Is this your first baby?

“Is this your first baby?” and inquisitive cashier innocently asks while peering at my 8 1/2 month pregnant belly as she rings me up. I pause before I answer as my stomach does a quick somersault in to my throat.

When I smile politely and say yes to try to abruptly end the conversation I feel like a liar.

When I smile politely and say no it’s my second I have a daughter at home I feel like a liar.

When I smile politely and say no this is my second child and try to leave it at that I feel like a liar.

Sometimes it is life’s most simple questions that require us to produce the most difficult answers.

What I really would love to say is that I am currently pregnant for the fourth time and with my second son. The baby in my body will be my second biological child born and my third child in total. My answer really should be : “oh no this is my third child. I have a 5 month old daughter and a son in heaven”, but who has the time to explain that to complete strangers?

I also feel there is so much shock value in that statement that it is almost this “drops mic walks away” kind of moment.

I so desperately want to honor all of my babies, but don’t feel the need to be an open book with every well-intentioned stranger that crosses my path on the daily.

Every time the question gets broached (which is increasing more and more as i get further along) I get more uneasy with how I answer. It is a constant and consistent reminder of the loss of my first child. I also wonder how deeply to delve in to my daughter’s adoption as it will one day be her story to tell and not mine.

Deep breath. Sigh.

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Change of Heart

It took exactly one day after my failed IVF for me to realize that I am in this for the long run. Grief demands answers when more often than not there isn’t one. Prior to my second IVF attempt I had made a commitment to myself that I’ve already broken. I had decided that if it did not work that was the end of the road for me. My husband and I would pursue adoption and that would be it. I have longed for the “old me” whoever she is and was. I wanted to throw myself back in to my career with little regard of the physical toll it could take on me. I wanted to stay up late and drink too much wine. I longed to run myself ragged with travel and a full schedule of social activities. I have quickly realized that ship has sailed. That was the Jenna of my 20’s and I did not bring her along for the chapter of my 30’s.

The weekend after my failed cycle I had my WTF call with my doctor. He told me that the embryos transferred were beautiful and perfect and that science can only do so much. I inquired about donor eggs and he said that while he admired my openness to alternative options that I owed it myself to continue to try. With my history and my age of 32-years-old I have been told I have a good chance of not only conceiving with my own eggs, but naturally as well.  He was absolutely right. I was jumping the gun. I have a good 8 years to continue to try without pursuing donor eggs. I informed him that I needed an emotional break but would consider another cycle sometime down the road. I mentioned revisiting it in 6 months and he said that it would be no issue at all as my ovarian function wasn’t going to diminish that much in that time frame.

 He then told me about this woman in LA who is an acupuncturist that started a program called Seed Fertility (http://www.seedfertility.com) Seed focuses on the nutritional and mental aspects of fertility. Let me just tell you, this was/is the most genius recommendation my Dr. has had to date. The program recently launched online and is available to everyone for $199. For $299 you get two 1- hour coaching sessions with her.  (A drop in the bucket compared to our fertility treatment costs). Danica (the founder of the program) was told, at 32-years-old, she would never have her only biological children. At the time she had an FSH of 26. She said as a fertility acupuncturist she began to practice what she was preaching and at 37 years old she got naturally pregnant with her first child on her first try. My Dr. was her fertility doctor years ago which is how he became familiar with her practices.

 I think my Dr. saw right through me. While I put on a polished outwardly presentation, emotionally and spiritually my insides are a mess. Even though he is not in a position to address those topics Danica and her program are. The statistics of the program are as follows: Average person entering her program 38. Average time trying: 2 years. Average time to pregnancy upon completion of the program: 6 weeks. Yep, you just read that correctly 6 weeks. Immediately when I spoke to Danica I knew this program was for me.

 The entire program is based on “cultivating a healthy garden”. The soil is nutrition and the “weeds” are past emotional wounds, losses, etc. In order for my personal garden to grow I need to pull my weeds. As Danica told me after two sessions (one over the phone and one in person) I have a tendency to mow my weeds and not pull them.

 My personal program is focusing on the loss of my son and transitioning from grief to gratitude. It’s been emotionally painful for me to work through the program thus far. The online modules require a ton of introspection and journaling. What I have realized is that for me I am so fearful of another late pregnancy loss that I rather remain non-pregnant than get pregnant and lose the baby. It’s no wonder my cycles have failed. It’s not a mindset that I can proceed with. In addition to that realization it has also been  pulled out of me that I harbor resentment around the loss of my son. In trying to preserve his memory and legacy I’ve let my maternal instincts get the best of me. Without going in to too much detail, I’ve worked really hard to protect him.

So for now I am taking everything one day at a time and working to heal my emotional wounds.

 

I still have weeks left of the program. I am going to take my time making sure I feel everyone ounce of it and work through slowly so I can make sure all my weeds are pulled. If anybody is interested in the program check out the web site. While I am not pregnant as a result of it (yet) I would recommend for anyone who may be struggling with the dietary and emotional challenges of baby making.

 

 

Trauma Travel

Four Seasons Papagayo

Trauma travel (Verb): The act of taking a trip to a foreign country and/or a super awesome locale to lick your wounds after life delivers a major bitch slap. 

I wish I could say that I am the great pioneer of trauma travel but I’m pretty sure Elizabeth Gilbert beat me to it.  Her little novel called Eat, Pray, Love (you may have heard of it? I’ve only read it a million times) found its way to the New York Times best seller list and became a blockbuster hit.  So while I am not the founder of this awesome method of healing I sure am working on perfecting it.

When the universe decided to make me its human punching bag last week by delivering an epic failure for my first round of IVF my husband and I decided we are way overdue for some R&R. After pulling the plug on stimulation day 10 after only 3 out of my 12 follicles woke up from their snoozefest I thought I’d indulge my non-pregnant self with things that I would not be able to otherwise do if I were with child.

They include: ziplining, massages whilst laying on my stomach, surfing, drinking adult beverages out of coconuts and hanging out near an active volcano. They will all be accomplished by the end of this month in Costa Rica!

For me, nothing cures the life shat upon me feeling quite like my passport and a plane ticket to anywhere but here. At this point it is safe to say I am an expert trauma traveler.  In the last 15 years if I have needed to clear my head and readjust my sails I’ve hopped on a plane.

Out of the 35 countries I’ve visited a handful have been to lick my wounds. When I went through major breakups in my 20’s Norway, Germany, Italy, Thailand and the Philippines were all there to give me the warm hug and kick in the ass I needed.

When I was laid off from the advertising world when the recession hit I dashed off to Norway and England to plot and plan my next career move.

When I lost my son Blake I got on a plane to New York City a month and a half later (which did prove to be a bad idea when I uncontrollably sobbed for hours in Central Park) So I headed to Seattle a few months later and the trip breathed a bit of life back in to me.

In January my husband and I explored Colombia a few months after I miscarried at 9 weeks.

I’ve learned that life happens in between positive pregnancy tests. When we are “trying” I feel as if I am holding my breath underwater and when we aren’t I’m allowed to come up to the surface to breath again.   I have learned and continue to relearn to find the happy in the “in between”. I try to avoid the “if I get pregnant then I will be happy” mentality because my in between  is that infinity pool overlooking the ocean in the photo above. I’m going to soak up all life has to offer in the in between.

An Open Letter To Enfamil About The Stillbirth Of My Son

I wrote this in January 2012…8 months after the stillbirth of my son. It has never seen the light of day until now… In honor of my due date of October 15th I wanted to share.

“We are proud that Enfamil is the number one infant formula recommended by pediatricians please stay on the line and you will be connected to an Enfamil expert. “Press one to learn more about our wide range of formula’s to reach your baby’s changing nutritional needs.”

 For older children…

 WHEN DOES IT STOP?

After what seemed like the longest 2 minutes and 53 seconds I’ve ever experienced the only answer I got was a recording. “We’re sorry, but no one is available right now to answer your questions.” Of course they aren’t.  God hasn’t even been available to answer my questions so why in high heavens was I hoping to find respite from heartbreak in a toll-free number?

See these are the finer details about pregnancy and infancy loss that go unmentioned. After the condolence cards and flowers stop and people move on in their lives and no longer ask you how you are doing; there you are, watching your favorite reality show and BAM a P&G Proud Sponsor of Moms ad comes on and takes you back to the exact moment you found out you were going to be a mother.

Eight months, seventeen days and a handful of hours after giving birth to my son 23 weeks early I finally had enough emotional strength to call the lauded baby formula conglomerate and kindly ask them to stop rubbing salt in my open wound by removing me from their mailing list. My once joyous trip to the mailbox  like has become Russian roulette with my snail mail. Was I going to get the new issue of Marie Claire or was Cord Blood Registry going to be selling me on the virtues of saving my baby’s umbilical cord?

Had my son not been taken from me before he even took his first breath I’d have a 12-week-old.  My infrequent trips to the mailbox remind me of that. While the pregnancy magazines and baby’s first portrait mailers have subsided the permanent scar on my heart has no return to sender address.

 WHEN DOES IT STOP?

I’m no expert but I don’t believe a mother’s love can or ever will stop. It’s painful because we loved. Things do get easier with time. I’m genuinely happy for my pregnant friends, I can interact with little blonde hair blued eyed boys without feeling like I want to vomit and I smile when think about my angel instead of curling up in the fetal position to sob. But man, there hasn’t been a single day that has gone by that I haven’t thought about my son.

One of the most heart-wrenching aspects of my experience is that I am far from alone. Come to find out, I am just another notch on the second trimester loss totem pole.  One-by-one friends and acquaintances have reached out to share their all-to-familiar horror stories. The idea that they may have suffered in silence makes me want to shout my experience from the social media rooftop. Pregnancy and infant loss is still taboo. Death makes people uncomfortable, especially the death of a child.

 WHEN WILL IT STOP? 

IVF Theme Songs And High-Fives

The past four days like clockwork, every morning at 8:30 am and every evening at 7 pm my husband has stabbed me with the baby-making juice.  With the exception of one shot they’ve all ended with a high-five and a kiss for the painless procedure. I’m really proud of him. He’s got a gentle touch and I barely feel a thing. My belly is beginning to show signs of tenderness and I have a headache that won’t quit on my 10 ml Micro Lupron / 225 ui Follistim protocol but this little party in my ovaries is in full swing.

In my efforts to stay on the sunny side of this less than stellar situation I have decided to do two things:

1. Have a theme song

Yes! I have a theme song for making this IVF cycle my bitch and it’s Katy Perry’s Roar. If you need to pump yourself up before your shots I highly recommend.  Thankfully it’s overplayed and on the radio every 15 minutes right now. I picture my follicles roaring like lions. It’s absolutely ridiculous, but nobody ever said IVF has to be serious.

2. A  list of things that hurt more than my injections

The injections really haven’t been that bad, but in case I forget I’ve been developing a list of things that hurt WAY more than one of my shots. A few that have made my list include:

– paper cuts

– Eyebrow threading (this is really painful)

– Bikini wax

-canker sores

– stubbing my toe

– rolling my ankle in a pair of heels

– Cat scratches

– Feel free to let me know what other things I should add to my tally. 🙂

To be a champion fight one more round.

To be a champion fight one more round – James Corbett

I’ve never been in a boxing ring. And the only time I’ve ever thrown a punch was back in the Billy Bank’s era during the early 2000’s when kickboxing was trendy. Life has certainly made me its punching bag a time or two. I know what it feels like to get knocked down and come up swinging. I’ve picked myself up and dusted myself off more times than I’d care to count at 32-years-old and some of my hardest blows have been about pregnancy.

Two years ago today after 18 weeks of pregnancy I delivered my son stillborn for reasons that to this very day are still unknown. The doctors called it a fetal demise. I called it not being lucky enough to miscarry. I don’t know what was worse…learning that my son had no heartbeat during my first ultrasound, spending 18 hours in labor only to walk out of the hospital with my arms empty or the emotional trauma I experienced each night when I fell asleep and saw my son in my dreams. There he was a blond haired blue-eyed piece of perfection. The problem was horrible things would happen to him and I could not save him. He burned to death; he was stolen out of my car at the airport. I accidentally smothered him to death when I dumped out a basket of laundry. As I dug through the laundry I could feel his heart beating and I could not get to him fast enough…

In July 2012, a little over a year later, once I re-gained my courage to fight one more round, my husband and I found out we were pregnant. By September we knew it was a blighted ovum and I miscarried.

Most recently, after every test imaginable, we went through out first round of stimulated IUI to end up with an ectopic pregnancy.

These are my stories from the ring of reoccuring pregnancy loss and infertility . I fill my non pregnant moments with random adventures because one day very soon I will in fact be pregnant for the entire 10 months. Until then it’s on to round number four…ding…ding…ding!