Archive | December, 2010

Bye bye, 2010. Hellooooo 2011.

31 Dec

I could write at length about how this was the hardest year of my life so far or how happy I am that it’s almost over.  In fact, if you know me and have been reading this blog throughout this year, you’re probably expecting it.  But instead, I’m going to force myself to take a minute to focus on what I learned from all of this and look at the ways my life is very blessed.  I lose sight of that sometimes, and what better time to remind myself than the hours before a new year begins.   A new year with a new hope to rewrite this journey.  Maybe in 2011, this road won’t be so tumultuous.

So here it goes.  The top 5 things that made 2010 worth sticking around for.

1. I made our house a home.

There were times during the lowest moments of this year that I wanted to run away and the last place I wanted to be was in my house.  It didn’t feel like mine.  The walls were bare and the couch uninviting, the entryway not welcoming and the kitchen not a place to gather like it should be.  The concrete floors left me cold and even my bed betrayed me, leaving me awake and restless night after night.  But after the miscarriage in July, something changed.  Of course, the phobia of social situations and my fear of running into pregnant women have somewhat forced me inside, but it’s not just that.  Sometime in October, I started nesting.  If I couldn’t control what was happening inside me, I could at least make my surroundings more happy.  And now I never want to leave my home.  It’s safe here and warm.  It means family and love — a shelter from the world that is sometimes painful to face.  I made our house a home.

2. I realized true friendship

When you go through a loss like this, you realize the friends you want close.  You find the ones that give you the support that you need, and you’re disappointed by the ones that seem to pull away.  Or maybe you pull away because you just know it’s the not the same.  I’ve made decisions this year regarding my friendships that I’ve never had to make before.  And still, there were women in my life that showed me more love than I possibly could have known, even when it was impossible for me to give them anything in return.  I will never be able to show to them how much they really mean to me, how much I’d give my life for them if they needed it.  I am beyond blessed with my friendships.  And even though I didn’t need any further proof of that, this year gave that to me.  Thank you with a thousand and ten hugs.  You are my life.

3.  I learned about love.

Tim and I have an ongoing joke about how I once said the first year of marriage was the worst.  I did say this (and I still stand by my statement that it was difficult), but now we joke every year that, no, this one, this year is by far the worst.   But in all truth, I refuse to say that this year was the worst.  This year challenged our marriage in ways I never thought it would be challenged….and we survived it.  Not only did we survive it, I love him more now than I did when I married him.  Despite our frustrations during all of this, he still loved me even when it was difficult to do so.  Despite my anger and depression and fear, he still stood by me even when I wasn’t easy to be around.  For years I searched for what I thought was love, but this year I found out what it really is.  It’s something so much better than I ever could have imagined.  I’ve found my other half in this life.  I’ve found the man that will stand by me through thick and thin.  I’ve finally learned about love.

4. I found my family.

For four years I’ve struggled with the role of being a stepmother.  It wasn’t something I had ever imagined for myself, nor did I ever realize just how difficult it would be.  Even when blessed with such a sweet and good little girl as I have been, it is still an incredible challenge.  I haven’t liked who I’ve been around her these past few years.  And then going through what I did this year, it made that challenge of being a stepmother that much harder.  But that girl…she has such a good heart that is filled with so much love.  And even when it was the last thing I deserved, she still showed me how much love she had for me.  And finally these last few months I can honestly say I’ve started to enjoy being her step-mom.  I’ve found peace in our family for what it is now.  I know it’s not complete just yet…but for now, it’s pretty damn wonderful.

5. I discovered my strength.

I’m not talking biceps and free weights.  In fact, I gave up going to the gym all together about half way through the year (oops).  What I am talking about is something even better than physical strength: I found out what I am capable of enduring and I can’t help but be proud of that.  Because of everything I went through this year, I finally know who I am as a woman.  It’s funny, before I turned 30 I was looking forward to this decade because I always figured this was when I would really feel confident in who I was.  I just never thought that this is what it would take.  Maybe I would’ve gotten here without going through all this, who knows.  But if there is one thing that I can take from this year, it’s me. I made it through all of that.  It feels good to look back and feel proud of myself instead of the shame I felt for so long.  I think that’s a much better way of heading into the new year than the alternative, don’t you?

Bring it on, 2011.  I’m ready for you.

All my love,

Courtney


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Sometimes, I wish I were alone in this.

21 Dec

In the administrative backend of WordPress (who hosts the blog), there are sometimes referrer links listed of how readers found your blog.  Say someone searched for “Bodega Bliss”on Google, it would tell me that the referrer was a google search.  On the WordPress main page, you can search by tags to find all the WordPress blogs who write about the one subject you want to look for.  Every time I see that someone searched for the tag miscarriage and found me, my heart sinks.  As much as I don’t want to feel alone in all this, I am crushed when I am reminded that another woman out there is going through this right now and her heart is breaking in a million pieces just like mine was and still is.

If you found this blog because you’re going through a loss, please know you’re not alone.  You may feel like it, but women every where are silently suffering this with you.  (I’m doing my part to make it not so silent, but we still have a long way to go.)  You’ll be sad for a long time, and that’s okay.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you any differently.  Grieve for as long as you need and then grieve even longer.  Cry as much as you need to and cry even more.  If you can’t find a support group where you are, find one online.  There are wonderful women out there willing to share their stories with you.  Read their words and ask them for help.

I’m sorry you’re going through this.

Let me repeat: I am so sorry you’re going through this.

It’s not fair and you have every right to feel exactly how you feel.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  They don’t know what you’re going through.  You will make it through it, though.  It may not be for a while, or it could be next week, but you will.  Somehow.

Why you need to do your research

20 Dec

Besides the brief moment where I broke down in tears at the sound of a newborn crying for milk, my appointment today was really positive.  Not only did she agree to the testing I wanted, she didn’t have to!  It, um, turns out that the list of tests that I planned on requesting, I’ve already had!  (Turns out you don’t always have to see a fertility specialist, and some ob/gyns – mine specifically – will be just as thorough.  Yay me!)  The difference is that this time when she explained all of them, I had done my research and knew what each one was.  Back in August I was completely crippled with grief and fighting back my tears while trying to comprehend what she was saying.  It was all a foreign language to me and I had no idea what any of them meant.  Even when the nurse had called me back a month later with the results, she had failed at her job of explaining anything to me.    I also didn’t know the information to ask the correct questions, and she took advantage of that.  Her cheery, “all the tests came back fine!” did what it was supposed to: throw me off so she could get back to her list of calls she had to make.  This is a huge reason why I had no idea what any of the tests were that had been done.  (I did tell my doctor that I felt this way about her nurse, and she didn’t seem all that surprised and apologized.)  Anyway, all of the tests I have been researching and wanted – antiphospholipid antibody syndrome, RH factor, thyroid, Factor V Leiden – all came back normal.  I can’t tell you what a relief this is.  Before, it wasn’t the relief it should have been because I was clueless.  4 months ago, all the scientific terms went over my head and I was helplessly lost in my sadness; but today I felt armed with the knowledge I need to fight this.  We’re going to test the Factor V Leiden one more time just to be sure and my Beta 2 Glycoprotein I Igm* because it was a little elevated (I still need to read more about this, I’m not sure what it is and she wasn’t certain either).  So please, if you’ve found this site having just gone through a miscarriage (I’m so sorry), do your research before you hear the results of your tests so you can ask the right questions and know if your doctor is being thorough.  Maybe if I had done the research earlier I would have been able to start fighting this fear earlier.  After today, I feel a little bit more confident.  I’m not all the way there yet, and maybe I never will be, but it’s something in the right direction.

Also?  I already liked my doctor, but the fact that she took the time to go over these with me one more time and not act put out, makes me like her even more.

——

* In doing some quick searches, it appears that it’s connected to antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (see the second paragraph) and thrombosis.  And in this abstract that I found, it says that it can be connected to pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) or preeclampsia.  But if a woman tests negative for the lupis anticoagulant (which I did), then it does not increase the risk of PIH or preeclampsia.  Not that I got far enough to experience either of the two, but it’s still something I should take note of.  Wow.  I almost feel like this might be a huge clue into why I miscarry.  I’ll be interested to see the results of the second set of tests are and what my doctor finds out about this.

I’m pretty sure none of the books I’ve read have mentioned beta-2 glycoprotein I.  Have any of you heard of this or have any of your RE’s talked to you about it?

Here’s one more article that refers to it.

More testing (hopefully).

16 Dec

Yesterday I made an appointment with my doctor to talk to her about more testing that I want to have done.  After the miscarriage in July, she ordered the tests most routinely done for pregnancy loss: hysterosalpingogram, chromosomal testing, and other various blood tests (where they discovered the MTHFR gene abnormality).  But it was not complete.  I’ve been researching other tests that might provide further insight into why I can’t carry a baby to term, and I want to look into them, even if I have to beg for it.  I know it might seem strange that I’m going to my doctor to ask about these instead of her recommending them, but those of you outside of the miscarriage world should know that, unfortunately, most ob/gyn’s are not skilled enough in the realm of lost pregnancies to really know what to do when faced with one.  And honestly, most of them don’t want to be skilled in that area.  They’re told they’re common and to just tell the patient to try again as there is very little they can do.  There is barely any research on miscarriages and why they happen (the testing is near impossible to do because of timing and ethics, and, of course, the biggest factor: funding).  Unless doctors have a particular interest in that area and do personal research, they are not taught about pregnancy loss.   For the best chances at having a successful pregnancy after recurrent miscarriages, one needs to see a fertility specialist.  But, as I’m sure you all know, they don’t necessarily take insurance.  And right now we just don’t have the money for expensive office consultations and testing.  That was all a really long way of telling you that I’m going to beg my doctor for more tests next Monday.  I’m hopeful that she’ll listen and even agree.  I just don’t feel like I can face my fear of becoming pregnant again without knowing that I did everything I could to make sure I don’t lose another baby.  And right now, I feel like there’s more that can be done to rule things out even more.

Why I moved 3,091 miles without knowing a soul (part 1)

14 Dec


I get asked why I moved to California from New England what seems like weekly.  I often go into a long spiel about how I traveled across the country 9 years ago with my friend Sara and we were staying where we could for free and we just happened to have a connection to Sebastopol.  I then tell them that I fell in love with it and told myself I’d be back.  And that is pretty much the truth, but there is so much more to it.  I was unhappy in Rhode Island.  My family was there and that part I loved, but every thing else just wasn’t what I wanted it to be.  When I was there I had a hard time placing my finger on it, but I knew something wasn’t right.  I felt out of place when I would go out into the world; I struggled to be myself around others because I wasn’t even sure who that self was.  I tried for 6 years to find a place where I felt I fit in.  And when I say I tried, I TRIED. I joined clubs, met people on Friendster (remember Friendster?  It was so much cooler than Facebook or Myspace),  worked  in  restaurants,  took  classes, went  to  the  gym, volunteered, hung out with coworkers.

Me at 26 working as a hostess/waitress at a club downtown Providence

I did everything I could to find a group of people I clicked with but just continued to fail.  (As I say this, I need to point out that individually, I met some incredible people.  People who changed who I am for the better.  They challenged me and forced me to see the parts of me that needed to grow.  Tab, I’m looking at you.  You too, Justin.  Rob, don’t hide, you too.  I will forever be grateful for your friendships.)  But I also fell in love.  I fell hard for someone that would never be available to me no matter how much he professed his love.  After years of waiting for him to become available, I became miserable.  I knew the only way to find myself was to get out from under that shadow and that life, and start a new one somewhere miles and miles (and miles) away.  For a year I went back and forth between various cities in my mind, when finally I met someone who had just moved back to Rhode Island from San Francisco and the seed was planted.

The view from my bed in the first house I lived in in California

Sonoma County had always lingered in the back of my mind.  Waking up on a vineyard to sun beams filtered through grape leaves was an image I had a hard time shaking.  It was time to make the move.  With horrible timing (my parents had just moved from my childhood home in Maine to a house, ahem….across the street from me), I set my sights to move within a few months.  I was terrified.  What if I was making a mistake?  What if he really will leave her?  What if I don’t like the person I’m trying to uncover?

So I did it anyway.

Somehow, I got here and everything fell into place.  I found a house on a vineyard where just outside the window above my bed I could see nothing but vines and hills.  I went to a party 3 weeks into my move and met Tim, my now husband*.  With Tim came a community I spent 6 years trying to find in Providence.  With Tim also came a future step-daughter, something I had never seen for my future, but through step-parenting has forced me to grow in a way that will only benefit me from here on out.  By living here, parts of me have come out that never would have in Rhode Island.  I’ve discovered a creative side that was squashed by feelings of inadequacy being surrounded daily by RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and it’s students and alumni.  I have a confidence I just couldn’t tap into before, and California and the people I have met here, have given me that space.  Moving here was, for obvious reasons, the best decision I could have made.

So I have ended up somewhere completely different in this post than where I started out going, but that’s okay.  What I had wanted to do was to introduce some of my old writings from the blog I kept while I was living in Rhode Island.  I can’t link to it because there are things in there that I feel I want to keep private from some readers here (mainly because I talk about things like sex and I’m just not quite sure you want to read that, Mom and Dad.  Or rather, I’m not sure I want you to read that!).  But from time to time, I’d like to copy some of my entries onto Bodega Bliss.  I’m proud of my writing over there and it is very much an insight into a 20-something struggling to find who she is.  Also, as I’ve mentioned before, someone who was entirely wrong about what sadness looked like.  Gah, those things I was crying about, they were nothing!  Stop whining already, me!

So I’ll continue this story of who I was and how I got here in future posts.

To be continued.

————

* Um, I was kind-of, sort-of on a date when I went to the party where I met Tim.  Needless to say, that didn’t work out.  It could have something to do with the fact that the second I walked into the door, I saw my future husband in the kitchen and didn’t want him to get away, so I spent the rest of the night making my move.  Best decision of my life.

CFC: Days 5, 6 & 7 (and how I completely and shamelessly jumped off the wagon)

12 Dec

Well, I (almost) made it the full 7 days.  Actually, I’m proud of myself for making it as long as I did.  In my head, I thought for sure I’d only make it to day 6 because K would be here and, well, it was the weekend.  But actually, day 6 and the first half of 7 were the two easiest days of the cleanse.  I think a big reason for that is because I wasn’t sitting at a desk all day thinking about what I wasn’t eating.  Also, I mixed things up a bit.  And for the 2nd half of the 7th day?  Well, you’ll see….

Day 5

Breakfast – same as all week

Lunch – brown rice with green lentils, onion, green curry, coconut milk & kale

Snack – vegan/sugar-free granola

Dinner – Okay,  kind of cheated here.  BUT I managed to go to a Holiday Open House without even touching the sweets or wine.  But then I blew it when I went to get a bite of eat with my friend and ended up eating a handful of fries.  Besides that, I ate a salad with oil and vinegar, and sipped my water while she drank a Zinfandel.  (Wine has never looked so good.)

1 gallon water

Day 6

Breakfast – scrambled eggs with olive oil, s & p; coffee with unsweetened almond milk and maple syrup

Lunch – the last of the lentils/beans/onion/green curry/coconut thing & brown rice

Snack – clementine

Dinner – Wild Alaskan Salmon with olive oil, lemon, and crunchy garlic; sauteed spinach with garlic and olive oil; brown rice

This salmon was the best salmon I have cooked in a long time.  The crunchy garlic was the perfect touch.  All I did was cook it in some olive oil until it browned then I poured the oil and garlic over the salmon (which had been salted & peppered), topped with lemon slices and baked until done.  It was sooooooooo good.  Yum!

Probably 1/2 a gallon of water. Boo.

And now where I hang my head and go down in flames….

But seriously, just look at what I made:

Truffles

Salted Creme Fraiche Caramels

Almond Chocolate Bark

and Spicy Caramel Popcorn

Would you be able to resist?  I think not.  I knew this would be my fate when I planned on doing this this afternoon.  And guys?  I don’t feel badly at all for bailing early for this.  The last few days I really started to feel pretty good about my body.  I have certainly felt more positive in my thinking when it comes to the miscarriage, and I can’t help but think it’s directly related.  It felt good to take care of my body, to not be angry at it and inwardly blame it.  I’m not sure if it will last, but right now, I am in a good place mentally.  And that right there makes every day of this worth it.  Here’s what else I ate today (I stayed strong until the end):

Day 7

Breakfast – scrambled eggs with olive oil; coffee with unsweetened almond milk and maple syrup

Lunch – vegan/sugar-free granola with unsweetened almond milk (a week lunch, yes)

Dinner – organic chicken with olive oil, vegan butter, fresh thyme, garlic and lemon with brown rice

Even less water than yesterday. Double boo.

And then, well, you know the rest.

If you can do it for a week, I highly suggest it.  It will make you conscious of what you put in your body and force you to rediscover the relationship you’re supposed to have with yourself and food, instead of mindlessly grabbing whatever you can find to eat around the house just to survive.

And when you’re done, I also highly recommend the treats above.  Although not so great for your body, but very enjoyable nonetheless.  Especially the Salted Creme Fraiche Caramels.  BEST. CARAMEL. EVER.

Recipes here (minus the bark because it’s a family secret and you’ll have to force it out of me with lots and lots of money and/or babies):

Truffles on Smitten Kitchen
Spicy Caramel Popcorn on Smitten Kitchen
Salted Creme Fraiche Caramels on I made that!

Oh, also, Tim has been graciously doing the no alcohol part of this with me this week.  He did, however, fall even worse off the wagon than I did  by completely even forgetting he was even on the wagon.  Two beers in when he was offered another, he finally realized, “Oh shit!”  But today he’s back on (for the day anyway).  Thanks for the (semi) support, babe.  You’re the best.

A book on pregnancy loss

10 Dec

For those of you out there that have been through multiple miscarriages (or even just one), I wanted to recommend After Miscarriage by Krissi Danielsson.  It is by far the best book on miscarriages that I have found yet.  Even the title is approachable and to the point.  I really like that it’s written by someone who has had recurrent pregnancy loss, not just one miscarriage and then a healthy pregnancy the very next time.  After experiencing three losses, I’ve been searching for a book that speaks specifically to that.  The other books that I’ve read have been written mostly by doctors who only know it from the medical point of view, not the personal experience.  Danielsson has a voice I can relate to and she doesn’t sugar coat her words with hope, but still manages to inspire that in you regardless.  Her chapter on how to cope with the grief and fear was exactly what I have needed.  I highly recommend this book if you’re struggling after losing a baby (or even if you’re not struggling) or even you know someone who is and need to know more about what to say to her or what she is going through.  If you do read it, let me know what you think.

(The cover kind of bothers me, though.  Is that person in a robe behind her?  Or maybe rocking a suit jacket with a t-shirt underneath, Miami Vice style?  She looks really annoyed that his hand is on her shoulder.)