Z is for Zoloft

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.

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.

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 …”

At Night

It’s passed midnight, and I have obligations.

Some beautiful obligations.

Some insignificant obligations.

I remember one year ago today, I waited for his phone call. He always called before noon with news of my cellular babies’ statuses. But he didn’t rush to call me that morning.

“I know you’re busy. I know you have other patients. But, I just … I just …

I’m calling to ask about my embryos.”

The sweet relief I felt when things were different this time. Among four, there was a 12-cell and a perfect – let me repeat, perfect – 8-cell.

“That 8-cell will definitely be one we transfer.” Was she Rowan? Was she Emmanuelle?

I live a secret life. A life in the late hours when I just need time. I just need space to myself. I need to be imperfect for myself.

What the hell did I do during those three months when she wasn’t home with me? I guess I stewed in fear.

But now – when everyone sleeps – I just. need. space.

Good heavens, it takes a village to care for this child.

I work Monday through Friday amongst an environment that … is lifeless. It’s a job. My joy is arriving at the last metro stop on the Silver Line after a 45-minute nap. My joy is preparing breast milk-filled bottles for her. My joy is reclaiming my status as her caretaker as her grandmothers forfeit it … everyday. Monday through Friday.

Tomorrow, there is my boss. There are customers. There are deliverables.

Tomorrow is her six-month appointment with the pediatrician.

I’m supposed to exercise in the morning. Somehow.

Somehow, I’m supposed to burn some calories; take time for myself; take care of myself. But time may not permit.

… because it’s passed midnight, and I should be resting.

But instead I stir.

This season of spring brings back memories. I remember their presence at first. I remember the refreshingly chilly mornings when I walked with my babies – my four-week old embryos – in my womb.

One of my babies is gone.

One of my babies finally rests in my husband’s arms as I take time.

Life.

It’s an adventure. Is it not?

The gratitude I have for the existence of her is overwhelming.

But – sometimes – I just need time to be imperfect.

Not the perfect wife. Not the perfect worker.

Damn, I don’t care if I fail at times in those areas; it’s all about perspective.

I am learning to give myself a break. But she deserves more. She will always deserve more.

I find myself reaching into my bucket in the early hours of the morning … being selfish.

I won’t ever “get over it”. I will let time do its thing, though.

And I will ride the waves of this grief. I don’t know how else to do it. Forgive me.

Please. Forgive me.

In 3s

In 3s they go …

I connected with her during our vacation in Turks and Caicos.

It was right before my second fresh IVF cycle. I washed my birth control and Metformin pills down with rum and Caribbean beer.

We vacationed together, introduced by mutual friends.

Three married couples having the time of our lives.

She was a NICU nurse. I asked her an unlimited amount of questions. I was fascinated. What a heart she has.

I told her about our quest for a family – about IVF. She offered me an expression of sincere compassion and gave me a hug. 

She told us that they go in 3s. They don’t lose babies often, but when they do …

This stuck with my husband following the events of October 9. I didn’t even go there. Thank. You. Jesus.

Emmanuelle was number two. You can imagine what consumed my husband’s every thought. 

My beautiful Emmanuelle met Jesus nearly five months ago. 

My husband’s Papa met his Savior three weeks later. His funeral occurred during Rowan’s NICU weekend from hell.

In 3s they go …

Prayer Request for Papa

My lovely ladies, can you please pray for my Papa?

I don’t want to offer specifics right now, as those are not just my business – but my whole family’s.

Please pray that Papa gets to be where he wants/needs to be in order to enjoy his life going forward. Please pray that the logistical aspects are sorted out and do not cause too much stress and heartache on my Grandma and Papa.

It is so incredibly frustrating that we must defend the health and well-being of our loved ones against logistical, financial, insignificant crap.

Why can’t a human being’s quality of life just be good enough?

*I find myself defending certain aspects of Rowan’s care because of the death of her sister. An echo cardiogram ought to be medically necessary for a premature infant whose twin sister just died literally an hour ago.

*I don’t mean to overshadow my Papa’s condition and heartache among my family during this difficult time. I am just offering an example of how frustrating these issues can be, and I do not want to disrespect my family by writing about my Papa’s condition on the Internet.

The point is that it’s bull crap and all about money.

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.

The Dethroning

My femininity and womanhood is artificial because I purchased it through medical intervention and Mary. How dare you.

My mothering is not up to par because my daughter feeds mostly from a breast milk-filled bottle instead of directly from the breast. How dare you.

I—as well as my husband and own mother—am evil.

My husband and I are evil because we accepted your gifts, but as Rowan’s homecoming approached you challenged me, and I drew back. You challenged my ability as a mother. You spoke of me in front of my parents in an antagonist manner, questioning my competency. Your intent is to dethrone me as my parent’s only daughter; this has been your intent for several years now. You announced your plan to visit my two-bedroom home with six other people three days after Rowan’s homecoming. I responded with a kind “No, but you and your mother are welcome to visit”. You pushed me, and my “No” became sterner. Because of this, I am ungrateful for all that you’ve done for me. I am unreasonable. You pick at and mock my baby and her prematurity; my husband distances himself from you—we are evil. I do not allow you to hold my daughter; your energy is very negative and unstable. My daughter is a jewel; you will not tamper with her physically, emotionally, psychologically. She’s one heck of a fighter, but I refuse to expose her to such an aura as yours. Because I did not allow you to hold my daughter, I am evil.

My mother is evil because she was excited about my pregnancy; she planned and hosted my baby shower; she and my father celebrated Rowan’s homecoming with us—purchasing celebratory snacks and libations, and spending the evening at home with us, watching movies and offering support—instead of spending time at your home while you offer them the silent treatment and go about your hobbies in a separate room. My mother is evil because she has given Rowan the dresses she made for me when I was a young girl; she gave the dresses to my girls instead of yours. Oh—she’s also evil because she cares for Rowan Monday through Friday while my husband and I go to work. My mother—the third person to know I was pregnant (after my husband and me). My mother—the one who spent days with me in the hospital; offered strength in my presence and vulnerability toward the doctor outside of my presence, asking him if I was going to be okay; collapsing in his arms when he assured her the c-section went well. *My mother—the one who spent time with Rowan even before I did. *My mother—the one who watched Emmanuelle die alongside me. *My mother—the one who arranged for Emmanuelle’s cremation. *My mother—the one who has humbled herself to do my chores, fold my laundry, clean up my clutter, make me dinner. She’s my mother, and she is evil because she’s mine—not yours.

There is much more, but I will not expose your secrets and personal business like you’ve exposed mine. I express only the ways in which you’ve offended me. How dare you speak of my infertility, IVF treatments, donor egg treatment, Rowan, and Emmanuelle.

You remind me that I carry much bitterness and rage. My dear, you’ve not walked a millimeter in my shoes. Look in the mirror; examine your own heart. I’ve always treated you with courtesy; I’ve always been cordial. And yet you’ve sought to replace me among my brothers and parents.

Belittling a woman’s value among her family—you’ve done it now, dear sister. You’ve done it now.

*My loving mother-in-law also did these things for me.

Off the Record

I would like to meet up for tea with her nurses and ask if the state of a premature infant can be glamorized.

I would like to whip out Emme’s doctor’s business card, send him a quick note, and ask if it’s appropriate to have mentioned her #preemiepower on photos of her I shared with loved ones on social media. I wonder if he would think I was glamorizing her condition.

I’ve been accused of glamorizing Rowan’s prematurity. This hurts my feelings; on behalf of my friends who’ve walked – and are still walking this journey … this hurts my feelings.

When a baby is born, and baby looks like a fetus – it’s serious. And it’s a reality for the #nicumom. (Crap, I really shouldn’t use that hashtag either. Being a NICU parent does not present its own emotional challenges. Why would I glamorize it? *insert sarcasm*)

To be honest, I have felt bad for my crappy attitude. I have felt very vulnerable sharing my feelings with others. Because my feelings are a bit harsh, and my language – well – it can be a bit much. In my heart, the f-word is the least of my worries, but I suppose it’s shocking to some.

There’s this idea that the happenings in one’s life can create a very bitter person out of the tender-hearted girl she once was. That’s my story. One year ago, I could not have guessed the happenings of my life today – both incredibly joyous and perfect (Rowan) and incredibly heartbreaking.

Mark my words, I do not seek a trophy or sympathy points. Some people suffer. Some people suffer a lot. I just express my suffering. How dare you scrutinize my daughter and her #preemiepower? What’s inside your heart that allows you to critique my every move, de-throne me as my parents’ daughter, even have the audacity to be jealous of the love and support my loved ones offer my daughter?

I trusted you because I thought that was a given. I should not have trusted you.

And – pardon my language – but you’ve officially fucked with the wrong mama bear.