Archive | Thankful RSS feed for this section

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…

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

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.

Happy Halloween

31 Oct

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I was blown away by what you said, I did not expect such incredible comments.   It was something I’ve had on my mind more or less since the last loss, it’s just been waiting to be released.  I was nervous to put it all out there, to see what the reaction would be.  And of course, I was left with nothing but awe for the people out there.  I am planning on responding to all of them tonight…I haven’t had the proper time to sit down and respond thoughtfully.

Is everyone having a fun and scary Halloween?  I love this day and wish I felt more of the spirit this year than I do.  We’re going to pop popcorn, drink beer and watch scary movies.  That sounds pretty perfect to me.

So here are some photos for you while I go pop the corn…

vampire pumpkin

(Because of my lack of spirit this year, K had to draw on her pumpkin instead of carve it.  We’re failures, I tell you!)

retroactive pumpkin

halloween sky

masked bb

Happy Halloween, everyone.  I hope the spirit visited you this year, a mask and black clothes was all I could drum up with what little I had (but I have to say, I was quite pleased with what my lack of motivation came up with – who doesn’t like to hide behind a mask?).

Boo!