There comes a time …

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.

Another Spring Has Sprung

How is a girl supposed to get through the in-between day?

The day after beta number one; the day before beta number two.

One year ago, I had two [4 week + 6 days] embryos nestled in my womb.

One year ago, I had Emmanuelle.

What a crazy ride. From then, when I was begging God for something—anything. To now—I reflect on my dreams finally having come true, and it’s already been a year.

Fear consumed me one year ago. My husband told me I didn’t even seem happy as he searched the iPhone app store for pregnancy- and daddy-related apps.

I was happy. I was terrified.

I had to protect my heart. The body does what it does, and it was supposed to absorb a significant [additional] amount of HCG from the day before to the next day.

I remember driving to work the next day after my second beta blood draw. I got a flat tire.

I decided not to tell my husband because who cared anyway? It was beta day number two. It needed to rise by 66 percent. IT ABSOLUTELY HAD TO RISE OR ELSE …

“2,081!”

“… Oh, and I got a flat tire!”

I don’t know why I reflect on these things, but I do.

Rowan is everything and more than I could have ever imagined. She’s impeccable. She brings me so much joy. I love her, my darling Rowie.

There’s someone missing. And I had her a year ago.

Those were my happiest days. I cherished every moment, not knowing my pregnancy would end so soon and abruptly.

When you know this is your one and only season, you cherish every moment—uncomfortable or not. And I was preeeeetty uncomfortable. the. entire. time.

No matter how many times I say it, write it, or think it, “I miss her,” just doesn’t do it.

But we will celebrate her and Rowan in two days—at the March for Babies!

Rowan met Dr. Levens, Nurse Mary, and my donor egg nurse, Pam, last week.

With a bit of muted excitement, Nurse Mary asked if there were any more embryos waiting for us.

“No, my two girls were my only ones.”

We admired beautiful Rowan, posed for pictures, enjoyed each other’s company. We hugged, and I told them I loved them.

And just as he’d told me many, many times before, Dr. Levens made his exit with this statement:

“Well, we’re not going anywhere …”

Unfinished

6.12.14

My booboo babies, I remember when I first started to feel your presence.

And now you look like little, precious humans. You have blessed me! You have brought me so much joy!

Your daddy says I am lighter now. He says that he doesn’t have to carry so much of my burden anymore; he can let his mind wander and question the world just like he always has. He finds it entertaining! I would have to disagree.

You have a good daddy. He does little things here and there for Mommy that just melts my heart—makes my day a little bit easier.

I am so happy you’re finally here. I knew you would bring me happiness. I can’t believe I get to feel this every day.

1.9.15

There’s very little significance associated with today …

… except that it is the ninth of the month.

I just hope she didn’t suffer. I hope she didn’t suffer in my womb. I hope Jesus numbed her discomfort in Room 15.

1.28.15

It’s a blessing to just be … after three years of infertility.

This winter I am not preparing for an IVF cycle. My first began two years ago.

My mother remarked how nice it must be to come home from work and spend time with our daughter … our baby.

No shots. No meds. No IVF.

We’re in family mode now—not at a stand-still. Our life isn’t on hold anymore. Our dreams have come true. Our hearts ache too, but for a very good *reason—she’s worth it.

I still hurt, and **it still stings—but the weight is gone. The heaviness is lifted.

After all the times I asked God, “When is this going to be over?”

I just want this to be over.

It’s over—done. I’m living it now. I’m living now.

It’s quite simple actually. *blessed*

*Emmanuelle

**infertility

Joy wakes me up in the middle of the night—because she’s hungry and is ready for her “diddy” to be changed. She eats well now—rarely turns blue.

Joy welcomes me in the morning and rests with her daddy while I go running. I have joy when I run—she’s mine; I no longer just daydream about her.

My running is going well; four mornings per week, I log some miles. Pumping is a phenomenal work out. *wink* I’ve reached my pre-pregnancy weight; in fact, I’m about five pounds lighter. *confident mamacita* I wear a bit more eye make-up these days; I put in a little more effort. Because I’m a mother, and it makes me feel beautiful.

Joy.

She keeps me on my toes and bursts my heart. There aren’t enough kisses. Her eyes couldn’t be more bright.

Her wardrobe is PINK. We cannot escape it; pink suits her complexion.

She talks about everything—sleeping, playing, stretching, eating—but she’s quiet too. A content little girl with those big eyes. Physically, she is very strong. And her strawberry hair grows—a head of peach fuzz after her baths.

WHICH SHE LOVES.

My little water princess for sure. She belongs in Nana’s Floridian pool.

My Papa is not well. Please, please pray for him. I want him to stay with us; he has lived a long life. I am grateful for his longevity and the memories created, but I want him to stay with us.

I pray for his comfort. I pray that he knows he is deeply loved and cherished.

My sweet Papa.

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.

82 Days

We have a 6-pound 12-ounce little princess who is keeping us on our toes, no doubt!

I was told preemies LOVE to be held and snuggled A LOT. I think my husband can attest to that. He has spent hours doing so …

My beloved let me sleep in this morning. Mommy ate some breakfast (chocolate cake) and took her medication (antibiotics for a UTI that must be chopped into a million little pieces). Now Rowie is just hanging out at the breast for however long she wants. Well – until it’s time to get ready for her eye exam.

Rowan has been home for two days now after spending 82 days in the NICU. I’m not as scared as I thought I’d be. Having her in a “normal” newborn environment sans wires and monitors – it makes sense. Of course, before I lay me down to sleep I check for her neck/head placement; her coloring; I check for moving air beneath her nostrils on that adorable button nose. I do this several times; I also rearrange any cloth near her neck. “Do not obstruct my baby’s airway, swaddle blanket. D’ya hear?”

I mean, Rowan and we spend very little time sleeping at the same time, so the hours of not monitoring her airway, coloring, etc. are few.

She de-sats, gets a little ahead of herself during feeds. And that damn reflux. But we know her well and how to help her recover. “Earth to Rowie.” We watch the blue turn back to pink, and it’s a beautiful thing, I tell you!

I can tell you she has the best daddy ever. I can tell you I have the best parenthood companion ever. Patience. Grace. Selflessness. Endurance. I don’t know – that’s our recipe I guess.

Grandma and Papa have been visiting us, keeping us company in the evenings and bringing us real food for dinner. I love them. Thank God for them and grandparents in general. My mother-in-law is traveling here for a three-week stay. She’ll arrive on Sunday, just in time for Mommy and Daddy to go back to work and make that money. Well, Daddy’s been working, supporting his girls like a champ. He took this week off for the homecoming of his little princess. Thank Jesus, I could NOT do this alone.

I will miss my Rowie, but – it’s weird. I’m used to not having her with me 24/7. That’s what an 11-week + 5-day NICU stay will do to you. I’m going to go ahead and call it grace. I can’t deal with emotions of that nature right now.

Sarabi has been phenomenal. We have had Rowan’s swings and hospital blankets in our living room for quite some time now. She has been trained that those items – and that scent – is off limits. She is very slow to approach Rowan.

I remember walking into our bedroom – where Sarabi currently resides – with Rowan and Daddy on Rowie’s homecoming day. Sarabi’s ears perked right up. It was really sweet; not aggressive, but she was just very curious. I have a good feeling about these two. 🙂

And so it’s New Year’s Eve. My New Year’s wish for the last four holidays has been what I hold in my arms and heart today. Thank you Heavenly Father. Finally …

There’s not really an adjective to describe 2014. January-April: Hope. May-September: Joy. October-December: Joy/Brokenness/Fear.

January 17, April 11, April 16, April 22, April 29, May 1, May 9, September 29, October 8, October 9, December 29 …

Those days define my year. My 2014.

I have hope because the joy I carried in 2014 remains with me. I have my husband and my girls, don’t I? My heart is content. The pain of 2014 were incapsulated into just days. Those days are over; I don’t have to live them again.

Of course there is an enduring ache in my heart for Emmanuelle, but that is her place. She will not be forgotten. There is no closure or healing when you lose your baby. I can still have joy amongst that ache though. I choose to have joy, though my baby is with Jesus.

In the darkness last night, I looked at Rowan in her bassinet. I saw Emmanuelle’s face. When Rowan smiles in her sleep, I wonder if she’s dreaming of her sister.

Our suffering was never welcomed, but – boy – has it taught us how to cling to the good stuff. We let go of the small stuff, even the medium-sized stuff. Life is messy. But where there is love, there’s a lot of hope for tomorrow.

And I’ve got a lot of love.

My Glow

I rescheduled my maternity photo shoot with my photographer for tomorrow, October 8, at 11 a.m. We finalized our plans about 15 minutes before Dr. Armstrong visited us to unveil the plan.

Considering my second magnesium sulfate treatment will begin at midnight, followed by the birth of my babies around noon tomorrow, I will not have my maternity photo shoot. I am disappointed, but I just can’t go there right now emotionally … Life isn’t fair; we know this. 

Instead, I got a little dolled up, received wheel chair privileges, and documented this last full day with my beauties in my belly. I’m proud of my battle to bump story, and I’m proud of these photos. Some outside time with my husband and mother, enjoying the fall weather, celebrating my beautiful bump – I am content.

I feel a very odd combination of joy and grief right now. My mentality and perspective have changed during these eight days.

But there is love … so much love.

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The Eve

I love you, and I will love you.

I’m sorry you can’t stay warm in my belly. But you know what, my sweet babies? Mommy isn’t the safest place for you anymore. That is what the doctors say, and I trust them. And they fought to keep you here inside for as long as they could.

You have blessed me, and it has only just begun. I love you so much. I can’t even imagine what I will feel tomorrow. The love, but the grief.

The time has come my darling princesses. Please be strong. I’m so happy you have each other. Daddy will be right there with you. I will carry you in my aching heart during recovery, when I lay eyes on you, and during every moment in between.

You are loved. You are wanted. You are miracles. You are everything. You are mine, and I am so honored to be your mother.

You have given me the most joyful six months. And I can only imagine how much more joy you will bring me starting tomorrow.

Mommy loves you. I’ll be here every step of the way. You’re my girls. My beautiful baby girls.

*Please pray for Rowan Mac and Emmanuelle Mac. Please pray for their health and strength. I will endure (happily) another round of magnesium sulfate; please pray for no bleeding in their brains.

Dreams

I’m wheeled down the hallway where I hear newborn babies cry. Labor & Delivery – what an exciting wing of the hospital. But that baby is full term and ready to be born.

I see the excited faces of visitors – grandparents – awaiting the impending arrivals of their little ones. How exciting. How beautiful for these people.

My babies, though – they will be here too soon. Too little. My body is breaking down; I feel like absolute crap.

My liver enzymes have increased, and Emmanuelle’s cord is constricting a bit. I have been taking blood pressure medication since yesterday after a couple high readings. These things are inevitable. Our hope is that we can just hold on for as long as possible, really. But long just isn’t that long – ten days to two weeks maybe.

How did this happen? It is so surreal being here. I am thankful for my appointment on Monday and for mentioning my light cramping. But – dear God – what happened?

This is not what I’d envisioned – none of it. But – my daydreams don’t matter right now. I just want them to benefit as much as they can in my womb right now before being born.

They don’t deserve to suffer though. We brought them into this world, and they’ve given us so much joy. They are beautiful little creatures, my daughters. I know these things happen, but may I ask why?

The days pass. My body and heart ache. I am just trying to keep it together right now so my blood pressure remains as stable as I can control it.

“I think your baby girls will do beautifully. I think they’ll be healthier than you think when we have to take them out. They’ll be petite, but they’ll be strong.”

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 …

Emily

The passwords are “Emily”.

No one needs shielding now; the cat is out of the bag.

And my catheter is back in. How one can tinkle in a bed pan is a mystery to me. And I had to GO. They gave me numbing medicine through the IV to actually numb my bladder – not just my urethra. After I started shaking from the magnesium drip, they offered some anxiety medicine. Thank you Heavenly Father.

Well, I feel like shit. It’s true – the magnesium drip is not fun. But my blood pressure is down so that’s all that matters. I got the second steroid shot for my babies’ lungs.

I’m pretty much done with work now – arranging for maternity leave. I will be in the hospital until the babies are born. My assertive, tall, dark, handsome, and seasoned doctor’s goal is 36 weeks. Men: What would we do without them?

Really, though, he thinks he can only keep the pre-eclampsia under control until 30 weeks.

So, that’s 30 weeks GA for Rowan and 28 weeks GA for Emmanuelle.

That’s too soon but better than today, right? Come on, Emmanuelle, grow baby girl.

Please pray for my precious daughters. I want them. I have to have them.