Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Today at Preschool...

One of my kids pranced across the room and at the top of his lungs sang "Fuck, Fuck, Fuckity Fuck". Summed up my sentiments perfectly.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

November Rain

So if you read my post about choosing a word, you know that last year's word was Path. And that there were some bumps - one significant bump in particular - on that path. It's been a challenge to work through and I thought putting it all into words might help (and be cheaper than therapy!) People have said that miscarriages don't get discussed, that women suffer in silence. And now that I am one of those women, I get it. And I want to hug and cry with every single woman who has ever had to weather one.

The last week of October and the first week of November brought me terrible insomnia. Up at 4am wide awake good luck going back to sleep insomnia. I was already recovering from another bout of Shingles and I was feeling ragged and just generally crappy. I shouldn't have been surprised when I realized that I was late. So on Sunday, November 6, I asked Brooks to go to the store for a test. (I'm noting dates here because I feel like the time compression of this shit storm plays into my difficulty in working through things. Brooks went to CVS. Brooks couldn't find the pregnancy tests and didn't want to ask for help (small town). Brooks came home an hour later with two 3-feet tall nutcrackers and no tests. We picked the boys up from SOR and went to a local brunch spot. Not long after we sat down, I had a sense of pelvic pressure that seemed to come on out of nowhere. I ate a little but couldn't settle myself so I told Brooks I was going to walk home and swing through CVS. And so I did. And I bought a box of tests. And the first three came up positive immediately.

I wasn't thrilled. It breaks my heart to admit that, but I was so caught off guard.  I am happy teaching. I am looking forward to working through another tax season. I am comfortable in my social circle of mom's with elementary age kids (and where babies would definitely be a hindrance). I like sleeping through the night. And I already feel SO old. God bless my husband who literally lifted me off of the floor and told me how great it was going to be. By the time we crawled into bed that night, I believed him.

The boys had a dentist appointment Monday and we planned to meet my mom for lunch afterwards. Before we left, I called a recommended OB practice and begged my way into an appointment Tuesday. I had a weekend trip to Santa Barbara planned for the annual family photo session of my bestie, and more importantly I had no idea when or exactly how this had happened. I felt more bloated than just that one missed period warranted. We asked my mom to watch the boys Tuesday morning (it was Veterans Day so they were off of school) because Brooks wanted to go with me. At the time I thought he was being so silly, but I love how involved he always wants to be. And now I'm so very grateful for that. I told Brooks that I would wait to tell anyone yet, but I couldn't do it. I think I waited all of 15 minutes into lunch before I told my mom. She got teary, told me it was the best news ever and I cried. I told her everything I was scared of losing and as I ticked through my list she responded to each item: "so what?" Initially I thought she had been a little dismissive, but as I laid in bed that night I realized how right she was. In the scheme of life, none of those things mattered when pitted against adding one more little person to our family.

I was on pins and needles Tuesday as we dropped the boys off with my mom and headed to the Midwife's office. My pregnancy test came back positive immediately and they suggested doing a dating ultrasound. Yes! That was where our joy hit the wall. The midwife couldn't see anything. Maybe it was too early. We were hopeful as we were sent to the Dr.'s where a better ultrasound machine should show more. Two hours later we left defeated. We were callously told "there's nothing here to suggest a normal pregnancy." I would later wonder why she was so cold, and why I didn't ask more questions, but in shock we were sent for blood tests. I called my mom from the lab and tried to calmly tell her that things weren't good. To further complicate things, my HcG levels were very high and I was told that I would need to get another reading on Thursday. In Santa Barbara. And that I could possibly miscarry while there.

I don't remember Wednesday. I guess I packed while the kids were at school. I'm not really sure how since already everything was too tight. I do remember that we put Dash and Kell to bed and I told Fin. He was going to CA with me and I was terrified that I would find myself in some kind of horror movie murder scene that would scar him for life, so I felt it best to tell him what was happening. He already knew something was up, he's a perceptive kid. I tried to tell him with as little emotion as possible, but his disappointment broke my heart. I don't think I slept at all that night.

Fin and I flew to Santa Barbara on Thursday. As we landed, over In N Out, I told my best friend that I needed to get some blood tests run and why. She listened and offered support and most importantly honored and respected my wishes to avoid getting emotional about things. We breezed through the lab and began to go about our usual weekend visit routine (In N Out, shop, In N Out, beach, In N Out, shop...)

Her children had off of school on Friday so they all stayed home with her husband while we went shopping for their photo outfits. We were in a dressing room at Nordstrom Rack in Thousand Oaks when the office called. My numbers had doubled. Could be a fluke right before they drop precipitously, but they were high enough that viewing nothing on ultrasound almost certainly meant that the pregnancy was not viable. Comforted by the advice that I would be able to enjoy the weekend and get home before the tough part started (and feeling like maybe, maybe there was still hope), we resumed the fashion show. Fifteen minutes later the midwife called me personally. After looking at all of the scans and my numbers she was certain that I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy. She told me to go to the ER immediately. I asked if I couldn't wait until I got home and she stressed that this was a true medical emergency and she didn't want me to wait even another hour. We checked out and spent two hours fighting traffic back to Santa Barbara because I didn't want to be stuck in a hospital that far from her house. Everyone in the ER couldn't have been nicer and I was examined and an IV started immediately. I was told that if they could access the tissue laparoscopically or vaginally, I would be outpatient and be able and fly home on Sunday as scheduled. If not, I would not be able to fly for at least a week. I think the ultrasounds took over an hour. Maybe it just felt that way. The ER Dr. had to call in an OB consult. When he finally came in to talk to me, he seemed almost excited by the diagnosis. I'm hoping it was just excitement that I didn't need immediate surgical intervention. They now believed I was experiencing a molar pregnancy - which would explain the pelvic pressure, bloating and the high HcG levels. He illustrated it on my bedsheet:

Top: What should be, Bottom: Me

So there was nothing that could be done until I got home. While it was hard process all of this away from home, I was so lucky to be with such amazing friends. Great friends make you feel that you can talk to them about anything, which I did, a little. Truly amazing friends are the ones where you know you don't have to say anything. They just get it. Humor is a great crutch and getting the job of photos done gave me something to focus on and keep me distracted. The scenery didn't hurt either. Skies like this just make you feel like you're going to be ok no matter what.

On Sunday afternoon, we said our sad goodbyes, packed up and headed home. The Dr.'s squeezed me in early on Monday morning, repeated the ultrasounds which showed more cystic growths and encouraged the likelihood of a molar pregnancy. My numbers continued to skyrocket and it was clear that there was no medical possibility that a viable fetus wouldn't be visible with those numbers. There are medications that are used to induce a miscarriage in these cases, but molar pregnancies are notoriously unresponsive to them. My Dr. felt that a D & C was the only real course of action and it was important to get a full pathological picture of what was going on because of the future dangers that a molar pregnancy can signal. I would have to be put completely under as they'd have to be "thorough". They could get me in the next day so I'd be recovered by Thanksgiving.

On Tuesday, November 11, I had a D & C. I came home to recover and I worried. I worried about the potential repercussions of a molar pregnancy. Would the tissue return? Would it become cancerous? Would I need a hysterectomy? I came home and grieved. And then I grieved for not feeling like my grief was justified. A molar pregnancy is not a true pregnancy. I essentially had cysts or tumors. Could I really mourn the loss if it wasn't even a fetus? Not even really a fertilized egg? And what right did I have to any grief after meeting that positive test with such a selfish sense of loss?

You read things about miscarriages going undiscussed. That you don't often know that close friends have been through one without first disclosing your own. I remember reading an article that described just that a few years ago. I shrugged and tried to imagine going through anything I didn't want to discuss to death. I'm a chronic over-sharer. I have no problem posting any and everything on social media. With my boys I told everyone I was pregnant the second that stick turned and never worried about having to reverse the call if things went south. If I wanted to share the pregnancy, I assumed I would want to share the loss just as readily. I was right in one way, that it's much easier to move through the topic of loss if you've already publicly declared the pregnancy. But when it came to the ease of sharing, I was so very wrong. I've never felt so alone in my life. I was adrift on a raft of grief by myself and the distance to shore was impossible to close. I needed help but felt powerless to reach out for it. Still full of hormones, everything made me cry. And I really hate to cry. I.was.stuck.

And then the pathology came back. It was not a molar pregnancy. It was just a pregnancy that didn't develop normally. But it was a pregnancy. A potential baby. Not a tumor. And I felt relief. I felt justified in my grief. And I could breathe through the reassurance that I would move forward with no lasting physical effects.

And then I took a deep breath, and reached out and started talking. And I started to heal.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

A Dream Realized!

When we first moved to this tiny magic town, someone told us there was a Christmas decorating contest each year. Brooks immediately told me he was going to win it. Big words from someone who had NEVER decorated a house before. Spending every Christmas away from home visiting family meant that it didn't make sense to go all out, but I knew it was always something that Brooks wanted to do. So he started small in 2014 with some lights and then upped his game in 2015 with small trees and garlands. This year he added a decked out mailbox (thanks to his mom for the assist!) and a few more lights. Last week they announced the winners - and we won Best Traditional Decorations for 2016! What a great way to kick off the year - not to mention it made his week :)!

Sunday, January 01, 2017

2016- Balance

Happy New Year!!

I know, it's been a while. I've missed the outlet of blogging so I thought ringing in the new year was a great time to try and get back into it.

I really hate the idea of New Year's resolutions. Like an arbitrary date is really a signal that it's the best time to make a change. But a few years ago, I had a friend who told me that each January she picks a word that will be her focus for the year. A touchstone to come back to as you walk through the months. I loved the idea, so I started in 2013 with Joy.

When I chose joy, I didn't know what a challenging year lay ahead, but I told myself I would work hard to find to joy in every situation. Early in the year Brooks' company started struggling. Our paychecks were late, then sporadic. The company failed to pay health insurance repeatedly which led to me banning trampoline fun and considering covering the boys in bubble wrap. In October, on Dash's birthday, we got the call that the plug had been pulled. The company folded. I had no idea how we were going to get through it, what we were going to do next or how I was going to lift up my broken husband. So I looked for joy. I found joy in our love for each other. I found joy in the extra time with my husband home, even as the circumstances stunk. I found joy in the support from our parents and friends. I found joy in our amazing preschool who not only employed me, but gave Kell free tuition. And I found endless joy in my boys who likely never realized how much I needed their snuggles and kisses.

The next year started with our family still in jobless limbo, so I chose Faith as my word for 2014. Brooks started looking at jobs in other cities and it looked like there was a possible move to Denver in our future. It felt so important to believe that we would land exactly where we were meant to be. The beginning of the year seemed to crawl by as Brooks took a job in LA while waiting to hear from the other offers. Then in March everything changed quickly - he got an offer in Maryland, close to my hometown, and had two weeks to get himself there to start. We agreed I would stay in California to sell the house and let the kids finish out the year.  Faith couldn't have been a more relevant word to get me through the next few months! The house sold in days, we packed up most of our stuff to ship it east and stayed in a hotel to make it through a school play and a first communion. Meanwhile Brooks and I settled on a city I'd never been to and he bought a home I'd see for the first time when moving in (FAITH!) I had a bittersweet farewell dinner with friends as dear as family, checked out of the hotel the next morning and the boys and I jumped on a one-way flight to our future. Arriving late, we stayed with my parents the first night and the next morning drove to see our new home. It also happened to be Mother's Day (good thing he picked a great house :)). I was terrified that our children would have trouble adjusting and that Brooks would hate his job and by the time I looked around and realized that they were all fine - no GREAT - I would realize that I was the only one having trouble adjusting. I'd be lying if I said it was easy, it wasn't. But we now live in an amazing community and having my children get to see their grandparents more than once a year is such a gift.

After choosing such a rewarding word for 2014, I wanted to do more in 2015 so my word was Yes. I promised myself I would put myself out there, I would try more, do more, get involved. I missed so much about California that it had really held me back from loving more about Maryland. I needed to fully embrace our new life here. In 2015 I would go all-in. And because I was so grateful for our good fortune, I felt compelled to do good as often as I could. If I was asked to donate - time, talent, money - I'd remind myself that "if not me, then who." If I could have done it, I did. I considered choosing No for 2016. But I didn't.

The word I chose for 2016 was Path. 2015 had given me so many new experiences but I wanted to narrow my focus. I wanted to figure out what I really wanted to be when I grow up. I wanted to open myself to the life I was meant to be living. I wanted to feel as settled as everyone else seemed to be. As the year progressed, I felt myself focusing on what was really important and thinking about what I could let go of. But mirroring 2014, the word seemed profoundly prescient as I was forced to think about something I was putting off - the size of our family. Brooks and I had talked about being "done", but we hadn't taken any real measures to ensure it. In late Oct/early Nov, I spent a few days feeling like I was coming down with something, then I realized I was late. We were pregnant. Our joy was short-lived and I had a miscarriage. But it forced us to face what we really wanted and demanded an honest dialogue about that path. It also gave us another opportunity to grow and strengthen our relationship as we celebrated 15 years of marriage. We finished out the year on an amazing vacation, a high note, and again I felt grateful as I reflected on how the word had informed my year.

For 2017, my word is balance. Life/work, self-care/mothering, food/activity, needs/wants, you name it. Balance. I'll let you know how it goes! Consider choosing a word for yourself this year and let me know what it is!