We did a walk this weekend for Lincoln. I raised almost $1,000 for stillbirth research in the hopes that this may save even one baby, one family from ever going through this. Completing this walk made me think about a lot of things. As I checked in, the volunteer asked if I was Lincoln’s mom. No one has ever asked me that before. It felt so good, I almost cried. I met up with 3 other moms who I have connected with on this journey. It always feels so bittersweet to be with people who get it. We talked about our babes as though they were with us. And there was no awkwardness or pity that can accompany those conversations. I also realized I haven’t written about Lincoln in a while. We became so occupied with trying to move forward. It’s not that I forgot about him or stopped thinking about him, because believe me, I think about him every day. It is still as though a piece of me were missing. And this is true because a part of me died when I heard those words. “There is no heart beat”. Someone told me the other day that there is a reason for everything. I used to believe that too. And maybe there is. But that reason will never be good enough for me. I have tried to become a voice for stillbirth families and infant loss sufferers, as well as for those who have battled through infertility but would I trade that for my beautiful 2 and a half year old? Hell yes I would. I ache to hold him and wonder what our sweet Linc would be doing. Would he be talking? Would he be potty trained? Would we be thinking about preschool soon? What would I be like as a mom? Would Lincoln have a sibling or would we have struggled to try again either way? I try to focus on the good things in my life, but one doesn’t cancel the other. Because they are my 2 sides. I can’t be who I am now without both good and bad. Since we came to the end of our infertility journey and have started to focus on other ways to be parents, I am trying to understand this new me. I am trying to find purpose if we end up without living children. This is a hard vision for me. I know that if it is our route, I will mourn that dream for the rest of my life. But as I said to my mom the other day, if all I get out of life is Kyle, then I am a damn lucky woman. I can’t tell you all how much we have always appreciated your support as we have navigated each new challenge and there may be more to come. But I do hope that we can count on you all to support us, whatever decisions we make.
I thought when Kyle said that we were moving to Indiana, I would be elated. And at first, I was. However, all of the changes that have come from the move have been very difficult and have caused me a lot more stress than I could have predicted. I have mentioned before how difficult new situations are for me dealing with my grief and our treatments. The move has brought that about in so many ways.
We no longer have a “home.” We are living in a transitional location. And it is small. We no longer have our own space. Poor Kyle can’t even shower without me barging in to use the bathroom.
I have lost my one consistent adult companion, Moises. Making the decision to end his suffering was one of the most difficult I have ever made. He has been by my side since I was 21. I catch myself wondering where he is when I am in the apartment. When dropping food in the kitchen, I think he will get it and then I realize he won’t. We had him cremated and he is now in a small box that I keep next to Lincoln.
I started a new job. I love my office and my position. But this means new people and deciding how much/when/if to tell our story. It took me almost a year in my last position to talk about Lincoln. It was nice to not be pitied or have awkward conversations. I could just be Heather, not loss mom Heather, not infertile Heather.
Additionally this new job, has brought a lot of firsts. First time working downtown, which means parking is more difficult, travel can be stressful, I walk to and from work a lot in the rain. I am not looking forward to winter.
We are still on a break from treatment. This has its own issues, as I feel there is a time bomb ticking inside my body. Right now though, we have only agreed to meet with a new doctor to push for more testing. I am hoping to find an answer. After that we will see.
One of the most difficult things is missing Ohio. I miss the family we created there. I miss walking to Heather’s and spending an evening on her deck or gathering around the fire at Sam and Blaine’s. I miss Chad and Diana’s humor at work. I miss our home, the first one Kyle and I created together.
Most of these things seem small, but add them up and it is a lot to handle. My anxiety is through the roof and I had a mild panic attack this week. I was able to run through some grounding exercises to help bring me down. But that sense of agitation and apprehension is my ever present companion again. I keep waiting for one of the balls to drop.
I wrote the below back in February. I was feeling so defeated. 19 months of the same result tends to kind of wreck a person.
“I have decided to take a break. I feel as though life is telling us to take a step back. We rushed into treatment with the thought that it would bring us this miracle cure. And while we have only done 2 rounds of IUI, the 8 medicated cycles have taken a toll on my body and my mental health. Every month that the positive doesn’t come beats me down a little more and it becomes harder to believe that it ever will. This is a very difficult decision to make. But we very much went from mourning our son to trying again without truly processing what one meant in relationship to the other. I have been wrapped up in the thought that another baby would mean that I was fixed or that I didn’t fail, while knowing in my heart of hearts that another baby could not replace Lincoln. So we are going to pause, maybe indefinitely.”
Little did I know that a month later, life would throw us a curve ball that would cement this decision. Kyle and I are moving back to Indiana. He starts his new position on April 8. We are busy packing and prepping to put our house on the market by the same day. With the timing and the work we have going on, we are foregoing treatment for a while. It is strangely freeing to not worry about my next ultrasound appointment, picking up meds, making sure I take the meds correctly, have Kyle giving me shots, taking a test even though I know it will be negative. Not to mention, that I don’t have the mental anguish of am I or aren’t I. No two week wait, no over analyzing every possible symptom. So while it is hard to stop trying, I can’t wait to be back in Indiana.
Aunt Flo has shown her face at my door again this month. The process has been the same for the last 16 months. I ovulate, we baby dance, I beg, bargain and plead with whoever will listen for 2 and a half weeks that this will be the month I see a little plus sign on that little plastic stick. But still she comes. The first day is ok. I think, “we will try again.” The second day, the despair and worthlessness set in. And let’s talk about that term, Aunt Flo. You want to picture this little old lady with reading glasses on the end of her nose, showing up with her little red bag of feminine hygiene products and pain reliever for your discomfort. But really she has shown up to tear down the walls of the home you have built for your baby. She says “fine, you don’t like it, here have some cramps, have a migraine.” No woman really likes getting her period, but I have come to loathe mine. For so many years I was programmed to think about baby proofing my body when really it has been teflon-coated all along. But most of all I have come to dread the “comforting” things that people will tell me. That our baby will come, we just need to relax, that I need to hurry up so I can be pregnant with them. Instead, I wish that someone would tell me that it is ok if we never have a living baby. That my worth doesn’t depend on that plastic stick. That I am a mom either way. That my worth as a woman doesn’t depend on whether my uterus can build a human. I know many are rooting for us. And I am too. But in order to “relax” I need to know that it is ok if we don’t have another baby. That my future has meaning and purpose no matter what kind of mom I am.
We are postponing round 2 until next month. My lining is looking much better but we only have one egg this month. We decided to save our funds and see if we have better odds. So my RE is planning to increase my dosage and we will continue on.
I met with my therapist yesterday. I had not seen her in over a year. So much has happened in that time. I lost my job and secured a new one, I started co-leading a group of women who are trying to lose the weight of grief that comes with losing a child. I have made strides forward and taken steps back. I still carry so many of the aspects of my grief around with me everyday. So my therapist gave me some homework. She suggested that I find some stones and paint or decorate them to represent the things that I need to let go of; then I am going to take a walk and physically throw them away. So I have been thinking about the stones that I carry.
Failure of my body. – This is something that I know I will work on for a long time. I feel as though my body is broken. Something wasn’t right that cost Lincoln his life. I also feel that whatever that is, is keeping us from having a second child.
Fear – I actually need 3 stones for fear because I carry 3 types. I carry the fear of miscarriage. The chances of miscarriage after a still birth are real. I also carry the fear that we will have another stillborn child. The odds of this are fairly rare but it happens. I know. I have met loss moms who have multiple pregnancy and baby losses. The third fear is the strongest of all, and that is the fear of never having a living child, the fear of never having children that can be seen.
Jealousy – This is another that I think I will have to work on for a long time. Dealing with these feelings of “why did she get a baby and I didn’t.” Getting eaten up with envy as friends and family continue to announce new life.
Unworthiness – I constantly struggle with the feeling that I have done something that I need to be punished for. My child was taken because of some act that needed repentance in the form of my son.
Mistrust of life – When things go right, I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don’t trust that the good times will last. I am always waiting for the next tragedy that will bring me down.
My therapists suggested that when my anxiety is talking I need to stop and think about my thinking. Try to stop the spiral. And throw the stones away. Even if I have to throw them away again and again. Sometimes I will need to go back and pick one up because I am not ready to let them go. And there are parts of my grief that I will always carry. The love of my son, the wish to know what he would look like, act like, smell like. The fact that he made me a mother.
Today, I am thinking about my tribe. I am facing a test today that is giving me a little bit of anxiety (ok a lot of anxiety). I am having a bubble test done. Without going into too much detail, they are testing to ensure that my Fallopian tubes are clear of any blockage. It is just one more step in our baby journey. Because of this test and my aforementioned anxiety, I have reached out to my tribe. I need some reassurance that all will be well, because I am assuming the worst. My mom, my sister, my sister-in-law have all heard my cries of what if. They are all always there for me. I never have to worry that they will listen or offer the shot in the arm I need. They pick me up when I am unable to carry my baggage. I am also part of this amazing group of women, who I only know through Facebook. They are the reason that I have finally lost my 15 pounds of grief weight. We listen to each other, understand each other, and rally each other to keep moving. And that is nothing to say for my husband and what he does for me. So I know when I walk into that exam room this afternoon, I will be lifted up by this amazing group that I call my tribe. And for that I am thankful.