The difficult time

I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of my throat and I'd cry for a week. I could feel the tears brimming and sloshing in me like water in a glass that is unsteady and too full. -Sylvia Plath

I have been working hard at distracting myself lately.  It’s never more clear than when I set foot in a support group and previously suppressed tears leak out before we even get into the meat and potatoes of discussing our losses.  Once or twice monthly support groups are a pressure release valve for the building pressure of grief in my life.

We have reached the difficult time.  We received massive support immediately following our loss.  It has now been over two months and on the surface life is mostly “back to normal” and no one acknowledges that we are still grieving, or asks how we are doing.  It seems that in general people are ready to forget and move on.  We smile and make small talk, but no day goes by that I don’t think about the boys.  Sometimes I wish I could; I could use a reprieve.  Grief is so TIRING.

In August I will hit the 3 month anniversary of their birth and death, as well as the original due date.  I have been told by someone who works with bereaved couples that the buildup to the due date is worse than the passing of the due date itself.  I suppose this could be true, partially since I would probably never have reached 40 weeks with twins anyway.  We were advised to take the day off work and have no expectations of ourselves.

The crushing part is that no one will remember.  Not that I would want attention, but thinking about the day passing unremarked by family and friends in our lives makes me really angry.

I cope by staying as busy as possible, jumping at activities I might otherwise normally pass up.

We went out of town on a whim for a long weekend.  The distraction was wonderful, except when I allowed myself two pints of beer with dinner one night and was crying and emotional for the rest of the night.  I have created a rule for myself now: I can have no more than one serving of alcohol in the company of others or else I risk crying.  If I can avoid alcohol altogether, so much the better.  This makes it slightly awkward when around people who, I’m sure, are speculating on whether or not I’m pregnant again… because in their minds there is no other plausible explanation for not socially imbibing.  I’m already dreading upcoming dinner parties.  No one expects us to go out binge drinking for a night on the town, which is a relief, because even if I weren’t miserable company, night life just doesn’t appeal anymore.  I want my night life to involve breastfeeding and diapers… getting drunk with friends just doesn’t seem fun anymore.

I am trying to work myself up to being more honest with people in the future.  “I’m not drinking because it makes me sad,” or some other party-killing phrase.

C.S. Lewis wrote about grieving the death of his wife that resonates with me.  When our grief was fresh, we wanted to isolate ourselves.  Now we want to see people again, though (for me at least) it’s not quite the same.

“At other times [grief] feels like being mildly drunk or concussed.  There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says.  Or perhaps hard to want to take it in.  It is so uninteresting.  Yet I want the others to be about me.  I dread the moments when the house is empty.  If only they would talk to one another and not to me.”

Kinda pregnant.

Why am I obsessed with TTC so soon after my loss?  This is tongue-in-cheek, because I only feel obsessed during the two week wait.  That’s also partially why I am anxious for AF and the mental resetting it brings.

To the point: the grief over the loss of our twins is twofold.  We lost the babies we had come to know, already with distinct personalities and each uniquely resembling us.  There is nothing we can do to recover this loss.  We also grieve our expectations of becoming a complete family, of being parents.  We have birth certificates officially declaring us “parents” but we have nothing to parent.  I am a mother with empty arms.  I feel like I am overflowing with love with a shortage of beings to shower it on, if that makes sense.  THIS we can theoretically fix.  We try again.  It will never bring our twins back, but it will help us fulfill our desire to parent.  So we, both more instrumental than intuitive grievers, are doing what we can.  Which brings me to the reason for this post.

I’m kinda pregnant.  Don’t get excited or jealous though, this is a transient pregnancy, and the second of its kind before I will even reach my twins’ original due date.  It’s also the reason I rolled my eyes at the advice to wait to try to conceive (TTC).  I can’t waste time waiting!  I ovulate every month and sperm meets egg—but that’s where it stops.

I remember my very first TTC cycle.  I’d never felt that way before.  I was convinced I was pregnant, only to be shocked at how unusually strong and painful my (late) menstrual cramps were that month.  What I now surmise was a chemical pregnancy.

Fast forward to my twin cycle.  I had an aberrant, incomplete LH surge after which my BBT never rose.  A week later, another LH surge combined with the latest and most painful Mittelschmerz I ever had.  Somehow I knew I was ovulating two eggs even though I knew of no family history of multiple ovulation, and I told DH maybe this would be THE cycle.  Ovulating two eggs had to increase our chances of ONE actually sticking, right?

At 2 DPO, something felt different than my chemical pregnancies.  At 3 DPO, I knew (KNEW) it was a boy.  Little did we know… it was two boys.  Somehow even though I knew I ovulated two eggs, I never expected both to actually stick, especially with months of chemical pregnancies under my belt, the shock was mindblowing.  All this intuition failed me when I went into preterm labor, of course, but that’s another story.

My first postpartum cycle was strange in its own way, experiencing what I knew was a chemical pregnancy but surprised by the first luteal phase defect in my life.  AF visited me on 9 DPO.  I shrugged it off; I couldn’t expect to get pregnant immediately after my uterine lining was shot from losing two placentas.  I hoped my body would soon remember how to be pregnant.  That more-fertile-after-a-loss bullshit.

Today I’m 7 DPO.  I’m collecting data using my favorite Internet cheapies.  I read in a (legitimate, not pseudo-science) research article that hCG levels are already at 5 mIU/mL around the time of implantation.  Not all Wondfos are able to read that low—they advertise 25 mIU/mL sensitivity—but usually if I pee on 4 strips, I can get one that’ll catch the low threshold, though it doesn’t photograph well at that level so don’t bother uploading to one of those pee stick voting sites.

ClearBlue fuck you memeCombined with my BBT pattern, I can already tell this pregnancy isn’t viable.  I’ve been here before.  I’m not distracted by the trees (+HPTs), I can see this forest (ultimately a chemical).  I should be more upset.  I am inwardly disappointed and worried, I suppose, but more than that I just wish I could get on with it already.  Now I have to wait a full week for the bloody bitch to show up so I can reset and move on.  I hate this progesterone lethargy.

Why am I bitching?  I can’t call myself infertile because I conceive nearly every month.  Like so many others though, I am not where I thought I’d be.  To get a conceptus to STICK is hard enough, and then to carry to term?  Most women celebrate being out of the woods when the first trimester ends.  That’s when things will just be getting scary for me.  IF I can get an embryo to actually stay inside me again… the twin cycle was a complete fluke, and I can’t help but wonder if it was partially due to the double LH surges.  Maybe my lining needs more time to actually hold onto an embryo?  Fat chance I’ll get help with that, if that is even the problem.  I see an ob/gyn.  We already discussed I’m not a candidate for their knee-jerk, first line fertility therapy: drugs like Clomid.  I’d wind up with triplets or something.  My ob/gyn would be hesitant to refer me to a reproductive endocrinologist though, because again, I’m labeled fertile.  And I’m not saying I need to see an RE either, but I overthink and tend to project my fears way into the future.  Kicking myself for not trying when I was younger, feeling like I’m being punished for waiting until we had a house and a mortgage, a child-friendly career.  “There is never a convenient time to have children,” people would always tell us.  Better late than never, I hope.