Loss is More.

I realized something after talking to a friend the other day. And it is actually something that I think I already knew, but it just became clearer for some reason. It’s about loss. When you lose a loved one, whether it is a grandparent, parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend, it is a horrible loss, filled with such grief and sadness. In the “best” of circumstances, that person has lived a full life and you’ve been able to share that life and experiences with them. Let me clear, by no means am I trying to make light of a loss like this. It’s just when you lose a child — whether to miscarriage, stillbirth or older — there’s an added layer to it. There’s the loss of hope.

A hope that they’ll be a happy baby, child, adult.
A hope that they’ll explore and laugh and learn.
A hope they have your eyes and his lips.
A hope of what they’ll be when they grow up.

And then there’s the loss of hope for your quest of parenthood. Quest for family. With each loss you start to question it more and more. Can we do this? Are we going to have a family of our own? What the f*ck is going on?!? The RPL (that’s our Recurring Pregnancy Loss specialist for those not in the know) told us that I am not infertile. Yes, she made it a point to stop and look at Double A and me and say the words “You are not infertile. Fertility is not your problem. You need to know that.” And while that’s what we thought, it was reassuring to hear. Which is probably why Double A says to me all of the time, “Hey, at least we can get pregnant.” To which I usually say, “Sure, but what good is that if I can’t STAY pregnant?”

Now that we’re back on the trying circuit (of all the circuits to be on…), each month that passes without getting pregnant makes me question, do our doctor’s words still stand true? At what point does the switch flip to the other side? Could my fertility really change in a couple months? Oh right, I suppose that IS how it works. At the same time, I’m not truly convinced that this is the case. But until we get into the RPL next week, we don’t have any information to go off of. Except the information of our (read: mostly my) own wandering minds.

And then there’s the other big loss we face. Perhaps one of the biggest emotional losses of all: Loss of innocence. It’s hard to remember back to that first positive pregnancy test in May of 2008 and that initial blue sky, naive excitement that accompanied it. The time where you went from double pink line to maternity clothes, names and rearranging the house in a mere 30 second time frame. Not once did it enter our minds that *gasp* perhaps this wouldn’t work out. That we’d never get to meet this baby. With each subsequent pregnancy, we grew a little more jaded, a little more cautious. The second time, we were still excited, but unsure. By the third, gone was the feeling of sheer bliss in seeing the positive test. Instead, sheer terror. And the fourth? Plain panic. What if it happens again? How can we be sure this baby’s OK? What can/should we do/not do differently, or the same?

What we wouldn’t give to go back to a time where we were “dumb” again. To not know everything we know now. To a time when sex was fun and looked forward to and not a homework assignment. To not look at every pregnant woman out there first with anger, and then with fear of what she doesn’t know. Sure, there’s power in knowledge, and I’d recommend to anyone going through a miscarriage, or multiple miscarriages to dig, research, question, learn, question and ask some more. I think for me, it was a combination of fear and disbelief that there could be something wrong time and time again. And so I didn’t push. Truth be told, until we became a statistic, I didn’t really know we existed. Sure, I knew miscarriages happened. I even knew people who have had two. But I didn’t realize just how often it happens. That it could keep happening. And so now I know. And I ask. And then ask again. Even the stupid questions. Until I understand.

So now here I sit, knowing all too well the details, percentages and challenges. Tests, processes and waiting. Uncertainties, risks and heartbreak. And yet, is it stopping us? Hell no! Does it scare us? Hell yes! Maybe it’s blinders. Maybe stupidity. But on we go, and hopefully we won’t completely lose our minds along the way.

It’s My Body, I Can Cry if I Want To

Let me first start by saying that I know I’m not really fat. But at the same time, I currently feel as though I have a post-baby body, with no baby to show for it. My already not-so-ample chest has become deflated. My belly thick, my thighs wobbly and my hips wide. Proof that this last MC f*cked with my body almost as much as it did my mind. Thankfully, at a day short of 17 weeks, I didn’t get my milk in. I seriously don’t know how those of you who have had to go through that, did. Major props. Major.

The thing is, I’m not obsessed by weight or my body. But I AM obsessed with feeling good. There’s a difference. And “feeling” fat and thick doesn’t feel good. I’ve always been an athletic person. I love working out, particularly running, not only as a way to stay healthy, but as a stress reliever to clear my head (or at least trick it into submission). So after the second MC, when I started going through tests and trying again with the gonadotropins and IUIs, I was limited on my workout abilities to low impact. Good-bye running. And I was fine with that. Cause I was going to get pregnant and have a baby.

Not so fast. Three IUIs, and nothing. Each month when there was a BFN (that’s big fat negative pregnancy test for those of you not in the know), I would have about a one week window where I could workout hard before starting another cycle. I love those hard workouts where you come out of it a pile of sweat and feeling great. Where you truly feel like you’ve kicked ass. Where it helped you forget that you’re still not closer to what you want. And then I’d go back to trying something low impact, or even not doing anything at the off chance (or grasping at straws) that even walking would lessen my chances of getting pregnant. All the while my body doing a little shift, and my mind not getting the clearing it needed.

A little laproscopic surgery and a 4th IUI later and I was pregnant. And 6-1/2 weeks later I wasn’t. Back to the low-impact, back to the gonadotropins and IUI. And then I was pregnant again. So as I was progressing along and feeling bloaty, I embraced it. I loved my little pooch belly and the hope that it held. I can’t tell you how excited I was the day I had to go out and buy belly bands when my pants would no longer close. There wasn’t much of a bump, but I could tell and that was all that mattered. Double A and I spent an afternoon at the G.ap where I picked out clothes that I could wear before I needed to get the real big girl maternity clothes. And then we peeked at those maternity outfits anyway, looking forward to the day I could make the jump.

I can’t remember now if it was at 3 months or 4 months that I finally allowed him to take the belly shot. No, not bare belly, just me in a fitted tank with my hands on either side of the mini bump, and a smile that stretched from New York to LA. We had finally made it to the belly shot phase! This, in itself, felt like a huge feat. Unfortunately, this picture no longer exists. I deleted it in the anger, sadness and haze that followed the loss, and that’s something I regret doing now. Outside of some ultrasound shots, we have so little “proof” of our baby, that it would be nice to have a photo, where at that moment in time, Double A and I were both truly happy, excited and believed.

For some time after the loss, I had a hard time touching my body, or even looking at it. If I was in bed, I could no longer rest my hands on my belly as I had during those 17 weeks, for it was just another reminder of what wasn’t there. When getting in or out of the shower, I couldn’t look in the mirror at my once full, now depleted, chest. At night, one of our cats would curl up in between my legs, and I would freak out because it brought back the painful memories and the warmth of the feeling from when the baby was born before the doctor or nurses could make it in to deliver her. That’s messed up.

And now here I sit, 8 months later, no baby, not pregnant and ever thicker. Under the same low-impact instructions. Every morning I get dressed and put on pants that don’t fit like they used to, or just don’t look right. And then my day is shot. I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see, and on some days, don’t know who I’m looking at. Poor Double A tells me that I look great, that what I’m wearing looks really good. And he means it (he’s not one to say something for the sake of saying it). Yet it goes back to not feeling great, and he’s left to deal with my crabbiness.

Sir Spins-a-Lot

So we bought a spin bike, or Sir Spins-a-Lot, as I like to call it. And that helps. I get up each morning (read: reluctantly drag myself out of bed) and head downstairs for at least a half hour of spinning. We’re not talking at the health club class, spinning. We’re talking about getting on the bike and pedaling within the limits of low-impact while still breaking a sweat, spinning. Unless it is after a stupid BFN, then I go balls out. This seems to help, at least my state of mind. As for my body, I think it is going to take a lot to get me to a place where I feel good. But then again, most of that has nothing to do with what’s below my shoulders.

At Least I Showed Up

You know what I should be doing now? Writing my work review. You know what I am doing right now? Anything but. Why? It’s hard enough when I’ve had a good work year, filled with accomplishments and successes. I tend to be too critical of myself and stress out over if what I’m writing is bolstering my accomplishes enough…or *gulp* too much. Criticizing every word, each detail, all the while taking pride in knowing that I kicked ass and took some names. But in a year where my greatest work accomplishment may have been actually showing up, I’m at a complete loss. How do you review a year where I got my ass kicked?

I’ve never had a bad review, or report card for that matter (except my first semester of college…but I’ll blame that on youthful innocence). And it isn’t that I’m bragging. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m pretty stubborn in a I’m not going to give up way, and that’s how I approach my job too. I go above and beyond what is necessary and, in many instances, have put in more than I’ve gotten out of it. But since this isn’t a job interview, I’ll move on.

I officially went back to work two weeks after loss #4. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I was there in body, but definitely not in mind. And I was lucky, because I work with a team who really cares and are supportive. They knew exactly what had happened. They needed to, as they were there for Loss #3, and I needed them to know how very different this one was. They afforded me the space I needed, while still checking in and making sure I was not drowning in my own tears. Those days, I’m pretty sure I resembled and acted like a zombie, and that in spite of my best efforts, I probably wasn’t making much sense. My boss filled in the chairman of our board (who sent a very nice note), but didn’t go further up the HR chain, saving me the questions, paperwork and valuable time off. And I appreciated that. Still do.

But when he sent me the paperwork for my review, I panicked. Sure, I knew he understood, or at least had an idea of why my work year was lacking. But what about the people above? How do I get across that I didn’t just give up this year? (Note: Double A is constantly telling me — with much truth — that I’m being too hard on myself. So yes, I’ll admit that I still managed to do an OK job. But I’m not used to OK.) I knew I needed to talk to my boss as my boss, and also my friend to let him know my fears about this. Unfortunately when I did so, I couldn’t keep my emotions in check and got all choked up in trying to explain myself. Hate doing that at work, even if it was to a friend.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that this really isn’t about my success or failure at the office or ego. It’s about my losing my ability to focus. To think straight. To think. Even now, I still feel like my head is in a cloud on most days. Sure, there’s patches of clarity, some of which last for a while and times where I can even complete coherent sentences and have some thoughts. But all in all, I’m still kinda wandering and trying to figure this out. Figure me out. You know in The Breakfast Club, where Anthony Michael Hall’s Brian Johnson is writing the letter to Mr. Vernon. Yeah, that’s me (only without the pen going up my nose).

Who Am I? Who. Am. I?

I’ve never been one to measure myself by my job, and yet at the same time, I always knew that I’ve done a good job. So when that comes into question, along with all of the other questions of “failure” that coincide with multiple losses, I just find myself in new territory. And I’ll tell you what, I’m tired of having to discover new territory. Sure, life is about discovery and exploration, but come on.

So here I sit, looking at this paper that’s supposed to define my year. And I know that not even a moment of my year would fit on this paper. Do you think I could get away  with “I think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us…” No, probably not.  But maybe, I could go with, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions, yeah, at least I showed up, and sometimes that’s all that matters.

Editor’s Note: After reading this, Double A just told me that he thinks it’s ironic that I’m being so hard on myself, when part of why I’m writing this is to help show others that they shouldn’t be so hard on themselves. I guess sometimes the truth is right in front of you…or next to me in this case.