Day 6: Pet Peeves

pumpkinToday we put away the summer decorations and unpacked our fall decorations. I experienced a pang of sadness, the kind I read about but thought I would be immune to: preparation for your first holidays when you should have had an infant (or infants, in my case) in your arms. My family should be complete right now, and instead my arms are empty. I remember the last time I saw my Halloween decorations I was weighing and measuring which ones were childproof, but for another year at least it doesn’t matter. What will it be like next time I set out my fall pumpkins?

Day 6: Infertility Pet Peeves

30 day blogging challenge details available at I Love You Potato.

I guess my biggest pet peeve is naïveté of others. People who believe BFPs → babies, or even that making it past the first trimester → baby. Or worse yet, those who reassure me that lightning won’t strike twice, when I’ve heard stories of those to whom it has happened. I was proud of myself for telling my dental hygienist about my loss, and she told me she had a friend who lost twins TWICE in her second or third trimester.

I hate people who are blissfully ignorant. I feel bad but there is a girl who, having suffered an ectopic previously, is now pregnant again and flooding my Facebook feed with belly photos and videos of her baby kicking… and she drives me bonkers. It’s like she’s forgotten what it feels like to be on the other side and she’s maddeningly blissful. I will never be blissful like that because I will always be waiting and holding my breath, wondering if I’ll deliver prematurely again. I imagine it’s even worse for someone who’s lost a baby to SIDS—to potentially go through a picture-perfect pregnancy and still worry you’ll lose your newborn.

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Days 1 & 2: 7 Things, Rituals & Superstitions

Catching up!  This 30 day blogging challenge details available at I Love You Potato.

September 1:  7 Things

But I don’t want you to know me too well!  What about my precious anonymity?  Okay, let’s go for some general info.

  1. a ClearBlue f*** youI’m not technically infertile.  I have had numerous chemical pregnancies, but they all qualify as “preclinical losses” and therefore don’t really qualify as repetitive pregnancy loss.  When I took medical genetics in college, I was told 75% of the time when sperm and egg meet, a loss occurs, but no one ever finds out about it… unless they’re POAS addicts like me and test a day after implantation.
  2. That being said, I am no stranger to infertility. For every one of the blissfully naïve people I want to strangle, I know another in real life who does not have a baby due to PCOS or unexplained repetitive pregnancy loss.
  3. I am a child of infertility. I was conceived via IUI with donor sperm.
  4. I have a cat and two dogs. I feel like a house isn’t a home without pets.
  5. I like to lift heavy things.
  6. I thrive in clutter. This drives some people crazy.
  7. I am a dark chocolate connoisseur. It’s kind of a problem.

 

*fingers crossed*
Source: lindleyhewatt.wordpress.com

September 2:  Rituals & Superstitions

I believe that if I prepare for a certain bad situation, it won’t happen.  The one thing I was sure wouldn’t happen to me (besides conceiving twins in the first place) was horrifically early preterm labor.  The day I went into preterm labor, and even at the hospital waiting to be evaluated in triage in labor and delivery, I wholeheartedly believed I was fine and I’d go home.  Stupid.  I won’t make that mistake again.

In terms of rituals… I plan to go to a different site for my anatomy and growth scan(s).  I will likely have to go to the original ultrasound office for my first dating ultrasound, but thereafter I want to avoid that site.  I want to avoid the place that told me everything was fine a week before everything changed.

The Due Date Post

Today is my estimated date of delivery.  Not that I would have ever made it with twins.  In some ways, like a Tweep said of her own missed due date, today never really belonged to them.  That being said, I was hoping to get completely shitfaced and listen to sad music and cry all day.  Alcohol is off the table now of course, as I am waiting to see if my current inhabitant will actually be staying with me.

I can’t promise you anything profound about loss.

I’ve been thinking about this post abstractly for a while as the months ticked by, and I still feel like I have nothing major to say on such a huge day except that I am surviving.  Over three months have passed since I delivered my little boys.  It feels like ages ago.  I am so different.

I started to write about my experience with preterm labor and it was too much, so what you see is a massively pared-down version of my original post.  I relived the entire experience this morning.  From the first ultrasound (pictured below) to every milestone, to my harrowing hospital experience.  I miss them SO MUCH you guys.  They had personality.  They were so perfect, even though they were tiny and hadn’t had time to put on fat to become little cherubs.  Each took unique features from DH and me.

ultrasound: 6 weeks, 6 days
6 weeks, 6 days: when we found out we were pregnant with spontaneous twins.

I left the house today (I know, I amaze myself) but I didn’t shower (let’s not get too carried away, shall we?) to pick up some very fancy chocolate milk and Indian takeaway.  In the car on a Saturday evening, I heard Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and started crying.  So much crying today.  Sigh.  It was beautiful.  It was perfect.  I don’t believe anything stupid like the universe decided I needed to hear that song—because that logic would indicate my babies died for a reason and they did not.  NOT EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON.

I texted one friend that today was my due date.  She made a comment that it was a “bummer” because, after I said that was the understatement of the century, she “didn’t want to say I’m sorry.”  Why?  That’s the one appropriate thing to say!  People think too hard.  She said things would be so different (had I actually delivered on my due date).  Again: no shit, Sherlock.  Can you tell I’m angry today?  All of those things, all of the stages of grief today: denial that such a horrible thing actually happened, sadness, bargaining, acceptance.  Am I forgetting one?  Anyway.

I am spending today watching movies, interspersing crying sessions.  DH is out of town for work.  I know he’s going through this too.  I almost feel worse for him, spending the night in a hotel with a coworker he doesn’t really know.  I’d be miserable, a hissing introvert—leave me alone, will you?

Tomorrow, I will pick myself up and spend 12 or so hours volunteering.  Nothing like a little service in the sun to get yourself out of the house and out of your own head.  I highly recommend it.

Today though, today I will continue to think only about my boys.

I hate pregnancy.

I hate pregnancy.

Yeah, I know, it’s a like a cardinal sin for a pregnant person to say that.  The third time was the charm this go round, two chemical pregnancies and a “sticky” pregnancy.  (I wish it had been this easy the first time.)

In my defense, I decided I hate pregnancy when I wasn’t pregnant.  I was recalling my pregnancy with my twins.  There was a time when I was beginning to get really uncomfortable physically—I believe there is no “honeymoon period” in a twin pregnancy because your body expands so rapidly—and I rubbed my belly and told my boys I just couldn’t wait to see their faces and wished they were here now.  But holy crap, I DIDN’T MEAN IT like that!!

Probably 3 hours before I was admitted to the hospital in preterm labor, a stranger gawked at me with wide eyes and asked when I was due, implying I looked ready to pop.  Cruelly timed comments have a way of sticking with you.

Going through all the pregnancy crap and getting nothing out of it.  It sucks, you guys.

My body image suffered (suffers) a lot postpartum.  I recall one of my friends discussing her still-swollen postpartum belly, wearing it as a badge of honor marking her as a mother.  I think that is a really healthy mentality.  It just sucks when your belly is tiger-striped and lumpy and your arms are empty.  My belly folds over now.  It’s very weird.  And I COULD DEAL WITH IT, I could, if I had a baby, because that’s all that would matter, a price I’d pay.

My hobby is working out.  I’m not badass, but I enjoy it.  I enjoy it even now that I look fat, traipsing around the gym in clothes that show off how unglamorous my body has become, and I continue to work out for the mood-elevating effects rather than to lose weight.  Not that I don’t want to lose the baby weight, I do.  I mostly returned to my prepregnancy eating habits, though I admit not with the same discipline.  It’s hard to make yourself lose weight when you know that at some point you are going to get pregnant and gain it back again.  It’s really messing with my head.  Even my ob/gyn, who is FIXATED unhelpfully on BMI, advised me to lose the weight before I try to conceive again.  She said it with a look on her face as though she knew I was going to ignore her advice.  I am just one of those people who turns into a crazy, ravenous beast when pregnant.  Intellectually, I understand I don’t need a huge surplus of calories, but it’s hard to remember that when I’m too hungry (hangry, really) to think about anything else.

barbell therapyOkay, I’m digressing.  Anyway.  Today at the gym there were two things that upset me.

First, I am afraid.  I am afraid that I will be too afraid to work out this time.  I am also afraid that even if I’m not too afraid to, my body won’t be able to handle working out.  Officially, my preterm labor was caused by an infection (presumed GBS) per the pathology report on my placentas, and because my cervix was “long and closed” per exam and ultrasound a week prior to birth.  That being said, I was enormous and carrying so low it was causing edema in my legs (secondary to my lymph system being physically squashed, NOT preeclampsia).  Is it possible my body just can’t handle being that pregnant?  Of course I had toned down exercise to very tame stuff compared to my nonpregnant self, but was even that too much?  Should I have gone on bed rest as soon as the edema appeared sometime around 20-22 weeks?  I last worked out 5 days prior to going into preterm labor; shouldn’t I have felt something?  But I didn’t; I felt great.  I am worried about either being too afraid or physically unable to work out… because I love it.  It grounds me.  Exercise is a natural mood booster.  Even when I don’t want to go, I know I will feel better afterward and be grateful I went.  I am also afraid that I will forget how awesome working out is, and that I won’t make the effort to return to the gym after…. however this pregnancy ends.

The second upset was a strong flashback.  I was sitting quietly in a corner, waiting for my class to begin.  I was supposed to be warming up but that early pregnancy exhaustion is hitting me and I just. didn’t. want to.  Fifteen feet away from me, someone dropped a barbell loaded with very heavy weight.  The SLAM as it hit the floor.  That slam would always get the boys moving.  There was a competition day I went to observe, and though I couldn’t participate, I was tickled at how the barbells hitting the floor made the boys do flips inside me.  I was so blissfully happy then.  I don’t know if I will ever have that again, not during pregnancy.

So maybe you can understand that I hate pregnancy.  Months of suffering, months of joy, permanently altering your body with no guarantee of the fabled take-home baby.

And now the real grief work begins.  I knew it would be hardest when I got pregnant again.  In our most recent neonatal loss group meeting, I finally felt like I had a breakthrough, like I would be okay.  I was able to tell our story without crying.  But I knew that things would change.

With so many chemical pregnancies, I don’t really have a fear of miscarriage.  For better or worse, I feel like my ute is almost too picky about who she lets implant in her snobby cushioning.  But I will wait through this first trimester with a sense of foreboding, fearing my own personal hell hurdle: the second trimester.  Every milestone of this pregnancy will be shadowed by my fear that I will lose him or her (or them) in the second trimester.  Feel the kicks, feel the personality, and then lose everything.

Which brings me also to the “twin thing.”  Statistically, the odds of conceiving twins twice is low.  So it seems melodramatic for me to fixate on the fear that I might be carrying twins, but like so many people I’ve come to know on Twitter, once you’re on the shit end of a statistic, “low probability” is still something to acknowledge.  Shortly after our loss, my husband and I sat in the perinatologist’s office and were advised to perhaps consider selective reduction if I conceive twins again.  Not something to be taken lightly.  DH is adamantly opposed to it.  I don’t want to end a wanted life either, but I do also acknowledge that one surviving baby is better than two micropreemies that don’t.  I could be throwing myself into research, but I can’t.  I can’t even deal with this possibility unless I absolutely am faced with it.  Which is why I scheduled an early scan at 5.5 weeks.  The staff at my clinic were baffled: “there’s nothing to see that early” – but au contraire, ignorant people.  One lump or two?

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.”