When enough is enough

You see it a lot in the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss world and even the Infertility world.  People questioning when enough is enough.  I know even I was tempted by the ‘try one more time‘ even after 6 losses mind game as we planned on a FET after losing Abby.  Often times you see the try one more time turn into a try again and again and again.

When do you stop this crazy trying to conceive(TTC) race?  Or the crazy TTC and hope you don’t miscarry again race?  When do you stop trying drug x or drug y thinking that might make it ‘work’ this time?  When do you decide that you’ve seen enough specialists and have had enough labs drawn?  How many miscarriages is enough?

This is such a personal decision- no one else is walking in your shoes or living with your relationship or parenting your child(ren)(if you have any).  No one else can know what recurrent miscarriage or repeated IUI/IVF failures have done to your body, heart and mind.  Other’s experiences may provide you with some lessons learned but ultimately you need to own your own experience.

This hits home when I realize that I’m a ‘quitter’ in the RPL world (and yes, I was called such by someone on a RPL group).  I only had 6 miscarriages and Sally over there has had 11 and she’s still trying or Jill over there has had three children and then 7 miscarriages and they are still trying.  I think many people try to be encouraging- ‘Don’t give up, don’t quit, you can do it, great things come to those who wait, maybe next time your bean will stick!’  Honestly, I’m not a huge encourager.  I have to be realistic with myself, and I tend on the slightly negative side.  I also don’t get how some women can keep doing the exact same thing over and over and over again with the same result don’t see that as insanity.  But that’s their choice- if it doesn’t drive them insane, I really should have no say over it.  I just think that in being encouraging that we should be encouraging people to be making the best decision for them, not just encouraging them to keep trying.  People shouldn’t feel bad or guilty because they say enough is enough.

Then there are the things that just tick me off-

First is when these women say that if you stop TTC anymore that it means you didn’t want it badly enough.  You must not REALLY have wanted that baby if you aren’t trying again.  This really irks me that women who decide to get off the roller coaster of loss have to feel like had they just WANTED it more, they may have ultimately had success.  I guess we’ll never know, will we?  But I do believe, that when it comes down to it- what is in our hearts and minds has NOTHING to do with what biology may or may not do.  At the end of the day, some women will not be able to carry a(nother) baby and doctors may not ever be able to offer an answer.  You can want it till you are blue in the face, but that is a sad reality for some percentage of people.   It’s bad enough to feel like your body failed you and to stop without a(nother) baby, but she shouldn’t also have to have others tell her that she should have wanted it more.

Next is when someone does FINALLY get that pregnancy success and then she decides that she’s going to swoop in and ‘save’ the rest of us from our RPL.  I’m glad for her when I read that she has a healthy pregnancy after several losses.   And I think it’s great if she says what may have worked for her this time (ie, this time she used steroids or progesterone or xyz)– maybe someone else can take that to an appointment with their doctor.  But it irks me to no end when she generalizes that ANYONE who tries another pregnancy without using what worked for her that they are not advocating for themselves enough or they aren’t seeing the ‘right’ specialist or they should just get the drug and try it anyway because its a harmless drug.  Like we are all stupid and just blindly miscarrying without trying ‘enough’ medical intervention.  I’m glad you attribute a baby aspirin or a progesterone pill to your healthy pregnancy.  But don’t presume that everyone will benefit from that or imply that their miscarriage was their ‘fault’ because they weren’t on this drug therapy or because you didn’t push your doctor enough.  Last time I checked, there are no magic bullets to prevent miscarriage.  There are some crazy (untested, uncertain, and sometimes even dangerous to mom or baby) things out there that people are trying and there are still no guarantees.

So I’m trying to be ok with my decisions and experience.  I’m not there yet and I’m not where I want to be, but I won’t feel threatened or disappointed or whatever emotion when other people take different paths. If someone else is done, I respect that she has made that hard decision.  If someone else is trying again, I respect that hard decision.  If someone is moving on to adoption or surrogacy, I respect that hard decision.   And when someone asks the question, ‘How do you know when enough is enough?’, I’ll offer the most thoughtful response I can and remind them that what’s in their heart is most important.  If they don’t know, then maybe they need some more time to figure it out.  But I owe them more than just blindly saying to hang in there and keep trying till they get their rainbow when that may not be what’s in their heart or what’s best for them.  Only they can know.

Thanks for that

So I haven’t posted about faith or religion since an earlier post a few months ago.  Basically, I’m at a place in my life where I really don’t believe that there’s a god out there.  I’d link to that post, but I’m completely blog-illiterate, so sorry about that :), it’s out there, I promise.

I had a massively frustrating exchange with someone from our old church that I just had to write about.  My husband and I did join a church back when I was pregnant with Sweetie.  He believes that our child(ren) (if they are ever plural) should have the opportunity to choose to go to church if they want to (he didn’t grow up with religion at all), so we were exploring that.  We were very active and great attenders in the church for almost 2 years- every week through my pregnancy and then thereafter with Sweetie.  Sweetie was baptized as an infant in this church.  We attended all the youth group fundraisers, tithed and pledged money for building fundraisers, and we went to Mommy and me playdates in the church nursery.  Then I had miscarriage #4 (after having Sweetie) and we just stopped doing anything.

Slowly, it began to hit me that not one freaking person from the church ever reached out or asked us why we weren’t there.  No calls, emails, nothing.  Sweetie and I were enrolled in a toddler midweek music class and we stopped going- the teacher never once contacted us.  Yep, that’s the ‘Christian’ response, I guess.

I did continue to get little mailings of monthly newsletters for Sweetie telling me all about her important Christian milestones we should be meeting- (think little prayers to do with your 18 month old, little Christian stories to act out during bathtime with your 19 month old, etc).  After losing my Abby, I contacted the youth pastor who sends those out and told her they needed to stop because every month they are just painful.  I don’t need monthly reminders that my one and only living baby is growing up and I don’t know that I’ll ever get a chance to do this again.  She sent me a page full of Bible verses talking about how loving God is and how he’s so sad for us, too.  Oh and some more shit about ‘God’s plan’ and it’s ‘ok to be angry with God’.  Lovely, but I just didn’t respond.  Not worth it.

I finally got an email from someone in the mom’s group at church this past weekend.  I haven’t seen this mom in over a year and a half.  She asks me how ‘my baby’ is doing and said we should come to a particular fall church event.  Um, yes, Sweetie was probably 5 months and a baby when she saw her last, but that question just kills me after my latest losses.  Sweetie is full-blown toddler going on teenager, just not a baby anymore.

I thanked her for the invite and just said I was busy so wouldn’t be attending.  Then she pushes and says that my husband should bring Sweetie as ‘Christian fellowship is so important for toddlers’.  I then replied thanks again, but we aren’t doing anything with the church anymore.  I left it at that and was very polite.  Then she asks why not.  Finally, I replied back that I’ve had 6 miscarriages and lost my fertility after the last loss and I really don’t want to be involved with church or God right now.  Then I get back the lovely Christian spew email telling me about Job and his trials and how he didn’t lose faith or curse God.  And that I should take comfort that God is holding my babies in heaven.  Oh, and God send his only son to earth to die, so he knows the grief of losing a beloved child better than anyone.   Wait- it gets better:  With God nothing is impossible and he works miracles every day.

So now I want to seriously go off on this lady.  I know I’m kind of bipolor- I am pissed that no one from the Church ever bothered to care or ask about us, but then when they do, it also pisses me off.  So there’s no winning with me, I’ll acknowledge that.

But seriously, I don’t know where these people get off.  Does it really help most other people (ie, not me) to read random Bible verses and to hear that because God killed off all of Job’s family and he remained faithful, that I should remain faithful to?   Maybe I’m just in the very small minority, but I don’t see how shaming someone for how they are grieving by comparing them to a Biblical character is helpful.

I should have just ignored the last email.

I just told her that I wasn’t Job.  And I do curse God, on the rare days where I still believe he exists (and they are getting rarer).  And that I wish if he were God that he would just strike me down with lightening for cursing him, rather than making me live through the continual hell of him killing my babies.  And I think I said something about Mary not having 6 miscarriages with her ‘immaculate conception’, so obviously when it’s important to God, he doesn’t cause a miscarriage or kill a healthy baby.  Oh, and he supposedly raised his Son in 3 days from the dead, so when God wants to bring back my babies to life, maybe I’ll believe in his miracles.

Yes, it felt good to write that.  And I was really, really nice the first two emails, so I really don’t fly off the handle immediately.  I should have learned after the first time that just not responding is the better response to the spew.

 

How to be a parent after loss

After miscarriages #1, #2, and #3, my biggest fear was that I would never get to be a mother.  I wanted nothing more and the thought that I would not get to someday be a mother just paralyzed me.

Then I had my Sweetie and being a mom just felt natural.  It just felt SO right.  I didn’t have many of the fears that I heard other first time moms talking about.  This is not to say I thought I was better or doing everything perfect, but I really just felt at ease.  I knew I was doing the very best I could and I didn’t sweat the small stuff.  I really worked hard to enjoy every moment (I know, the cliche that most moms can’t stand).  I loved this Mom role so much that I couldn’t fathom not doing this again.

And then I had two more early miscarriages before my Sweetie was even 15 months old.  And my 3rd loss when she was 19 months old.  I look back at pictures from so many memories with her that should just be happy and I instantly remember:  “Oh, that was the trip we took right after I miscarried #4, I couldn’t take Sweetie swimming because I was still bleeding.”  “That was the Thanksgiving we celebrated right before miscarriage #5.”  “That was our happy family vacation when I was 6 weeks pregnant with Abby”  Now I feel like her entire life has been so marked by my losses of her potential siblings that I’m just doing her a huge injustice.

I am less of a mother since losing my Abby.  I regret that more than anything else (and that’s saying a lot).  Where I used to have (pretty close to) endless patience and be playful and fun and sing songs, now I’m on edge and constantly fighting back tears.  I can’t sing so many songs to her now because I just start crying (try singing ‘You are my Sunshine’ when you’re depressed/grieving without crying).  I don’t want to look at pictures with her because I play the ‘before miscarriage/after miscarriage’ thing in my mind and it drives me crazy.   I use so much energy during the day trying to act ‘normal’ or like my old self with Sweetie.  And there are so many moments when I just want to scream–  not at her (and I don’t) but because she doesn’t understand and I just want to explode.  But I shudder to think what will happen as she gets older and does understand.  I can’t handle my guilt now, how will I handle it as it grows exponentially?

Sweetie is so into ‘baby dolls’ now like many other toddlers her age-  she brings them over to me and says ‘Mommy feed baby’ or ‘Mommy read to baby’ and I just want to throw the baby doll across the room.  I want MY baby, her little sister.  Not some lifeless plastic doll that reminds me yet again of what I’ve lost.  I’ve tried to hide the baby dolls, and then she cries and wails and asks relentlessly for them.  Believe me, that’s far worse.  I hear myself in her and it breaks what little is left of my heart.

Parenting is hard.  Parenting after losing 6 of your babies is harder.

 

 

 

Thoughts at the end of a bad week

I’ll just preface this with saying that it’s been a bad week.

Today I would have been almost 32 weeks pregnant.  But 16 weeks ago my Abby died.  She’s been gone from me longer than she was with me now.  I don’t know how I walk around with this empty hole in my chest.

So then after trying to come to grips with her loss and planning to move forward, today was supposed to be the day that I was going to get knocked up again via FET.  But, since I made a horrible decision on the day my Abby left me, I now have a lead weight in my abdomen right below the gaping hole in my chest.

I just cannot wrap my brain around my life, the things that have happened to me that I had no control over and the bad decisions I made that I did have control over.  I thought I could move forward but I just can’t right now.

I wish I had just stopped TTC after Sweetie.  I would have had three miscarriages and then one beautiful baby.  I wish I would have stopped then.  I would have been a far happier person (not happy, because I would have always felt like I wanted more babies) but I wouldn’t have destroyed everything else in my life by pushing through two more 1st trimester miscarriages and then the 2nd trimester loss.  I would have been a far better mother if I had just stopped after having Sweetie.  I would have been a far better wife if I had just stopped.  I wouldn’t have hated my body so much- I would have carried her to term and breast fed her for over a year and stopped while I still felt like my body could still do something ‘right’.  I would have been sad that I only had my one child, but I wouldn’t have wished for my own death every single day like I do now.  I wouldn’t have lost so many friends because I’m just a shitty, awkward person to be around because everyone just doesn’t know what to say and they feel sorry for me (and in the same breath they are really, REALLY happy that they don’t have to go through the shit I have).

I found out this week that two ‘friends’ are pregnant- not just new pregnancies or hitting the 2nd trimester.  Like 17 and 18 weeks pregnant.  Where I was when my little girl died.  And as if that isn’t enough- one of them found out she was pregnant the very week my little girl died.  She got a great Mother’s Day present and I had every future Mother’s Day ruined for me for the rest of my life.  She got to celebrate life and I once again just get stuck with death.  And grieving.  And grieving.

My psychiatrist says that my depression/anxiety meds are working ‘well’-  Um, ok, glad I’m paying you out the wazoo for this appointment when I don’t agree with you.  She doesn’t want to ‘overmedicate’ me so I don’t properly grieve.  What the hell?  Please, just overmedicate me.  I need something.  Anything.

 

 

 

It makes me sick

My husband, Sweetie and I went out for brunch and some shopping today. I guess Sunday morning jaunts like this are another advantage of not having Sunday morning church.

I didn’t love my brunch entree, but it was nice to not have to cook for Sweetie (who has become increasingly picky, picky, picky about the food I put in front of her!).  I also didn’t love that this whole outing turned out to be a minefield day for me.

Pregnant moms with 3-4 kids in the restaurant, pregnant cashier, mom with 2(ish) month old twins. Everywhere I looked they were jumping out at me and my stomach just rolls.  I feel like I can’t look anywhere so I just focus on the floor and realize that I don’t even look people in the eye anymore.

Then there’s walking in the department store.

Past the maternity section… My stomach sinks and tightens more.  Not that I fit those anyway when I was pregnant.  But I’m still picturing what my 30 week bump should look like right now.  I tell myself to stop it and try to walk faster and will my husband to keep up.

Past the newborn clothing that I should be needing next month… The lump in my throat grows and I try to swallow it down but fail.  I try to convince myself that I was having another girl and I wouldn’t have ‘needed’ to buy any of those precious, teeny-tiny outfits since I already have them from Sweetie.  It doesn’t work well.  Walk faster.

Finally on into the toddler section to buy some fall outfits for Sweetie. I’m pawing through the shelves looking at some mix and match shirts and leggings. My husband lets Sweetie out of the stroller (why in the heck, I don’t know!) and she runs up and pulls two shirts off the bottom shelf and says ‘want this-a one’ and ‘kitty’. I see that the one shirt did have a cat on it and then I look at the other shirt and lose it.

Tears and a giant sob.

It said ‘World’s Best Big Sister’.

And then the contents of my stomach jump out and I throw up right there on the floor.

I bolted. Tears streaming down my face and wiping my mouth as I ran to the car. I left my poor husband with a half full cart of clothes and a mess to report to the sales clerk.

I never throw up. I have a cast iron stomach. Seven pregnancies and I never once threw up no matter how much nausea I had.

Yet today I lost my brunch today when it smacked me in the face how much this cruel world has taken from us. What was taken from my Sweetie, who should be a big sister in less than 2 months.  She could have been a big sister three times over by now, but nope.

It literally makes me sick.

Alone

I talked to an old friend yesterday.  One of those friends who you keep in touch with only once a year or so but its very easy to just have that infrequent conversation.

She has had a very rough life situation the past year- her husband racked up tons of credit card debt, stopped paying their bills/mortgage and they lost their house (they have 3 children).  She has been through the wringer with this and it’s still a big mess to continue to ‘fix’ as best she can with lawyers and such.

She said she wanted to talk to me because I wasn’t as close to the situation and didn’t live in the same town.  She feels she has effectively lost 90% of her friends she would have defined as close because of this awkward horrible situation her husband put her in.  These friends were the ones she did coffee with every week and the ones who called themselves auntie for her children, etc.  She imagined that they just didn’t know what to say to her so they have just cut her off.

Sound familiar?  I haven’t shared my history with this friend beyond her hearing about my 16w loss of Abby.  She doesn’t know about any of the other babies, nor does she know there won’t be any more that I carry in the future (I just wanted to let her talk, it wasn’t the time or place for me to share).  But the similarities of how we both feel following a significant loss/situation just blew me away.

I really think my friendship is over with a good handful of friends.  I don’t know how much more understanding I am supposed to be over the fact that they couldn’t bother to contact me or talk to me after my latest miscarriage.  It’s odd, because these were the friends who actually knew I was pregnant (the ones who call me now are the ones who didn’t know).  They had been so ‘happy’ for me when I told them at 12 weeks that I was pregnant.  And now I haven’t heard from all but one of them (in my supposed close group).  I put myself out there and invited them to my Sweetie’s upcoming 2nd birthday party.  I didn’t hear from a single one, not a single ‘hey, got the invite, sorry we can’t make it.  BTW, how are you guys doing?’  I don’t think it’s possible to feel more deserted or alone by the people you called your friends.  I guess I just picked the wrong people or mistakenly counted on the wrong people to be there in hard times.

And now, even if they did come back in awhile, I wouldn’t trust ever again that they could be there.  Maybe we could repair a surface relationship, but I won’t ever let myself open up to them again.  You shouldn’t need walls up to protect yourself from ‘friends’ abandonment.  It’s just awful to feel this alone.

So very angry

On a scale of 1-10 of anger, I’m at a 100.  If there were a blood test for anger, I would have that critical high value that gets the doctor paged right away to review.  Ninety-nine times out of one hundred if you ask for a word to describe me at that moment, it would be angry.  Ok, ok, you get it.

I looked at my tags that I’ve used in writing this blog for the last few weeks and I am blown away that I hadn’t yet tagged anger.

People are supposed to go through the five stages of Grief, right?  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance

I’ve done that, time and time again.  But I think the stage I sit in most often is the anger one.

I hate being so angry all the time.  I don’t know where to direct it, but I know I’m not doing a good job with it.  I’m not supposed to hold it in, because I’ll lash out at the wrong time, right?  But then how am I supposed to get it out?  The stupid little things get to me like no other

And yet, I also know that anger is all that gets me through at the moment.  It gives me some small semblance of strength to put up with all the BS our surrogacy agency is presenting.  Or just enough strength to call doctors and deal with bills and all the other reminders of all I’ve lost.  I feel like if I didn’t have my anger, I’d be done.  I’d curl into a ball and just give up.