My Bucket List:

My Bucket List:

RESOLVE: Don't Say This

April 23, 2014

This is RESOLVE week-infertility awareness.  1 in 8 struggle to some level with fertility issues.  I saw this post on "Still Standing Magazine" and had to share to put things into perspective for friends/family/strangers that don't understand infertility and how comments sound to us...

"So, what do you think people would say to you if you were paraplegic instead of infertile? (author unknown)

1. As soon as you buy a wheelchair, I bet you'll be able to walk again!
2. You can't use your legs? Boy, I wish I was paralyzed. I get so tired of walking, and if I were paralyzed I wouldn't have to walk anywhere!
3. My cousin was paralyzed, but she started shaving her legs in the other direction and she could walk again. You should try that.
4. I guess God just didn't mean for you to be able to walk.
5. Oh, I know exactly how you feel, because I have an ingrown toenail.
6. Sorry, we don't cover treatment for paraplegia, because it's not a life-threatening illness.
7. So... when are *you* going to start walking?
8. Oh, I have just the opposite problem. I have to walk walk walk - everywhere I go!
9. But don't you *want* to walk?
10. You're just trying too hard. Relax and you'll be able to walk.
11. You're so lucky... think of the money you save on shoes.
12. I don't know why you're being so selfish. You should at least be happy that *I* can walk.
13. I hope you don't try those anti-paralysis drugs. They sometimes make people run too fast and they get hurt.
14. Look at those people hiking... doesn't that make you want to hike?
15. Just relax, you'll be walking in no time.
16. Oh do my legs hurt, I was walking and walking and going up and down the stairs all day.
17. I broke my leg skiing, and was on crutches for weeks, and was worried I'd have a permanent limp, but I'm 100% healed.
18. I'd ask you to be in my wedding party but the wheelchair will look out of place at the altar.
19. You're being selfish, not coming on the hike with us, and looking at all of my track & field trophies.
20. Don't complain, you get all the good parking places.
21. If you just lose weight your legs will work again.
22. If you would just have more sex, you could walk!
23. You don't know how to walk? What's wrong with you? Here let a real man show you how to walk!
24. You are just trying too hard to walk. Give up, and then you'll walk.
25. Here, touch my legs, then you'll walk!
26. Just take a vacation, and the stress-break will be sure to get you walking!
27. When *we* were young we only had to worry about having to walk too much.
28. And I bet a paraplegic going to a bookstore doesn't find books about paralysis stacked next to all the books on running...

So here's a little hint. If someone you know tells you that she's trying to get pregnant and it's taking longer than expected, DON'T tell her to just relax. Don't tell her to adopt and then surely she'll get pregnant with her own child. Don't say, "At least it's fun trying!" Scheduling sex with the person you love isn't fun. Getting vaginal ultrasounds every other day and intramuscular injections in your derriere twice a day isn't fun. Finding out every single month that - yet again - it didn't work this month either is Just. Not. Fun.

 DO tell her that you're sorry she's going through such pain/grief/frustration. Do tell her that you're glad she told you. Do tell her that, even if you don't bring it up (because you want to respect her privacy and understand that she might not feel like talking about it sometimes), that you're there for her if she ever wants to talk or vent."

Tired Already

April 24, 2014

As most know, March was the official month I was allowed to "try" again, although it was encouraged to wait 6th months instead of 3.  After 3 years of ttc, I wasn't going to wait 3 more months.  HOWEVER, I was/still am not ready to jump back into IVF/FET.  I still get sweaty going to the doctor to have my pulse taken-too many memories from the last IVF and how it all hit the fan.  Daily injections, the HUGE decision to transfer 1 or 2, the cost, the emotions, the fear-it's not time for that just yet. On top of those fears, I'm also scared of what will happens if it fails.  Maybe in summer or fall I will have the courage to go that route if nothing else happens naturally.

When Darren and I broke up in college (this story will connect, stay with me), I all the sudden became so aware of my singleness and men around me.  I was almost shocked at how quickly that "lonely" feeling jumped back in that had been satisfied for so long.  The same phenomena is happening to me with fertility meds.  Since May 2013 I was prepping to be pregnant with J and B and then pregnant with them through Oct/Nov.  I thought this deep yearning and month after month of meds and trying were finally done.  But once March rolled around I suddenly became so aware of how alone I was without them and forgot how rough the medication land is since I had focused all my energy and love on the humans growing inside me.

To try to get myself to ovulate the last 2 months I've been taking femara.  I have to take the max dose 7.5mg a day (3 pills) cycle days 3-7.  And while yes, it does force me to ovulate, (key word force), I'm already sick of it.  Medicated cycles are so so so intense.  Hot flashes, headaches, and cramps almost the entire time and then followed by awful periods.  Heck! So may women would love NOT to have a monthly period and here I am killing myself to have a chance.  (Side note: I am getting nervous about the "killing" part.  Many doctors don't like you to stimulate your ovaries more than 6 times in a lifetime.  If you count the 2 fresh IVFs, the 8 failed IUIs, the months of taking meds prior trying to ovulate, and then these last 2 months of femara, I might be dead by the ripe age of 31).

Darren's recent sperm analysis has been off the chart amazing compared to what they were years ago BUT his mophology (shape) is abnormal.  96% to be exact are not normal (anything 15% or greater is supposed to be good, not 4%).  No matter how high his counts this doesn't fix the fact that only 4% actually could possibly penetrate the egg.  Then, you think about my eggs.  I have a done and all my labs are normal.  My eggs are plenitful and several are healthy but several probably are not.  Take my 2 IVFs for example.  The first IVF they retrieved 24 eggs.  Like 19 fertilized but only 6 survived to day 5 and none of those (2 are still frozen from cycle #1) turned into babies.  Then, IVF #2, we get 19 eggs and 9 turn into awesome blasts and out of the 3 we transferred, 2 grew into Jude and Brinly.  All this to say that if femera makes me ovulate ONE a month, the odd of that egg being one of the good ones is less than 50/50 and then the 4% morphology thing? Sigh.  I know, I know.  All the Christians are saying "God is bigger than that!"  I 100% agree that He could do anything if He wants to.  But since we don't have a ton of peace of not using advanced meds or never returning to IVF, I don't think that is the route for us in particular.

With that said, I do feel like the perfectly timed intercourse (cute, I know) that has taken place the last 2 months has been fairly useless.  I'm on cycle day 27 today, 11 days past ovulation, and got a negative test, again.  You would think by now that these wouldn't sting the way they use to. 

Infertility has been reigning and ruling in my life for over 3 years.  I won't work out at a certain point in each cycle JUST in case I dislodge the miraculous (non existant) embryo.  DE-Caf is my main order at Starbucks.  No hot tubs.  No baths after ovulation.  No sex after ovulation.  All these stupid rules I'm following that don't guarantee a darn thing.  My younger sister Heidi just announced her 2nd pregnancy about a week ago.  She didn't know when she ovulated and ran a 1/2 marathon before knowing she was pregnant while enjoying her daily caffeinated beverage.  As mentioned, this is her 2nd pregnancy and she didn't tip toe around all these extreme rules.  I'm tired.

So now what?  I want to start running again.  I want the white chocolate mocha.  I want to hold my baby in my arms more than anything I could ever ever desire.  I need a break from femara and ovulation predictor kits and tempting and tons of "maybe it will help" rules.  I need a break from timed intercourse and egg white mucus and the intense feelings of hope and despair with every single month.  Add in the side effects of femara it's not pretty-all to try for that one egg with those abnormal sperm.  When fertile people say "life is such a miracle" I want to yell "NO @#%#@%@ (insert a mild bad word here)!"

Anyway, all this to say, this next month I will not be taking femara.  We literally have not taken any type of break since March 2011.  Not a single month.  And while I'm not ready to say "official break" I'm ready to say I need an official break from medicine.  I must likely will ovulate at a random time, very late.  Please don't be that annoying person smirking, desperately wanting to share the story of your friend's sister's cousin's aunt who finally took an official break and then like that (read next part in super perky tone) just got pregnant (please notice eye roll).  Of course it could happen, and of course, we would love that, but in all reality...IVF might be our best bet. 

Help Me Love You Again

April 8, 2014

Time to do a little talk on faith in a heartbreaking situation.  As a Christian all my life, I could never imagine being in the place I am with my view of God/prayer that losing the twins has brought me to. Shattered.  Don't get me wrong, I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I will NEVER walk away.  Although I have no idea why He allowed this, what He is doing, and to some degree Who He fully is, I will never ever say that He is not good.  With that said, that being my core belief, everything else is so broken. 

Up until going through the most cruel thing I've ever experienced that went down in the most horrific way my life was fairly smooth (minus the IVF sagas)-to refresh your memory, my water broke 1 day after my 30th birthday, a week later I visually saw her cord hanging from my body, I go to the ER and her foot is hanging out but I'm not in labor, I go into labor at night and she falls out in the bathroom the next morning-then miraculously my body stops labor and my cervix closes and there is SO much hope for Jude.  I get a cerclage (cervix sewn shut) and am bedridden in the hospital for 11 days taking IV antibiotics every 4 hours to try to prevent an infection.  While each second I live in the horror of what just happened, each second I fear that Jude will die, as I watch family and friends come and pray for miracles.  I watch my strong brave Dad cry out to God like a helpless child begging for a miracle.  I watch my strong brave husband laying his hand on my stomach begging for the life of Jude to be saved.  I myself cry out with all that I have left for God to have mercy on mye and to heal my body and to save my child.  Then when we finally think there is hope because it's been 3 weeks, an infection takes over, they break my water while I'm conscious (and feeling him move), and I deliver a 100% healthy normal baby that is 3 weeks to young to have a chance at surviving. As I quoted CS Lewis earlier in my blog it felt like we reached out for help to our Savior and we heard the door slam and then many bolts shutting and then silence. 

In my Christian walk this is the first time I've ever experienced something like this.  I have had hard seasons but have always trusted that He was working things out for the good.  I have had unanswered prayers before but never in such a silent, heartbreaking, desperate situation.  It shakes me to the core and although the Bible says "pray without ceasing" at this point I simply cannot.  I'm going through all the emotions that come with grief but I'm also a bit cynical.  I snicker at stupid things (ie someone praying that God will help them find their keys or take away their headache) Although people have every right to ask God for help in anything, these type of prayers make me roll my eyes.  He didn't save my child why would He help you find your keys??  I know better than that, I was raised that He is a personal God and cares about the smallest things in our lives-however at this point PLEASE don't pray to find your keys around me.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not "pouting" or trying to "show Him."  I am just numb/speechless/and quite frankly a little afraid of what can happen to anyone here on earth whether they are a Christian or not.  This whole experience shattered the fun/cute snow globe of happiness I tended to live in and has shown me the suffering and the pain that can happen to anyone.  If I do pray, they have massively changed.  I have also removed the word "Let."  "Let me get pregnant again."  "Let me know what you want me to do."  "Let me not be so afraid."  At this point sometimes the only prayer I can say is "Jesus."  Or "God help me."  Sometimes I can mutter "Let me see redemption win. Make it right." While other times I simply shrug my shoulders and say "Who are you?" or "I know you will do what you are going to do."  I guess this isn't exactly a pep-talk but I think it's important that Christians be real.  I just went through a very very sad/nasty situation where my ever-so-longed-for children literally were killed inside my body because of my body-I was a participate in their death.  We are humans and we to go through  waves of emotions in grief just like anyone-just because we have Christ as the center of lives does not mean we are always happy/protected-we just do our best to constantly remind ourselves that this is not the end, this is temporary and death can never have victory over us since we believe in eternal life.  If you are not a Christian I know I might sound a bit loca but if you are, this means everything. 

Anyway, there is this somewhat old-school 1990's worship song by Michael W. Smith (don't laugh) and for some reason it's been popping my head a lot lately.  The main chorus says "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy on us."  I decided to youtube it with lyrics and the phrase "Help me love you again" really struck me.  The singer is asking God to help him love God again!!  I could so relate with this.  What a strange prayer "Dear God, help me love you again." I think I'm going to add it to my small list of prayers.

I've posted this song before too, it's called Worn, but its one of the only Christian songs I can listen to. 

Rainbow Baby Chasing and What It's Like Being a Fake Mom

April 5, 2014

When I was a rookie in the infertility world every now and then I would come across the term "rainbow" baby.  To be perfectly honest (and show my non-smartness), I assumed it meant a baby born to a gay/lesbian couple.  Obviously this group seeks some type of fertility assistance so I just figured it was a "rainbow" baby.  I was very very wrong.

The term stems from the loss of a baby before.  Here is the definition:

I've been too deep in grief to really even think about this concept but the reason I bring it up is last weekend on our drive up to the Puget Sound in Seattle I saw 2 rainbows.  Despite my hurt from God's prolonged silence, my heart couldn't help but remember where the rainbow originally came from.  I couldn't stop starting at it.  It was stormy out, but there was this beauty among it.  It again reminded me (as almost everything does) of this unrelenting desire to catch my rainbow. 

The reality is, there are no 100% guarantees.   For those that have been following my story, Jude and Brinly were supposed to be my rainbow babies.  I had an early miscarriage in 2012 and then miscarried one of the triplets at 9 weeks.  

I recently met with a counselor at my clinic and she pointed out that my hope for the future is not a "false hope."  She reminded me that I have been pregnant and that the doctors all think that a biological child is attainable-that I have been on a string of very bad luck.  I am not aimlessly chasing a non-existent rainbow (even though there are no for-sure promises I will catch it) this was a good reminder.  Seeing the rainbow in the sky gave me that wave of hope that I hate/love so much.  However, because of my track history the hope is always mixed with extreme fear that will never fully disappear until I hear and hold a child screaming/crying for the first time. 

In other news, yesterday I watched my nephew, Ryker, aka the cutest human being alive, for an hour after work.  I had to run to the mall to pick up movie tickets so I towed the little 18 month kido with me.  My sister dresses him really cute (backward hat tops the outfit) and he looks like he could be mine.  Heidi and I have been asked several times if we are twins.  Ryky has our nose.  Anyway, I carried him into the mall to get the tickets. 

I was totally a fake mom.  It was so strange.  In the 7 minutes I was there, I made eye contact with at least 5 other mom's with kids around his age.  In their adoring smile I got the message "your baby is so cute."  In their kind glances, they were connecting with me.  I was in the mom club and had evidence to prove it.  I felt like a fraud.  "I'm his aunt" I almost felt obligated to tell them.  But I didn't.  Instead, I enjoyed the time with my sweet nephew.  I took him to the pet store to look at the puppies and mice (he is more a of a kitty obsessed child fan but unfortunately they were out).  I pointed out a little boy his age and said "look a friend" out loud.  On the car ride home, I looked like a mom too.  He was buckled in the back seat happy as could be.  At stoplights I would play peek a boo with him and his eyes lite up and his giggle filled the car. 

It's normal for strangers to assume he is my child-awhile back the cashier at Target convinced me to get a red-card because I had a "baby."  I love him and he is obviously genetically related to me-but he reminds me that I want my own so so bad.  I am not his mom, I am his aunt.   All this to say it was strange feeling part of a club that I am not of.  Children that died at birth do not get you into the MOPs group at church or the corner coffee sip and play. 

Lastly, on the personal front, we are taking 1 day at a time.  With femera I ovulate, but that doesn't mean much.  There is so much sorrow and stress still in my life from the losses that I do not expect to conceive any time soon but going slow and not jumping hardcore into IVF/FET is good to allow my body/mind to heal up a bit.  The MFM (high risk specialist) wanted me to wait 6 months to a year to heal from the 2 deliveries.  I want my rainbow more than anything in this life and I think about this every single waking second daily but I'm trying to re-learn how to live in the present.  So much of the past brings sorrow and so much of the future brings fear/unknown.  In the meantime I think I'm going to keep taking pictures of rainbows I spot.  If you catch a good shot, send it to me!

About Time

March 24, 2014

This weekend Darren and I rented the film "About Time."  Within 5 minutes we find out the main character has the "power" to travel back in time.  He can't really change anything huge and it mainly only impacts his life.  He is 21 and can really only think about falling in love (I love this as most romantic story lines are about the girl dying to find the one).  Anyway,  I would say it's instantly up there with my other favorite two movies (The Family Man with Nicolas Cage and Stranger Than Fiction with Will Ferral).  It makes you think about life and family at a deeper level.  I'm still an emotional wreck between learning how to be a mother to dead children while dealing with my hormone levels as the doctors try to help me ovulate is a dramatic month-to-month experience to my body.  The movie made me cry, in a good way.  Here are some reasons why

1.  The soundtrack.  One of the main songs is called "Mid Air" and they play it when the main character meets Rachel McAdams for the first time.  The 2nd line of the song says "I want to live forever."  I. Want. To. Live. Forever.  This line hit me really hard.  Of course, I have been so deep in sadness, I have days where I don't care if I die.  I feel like I'm waiting.  Every single day.  I do NOT want to live forever at all.  BUT, this line made me cry.  Why?  Because life, although it has recently shown me a dark/cruel side, in the past, has given me these beautiful moments where in that,  I really did want to live forever-I mean things were wonderful.  Of course, things are and will never be perfect till we leave this life, BUT it made me remember that my life hasn't always been this-this pile of filled tissues, day after day of puffy read eyes, flashbacks of my loss, this burning longing, this unrelenting jealously-No.

I had wanted to get married for so long and the journey to the altar was a little rocky itself.  The day Darren and I got married and for a year after that (till infertility became a member of our family), I could honestly say, I wanted to live this life forever.  The lyrics in the song briefly reminded me of that.  This led to Dar and I discussing, if you could relive a day in your past (and not change anything, just relive it) what would it be?  There is something sweet about those moments/months/even years of our lives.  When we are so happy there is no room for sadness.  I'm putting the song on here, listen to it and if your in a rough place try to think of day or experience that made you so happy you truly believed living forever wouldn't be so bad

2.  At one point his dad says "Life is a mixed bag no matter who you are." Although I know this, I need to hear this every single day.  In my own suffering it's hard not to become narrow minded.  Why am I being punished?  What did I do?  Why didn't this happen to ________?  At this point in my grief I almost feel like every family of 5 I see walking around is flipping me off.  Every pregnant person
wondering the earth is sticking their tongue out at me-they are better than me.  Their body is better because it can hold a child to term.  They are better than me because they have the power to get pregnant on their own when they want to.  I find myself angry that I have been dealt these cards.  In the movie someone get's sick.  I hate that I lost J and B at 18/21 weeks AND have to deal with infertility.  But the excited couple who losses their baby full term because of a freak cord accident?  But the mom that has to watch her toddler/young child die of cancer?  The parents who get the late night phone call that their was an accident and their teenage isn't coming home?  Or (I've witnessed this), the sweet mom of 4 beautiful girls after battling cancer for 7 years dies, leaving them all behind?  Life indeed is a mixed bag for everyone.  I have to process this, I have to.  Just as I was celebrating the genders of J and B someone I'm friends with in the blogging world was losing her twins.  While I was in the hospital fighting for Jude's life, another blogger friend texted me she is pregnant with twins.  Highs and lows come to everyone at different points.  Life is a mixed bag.

3.  To live each day without changing anything.

The father and son are very close (the father can time travel too) and as they age, he gives his son some tips with his ability.  To live each day, taking it as it comes whether good or bad, and then to always go back a relive that day again, without changing anything, but looking at it more light-heartedly.  This got to me too.  The movie shows the character just having a bad day-things go wrong at work, it's long, and he comes home exhausted.  He follows his dads advice and returns to that day.  But this time, he laughs a little more, doesn't stress out at much, and comes home and tells his wife "the day wasn't that bad."  I wish I could do this.  Really relish the beauty of each day.  To shake of the little things that sting and to see the good.

Once the movie was over, Darren noticed the tears (he LOVES to catch me crying in movies).  The tears turned to sobs (he doesn't like me sobbing in movies-side note: one time in college I watched Man on Fire with him and cried for like 30 minutes afterwards, he had to set up Nintendo to distract me).  The message of the film was so clear-to appreciate each day and that time does go on.  As mentioned, I feel like I'm living in suspense.  Since we have been trying to get pregnant I feel like I am waiting.  There is such a huge piece of my heart missing.  As a Christian I know that having a baby won't fill that completely but it sure will help take away this throbbing sorrow.

It's easy for women without infertility to judge this.  "enjoy it will happen" "relax, if its meant to be its meant to be" and of course my favorite "you can always adopt."  The majority of us dream about having kids-to not be able to reproduce "on demand" goes against our very biological systems.  It's in our cells this desire to want to carry a child, to experience creating a life.  Heck, God even commands us too.  So here I am having this spiritual, physical, and mental drive to do something 90% of women can do when they feel like it, and it is massively delayed. 

To grieve and wait at the same time is hard.  I feel like I cannot "relish" each day because I'm trying to get through each day just to get to the next.  I don't want to live like this but I accept it's where I am at.  I'm 30.  I can honestly say that in my 3 decades on this earth there have been more good times than bad.  I'm in a dessert, I'm in a valley.  I have to hold on that this isn't forever, I have to try to force myself to not miss out on the days of my life that are passing now, and of course tattoo to my brain that life is a mixed bag no matter who you are, not just Holly Lynn Benson.

4.  Lastly, as so many women going through levels of IF share, the amazing love and support of our husbands.  Some days Darren is the only reason I get out of bed.  Although I feel so alone, I am not.  My best friend, my greatest comfort.  The true therapist who hears me repeat and repeat and repeat what happened.  In the movie a wife whose husband is sick says, "I am completely uninterested in a life without you."  I love this.  I want to frame it. 

A Footprint as Small as Brinly's ♥

March 20, 2014

If you bend your pinky forward notice the length from the edge of your nail to the bend in your finger.  This is about the size of Brinly's footprint, my 18 week-stillborn daughter. 

Last weekend would have been Jude and Brinly's full twin-term due date so we asked family, friends, and followers to participate in a day of random acts of kindness.  Throughout the day my inbox and instagram were filled with awesome, caring, heartfelt acts to honor our sweet babies.  In the big
scheme of things, this little day full of small random acts of kindness is no larger than Brinly's footprint in ratio to the world-but I find a small ounce of solace knowing the my daughter and son were able to leave a tiny footprint of love/kindness because of their short existence. 

So many thoughtful things were done, to name a few:  paying for people's coffee, signing up to donate bone marrow, delivering flowers, bringing a neighbor/friend a treat, sveral different types of donations, handing out homemade burp rags to new moms, volunteering, sponsoring children, paying for people's groceries, large tips, paying for a strangers manicure, giving random gift cards to strangers, handing out free water bottles at swim park, writing appreciation cards to all the teachers at my work (Christian club at the high school I work at did this), giving money, knitting blankets for future mommies that lose their babies and donating them to the labor/delivery, serving people in need, the list goes on and on.  My parents made a point to randomly give to a few different expecting moms.  My mother and father in law made an adorable basket with J and B's name and filled it with goodies and drove it to the hospital I delivered them in and shared with the staff.  A group from the church I grew up in organized a free event for local foster children with over 70 children in attendance.

 I made a collage of images, instagram and text messages

Here is what we did: 

If you have been reading my story for awhile by this point you know the pregnant woman, infants, and twin pregnancies/babies all tug at my heart a bit harder.  I am in constant battle to remind myself "it's not her fault she is pregnant and you are not."  I am constantly fighting feelings of jealously and even anger that other people get to walk this road so easily and joyfully.  Seeing a growing belly or hearing a screaming infant instantly reminds me of what I just lost-flashbacks to how everything went horribly wrong are bound to bounce in my head with so many triggers in a fertile world. It feels so cruel. Boy girl twins are extra painful too because again that selfish inner voice asks "Why me?"  To survive I try to stay away from any trigger as every trigger is a constant bitter taste filling my throat and me having to take every ounce of trying to be a good person to swallow hard and smile.  It's not their fault this happened to me.  It's not their fault they are the lucky 90% that get pregnant within the 3-6 months of trying range and will 100% believe their positive pregnancy test.  It's not their fault they finally got pregnant on IVF and that is that, now they get to carry a healthy baby to term.  It's not their fault their cervix isn't crappy.  Its. not. their. fault. holly.

To fight these negative feelings that have taken a home in my soul, Darren let me take the lead on our random acts of kindness, and I chose to, for the weekend at least, NOT to run in the complete opposite direction when "triggers" popped in my path.

Act #1   We gave 2 different moms of twins a date gift card.  For Jude and Brinly

Act #2  I was at Target and I saw a girl around my age walk in with her mom and her little boy (probably 3 months).  I bought them a "baby" gift card and then walked back through the store trying to find them.  I stopped them and before I knew it I was crying. 

Crying in public?  This really through me for a loop.  I went back to work 2 weeks after holding Jude in my arms and haven't shed a single tear on the job-and I've talked to several co-workers in detail about what went down in the hospital those horrid days and walked away ok.  I have mastered the "I'm-okay-in-public" routine so well I must have even deceived myself because starring at the mom with her baby and the desire to tell them why I was stopping them hit a pocket of sadness I didn't realize would surface.

I quickly told them what happened, today would have been the due date, that I wanted to honor them by giving a gift to a mom.  They were perfect recipients.  They teared up themselves and gave me a hug-it had taken her 2.5 years to have her little son.  I had to get out quick-the tears wouldn't stop and I didn't want to lose it all together.  I cried the whole way home-tears of sadness I'm not holding J and B today.  Tears of injustice.  Tears of love-every ounce of my being filled with love that I wanted to give to my babies.  On the car ride home I was able to spit out one of the few prayers I have had the strength/courage to ask, "God, Make this right"- Even as I prayed I myself couldn't tell if the tone was an angry command or a heartbroken plea.  The gift card-given in love for Jude and Brinly.

Act #3  Latley I've been extra "grr" towards pregnant women.  I saw an "update" on facebook, I saw 349093824 at the store.  "I HATE them" I said to Darren (both of us knowing that I really don't) and he gave me that knock-it-off-snap-out-of-it-look. 

Tonight our young waitress was rocking an adorable baby bump.  After she left the table I scowled at Darren, a legit, true, not happy face right at him.  It stung.  Again.  But, just like the cycle I mentioned above, I force myself to tell myself"it's not her fault that you lost your twins, Holly".  I knew that I had to fight my ache for my own children mixed with jealously, with love for her and the precious life inside her.  We left her a large tip with a note-in honor of Jude and Brinly.

Thank you SO MUCH for every text, every email, every picture, every phone call, every post below.  The love and kindness totally helped us get through a very rough day and myself and my family are deeply touched. 

Here are a couple more images from March 15th.  These ones are extra special to me because they include Jude and Brinly's names.  I love that. Stay tuned for the winner of our first "giveaway!"  We are working on mixing up names of all the participates and for our last act of kindness will randomly draw and name and give a $50 gift card to your restaurant/store of choice

This One's For Jude and Brinly

March 12, 2014

This Saturday would have been the latest day the doctor's would have let me carry J and B so I always told people my due date was March 15.   To make the day less sad I remind myself that any day in March could have been a safe/happy/possible due date; but the 15th is the one Darren and I chose to acknowledge.

If you are new to my blog/story here is the shortest recap to bring you up to speed:

Over the last 3 years we have undergone 11 fertility treatments including: 1 IVF that resulted in an early miscarriage, a failed frozen embryo transfer, and our third IVF treatment in July 2013 resulted in our dream come true:  triplets.  3 perfect heartbeats.  We lost one randomly at 9 weeks but went on with a normal/healthy pregnancy.  At 17 weeks my water randomly broke on the bottom twin (Brinly, our daughter); this rare occurrence known as pPROM happens to .4% of the population.  We did all we could to hang on but I went into labor 1 week later and delivered my daughter.  She was 9 inches and 6 ounces.  Jude, our son, stayed put-this gave us unexplainable hope we would be able to keep our son.  The doctor's sewed my cervix shut to try to keep him in and infection out.  I held on for a week but an infection got to his placenta, causing me to go into labor again.  He was born at 21 weeks, 11 inches, 1.3 lbs.  Both babies were 100% healthy/normal-it was my cervix that was not.   We made this video to recap the journey from finding out we were pregnant to saying goodbye way way too soon.

To honor them we have asked that anytime this week/March 15 be a day of random acts of kindness and paying it forward-to step outside our own deep grief and try to brighten someone else's day.  We would like to believe that Jude and Brinly would have been the type of people who loved and served others.

Thank you so much to all who participate.  Darren and I would LOVE to hear what you did or if someone did something for you.  You can post below or email me directly at

Thanks to my awesome siblings Heidi and Robby who made me these little images. <3 you!

Look What the Stork Brought In

March 6, 2014

That is what the flier in my mailbox said.  It was a free gift from Shutterfly for birth 10 free birth announcements because, well, it's March.

This must be how my great grandma felt when people would call and ask for Lyle.

I try to avoid triggers.  I dodge the pregnant woman in the aisle.  I veer my eye's when strollers walk past.  I know I won't be this extreme forever but for now, I am in protection mode.  But today it was as innocent as getting the mail to bring up that deep, heavy sting that physically impacts the body.

I sifted through the mail.  Free baby prints!  Another company, another flyer, 2 in 1 day. 

I ripped them up and threw them in the trash with the flyer from yesterday from Motherhood Maternity, making this mail/formula sample  #5 in the last couple weeks that is somehow congratulating me as a new mom.  I.  Am. Not. A. New. Mom.

Trust me, within 24 hours of losing Jude I was canceling the registry, unsubscribing from the amazing "weekly growth updates" that gave me such delight in what new skill he had acquired that week; removing my name from mailing lists, trying to contact ANYONE in my life who I may have told I was pregnant with twins what happened-all for fear of them approaching me this month and asking how the babes are doing. 

Okay, enough gloom for the month, lets move on.  Lets try to focus on the future.  The next steps.

As mentioned, Darren and I decided to take a small break from FET/IVF land.  The specialist originally wanted us to wait to "try" till April but March was the soonest we could legally try (they deemed the 3 monthish mark healthy enough to continue our grand effort to reproduce).

So March is here.  I did officially ovulate ON MY OWN last cycle.  Sure, it wasn't till CD 27 but hey, that is the first time we have detected ovulation without meds.  The plan is to try the super high stressed timed ovulation sex good-fun-old-fashioned way. We have actually never experienced a pregnancy without the assistance of ICSI (this is when the guy at the fertility lab actually inserts sperm into the egg instead of putting the egg with sperm in a petri dish and letting nature take its course).  All this to say, out of our 4 babies that have implanted, none have been from natural fertilization.  HOWEVER,  a long time ago our RE told us he thought we could PROBABLY (notice all caps) conceive on our own if we gave it time...sigh.  It's been 3 years BUT most of that has been clouded with IUIs, IVF, trying to find right level of meds to make me ovulate, being pregnant, or being restricted due to pregnancy loss. 

I don't expect anything miraculous but hey-.  My gut tells me the hope of a biological child lies somewhere in those 8 frozen embryos but for now, we will give the one-two-punch a try (lol did I seriously just call sex a one-two punch?).  The only thing I know for certain:  I want to meet Jude and Brinly's siblings more than anything  I have ever wanted in my life.

Loss of Innocence with Hope

February 25, 2014

* just a reminder that March 15 we are asking that to honor Jude and Brinly, our recently stillborn twins, that you do a random act of kindness in their honor and post it here or email me (more info in the post before this).  I'm posting some images my sister made.

Obviously as the world goes on, my has yet to move forward.  I've been having some thoughts with my current HATE I super dislike you right now feelings toward "Hope" and wrote a poem:

How you have deceived me.
Why do you haunt me?
Why won’t you leave me alone?

Over the years  Hope has grown into a Villainess
That taunts me
And makes me think my dreams will come true
And makes me somehow believe that this isn’t the end
and that my wish will come true
That my prayers will be answered
She makes me think that somehow, someday, someway

Then Hope, that sneaky thing, hands me the very thing I was waiting for
On a platter
Wrapped in beautiful shining paper, with the most beautiful bows you have ever seen.
One bow is blue.
The other pink.
And they are alive.

I begin to embrace Hope as my best friend
She has finally allowed the horse to reach the carrot
She has finally allowed Leprechaun to reach the pot of gold.
She curls up by the fire with me and we relax for once together.
 For the first time in my life, I believe Hope.  I 100% trust her
instead of half trust her that this is real.

Before I know it the lights flash and my world has been shattered.
I search around blindly in the dark screaming for Her
Tears rush down my face faster than the fastest river and I call to Her
Despite the diagnosis I believe this can be turned around.
I try to grasp to Her as tightly as I can

But at the doctor looks into my eyes and says in the saddest tone I have ever heard
“Can I break your sac of water?”
Hope for the first time leaves me completely alone. 

As the waters pour out of my body, leading to the imminent death of my
Ever-so-longed-for-ever-so-prayed-for-ever-so-deeply-insanely-loved son,
His water’s puff out the last tiny glimmer Hope had left in that god-forsaken room.

In those horrific hours I was relieved that I had lost Her.  Finally I could move on.
 In the morning, the nurses brought my dead child, still warm from the strong heartbeat that had
Been beating through his veins but stopped to short by the impact of labor.

I stared at him speechless. 

My husband beside me.

The entire earth quiet as we looked down at what we had been allowed to create together.

And there She was. 
We did NOT invite Her in.
She came back without permission.
My tearstained husband said to me:
“He is so cute.  He would have been so cute.”

I always imagined Hope to be soft and gentle and sweet and subtle.

But that’s only when She is playing Nice.

In times like these She is violent.  She is loud.  She is aggressive and She grips with a strength that takes away your breath. 

Without warning, She grabbed my husband.  She dug Her fingernails deep into his skin. She sprang into his soul and possessed his mouth.  He said

“This makes me want it more.  We are so close.”

8 failied IUIS.  3 IVFs.  4 Dead babies and we are holding one that is just 21 days away from a place he could survive.  But we are holding him.

Before I could get in the defensive position and  block my own logical senses, before I could stop Her, Hope possessed my own soul as well.

Without warning that small flicker of a candle reappeared. 

In what cruel world does Hope enter the room as we hold our dead child?

In what cruel planet does something keep teasing you, and following you, and attacking you to keep on going when so many things have gone wrong?

She is heartless and stops at nothing.

They say Hope does not disappoint us but I have never experienced disappoint at the level I did that day.

That cold day that I was in the labor and delivery suite laboring and delivering my stillborn son just 3 weeks after doing the same with my daughter.

I am so bitter towards HOPE because she has brought me so high and without warning dropped me on cement.  She stood back and let the birds eat at me as I lost my heart. Twice.

I am so scared of Hope because when you finally become friends with Her there are still no promises.

I am so frustrated with Hope because I can’t shake her.  Even after these insane losses with insane fertility treatment I’ve taken 2 pregnancy tests (negatives)because I myself have slowing become insane and Hope tricks me into thinking maybe.

Although I’m speechlessly angry at Her, she is winning this battle because we haven’t fully chosen to give up on Her.

If Hope is alcohol, We are an alcoholics.

If She is a drug, we are addicts.

If She is song, we are signing.

If She is a poem, we are reading. 

But the innocence of a heart that has never been broken is long gone.
We don’t look at her with na├»ve,  longing eyes anymore.
We stare at her with a cold expression.  A guarded, cold, sterile look.

But we are strong.

We remain eye contact with Her.

We look Her in the face even after what She has done to us.
And though we may be fools, as we move forward with this fight,

We whisper “maybe. We hope.”


How YOU can help. Plus My First GIVEAWAY!

February 14, 2014

With the official due date of Jude and Brinly approaching at lightning speed, I often think how I will feel.  The original due date when I got pregnant was March 31.  BUT with twins they never let you go past 38 weeks so the due date I told people was March 15...just 4 weeks from now.

So many mourning families handle these things differently-maybe a birthday cake for their child's "angleversary" each year on the date of their actual birth.  Since both were born before they could have been viable, I personally don't really like the idea of doing something on their birthdate although I'm sure I will when the fall comes.

All this to say, many people have asked "how can I help?" or "what can I do??"  I have been helped in SO many different ways.   Strangers and friends alike giving so kindly and freely to help us.  Amazing. 

But this cry for help is not for money or for things.

It's a cry for YOU to do a RANDOM act of kindness on March 15 in honor of Jude and Brinly.

Anything.  Buy someone a coffee in the Starbucks line.  Leave flowers on a porch.  Send an encouraging note.  Treat your spouse to dinner or give a struggling family/couple a date night out.  Volunteer somewhere.  Pick up garbage in your neighborhood.  Anything kind and warm and loving for someone else- to turn this sad sad day for my family and I into a day where I can fight back against the cruel sadness that will try to sneak in and keep me down.  Perhaps knowing that Jude and Brinly's short little lives IMPACT people across the country on their due date in the form of random acts of kindness will be our attempt to experience some form of "beauty from ashes"and honor our children through encouraging and celebrating love instead of curled up in a ball of defeat.

It's a month away but if you are willing, to participate in ANY SHAPE or form, please share it here on my blog in March.  I will do a reminder post in a couple weeks.  Whether 1 person participates or 100 I want this to be a day of kindness and WOULD LOVE to hear what you did to participate and know that something awesome is being done, inspired by J and B. 

For everyone that participates and shares what they did by posting on my blog a small description or image or emailing me @ holly.benson@yahoo we will do a random drawing as one of our random acts of kindness to give a gift certificate prize to the winner (more details in March)  :)  So for now, I invite you to simply think about it. 

I wish I could say that I am amazing and awesome and a "wonderful Christian" for thinking of this, but I'm totally stealing this idea from a face book post I saw from a stranger awhile back.  I love it though and think its the best way to honor J and B. 

Amazing Grace-Amazing Gifts

January 31, 2014

In situations like what Darren and I have just gone through, there truly are "no words" as many people have written.  NOTHING can bring J and B back.  NOTHING can explain WHY?  However, certain responses have brought comfort-women that have been through similar losses and promise the pain gets easier.  Nurses who cried while I cried at the hospital.  There is a principal at my school who simply just gives me a little hug every time she sees me-she doesn't "bring up the topic" but she is showing that she knows I'm still hurting.  So kind.

I guess I thought I would write this post to give people ideas of how to reach out to people in tragic situations.  Of course we are all different, but here are some ideas of how to show you care in a personalized way if someone close to you faces similar circumstances.  In regards to losing a child/children our greatest fears are that the babies will be forgotten.  The majority of us WANT to talk about our babies instead of brush it under the rug like nothing happened.  Here is a list of amazing/creative gifts given to Darren and I in love that are outside the box and so kind, again, the idea is to help you maybe reach out to a sister suffering a miscarriage or a friend going through a bad 20 week ultrasound, etc.:

1.  The necklace I wear every single day.  It's from Etsy but appeared on my door step with the letters of each child's name that I lost.  Who ever gave it to me didn't put their name on it which made it feel that much more powerful and loving.  J, B, J, I.  This was so amazing as it showed this person really values all my losses.

2.  A charm for a necklace I also got in the mail.  It has Jude and Brinley's name on the front and "too beautiful for earth" on the inside.  It is beautiful.  Also a random act of kindness from a stranger.

3.  My mom bought me a ring that says "too beautiful for earth JB" for Christmas.  I love this as I can wear it everyday. My favorite part of this is mom got herself a ring too that says "I carry your hearts in my heart" My mom also got special Christmas ornaments to put on the tree each year to remember the twins.  She gets it.

4.  Stephanie @ is a co-worker (due in just a couple weeks) and for Christmas she got me this awesome present from a company called "A Heart to Hold."  It's incredibly intimate, and can be found at This company makes a stuffed heart that weighs the exact amount of the baby at birth.  Stephanie got me 2 hearts.  1 for brinly at 13 oz and 1 for Jude at 1 pound 3 ounces.  It was so amazing to hold those (and emotional).  I put them in the memory box to hopefully tell my rainbow babies someday about their older siblings.  Beautiful.

5.  Stephanie and follower blogger Meg @  set up a 2 week fundraiser to help with hospital bills.  They shared the link and raised over $2000 towards our $3000 bill.  It was so humbling and touching.  Paying a huge hospital bill to leave the labor and delivery ward empty handed and broken hearted is one of life's cruelest things. 

6.  Fellow Blogger Lost Stork @ recently purchased me a massage.  So thoughtful.  She also made a very kind image and put it on her blog in memory of J and B.  We have never met in person.  She became pregnant with twins while I was losing Jude and has been so understanding, sensitive, and supportive. 

7.  My mother/father in law took care of the funeral costs/cremation and picked up Jude's ashes for me and are storing them till I am ready to move forward with spreading them.  I love this too because it's not like we don't have $200 to pay for this, BUT, this is one of the saddest things to EVER swipe your own debit card for.  If you have someone who has lost, helping with the funeral is so thoughtful to take off that burden.  It is the most nauseating action to ever have to complete seeing your child's name on a death certificate in an ugly funeral home and signing off permission forms.
8.  This Picture.  A woman who lost her own child at 39 weeks makes these for mommy's who lost their babies too soon.  She doesn't even know us but sent it to a mutual friend who sent us the pictures.  I LOVE them.  I just developed a couple for me and my family.

These are just the beginning of kind things.  Willow tree angels (I have 1 for each loss), journals, cards, meals, books, etc are all virtual hugs.  I got tons of cards from blog followers that would say something as simple as "this is from a random person from a random place who prays for you daily." One of my old students hand-made me a baby blanket for the future she is so eagerly looking forward to.  The comments on this blog and the many prayers have also been so touching and a reminder that we are not alone.   Thank you.

Darren and I are moving forward and trying to grasp the hope that is left that we will someday bring home a live baby from the labor and delivery ward.  I love the Bible verse that says "We are pressed down but not destroyed."  That sums up where we are at.  I have never been so "pressed down" in my life, but I am alive, therefore not destroyed. 

*I have to add something so sad it's actually funny.  Yesterday at my massage the woman asked about my thyroid meds.  I told her my thyroid was normal but since we are trying to conceive I have to make sure its just a bit lower.  She looked at me with a huge smile and said "So you are actively trying to get pregnant??" (in a super happy tone).  I smiled and say yes.  "Fun!!!!!"She replied in an even happier tone.  Oh man.  I had to laugh about it afterwards.  I spared her the details and said "yep!" ha ha.

What I Mean When I Say "Stillborn" (applies to miscarriages too)

January 24, 2014

This article/essay was written by a mom who experienced a stillborn; it is by Beth Morey and you can read it here (I also copied/pasted it below) It is the most clear and powerful thing I have read that explains this type of death physically involves the mommy.  I've mentioned this before but Jude's death (his perfect little feet on left) was especially hard because he was alive inside while I was in labor but I knew that the impact of labor would kill him on the way out-a true true death trap.  This essay  is hauntingly beautiful, crystal clear, and 100% truth.

What I mean When I Say "My Daughter Was a Stillborn"
by Beth Morey
"I don’t think that most people understand me when I say that my daughter was stillborn.
That phrasing makes it sound passive, like it was something that just happened to me, externally.

But that’s not what a stillbirth is, and I imagine that’s not what a miscarriage is either.
A stillbirth isn’t something that happened to me, or my daughter, or my family.

It’s something that happened inside me. That I was forced to participate in.

I keep trying to think of an analogy to explain how devastatingly non-passive enduring a stillbirth or miscarriage is, but nothing seems adequate. Perhaps it comes close to say that it’s like having cancer or another horrible, soul-draining, body-emaciating disease . . . only that the cancer that is within you is slowly killing someone else. Someone precious to you. And you are forced to come along for the ride, to participate in the killing.

But then, I’ve never had cancer or watched a loved one go through cancer, so maybe that’s way off, too.

The simple fact is – there is nothing like stillbirth. There is nothing like going to the hospital to check on your baby, only to have the incredibly sweet joy of pregnancy replaced in an instant with the dull, moaning emptiness of knowing that you are still going to have to endure labor and birth and filling breasts and the weeks of bleeding.

Only your baby will be dead. Your labor pains will produce nothing but a shell of this most precious person. Your arms will be empty, and there will be no way to soothe your aching breasts.

And that doesn’t even factor in the grief, or the guilt, or the wondering of who or what in this wide world you are now that death has crept into your life, into your body, in such an insidious way.
I think it’s the not-understanding that enables people to tell me, not even a year and a half after my daughter’s stillbirth as I write this, to get over it. To move on.

But my question to those people is – how long did it take you to “get over” the death of a loved one, if you’ve ever had to endure such a thing? How long did it take you to “move on” (whatever that means)?

Now ask yourself: what if you had to participate in the death of your loved one, to help bring their ending of breath into being? Then how long would it take you to heal?
Stillbirth didn’t just happen to me. It doesn’t just happen to anyone. Your baby dies, and then you give birth . . . to your dead child.

It’s not passive. You participate, even though you don’t want to. Even though it makes you want to scream and scream and scream in horror.

You participate, and it keeps you up at night for weeks and months and years.

It’s been one year and four months since I birthed my daughter’s dead body, and that is still what blooms large in my mind every night as I wait for sleep to descend. I don’t ask for the memories to come – they are just there. I can’t escape. I birth her again and again in my mind, hold her again and again for the first and last time, feel the lingering ache of afterbirth that prevents me forgetting even for a moment the nauseating reality of what just took place.

Stillbirth does not just happen. It’s not clean and surgical. Instead, it is messy and active, and it opens a wound whose pain throbs on long past you wish it would. And it changes you.

So when I say, “My daughter was stillborn,” please know that I am not describing something that happened to me. I am describing a traumatic and pivotal event in which I was an active, unwilling participant, an event that I participate in the echoes of still."

-Beth Morey