Putting my feet up

Things got a little scarier with my pregnancy. Two or three weeks ago, after a frightening and stressful 24 hours where we thought we might have lost this baby girl (but we didn’t! whew!), we decided my feeble attempts at fumbling around trying not to lift RJ and trying to take things a little easier (and yet still somehow take care of the kid by myself 12 hours per day) were just not going to cut it. In swooped my AMAZING parents to help, as always. RJ and I are spending 3 (or more!) days a week at Nana & Pappy’s house, where I’m getting around-the-clock childcare, home-cooked meals and all sorts of love and support so that I can keep my feet up as much as possible. Mr. E is also working from home one day per week and has officially taken the role as “default parent” on the weekends. And we’ve hired a sitter to help me with the one remaining day in the week. I’m not on official bed rest, but I’m probably not on my feet for more than a combined hour per day. Are we being a little over cautious? Maybe. I really don’t know. But I do know that if we lost this baby I’d regret not doing everything we could to keep her here safely. So I’m going to proceed in a way that will leave no room for regrets. Thankfully, I have an amazing husband and parents who can help me do that.

And thus, my former, crazy, chaotic days watching a very energetic, almost-2 year old have given way to long, drawn-out, boring days laying around on the couch. It’s kind of a shock to the system! At first, I was a big ol’ cranky pants about the whole thing like: “ZOMG I’m soooo bored” and “Wahhhh! I can’t take care of my own son!!!! I feel so worthless!” and “Booohoooo, I can’t cook or clean or do dishes or — wait a minute — why am I complaining about this?” This is kind of a sweet deal. Mandatory vacation??? I can sit around and let everyone take care of me and I don’t have to feel guilty about it because it’s FOR THE BABY!?  Alright. Bring it. Mission Lazy-Pants has officially commenced! I got so lazy I even stopped posting on my blog. And then I realized I can do that from a semi-reclined position. So yeah, I’m back.

So what am I doing all day? I spend a lot of time (TOO MUCH TIME) on facebook and online forums, etc. I still manage some quality time reading books with RJ or lying on the floor while he whacks me with his toys. My parents are excellent at finding ways for me to still be productive. Last week I spent an hour or so in their La-Z-boy making mini pie crusts for some dessert my mom is preparing for Thanksgiving. And the week before that they had me laying on the couch shucking a bucket full of dried beans.

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I know. This thrilling life I lead. It was so exciting I felt the need to document it with a photo.

This week I plan to make homemade christmas ornaments. Stay tuned for photos of that! Hopefully they’ll be a little more exciting than the dried beans.

The great news is that there was already much improvement during my last ultrasound (after one full week of Mission Lazy-Pants) so I’m hoping these restrictions won’t last the entire pregnancy. It’s nice to take it easy for a bit, but it’s a challenge for everyone who’s had to pick up the slack for me. And it’s not easy on RJ either. Every time he yells “UP! UP! UP!” at me and starts crying when I tell him again that I can’t pick him up, I start to tear up myself. It’s indescribably frustrating to not be able to fulfill such a simple wish from my son that used to provide both of us such comfort.

I suppose it’s just the first of many sacrifices RJ will have to make for his new little sister. Poor kid. At least while we’re spending all this time at Nana & Pappy’s house, he’s learning some great new skills. Like how to drive Pappy crazy by turning on all the electric blankets in the house. And how to play to his grandparents’ heartstrings to get more time in front of the TV, or to get more catsup with his dinner. And how to use the doggy door to get in and out of the house.

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Silver lining, you have been found!

 

Thanksgiving Baby

In April, I lost a baby that was due on Thanksgiving Day.

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I’ve written a post about reaching a miscarried baby’s due date before. And I wrote about my first three miscarriages here. But I have never written about my most recent miscarriage, and I want to take a moment to do that as we hit its due date. This baby was conceived very quickly after my third miscarriage. It was conceived days after a potential diagnosis was made regarding my three previous miscarriages and after a solution had been discussed with my doctor to make sure we didn’t lose the next one. With that positive pregnancy test came so much hope. I was still grieving the tiny baby we’d buried less than two months earlier. But now that we had identified a problem, and come up with a solution, and become pregnant so quickly, with a baby due on Thanksgiving Day, no less, we were incredibly hopeful and even a little cautiously excited.

Less than three weeks later, at my first appointment, we were told the pregnancy was not viable. I lost it a few days after that, naturally, at home, as I had done with the others. I wasn’t far enough along to pass any visible remains, so there was no burial or closure as with the loss preceding this one. But as I’ve done with all of my lost pregnancies, I bought a charm to remember that tiny spark of hope that lived inside of me for a very short time.

This Thanksgiving Day, I can’t help but remember that pregnancy. The hope it brought us, and the devastation we felt when we lost it. I can’t help but remember how gutted I was that the diagnosis we’d thought we’d found was obviously not correct, since the solution had not kept our baby alive. I wondered what was wrong with me, and why the doctors couldn’t figure it out. I wondered if we’d ever bring another baby home.

I sobbed for hours after that doctor appointment. But my tears dried up surprisingly quickly. Within days I was back to normal life, mentally moving on to “what’s next”. I remember feeling that I’d somehow bounced back quickly compared with my other losses. I thought perhaps I was becoming accustomed to this pain, after so much experience with it. I was wrong. In the months following our fourth loss, I found more anger inside of me. More bitterness. I wasn’t getting “better” at dealing with this pain, I was just developing more unhealthy defense mechanisms against it. I didn’t cry as much as I used to over my situation. Instead, I held my emotions more closely. I was more guarded. I was more afraid to hope for another healthy child. Staying optimistic and positive seemed like a dangerous and careless choice.  I knew in my heart that I didn’t want to turn into someone whose pain made them a closed-off, angry, bitter human being. But that’s a process. It’s a constant fight against a very strong urge to close up to the world and hate every happily pregnant woman or new, love-sick parent.

On that baby’s due date I’m also reflecting how far we’ve come. A 100% for-sure diagnosis was made. Months of fertility treatments were endured in order to take advantage of a special testing that could give us a baby who would live. A healthy baby girl was conceived from that process. And now I’m just over a week away from carrying her into that elusive second trimester.

This Thanksgiving, yes, I am still a grieving Mama. I’ve lost four very wanted babies and that will always stay with me in some way. I fight daily against the pessimism that presses in on me, making me feel like the healthy pregnancy I’m carrying now can’t possibly last. But at the same time, I am filled with gratitude. I am appreciative of all six of my pregnancies. I am thankful for the miracle of science, PGD, that made this healthy baby girl I’m carrying possible. I’m grateful for the family and friends that supported us through this, for my husband and our strong marriage, for my son, for our privileged life, for our health, for the peace we live in as a country and the freedom we enjoy. This journey has given me an ugly bitterness to fight through. But it has also given me the gift to see our life and fortune more clearly. I see and feel every amazing thing in our lives more strongly now than ever before. There is something about loss, that reminds you of what you have and how easily it can be taken away from you. There is something about struggle, that makes you more grateful for the things given to you. This Thanksgiving, more than ever before, I’m overwhelmed with an appreciation for the life and love that surround me. So perhaps, through all this struggle, I’m growing, too.

Pregnancy After Loss

So I’m 8 weeks pregnant. I don’t really know who exactly reads this blog and how many regular followers we have yet, so I don’t know who exactly I’m announcing this to. But I’m having major writer’s block because I have been trying to keep myself from writing about the biggest thing going on in my life at the moment. This thing that I carry in the back of my mind during every minute of every day and that has made the last month an extremely challenging one. Most everyone in my life (at least those I talk to on a regular basis) know about my pregnancy by now, so it’s not like I’m keeping it a secret. But I guess I haven’t felt like announcing it on social media yet because, well, pregnancy announcements are supposed to be happy, exciting things. And I’ll be honest: I don’t feel happy or excited about it at all right now. I’ve been pregnant for a month, and all I can think, because I know this fact all too well, is that this baby could be taken away from me at any moment.

The baby is doing well so far. We have seen her heartbeat twice and she’s growing on track. There is one complication of the pregnancy that has caused some bleeding and I’m being regularly monitored for it. It’s called a subchorionic hemorrhage and it’s an evil bastard and I just want it to go away and stop wreaking emotional havoc on me. Most pregnancies with these bleeds usually turn out fine, with no harm to mom or baby. But, when you’ve heard so many times about how “most pregnancies” turn out, but haven’t found yourself in that happy boat with all the other “most pregnancies” and instead have been in the sinking titanic over and over and over again…. it’s really hard for statistics and medical professionals’ optimism to put any sort of dent in your fear and anxiety.

And by the way, if one more person tells me to “think more positively,” or “just relax” I might punch them in the face. Truly. Pregnancy hormones combined with the stress and anxiety that I’m dealing with just may turn me into a very violent person and I just might break your nose.  Or burst into uncontrollable tears. It’s a toss-up. Probably not a risk you should take, either way.

Don’t get me wrong here with all this negativity. I’m grateful for this pregnancy. This baby is special and I’m already in love with it. The things we’ve gone through to get to this point have been impossibly difficult, and there were times that things were not looking good, and I thought we might never have another healthy child. I’m so incredibly lucky to have made it this far. The women I’ve met online through this journey have been my cheerleaders through it all and I couldn’t have been as strong through it all without them by my side. My family, especially my parents, have been an incredible support. They helped us by caring for RJ whenever I couldn’t and they helped us monetarily as well as just being THERE and loving us. My husband is eternally patient and supportive of me through all of it. I’m so amazingly lucky to have the opportunity to carry this pregnancy, and no matter how down and negative I get, I never forget all those wonderful things.

But some days, okay most days, those things are dwarfed by my utter exhaustion and physical misery. This is my sixth time going through the fun, fun first trimester. My third time going through it with a child to take care of. Granted, the last two times I went through it, earlier this year, were abbreviated. But I’ve been here before. I’ve been slightly sick-feeling and so unbelievably tired and still trying to deal with my toddler’s never-ending desire for constant attention and love. Add onto this a 4-week long sickness for RJ, and a cold for me a few weeks ago, and now possibly a second cold (I woke up with a sore throat this morning) and heaps and heaps of anxiety around my pregnancy, and what you’ve got is a Mama who is stretched paper-thin and doesn’t have any emotional energy left over for putting optimism and cheer out to the world.

Oh and did I mention I’m on pelvic rest because of the bleed complication? That means no sex, no exercise and no lifting. The first two are fine, because who’s got energy for that stuff right now, anyway, amiright? But no lifting??? When my sweet baby boy looks up at me those big, precious, blue eyes and says “Up, mama! up!” I have to tell him “No sweetie, I can’t pick you up right now”?  When he pulls away from me in a parking lot or a crowded store, I can’t pick him up and take him where we need to go? I can’t lift him into his crib or his high chair or onto his changing table or into the car? I can’t pick up up to carry him up and down the stairs with me (because YOU KNOW how long it takes to get up and down those stairs when he’s navigating them on his own!)? I can’t lift him into a grocery cart in order to do our shopping trip or carry him home from the neighborhood park when he’s tired? The answer to all of these questions from my Reproductive Endocrinologist was “If there’s any way you can avoid it, then no.” So that has added a ridiculously challenging element to our already long and difficult days.

We are coping though. We are muddling through. My parents are helping when they can. Mr. E came home early from work one day this week to do grocery shopping and cook dinner. I’ve gotten creative. RJ has a little blue step stool now that goes everywhere for us so that he can climb into and onto things all by himself. I’ve wrung out all the extra energy from my weary body to funnel it into convincing RJ’s stubborn toddler-self to do things and go places he doesn’t necessarily want to do and go to since I can’t drag him there myself anymore. I even got him to push the laundry basket into the laundry room for me the other day, since I can’t take it there myself (note also the random stray legos that seem to be taking over our house these days):

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Thanks, toddler-servant!

And so, life keeps going, and I just try to take it one day at a time, and hope, each day, that my new little baby’s heartbeat is still fluttering away in there, and that we will get to bring her home with us in June.

Rain!

We live in California. There hasn’t been a lot of rain here in the past year or two. When it *does* rain, it is a really big deal. For RJ. (Oh, and because of the drought thing, of course, too.)

Yesterday was Halloween and RJ’s first time trick-or-treating. Yesterday we also got a visit from Grandma & Grandpa E to celebrate Mr E.’s birthday and to see RJ. But those two normally very exciting things were both trumped by the fact that it rained, and so RJ got to wear his new raincoat and rain boots and splash around in the puddles.

 

He had an incredible time. We eventually had to drag him crying back inside because we were cold and soaked through.  Hopefully it will rain again soon for RJ! (And for the drought too.)

I bought his rain gear a couple of weeks ago at our local consignment shop. (Because I’m totally not paying full price for rain gear when it’s only rained like 5 times in the last 5 years). (I might be exaggerating a little). Both his boots and jacket are way too big for him. But that just means the jacket covers him better, right?? And the big boots are helping him work on balance and stability. Those things totally make up for my cheapness and inability to find the right sizes used.

We have both been looking forward to a rainy day since the purchase was made:

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On that same consignment store trip, I found a cute little Elmo basket, which just happened to go perfectly with his Halloween costume this year, which I spent way TOO MUCH money on. I’m not consistent. Sorry. Cheap one day, indulgent the next. But come on, was this picture, totally worth it, or what?

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Happy Halloween, and happy rainy season, y’all!!!

 

I’m still here!

Keeping up a regular blog is hard work, people! But fear not, I have returned to entertain you all with my extraordinarily boring life details.

Well, I have recovered from my cold. RJ is still hacking his up. We’re almost at the 3-week mark with his illness and I’ve already taken him to the doctor twice. I’m predicting a third trip this week. Because, really? He’s still sick? He’s still coughing? This doesn’t seem normal. Are you sure you don’t hear or see something that a nice handy-dandy pill could fix so we could all get a bit more sleep and be a bit less cranky during the day???

Not that I’ve been dealing with lack of sleep or crankiness in awhile because MAMA TOOK A LONG-ASS VACATION!

I drove RJ to Nana & Pappy’s house on Thursday and didn’t see him again until this morning! That’s 4 and a half days! Round it up to 5! What did Mr. E and I get to do? We flew to Boston and I bridesmaided it up in a wedding. We slept in for three glorious days in a row. We spent long periods of time (on the plane) just reading and watching movies. I prepared food for no one. I changed zero diapers. I calmed zero tantrums.

We also skyped with RJ twice and talked about him constantly and missed him in a deep-down-achey kind of way.

He couldn’t have noticed our absence less though!

Good for him.

It is Mr. E’s birthday tomorrow. And I’m totally prepared and totally don’t need to run out shopping today to find something he won’t hate. I’m kinda hoping the Giants win the world series in Game 7 tomorrow, because then I could claim that I was anticipating that, and so I totally knew he wouldn’t need a boring present from his boring wife. Off I go, shopping with my cranky, forever-sick toddler!

Mama’s Phone

The kid is 21 months old but he has figured out how to unlock my screen with a swipe of his chubby little finger. He knows how to press the home button and find the camera icon. Usually from there he clicks on the album and tries to watch one of the 50 gagillion videos I’ve taken of him. “Eee eeee eee” is how he says “videos”. I don’t know why. It’s got the same number of syllables, I guess.

Anywho, I left my phone on the bed while I was showering. (He doesn’t like to shower with me anymore. *sob*)

And picked it up a bit later to find this:

 

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Baby’s first selfies!!!

There were also a couple of videos showing mostly bedsheets, but also parts of his leg, accompanied by heavy, congestion-laden baby breathing.

(That confusing thing I took him to the doctor for last week turned into a full-blown, obvious cold that he’s still working on kicking.)

Mama caught it, too. But I seem to be fighting it off much more quickly.

I’ll post more when we’re both feeling a bit better.

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RJ’s Pearls

About 8 or 9 months ago, RJ came across my long strand of faux pearls. He immediately put it around his neck. Which surprised me, because I didn’t think he even knew what necklaces were for. When he first started wearing it, he couldn’t quite put it on right and usually it would just end up draped around him. Now, he usually manages to get it over his head in order to wear it like a proper necklace, but the thing is so dang long it drags on the ground and he trips on it. Like a so:

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The pearl necklace quickly became a favorite toy of his and since I never wear it anymore, I let him keep it with his stuff. It will often be forgotten in some deep, dark, toy-bin hole for long periods of time only to be discovered again later. Each time it’s re-discovered RJ becomes obsessed with it all over again for a few days and likes to wear it constantly, until eventually its novelty wears off again and it gets buried amongst all his crap.

Well, this week, the pearl necklace was discovered again, after a pretty long hiatus. He’s been wearing it around the house a lot, and yesterday as we were leaving the house to go on a walk with his pushy-bike, he was still wearing it, as well as clutching his blanky (Mimi). I have a firm rule against taking Mimi out of the house, because that thing gets gross enough indoors and I don’t need RJ dropping it in some dog poo at the park and then stuffing it in his mouth when he goes down for his nap. I told him we’d leave Mimi here and we should probably leave his pearls here too, so they don’t get caught under the bike’s tire and choke him. He readily said “bye-bye” to Mimi but shrieked when I tried to remove his precious pearls. So instead, I doubled them up around his neck, to make the situation a little less hazardous, and we went for our walk.

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As I pushed him out the door, I started thinking about some of the pieces I’ve read in the Huffington Post or similar, about moms taking their little boys out with their favorite pink clothing item or sparkly, flowery headbands and the disturbing or surprising things that strangers did in reaction. Visions started flashing through my head of some ignorant asshole calling my son a “sissy” and me going all protective mommy-hen on this unsuspecting stranger and kicking him in the balls. Or ya know…. saying something smart and cutting, instead, because violence is never the answer. But then I laughed at myself because A. we live in the Bay Area and people are pretty tolerant and open-minded around here and B. my son is not even 2 years old and I don’t think anyone really gives a crap if he’s wearing a pearl necklace or not. Oh and C. When it comes to “fight or flight” I’m really more a of a “stand there in shock, thinking really hard about what to do next” type of person so I doubt that sassy comebacks or ball-kicking would be any part of my reaction.

Anyway, the point is, the only thing I expected to hear from the strangers we’d cross paths with, was “Aww, he’s wearing a necklace! How cute!”

We were out and about for at least an hour. Most people didn’t care about or even notice RJ’s necklace, as I suspected. But surprisingly, one man did stop and take a minute out of his day to ask me about it. He was in his mid-forties maybe. He was just getting on his bike and putting his helmet on as we were passing him by.

Him: Is that your necklace that your son is wearing?

Me: Yes.

Him: So it’s your necklace, but he wears it?

Me: Yes, he loves it, so I let him wear it.

Him: He’s only 1 year old or whatever and he likes wearing a pearl necklace?

Me: Yes……. (waiting, wondering what he’s getting at)

Him: Hmm. Okay. Well, have a good day.

Ok, so maybe this wasn’t the exciting drama I’d originally had flashing through my highly-imaginative mind as we left the house, but it was still much more of an exchange than I’d anticipated. No judgment on the man’s part was explicitly expressed and no harsh words or looks were exchanged. But it stood out to me nonetheless as sort of weird and off-putting. I’d have to really read between the lines to infer anything though. So is this worth getting all huffy about? Probably not. Was it even worth a blog post on my humble, little, barely-read mommy blog? Probably not.

When I got home, I tried to look up the huffpost article I’d seen about the kid wearing a sparkly headband at Walmart and getting called a derogatory name. To my surprise, the whole thing is gone and all I found was a buzzfeed explaining that the woman who wrote it was now in a mental institution after expressing suicidal thoughts and huffpost took her article down after some speculation that it may not have been entirely based on true events.

Of course, this all happened over a year ago and was old news. And now I just needed to know the whole story and to try figure out if this mommy blogger really made the whole thing up and was then committed as insane. This evening I did some sleuthing (Ok, I just went to the woman’s blog, I guess that doesn’t count as sleuthing. But it took me forever to scroll back to August 2013, so it felt like a real effort, ok?) I read through the posts she’d written in the aftermath of her post about her son and the headband, and holy hell! One little blog post turned this poor woman’s life upside down! She had threats made against her and her family and had to relocate waiting for the attention to die down. And of course her version of events was entirely different (and probably more true, I’m inclined to believe) than those on the buzzfeed and the awful thread of comments I’d read thereafter.

I officially feel grateful that no one called my son a name for his necklace-wearing when we were out yesterday. Not just for the greater things that says about the people in our community, but also because then I’d have MATERIAL for my BLOG to go VIRAL and all POLITICAL and my life could be TURNING UPSIDE-DOWN with CRAZY-AWFUL right now. So thanks 40-year-old-man-on-a-bike, wherever you are, for not expressing your awful thoughts, that you may or may not have been thinking in the first place (but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you weren’t), when you asked me those questions yesterday. Annnnnnd I’ll just keep blogging about my cute baby and my reproductive life.