i will be brave

i took 2 weeks off from my life, to pretend i was someone else. that what had happened was just a nightmare. i got to see sights. throw myself into work. and share just enough cocktails with friends i maybe felt one brick unloaded from the million on my back. and now it’s tonight. half past midnight. everyone in the house is asleep. except me. i can’t, my brain won’t shut off. it just spins and spins. what ifs and shoulda woulda couldas cloud my thoughts. as if any of that would change where i am today.

i am a fool.

i honestly thought that one day it would be my turn. statistics, you know. eventually the numbers play to your favor. after so many pregnancy losses, it would be my time. because, numbers, man. i started to believe this as truth after my 3rd loss. okay, well it will be next time.

and then the 4th loss. okay, that’s the last one, right? and then my 5th. this has to be it.

but just as i didn’t understand math then, i clearly don’t grasp it now. i am 1 for 7 in successes. 85% of my pregnancies end in miscarriages. eighty-five percent. here’s another way to see it (if you’re a sports fan): that’s a batting average of 0.143.

okay coach, i’ll be over here, riding the bench. forever.

remember when i, and you, and the rest of the sciency über nerds guiding my reproductive world believed wholeheartedly that i had my miracle baby with lucky #7?  the baby that finally travelled from one ovary to an opposite tube and somehow found my uterus and based on labs looked 100% perfect?

i think you should sit down right now. pathology results came in and they found chorionic villi in the sample of fluid from my bleeding belly.

fuck.

take a breath (i’m telling myself this). chorionic villi is fetal tissue. it is ONLY fetal tissue. fuck.

my baby didn’t stand a chance even after all that hemorrhaging ridiculousness. it was 100% ectopic. and now a team of doctors pore over textbooks quoting me the rare statistic of having an ovarian ectopic (which likely is the case) which you guys is like 1 in a zillion. because, why wouldn’t that happen to me?

thank you universe, for an epic joke. thank you for filling my sails with wind and then tearing them to shreds while trying to sink my ship in the meantime. just when i had just started to let out my breath, it was nearly taken from me.

and can i take just one minute to say what a cruel punishment the follow-up from this is? from any miscarriage? let’s just “forget” about the painful surgical incisions and persistent sore boobs aside (they have seemed to forget that i am no longer pregnant)… the worst thing in the world after losing a baby is having to return to OB for the follow-up appointment. where i have to sit in the waiting room chock-full of pregnants oohing and aahing over their bellies and complaining (YES! complaining!) about their backaches and swollen ankles and how the perfect bedding for their nursery was out of stock and it’s the end of the world. please someone kill me. i also have to have weekly blood draws to ensure my HCG levels return to zero. and i yearn for each result to scream “not pregnant” (which, when do you ever beg to not be pregnant on this journey) and yet the punishment refuses to abate. each visit to the lab, the tech sees what test they are doing and their eyes light up with what i interpret to be hope and happiness… their eyes and smiles might as well be their arms hugging me and lips wishing me well. one guy even congratulated me. thanks asshole. i’m more than 2 weeks post-op and my last level was still 66. really? when does it end.

it’s only natural i am again doing the “why me” dance. WHY. why me. why NOW. why. AFTER ALL THIS. why build me up only to suck the life out of me? i am angry. i am OH so angry. and why shouldn’t i be? every time i see two lines on a pee stick panic and terror ensue. i have forever been robbed of ignorance and bliss since, well, the beginning of time. instead of congratulations and planning nursery themes, i immediately begin bargaining with God. please God, show me mercy this time.  i am irrationally angry.

and i am such a fool.

you may be thinking “don’t think like that”, and want to offer up crap cliché like “if it’s meant to be it will be”or “don’t worry, you are young, you will have another one.” please, go take that somewhere else. anywhere, where no one who has lost a baby can hear you.  let me be angry. and irrational. and hurt. i am entitled to feel angry. i have to feel all of this if i am ever to stand tall again. hell, simply stand again. the only appropriate words to say to me are “i am so sorry.” and even those words might make me tear up, but they will not add to the hurt.

i have been brutally honest throughout this journey, and with that, surprisingly, people who read it  have come up to me and told me how brave i am. they say how strong i am to bare my soul. to be so honest. “i could never do that” they say.  but i don’t feel brave at all. especially when i am sitting in front of a computer screen at 1 am sobbing giant crocodile tears into the keyboard. truth is, i just can’t hold it in anymore and put on a happy face. i hit my limit years ago with lying to faces and pretending everything was perfect.  bravery has nothing to do with it, i simply have no reserve to hide the struggle.

it’s only right to show the truth. to shine a light on the bullshit that is infertility and my own bullshit journey. i will talk about it because NO ONE talks about it. so that those of you who are so lucky to have easy conceptions and easy pregnancies can gain an understanding that it isn’t so easy for others, and to foster compassion and sensitivity for their fellow women. their friends around them who suffer in silence. those who aren’t “so brave” as me (more like “so crazy”). and i also share so my people, those men and women who have lost, who are currently losing, who may never HAVE at all… know that they are not alone when they feel all of it is shit. all the wild curves and straight edges of this walk. it is all injustice and pain. but for most of my people there is a light at the end of this seemingly unending tunnel. i have seen the strong majority of my loss mama friends go on to have their rainbows. so keep your head up. your numbers are better than mine. they have to be.

you are so brave, they say.

please. i am a hot mess. and one day i will stop being angry, i think. and nothing makes sense to me anymore. well, except this. this made perfect sense.

they are forever with me, always.

❤ fly high my angels ❤

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it must be the right thing to do

 

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to say this week was hard might be the understatement of the year. hard doesn’t cut it. pretty much unbearable. prisoner of the house for a few days, waiting for the all-clear from doc to do something as simple as drive, let alone rejoin the land of the living. my body is bruised and battered, but healing slowly. stitches out finally, and finally rid of the sharp pains in my shoulders from the air instilled in my guts to clean out the havoc that ensued within. i can finally sleep laying down (yay!) however my ass is numb from sitting upright 24/7. (sidenote: i am forced to rethink buying that bed with the fancy remote-control head of bed incline for my golden years).  oh and i can get out of bed without wincing. it’s the small things, people. 

mentally, though, i remain a prisoner. numb. detached. i replay that night in my head and it feels very much like i’m watching my life on a big screen. it’s not me, I mean it looks like me in that bed but doesn’t register. i am disassociated. i truly believe it’s the only mechanism keeping me afloat right now. just keep swimming. survival.

so what am i to do? it’s been a week. just pretend everything is back to normal i guess. that’s what everyone else is doing so it must be the right thing to do. pretending it never happened. avoiding the giant elephant in the room. because no one wants to talk about it. or admit that it was terrifying and awful. i almost lose my life, we lose our baby, and everyone wants to pretend it never happened. we’re good. i’ll smile. we’ll be fine. people congratulate me on my graduation. they don’t realize the only thing i associate that night with is almost dying. nothing about that night shouts “celebration!”  and yet i force a smile. thank you for reminding me. oh yes, i am so happy. graduation is the last thing on my mind.

i shouldn’t fault them. why would anyone want to aknowledge what happened? and let down that wall, become vulnerable. say it out loud. and yet i do place judgment and resent them. i honestly think if i had simply been bleeding to death with no pregnancy involved this would be different. the elephant would cease to exist. my loved ones would feel more comfortable talking to me. but it isn’t that easy. it never is when it comes to this. god forbid we say it out loud. i want to scream. no rug is big enough to sweep this under.

so i am here now. it’s time to shower. put on makeup. leave the house. it is time to take the first step. my foot is raised and  balance unsteady. thankfully, weeks ago i booked a week-long work conference in New Orleans. and now it will serve to help distract me in the most needed time. i’ve been so distracted in my thoughts lately, at least now i can get lost in the crowd where no one knows me and i don’t have to pretend.

as i sit here in LAX, watching people shuffle here and there, i hear the chatter. see the constant movements. and marvel at how purposeful their movements are. their conversations lively. their smiles genuine, faces eager, awaiting their destination. for the good times awaiting them. the anticipation of memories to be made. and i see me in a window reflection. my smile is disingenuous.my face solemn. my movements aimless and slow. what anticipation i had no longer exists. i am robbed of everything.

escape. distraction. i welcome a change of scenery. c’mon Nola. help a sister out.

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 i crawled into his bed this morning

wincing with each twist, my body not recovered enough for these movements

i didn’t care

i needed to smell his hair, feel the rise of his little chest with each breath

he was still here

the dreams had lied to me

i stroked his cheek, committing the softness to memory

and closed my eyes

and i tried to recall a time much earlier

before all the storms

when life was more simple and safe

and i wasn’t on the verge of collapse

i needed to steady my feet, right myself because the world was upside down

and it hit me

i couldn’t

nothing came to mind

even after i had carried him inside me

and made it to that moment when he was placed in my arms

i was still terrified and tormented from loss

i pulled him closer to me

selfishly waking him up, i didn’t care, i needed him

with sleep in his eyes he turned to look at me

smiled

good morning mama

the dreams had lied

he was still here

i laid there

and looked on his sweet face, breathed his breath and held on tight

as tears streamed down my face

i refuse to let go

the world is cruel

i am paralyzed with fear

i know at some point i have to start moving again

but how can i take a step, in any direction

when the ground is quicksand

i am a million broken pieces held together with tape

and just when i think the tears cannot possibly come anymore

they burst forth

i breathe him in

he is still here

i close my eyes

can i stay here forever

there are no more words

i’ve written, and re-written this post about a hundred times. i type, and erase. type again, delete. i first wrote a brief synopsis of everything, to save you the time reading this novel, but it doesn’t tell the story right. truth be told, nothing sounds “right.” i can’t explain everything that happened, because, well… it was a whirlwind. however there are some things i will certainly never forget. and since you have been with me since the beginning, it’s only fair to tell you how it ends.

friday night, in the middle of my graduation dinner surrounded by my family, i nearly passed out at the table. i had felt fine all day, it was graduation, i was ecstatic. and then all of a sudden at dinner i felt sharp abdominal pain. the room started spinning, cold sweat running down my back. i excused myself and, wobbly on my feet, had amazing husband help me to the bathroom.  there was so much pressure in my abdomen. maybe i just needed to go to the bathroom. gas pains, sure. i sat there in the bathroom stall for close to 20 minutes, but nothing happened except sweat and cold chills. i looked down, i wasn’t bleeding. but the pain was not abating. my sister came in to check on me, told me i look white as a ghost. she offered to take me to the ER. i laughed it off. she’s overreacting, i’ll be fine. after some time the dizziness stopped, so i collected myself and she helped me back to the table. but the pain was still there, constant pressure. i tried to explain to my mom and mother-in-law what i was feeling, as i couldn’t hide the look of discomfort on my face. we all forced a laugh, it was probably constipation from pregnancy and the progesterone supplements, and on and on. i’ll feel so much better once i can go to the bathroom. we laughed.

dinner was served. i took one bite. waves of nausea started to wash over me, the dizziness was back. i turned to amazing husband and said we need to leave. feeling guilty, as this was my celebratory dinner and here i am leaving it early, i apologized to my family and we headed home. the pain was getting worse. rubbing my belly constantly, we drove home in silence. he was worried, i could see it on his face. i was worried too, i didn’t know what was going on. we drove past the hospital on the way home and he offered to stop. i told him to keep driving. i’ll be fine. we got home, put amazing son to bed, and i laid on the couch.

but the pain was not abating. at. all. i was getting scared. i texted my friend, who had experienced lots of pregnancy-related GI issues, to get some advice. i thought about taking medication to help me go to the bathroom, you know, because it felt like that would solve it. and after some talk, she told me to call my OB.

looking back now, that simple text message saved my life.

i called the on-call OB. i briefly explain my symptoms, how early i am in pregnancy, and mention my history of ectopic. she told me go to the ER. she is now the 3rd person to tell me to go, and i don’t know, maybe because she is a doctor i finally listened? i think all along i knew something was seriously wrong, and i didn’t want to believe it. we woke up amazing son and got in the car, dropped him off at the in-laws and headed for the hospital.

on the way i turned to amazing husband and tried to break the silence with terrible humor. “one day we will look back on today and laugh about how i went to the ER because i couldn’t poop.” and we mustered awkward laughs and drove on in silence. deep down we were terrified.

the pain was getting really bad now, waves of sharp heat radiating through my belly. i was taken back into triage, vital signs were stable, told the RN what was going on and my pregnancy loss history. they drew blood right there to test HCG levels, among other things. ordered an ultrasound to look for baby, and sent me back to the lobby to wait. the ER was full. of course. no beds.

so we sat there. and sat there. nausea was back. the room was spinning. the pain was out of control. i was moaning, grabbing my belly. we sat there. and waited. it had been an hour now since we arrived. something is seriously wrong. i saw a man come up to me with a wheelchair and ask me to get in, we were going for ultrasound. finally. i stood up.

and the room went sideways.

the next thing i recall is hearing my husband yelling for help. i am slumped over in the wheelchair, being rushed into a room. i open my eyes and see a nurse, her eyes wide. she is on the phone with someone yelling “BP 56/31” “i need a room” the lights are brighter than bright, it feels like i’m flying through the hallway. i hear the paging system “code emergent, room 33”. the wheels on the chair are rattling. i am lifted into a bed and all i hear are people talking loudly and moving quickly. i am room 33.

my clothes are cut off. “you’re going to be okay hun””we have to start some IVs, this might hurt” “get me saline!”

i can’t feel anything. my hands are numb. where is my husband.

where is my husband??

i can’t see him. all i see are nurses. everywhere. all i hear is ringing in my ears.

i think am going to die. i am going to die. i am panicking. i start sobbing.

the doctor is here now. cold gel on my belly, she is pushing down with an ultrasound probe, hard. the pain is unbearable. she is staring at the screen, “i see lots of free fluid, i need blood!” i am getting more IVs. the pain. my belly. oh my god the pain. where is my husband? i am calling for my husband, i can’t see him. the doctor is back, “it looks like a ruptured ectopic.” husband is next to me now. his face, he is so scared. i am sobbing. i grab his hand and don’t let go. i am shaking so hard i am rattling the bed.

things are moving fast. people are in and out. so many people. i am feeling less dizzy now, the room is rightening itself. “pressure is better” i look up and see multiple liters of saline infusing, there are blood bags hanging, and finally i am getting some pain medication. sweet baby jesus, thank you. the ultrasound tech is here with her big machine. she has to do a transvaginal exam. the probe is no doubt coated with cactus spikes. everything hurts. i ask for more pain meds. please. “i don’t see baby in the uterus.” the air is sucked out of my lungs. all she sees is blood in my belly, from my ribs to my pelvis. my right ovary is swollen with clots. doctor asks me for my OB’s name, i need emergency surgery.

this isn’t real life. this can’t be happening. someone, please wake me up. now.

another doctor is here. on-call OB, the same woman on the phone who told me to go to the ER. i look at her and say “hey, remember me?” and we muster an awkward laugh. her face is serious. she is staring at the ultrasound screen, but not convinced of what the tech is telling her. my HCG level is 2100. we should be able to see where baby is. but all she sees is blood. she tells me i need a laparoscopic surgery (again), fearing ruptured ectopic. she needs to stop the bleeding. i beg her to save my only tube. she is calm, she has kind eyes. she promises me she will try her best. please.

i am getting more pain medication. please god make the pain go away. the room is less wobbly and my vital signs are better. but the reality is sinking in. this is going to end badly. my best friend is here now, i am relieved. there’s something calming about having her there, and i am thankful that husband won’t be alone when they take me away. i don’t want him to be alone in this.

they wheel me to OR. i say goodbye to amazing husband and tell him i love him. he is crying. i am a mess. there is lots of activity in the OR suite, i am moving, arms are being strapped to boards, and the anesthesiologist puts a mask on my face.

nighty night.

it’s 4AM. i am groggy, feels like i got hit by a truck. i am in my hospital room now. i instinctively put my hand on my belly, it is sore but not nearly as painful as it was. amazing husband is here. he tells me surgery was long, but i did well. OB told him she had to remove a liter of blood from my belly. ONE LITER. and when she finally could see my uterus and tube, my tube looked great. there was no overt sign of ectopic. tube was intact, she saved my tube.  what she did find was a hemorrhagic corpus luteum. (science lesson time: the corpus luteum is the remains of the follicle that put forth the golden egg; it purposely stays on the ovary and secretes progesterone for the baby’s development until the placenta is formed, at which time the corpus luteum disappears/bursts; it is not supposed to hemorrhage). mine had hemorrhaged and i was bleeding out. she told husband that baby was almost certainly in the uterus after all, but too small to see on u/s, especially with all the blood clouding the images.

oh my god. baby was actually where it needed to be! 

he left the worst part for last… the trauma to my body, the severe low blood pressure, the loss of the corpus luteum and the internal manipulations she had to do in surgery will almost certainly cause me to miscarry.

i can’t breathe. 

i looked at amazing husband, my eyes filling with tears. there was nothing to say, we let our tears fill the silence. went to bed, exhausted, begging dreams to replace the nightmare that had just transpired.

fast forward to today. after a record-breaking godawful mother’s day, i am numb. it’s like i was watching someone else’s life unfold on a movie screen. not mine. this is the stuff of lifetime tv movies. and then it hits me, no, this is absolutely my life. please don’t let me confuse you,  i am incredibly grateful for the support and timely advice of my friend to call OB. immensely grateful for the OB who told me to go to the hospital (and get over my stubbornness that i would be “fine”). and to amazing husband and all the hospital staff that saved my life that night, i will always be indebted. had i remained stubborn and stayed at home, i shudder to think of what would’ve happened in my home. would i have even made it to the hospital? these are thoughts no one should have to think. i’ve never been more frightened in my life. ever.

waking up today in my bed, as i turn and see my sleeping love next to me, i thank god that i have that gift of life. nothing is more important than being able to be here for amazing husband and son. nothing. and yet as grateful for my life as i am right now, i am beyond heavy-hearted. i am traumatized over these events. traumatized doesn’t even come close to describing this. there are no words.

we are losing the baby after all.

HCG fell to 1100.

how do we bear this? i am forever broken.

there are no more words.

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tingling

seven hundred ten!!!!!!!!!

i wanted 500. 

SEVEN HUNDRED TEN!!!!!!!!

sweet baby Jesus i am tingling all over. this. is. happening. 

i’m jumping out of my skin. mind racing. this is nuts. never in a million years did i see this coming. my heart is exploding with excitement and yet the infertility mindf*ck continues. welcome to the dichotomy of emotions in my world. 

ultrasound set for May 10. please let baby be cuddled up in my uterus. hurdle #3. i got this, right?