Monday, December 17, 2012

I guess I've got it easy

Sometimes something happens to give me a little perspective, to remind me that I have it so easy.  Sure, infertility has been rough and two ectopic pregnancies in one year is horrible and awful and terrible but I still have it easier than a lot of people out there. 

The happenings at an elementary school in Connecticut last week once again reminded me that I am not vulnerable to some degrees of pain right now.  And the thought of being that vulnerable scares the heck out of me.  Believe me, I am sooo sad about what happened and if I knew one of the kids who was killed I would be even more so, but I honestly can't imagine what those moms and dads are going through.  I can't imagine the pain they feel or the depths of their sorrows.  I feel sick to my stomach but I realize that it's not even close to the same thing. 

Throughout the years I've sometimes wished that I didn't have this desire to have a kid, that I could be fully happy with what I have.  I've wished that God would take this yearning from me if it's not ever to be fulfilled.  And then maybe I could be happy with what I have.  But I keep coming back to wanting to be a mom, even though it sounds crazy sometimes to want to give so much of myself. 

And sometimes I think that all this is so not fair, when I see people who have kids who I think are less deserving than we are (like I can really judge that).  But then, sometimes, I also realize that it's ok that it's not really fair because I sure don't deserve the good things I have in my life.  I don't deserve the husband I have who is spending his first night on break from school cleaning the bathroom, or the educational and professional opportunities I've had, or the amazing parents and siblings that I have, not to mention all the people that have done so much to help bear our burdens this year especially.

What I'm saying is that I'm incredibly blessed even though that doesn't always come through here, but I do know it at least on some level.  

In fact, here' s a photo to show just some of those things that are awesome about my life: 
1.the Husband is amazing. sister and her husband (not pictured here) came to visit.  3.we got to go to Toronto 4.we knocked another baseball park off our list 5.ballpark hotdogs  6.we had a beautiful walk from the ballpark to our hotel through Toronto. 7.I didn't die in January so I was able to enjoy all of these things in August.  I could go on but I won't. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On Pain

When is it okay to give up? Is it after the years of infertility? At least we didn't have the false sense of hope to lie to us during that time.  Is it after the first ectopic pregnancy and watching my lovely wife almost die? We recovered from that, or at least we recovered as much as one can.

How about now? A second ectopic pregnancy in one year, and on the due date of our last pregnancy no less. Can I give up now? Can we retreat into our sorrow and depression? Can I look at all the happy families and feel anything but jealousy and loneliness?

I feel empty. I don't know if I have anymore to give.

If you didn't know, don't worry or take it personally. We probably didn't tell you. We are recovering...ish. I feel like Job, or at least the protagonist in a Lifetime Original Movie. That said, we still have each other, our families, our friends, and our faith to sustain us. We will be okay in the end.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What is the worth of a conception?

Don't worry, I don't want to get into a debate about the worth of a person, or even what it will cost us to get a tiny person of our own (I keep a running tally in my mind but I'm going to need some paper and a pencil soon :) but I have lately decided to institute what I'm calling "Period Presents." 

Every 28-32 days I have a really really bad day.  At least I know it's coming and can prepare for it (stock the freezer with Ben & Jerry's and make sure I go for a run a day or so beforehand, etc.) but I still get really sad.  So I've decided to try to make this time of the month a little easier on me by buying myself something with the money that I'd otherwise be spending on a crib or a car seat.

For April I got myself a raclette cooker.  I went all out and got the granite top and everything.  For May I got myself a book (even though I'm not technically allowed to read any books this year that I didn't own on January 1, 2012), which I bought from our local, independent bookshop even though amazon had it for about half the cost.  The idea being instant gratification and supporting the local bookshop.  I called ahead and had them reserve the last copy they had.  When I stopped by to pick it up after work they had coupled it with volume 4 in a five volume series on President Johnson or Ford or something like that.  Since this was meant to be an inspiring book-buy I politely declined the latter.

I think my June present will be a bike, even though I haven't ridden a bike in years and I'm a bit scared of the prospect.  I like the idea of biking around town this summer.  So in my free time over the next few weeks I'll be bike shopping.  One month I may get a massage.  For another my present may just be a block of raclette cheese and the chocolate cake for 2 from here, except it will be for just me.  Once the husband is a big-time lawyer I'll add fancy vacations and expensive clothes to the list.  I've already warned him that I might come home one day with a shiny new car that is terribly non-sensible.  And I'll probably get a dog after we buy a house again (I've already decided that his name will be Beauregard and I'll call him Beau so I have to find a dog that looks like a Beauregard). 

I've found that I'm not the first to do this while dealing with infertility, and I hope that it brings me and the others who do the same thing, a little bit of comfort, at least for a short time.  Feel free to offer ideas but here's to hoping I don't make it too far down my list. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Husband's Perspective

There are moments when eternity stretches out before you, and you see it with almost perfect clarity. Yet sometimes that vast expanse is not a land of grapes and honey, but a vast morass of nothingness. A chasm from which nothing escapes. Not light. Certainly not hope. It is the moment when you face every fear and every sorrow you hold sheltered and buried in your heart. It is a moment of utter and complete helplessness. That single moment fills and consumes you, and it leaves you flaccid, beaten, and empty. If you emerge from its unforgiving grip, you come out hollowed, vanquished, and spent. It is despair.

When was that moment for me? Was it when I saw my wife unconscious on a hospital floor? Was it when the doctor informed me we'd lost a child I never knew? Was it waiting an hour, a lifetime, in a sanitized and merciless hospital waiting room? Is it now?

It is in all of these, and more! It is  found in the unforgiving march of every day. It is the demands of a life that doesn't stop for tragedy. It is heard in the harmless word that cuts, despite itself, to the quick. It is in the jealous thoughts, and the accompanying shame. It is in the irrational belief that no one else can understand the sorrow and longing that you feel. Mostly it comes in the dark hours of the night when all is quiet, and you are left alone with vivid flashbacks of pain and anguish.

And so I am left with the choice that has faced all mankind since that fateful day when Pandora opened her box: Do I despair? I know that I will never be the same. Although, I have less patience for selfishness and shallowness now than before; I also have more empathy and understanding for the suffering of others. I see behind the eyes of those around me, the sadness that tinges all men and women. Is that an answer?

Of course it is not. But the answer is this, no one is ever truly free of the burdens life lays upon them. No one ever completely heals in life. True the cuts may heal, yet the memory remains. It is an ever-threatening abyss that wants to render you catatonic in its anguish. But the memory is a liar. The moment of pain and despair may have overwhelmed, but it did not destroy. Neither Wife nor I will ever be free of the sadness of losing that unknown child, nor of the fear and pain of almost losing her.

Yet I cannot help but think that death and suffering make the experience and appreciation of life and joy that much more acute. Whereas the despair would have me think that I alone experience such sadness, the sorrow of life is the common heritage of mankind. No man or woman lives in such isolation that they do not experience the spectrum of human life. Is it comfort to know that others have suffered as we have suffered? No. But the comfort is in knowing that they have overcome, and from worse things too. It might take us a week, or a month, or the rest of my life, but we will be okay.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Lest anyone think that I'm stronger than I am, these past few weeks have sucked. They've sucked monkeyballs. I get very sad and cry a lot and Stewart holds me and never tells me not to cry. But we're making it through. And I think we're doing well at it even.

I've been back at work for three weeks, only took one week off. The routine is really nice. Everyone at work has been wonderful, they still don't want me lifting anything. It's kind of hard for me to let others do stuff I should be able to do.

My birthday's coming up later this month and the husband asked what I'd like. I told him I could really use a new ovary. And I even found a place where he could get me one. But alas, he got me some other stuff, including a movie I recently bought for him. Is a replacement ovary something a girl can buy herself? I don't know the etiquette on this one.

I still can't exercise, I'm giving myself until the aforementioned birthday to take it easy a bit so I have more free time than I'm used to. Which means that my house is cleaner than it usually is, and I watch more tv too.

At my follow-up appointment with the doctor we reviewed the results of all of my lab work that I had done the day before I exploded. Interesting stuff. She tested me for clotting factors, given my family and personal history. I had no markers for Factor 5 Leiden (yay!) but one marker of two other clotting factors. Nothing to be too concerned about but she may put me on a baby aspirin regimen when I get pregnant again. And my vitamin D levels were dangerously low so I have some pills to take. And I tested negative for every single STD. Double Yay! But not surprising.

Surprisingly, the doctor said that we can start trying to get pregnant again right away. I was worried she'd want me to wait a year. That being said, we're not ready yet. Stewart isn't terribly excited to do something that almost cost me my life the last time I tried it. So we'll wait. But not forever.

I used to be scared of giving birth. What if I need a c-section. What if it hurts more than I expect and I want an epidural? Well, I'm not concerned with those things anymore. I'll be able to handle it. And a c-section will be just one more layer to have cut open than what I had done last month and this recovery has been alright, not as bad as expected.

The fallopian tube and ovary I lost were on my left side. When I ran through our glass door as a child, the stitches I got and all the scars I have are on the left side of my face and my left wrist. When I was hit in the head with a golf-ball at 17 and got stitches again, it was on the left side of my face. While out running with the husband last year I biffed it and road rashed my left knee, left shoulder, and still have a faint scar under my left eye. I'm pretty sure that I'll wake up one morning, my left arm having fallen off, a huge clot in its place.

We're going away for Mother's Day weekend. I just don't think I'll be able to handle church that day. So we're planning a trip to Pittsburgh where we'll hit a baseball game and run a cancer-fighting race. Father's Day is up to Stewart but I think he wants to stay here because last year the RS gave all the men candy bars and he's sucker for a Nutrageous.

Despite the all around suckiness of this situation, there is still so very much I'm grateful for in how this has played out. I can't say enough good things about the hospital we went to, though I haven't gotten the bill yet. Because its part of the Catholic Health system here in town, they bury the remains of all the miscarried babies in a local cemetery and hold a memorial service twice a year. We'll be invited to the next one. I received a card from the housekeeper on the ob-gyn floor. They sent me home with some letters and poems from the chaplin's staff there. While my religious beliefs are not exactly the same as those of the Catholic church I am so grateful for the support system from the hospital and that the remains will be buried. If Stewart ever becomes a filthy rich lawyer we'll add a wing onto the hospital. And maybe get me that new ovary.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Even though some of you already know...

I took this test two days after Christmas while we were staying in my sister's basement in Utah. I didn't believe it because we hadn't met with any doctors, or spent thousands of dollars trying to get pregnant. So I didn't tell the husband. But he kept bugging me about how my period should have started. So two days later I took another one, same result, and shared it with him.

Excited! Thrilled! Scared! Still a little unbelieving, so I took five more over the next week. And found an ob-gyn once I got home. We weren't sure when we'd tell everyone but we knew we at least wanted to wait until we were sure that it wasn't just vacation-diet induced nausea.

I met with my doctor on Thursday, she confirmed and sent me for a sonogram. The tech wasn't available that night so I scheduled it for a week out, when they had evening hours since I had just missed a lot of work and wanted to go after work hours. I didn't want anyone at work to suspect yet.

Sunday evening while making my famous chicken parm I felt some cramps, got a little worried but since there was not bleeding I thought I'd just wait it out. I'd never been pregnant before and thought this might be normal. After the pain got worse I realized that this couldn't be normal, had the husband call my dr, get her answering service, and she called me back. She happened to be at the hospital that day, working already, and suggested that we come to the ER to get it checked out.

By the time we got to the ER I was in a lot more pain, which only got worse while we waited for our turn. And I puked. Several times. Finally they take me back, get me all hospital-gowned and start examining me. While all the medical personnel are out of the room, I decide to use the bathroom. Before I make it very far, I pass out, totally, hitting my head on a table on my way down. Husband panics, rightfully, and calls for help. We find that this is the most effective way to get attention in a hospital. Noted.

Sonogram and ultrasounds later, my doctor has joined us and they've alerted the OR to get ready for me. Turns out it's a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, pretty severe. At this point the pain is bad enough that I cannot wait for them to knock me out and cut me open so they can fix me. The iv in my arm missed my vein, my arm swells up and hurts like a son of a gun. A man who was having a routine appendectomy gets bumped because I'm in a worse way. Doctor tells Stewart that she plans on going in with a scope, should be done and in recovery in about an hour.

While scoping out my belly, doctor finds out that I have a lot of blood in my body cavity. A lot. So doctor has to open me up to get all the blood out. And to remove the burst fallopian tube, and it turns out, ovary. This ends up taking much longer than the hour that husband was expecting. Meanwhile he spends what I can only imagine is a horrible amount of time in the ICU waiting room. He calls our parents. And I understand he cried some.

I wake up in the ICU three hours later with a lot of people around. I think I lost about 40% of my blood, hence the passing out. I received three units of donated blood and some plasma to boot. And I have a nice long scar on my belly. And no more fallopian tube or ovary on my left side. And I hurt. A lot. It was a busy night in the ICU, Stewart and I slept when we could but I was hooked up to all sorts of machines and nurses came to take my vitals every few hours. Stewart and a friend of ours gave me a blessing Monday evening, before they moved me from the ICU to the normal ob-gyn floor.

The past few days have been filled with tests of all sorts, hospital food, visits and calls/texts from wonderful people, flowers and tears. And even hugs. Wonderful hugs. I wouldn't have traded spaces with Stewart for anything. I much prefer being the one cut open to the one who was left waiting, possibly being widowed.

I am healing, the physical scars will be healed very soon. The emotional scars will last for the rest of my life. But it will be ok. Really and truly. I am still happy, with moments of sadness. I have been so grateful that the hospital we came to is the Catholic one in town. I highly recommend both my doctor (Doctor Julie Gavin) and Sisters of Charity Hospital if you ever need medical care in Buffalo. I've received cards and flowers from people that I never expected. Stewart and I will be a stronger couple because of this, I will be a stronger, more worthy person because of this. And I've even smiled this week. And laughed.

I've left out a lot. But I'm more than happy to share on a more personal level if it will ever help. I am so happy to be alive and to be able to move forward. I am excited to see my mom who is coming to help for the next few days. I am grateful to feel the love and prayers from so many people. You make this much easier than it otherwise would be.

I've been reading General Conference talks for my scripture study these last few nights in the hospital. Tonight I read Elder Hale's talk. Last night I read Elder Uchtdorf's talk where I found my new favorite quote ever, "We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it." It's true. It's all true. And I intend to reach it. With Stewart.