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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!

 

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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

2 years.

11 Feb

ginko leaves

Two years ago today, on February 11th, 2010, my life dramatically changed.  In the matter of an hour, the innocence I had once held, was stolen from me in a rush of blood.  I went on to experience an all-encompassing grief that I had yet to know.  It’s taken me two years and two additional losses to even come close to recovering from that night.  And in many ways, I know I never fully will, nor do I want to.  It’s too much a part of who I am now.  Of who I’ve become.

I had lost a pregnancy prior to then, but I lost it before I even knew there was something to lose.  And for me, that made all the difference in the world.  I was sad, but was able to move on quickly because I figured it was just a fluke.  As soon as I got that positive pregnancy test that next January, the hope of what was to come, took me over.  We were going to have a baby.  Everything else that had once mattered, no longer did.  That was it.  And now as I look to becoming pregnant for the fifth time in the next coming months, that hope that was once there has been been squashed, trampled, twisted and abused.  Left out in the cold and unloved.  I fear hope possibly more than I fear another loss.

Because with hope, the fall is so much further.

But it creeps in, no matter how hard I push it away.  That’s what happens when you want a family with every ounce of your soul.  Hope is a resilient little thing, constantly finding the cracks in your hand-built cement wall.

Except I’m onto you, hope.  I know you change forms and wear masks.  I know that if hope of a baby of our own doesn’t happen, that the hope will change paths.  I will create an entirely new hope for an entirely different road, one that might bring happiness in a different form.  That’s the difference between now and then, that’s what 2 years and 4 losses has given me.  And if the hope of a baby from Tim and I is taken away for a fifth time, I’ll be ready to follow it in a new direction.  I’ll succumb to the loss of this dream for the chance of a new one.  I wasn’t ready two years ago today.  I wasn’t ready to face a plan that was bigger than my plan.  I wasn’t ready to let go.

I’m proud of the woman this experience has forced me to become.  I’m stronger and more compassionate – not just of others, but finally, of myself.  I’ve learned to let go of the control in this space, I finally know it’s out of my hands.  And if that took two years and four losses to get to, I’m thankful for it finally arriving.

Because there is a plan bigger than my plan.  And I’m ready to believe in it.

An unintentional gift.

4 Jan

If you haven’t already, please head over to Jjiraffe’s post to read “The Devastation of Pregnancy: A Profile of Courtney…,” where she describes my history with pregnancy loss in order to profile what it really means to live with infertility.  If you’re not familiar with Jjiraffe and her fantastic and inspirational blog, for months she has been tackling the New York Times’ inaccurate coverage of what it means to be infertile.  She is a brilliant writer.  I’ve been trying to figure out why they’re not busting down her virtual door and begging her to write these profiles for them.  Oh wait…that’s because she’s not interested in highlighting the 1% of infertiles who can afford unlimited IVF treatments just because they thought it would be cute to have another baby well into their forties.  Right.  So please, if you haven’t yet read her piece, please do so now.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to read this before she posted it, and as I read each beautifully crafted word, tears fell in a steady stream down my cheeks.  For the first time in two years, I was getting to view my story from the outside looking in. As I read about this woman and her devastating pain from each of her four losses, I was profoundly sad for her.  I cried for her and what she had gone through.  I was awed by her resilience.   I wanted to reach out to her and wrap my arms around her, to tell her how very sorry I am for her losses.   Not once did I get angry at her for “allowing” those babies to die.

Ever since that fateful day in February of 2010 when I lost my second pregnancy, I have blamed my body for being inadequate, for not doing what it’s supposed to do.  That blame, of course, was heightened when I went on to lose a third and a fourth.  I refused to be kind to the body that stopped my babies’ hearts.  Through what feels like hundreds of sessions, my therapist has been urging me to be kind to myself, to nurture my body and support it like I do for so many other women going through this.  But despite our work, I’ve been unable to find the compassion for myself and for what I’ve experienced. I can’t get past the fact I feel like I’m to blame, that my body failed me.

When I read Jjiraffe’s post, the compassion I’ve been seeking for myself and my unimaginable loss, came flooding in.  Although the post was meant to highlight the inadequacies in the NYTimes’ coverage, it did so much more for me.  It was a gift.  After reading her words, I want to take care of that woman and her grief.  I want to nurture her and love her, not berate her and blame her.  The woman in her story doesn’t deserve that.

Jjiraffe, I will never be able to properly thank you for the gift you gave to me with this post.  The woman inside of me that has had to deal with my lack of compassion for two years straight, thanks you.  I’m wrapping my arms around you, too.

Now, if you still haven’t read it, what are you waiting for?  Go now.

On “giving up.”

27 Oct

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed a dramatic change in my spirit.  I’ve begun to feel lighter, even starting to believe that maybe this road moving forward doesn’t have to be so bad.  Maybe I can still find joy along this path my life has taken.  I’ve even felt it in my entire body, this joy starting to creep in.

Until yesterday, that is.

Yesterday, when I started my day with a negative pregnancy test.  It’s safe to say that put a little bit of a temporary damper on my spirit.

The tears I fought back during the day came to the surface with the bitter reminder of just how tired I am of all of this.  I know I’ve said that a thousand times before, but it’s times like this where my exhaustion with this comes rushing back and I just want it be over.  After the fourth loss, the last little bit of fight I had in me dissipated; and for my own sanity, I knew I needed to start becoming more comfortable with accepting I may not have a child of my own.  Yet in order for me to fully accept that that may be my fate, I know I have to give it one more try.

So that’s where I am now….trying to give it one more try.  Except I’m anxious for that try to hurry up and get here, because I can’t keep living in this world of not knowing.  Two years with 4 devastating losses has made that world hell.

I know what you are thinking, especially those of you still in the thick of it, still with some fight left in you:  Don’t give up!  You can’t give up!  That’s what I would have said a loss or two ago, back when I still felt in my heart I couldn’t give up until I had that child in my arms.  I couldn’t even fathom how women could even get to the point where they would stop fighting for that.  I couldn’t understand how they could just give up.

That was all before I knew what devastation four losses would bring to me and my life.  After each of their little hearts stopped beating, a part of mine stopped with it.  The part that would do anything to have a baby.  The part that will be forever left with the four I was forced to leave behind.  I am all of a sudden looking into the face of the women I feared so much of becoming.  The part of my heart that wants to keep fighting for this until I have that baby in my arm…has started to slow to a stop.

I know to a lot of you, this probably sounds incredibly sad.  And to the part of me that mourns for the life I thought I was going to have…is incredibly sad by this.  I also know some of you may be frightened you may have to get to this point yourself.  I know what that feels like, I know how scary that is.  But that’s part of why I’m writing this.  It turns out I was wrong all along.  This isn’t giving up.  This is knowing when you’ve done all that your heart can bear.

It’s me trying to stop the pain I keep experiencing from being inside all of this.  It’s me questioning if the pain still feels worth it, and all of a sudden feeling the desire to fight my way out of it all, instead of fighting for what I have desired all along.

If my last try doesn’t work out, I know the road still won’t be easy, at least not until all of my friends and family get out of the “child-bearing” years.  Even then the pain will still be present at every birth I hear about that isn’t my own; but at least now I have faith it will lesson as time passes.  That’s what this has brought me.  I now believe life can still be wonderful and happy, even if the part of me having my own child doesn’t come true.  The part of me that’s lighter is the part of me that is ready to begin new dreams that can take the place of my old dreams.  I need to move on from this chapter in my life so I can start living it again, because while living in this hell, I’ve lost who I was.  And yet at the same time, I know I’ve uncovered a new me that I’m ready to discover.

Please know I’m not saying this to try and convince those of you out there in the midst of this battle to stop fighting.  The chances you’ll have a baby are very much on your side, especially if you still have the fight.  Don’t give that up until you’ve done absolutely all that your heart can bear.  This is simply my story and what my experience has led me to, not your story or where you’ll end up.  I hope you continue to fight and get what you so badly want.  Even if this chapter of my life closes without a baby in my arms, I’ll still fight for you to get yours.  That fight hasn’t ended.  I’m here until the end for all of you.  And maybe in the meantime, you’ll get to see me fight for something new.

Or maybe you will get to see me with one in mine.  I do still have one more try, after all.  And you never know…maybe if we just relax…

* Enter Journey Song Title Here *

22 Jul

believe

The genetic counseling appointment turned out nothing like I expected it would.  Actually, that’s a lie…the part where I had a feeling they’ve already done all the genetic testing they can do, was completely right on.  But the part that I didn’t expect was when towards the end of the conversation, I mentioned that I had been looking on the practice’s website and saw a doctor who specialized in pregnancy loss and asked if I would be able to meet with her eventually.  She stepped out for a moment and stuck her head in the doctor’s office and asked if she could meet me real quick.  The sweetest woman then stepped into the office and immediately took me back to hers to talk.  When I told her I had just had my fourth miscarriage, she looked me in the eyes and said how sorry she was.  A doctor!  Here’s where it gets crazy – she’s had four miscarriages and is now pregnant and in her 2nd trimester (the genetic counselor had given me a heads up about the pregnancy before she went to get her, but none of that mattered after Dr. W told me her history).  I may have recently stopped believing in signs, but this right here might have me questioning that choice (or maybe it’s a sign I should keep believing in signs?).

We talked for almost half an hour, free of charge.  She went over my history and discussed what my next steps most likely should be.  She gave me three names for Reproductive Endocrinologists that she recommended and thinks my insurance will even cover them.  She called my doctor that afternoon to tell her what she thought the course of action should be (Heparin, progesterone) and wants to see me as soon as I’m pregnant until the 2nd trimester when she’ll hand me back over to my OB.

I wanted to take her and her pregnant belly home with me I loved her so much.

What I thought was only going to be a step in the right direction, turned out to be just what I needed.  I can’t tell you how good it felt to be in an office of a doctor who knew everything I should do and what will most likely work*.  By the end of the appointment, I knew she was already rooting for me.  I even felt like the counselor was in my corner.

And see that necklace above?  Maybe I need to start believing again.

courtney

(Necklace is from Kyri at littlejarofhearts.  I bought the last one of it’s kind, but please do go and check out her stuff because she’s a real sweetheart.  I bought an exact version of this necklace for a friend of mine that said “Hope” and then decided I needed one as well, but all she had available was “Believe” — apropos, no?  The Hope necklace went to one of my best friends, S, who just experienced her first – and hopefully last – miscarriage a few weeks ago.  I was devastated when I found out because I honestly thought I had taken all of the miscarriages away from our group of friends (shouldn’t four have that benefit?).  Apparently it doesn’t work that way.  I just didn’t want any one else I love to experience this pain.  It’s just not fair.  If you can, send her some love and strength.   I love her dearly and remember all too well how it feels after that first one, and you need hope any where you can get it.   I love you, S.  I’m here for you. )

* I love my doctor, but even she’ll admit someone else might be able to help me more at this point.

Hello there!

29 Mar

I’ve apparently been taking weekends off from the keyboard…and yesterday, well, um, I stayed home from work because, I, um…*cough cough*…didn’t feel well.  As for the weekends, I think I have a fairly good reason for stepping away — all week long I sit in front of the computer from 8:30 to 4:30, without even taking a lunch (I eat a my desk – bad Courtney!).  Then, when I get home, I turn on my computer and either write a post or keep reading what I couldn’t read while at work.  It can’t be healthy.  The last two weekends I’ve barely turned on my computer.  I briefly read a few key blogs, then walk away.  And it’s been really nice.  I think it helps not only my mind, but it gives my wrists a break.  After 15 years of waitressing and 10 of typing on the computer non-stop, my wrists are a wreck.  It’s nice to give them a break, too.

This past Sunday I met up with another fellow blogger from this world of ours, and I can’t tell you how good it was to be able to talk to someone who understands.  Yes, she has gone on to have a baby, but because she’s had a loss, she acts as hope for me rather than fear.  And it was the first time throughout this entire experience I’ve talked face-to-face with someone who knows exactly what it’s like to have experienced this kind of loss.  Do you know how wonderful that is?  We also have some common ground with the friend issues, and it was nice to compare stories and get validated that we’re not crazy for feeling like we do.  I also loved that we were opening talking about our womanly organs and fluids with an old man not even a foot away from us.  Now that’s my kind of girl.

And this is the part of the post where I talk about my period and bodily fluids.  (Dad, feel free to step away at this point if you’re reading.)  Guys, I’m on day 35 of my cycle.  THIRTY-FIVE.  That’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5! days past when my period was supposed show, and I’m not pregnant (there are 4 BFNs to back me up).  For the past 6 or so years I have had consistent 30 day cycles.  I have never been this late without being pregnant.  Unfortunately, I didn’t temp this month, either, so I have no idea if I even ovulated.  There was an absence of CM for the second month in a row, so there’s a good chance I didn’t.  Last month I’m pretty certain I had a large cyst on my stinking left ovary (they’re almost always on the left one), so that could be the problem.  Last night I had a pretty sharp pain there as well, so maybe it never burst?  I just don’t understand.  Has this ever happened to any of you?  When should I call the doctor?  There aren’t even any signs of it coming any time soon.  Although, just this morning my breasts started hurting a bit, so it might be finally coming.  But this is just too abnormal for me to not worry just a little bit.  Any thoughts?  Oh, I also haven’t been stressed or had any strange changes to my diet, so it’s not that, either.

After a year of being completely in-tune with my body, I hate not knowing what’s going on in there.  Not to mention a little bit annoyed.  I mean, come on!  Haven’t I dealt with enough disappointment regarding my body in the last year and half, can’t it just do this one thing right?!