Youth

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.

But today.

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 …

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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.

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.

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.

Pump and Dump

She looks like her.

At first, it seemed like they’d be sisters who shared subtle similarities.

At first. Ha! Within the first few moments you laid eyes on Emmanuelle while she was struggling, Allison?

Her face – I see it. I close my eyes and can see her. That face I looked at that morning. She was at peace.

She was wearing that sweet hat.

Rowan wears the same hat now during kangaroo care. She is learning to regulate her body temperature; she is swaddled instead of having the “heat turned up all the way.” So she wears a hat while out of her isolate.

I look at her and see her … and I also see my beautiful Emme. They are sisters. I miss my Emmanuelle. I’m so thankful for my Rowan.

* Maternity leave is a doozy. I’m going back to work on Monday. Fuck, you can’t get a break for having a baby (among other “things”). “They’re” not covering me for my ante partum stay in the hospital … I guess I should have been able to work while suffering from pre-eclampsia.

It’s as if nothing has changed. Me. Husband. Dog. Beer to Numb the Pain.

Save the milk by day; dump it by night. Rowan has way too much stocked up anyway.

I’ve thought about donating my milk, but I don’t think parents would want milk from someone who’s on blood pressure meds and antidepressants.

Yesterday my blood pressure was 147/86 sans labetalol! This is a victory for me.

Now I just need my baby at home. It would be nice to feed her myself. I would love to show Rowan her room that Grandma and Papa prepared.

I would love to have my family. But, no, not me. I don’t get to have that.

* “They’re” is not my employer.

Funky

What is wrong with me today?

I think my anxiety is desperately trying to outshine my Lexapro.

I’m on the verge of a meltdown … but more just in a funk.

I’m irritable and sensitive today. I just feel weird.

Leave me alone. Don’t talk to me.

My husband just poked me in the bum, and I’m laying in bed resting on the heating pad. I’m trying desperately not to mess with my fingers. (I have a disgusting finger-/nail-biting habit that I’m currently trying to break).

Surely I’m not anxious because my home is filthy right now. Maybe I’m the tiniest bit anxious about my dermatology appointment next week..? I like to get annual skin checks because I’m a ginger. I don’t think I’m too scared though, right?

Maybe this all has to do with something BIG happening in three weeks.

Who knows.

I’m just exhausted …

And I really want to bathe Sarabi tomorrow, but I don’t know how I’m going to easily accomplish that.

These are the things weighing me down.

And then there’s that project at work …

I think I just need some me time. I need an outlet for this anxiety. I’ll conquer my world tomorrow, I suppose.

What Wasn’t

I almost got through the entire day without realizing that my “moment” on June 27, 2013, was supposed to be born today.

My baby was small, not thriving, barely even there really. But it was a good day, that Thursday.

It wasn’t meant to be, though. And I’m okay with that today. I don’t know; I just am.

My aunt told me back in June to protect my heart in eight months’ time when baby was scheduled to arrive. I was hoping I’d be okay anyway. I was hoping I’d have my take-home baby bump anyway.

But, it wasn’t meant to be. Nope, not today.

Instead I went to my Lupron evaluation appointment. My lining is 4-point-something. Nice and quiet. I have no cysts, thank Jesus. I did see a lovely batch of follicles, particularly on my right ovary. But I’m not going to talk about that right now.

Instead I went to work and received a phone call from my nurse informing me that “everything” looks good. Delestrogen starts tonight.

Instead I went for a nice run on the treadmill and plan to eat leftovers for dinner.

Instead.

Because today wasn’t my baby’s day.

Instead, I think I ought to have myself a Christmas baby.

The Story of My MTHFRing Life

Yesterday was not my favorite day. Loved the Valentine’s part because V Day is awesome, but, wow, the rest of it was rough.

So this Tuesday I’ll have my endoscopy. What can I say? I hope it goes well obviously. One thing to note about me: I fear that everything “wrong” with me is cancer. It’s irrational and juvenile, but welcome to my mind.

Work was particularly challenging yesterday, but in a good way. I was just exhausted after it all.

Of course I encountered my fair share of heart stings due to fertile people displaying their fine ability to reproduce via social media. Eh, what else is new, right?

Man, it was just a crappy day.

But it did end well with an evening spent at home with my Valentines. My husband and I got Indian take-out and talked until the wee hours of the morning. I love that … Just talking and connecting with him for hours.

I received my protocol on Thursday! Long story short, this cycle will be two weeks long with birth control and Lupron. My next cycle will be Mary’s stim cycle. Our embryo transfer is tentatively scheduled for the end of March. Now that’s not so bad; only about six weeks away.