Triggers, goodbyes and gratitude

Like a tornado she came to me. Thrashing through my sleep. Piercing me with grief. Hurtling debris strewn in her wake.

She came to me one year and 10.5 days from when she left, her heart arresting for the third time as I sped to reach her, to hold her, to share a last farewell.

I didn’t make it in time.

Her heart arrested. Again.

The phone rang.

You lost her, didn’t you?

I am so sorry.

She didn’t make it.

I didn’t get there in time.

She left behind a hole.

A cavity I cannot fill. A grief I cannot swallow. A guilt that rears its head and reminds me, in the middle of the night, how I failed her. How I fail me.

The night before she awoke.

She heard my voice and rallied. She worked at breathing on her own, replacing the machine’s labour.

I stayed until she fell asleep. The middle of the night. They let you do that in intensive care if you’re a paying customer.

I left her intubated. She could not breath on her own once she fell asleep again.

The next day her heart arrested.

Again and again.

Until it could not.

I didn’t make it in time.

She didnt make it.

And so my day started. In the middle of the night.³

Then I read what it takes to make an abuser go away.

My chest ached around my racing heart. I wanted to throw up. I could not breathe on my own. There was no machine to do it for me.

It costs a great deal to make an abuser go away. The bounty is too high.

I miss her.

And the pieces of me the horror that took her stole from me.

Go away, bully liar manipulative fuck. I stood alone, voting against you, motioning you exit.

I am so grateful.

So grateful this week is over.

So grateful I have other memories, happier memories, of her.

What if…

In the early months of this year a friend very close to our family – a friend who had intimately witnessed many of our miscarriages, IVF cycles, immune testing and finally our successful immune-treatment cycle that later resulted in the birth of baby Azulito – called me looking for advice. She was pregnant. 

Not planned, a severe endometriosis sufferer in a long-term relationship with a guy who had taken steps to insure he would not father any more children. Yet there she was, the morning after finding out and wanting advice about how to keep baby and herself healthy and safe. 

She did not want to terminate the pregnancy but her boyfriend did not want to raise another child. Her child. Their child. On top of that she had her own fears about becoming a mother and raising a child herself. 

I felt sick. I felt betrayed by things greater than myself. Again. I was sure she was asking herself many of the same questions I was. How could this be happening? Why is life so cruel? So unfair? Why me? Why now? Why, why, why, why?

For a time it seemed she would raise her child even if doing so meant becoming homeless, jobless and without the relationship that has brought her a whole new life complete with (his and his ex’s) children on a part-time schedule. 

I have been very close friends with another birth/first mom for many years. I knew adoption would be a devastating “choice” in these (in any) circumstances. I dreaded the lifetime of unimaginable grief, self-loathing, doubt and loss I knew would await our pregnant friend if she did what her boyfriend said from day one that he would do: place her baby with an adoptive family (while continuing to help raise his kids). 

As the months passed it became clear that an open adoption was The Plan. I promised myself I would support whatever path our friend chose. It has not been easy for us. It has been much harder for her. Infinitely harder. 

I/we offered everything we could to ensure our friend could raise baby if she chose to do so and we have offered what support we can since she chose to place her daughter with her adoptive family and leave her with them at the end of the revocation of consent period. I hope to be able to support her whenever she may need or want that. 

I cannot count the tears I have shed or the ways in which I’ve felt my heart shatter. I know their number and magnitude are dwarfed by our friend’s own loss to date and in the new life she forges in the open adoption relationship she ultimately chose. 

Why am I sharing this here? Now?

I love our friend like family. I admire her candour and the courage with which she is facing life after placing her daughter. I love her daughter even though I cry and grieve a little each time I look at her photos and think of her. She recently described her child as the one thing of which she is most proud. So she should be; she did the very best she could for that baby from day one.

At a personal level these events have given rise to a river of grief in me I could not have forecast. The river is vast and swift. I have felt myself drowning in it many a sleepless night for months on end. 

In my gut and heart I knew for months – even though the testing was inconclusive and even though she felt that the baby was a boy for most of her pregnancy – that our friend would give birth to a daughter. Surely for my grief to be complete the universe had to deal me this final blow. 

And so it was. 

What has happened for me in the process of witnessing our friend’s struggle with how to manage her unexpected pregnancy and make a plan that she could not only live with but try to thrive with in time is hard to explain. I could not explain it here even if I wished. My views on the adoption industry are not popular and I care too much about our friend to cheapen her experience by sharing what little I can truly know or understand about it given my own history and perspective. I hope I have not already said too much. 

In any event her pregnancy – which chugged along beside my own for many months – forms the impetus for this post and probably several to follow. It opened my heart to feelings and my mind to thoughts I have been unable to shake or put to bed. 

The short version is that I have wept and ached not only for her impossible choices and crushing loss but knowing I would never be able to have a daughter myself. Or another child irrespective of whether a boy or girl. I have cursed myself – for being such a late bloomer, for waiting so long, for buying the lies, for not following my gut and looking for a reproductive immunologist sooner – and fate, the universe, God or whatever you want to call it – for screwing me over so resolutely in the child-bearing department. I have raged against all the wrongs I perceived as a result. 

In short, I have drunk deeply and long from the well of grief. My visions blurs and head dizzies just thinking about it. 

And then it happened. I asked the ill-fated question I probably should have eliminated from my vocabulary long ago when it comes to my reproductive abilities. 

What if… 

What if we tried again? Would I hope for a girl? Yes. Would I be just as excited to have another boy? Absolutely. 

Yes we are too old. Yes this is utter madness. Yes it would cost another fortune we don’t have. Yes it would mean three kids in full-time child care because yes, it would mean me having to go back to work before I would like if it even worked. And the worst yes of all: it may not work and would cost nearly the same fortune to fail as to succeed. 

And yet. I have made inquiries. We are waiting for a consult to determine if a certain doctor in our own country would work with Dr. Braverman if we did a DE IVF cycle with him using a protocol designed by Dr. B and with him consulting (ka-ching x 2). I have grown simultaneously calmer and more restless since setting these balls in motion. 

The one thing I have not done is meditate to call on the spirit(s) of any child(ren) who may or may not be interested in us being his/her/their parents. It is too soon for that. 

I am wrought by an anxiety that this is another manifestation of my grieving and not a sustainable rational or reasonable thing to do. It would surely mean my never retiring. At least not before my 70th birthday. I also do not want to set myself up for an insatiable thirst that ca only ever be satisfied at the well of grief. My communication with any spirit baby or babies will be very different if I am reaching out to say goodbye for now rather than extending an invitation. 

And now for a caveat of sorts:

* I have wrestled with whether to password protect this post. In theend – at least for now – I have chosen not to in case anyone else has struggled or is struggling with similar feelings or circumstances. Whether it readsas such or not this is one of the most vulnerable entries I have ever posted. 

* In light of my deep sense of vulnerability I may delete this post or password it. I will certainly delete and block all troll comments as I have done in the past (you’ve been warned, a-holes). And I may not respond substantively in public to any comments though I may be more inclined to do so outside of this public forum. If this happens please don’t take it personally. I feel pretty raw fragile and pensive about all of “this” at the moment. 


I remember you

Little light, tiny boy, you were my first. You were supposed to be born in early August. You left us on New Year’s Day instead. I think about you often. As you know we have given our second living son your first name as his second. You are buried in a planter in our front yard. Remember when I dragged that heavy thing, weighing almost half as much as I do, from our old home to the one in which we now live? I remember you. And my love for you lives on always, not only on days like today dedicated to infant and pregnancy loss. 

Little spark, you were with us only briefly and some doctors said you didn’t count. But you did. I remember you. You were wanted. You too were loved.

Miracle Toddler, you broke the spell. Notwithstanding every complication my body threw in your way you triumphed. You have lived through the six losses that followed you. And the one who survived. Your little brother. You were my first miracle who lived. I will love you forever and in all ways. 

Tiny gift, you were welcomed with such hope. My heart broke with a newfound anguish when you disappeared. Too soon. Forever too soon. I remember you. 

Little bean, I was so excited to know you. I dreamed of holding you. I dreamed of you being my best holiday gift ever. But then you too were gone. Too soon. My heart died a little more with your passing. 

Oh, Mandy, then there was you. You were our holiday and special occasion baby. Conceived on vacation. We first saw your heart beating on my birthday. I watched you grow and knew you would be my beautiful baby girl. You were so brave. You fought hard. But it was not enough. I cried begging the doctor to let me see you one more time, fearing you too had slipped away. Knowing something was wrong. And something was. So dreadfully wrong. The Miracle Toddler cried with me as I mourned your passing. Time and time again. I am so sorry I lost you Mandy. I remember you. I always will. You will forever be the daughter I will never get to hold. 

Tiny button, you were our first IVF baby. Your time with us was brief but our love and longing for you deep and plentiful. I remember you.

Dearest whisp, you were with us for Valentine’s Day and the weeks that followed. And then you were gone. Just like that. I remember you. 

Wee Hope, you were my Mother’s Day baby. I traveled far, yearned long and worked hard for you. I did everything right. I thought it would be enough. How wrong I was. You taught us so much. You are missed. And I remember you. 

Little E, you landed in my womb alongside baby Azulito. Little Blue. He lived. You did not although you tried and for that I thank you and, little E, I remember you.

Baby Azulito, you are finally here. You beat every odd and overcame every obstacle my immune system erected in your path. I could not be more grateful. I will remember you in all ways and forever. 

Though my heart is heavy, my eyes burning and my cheeks stained as I write this, little loves of mine, I know I am fortunate and filled with gratitude for the two of you who fill my arms, day and night. I love each and every one of you. And I remember you even when and even if virtually everyone else has long forgotten most of you. 

October 15, 2015 is a day dedicated to pregnancy and infant loss remembrance and awareness where I live.  I typically have a hard time writing on days like this. My feelings are complicated and it is difficult not to feel guilty when I think of others still struggling and facing today and everyday with empty arms. Yet my lost loved ones deserve to be remembered. And so I write. To all of you reading this who are struggling with infertility and or  surviving pregnancy or infant loss please know my thoughts and compassion are with you. 

Death, Fear and Impotence: A Rough Week

It has been a particularly rough week. The past 8 days have filled me with a deep and persisting sadness and a sense of anxiety I cannot shake.

The downward spiral started with the news last Thursday morning that a close and beloved friend had died – suddenly, unexpectedly, far too young – and left behind the two – just as suddenly and unexpectedly lost and shattered -individuals she loved most in the world. Her husband (like mine, many years her senior). Her son (the sole surviving twin of her one successful pregnancy).

My friend’s funeral was yesterday. I don’t even know where to start with all of the thoughts and feelings I have experienced in the past 8 days let alone at the funeral. The hardest part for me was witnessing how utterly devastated and devastatingly lost my friend’s dear husband – her soul mate if ever there were soul mates – is. He barely made sense when he spoke. His body looked as broken as his spirit must be. My heart shattered all over again. Life can be so cruel.

So cruel.

On Monday a good friend and fellow patient of Dr. Braverman found out her 9-week pregnancy was at an end. Her baby had died sometime in the preceding week. We have much in common. We are the same age give or take a few months. Her protocol is almost identical to mine. She transferred two embryos – as I did – three days after I did in mid-October. Only one of her embryos survived – same as me – despite both being PGD tested and chromosomally normal. My friend has lost numerous babies (first and second trimester) and has never had a living child. My heart broke anew when she told me. A part of wanted to curl up and die.

A bigger part became deathly afraid that I would be next. That fear has not left me despite some astute observations about the differences between my friend and I, the key one being I have carried a child to term. We know that at least once my body was capable of doing that.

Since Monday morning when I first heard from my friend about her devastating loss, I have tried to reschedule my next ultrasound from next week Monday to sometime this week. I could not get in. I tried seeing my doctor sooner than today in case she could requisition a stat ultrasound. I could not get in.

I tried – desperately would be an understatement – to find baby’s heartbeat on the doppler I bought last September before we lost that baby between 10 and 11 weeks (it does not help that I am 10w1d or 10w2d today depending which date we use to calculate gestational age, transfer or LMP). At the time I bought it that was the best quality one available. It is recommended for use from 12 weeks onward but the vendor indicated and user reviews suggested that many women got lucky at 10-12 weeks. Of course now the same vendor has just started selling a better model that reliably picks up by 10 weeks and can detect FHR at 8-10 weeks in many women (and its on sale for the same amount I paid last year – how’s that for bitter irony?).

I could not find anything but my own heart rate and the whooshing sound of a forming placenta. Trigger back to September 2013, right before the fateful stat ultrasound that confirmed what in my heart I already knew – “Mandy” had died.

In my fear-induced mania I ordered a more sensitive rental doppler – the same kind I used in the Miracle Toddler’s pregnancy with success as early as 8-9 weeks – and paid for expedited shipping. It was supposed to be here yesterday. It still has not are arrived. There may be a curse operating here. Who would have cursed me? Have I offended one of you badly? Please let me make amends – anything if you just remove this damned curse.

On top of all of this a little dog – and when I say little I mean think under 4 lbs though that was not his starting weight – who has wormed (or rice-grained?) his way into my heart is very sick and may be dying. I feel helpless and floundering here too because his human companions (let’s face it, his live-in nurses and chefs) will suffer their own devastation eventually in all of this (death may be protracted here but clearly inevitable) and I am (a) very far away so of zero practical assistance and (b) quite literally immobilized by my own myriad feelings around companion animal suffering and loss.

If I have one wish it is the echo of my friend E’s wish, that this little canine soul escape this world while he sleeps but to that wish I would add that this not happen during the Christmas holidays or the few weeks left leading up to it. I say this not for me but for E and especially for M. There is no good time for death to strike. But the holidays are particularly bad timing. I know. We lost a family pet right before Christmas too. The year after my Mom died. It sucked. A lot.

I have felt angry – eye-poppingly furious even – at God and Spirit and the Universe lately. Why take the lives of these beings who in the case of my friend was the embodiment of living kindness and in the case of my friend’s baby was too new to be anything but innocent? Why you stinking thieving scoundrels? Why? You all deserve a good swift punch in the throat. Or three hundred and ninety seven of them. I may enlist help. Sleep with one eye open scoundrels.

As I type this I feel rage boiling up. I know that feeling well. It is my safe harbour from engaging with the utterly helpless feeling and crushing sadness that has filled my heart and weighed down my soul these past eight days. I feel broken and small and impotent. Above all, I feel impotent. I can do nothing to change the horrible sequence of events that led to these two deaths. I can do nothing to ease the suffering of those who have survived their loved ones.

Yes, I know that there are things I can do. I can offer help (done). I can bring over things to make sure they eat or have food in their homes (in process) I can listen (done). I can cry with and for them (done).

Yet I know from losing my Mom and all of our babies that there is nothing anyone can do to take away this pain or the deep chasm it forges in a survivor’s life. Only the survivors can heal those wounds if they can be healed at all.

And in this moment I feel ashamed wallowing in my own fears of death – not my own but of little Azulito – and yet this is the abyss into which I have fallen and from which despite trying to get grounded and set intentions and practice positive thinking I cannot climb out. I am stuck in a place of intense terror. And at a fundamental level there is nothing I can do but wait to see which way the wind will ultimately blow over all of this. Alas, I am impotent here too.

Life can be so cruel.

Giving Serious Thought to Giving Up

I have been dumbstruck by how many symptoms of my immune system collapse to which I had become so accustomed that I no longer considered them indicators of abnormal or unhealthy. Since the first couple of days after I began taking 60 mg of Prednisone to treat my sky-high Immunoglobulin-E levels and relentless allergic reactions to my environment and myself (my own hair was irritating my skin), I have noticed many changes, including:

* my eyes are not sore or burning and they do not weep while I sleep

* the skin around my eyes is not scaling, flaking, red, sore or peeling even when I forget to apply the steroid cream or antibiotic drops I’ve been on since March

* my inner ear channel is not burning and itching

* my throat is not swollen, sore or itching 

* I do not have instant inflammation in my mouth and throat when I eat – even when I eat foods that have some dairy and or gluten in them 

* I can breathe through my nose (even after being around environmental allergens)

* I do not feel foggy from a constant barrage of histamines coursing through my system 

I did not appreciate how sick I was until now.  I rarely get sick usually but I’ve been under this cloud of constant ill-health for months and months. It grew incrementally worse so I didn’t really notice the changes until they combined to create an unliveable situation. However, it took losing our perfect donor-egg embryo in May for me to really question the lie I’d internalized that all of our prior 5 losses since March 2013 were due to my “old eggs” and not an immunological issue or issues.  My heart is very heavy with the knowledge that I ignored my gut for months and basically threw away that perfect embryo before listening to my inner voice reminding me that something deeper is amiss and has been that way for a while. 

There are downsides to the Prednisone. Menstruation, which made every indication it was on its way, has gone AWOL. I feel a new kind of foggy, one riddled with the jitters and a strange fatigue (I imagine this being how I might feel on uppers and downers at the same time). I am retaining fluid and I feel gross about it.  My lower back hurts (I pride myself on not having back pain despite toting a toddler around several hours a day on any given day).  And I am depressed. More than I was before I started this drug.

This is the most worrisome symptom. I need to keep an eye on the depression. I’m not on medication for depression or anxiety anymore (I was – coincidentally the last time I was on them was the first time my immune system went off the rails – a long time ago).  Today I have considered speaking with my doctor about resuming drugs for depression.  I have not made a decision.  

I did talk with the LP about anti-depressants last night and why I’ve tried to avoid them while TTC.  We talked about how down and flat and unable to enjoy life we are and have been over the past 12-18 months. The LP asked what there is to feel good about, noting I am really sick, I’m on harsh drugs to recover from trying to have a child, we have suffered blow after blow, we are in debt and are stressed about that, our work has suffered which causes more financial stress and general worry, we have no explanation as to why I can’t stay pregnant and have gotten so sick.  

The LP is right. Apart from our Miracle Toddler there is nothing about which we feel joyful or glad to be alive.  We are surviving – existing at best – but there is no light at the end of the dark tunnel down which we have been staring and walking for what feels like a long time, though I know for others 18 months would seem like nothing. Six dead babies and the loss of my health are not nothing to me, to us, however.  This feels like a crossroads. 

Last night’s conversation with the LP and a tearful email earlier today to a friend who knows the heartache of losing babies and giving up on TTC led me to wonder if this is the path I should be on anymore.  Maybe be it is time to give up?  At what point does it all become too much?  

As as I wrote to my friend, the more humane and fiscally responsible choice at this point seems obvious. Quitting – giving up on our remaining two DE blastocysts and on any future efforts to try to conceive naturally – seems so much more rational than continuing to smash my face into a wall covered in broken glass. 

One thing I know about grief, depression and mood-altering circumstances generally is that they are not optimal environments in which to make lasting or permanent decisions. So I will not make a final decision today.  But I am giving serious thought to giving up.  At this point it would be irresponsible for me not to do so.   Something has got to give. 


Gathering Memories While Waiting for the Miscarriage to Begin

This post is not what I thought it would be when I began writing it.  I started out with the intention of summarizing all of the research data I’ve gathered since Thursday when I found out this pregnancy was not viable and I was to wait for a natural miscarriage to begin.  It was meant to be helpful to other women who have not only suffered recurrent pregnancy loss – including recurrent secondary pregancy loss (losses after having a live birth) – but women who continue on that trajectory even after opting to use oocytes (eggs) from a proven donor.  This is not that post.

Instead, this post is written from my heart, my memories and a pool of grief I’ve been drawing on for as long as I can remember (a pool I wish would start waning instead of swelling).  This will be a long post and filled with sad facts that have been ruminating inside me for some time.  Feel free to disengage, skip it or come back later if you wish.  I wrote this for me, for the spirit baby I was once so certain was going to come home to us, for my mother and her family and for the one living child I have successfully birthed.  I will not be offended if you need or choose to tune out.

Since finding out on Thursday (May 29th) that our first donor egg pregnancy was not viable, I have been waiting for the natural miscarriage to begin.  One never hopes for these things but in the past when I knew a pregnancy was not going to succeed, I just wanted it all to be over.  The waiting for that to happen – so we could move on to another attempt at having a first or, later, a second child – was agonizing and a painful daily reminder of yet another failure.

Somehow, this time was different.  I have been hoping that my body would recognize the loss of this baby on her own, without further medical intervention.  But I don’t really want this pregnancy to be over, either, because the ending means so much more than the past endings – when, each time, I felt underneath all of the grief a certainty that I was meant to try one more time.  I was certain that baby was just around the next corner.  I no longer know if that is true.

I do know that I don’t want a third surgery and I am even more reluctant to undergo a second treatment with misoprostyl (cytotec) to end pregnancy number 9.  Even those words – pregnancy number 9 – rip a new hole or pour salt into the existing holes in my heart every time I think, hear, feel them.  And so, as the miscarriage is finally beginning, I can breathe a sigh of grieving relief.  My body has found her way to bring this to a natural end after all.

Out of my 9 pregnancies, we have been blessed with one living, amazing, change-my-life-forever child.  I should be grateful, I’m told.  But I don’t need to be told.  And when I am, I find it deeply offensive.  When someone responds to my suffering by saying something stupid, insensitive and offensive like this, it takes all I have not to lash out and rip them a new one or die a little more inside.

The truth is, I am unspeakably grateful for the one living child I have the privilege of raising.  My heart bursts with love and exploded in my chest this morning when I awoke (from one of my worst sleeps ever despite the melatonin I took so I could maybe have a good one for the first time in a week) to a nightmare of our child’s weekday caregiver opening a tearful telephone call to me with “Listen, I am so sorry…”  I have had two of those phone calls before, both leading to emergency medical attention, both thankfully ending with our Miracle Toddler being given an all-clear and me thanking God and the Guardian Angel who saved me from my worst nightmare.

That leads me to a recurring thought I have had over the past few days.  Far worse than losing the 8 babies my body has expelled (or had to have removed because my body insisted she was still pregnant despite our babies’ deaths) would be for us to lose the Miracle Toddler.  I am not dramatizing when I acknowledge that I could not go on if that happened. In my heart, I know I would be done.  There would be no point for me in carrying on.

This is a difficult thing for me to say, knowing that this is exactly what happened to my own mother.  She lost her first-born child at the age of 8.  He drowned in a tragic accident and it took some time for police to find his body after the friend he was with denied having seen anything, denied the boys had even been together (despite clear evidence to the contrary).  It’s a long story, one I heard when I interviewed my mother for a university course I took almost two decades ago.  I knew her son had drowned – I did not know the painful additional details until I was an adult myself.

Nor did I know about the terrible depression that ensued – the first time my Mom was medicated for depression.  The second was after she was cut down to one-tenth of the woman she was by a joint diagnosis of stage four cancer and congestive heart failure (suspected to have been brought on by the failure into which her body entered when the cancer had gone undiagnosed and untreated for as long as it had).  There was another time when my mother should probably have been treated for depression – if not with medication then at least with therapy but preferably both – and that was when my “uncle” died.

Although not really our biological uncle, that man was the man my brother and I grew up relating to as a father.  Until he died when I was 9, my brother 10.  I watched him dying.  I mopped his forehead as his enlarged heart struggled to keep him alive a few more days.  I did not fully understand death then, though it had been a presence in my life from a very early age and I had suffered tremendously over animals who had died before that time.  But I understood when he was gone that he would never come back.  And over the years that followed, I came to realize that part of my mother died with him and the history they shared.

That man had been the father of the boy who drowned.  And the daughter that was stillborn (because the doctors ignored my mother’s desperate pleas when she knew something was going wrong as the little girl’s umbilical cord had tangled around her neck).  Both parents of these lost children became clinically depressed.  How could one not?  And then they divorced.  How could they not?  But they could not sever their lives.  And so they emigrated to the country in which I live now, divorced but friends until death separated them anew.

I never tell this story.  My brother did not know the story until after our mother died.  I did not know he did not know.  He lived with and then near our parents for almost a decade after I left home (young – because I have often leapt before looking and because if I was going to survive at all I had to escape a family history of sexual abuse and the myriad harms it left in its wake).  I assumed he knew everything Mom told me in that interview.  And I suppose there was a part of me – not conscious, but present, I suspect, knowing me as I now do – that assumed that if she did not tell him, it was not my story to tell so long as she remained alive.  In fact, had I realized she had not told my brother, I likely never would have done so.

When I did, he was furious.  Furious that no one told him, furious that we were deceived as children into accepting this man as our uncle when he was so much more than that to our mother and to our two half-siblings we never got to meet.  I was stunned by his anger.  I do not judge that reaction, it was just baffling to me at the time.  I can rationalize it now, as I did then, but I cannot relate.

I had felt none of that when my mother had shared those stories with me.  My heart had broken – repeatedly – and the compassion I felt for my mother grew with each passing year and my own maturation.  And it leaps to the forefront of my mind now, as I contemplate our lost babies and the one living child we have.

What also leaps to mind are thoughts of my Mom’s first son. I have always felt connected to him in a way I cannot explain.  I carried photos of that little boy with me.  I still have those photos. In recent weeks and particularly while I was pregnant with this lost little baby I have felt him and my Mom near me.  I had a startling thought that led me to wonder if the spirit of that little boy who died too soon could be Azulito (the spirit baby with whom I’ve been “communicating” since last year), returning home to the LP and I after he left my mother and my “uncle”.

And now, as I gratefully embrace the one living child that the LP and I are so blessed to have, I think about whether this is the only living child I will ever raise.  I wonder if I have been mistaken in believing Azulito is destined to be a part of our family in this lifetime or if perhaps that fate has changed.  And I think about what is next for us.  Frankly, I do not know.  What I do know is that when the Miracle Toddler finds me crying and asks me “what happened?” and “why” when I say “Mommy is sad”, I am introducing death into the life of my one living child, just as my mother did with me.

I will not lie to the Miracle Toddler about why I am sad.  And it breaks my heart afresh when echoed back are my own explanation for my tears:  “Baby died.”  The toddler even knows what to say in response – “I sorry, Mommy.”  “Me, too” is my recurring response.  So am I.  Deeply sorry.

I wish it were otherwise.  And I wonder about at what point I put an end to the legacy of death and grief that has plagued my family – my mother’s family – before it plagues my own child’s future.  I do not want him to remember his mother as the woman who cried herself to sleep regularly or awoke, night after night, unable to sleep.  At some point, there has to be an end to all of this so I can go back to living and showing my child the mother I want to be.

I do not know when that point will be, but I can feel it circling.  It is drawing close.  And whether it ends with a healthy pregnancy or more loss(es) is not for me to decide.  That much is clearly out of my control.  For although I am becoming resigned to the reality that I may never carry another pregnancy to term and may never birth another living child, I am still not ready to give up while we have two frozen embryos with which to try one or two last times.  If those babies die inside my womb, too, then my journey will be over.  And if one of them survives… well, I cannot go there.  It hurts just thinking about that today.

Eitehr way, perhaps then I can offer our living child, in time, a whole-hearted mother again.  In the meantime, I will keep trying to do the best I can.


We Love and Miss You, Beautiful Filly

Until yesterday the LP and I owned a beautiful horse named after a character in a television show from the 1990s.  She was named after I gave birth to the Miracle Baby but we bought her as a baby while I was pregnant.  Yesterday afternoon we found out she was very sick.  The day before, she’d been out galloping and showed no signs of illness.  Later yesterday afternoon, the LP called me and I knew the news had gone from very bad to devastating before he said those two words you never want to hear about anyone you love.  She died.

We have shed many tears and I have cursed everyone and everything for not saving her, for not knowing something was wrong, for having no better explanation than “we think it’s pneumonia – shipping fever”, because she’d just been shipped from one location to another last week.  Veterinary care for horses is expensive (she’d been taken to a vet clinic yesterday when she first showed signs of laboured breathing; she never left).  So the LP decided not to request an autopsy.  I am upset about this but given our ART-related debt I did not press the issue.  So we may never know what happened or why she died so young (she just turned 4 and was otherwise a very healthy, extremely fit, talented and beautiful, spirited animal). 

I oscillate between raging against the universe for dealing her – and us – this cruel blow and bone-shaking sobs as I mourn all that she meant to us.  We bought her in Kentucky (we don’t live anywhere near there, we travelled for this purpose) as a baby when I was pregnant with the Miracle Baby.  We named her after a character in a t.v. show because we went through a phase of watching old  re-runs of it while I was feeling nauseous during pregnancy and exhausted with a newborn.  She won an award last year (top 3-year old filly).  And she had a special place in both of our hearts and huge promise for the future – we planned to keep her and breed her and let her live out her life as an old-lady horse.  We loved her and we miss her so much already. 

This was no ordinary horse, at least not for me (and to some extent for the LP).  For me, she very connected  to the only successful pregnancy I’ve ever had (when you’re batting 1 for 7 that means something).  She was special, too, and a bit high-maintenance at times.  She was wound quite tightly and could be excitable (not unlike me).  She sometimes needed medication to calm her nerves (not unlike the LP and I).  And she benefitted from having a pet goat as a companion when she was younger, to keep her calm.  I had a pet goat when I was a kid, too.  Suffice to say I felt connected to her and so did the LP.  And our grief right now feels very deep and raw.

I know this post appears unrelated to our fertility challenges, but somehow it is not.  Not for me.  For me, it is connected in a visceral way I can feel, even if I can’t capture it or don’t want to spell it out in words.  This horse for us has always been connected to us and connected to our one great triumph on this journey to grow our family.  And now she is gone.  In the early days of the cycle in which we hope to return home pregnant not “until proven otherwise” but until I birth another healthy child we raise with love in our home.  It does not seem right  It is not fair.  This is not how life is supposed to unfold, damn it.  Ever.  But especially now.

I don’t know if this portends some more terrible news.  I hope it does not.  The LP thinks it’s unrelated, but I can’t shake the feeling that for me, this horse has always been part of this world for me.  Of course it could be worse – things can always be worse – but the stark reality today is that it is not good. It is awful.  I feel awful.  The LP feels awful.  The Miracle Toddler saw us so upset last night and kept trying to comfort us – saying “sad” and “hug” (giving us each hugs) and “what happened?” no matter how many times we said that this horse had died.  Blessed are the little ones who have no concept for death and no sense of what it means.