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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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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?)

Just pretend.

30 Jan

Sometimes, I just need to give myself permission to step out of this world for a little while.  After two years of it, it can be quite overwhelming.  When I step away, I try to pretend it never existed.  For a few days – a week – I pretend like my life is normal.  That I’ve never experienced a gut-wrenching loss, never mind four.  I try to pretend that the negatives on the pregnancy tests don’t bother me, that they’re what I want.  That I’m a thousand times joyful for everyone else who has a baby, and don’t care that I haven’t had one yet.  That the last two years have been spent blissfully with my incredible husband, that not a sad tear has been shed.  That come February 11th, the only anniversary it will be is the day after I met my husband, not one where my heart was ripped out of my body with the passing of my baby.

That I’ve never buried a tiny little being, in it’s once-hopeful sac, under an old oak tree in a field nestled between hills.

Sometimes, I want to pretend that my life went as planned.  That it didn’t take a detour down the dark and twisty road of pregnancy loss, that I’ve been on the sun-filled road all along.

And the thing is, sometimes it works.  It works for a few days – a week – and I wake up happy for once.  But the reality always creeps back.  That relentless longing for a child never seems to disappear, no matter how much I pretend it was never there.  I start to miss the people in this little virtual world of mine, the people that I am invested whole-heartedly in their lives and their cycles and their collective uteri.  I can’t turn my back on it now.  I can’t pretend it away.  It’s who I am, it’s who I’ll always be.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say: I can’t wait to be the fuck out of it.

Trying to believe

18 Jan


I’m sorry if I owe you an email, or haven’t been commenting, or seem to be MIA…I’m okay, I think I just need some “me” time.  Or something.  xoxo

Image credit: patrick costilow via oh, hello friend who found it via Sacred Lotus

Festive with whine.

14 Dec

I’ve been running around like crazy since Saturday trying to get a bunch of things done for Christmas and for friends visiting this weekend and I’m ready to slow down already.  When I get like this, I get tired and emotional and that combination is never a good thing for someone in my shoes.

You would think running around crazy wouldn’t allow for the baby thoughts to creep in, but they seem to never go away.  This morning as I was cleaning up a bit before I left for work, I opened the trunk in our bedroom and caught a glimpse of the baby blanket my friend made for me two pregnancies ago, and instantly I thought that the chances of wrapping a baby in that incredible gift of love is very slim.  Then moments later as I was getting dressed, I opened a clothes drawer and saw the onesie I bought when I was pregnant for the second time, the one that was just too cute to pass up, even though I knew I was pressing my luck.  It’s red and white striped, and fits exactly into the style Tim swears I possess – that of a pirate (I like to call it romantic).  I love that onesie.  And all I want is to be able to see it on our baby.  Except I realize that it may remain in my drawer, left forever waiting to be filled.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how, at two years, I seem to be becoming an elder in this community.  I know there are a handful of you out there that have been at this for twice that amount of time, and I am awed by your persistence and strength.  Because even though I’m “only” at two years, I’ve started to notice that the majority of women out there don’t usually have to struggle for this long.  I am not by any means saying that their pain or grief or frustration is any less than mine…believe me when I say a month at this is too long.  It’s just that I’m starting to see more and more people succeeding while I remain in the same place.  I’ve begun witnessing a new wave of women come into our community (I’m so sorry you’ve joined us), while the old ones move on to their newfound (and much deserved) families.  How did I get to be a Super* Senior in this shitty-ass high school?  And who can I talk to about the fazing involved for the Freshman?  They don’t deserve this pain.  I’d rather be the welcoming Senior, with an arm-full of babies to hand out than the one handing out blows to the uterus with a paddle.

It’s difficult feeling like you’re being left behind.  And it’s not just in blog world.  Yesterday I saw from a distance a woman that I used to be friends with before all of this crap, pushing a stroller with her 3-month-old in it.  I realized later that day that she has gotten engaged, married, pregnant, and had her baby all in the time I’ve been trying for a successful pregnancy.  Why does she deserve it so much more than I?  I can’t make sense of it.

To those of you that have succeeded or on their way to succeeding, please know that I hold no resentment towards you – in fact, just the opposite – I’m thrilled for you because you give us hope when it feels impossible to find.  Unfortunately though, that excitement doesn’t erase the fact I want so badly to be in your shoes – for all of us left in here to be in your shoes.  And I know you want that, too.  That’s the one thing this infertility school gives us, an uncanny ability to be compassionate to those who know what this is like.

I know this sounds like one big whine-fest, but we’ve hit our two-year anniversary of trying to make a pregnancy work and I can’t believe I’m still here.  As happy as the holidays are for me, the Christmas lights and warm fires are reminding me of a more innocent me that is gone forever.  I miss her spirit, her hope, her naivety.  This is a world I never wanted to be experienced in.

*Super Senior is a phrase my friends and I used when we were all in our 5th year of college.  In that case, it was fun to be a Super Senior because why rush the real world?  In this case: not so fun.  I want back into that Super Senior year…this one sucks.

A bit of a funk.

28 Nov

I’m sorry I’ve been so negative lately.  Unfortunately, I don’t see it going away any time soon.  I’m not quite sure what to do about the sadness I’m experiencing these days; at this point all I can think to do is ride it out.  I think it’s better to work through it than try to push it aside…so that’s my plan for now.  Thank you for all your love and support, I honestly feel like I’m not worthy of it…I’m having such a difficult time giving it back these days.  I’ll understand if you can’t keep giving it to me.  This should never be a one way street.

Along these same lines, my lack of commenting has made for a really poor performance with ICLW this time around…I guess I didn’t think I’d be in this state when I signed up.  I had been doing so well for so long, and now it’s all that I can do to even turn on the computer.  So those of you that came by and left words of encouragement, thank you so much, they have been really wonderful to read.  This community is incredible.

In light of my last two weeks, I think we’re taking December off from trying.  I just need a break from the disappointment.  Besides, there are hot-buttered rums to be consumed, and I can’t spend another two weeks of not drinking just to get my period again.  I’m not a huge drinker, but if I can have one thing that a pregnant woman can’t, I’ll take it, damnit!

So January we’ll hop back on this crazy train.  Hopefully I’ll be in better spirits by then.

In the meantime, I’m trying to surround myself with joy and hope that it sticks.

Joy in the form of this:

apple pie

apple pie slice

And this:

christmas lights

Right now, it’s the little things.