The End of a Journey

We have no more embryos. We’ve known for more than a year now that we would not try to get pregnant again, but we only just got around to taking the final step of disposing of our two remaining embryos. Even though all we had to do was sign a form and have it notarized, it was an intensely emotional moment (at least for me). I didn’t really expect that, to be honest, since I thought I had already done all my crying and grieving. I was so distraught after submitting the form, that I had to take the rest of the day off from work.

So, that’s the (official) end of our family building journey. No more obsessing over TTC. No more reasons to hang on to baby items. While that makes me incredibly sad, I think I’m doing a fairly good job of embracing the silver linings. I’m already devoting more time to “finding” myself again. I’m making the time for the things that I enjoy, like reading and connecting with like-minded people (which is super hard, due to my introversion). I’m more active, taking walks outside or working out at the gym. I’m eating better and losing weight. When I spend time with my daughter, I’m more attentive and in the moment. I’m finally devoting more care and attention to my marriage, which hasn’t been terrible, but has been neglected for far too long. Same with other relationships. Infertility really takes a toll on relationships of all kinds. I’m just overall becoming a better version of myself. And that makes me so happy! Even typing this, I’m smiling and feeling hopeful.

I don’t yet know what I’ll do about this blog. I thought for a while that I would transition into writing about parenting, but that just does not appeal to me. I may one day return to writing about infertility and loss, but as of right now, I need a break from that. I’m in a good place, but reading and talking about infertility and loss are just too triggering for me. So, this is looking like goodbye, at least for a while.

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Guilt

Guilt. It’s been my constant companion lately. What do I feel guilty about? In no particular order:

  • Being a full-time working parent.
  • Being the preferred parent of my three year old.
  • Not wanting to play endless games with my three year old.
  • Wanting more “me time.”
  • Being sick.
  • Not having the energy or desire to be intimate with my husband.
  • Not putting in enough effort in other areas of my marriage.
  • Not working out enough.
  • Eating too much.
  • Not cleaning our house often enough or well enough.
  • Not doing fun and creative activities with my kid.
  • Always forgetting to brush my kid’s teeth.
  • Wanting another baby.

This last one is hitting me really hard. My three year old is happy as an only child. Of course, she doesn’t know any different. But, unlike other only children I know, she doesn’t ask about siblings… ever. (The closest she’s come is when she told me that Boss Baby was coming to our house.) She demands a lot of attention from me, lots of physical contact… an amount I wouldn’t be able to give her if we had another child.

I feel guilty that we even attempted to disrupt the good thing that we have with her. I feel guilty that I sometimes feel relieved that I’m able to focus entirely on her. And I feel doubly guilty that I still want to add another child to our family. I’ve accepted that it won’t happen, but I still want it. I miss my baby so much, and I would give anything to turn back the clock and somehow make her healthy. How different our lives would be right now! More difficult in some ways, certainly. But also more wonderful and colorful and complete.

Every day, it’s a battle between longing for another child and feeling blessed that we have more time and resources to give to our only child. I feel sad that I’ll never get another chance to breastfeed or babywear, and relieved that I won’t have to endure potty training or night feedings again.

Article on Grief

A friend who knows grief well shared this amazing article with me:

The One Thing No One Ever Says About Grieving

A few parts that really spoke to me:

Grief crowds the heart, eats up all your energy and chronically imposes upon your peace.  But grief isn’t some evil force that’s only there to cause pain, grief is escorting up an even deeper feeling, a truth about your life, what you value and what you need.  Perhaps how much you wanted something, how deeply you care about someone, how far you’ve come from where you were.

And

Please remember, the grief you’re experiencing is yours, and you can carry it with you for as long as you like. Let go of it only when you feel ready-enough, and if you never feel ready, that’s okay.

The author uses the metaphor of a looping path to describe how grief comes in spurts, only to be swallowed or numbed for a while, then it jumps up at us again, followed by more numbing.

Some losses are so exquisitely painful, in a way that no one else could ever fully understand, that no one would fault you for staying in the loop.

What really spoke to me was the permission to stay in the loop until you’re ready to get out of it. I go back and forth as to whether I’m ready or not. I’m still not entirely sure.

Unhappy Anniversary

It’s been one year since we lost the baby. September 13 was the day we found out about her condition, and September 23 was the day of my D&E. I don’t remember many details about those 10 days, just the hours of crying and begging my baby to die before I had to have the termination. I didn’t go to work, or leave the house other than to take my daughter to daycare. I honestly can’t remember how I spent my days. I know I didn’t cry ALL day long. I must have watched TV, or maybe cleaned or did laundry? Those days are lost to me now.

I think I’m doing okay, considering. I still think about the what-ifs, and sometimes imagine what life might be like today if our baby had been healthy. She’d be about 7 months old, maybe starting to crawl and experiment with solid foods. I’m sure she would be laughing and grabbing at her big sister, who would love being the one making her squeal with delight.

It’s too devastating to think that way, though, so I’ll stop.

To mark the occasion, I just made my very last payment to the RE for the frozen embryo transfer that gave us this baby. For those not doing the math, that means that immediately after losing our baby, we received an unexpected bill for thousands of dollars. It nearly sent me over the edge. But it’s done now, so hopefully I can let it go soon.

Until the storage fee for our two remaining embryos shows up, which it will sometime in the next few weeks. I’ll pay it, of course, because I’m just not ready to get rid of them yet.

So, as I was saying, I’m doing okay. Not great, but much better than I expected. I’m more focused and productive at work. I’m more patient and engaged with my toddler. I’m going to the gym a couple times a week and in general making an effort to be more active. I’m glad it’s fall again, even though the season is now marked by this sadness.

3 Years Old

My three year old continues to keep me on my toes. That’s right – she just turned three!

We started potty training back in November. Things went really well, overall, though getting her to go #2 on the toilet was a challenge. But, we persisted, and she eventually got it, and was what I would consider fully day trained within a few months. However…. About a month ago she started having accidents again, wetting her pants several times a day, shortly after having gone in the toilet. We explored all the reasons we could think of, including having her checked for a bowel blockage and UTI, both negative. It seems the problem is behavioral, though I still can’t pinpoint what exactly is going on. Nothing has changed in our lives; there’s no clear reason why she would suddenly be having accidents. The only thing I can think of is that she’s simply being lazy and not emptying her bladder completely when she does go, or she’s just too distracted to even realize that she needs to go. It really is mysterious, which makes it hard to fix. We’re working on approaching it with positivity and not letting her see our frustration, but it’s hard, especially since we know she can do it.

On a more positive note, she’s actually sleeping through the night most nights! I can’t tell you how or why – it just happened. After years of struggling, she just started sleeping. Naps are now a thing of the past (except for once or twice a week at daycare), which, oddly enough, does not have an effect on how well she sleeps. Not napping usually means an earlier bedtime, but I honestly can’t attribute the not napping to the sleeping through the night.

Imaginative play is really starting to take off. She loves to take care of her babies: comforting them, feeding them, putting them to bed. She adores Peppa Pig, and has quite the collection of figures and accessories, with which she creates all kinds of stories and scenarios.

She’s taking an interest in learning to write letters and numbers. Thankfully, there’s an app for that (probably quite a few apps, actually, but we really love LetterSchool), and she’s getting quite good at it. She can’t quite write her name yet, but she can spell it and type it.

One of the things I love the most is that we can now have real conversations. I can ask her what she did that day at daycare, how she felt about it, and what she would like to do in the future, and she will have answers for almost all of it. When we read books, she likes to talk about the stories when we’re done.

C has been going to gymnastics/tumbling once a week since May, and has recently graduated to the next level, which means she won’t have my help anymore. She will need to pay attention to the coaches on her own. Her first class is tonight, and I’m a little nervous about how she’ll do.

Current obsessions:

  • Peppa Pig
  • Llama Llama books
  • the color green
  • her iPad

Long story short: C is a super awesome kid! She’s growing and changing every day. It doesn’t make me sad, though. I love seeing her change and grow, learn and gain independence. My parenting dream has always been about raising a good human, and though there was lots I loved about the baby stage, most of that was about survival. Now, it’s all about showing her how the world works and helping her find her place in it.

It’s Just Stuff

It’s just stuff, I keep telling myself. Stuff we don’t need. Stuff other people could use. Stuff that could bring us a little money.

Stuff that’s causing me a lot of anxiety. Baby stuff. And not just baby stuff that once belonged to our toddler, but baby stuff that was supposed to belong to her – the one we lost almost a year ago.

Most of the stuff is hidden from sight in the garage, but every once in awhile I come across something still in the house. Yesterday, it was my breast pump. I hated that thing. I was so fucking happy be done with pumping. I can still remember how relieved and free I felt when I packed everything up for the last time… until the next time I would (hopefully) need it. Now, it’s just a painful reminder that there won’t ever be a next time.

While the stuff itself is hidden inside containers, I know it’s there. Everyday, I walk by it at least twice. Sometimes my eye catches the labels: bibs, bottles, swaddlers….. Sometimes a breeze coming through the opened garage door moves the sheet covering the larger items and reveals a bright green section of an Exersaucer. But mostly it’s just knowing that the stuff is there, waiting for a baby that isn’t coming.

We’ll get rid of it eventually. Maybe we’ll try selling some of it, or maybe we’ll just give it all away to a family (or two) in need.

But that’s in the future. I can’t bring myself to part with it just yet, even though I know it’s just stuff.

So, Back on The Pill?

I’m so tired of my malfunctioning reproductive system. My cycle is all over the place. The only thing I can count on is my consistently short luteal phase. My ovulation day is anywhere from CD17 to CD28, which means my overall cycle is anywhere from 26 to 37 days long.

Not that it matters. Even if we try try, the odds of getting pregnant are slim.

I know what I should do, but I’m having a hard time with the idea of being done with TTC forever. But I also recognize that hoping for a spontaneous pregnancy at almost 40, with infertility, is not doing me any good.

I need to focus on getting healthy, both mentally and physically. I need to work on my marriage and friendships. I need to step up my game at my job. I can’t do any of those things with this huge, constant distraction infiltrating all aspects of my life.

The fucked up thing is that I don’t actually want to get pregnant right now. I’m very overweight – the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m overwhelmed by pretty much everything. I’m exhausted. I have zero time for self-care. Not to mention all the anxiety that would likely come with another pregnancy. If I were to ever get pregnant again, I would want to be in a much better place.

The only logical conclusion is to go back on the birth control pill. Or maybe an IUD. I think I need to, for my own emotional well-being.