of you down by not being able to come to this space.  Something happened before this pregnancy – a shift in my thoughts that revealed I was ready to step away from the everyday interactions in this world.  My sanity needed me to step away.  I honestly believe it has helped me navigate this pregnancy as well as I have.

This world has been my safe-haven, my strength, my release, my support….I can never forget that.  For four devastating pregnancies, all of you have been there for me.  Some of you strangers, some of you now friends for life, others family and friends in this with me in the real world as well.  I will never be able to thank you enough.  This space has given me so much over the years and I’m proud of the woman this world has helped me become.  She’s a badass in my eyes — in fact, you’re all badasses to me.  We navigate these murky waters with nothing but fractions of hope and the unwavering support of others in the trenches…with our hearts pulling on us and the rest of the world telling us we’re crazy.  But we come here and we’re not crazy.  We pee on a thousand and one sticks and end up finding someone else who peed on a thousand and two.  Because of this world I found inside this little screen, I dove into a fifth pregnancy with no proof it would be any different than the other four.  I gave myself one more chance at this, and knew that if it didn’t work out, I’d be okay.

I’ve learned that here: I’ll be okay.

I will never turn my back on this world.  It’s who I have become and who I will always be.  But because of  how much I care for the other women here and how much I can feel myself in their shoes, this space and this world is different for me right now.  If I find myself visiting the stories so similar to mine, with pain so incredibly raw and familiar, I can no longer separate this pregnancy from the others.  And it needs to remain different for me in order to make it to the other side. For two and half years, I was not myself.  I was pulled under by grief and anxiety and I’m ready to be lighter and present.  I experienced a hell I never thought I would have to live through…and for now and hopefully forever, I feel like I’m coming out of the cloud.

But my thoughts are still with all of you, rooting for you from the sidelines.  I’ll always be there, even if you can’t see me.  I’m the one screaming the loudest, telling you you can do it even when you think you can’t.  Telling you how I understand how painful it is, but you’ll be able to make it through.  I can promise you that.

There’s still not proof this pregnancy will be different, but in my gut, it feels like it is.  If I look past the fear that creeps in here and there, my heart tells me this one is different.  Even if the worst happens, I have a confidence I never had the previous four times: that I will make it through to the other side somehow.  Because of what you all have given me.

Four losses, one currently thriving pregnancy, two and a half years, & 200 posts.

Insane.

flowers and shadows

Love,
Courtney

P.S.  Even though I may not come to this space very often, or sadly visit yours even less…please email me at any time, I’m still here.  bodegablissblog {at} gmail {dot} com

Where I’ve been.

20 Mar

Alright everyone, this is going to be a long one so you might want to get comfortable.  Maybe even grab yourself some water.  I’ll wait.

Are you back?

Okay, let’s get on with it, shall we?  It may not be my best piece of writing, but there’s a lot to cover, so here we go…

A little over two months ago, my boss handed me some sample job descriptions for a position he wanted to hire for and asked that I put one together to post.  As I’m reading over the samples, I quickly realize all of the parts of my job that I love, will soon be taken from me and given to a new person.  I went home pissed and hurt.  How did he not think of me first?  Had I not succeeded at the majority of these responsibilities, and more?  Tim thankfully took me out for a drink to help me get some perspective.  Yes, I had a right to be mad.  But at the same time, I needed to fight for it.  I went home and wrote out all the reasons why I felt like I should have the position, listing all of the accomplishments I’ve had over the last three years to further my point.  I was determined to make my case for the new position.

The next day my boss asked me if I had had the chance to look over the samples and I said that yes, I had looked over them and that I wanted the job.  He was taken aback – that possibility hadn’t even occurred to him.  I outlined my points and he said he would think about it.  A week or so later, he told me to put together the job description…for me to fill it.  I was excited and scared and proud of myself for fighting for the position.  Unfortunately, what quickly came with the promotion was the fact that I would be doing two jobs for over a month before we could hire someone to take over the duties I would no longer be doing.    What followed were weeks of late nights and days filled with not even a minute to breathe, and all of a sudden, I found myself with a job that kept me up at night worrying about the things I had to do.  I was afraid I would fail and be out of a job as a result.

In the middle of all of this, Tim and I attended an information session on California’s foster care program.  An hour or so into the meeting, we knew it wasn’t for us.  For reasons I don’t feel like getting into right now because this post will be long enough, it just didn’t sound like something we would have the energy to do.  Nor did we think it would be fair to his daughter/my step-daughter.  At the end of the session, we met with a social worker who ran the Foster-to-Adopt program for the county.  She explained the process and as she was speaking, it was as if a light turned on…it sounded like something that could really work for us.  I knew it was on the table as an option when Tim started asking questions.  And just like that, our world opened up and there was a back-up plan.

I felt like that piece of the puzzle – the lack of a back-up plan – was the final weight pressing down on my heavy shoulders.  I walked out that door and the weight was gone.  Finally.  For years now I was burdened with the very real reality that I may never be a mother.  In the past, adoption had never been on the table for us (due to the cost), so in my mind, my only option was to succeed at a pregnancy.  With my history, that felt like a longshot.  If I couldn’t make the next one work, I’d be facing a future without a child ever calling me “Mom.”  It was a future I was scared to death of facing.  And all of a sudden, that future changed.

But back to work….As I became more and more busy at work, I found I had no time to read blogs or write on my own.  Additionally, when I would get home from work, I had no desire to turn on the computer after staring at one all day.  As a result, radio silence quickly occurred on this here blog.  But what I didn’t expect was how free I felt.  I, of course, missed those that I had followed for years/months, wondering what was going on in their worlds.  Except as my positivity in this whole loss mess continued to climb, I began to think that maybe it was good for me to step back from this world.  When I’m in it, I’m in it.  I read the words of those struggling to get pregnant, those losing another chance, even those fighting against their fears while being pregnant, and I feel all of them as if they’re mine.  I’m inside their (your!) head and I can’t get out.  After being forced to step out of the world for a month, I felt alive again.  I felt like maybe, just maybe, I can do this.  And if I can’t?  I’ll be okay.  After this realization, I found myself fearful of stepping back in.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, I was ovulating.  So in addition to being insanely busy at work, we were getting busy at home.  (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)  I was temping and doing all the things I needed to do, including taking progesterone on the chance I did get pregnant.  Tim and I had one really amazing weekend alone (we usually have my step-daughter on the weekends), and I was feeling so good.  Confident in not just our future, but in myself and my ability to fight for what I want at work, something I had never done before.  We celebrated my promotion, the day that we met and the anniversary of our first date.  February has always been a heavy month for us, and this fortunately was proving to be one of the happier (albeit stressful) ones.

You still there?  Because it’s about to get good.  So wake up!

The week of February 13th was insane.  We had a huge announcement as an organization coming up on the 16th, and I was spearheading it in my new position. To say I was stressed would be a bit of an understatement.  I felt like my ability to prove myself in this position was about to be tested and I couldn’t fail.  The day of the 15th, I arrived to work at 8 a.m. and stayed until 11:30 p.m.  When I got home, I continued to make a few minor tweaks to the website from bed.  I was exhausted.  And at this point, I knew I was 11 dpo and that the next morning (the 16th) I’d be 12 dpo.  I had decided I wouldn’t test until all of this was over, I knew that whatever the result was, it would distract me from the work I had to get done.  I had planned on waiting until Friday to test when I was 13 dpo, but when I woke up on Thursday, I had to know.

It was positive.

Instead of the normal waves of fear that come rushing with those two lines, I felt nothing but joy.  I didn’t feel like this time would be it, I had no instincts what so ever, but what I did know was I wanted to feel joy.  So I did.  For the fifth time in two and a half years, I was pregnant.  But this time I was happy.

I get to my office and find out that all of my hard work paid off, we had made it onto the cover of our local city’s newspaper (above the fold even!).  I couldn’t stop shaking.  That was certainly too much excitement for one hour.  The day flew by and I couldn’t believe how insane it all was.  The next few weeks were filled with telling my closest friends and family that are in the loop with my history, that we’re going to do this again.  Asking them to please send us all their good thoughts and prayers.

Shortly after I got the positive, Mo found out she was going to lose her sweet Nadav.  I was beyond devastated and knew that that was not the time to announce my pregnancy in the blogosphere. I felt so helpless and have so much love for this woman, I couldn’t believe it was happening.  In fact, I think I was in a bit of denial for quite some time.  As a testament to what an incredible and caring person she is, since she knew about the pregnancy she told me I needed to take care of myself, that the last thing I needed to do was take her pain on.  I promised her I would try my hardest.  And despite an extreme sadness that up until that point I had never felt for another human being, I didn’t take it on.  For the first time ever, I was able to separate her pain from my situation.  I strongly believe that it was because I had been out of the blog world for over a month that I had the ability to separate myself.  As much as I love this community and have grown from being here, this is the part that I have always struggled with.  This is the part that is unhealthy, but unavoidable.

Then of course a few weeks later there was that whole debacle (you know the one I’m taking about).  I did briefly come back to read about it…but instead of inspiring me to write, it sort of confirmed my reasoning for taking a step back.  This is an incredible community.  I can’t stress that enough.  The combined strength of the women here could move mountains.  I’m proud of being a part of this, and know that I have gained so much as a result…but as I’ve found myself headed out of it for quite some time (as a result of knowing my journey’s end is near, in whatever form it comes in), I have questioned whether the benefits outweigh the negatives.  And witnessing the battle between the infertiles as a silent witness, I had an even harder time wanting to come back.  I’m still on the fence about what my participation will be here on out.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what feels right.

(And now you’re probably wishing I had just stayed away if I was going to write a novel like this…but bear with me, I’m almost done.  Aren’t you glad you got that water now?)

Before I got pregnant, I told myself that the next time I was going to take it day-by-day.  Since this is the last time I’m going to do this, I wanted to make sure that I enjoyed it.  The baby deserved that at the very least.  Due to the control I tried to have over my last one that still failed, I finally knew that no matter what the fate of the pregnancy would be, that I had no place in that outcome.  Letting go of that control is exhilarating.  In addition to this, because of the amazing piece that Jjiraffe wrote about me in her Faces of ALI series, I had a newfound compassion for myself and for what I have gone through, so I knew that all that was left for me and the baby was to be in the moment.  I am so proud to say, that for the most part, I have succeeded at this.  I have faced this pregnancy as a new pregnancy, one with it’s own chances of making it, with it’s own particular fate.  Every night when I go to bed, I tell my baby that I’m thankful he or she is here, that no matter what happens, I love him and want him so badly.  I thank it for growing and for trying.  And the next morning, I do it all over again: I face the day.

I told myself I’d wait until after I reached the fateful 7 weeks 5 days that the past ones have gone downhill or ended to get an ultrasound.  There was no point in me seeing the heartbeat when it hasn’t meant anything in the past.  Plus it felt good to not be filled with the anxiety of my doctor’s office on a weekly basis.

Yesterday I finally went.  At 8 weeks 2 days, it was measuring right on target and with a heartbeat.  It’s already further than any of it’s siblings.  And I can’t stop smiling.

Except, I can’t look beyond today…and today I’m 8 weeks, 3 days pregnant.

Today, I am pregnant.

(You may go now.  For those of you left, thanks for sticking it out.  Hope your legs haven’t fallen asleep…or your eyelids for that matter.  Thanks so much for reading!  And for those of you that said you missed me, you still miss me now?)

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