I found out before the sun rose on April 29.
What I saw, I had only daydreamed about. It would be nothing short of a miracle. It would be a long shot, but I did believe it could happen. Hope. Faith. Mother Nature … Miracle.
I am pregnant.
My last cycle began March 23, and I waited and waited for it to start again the week of April 24. Given the unpredictability of my cycles, I allowed for a window, as I always did—and it always showed up. But it didn’t show up on April 27 when my hubby offered to buy some pregnancy tests on his way home from work. “Nah,” I said. “There’s no way.” But then it didn’t show up on April 28 either, and I thought, “What the heck?” and asked him to pick up a pack of cheapies.
Okay, so the “cheapies” require about 10 seconds of urine flow, and it was the end of the day. Still, I assumed something would show up if “something” was actually in there. I will be honest: I gave it a C-level effort. I didn’t have enough pee and it was probably too diluted, and I threw the test away immediately and moved on with my evening.
I awoke around 4 a.m. the next morning. I had to pee … and I figured it was a good opportunity to take another test—just in case. “A” for effort.
I mean, what can I say? I took the test … AND IT WAS POSITIVE. In my daze, I freaked out. I said aloud, “I have to tell my mom, and I have to get my Folgard.” (My parents were visiting that weekend.) I honestly don’t remember how I reacted or what happened. My world and adrenaline were racing. I could NOT believe it. How do you welcome a miracle? How do you accept a miracle? How do you accept that you’re lucky enough for this absolute miracle?
My husband, my parents, and I knew about this little secret that weekend. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. My belief rests in the doctor visits when I see my baby’s heartbeat. I am 11 weeks and one day pregnant today, and I still can’t believe it.
My first week of pregnancy was a little crazy. I was diagnosed with a mysterious hematoma in my breast in January, and the breast specialist asked me to return for a follow-up visit two months later. Well, two months later turned into about 3.5 months later, and my follow-up visit was finally set for May 1. Great!
Given the recent “news” I was literally a dazed, semi-anxious, pregnant woman. If you know a little bit about my story and my twin girls’ birth, perhaps you know that I was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia toward the end of my second trimester during this twin pregnancy. Well, I always had a gut fear that I was (am) chronically hypertensive; in the meantime, though—following my pregnancy with R + E—I did nothing about it. I certainly planned to address this concern and others with my RE upon pursuit of another perfect, donor egg, IVF baby sometime within the next year!
Well, my blood pressure reading at the breast specialist’s office was complete shit. I mean, it was terrible. Having not yet reviewed the blood pressure reading, the doctor walked into the exam room and saw my face and its horror. I began to cry, and I told her I just found out I was pregnant and my blood pressure was scary high. She was incredibly empathetic (and probably had no other choice but to take some kind of action due to concern). She asked her nurse to set up a same-day appointment for me with my OB to address this concern. She performed the ultrasound, which concluded that everything had resolved. No more worries. She told me congratulations; she exited the exam room and noticed my spinner on the patient’s chair. “Oh, my kids love those,” she said. Haha, “I’m such a child, I know,” I responded. A little humor I suppose.
Hours later, I visited my OB’s office. The nurse was audibly horrified by my blood pressure readings. I mentioned, “Yea, I’m pregnant, and my blood pressures are terrible.” The doctor entered the room … And when I mention “the doctor”, who I mean is the man who treated my pre-eclampsia and delivered my babies. The last time I saw him was when he sat on my hospital bed, expressed his deepest condolences, and wished my living baby and me all the very best. And now—now he joked that my blood pressure readings were “impressive” and prescribed me medication immediately. Thank you, God.
Of course, the massive horse pills he prescribed were NOT an option for me under any circumstances. Friends, I will chew, chop, smash … I will do ANYTHING to get the meds down. But—swallowing this gigantic creature whole was the only option. My esophagus is literally not wide enough. Okay, so, such a fun saga … I visit my family practice, express my woes, push my fears aside when the doctor offers her congratulations. The doctor prescribes Methyldopa—I can handle this. Thank you, God.
My blood pressure readings are good. I am being monitored by my “regular” OB, as well as a high-risk perinatologist. Here I am, 11 weeks pregnant with a miracle baby. God has given me peace, and has granted me peace through the early weeks, through the reminiscing of all that went wrong last time. Here I am … pregnant.
This pregnancy has been sooo much easier on me. I oftentimes worry—just slightly—because of the lack of intense symptoms; everything is toned down a bit … Well, everything except for my belly. 🙂 I’ve not vomited at all or experienced much nausea. I’m quite exhausted and have experienced aversion to food. My little baby belly aches when I don’t eat every two hours, or after a long day at work.
I can’t believe it. I can’t believe this is my story. I get to have this pregnancy and this baby. I get to have everything I’ve ever wanted—again. I thank Him every day for this beautiful blessing, and I know Emmanuelle is peering down on us with a smile on her beautiful, precious face. I can’t help but wonder if my Emme had a little something to do with this. Would you believe that my due date is January 3? This is one day after my twin daughters’ full-term due date … three years later. I get to walk this path again, seasons in sync; and I put all my trust in and all my burden on Him. I have faith that October will come and go, and this baby will continue to grow in my womb. I have hope that—as fall turns to winter—my last days of pregnancy will be bittersweet, joyful, peaceful. I have faith; I have hope. I believe because—after all—I am carrying a miracle.
And, now, allow me to introduce you to the bump. (And please disregard my mention of April dates. I will blame “pregnancy brain” on dating some photos in April vs. May. For context, I was unknowingly four weeks pregnant on April 26.)
WARNING: This content might make you blush if you are part of my family or I am part of yours … or if Christian Grey makes you blush in NOT a good way.
A November Night
I peered into a bassinet and saw a full-term baby. My baby was a girl, and she resembled Rowan. Through a translucent, heavenly membrane—only a dream can produce—I saw Rowan with her father. Rowan was as she is now—a spunky, beautiful toddler. These two were in their own little world—separate from mine. I was occupied in my world with my full-term Rowan-resembling baby girl. I had nothing to offer them, over there, in that moment. Rowan was happy, healthy, and well taken care of by her daddy. Within those moments, my new baby consumed me—that world was hers and mine.
I placed my new baby upon my breast, and she latched on perfectly. I felt that pull on my breast and the sweet relief of my milk releasing. Following those moments, I placed my new baby upon my second breast.
All was perfect and easy and heart-warming. She was not pale or discolored; she was ripe and beautiful. There was no darkness, no syringes, no chaos. We were not in Room 14; we were in Heaven. My new baby was a healthy, precious, six-pound baby; she was not just 1.5 pounds.
And when I awoke, my heart did not hurt; I did not wish to fall back to sleep. My heart was at peace, and I felt happy. I felt grateful for this beautiful gift I was given in my sleep.
I was grateful to find healing. I need much more healing, as I’ve neglected my heart for too long.
Flashback to October
She lost herself. Somewhere between the inability to conceive a child, the money she didn’t have to conceive a child; somewhere between the shots, the egg retrievals, the lack of control over her own body and happiness. She lost herself somewhere between her very first, ill-fated pregnancy and the blood that poured out of her while tears streamed down her face. She was lost and did not understand who she was when she realized her babies could not be conceived by her. Pieces of her died when the happiest months of her life were taken too soon as her body proved unable to fulfill the needs of her babies in her womb. Her heart migrated from numb to shattered to bitter because her baby died that morning. And she was not her anymore.
She put one foot in front of the other. Saggy, unflattering leggings. Unattractive, over-sized t-shirts with milk stains. The frizzy buns. With her shoulders slumped, with her broken heart, living in fear and desperation, she just put one fucking foot in front of the other and gave the universe her middle finger for torturing her in such harsh, hellish ways.
730 days of this was too long to endure this grief. But what will “talking” to someone do? Could there possibly be any medication that could help? Was she depressed, or was her happiness doomed because her baby died? I mean, how does one carry on, and who really cares anyway? Of course her heart was hardened; of course she wanted to hurt those closest to her; of course she didn’t need anyone. She was dead inside. But—this girl carried a fire with her, a fire she always had. Deep down inside, there was a desire to burn bright. Her heart was numb; the next best thing was a drug.
The feeling he gave her was intoxicating. His kindness and flattery—she took the bait. With each **encounter, her fire burned a little brighter. What a sick drug; so addictive that she turned her back on her family—on her husband.
She’d hit the bottom. Absolutely rock bottom.
He craved her body, and she craved those feelings. A woman’s body can be so convincing, and she was that woman. A Queen. She was so heavily desired—until she wasn’t worth it anymore, because he loved someone else. Of course he did; he loved someone who was so unlike her. She was no longer worth the effort. What a stupid girl. What a stupid girl for being so smart but falling for a player. The hard crash and withdrawal from this drug left her feeling used, rejected, broken. How cruel of her to break her own heart—to betray the one who loved her the deepest and the hardest. She betrayed the man who touched her body in all the right ways and gave her more pleasure than anyone ever could, finding secret places with his body and making her cry out of pleasure. She left the man who studied her—inside and out—and cherished every ounce of her.
I finally surrendered.
I’ve been seeing a counselor for about six weeks now, and it is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. In addition, my medication has been adjusted, and I feel grateful for what I have versus angry for what I don’t have. My heart carries hope and has softened. I feel the depths of my emotions—the overwhelming, romantic love I have for my husband. My counselor has encouraged me to look at him differently; to feel him differently. She’s encouraged me to study my daughter’s beautiful face and embrace her touch when she hugs me or even rests her little arm on mine.
My counselor has advised me to live in fun. To have fun and be silly—live in my baby girl’s world for a bit each day. I asked her how I should heal my marriage. She knows our foundation is strong; she smiled and said, “Start with fun. Go have fun with your husband.”
We have spoiled our marriage rotten! Expensive dates; words of affection and admiration. Gifts and obsession and “I miss yous” … and—the best sex of my life.
Our bed hosts our dirtiness, our filth. Oh, if our walls could talk. The pleasure; the vulnerability. His body; his eyes. He yearns for me and takes my breath away. I’m obsessed with his sex; it builds my confidence and heals pieces of my heart. He is smitten with me and lights my fire.
I am happy today, and I will work hard every day of my life to maintain this spirit. I am grateful to have finally hit the bottom—for there is nowhere else to go but up.
*I was born and she died on the ninth—a day that belongs to her and me.
**Sexting; a single make-out session with some heavy petting.
I’ve struggled to know the realness of God even before my baby died right in front of me.
Believe me, I begged Him. Real, fake, compassionate, cruel – I begged Him.
I begged Him. “Please, God, I’ll do anything. Dear Jesus, please heal my baby.”
How do you recover from that? I mean; you don’t I guess.
“I’ll go to church every week; I’ll stop saying Your name in vain out of frustration; I’ll be better for You. Whatever you want; just please save her.”
How do you invite Him to coffee for a little chat? I hate you. You are mean. You took and took and took from me. What did I ever do?
What did I do to deserve any of this? I don’t understand the workings of the world sometimes.
Life’s problems are so trivial. I CARRY THAT. Misunderstandings, pinched feelings, logistics, political correctness, hierarchy, pride. Don’t bring me your pride; my daughter is dead.
I could not imagine a life outside of the hell I was living. I thought I’d lived it. But I suppose there is an elevator – or descendator – in hell, and I guess I arrived to a lower tier of hell in Room 14.
I don’t understand. I never will. And science does not understand. And now she rests in our home. I have a lock of hair and her ashes.
But maybe she lives …
I have never doubted that I will see her again.
But that is because she’s with Him.
So, where do I go from here?
I can’t do it on my own anymore.
I’m in a bit of a dark hole.
I am thankful for a brand new year. I’ve actually made resolutions for this year, as last year I decided I ought to just “survive”.
But I am struggling, and I have been for some now time. I find that I prefer to be at work (work!) or hidden away in my bed with dim light and a book. I prefer to be distracted.
Her bright smile on that little, perfect face—I bottle it up and allow my heart to flutter and beam with light for a brief moment.
“She is my sunshine, my only sunshine. She makes me happy when skies are g r e y …”
But I’m stuck in this place I hate being stuck in. There’s a weight on my heart and in my gut.
Part of me feels ashamed for struggling like this. To me, I have *everything. To others, whom I know are still fighting for their babies, I have little right to be sad.
I told Rowan the other day, “Mommy isn’t allowed to be sad. I have you! I promise you don’t make Mommy sad, but—sometimes—Mommy is just sad.” Her Daddy says to me, “No, you’re allowed to be sad.”
I mean, I’m still “surviving”. Getting out of bed sucks, but that’s primarily because it’s still dark outside at 7 a.m.
Rowan doesn’t quite sleep through the entire night yet. (And, no, I really don’t care, and I’m not concerned.) She needs little intermissions throughout the night. They are brief—a bottle or a pacifier—but, still, it does interrupt my rest, so I find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning sometimes.
But—I still maintain my promise to myself to run four days per week. I owe it to myself to rest, and I owe it to myself to run.
My work is fine, and my home is picked up.
Rowan endures a million kisses each day and has so much fun with her friends while Mommy and Daddy go to work. Rowan and I enjoy mornings together. I pump and enjoy my morning coffee while she plays her favorite game of throwing all her toys “overboard” her crib. I change her diaper and pick out the perfect outfit for the day—if only it’s just a Monday. Her hair either remains with that beautiful curl on top, or I comb her hair into an adorable miniature ponytail.
Her Daddy says to me, “She’s obsessed with you.” My heart melts; part of me hopes it’s true, but most of me knows it’s true. My beautiful baby is my whole, entire world.
Rowan doesn’t take my tone very seriously. I use the word “no” and tell her what to do—as opposed to ask her. She offers me her huge, Mary-like smile, and it’s all over from there. I suppose I just don’t have the right tone. I will have to work on that. Most importantly, I want my Rowan to know that—while Mommy is the “boss”—Mommy is also her confidant, her biggest fan, a space of unconditional love.
I offer her “oohs” and “awws” when I change her diaper and discover a “big-girl poop”. This child has ruined me.
Here I write as a therapeutic method to deal with my feelings, depression, etc., and—yet—she is my favorite topic! She and her poop!
*No, not literally everything. I have suffered great losses … $40,000+ and the bills continue; three separate moments of pregnancy; two heart beats; two birth certificates; one death certificate; and one child—don’t quite add up. But for the sake of my sisters still fighting, I have everything, and I know it.
There comes a time in every girl’s life … when she starts her period.
It’s exciting. It’s also physically and emotionally uncomfortable. It’s just new and different.
I felt kind of vulnerable because I was on the younger end of my peers who “got” her period earlier than most. I felt a little isolated; I didn’t feel more mature, but I guess I was, at least physically…? I don’t know … a whole host of emotions really, which I guess is kind of the point. Hormones and emotions.
Nurses ask when the first day of my last period was. I tell them it was waaaaaaay back when in March 2014. But it was so much more than a period, emotionally. I even call it a “fake” period because it was induced by birth control pill-withdrawal after a two-week menstrual cycle. I barely even bled; my nurses were just trying to sync me up with Mary + intended mommies. I’d been holding up the show, so I did a quick “run-through” before spotting then preparing my lining …
My last “real” period was during Valentine’s Day 2014. I remember it well because I actually bled through my pants and onto my desk chair at work. My [male] boss saw my chair and inquired, but I literally did not think it was actually blood. Surely it couldn’t have been. But it was. And he knew it before I did. Aaaaaand it was pretty mortifying.
So, as I recall the first day of my last cycle in March of last year, I can’t help but acknowledge how much hope my heart held. Even though it had been and was broken, I prayed and begged for it to be THE last period. I so desperately wanted it to mark the end of hopeless and the beginning of my dreams coming true.
And it *did. It was the last period.
Today I got my period.
I went to the ladies’ room while holding Rowan. And then I saw it.
I looked into my baby’s eyes with some tears in mine and said to her, “Rowie, Mommy got her period!”
Today was monumental for reasons I’m still sorting out in my heart …
*Statements like these can never be completely true because of the place in my dreams and heart I hold for Emmanuelle.
Do you ever walk away and then think about what you should have said? You get frustrated with yourself because—man—I now know what the perfect thing to say would have been, but I froze. I froze!
Well, I have had many of those experiences.
No, not today my friends.
Today, I responded pointedly and confidently. It was a redeeming experience, this little encounter. Good for me; I actually stuck up for myself.
I’m slowly realizing that instead of working hard, having a good attitude, being gracious and professional toward my coworkers—I have to stick up for myself. Age discrimination is a real thing, and it sucks.
Because of my age, I am not taken seriously. People with more experience take one look at me and immediately think I’m naïve … just a kid.
I am naïve, and I am still learning. But, I saw what you did there; I know you thought it would go right over my head, but it didn’t. Of course, I have to ask for back-up to address it with you because you won’t take me seriously.
I don’t know. I abide by the philosophy that if you work extremely hard, you might be rewarded. I knew that I had to work hard and build a solid rapport with my supervisors because, when the time came for doctor appointments and egg retrievals and embryo transfers, I didn’t want to be that girl. I wanted them to know I was legit. “Yes, I have a lot of health issues, but I will get the job done, and now you know it.” In my opinion, this is how you build trust, this is how you receive privileges, this is how you earn more m o n e y.
In addition, I just feel like working hard is very rewarding, and if I can’t be with my baby, I don’t want to spend 40 hours of my week being mediocre. No one deserves that. My family doesn’t deserve that, my coworkers don’t deserve that, the company that fuels my income doesn’t deserve that.
Apparently not everyone abides by this philosophy.
So, when you’re “so young” but are given a lot of responsibility, people only further recognize how young you are. But am I even that young, or do I just look it?
It sucks! Don’t more mature generations know that my generation does have something to offer? At least I do, and I’ve proven it, so why do you question me?
Well, the way some people treat me, underestimate me, dismiss me, try to fool me, and speak to me has been breaking me down lately …
My OB won’t re-prescribe me Zoloft. I should have re-arranged the situation throughout the last year and found a doctor through my secondary insurance who would keep the Zoloft coming. I plan to drop my primary insurance and stick with my husband’s when the new year arrives.
I sought care from this particular OB through my secondary insurance because I preferred their practice during my pregnancy. Prior to experiencing the most blissful, most nauseating six months of my life, I was on Lexapro—prescribed to me from my primary insurance.
I chose to stop taking my antidepressant during my pregnancy but was prepared to re-start a medication after giving birth. It was a logistical fail because instead of coordinating with my primary doctor to re-start medication, my OB sat on my hospital bed and wrote me a script for Zoloft the day after my baby died.
Having double insurance coverage has been a bit of a shit show for me.
I have two pills left, and now I have to find a new doctor, take time away from work to visit the doctor, and basically just waste more of my time because my OB won’t re-prescribe this medication.
This is the stuff that irritates me. I hate wasting time … I already know what needs to be done. I just need my Zoloft. Give me my Zoloft.
I know there are processes and procedures to be followed, and I can appreciate that. But sometimes, I don’t need counsel or help—sometimes I just need my Zoloft.
One year ago, I was living life as a NICU mom. I’d awake and do my work for the day. My work included exercising and any chores I’d committed myself to for the day. I’d *get ready for the NICU and be on my way. Somewhere in between taking a shower and driving to the hospital, I received calls from a social worker. Her job was to make sure I was okay.
“Do you think you’re suffering from post-partum depression?”
“Well, my baby died two weeks ago, and my other baby is in the NICU. I’m taking an antidepressant; I’ll figure it out.”
My goal was to get off the phone as soon as possible.
So—Zoloft—let’s make this quick and easy. Find doctor. Make appointment. Drive to doctor office. Sit in waiting room. Get vitals checked, **which never goes well. Talk to doctor. Get prescription. Go to pharmacy.
My biggest fear is that this process is going to waste too much of my time. But I have to do it because I need my Zoloft.
*Bathe. Hair looks like a bees’ nest. No make-up. Old leggings. Major Ugg-boot sag. Holey shirt with leaky boob stains.
**I wish the nurses would take my blood pressure under my direction or just not at all. There’s always this rush to slap the cuff on and get a reading. My readings are always appalling under these circumstances, and then it becomes “a thing”. I have to excuse my blood pressure’s bad behavior and convince the doctor—and myself—that I’m actually okay because I check it obsessively.
She grins from ear to ear when her eyes meet mine. She is sunshine, and she is perfect.
I am preparing for a very difficult season. I can’t believe my Emmanuelle is so far away from me; I can’t believe it has almost been a year. How dare time pass so quickly. How dare she be a distant memory. She is not distant to me.
How very quickly we forget.
We prepare for celebration. We strategize and contemplate the logistics and decorations and food of an event to celebrate a person’s first birthday.
This occasion will not be remembered by Her Majesty – THE babe-turned-one-year-old whom we celebrate.
“It’s really for the parents.”
Rowan has put my heart back together. I look at photos of her and wish I could tell her that I did not realize how truly broken-hearted I was before I had her. I mean, I walked around with a shattered heart, but I live now. I live.
I shower my baby with kisses and affection. I shower her with constant affirmations and speak often of her beauty. This child would have an ego one size too big if she could comprehend my words.
How do I raise a young girl who knows her self-worth, yet does not inhabit an entitled attitude? I hope to serve as a role model; I know she will see me as the definition of “woman”. I want that definition to contain words like “compassionate; gracious; hard-working; independent; polite.”
I know how to love this child, but how do I raise her?
That’s all for now I suppose. More later, hopefully…