The Latest Happenings

We’ve used our carpet cleaner several times this week.

This week has been a struggle—just everyday life challenges; nothing emotionally difficult (thank Jesus).

It’s all about perspective.

Well … my emotions have been a bit on edge this week. I cannot lie. Our darling Rowan has an ear infection and mild wheezing. Save for the word “infection” that has plagued by beautiful munchkin, the wheezing is what really scares the heck out of me. My head understands what my preemie mother heart can’t understand: She. will. be. okay. I’ve been sleeping in her room on a “bed” made of couch cushions. My neck and shoulders feel tight, but hearing her breathe wheeze-free helps my heart understand the reality of the situation—that she is a sick booboo who is being treated and will get better.

Sarabi has been a little sick too. So, the carpet cleaner has encountered vomit of differing varieties—and has encountered “the vom” on a daily basis.

Oh, and ants have been haunting my mental stability and attacking my kitchen!

I am very thankful—though—that if these “issues” were destined to occur, 1. my husband’s business trip occurred last week, and 2. I no longer have to spend 40 hours every week dealing with this.

Instead, I have my companion enduring this week with me, and a boss who’s let me leave work early, work from home—even pour my heart out to him about how terrifying Rowan’s sickness is for my heart given my family’s “history”.

Do you know what I like about this boss? Some of the first words he said to me when I began my transition back to work were: “I’m sorry to hear about the loss of Rowan’s sister.” When I reference how small Rowan is, he matter-of-factly says: “Well, she’s a twin. Twins are small and sometimes need more time.” I mean—yea—her body is that of a six month-old, but the point is that he recognizes Emmanuelle’s existence, and he’s sincere.

The culture in this particular part of our blessed country can be a bit … harsh. Often times, people just don’t give a shit. Sometimes it seems like there’s only one thing on everyone’s mind: the money. It’s nice when we can act like humans and talk about and recognize what really matters.

I can believe that Rowan is nine months old. I can’t believe I’m starting to plan her first birthday party, though.

Rowan is nine months and 15 days old. She weighs a whopping 14 pounds and 10 ounces. She is healthy, and she is growing. We are all different shapes and sizes, and I pray my next statement does not hurt any mothers—especially mommies with preemies. But I must admit that I think her percentiles on the infant growth chart are absolutely precious. Her pediatrician tracks her chronological versus adjusted age, and here are my princess’ stats: 5th percentile for weight; 5-10th percentile for head circumference; and 2nd percentile for height. I’ll tell ya what: Her beautifully shaped head is BIG (for her body), though she’s growing into it. And her petite-ness is just so fitting; I am 5’0”, and Mary is 5’3”.

Rowan is tiny, but she is strong. Her spirit is strong, and—physically—she’s got some power!

Rowan’s birthday is on a Thursday. I have begun brainstorming ideas for her birthday party, and there are several dilemmas.

Though I would like to host a birthday party for her on October 8, I don’t know how many people would be able to attend. And the point is for people to be there. I owe it to Rowan to plan this special event on not-a-Thursday.

Friday is a better day than a Thursday. But Friday is … Friday. In my heart, I don’t believe Emmanuelle will be dishonored. As Emmanuelle’s mother, the idea of celebrating Rowan does not dishonor my angel. In fact, a dear family friend made a very profound statement to my mom and me a few weeks ago regarding October 9. You may know that October 9 is my birthday; I do not care that Emmanuelle went to heaven on my birthday. What I care about is that Emmanuelle went to heaven when she was 20 hours old—and that she’s in heaven and not with me. More than anything, I thought it was just “mean” of God. I don’t care because I don’t; my mama says, “Well, I care.” A mother is a mother is a mother; God bless our tender hearts. Our friend shared something beautiful with us, though. She said that perhaps God gave Emmanuelle and me that day to be ours. October 9 is our special day—for just us two. And it holds a lot. It holds a whole lot.

Secondarily, October 9 is the birthday of one of our nephews whom we intend to invite and hope will attend—along with his family. He and his family will likely want to spend the day celebrating his birthday. 🙂

So, Friday just won’t do.

Next we have Saturday and Sunday. I have a *friend whose first dose of motherhood has been heartbreakingly, nearly identical to mine, and Saturday nor Sunday are the best days. I will extend the invitation to them, but I don’t think they will be able to attend.

You see: dilemmas.

I have a social life now. I have friends whom I spend fun, quality time with. My weekends are packed. I was lonely for a long, long time. I literally did not have friends to “hang out with”. But now I do.

I have a social life because my babies were born at 28 weeks gestation.

My friends are beautiful people—inside and out. They are becoming some of my best friends—these NICU nurses and *mothers.

I don’t always understand God’s plan. This journey He’s given me sure does have some low lows. It often times seem very unfair and unjustified.

But He does give. I try to hold onto that as best as I can.

When daughters die and health is compromised; when families unravel and people are hurtful—I have to hold onto the good, good things.

I have my baby.

And now I have friends. I have some really good friends.

BYOC

Bring Your Own Cooler, and meet me at Starbucks!

I’m an over-supplier when it comes to liquid gold. 

If you live in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area and need breastmilk for your baby/ies, please let me know! I have a refrigerator freezer and separate freezer full of frozen breastmilk, and I would love to donate it to you and your baby/ies.

I’ve been very blessed with my supply, and my intent is to help a sister out who has been struggling with her supply but has the desire to offer her baby/ies breastmilk.

Xoxo!

Misunderstood

It’s the little things—like wearing my black dress flats for work and noticing they are too big … outstretched from my pregnancy-induced edema.

I haven’t worn my flats for months. Who cares about shoes when your daily goal in life is to take care of chores at home then accompany your baby on her NICU journey?

I wore slippers during those days—for the most part. I got a little fancy on Christmas Day and wore boots. Whoa.

But the point is—I wanted my pregnancy. Duh. But I wanted the whole thing. I worked to achieve my pregnancy for a long time. I began missing it at week 18—thinking I still had at least 20 weeks left.

I’ve been misunderstood.

Well, maybe not. I understand my heart is hardened and full of poisonous things—save for my husband and baby girls.

What some people may not understand is that I feel no need to justify my emotions. Morally, I don’t quality them as “bad” or “wrong”. Regarding the death of my daughter, I do not evaluate my emotions on a moral compass and adjust them accordingly. I can feel however the hell I want to feel.

I mean, people tell me I’m bitter and miserable and sad and can only feel pain. No shit. Tell me something I don’t know. Tell me why my baby died.

But you have Rowan so your heart shouldn’t be filled with ugliness due to the loss of Emmanuelle.

I disagree. Watch your child die. Watch your dancing girl fade away … then feel the need to enlighten me of the ugliness I carry in my heart.

What I haven’t shared is that I have more respect for TTC sisters who admit to being jealous and bitter than those who pretend like they aren’t.

Because that shit is real. It may not be nice. It may not be Christian-like, but it’s real. There is something beautiful about vulnerability. When we allow our walls to fall down, we connect with people. When we present ourselves and all our imperfections, there is grace.

But—in all sincerity—if you struggle from infertility and literally do not feel an ounce of jealousy or bitterness toward fellow sisters, you are a saint. You have a heart of gold; good for you. I hope you use that gift of a heart in a powerful way to impact others’ lives. Because they need your touch. I need your touch.

I do not strive to win a gold medal in the “Pain Olympics”. I mean—I’m just in a shit ton of pain. Reprimand me.

Upon witnessing some of Rowan’s “downs” in the NICU, I pulled away emotionally. I could not lose her too. The thought of losing her … I would have crumbled. My heart would have been destroyed. I don’t take lightly thoughts of suicide; I have been clinically depressed for several years. If I would have lost Rowan …

I have life; I have joy because of my Rowie. And you know what? There are women far stronger than I.

Women who’ve lost both babies—even three babies during a single pregnancy. I couldn’t live.

A teenage girl who endures a cancer battle with her high school sweetheart, only to be rewarded 15 years later with five cycles of IVF; two miscarriages; a death-threatening first trimester carrying her rainbow baby; fucking pre-eclampsia; and a NICU journey starting at the ripe old gestational age of 26 weeks. How incredibly unfair.

A woman whose lost her best friend—her mother—to cancer and endures the loss of several pregnancies; a genetic connection with her children; and the opportunity to carry her babies—an experience that’s supposed to be the silver lining of donor egg treatment. Oh—AND—she has a heart of pure gold.

A woman who mothers her long-awaited baby for just a few days, resting on the promises of a birth mother who assures her for months that baby belongs in an adoptive home. All the joy and anticipation crumbling in a single moment. Where do you even begin to put the pieces back together?

If you are offended by my candid comments regarding TTC sisters who carry jealousy and rage, then—simply—you’ve not seen their Instagram memes and/or blog posts that suggest they—in fact—carry these emotions. And, you know what? I don’t think they’re ashamed of feeling that way, and they shouldn’t be ashamed. In fact, I’m proud of them. Again, I have far more respect for them than those who fail to admit they feel the same way because of societal expectations regarding manners … or whatever the fuck you want to call it.

It’s human nature. We struggle and fight to become the one thing we feel we are meant to be in this world—a mother. We envy those who’ve won their battles before we have without acknowledging the baggage they carry. All we see is the baby bump, and we are desperate for it. Good heavens, it’s just the way some of us are wired—myself included. How else do you think I’m able to identify these twisted emotions? Pardon my honesty.

It saddens me that a journal entry mentioning Emmanuelle turned into such a debate. My beautiful girl deserves more than that. And it’s not a guilt trip; I take full responsibility.

I’m also disappointed that I won’t get to share Rowan’s beautiful face with you. I’ve been waiting to receive her newborn three month-old professional photos to show you all what she looks like. But—this space isn’t safe enough for her. And I acknowledge that—though this is my journal—it’s on the fucking internet. It’s free for anyone to make of it what he or she will, I suppose. How naïve of me, right?

Tangent: I noticed today that a new follower has taken some of my language from a recent post and “written” a blog post of his/her own. And this blog post’s very little re-arrangement of words and phrases barely disqualifies it from being straight up plagiarism. A loved one of mine tells me I ought to be flattered. Would you claim photos of my baby as your own too? A very scary thought indeed.

Lovely women, you amaze me! You are so gracious! I truly admire your hearts and understanding. I pray for nothing but the absolute best for you all. May all your dreams come true. You have blessed me more than you will ever know. If you have not received a personal thank you from me, please do forgive me and know that I am so lucky to have you in my life. God bless each and every one of you.

Time to Pray

Family, friends, readers …

Please pray for my dear friend, Nina. She will be delivering her long-awaited baby boy today at 26 weeks + 1 day gestation due to pre-eclampsia.

Unacceptable Weakness

To those of you I call friends and family:

How could I possibly be so insensitive … to disregard how you must feel, what you’re going through?

After all you’ve been through, you just want to celebrate the new baby: Baby Rowan! Just like any other baby who’s arrived on this beautiful earth, Rowan is no different. You don’t really want to see photos of her at two weeks old; I think those photos are precious, but you try to hold back your grimace because she probably looks like an “alien” to you. What kind of person am I to show you such images? I am so sorry. Let’s just talk about Rowan when she’s out of the NICU in her cute little outfits, content as can be. Does that sound okay? Let’s just disregard this place in time, move along with our routines. Of course all you have to offer right now are congratulations. I appreciate your words of wisdom and encouragement; I bet you’ve never expressed such thoughts to new parents before, huh? The words you have to offer are so genuine, so sincere.

Oh, to mention your thoughts and prayers are with Rowan right now while she’s healing? No, no, no. Those words aren’t acceptable to write in a cute little card. We must. remain. happy. You have hearts of gold: Trying to help me “not remember” that my baby is in intensive care … oh, and my other baby is … um … dead. Were you sent from heaven as an angel to bring my heart healing?

I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you to know that Emmanuelle died. It must be terribly uncomfortable for you to mention her. Really, we ought to sit down for some coffee or tea so you can tell me how hard it is for you. Please, please don’t put yourself through more pain by sending me a text message asking how I am or acknowledging Emmanuelle. I mean, she was only here for, like, a sec. Her life doesn’t really count. I don’t know; it’s almost comparable to the loss of a beloved dog or something. Let’s just stick to Rowan. Let’s just talk about Rowan. No, not that Rowan is in the NICU, and her heart rate dropped to the 50s and oxygen saturation dropped to 19 two days ago. No, when I say let’s just talk about Rowan, what I mean is let’s just talk about happy, cute, girlie, baby shit. I don’t want to cause you more pain or make you uncomfortable.

To those of you I call friends and family:

You are not going to help me “not remember” the hell I’m living. Rowan is the most precious baby on this earth; she is my entire heart. She is everything … and the moment I feel secure regarding her health, it all goes to shit. She “forgets” to breathe; her heart rate and oxygen saturation drop dramatically; her skin turns “dusky” – another word for pale as shit; and you have to forcefully offer physical contact for her to get her shit together and come back to us.

You are not going to spare me an ounce of sadness by not mentioning Emmanuelle. Would you like to know how it makes me feel when you completely disregard the life and loss of my daughter? It hurts my feelings. I am offended, and it breaks my heart for Emmanuelle. This precious gift, this beautiful baby girl who deserved better. She deserved all the love her daddy and I had to offer. She deserved Christmas mornings. She deserved family vacations. She deserved fucking Disney World. And you disregard her. How dare you disregard her. But you’re only human, right? And talking about her makes you feel too uncomfortable. Well, let me tell you: I was not uncomfortable at all that morning as I witnessed my intubated daughter dying. As I watched nurses and doctors give her chest compressions. As I looked across the room and saw my husband sobbing. As the doctor looked to us for a solution, for the answer – to let her die. He explained to us how much damage had been done internally. He told us they were offering 120%, but Emmanuelle was giving nothing back. My active, lively girl who danced on the right upper area of my womb. She was now dying.

I’ve never been to a funeral. I’d never seen a dead person. I certainly had never watched anyone die. Until that morning. I witnessed the struggle and death of my child.

And you refuse to acknowledge it. Not me and my feelings. Not my sorrow and depression. I couldn’t give two shits about my feelings. You refuse to acknowledge Emmanuelle. Does her name give you shivers? E-M-M-A-N-U-E-L-L-E.

I don’t expect the world to care about my daughters and me. I do – however – expect certain family members to utter or type Emmanuelle’s name during our encounters. And if you’re going to send me a damn card, I don’t need you to tell me what an adventure parenting is. Trust me, I know; it’s been a mother fucking roller coaster.

We are so afraid to talk about feelings. It’s as if feelings and sadness are signs of weakness. It’s a bunch of bull shit. These things happen, people. This is real life. It’s messy and unfair. Not my-baby-mama-is-a-bitch unfair. Really unfair. Like a 1 pound 10 ounce baby who’s fighting for her life and is 100 times the warrior you’ll ever be no matter how many damn marathons you run.

But we can’t talk about that. We shouldn’t even whisper Emmanuelle’s name … because it makes you too fucking uncomfortable.

 

I’m Learning

I’m learning to tell my body to relax. I want a good blood pressure reading.

I’m learning to not cry even though I am very emotional, because I want a good blood pressure reading.

I started journaling for me back in May 2011. I still really only journal for me; it’s therapeutic for me.

A bonus is when these women, friends, sisters – YOU – come together for li’l me in a time of need. Thank you so much. Your prayers and thoughts are working. It has been a whirlwind and quite surreal. When you look into your husband’s eyes pleading with him to promise you it will be okay … perspective.

It has been hard, but I am blessed. Pregnancy is not what I thought it’d be, but it’s mine, and I’m the luckiest girl in the world. And I’m not just saying that because I have to after everything I’ve been through to get here. Seriously – I remember the pain; the heartache; the hell. If I was more sick than I thought I’d be through 18 weeks gestation – fine. If I can’t be super runner mommy girl trotting along with my bump – perfect. If the stress of IVF was quickly traded with the stress of a much bigger workload and a lot more responsibility – I will take it. I am pregnant. Here I am with my little baby girls growing inside my womb. I am so lucky, but it has been hard. It has been humbling. This pregnancy has taken a lot out of this li’l lady. I admit that now. I used to bulldoze my way through – one more hour of work; one more chore. “I feel fine; I’m just pregnant. I’ve got to get this off my plate.” Pre-pregnancy, I used to run 30 miles a week. I’d hop out of bed and go. I literally cannot exercise and haven’t been able to because there’s nothing left. I’m glad I didn’t push myself that far. But I missed the happy medium somewhere, and Monday was a wake-up call.

We are indeed stabilizing a case of severe pre-eclampsia. My blood pressures have been really good for over 24 hours – I think longer. The magnesium drip will certainly calm you the heck down, but I’ve been off it for almost a day now, and my blood pressures are doing well. I did have a reading after my ultrasound, a trip to the ladies’ room, a quick brushing of the teeth that read a little high, but I calmed my body down (I swear it’s an accomplishment for me.), and 15 minutes later, it was fine.

As some of you may know, there are several other signs of pre-eclampsia: protein in the urine; troubled liver function; high uric acid; HELLP syndrome. Well … my blood pressures have the ability to reach dangerous levels (though are stable now!), I have protein in my urine, and I have high uric acid. Thankfully, my liver function is doing well, and I don’t have HELLP (praise God). Things aren’t great, but they’re not horrible. These girls have a few more weeks left I pray. 🙂

The babies’ blood/oxygen flow is great. It just needs to stay that way. One doctor (maternal fetal specialist) told me I might be able to go home on Friday with close outpatient monitoring. Another doctor (my OB) said no way; I am here to stay until these girls arrive. So, it’s ever-changing. I just need to be in the best place for these girls wherever that is. I’m probably staying put until their birth. I did move from Labor & Delivery to Mommy/Baby last night, so that’s progressive. And I just learned I’ll be moving to a larger room this evening! Baby daddy is spending a couple of hours checking things off my to-do list. 🙂 My mom is arriving on Sunday. My maternity photo shoot has been moved from a lovely farm in Maryland to the hospital next Friday. 🙂 God bless my photographer.

Thank you for your prayers; they are working. Please continue to pray that my blood pressures remain stable and my blood work remains unchanged. I learned that pre-eclampsia inevitably does get worse, and there’s not much you can do about it as the pregnancy progresses. The magic is stabilizing it until we just can’t anymore, and accepting the fact that everyone is safer with everyone outside the womb than in.

Today I am 26 weeks + 5 days … practically 27 weeks, right? 🙂

Please Heavenly Father … Please, please, please …

The Theme is Pink!

I traveled to my hometown of Colorado Springs, CO, for a little getaway and, of course, my baby shower!

September 6th (of this year) was full of pink and full of joy! I celebrated with mothers; aunts; women who have watched me grow up; women who have prayed for me. It was perfect. A day to celebrate my babies and reflect on my journey – it was beautiful. My mother decorated with objects from my childhood – decor from my little girl room growing up. The dresses on display are those she sewed for me – and there are A LOT more dresses she made for me that will be given to my daughters! What a wonderful trip it was for my husband and me! It was difficult to say, “See you soon,” last night and this morning to our loved ones, just as it always is. I have a suitcase full of baby girl clothes. We are excited to prepare their nursery! We are excited for this season. I will never forget this season and what brought me here. 

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And so I pause.

That moment you can tell she’s thinking about donor eggs.

Really thinking about it. Or just wondering. Or fearing it’s the worst possible outcome.

I hate that moment for her.

I lived that moment—or series of moments—about a year ago.

You’ve just got to get through it, girlfriend.

She has to find her own way, her own peace and acceptance about it.

It = Her Eggs

It’s not that I don’t have hope for her. It’s not that I didn’t have faith in myself. The egg is so important. It’s crucial—and sometimes it’s just broken.

I’m not trying to say that lifestyle can’t or won’t change her egg health because it absolutely can.

But where do we draw the line between what we’re made of and built from vs. what we can change? Honest question.

I’ve had friends who’ve completely transformed their reproductive health due to lifestyle choices they controlled over time … and more time … and even more time.

But that doesn’t explain why some women who are obese or severely underweight, smokers or heavy drinkers, drug users, or poor eaters are perfectly fertile.

Sometimes you’ve just got what you got.

I just hate that moment for her. Because it’s a lot to digest.

It’s worth it in the end, but there is loss.

I want to share with her my thoughts, my story. But she won’t think my story is a success. She may think it’s a victory for me—but certainly it’s not her happy ending. And I totally get that.

So, I pause.

Sometimes the journey is so damn hard. Sometimes we find ourselves living proof of TTC timeline hell.

I don’t take pride in my suffering—not in that way. Trust me—I’d much rather be the girl who got off easy easier, who just didn’t have to go through quite as much. My story is not one to share with a new member of the infertility community. It would just scare her.

I take pride in my strength, my story, my babies.

But I don’t want that for her. So—again—I pause.

Because you’ve just got to get through it, girlfriend.

Hell Hath No Fury Like a TTC Sister

I find myself as grateful as ever today.

I mean, truly, there was no way to know that I’d reached the end.

That it was finally over. The question I’d been asking God for years: “When will this be over?”

He gave me an answer, and that answer was, “Right now.”

I don’t think He answered this question on April 22 or even May 1. I don’t think he answered it on May 9 or 16. But somewhere in between … somewhere along the line of zero and 14.5 weeks pregnant, He answered me.

And I am grateful for that.

How normal—yet surreal—it is for me to answer standard questions about my pregnancy asked by OBs and high risk doctors and ultrasound techs, nurses—the whole crew. How normal it is for me to sit in a waiting room with my bump anxious to see my darling miracles and their growth.

How normal it is for me. Last night I envisioned the waiting room at Shady Grove. Those women with empty uteruses and holes in their hearts.

I hate it. The universe is not okay as long as that waiting room exists.

I don’t understand how normal can be so hopeless. Normal can be so routine—SO FUCKING NORMAL—but yet there are questions and fears and numbers and blood and pure hell.

How is it so easy for women with bumps to sit in a waiting room carrying what is theirs—what won’t be taken from them—as if it’s completely normal and just happens every day?

I was one of them yesterday.

Why can’t my friends become and remain pregnant after having their embryos placed in their uteruses—for goodness sake?

If this is so normal, just everyday life, then why?

It. is. enough. to. drive. a. girl. mad.

It either needs to be normal, or we need to declare conception an absolute miracle. Not a miracle of biology—a blessed Virgin Mary, straight-up miracle.

Because I’m tired of all this B.S. I’m so over the fact that one in eight of us are completely fucked, just gripping the steering wheel of hope and faith and trust and science with white knuckles and aching hearts that pour and pour and pour sorrow and poison.

And yet, my sisters still fight. Good for you—you’re a warrior.

I will cry with you—fat tears streaming down my chubby, acne-filled cheeks and PUPPP-filled neck.

And I will rejoice with you—jumping up and down as my boobs twice their normal size preparing for my babies’ milk bounce up and down uncontrollably.

I will be one hot, maternal mess for you because this isn’t over, and now I’m pissed.