Next Steps In the Fight for our Family

December 31, 2013

My Christmas break has been filled with several phone calls, meetings with doctors, discussion, and thought.

After meeting with our RE at OHSU (who was sure this whole thing was a fluke and wanted me to try again), we met with our maternal fetal specialist who took care of us while losing J and B. 

He doesn't think this was a fluke at all.  Although there is no "crystal ball" his best assumption is that I have some form of an incompetent cervix.  This diagnosis shocked me as I thought IC was when your cervix shortens super quick, dilates, and you deliver within hours.  He explained that I might have like a "twitching" cervix-that perhaps it open and closed just enough to let an infection get in...which eventually broke Brinly's sac, which lead to her falling out and things being REALLY open, which let more infection get in that eventually spread to Jude's placenta.  AH. 

None of the doctor's are saying "don't try again" but he was the only one that brought up surrogacy as something to consider, simply because its taking my body out of the factor.  He also warned against ever transferring 2 embryos since we know my body didn't respond well with twins-however, he doesn't think the twins caused the pPROM since it was still so early in the game.  This creates somewhat of a complex because although I don't want to get pregnant with twins again, transferring just 1 embryo seems insane since only 2 out of my SEVEN actually made it past the 12 week mark.  For those that have done IVF you know it's draining and long and emotional and the idea of plopping in 1 little embryo at a time sounds awful.  Anyway...

All this to say, IF I EVER manage to get pregnant on my own, they will give me a cerclage at 12 weeks (stitch my cervix closed) in hopes of keeping out infection/it opening randomly and then give my progesterone shots weekly throughout pregnancy.  That plan supposedly reduces my chances of this happening again.  Scary, I'm not going to lie. 

As of now, Darren and I are thinking for the next few months we might try the "old fashion way" with a twist (drum roll please).  Ok, fine, the twist is basically we try on our own but with both of us on medicine.  All my life I knew I didn't ovulate so when the time came to try to get pregnant, we jumped into IUI's immediately.  For those that have been following awhile, although we did IUIs Darren was never on meds himself to help with his counts-several of the IUIs were wasted because I wasn't monitored, the counts were low, I had gotten a false ovulation surge, etc. 

After we gave up on IUIs Dar got a second opinion and they put him on oral tablets and within a couple months they say improvements-at this point we had already paid for IVF and I wasn't going to stop going after those.  Currently we feel like it might be a good idea to let my body chill out a bit (I've delivered 2 babies in the last 6 and 8 weeks), and IN THEORY, I ovulate on femera, his clomid pulls his counts into the normal range-we might be able to conceive kind of normally.  I'm sure that if a few months pass and it looks like we are headed to the land of nowhere, we will consider other options.  Sigh.

I hate the fact that J and B could have been most likely saved if we had known my lame cervix was crappy, but there is really no way of knowing till after the fact.  I'm thankful there is some explanation other than "it was random, it's a freak thing" because there really is no "plan" for a future random/freak thing.  One day at a time. 

All I know is our desire to have a child has only increased.  The fights not over.  We are moving forward.

Loss and Gratitude

December 27, 2013

Today a blogger friend named Amy, who happened to do IVF (and had success) at the same clinic I go to, sent me one of the sweetest "gifts" I have received over the last few weeks.  Although we have never met, she has truly shown that she feels our ache.  She wrote me two poems.  One is called Loss and one is called Gratitude.  I wanted to share them as they touched me deeply.  Thank you so much Amy.

My heart stops for you today.
You who have lost your child,
your fourth beating heart.
I grieve him with you.
That perfect face,
that nose like yours
little lips and eyelashes,
tiny ears and chin.
You aren’t angry at God,
you say.
I am angry for you.
I am sure that four small lives
finished before they were begun
is not part of some grand plan.
It is bad luck
plain and simple,
dealt to you from that
green-visored casino dealer called

I am more sorry than I can say.
These are just words,
but truth.

For the first time today
I feel real guilt
at being one of those
women who "beat"
who can hold her
child in her arms every night.

Where is the justice for you,
my friend?
I know you are out there
crying your eyes out
until the heavy sedative
kicks in
and you can slip into the
bliss of nothingness,
no feeling,
the void.

I stand beside you in silence.
I hold you in my heart.

* * * * *


It’s hard being the mom
of a small child.
There are days when you want
to tear out your hair and throw
in the towel on the whole
parenting gig.

It’s hard when you are on your
hands and knees
searching for
tiny shards of
a broken plate that
your baby pushed off the table
during breakfast.

It’s hard when you’re changing that fourth poopy diaper in two hours
and he gets poop on his hand and then on you.

It’s hard when he as a cold
and wipes his boogery nose all over the shoulder
of your last clean shirt,
or when you’ve been shopping
and he refuses to get in his carseat
and kicks and cries
and hits you in the face.

On those days when you’ve read that same book about a little blue truck
all morning and he keeps signing "more, more"
and then you get smacked over the bridge of your nose
with a half full sippy cup,
when you can’t open the fridge
or the oven
or the door to your pantry
without your one-year-old hot on your heels
reaching for anything he can grab
and you hear yourself saying, "This kid is driving me crazy!"
remember this:

Somewhere a mother sits
without a baby in her arms
though she has had
four pregnancies.
Two babies didn’t make it past the first trimester.
Her daughter was born at 18 weeks
and her son came this morning at 21 weeks.
She didn’t hold her daughter at all.
She held her son one time
(one time)
and kissed his perfect face and held the tiny hands
that will never leave fingerprints on anything in her house.

She has a small white memory box
for her son and her daughter
containing a blanket,
a hat
and cards stamped
with the impressions
of their teeny hands and feet.
She would trade places with you
in a moment.
Even on your hardest day.

The next time it’s been
"one of those days"
and your child
empties his snack cup
of granola into your purse
then runs away screaming with
the joy of his new game,
think of that mom
and all the ones like her.
Take a breath,
move your purse
and get your kid some
more granola.

That night
tiptoe into his room
while he sleeps.
Touch his fine baby hair,
damp with the sweat
of deep sleep.
Listen to his slow, even breathing
and try
to comprehend
how lucky you are.

What Am I Now?

December 23, 2013

Darren and I went away for the weekend with some our free miles.  In the airport I spotted them instantly: boy/girl twins, 7 months old. The parents look so overwhelmed and so so  happy.  It stung.  This is my first time "out in the world" seeing twins.  There had to be at least 150 on the plane.  Guess who sat behind us?

We went to see the famous Santa on 34th Street in NYC.  Not sure the logic we put into that one, but I was in "land of the cutest kids and cutest families" line forever.  It sucked.  I should have a 3 year old by now, we've been trying since I was 27.  It cued a lot of emotions and we had to go back to the hotel for awhile.

I hate the unknown and I'm struggling so much with the shock of what was just ripped out of my heart.  I seriously am missing pieces of my heart; those babies were physically a part of me.  The closest one human being can get to another.  At the hotel, I explained to Darren that women have the curse of ALWAYS being aware and not being able to just "turn thoughts off."  I think about Jude, and Brinly, and miscarriage, and needles, and ivs, and ivf, and transfers, and success rates, and blood, and pain, and fear, and hope, and doctors, and pills, and risks, and money, and what if's, and whens, and hows, and how much and how soon, constantly.  Even when I'm happy, I'm sad because in some form, in some shape, I'm aware of the past and future pain.  That's just the start of it.  Often at night when I try to fall asleep my cruel mind replays the horrendous scenes from the hospital room: when I quit denying when I was in labor and went to the ER, the cord hanging out, the spinal shot, the epidural shot, the first loss in the bathroom, the 2nd loss knowing a live healthy child was going to be killed in the labor process, the look on the doctor's face when she removed my cerclage, the look on the doctor's face when they saw my contraction chart, the fear, the audible sobs of my Dad and Darren and my mom and Darren's mom and dad, and my sister and Darren's sister and me.  The insane amount of I-can't-breathe-cries that fell from my face and came out of my gut those days in the hospital.  Darren and my mom in the room watching helplessly as I slowly drowned. 

On the plane ride home I sat by a woman who looked about the size I would be right now.  She wouldn't stop rubbing her stomach. I tried so hard not to look-not to remember.  Why was I next to her?

Today a friend texted me about someone else that shares my struggle with becoming a mom. This threw me off guard.  I AM a mom.  According to Angela Miller, I am the "mother of all mothers" because I have to love my child in death.  I had to sign papers for the cremation.  I felt their kicks and kissed his face.  I carried my children to the halfway mark and then had to go through ALL the crap normal moms do-I labored and delivered each twin in the labor and delivery ward. 

I don't know why the need to be acknowledged as a mom is so sensitive to me?  Maybe to acknowledge Jude and Brinly were actual little people?  Maybe because I don't want to forget them?  Maybe because I want to remember that I CAN get pregnant and that my embryos CAN implant? It's such a lose-lose situation. People from the outside will most likely assume our delay to reproduction is because we are "focusing on our careers" or something like that.  If people ask "Do you have kids?" I don't want to say no.  How could I? I want to say "I lost twins at birth but we are hoping for the future; but that's heavy.  Why dump that awkwardness on people?  Maybe I haven't quite earned the "mother" title.  I mean, normal moms get to flaunt pictures of their babies.  I have to hide my pictures of Jude's face.  It's death.  It's uncomfortable. To me he is this precious beautiful face but to others? I cannot proudly show off my baby. My best friend was at my house last week and I told her I made a photo book of every picture of Jude.  She asked to see it.  I asked her like 5 times if she was "sure" and I had to do a long disclaimer "don't be scared, he is just miniature, he is small.  His face is bruised because he was breached and had to be pulled out." 

I turned to the page with his beautiful face.  I turned it around slowly.  I felt so vulnerable for some crazy reason.  I felt like I was getting naked in front of a crowd. She is the first to see his little face outside my immediate family (honestly, if roles were reversed, I would pass.  As mentioned a lot, I haven't even looked at Brinly).  She looks. She smiles. "He looks just like Darren," she says.  I feel my body relax; I smile too.  He does look just like his dad.  This is not the normal situation by flaunting pics of newborns. 

Mother's Day will come.  Where do I belong? What am I now?  I am infertile yet I'm a mother.  I'm a mother, yet I'm childless.  I'm trying to conceive.  I'm a grieving mommy.  I'm an empty armed mother.  I'm a working woman with no children.  I am the mom of Jaden and Isaac (although that seems so distant) and the mom  of Jude and Brinly (this seems so unfair). 

I feel like I have just been totally beaten up at war, I've been in a bad battle, I'm injured, but I have no proof.  No scars to show.  I look normal.  No one would ever guess I was holding my dead baby in my arms just a month ago.  No one outside would ever know that I should be 27 weeks pregnant.   I carried and delivered 2 babies in a hospital room.  My stomach is full of loose skin.  My milk came in full force.  Yet I sit her typing in a very clean house.  No little fingerprints on the furniture.  No screaming sounds coming from the backroom. 

I joined a couple of online support groups and someone posted this video.  I felt like I could have written 99% of the content-the shock, the disappoint, the pain that comes with stillborns; simply posting it for awareness and a taste of what this sad event does to a woman.

I don't want this to be a dark and sad post.  I'm truly going to come out of this some day.  We are working it through.  One day at a time.  I believe it will always hurt but I also believe brighter days are ahead.  I don't know why God does what He does but I know He isn't done. 

Baby Steps

December 18, 2013

Today we went to OHSU (the clinic were we did all previous IVFs) to ask them questions and talk about possible future protocols for me or a surrogate when the time is right.  We have 1 paid for frozen transfer left we have to use by the end of next year.

I was fine pulling in to OHSU but then it hit me as we got out of the car in the parking garage.  Last time I was here I was leaving pregnant with three alive babies inside me.  At the 12 week mark I honestly thought the only reason I would ever pull into that lot again would be to try to give my triplets (then twins) siblings with left over embryos.  It was strange and sad.

Then we got inside the hospital.  The smell of the place brought back so many IVF memories.  The hope the fear.  I could smell that sterile smell only hospitals offer.  And coffee in the lobby.  I remembered oh-to-well to push floor ten on the elevator.  Back to square one.  Again.

It's actually rough because this year ended up being a worse parallel of last year.  Last year I miscarried early after our first IVF and had a D&C in December; I was then forced to wait to try again for 3 months.  Now, here I am, 1 year later in a worse spot.  I just delivered 2 stillborns.  It's been a month but I still am bleeding.  My stomach has so much loose skin.  Again, we cannot "try again" until I'm healed up from the deliveries.  And trying again is much much harder and much for intense for infertile couples.  It involves drugs, and shots, and money, and vaginal ultrasounds, and blood draws, and a lot of worry and fear.  Having sex to have a baby?? (insert sarcastic laugh here and imagine me slapping my knee).

Hope is a ridiculous thing.  Even in that moment that I was in labor and they had given me the epidural and then pulled out the cerclage, we were still HOPING that for some reason I would just deliver the infected placenta.  After this crazy living hell we have just experienced, we find ourselves deeply saddened but more hopeful than ever that this is not the end for us.  Hope will NOT leave me alone.  It won't stop whispering.  I can't stop dreaming of the future.  Of things going right.  Of our family.  Of Jude and Brinly's LIVING siblings.  I hope for them.

The RE was so sorry (it was the one who had done my transfer) and answered all our questions.  The BIG game changing factor will be when we talk with the maternal fetal specialist next week.  I need answers and chances of this pPROM thing happening again.  I refuse to try to get pregnant if my body is determined some death trap.  I'm 99% sure they are going to say they think I can carry again, that it was bad luck, that "these things happen," that they will monitor me closer.  The 2nd question is can I handle it mentally?  Every twinge, twitch, pull, kick will result in undescribable fear that I'm about to go into labor.  It was good to talk to my RE and will be ever better talking to the high risk people.

Whether we do the transfer, or transfer into a surrogate, based on my age she thinks there is a 50% (people in their 20s at my clinic have a 60%ish chance but she said frozen is a little less).  We have some pretty good embryos frozen.  I'm not overly hopeful for them as my FET last time was the only IVF that had nothing implant.  BUT, it's all a gamble in the IVF world. I follow 3 blogs where they just did their last FET and it worked (meaning like 3 frozen transfers before failed).  I would be sad if the transfer didn't work, but sad doesn't seem the right word based on the fact that I truly know what "sad" means.

I joined a couple of facebook support groups for women who have lost all multiples and for women who have lost due to water breaking too early.  Everyone mourns differently.  I still cannot believe what happened, it all seems like a sad scary dream, but the best way I personally can cope is move forward.  I want to meet their siblings more than ever. 

Please Pray for the Franz Family

December 17, 2013

Infertility is a very hard pill to swallow.  To experience additional pain after "we think" we may have ended our childless days feels so cruel-I know this first hand.

I have been blogger friends with Kristin since the beginning of both our journeys.  We both did IVF for the first time around the same time.  After all the hell IVF offers, Kristin only had 1 embryo that made it. They transferred it but it didn't implant.  After talking with their doctor, they decided to move onto embryo adoption and mourned the "loss" of a biological child.  Kristin was disappointed, but I knew from her story she 100% was ready to be a mom. 

She adopted 3 embryos (the other ones that had been adopted had a very high implantation rate) and transferred 3.  10 days later she was left with a negative test and a broken heart.  They then mourned the idea of pregnancy but nothing would stop them from being a family.  They moved towards adoption in the US.

After months of fundraising, they miracously raised almost 25K for their adoption.  In faith they set up and adorable nursery and waited for the call.  A few months ago they got the phone call that they had been selected by birth parents and that they would have a sweet baby girl around January.

Fast forward to now, their daughter, Rylie was born with complications and too early.  Kristin has just got the news that there is a high chance this little girl will be blind, unable to walk, and on a feeding tube all her life.  Just when Kristin was sure the fight was over, it has only just begun.  They have to know make the difficult decision if they want to move forward with the adoption-if they are prepared or if a different family would be a better fit.  This story is similar to mine-you think you have something, you rejoice, you embrace it and BAM it's ripped from you.  Here story isn't over though.

PLEASE send Kristin some love and prayers.  Pray for healing for their daughter.  Pray for wisdom in the decision.  Pray for guidance.  Whatever she decides, we support her.  Here's a link to her blog 

Any words of encouragment, prayers, etc may comfort her as she is facing fear, disappoint, confusion, anger, and sadness.

Beam Me UP

December 15, 2013

Someone in an pPROM support group posted this song and it's so perfect.  I love the line

"Give me a minute, I don't know what I'd say in it
I'd probably just stare, happy just to be there, holding your face." 

If I had 1 minute in heaven with J and B, I would hold their face and I would kiss their faces 1 million times each. I know that if I could see Jude and Brinly for just 1 minute-see their smiles, hear their laughter, see them alive-it would heal my soul faster.  What I would give for even 1 minute up in heaven to be with my children.  I would just stare and would be happy just to be there.  

You Are the Mother of All Mothers

December 8, 2013

A quote by Anon states: "She may look young, but inside she has become ancient." On the outside I look the same.  I can carry myself the same way.  But if you could peal back the layers, I am elderly.  I am an old, worn out woman, with wrinkles, and scars and dark circles under my eyes.  I am ancient.

Tomorrow I would have been 24 weeks.  Viability.  Even in the innocence of the beginning of this pregnancy, I didn't even know that 24 weeks was any great "marker."  I just knew 12 weeks was the acclaimed "safe zone."  I'm no fool though.  The phrase viability gives too many close-to-be-mamas a huge false hope.  Only 39% of babies survive that are born at 24 weeks-1/3 of them will have severe permanent brain damage. White males have the worse survival rates. I have come into contact with several moms who gave birth in that 24-25 "viability" zone all to lose their live child in the NICU days later-or who lived but are on feeding tubes years later. Still, the December 9th date stings a bit.  After trying so hard for so long and truly believing that Jude would make it, the 24 week zone is a little slap in my face since I lost him just 21 days ago.

I cannot stop looking at his face.  I love it.  I don't ever want to forget a single detail of it. Not even for a second.  If I feel like I can't fully remember, I look at his face.  I look again.  And again.  And again. 

There is a woman named Angela Miller who lost a child at age 2 and has a HUGE voice among bereaved mothers.  Obviously losing a child at age 2 is far worse than what I experienced.  She is working on a "gift book" where she will have the following written. 

Before the reading I'm also putting her youtube video (it's a minute) of why she wrote these words up top.  It's powerful and it brings comfort. 

I dedicate the following words from her to ALL moms who have loved and lost whether it be a chemical pregnancy ranging from burying your own grown child.  Read it again and again. I cry every time because it validates that I am the mom of Jude and Brinly. You ARE a mother of all mothers.  We are the mother of all mothers.

I have to tell you this.

You didn’t fail. Not even a little.

You are not a horrible mother.

You didn’t choose this. You didn’t want this to happen. You didn’t do anything wrong. It just happened. To you. Despite your begging, pleading, praying, hoping against all hope it would not. Even though everything within you was screaming no, no, no, no, no.

God didn’t do this to punish you, smite you, or to teach you a lesson. That is not God’s way. You could not have prevented this if you tried harder, prayed harder, or were a “better” person. Nor if you ate better, loved harder, yoga-ed more, did x, y, or z to the nth degree—fill in the blank with any other lie your mind devises. You could not have prevented this even if you could have predicted the future like no one can.

No, there is nothing more you could have done. You did everything you possibly could have. And you are the best mother there is because you would have done absolutely anything to keep your child alive. To breathe your last breath instead. To choose the pain all over again just to spend one more minute together. That is the ultimate kind of love. You are the ultimate kind of mother.

So wash your hands of any naysayers, betrayers, or those who sprinted in the other direction when you needed them most. Wash your hands of the people who may have falsely judged you, ostracized you, or stigmatized you because of what happened to you. Wash your hands of anyone who has made you feel less than by questioning everything you did or didn’t do. Anyone whose words or looks have implied this was somehow your fault.

This was not your fault. This will never be your fault, no matter how many different ways someone tries to tell you it was.

Especially if that someone happens to be you. Sometimes it’s not what others are saying that keeps you shackled in shame. Sometimes you adopt others’ misguided opinions and assumptions. Sometimes it’s your own inner voice that shoves you into the darkest corner of despair, like an abuser, telling you over and over and over again you failed as a mother. Convincing you if only this and what if that, it never would have happened. Saying you coulda, shoulda done this or that so your child would not have died.

That is a lie of the sickest kind. Do not believe it, not even for a second. Do not let it sink into your bones. Do not let it smother that beautiful, beautiful light of yours.

Instead, breathe in this truth with every part of yourself: You are the best damn mother in the entire world.

No one else could do what you do. No one else could ever mother your child as well as you can, as well as you are. No one else could let your child’s love and light shine through the way you do. No one else could mother your dead child as bravely. No one else could carry this unrelenting burden as courageously. It is the heaviest, most torturous burden there is.

There is no one, no one, no one who could ever, ever replace you. No one. You were chosen to be your child’s mother. Yes—chosen. And no one could parent your child better in life or in death than you do. You have within you a sacred strength.

You are the mother of all mothers.

So breathe, mama, keep breathing. Believe, mama, keep believing. Fight, mama, keep fighting for this truth to uproot the lies in your heart—you didn’t fail. Not even a little.

For whatever it’s worth, I see you. I hear your guttural sobs. I feel your ache deep inside my bones. And it doesn’t make me uncomfortable to put my fingers as a makeshift Band-Aid over the gaping hole in your heart until the scabs come, if and when they do.

It takes invincible strength to mother a child you can no longer hold, see, touch, or hear. You are a superhero mama. I see you fall down and get up, fall down and get up, over and over again. I notice the grit and guts it takes to pry yourself out of bed every single day and force your bloodied feet to stand up and keep walking. I see you walking this path of life you’ve been given, where every breath and step apart from your child is a physical, emotional, and spiritual battleground. A fight for your own survival. A fight to quiet the insidious lies.

But the truth is, you haven’t failed at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

You are the mother of all mothers.

Truly, the most inspiring, courageous, loving mother there is—a warrior mama through and through.

For even in death, you lovingly mother your precious child still.

She Smiles Yet Her Heart Throbs

December 6, 2013

It's been awhile so I thought I would give an update.  This post will most likely be random as my emotions are obviously a big huge twisted random piece.

I'll start off with the "tougher" stuff.

1.  intrauterine fetal demise, the subject line from my OB's office.  I had to email my doctor to send a note to HR verifying I had a stillbirth for my bereavement days.  They sent me a copy and Jude's death was listed as this.  I googled it and it said "a pregnancy that died in the womb."  This caused a HUGE wave of "NO HE DIDN't"  one of the hardest things I've been dealing with is the fact that I had to hear Jude's strong heartbeat daily and I felt him moving around as they gave me the epidural.  He was killed because I was forced to deliver-he died as he came out because he was too young.  He didn't just randomly "die in my womb."  One of the hardest pills for me to swallow with this is that he was so perfect and so ALIVE.

2.  the phrase "I couldn't have handled that."   When people ask to hear what happened, I tell
them.  It's therapeutic.  I don't want to act like nothing happened.  Yesterday a mom of twins was talking to me and said the phrase with a shutter.  I looked at her and said "neither could I." If you would have told me at my gender reveal party that I was going to vaginally deliver my babies, at 2 different times, and go through all the contractions/pain all to have them die, I would have said "never in a million years could I do it."  And guess what? Life had other plans and when it's in your face, you have to.  I loved this idea-losing a child is something you can never imagine before or AFTER it happens.  It's so true. I have now done it twice yet I cannot imagine it. 

3.  Pregnancy.  The last 2.5 weeks have been 2 steps forward, one step back.  However, as a ttc blog, I follow tons of people trying to get pregnant and it happens; I'm also 30.  I'm right in that zone of people that are starting their families.    I have been so drowned in sorrow over the loss of my sweet and so-longed-for babies that I simply forgot that people around me are totally going to get pregnant all the time.  Where weeks ago, since I thought I was in the "safe zone" it was so easy to "root" for people since I FINALLY was in that zone, but now I am so angry at pregnancy.  Realizing that this could have been my only one, I embraced it.  I LOVED being pregnant.  I loved my stomach growing.  The kicks were out of this world.  The celebrating and anticipating.  And the BAM pregnancy played a cruel trick on me and robbed me of my dreams.

I hate it now.  I hate it because I still want it because I want children but it scares me.  I hate it for scaring me-if I ever manage to do it again I will be horrified month after month.  I hate it because i don't trust it.  Most of all I hate it because most women have the luxury of getting a positive pregnancy test and then believing it.  They become so excited and they go on to have a normal pregnancy.  I envy that un-jaded joy that new-moms get.  I will never ever have that.  Pregnancy really really let me down.  With 3 years of infertility I mastered the skill of "happy for them, sad for me."  Obviously right now I'm not "happy for them" because it just causes all of these flashbacks of things going wrong.  I know I will get to that place again, but I am so scared for the future "surprise" announcements from friends and family-I also accept that I am dead center in the zone of people who are getting pregnant and I know with time, I will again learn to cope-I'm mad at pregnancy because of the sadness it causes me when other people are expecting and I feel so guilty.

*Side note for people who get pregnant normally-more than likely you know someone infertile struggling/fighting to get pregnant.  The best thing you can do for her is to tell her when you get pregnant in an email or text.  It is the most sensitive and sweetest thing you can do as a friend-allow her to process it how she needs to.  It stings very bad initially and we do not want to cry in front of you (or worse in public when you do a surprise announcement) or have to respond instantly.  We eventually decided to be truly happy for women who achieve this and who don't have to struggle-we just have been so hurt.  I promise you don't have to tip toe or "hide" it from us.  Both my sister and sister in law did this for me in a gentle/distant way and it was so kind. 

4.  Why?  They have done several tests and so far haven't found where the infection was.  I hate that.

In other news:

1.  Grieving.  How do you grieve?  I have never in my life been faced with such sorrow.  Oddly, one of the greatest comforts has come from other moms who have lost multiples.  I have really struggled with the fact that I had to deal with stillborns TWICE.  To do it, and then have to do it all again has been overwhelmingly painful.  Another mom of lost triplets contacted me and she had to do it all too, but three times.  Two out of 3 of her babies lived for awhile.  She had it worse.  Other moms have lost twins at 30 weeks.  They have it worse.  We know someone who lost their live baby to SIDS.  If I constantly remind myself that it could have been worse, that bad things happen and life truly is "unfair" I can breathe.  Although I hate with my entire being what happened, I also "accept" that life has no promises and that just because I'm a Christian doesn't guarantee a pain free life.  I read a quote I LOVED:

 I can function.  I started back to work just 2 weeks after I kissed Jude's forehead goodbye.  I can smile.  I can laugh.  The students have no idea the level of pain I'm dealing with.  But then one thing happens and I can go into sobs.  I saw a picture of Brinly's hands for the first time.  I saw a woman with a huge stomach unexpectantly at the store.  I see the blanket I held Jude in, his one earthy possession.  I realize I just went through a crazy blender and have been shoot out asked to wonder what just happened? Yes, I can function.  But as mentioned "she smiles but her heart throbs." I feel like a heavy wet blanket of deep deep sadness is on me all the time.  I know it will get better with time but what a non-fun thing to carry.

2.  Next Steps:  As mentioned, despite the living hell we just experienced, we are not done in this fight.  We were too close to quit.  I want to cross that finish line.  I get to meet with our specialist at the end of the month and we will go from there.  What are the odds of this happening to me again (pPROM)?  If it's higher than 10% I'm almost 100% we will continue to knock on the door of surrogacy.  If it's lower, I'm still scared.  They suggest I get a cerclage no matter how many embryos implant since I had one before BUT when you sign the cerclage consent form it says there is a chance of water breaking, pre-term labor, and infection (all words that cause massive anxiety because those are all the reasons why Brinly and Jude and NOT in my stomach as I type).  I'm not sure if I can mentally handle another pregnancy and if there is risk, I don't want to send another baby to heaven if my body continues to be a "war zone." 

3. The human spirit:  It is amazing how kind "mankind" can be.  Someone anonymously sent us $100 and said it was on their hearts-Thank you to that person.  Just today on my doorstep was a little pink box. It didn't say who it was from but there were 4 charms with the letters "J, B, I, J"  I instantly knew it was for Jude and Brinly but I had to stare at the I and J again.  Then it hit me "Isaac" and "Jayden" our earlier miscarriages. How incredibly and overwhelmingly kind-I cried and cried holding it in my hands looking down and missing my 4 could-have-been and should-have-been babies and I cried because someone is so intertwined with our loss.  Those 4 letters on that necklace are more than any 4000 words of comfort. Thank you to you too.

Say Something I'm Giving Up On You

November 27, 2013

Obviously I was in the hospital and on bed rest for five weeks so I'm a little behind on "pop" culture.  I recently heard one of the top tens called "Say Something I'm Giving Up on You."  I cannot stop listening to it, almost turning it into a prayer.  My entire life I have walked as a Jesus follower but for the first time in my life I didn't feel His peace and presence when I was alone in that horrid hospital room the night they had to break Jude's water.  Thousands of prayers for a miracle.  Thousands of begs to God, cries for help, cries to heal, cries to heal me and my baby.  Silence.

To be transparent, I struggle to pray right now.  My faith has clearly been shaken.  The only things I can mutter out are thanking Him for giving me Darren and asking Him to tell Jude and Brinly about us-what we are like, how badly we wanted them, how deeply sad we are they are gone.  I ask God that He tells them what we look like, what kind of people we are, and how we are getting by.  The other prayer I can sometimes whisper is asking Him to "say something."  I'm so broken, so rock bottom.  We will do whatever we feel He asks us.  If adoption is the route, tell me Lord, make it obvious.  Say something. We are seriously considering surrogacy.  Say something.  Do I dare try again myself?  Say something.

The only book in the Bible I can stand to read is Job.  In no way am I comparing my story to his as everything he had, including his health, was stripped away at God's permission.  But, the one thing I have in common with Job is I haven't done anything so horrible to deserve this.  I can relate to his questioning of God's goodness and his wishes that he had never been born.  I can relate to the unfair suffering that sneaks up on you out of now where and knocks you to the ground.  My study Bible pointed out in James 5:10-11

"As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered.  You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about.  The Lord is full of mercy and compassion."

Although I feel so "betrayed" by God, so ditched, I refuse to accept that this is the how our story ends.  Deep in my heart I know this is not His nature and we live in a messed up world where bad things happen to good people.  The words "finally brought about" is all I can cling to in hopes that He will redeem and give back. 

So back to the song.  I will never "give up" on God.  I'm 100% "in" that He is good and His ways are higher than my ways and his thoughts higher than my thoughts.  I will never ever deny that.  However, the song is so perfect for where my heart is.  Just say something God.  Here's the song, I wrote some of my "thoughts" next to the lyrics.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.
I'll be the one, if you want me to. (I feel like here is the surrender, I will do what you want)
Anywhere, I would've followed you. (I've been 100% faithful in my Christian walk)
Say something, I'm giving up on you. (Oh God, speak to us)

And I am feeling so small. (I have never felt so small in my life)
It was over my head
I know nothing at all.

And I will stumble and fall.
I'm still learning to love
Just starting to crawl. (I cannot wait till I feel like I can even just crawl again)

Say something, I'm giving up on you.
I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you. (I wish I would have felt you with me)
Anywhere, I would've followed you.
Say something, I'm giving up on you.

And I will swallow my pride.
You're the one that I love (I still and forever will love Him)
And I'm saying goodbye.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.
And I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you.
And anywhere, I would have followed you.
Oh-oh-oh-oh say something, I'm giving up on you.

Say something, I'm giving up on you.
Say something...

Memories from Birth Suite 315: My Little Sister

November 25, 2013

*I've been working on a memoir and I'll use this for it.  It's one of the many memories I have from the birth of my son and it's a sweet story of the power of family and my younger sister Heidi. 

I slowly woke up from surgery, my world a fog.  Was this a horrible nightmare?  Am I magically in my bed and it was all a bad dream?  I see surgeons and nurses surrounding me.  I black out again.  Then I remember seeing Darren standing over me.  “Did you see him?” I ask.  I hear my voice echoing every word I said.  “I held him,” he replies.  “Did he look normal?” “Yes.” Although I don’t remember it, Darren told me we had this same conversation over twenty times and that each time he said my reaction was the same.  I would hold his glance and smile and say “ya?” in a really soft, surprised, and happy tone.

Before I was fully awake, they brought my dream, my hope, my love to me wrapped in a tiny white blanket with blue strips.  His face was perfect.  His 1 pound 3 oz body was cold, but everything was there.  I held his hand. I stared at his face.  I saw my husband in him and I saw me.  My biological child that we had endured over 11 fertility treatments for, that we had prayed for, that we had celebrated and rejoiced for.  Dead, yet overwhelmingly beautiful.
I know all moms feel the same.  They look at their creation and admire and "ew and ah" and are convinced their child is perfect and cute and wonderful.  But Jude was.  Yes, he is my son, but yes, he truly was the most precious little face I had ever laid eyes on.  Different family members visited throughout the day and some held him while others handled the situation the way I would-out of respect they took a peek at Jude who lay lifeless in his cradle; but holding him wasn’t the right choice for them.  I would have responded the same way.  His little body quickly turned red as 21 week year old infant’s skin is still transparent.  Death is ugly and uncomfortable.  I was okay with how each family member responded in their own comfort zone.

But, there is a memory etched in my mind that will never ever leave me.  It involved my sister.  Heidi has always been my best friend and I adore her.  Often times in this infertility struggle we can’t talk much about it-she has a beautiful son and was careful during her pregnancy to treat me tenderly.  Many times my sadness is too much for her to bear and hear and she herself shuts done in sadness for me- while other friends can allow me to talk about things forever and discuss it.  It hurts Heidi too much so we don’t go there often in our conversations.  But what she did the day Jude was born was the most meaningful gesture anyone could have ever done.

Upon hearing the news of his delivery, her and her husband rushed to the hospital.  I was in my bed, in the room with my parents and Heidi came bursting through the doors, almost in a sprint.  Many people had tried to offer me their condolences, tell me “how sorry” they were, touch me, check in with me.  But not Heidi.  Without question she went up to my child and picked him up like he was a normal baby.  She carried him to a chair and held him close to her face and stared at him through sobs.  “He is perfect” she cries.  Since he was so young and fragile I had been treating him like a piece of glass.  Not her.  Heidi flopped him around like he was her own child, a real child,  and cried over him.  “He is my nephew,” she cries, “he could have been mine.”  Heidi was loving Jude with her whole heart as I carefully watched from my bed.

Anyone who is a mom understands the high one gets when someone else compliments your child.  All moms want their child to be loved and adored by everyone.  Here I am, completely desperate, rock bottom in a sterile hospital room with a stillborn and my sister, who hasn’t even acknowledge me yet, is in the corner, loving my son.  She wasn’t scared of him.  She wasn’t distant.   She wasn’t weirded out by his small red body.  She held him close and admired him in a way that I knew was purely from the heart.  As Jude’s mom, this did wonders for me; although is time with us was cut way too short, for the first time in my life I got to experience that feeling moms live for-someone to praise your child. I got to feel pride in my son.  I got to feel the high of someone else telling me he was wonderful.  To me, my child is beautiful.  To me, he is not scary.  He is not just a dead body, he is my son-and Heidi expressed that to me in a stunningly way.  Her whole visit wasn’t about poor Holly, it was about the loss of a beloved baby. She didn’t attempt words of encouragement or stories of people that overcame this.  She just loved him. After crying, she laid him back in the crib and left, still without saying anything I remember to me.   I have never loved her more.

I keep replaying so many scenes from that wretched day that my healthy baby boy was forced to be born.  There are so many things that happened that no mom should ever have to hear, see, decide, and experience.  I’m haunted by the horror of what went down; but then the memory of Jude’s aunt, her tenderness, her untamed cuddling, her tears of genuine love and deep sorrow over my son?  I will never forget that.

In Loving Memory Of Brinly and Jude

November 23, 2013

Quick update: miraculously my stomach has almost returned to normal (I can wear normal clothes and no one would dare ask, and I'm only 5 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight) but my milk is still down pouring.  My poor chest is in the cycle of being bound, double sports bra, ice packs, cabbage leafs, and nipple pads.  Yesterday it leaked all over my clothes.  It will be nice when that dries up, but many women have warned me that a new wave of sadness may come with that too.

During this pregnancy, Darren and I documented SO MANY joyful occasions in hopes of making a video for Jude and Brinly to show them someday.  We have video footage of me with the positive pregnancy test, telling Darren's grandma we were having triplets, a hidden camera of my parents reactions when we got to make our so-longed-for announcement, ultrasounds, and our gender reveal party.  Because of the fear I will NEVER document a future pregnancy at this level (or at least till I'm 24 weeks) but we didn't want to just delete all those happy moments we were allowed to experience. 

This little video shows all those moments, and then has pictures of us with Jude at the hospital.  I made it for myself and Darren and family and friends, but wanted to share clips of this journey with followers that have been praying for us too.

Are You Pregnant?

November 20, 2013, 84 hours after the fact.

*little disclaimer, part of grieving advice is journaling.  Obviously this has been my place to do that.  I can spit out the emotions and it helps me cope and move on.  Although we are rock bottom I cannot secretly hope that this is not how our story ends.

For people that have been following me for awhile, they knew that I HATED people telling me "how small" "how teeny" "how I wasn't even showing." For someone who is tall and pretty flat stomached, I thought I looked super pregnant but it seemed like everyone wanted to ask "are you sure you are carrying twins?" From 9 weeks on I was carrying a present in my purse, a Starbucks card, for the first stranger who asked me "Are you pregnant?" in public.  Well, it didn't happen.  My water broke at 17 weeks and I have been on strict bed rest for the last 5 weeks-not leaving my home or the hospital.  17 weeks to 21 weeks is a huge "growth spirt" in pregnancy and although I didn't realize it, I began to look very pregnant at this 5 month mark.

It wasn't till I got home from delivering Jude that I noticed.  I forgot that the uterus is a muscle and takes weeks to contract down.  I still look 5 months pregnant and I cannot express in words the HATE I feel towards my body.  I use to hug and admire and measure my growing belly and the miracles inside but now its just a cruel reminder.  And my breasts?  I have somehow, almost overnight gone from super flat to porn star boobs. My milk is coming in in full force and my chest is rock solid.  Darren has to bind my chest with tight bandage strips and I can't hug people.  Last night was the first time I have been in public since October 18.  I wore a loose dress that I  thought hid it well.  But then, as we all know murphy's law, I got asked the question I had so desperately wanted to hear a month ago.

I was at Bath and Body works, my eyes puffier and redder than ever but me composed looking at soaps.  An employee came up to me.  Smiled this super huge sweet smile, pointed to my stomach and said "How ya doing?" This was the moment.  I said "What?" She repeated it, pointing to my stomach.  "I'm alright."  Darren walks in and she tells him he better carry my bags.  All the sudden, I transformed from a confident woman to an insecure 7th grader and worked to cover my stomach with my purse the rest of the outing.  We ran to Target to try to get me some "in between clothes."  I can't stand to wear maternity clothes and I've mainly purchased tight, stomach hugging clothes.  We grabbed some huge sweaters and large shirts and went to the dressing room.  Then I saw it.

My body.  I was surrounded by mirrors where I could see my entire body.  My stomach looked bigger then ever.  My belly button is half out.  My chest was all loop sided wrapped in sport bras and bandages.  My back had a huge red mark from the epidural and was covered in red bed sores.  My thighs looked loose and gross and I've been sedatary for 5 weeks.  Every shirt was a no, it hugged me in the wrong spot or just made me look like I had some weird fat roll.  Finally we found a shirt that was loose enough to prevent people from asking.  I made Darren go through the check out line because I was using a "baby" Target gift card I got for my birthday. 

Then today we had to make the trip no mom should ever make.  Since the babies were born in Oregon and Brinly was born at 18 weeks and weighted 6 ounces, the hospital provides complimentary burial services; however any baby born after 20 weeks is a stillborn (legally) so we have no choice but to arrange funeral services for Jude (1 lb 3 oz).  I asked if we could pay a fee at the hospital for them to do it but that is not an option.  Our parents are taking care of the majority of it but we legally had to go to the funeral home to sign for his cremation.  There I was, sitting in a creepy room surrounded by tombstones and crosses and plaques with an incredibly obese funeral director asking me tons of questions (like the date of my last period-seriously??), bringing up sorry for the loss of 3 babies, going into details of the cremation process, and there was the folder that said "Jude Benson."  So sad.

On a lighter note, we are discussing next steps.  You would think that after this hell I've been through we would throw in the towel.  In fact the day before Jude's birth I was begging for a d&e but everyone (doctors and Darren) didn't love this because it could hurt my future fertility. Future fertility? I almost laughed.  Darren once worked with a  woman who was born without a uterus so all her life she grew up accepting/knowing she would never carry a child-I almost envied her because she had an answer.  I was convinced I was "done" as I was in labor and shaking from pain and crying.

But then Jude.  When Darren and I saw his face we both felt the same-our desire to have a biological child increased.  We want to meet Jude's siblings.  Whether we go the surrogacy route or I get the guts to try again (the water breaking was a freak accident not connected to our fertility issues), Jude's face is what told us to not stop. 

PLEASE.  I beg you if you know me to not just shoot out "why don't you just adopt?"  Why don't you just adopt?  (Maybe you did but most haven't). Adoption is a beautiful thing and I have see families created through it.  We are open to adoption if we truly feel that God is making it obvious that is His route for us and I'm 100% He will bring us to that point in His timing if that's His plan-but no doctor has told us we are done; at this point it would be wrong for us to adopt since neither of us feel that is the current route.  Plus, adoption in the US can be around $25,000 and that can fall through as well.  The other killer comment people say is "my friend's mom's sister's cousin's co-worker's daughter adopted and then they got pregnant!"  Statistically this only happens to 1% of couples.  If we decide to adopt we are not doing it to get pregnant.  Please don't judge us because we want to experience a biological child-upon evaluation of our "issues" our fertility doctor told us he thinks with time we could get pregnant on our own, we just jumped to IVF because we didn't want to take chances and were ready to start our family.  Again, we are open to adoption and always have been, it would just have to feel right, be the right fit,  and be clear-we are also open to it after a pregnancy to expand our family.  But in case you are wondering, we are not actively pursuing that -it could change as everything is fresh and we are praying for guidance with next steps. 

Goodnight My Angel

November  17, 2013

I had so many dreams in regard to being a mom and being pregnant.  One thing I couldn't wait for was feeling those "flutters."  Jude had been kicking up a storm.

Oddly enough, I have daydreamed often about being in the delivery room, Darren by my side coaching me, and pushing out our future.  Honestly movies, tv shows, and facebook pictures of pregnant women in the hospital room create a wave of anxiety for me because I automatically think "what if that will never be me."

Last night that was me, but it was all wrong.  Yes, I was getting strong regular contractions.  Yes, Darren was by my bed, in the delivery room holding my hand and coaching me through deep breaths.  But it was wrong.  Not supposed to be here.  We have been ttc for over 1200 days. We needed 21 more days for Jude to have  39% chance.  21 cursed days.  My body had other plans.

The other bitterend was the kicks that I had grown to love, over the last 2 days have brought me deep grief.  I detested Jude's so-longed-for kicks because they would remind me his is alive! He is healthy!  He is perfectly perfect playing in his sack having no clue that his heartbeat was about to stop.  It made me sick to stomach.

Although they couldn't pin point the infection yet, my body wanted something out.  After trying to stop the contractions with pain meds, at 11:00 I couldn't take it.  They gave me an epidural.  With one look at the cerclage the doctor pulled it out and felt inside. 

Our saving grace would be that Brinly's placenta was the infection and that my body would just pass that.  But with a click glance in the doctor looked at me and said "all I can feel is his bag of water, this has to come out first."  Silence fills the room.  She then says "do I have permission to break his water."  Images of Jude stretching so happily in the fluid my body rush through my brain.  That lack of water that killed Brinly and that I so wished I could provide.  His perfect water sack. "Is there any other way, can the placenta shift and deliver first?" I ask.  She sadly shakes her head.  And tells me she is sure I have an infection and doesn't want me more at risk "Just do it then I guess."  Before I know it I hear the sound of a gush and feel warm water on my legs.  My sweet baby Jude. "Oh God" I whisper in a half prayer, half question as to if He is still near?

The epidural kept the pain away and when it came time to deliver, the dr. had agreed to allow me to go to the OR and get sedated followed by a d &C to make sure everything is cleaned out.

They rolled me back and I touched my stomach one last time "see you on the other side" I whisper to my angel.  When I woke up, it was over but as they were wheeling me back to the room, Darren told me that he had held Jude.  I was so anti-seeing Brinly because I knew she wouldn't look like a baby at 18 weeks.  He looked normal Darren said.  Suddenly my fear left and the mom that I am (although the world will never know it) wanted to hold him.  And I did.  He was perfect as ever.  He was beautiful.  Everything formed, gorgeous face with a nose that looks like mine.  I held his hand.  I kissed his head.  I whispered "I love you." This just isn't fair.

I am very afraid of the grief and sorrow to follow.  I'm afraid that I will burn with memories when I see a pregnant mom.  I'm afraid the wrong turn down a Target aisle can lead me to unconsable tears.  I'm scared of how long this will hurt and the days and the months to follow.  What if I change?  What if I'm harder?  My daughter died just 3 weeks ago and my son?  This morning.

A few people have asked again"how are you doing?" and I almost snicker.  The typical American answer is  "ok" "alright" "hanging in there" "surviving"

You want to know how we are really doing?

Imagine the strongest physical pain you have experienced, mix it up with what you dread the most coming true, then throw in a death, and then another death, and then throw in the sound of your family weeping, and a young mom who just had 2 hearts ripped out of her as she literally holds her dream in arms that is truly beautiful yet hopelessly dead,  mix in seeing your strong father sob and your confident husband stare at you with eyes like you've never seen before-eyes of pain as you yourself cry out "I cant take this any longer" and all he can do is helplessly watch her suffer as she loses his baby and then add the taste of bitterness and antibiotics lingering in your mouth with doctors poking and proding and breaking water=that is how I am. 

Infection. Wake Me Up WHen It's All Over

November 16, 2013

Everything was good till Thursday night.  I started getting contractions and checked back into hospital.  My white blood cell count has go to a high level indicating infection.  I had to have an aminosentis (they took some of Jude's water) and a catheter shoved up to detect the infection.

Unless there is a miracle, I will be forced to deliver Jude today or tomorrow via an epidural or d and e.

The only thing we can ask for is prayer for peace and acceptance and healing for the cruel aftermath of grief that will follow. 

Jude's Kicks Keep Me Kickin

November 15, 2013  20 weeks, 3 days

No news is good news often times.  The scary thing for me is how quickly things can change.  I have one of the happiest moments of my life, our gender reveal party for my 30th where friends and family are rejoicing with us for FINALLY beating infertility where I literally cry out of sheer happiness, and just 12 days later I'm holding a piece of paper with my daughter's footprints crying out of the deepest grief I've even known.  All this in just 12 days.  We still have a long way to go till 24 weeks and 24 weeks is a horrible time to deliver a baby; that's just our short term goal and hope.

I have a huge picture above my couch of Darren and I walking down the stairs out to our get-away-car after our wedding reception.  It's one of my favorite pictures because it captures pure joy.  We are not "posing" or "trying to look good" we are just purely 100% happy and the photographer caught it.  I felt this same way about the moment my little world found out about Brinly and Jude.  I love this picture and find it beautiful in the sense it's so authentic- it's beautiful because it's real, it's us experiencing pure/true happiness caught in a moment. 

I have gotten so many emails, texts, phone calls, visitors with the same question: How are you doing?

Before I answer, I have to deeper explain the question to "how is Jude doing?" I talked about it in my last post.  Basically I feel like my sweet, perfect, healthy baby is in the middle of Iraq and all I can do is watch and hope and pray he survives.  He is flawless but his environment is hostile.  My body is not a wonderful place for him to be, but its his best bet.

Now, how are I doing?

The short answer:  If a 1 was the day I lost Brinly and a 10 was the day of our gender reveal party, I am 3.  I will stay that way until I reach viability.  If nothing changes (no labor/infection), every day will remain a 3 as I have to fight off my own demons of fear and worry that haunt me often when I am left to my own thoughts.

The longer answer: 2 Corinthians 4:7-9
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

I refuse to fall into depression.  I am fully aware the world is full of pain and that followers of Christ are not exempt from suffering.  I am pressed on every side but I am NOT crushed.  I am perplexed beyond imagination but I am NOT in despair.  I feel so persecuted-but I know I am not alone.  I have never been more struck down and heartbroken in my life, but I am NOT destroyed. 

I am so grateful that there is an end-date to this horrible path.  March 31 is Jude's full term due date.  No matter what happens, this fire will be over by then.  So many people who are suffering with an illness, a bad marriage, a financial crisis, etc. have no clue when it will end. 

Obviously I'm not doing "bump updates" or pictures of my stomach-it's too hard to celebrate something so fragile.  BUT, I have a sweet story.  The night after getting home from the hospital, I was laying my own bed, talking to Darren about surrogacy as an option.  Although the doctors are convinced this has nothing to do with my body, I like to plan ahead.  Surrogacy sounds so nice because I'm terrified of pregnancy now that I've know the cruelest side effects it can bring-Darren tried to remind me that we are "not at that point" yet but I couldn't shake it-then I felt it again, a big strong kick from inside my body.  It was almost like sweet Jude was like "um, hello, I'm right here, I can hear you!!"  I loved it.  It snapped me back into reality.  I have a live and healthy son in my stomach.  Surrogacy is more of something we would consider if God-forbid something happens to Jude.  Darren is right.  In this moment, we are not there- and little Jude's strong kick reminded me of what I am fighting for.  "Where there is life there is hope."

In fact, in these long moments alone on bed rest, I often get lost in the haunting thoughts of flashbacks to that hospital room.  Or when my water broke.  I become paralyzed with fear of the deep, dark, scary unknown that lies ahead for me and this little boy.  I can handle the boredom, it's the deep reality of the grave situation I am in, it's the little white box I can see at the top of my closet with Brinly's blanket and pictures, it's the twinges and the bleeding that can drive me to insanity and sadness-but his kicks? They are random, but they are so life giving to me.  They bring me back to hope.  They make me feel insane love.  They remind me why we chose to fight instead of terminate.  They also make me more scared-how alive he is makes it even scarier that he is at great risk.

Tomorrow is my first check up.  They will check for infection.  They will try to determine why I continue to bleed (although they didn't have a clear idea last week when I left and nothing has increased/decreased).  They will look at Jude (I'm so begging for a 3d picture of him).  I'm a little nervous we might discover something bad, but have accepted the fact that they cannot do anything else to help us till Dec 9. 

Lastly, it I have to try to acknowledge the amazing amount of encouraging emails, funny gifts, and meals people have blessed us with: 

So many people sent flowers the first week and then Pat, our amazing secretary at UHS worked with other teachers to make me a hilarious and fun gift basket which included a Netflix account, all kinds of tasty treats, magazines, hand puppet tattoos, coloring books; special thanks to Stephanie Evans for the pumpkin bread and Hello Kitty coloring book at the hospital, and to Marg and Hanan and her for visiting me all the way out in Beaverton.  Kristen Franz sent me a beautiful necklace, Allysa Dillon sent me the sweetest card with a giving key necklace, Caroline and the book "I Will Carry You", and so many sweet words of love and encouragement.  People are bringing us a meal every other day and it's been such a blessing. Also a huge shout out to Tricia Shiply (co-worker who brought me an amazing meal yesterday) because she told me I was looking chubby and pointed to my stomach (music to my ears, highlight of my boring day Tricia:).  And for anyone I skipped, I thank you too.  These little notes, messages, gifts, meals remind me we are not alone and how Christ continues to remind me, through you all, that He is still here too. 

How Do You Pray?

November 7, 2013  19 weeks, 4 days

Last night we had a scary extra bleeding episode at the hospital.  The blood looked the same but it wouldn't stop for the first time.  By the time I laid down, my legs were shaking.  I know medically speaking we are in the best place we can be for our position.  Losing Brinly gives Jude a better chance at life, and praise God we did not have to make the decision of ending Brinly's life-He did it shortly after we declined.  I hate that we lost her but the doctors think that since the sac had burst, it was Jude's best bet.

The confusing thing for most of my friends/family/followers is Jude.  People are constantly asking "How is Jude?"

The funny thing is, Jude is perfect.  He has his own nice full water sac.  His heart rate is dead on.  In the hospital they did a couple ultrasounds where we saw him stretch, yawn, and put his hands in his mouth.  I felt him kick for sure for the first time and Darren was able to feel his son kick for the first time.  I cried.  Every time I hear his heartbeat (every day for the last 12 days) or see him twist and twirl on the ultrasound the risk of loving him increases.  There is no concern that something will go wrong....with him.  Allow me to explain.

The reason why there is such a risk to him is because my body is completely whacked out.  I had water break and went into labor.  I had an umbilical cord and a foot hanging out of my cervix which puts me and him at high risk for infection (which is why today was the 13th day of antibiotics).  There is a ton of debrie sewn up in my uterus: Brinly's placenta and left over sac, part of her cord, the first triplet we lost.  There is an uncontrollable chance that I could go into preterm labor again.  That's what people should be asking.  Signs of infection?  Are you in labor? (Okay, I guess those are awkward questions) but my concern and deepest fears are not in "is Jude okay?" Because he is and chances at this stage in the game of him having issues are very low and honestly not on my mind.  Brinly was good too until the water broke. 

I struggle falling asleep at night because my mind runs.  Flashbacks of the cord hanging out.  Flashbacks of hearing "I don't see a heartbeat."  Last night I had a vision of freshly caught fish that was on the shore, flipping around gasping for air.  I felt like that fish.

All my life I have served God.  I have been 100% faithful in following the Bible, loving others more than myself, following the rules and trying to treat people the way He would.  I fully believe in miracles.  There are several examples in the Bible where God simply had to speak the miracle and it was.  The blind were healed, the deaf could hear.  Jesus rose from the dead.

And here I am, a desperate fish gasping for a breath, struggling, suffereing, in a world of pain.  "God! Lord? WHERE ARE YOU?"  With one simple word He can throw me back in the water and save me.  But He is not, at least at this point.  I am not angry, but feel so forsaken, so abandoned.  I know He never leaves me and I accept that His ways are higher, but here I am, hour by hour flopping around desperate for Him to save me.  I told Darren that I no longer have the strength to pray.  Not out of anger, but out of speechlessness.  Over the last 3 years in our battle I have BEGGED God:

1.  to help me get pregnant
2.  to let IUI #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,8 to work
3. to let IVF #1 to work
4. to do a miracle in our first pregnancy and help my baby beat the odds
5. to let the frozen transfer to work
6. to give me healthy Triplets (yes, once I put in the 3 on IVF #3, I WANTED them all)
7. to protect to my twins
8. to save Brinly and fill her water sac
9. to not let me go into labor with Brinly (after her heart stopped) but that she would remain in my body till the end of term

Every answer: No.

I told Darren I just don't have the words.  The "let" and "help" have echoed into an empty cave. 

This is not to say He hasn't given me strength to face things I never could imagine.  This is not to say He hasn't given me an incredible passion for women who struggle with infertility.  This is not to say that I love my husband more than I ever imagined.  This is not say that I will have a crazy fierce love for the baby I hold someday (unlike those women I HATE dislike envy-to-death who practically just look at a pregnancy test and poof). 

Caroline, a sweet blog follower sent me a book today called "I Will Carry You."  I've only read the beginning.  The woman had three girls before she had to go  through the loss of her 4th (to be honest, it's hard for me not to judge "but she already has kids, it's easier", I know that's not fair).  BUT, I have already learned something.

The author points out that in several miracles in the Bible people did not say "Raise him from the dead" (Lazarus), or when Jesus turned the water to wine at the wedding, Mary did not say "Can you make some more wine" or "Can you LET there be more wine."  She simply stated the problem to Jesus "There is no more wine." And stepped back to see what He would do about the problem. 

I like this.  Although it's so easy (and not wrong by any means, bringing our requests to Him), but for me, where I am now, rock bottom, speechless before my king, I'm simply going to state the problem:

Lord Jesus, I love Jude so much.  He is at great risk.  We could get an infection.  My body is haywire.  I could go into preterm labor.  I'm bleeding a lot.  I am really really scared.

And release it to Him.  I'm going to step back and see what He does. 

Stick A 1000 Needles in my Eye and Updates

November 6, 2013    19 weeks, 2 days

So I officially get to go home tomorrow after my last antibiotic treatment scheduled for around 6:00 am tomorrow.  I have been on oral or IV antibiotics for 13 days. 

No amazing updates.  I continue to wake up bleeding but it usually tapers off.  The specialists are not overly concerned and assume the blood pools at night.  I of course hate it but obviously can't control it.

I haven't had much pain minus light cramps and burning/tingling thighs.  I can't sleep and often have to take two ambiene.  Hopefully my own bed will be more welcoming.

The last 10 days have gone fairly fast in the hospital.  I'm a good self entertainer and Darren has been able to be with me 90% of the time.  He had to leave for work and went back to Vancouver on Sunday night and I cried like a little child getting left with the babysitter.  I started apologizing to him for any mean thing I've ever done to him in my life (starting when I was 20) because I feel so in love with him and so incredibly attached.  He laughed at my craziness but was really really sad to leave; specially with me crying and leaving me after being with me a week straight 24-7. 

Darren is a very solid, very stable man.  He doesn't often express emotions and usually after a deep sigh, he is good to go.  To see him mourn, to see him deeply sad really is a sad thing for me.  With previous failed treatments and early loses Darren was sad, but not like this.  For the first time I heard him talk a lot about it.  Stuff like "I lost my daughter." "My daughter died."  "I was so excited for a little girl." Breaks my heart as much as the situation breaks my heart.  He had to go home and pack up all Brinly's cute clothes I bought right before my gender reveal party; he did it alone. I wanted to get rid of them but he wanted to keep them.  I emailed Target and asked them to completely delete the registry my sister and I set up in celebration of 14 weeks.  We have to login to BabysRUs site and delete everything that is pink.  I cannot bare to see it.  It was just two weeks ago that we were so happily celebrating my 30th and registering away for our sweet babies.  How quickly things can change.

Lastly, my blog has always been my place where I can "vent."  I'm not a negative person but sometimes it's nice to blow steam into cyberspace and move on.

 Here's my rant.  It's titled "Some Nurses Are Not Nice." Lol.  So many are amazing but here we go.

  I got an IV placed in me on 10/29 when I arrived.  They have to replace it every three days.  Although not fun, it wasn't horrible.  By day 3 I was ready for a new one.  This time they called "IV Therapy" and a woman came that does it all day.  She was a little blunt and I swear she drooled on my arm, but she put it in a spot that didn't bug me.  No complaints, until last night:
I get IV meds every 6 hours.  Yesterday I needed a new IV so I convinced my nurse to let me have it out from noon to 6pm. 

At 6pm she came back with a nurse she was "training" on IVs.  Seriously?  (My mom describes this exactly as "mean, mean mean!") You have to pick me to get trained on out of this whole pregnancy labor and delivery ward?  Pick on a mom that just had a healthy baby.  They were really dramatic about getting the needle in, taking forever to find a vein, and then the trainee shoves it in without warning.  It KILLED.  I told her it hurt really bad, then she says "opps, I hit a valve"  she continues to try to get it in but eventually pulls it all the way out (which feels almost as creepy/horrible" and says "sorry" in a long annoying voice with a smile. She then went on to ask "do you need lab work because it would work for that, but not antibiotics?"  The whole reason I am still here is for antibiotics (imagine me doing an inner eye roll) So, they go again for a different vein.  I'm used to being poked cause of IVF but seriously?  So they did it again-all the way in with the IV and hit a valve (I've never had this issue).  Again the "opps."  I couldn't cry because I was alone but I looked at them and said "I know you guys are nurses and this is your job, but can you please call IV therpy?"  They did.  The IV therapy lady looked scary and seemed a little loopy.  She got it on the first try BUT put it in the bend of my hand.  Any movement killed so at midnight they removed it and woke me up for the FORTH IV at 5:45 am.  The forth one is fine and I only have 3 more treatments left.

My second complaint is about a person that meant well, but no joke, 48 hours of literally experiencing one of the worst things I could have thought of for this pregnancy this night nurse went into full-counseling mode.  We did NOT bring it up but for almost 30 minutes, with her beady hand on my leg, she told us:

how we need to be thankful for the 18 weeks we had her
how she brought us joy for 18 months
how she lived a perfect life and bonded with her brother (really?)
how this will hurt for the rest of our lives
how we need to get counseling

As mentioned I'm too nice to yell Shut the (insert mild bad word here) up and I knew she was genuinely trying to be kind.  But I just watched the clock and selected a time I would cut her off.  While she took a breath (I mean it was non stop rambling) I told her we are heartbroken over Brinly but are trying not to dwell on that for now since our son needs us.  I know it will hit me.  Probably again and again and again and again, the reality and horror of what just happened out of nowhere, but I'm so hoping and praying that it hits me while I hold her brother close.

Lastly, all the nurses have been so understanding because I'm so paranoid about everything.  Infection=game over.  So, when I got a yeast infection I asked a lot of questions.  My night nurse (I've had like 18 different ones total) brought me pills for the infection.  I was nervous and wanted to make sure A.  It wouldn't hurt Jude   B.  It wouldn't counteract with the antibiotics.  When I asked her those questions she looked really annoyed and was like "your doctor ordered these."  I guess her compassion level is low in my anxiety-ran mind but I know she hasn't delivered a stillborn.  Again, I'm forgiving but come on!

Rant over.

Everyone else has been amazing from nice moms to girls my age I would be friends with in real life.

So far Jude is looking perfect and his fluid great, but an hour could change everything so I will remain neutral and guarded (yet hopeful) till he comes out alive way past viability.

On a lighter note, I asked for an ultrasound 3 days ago for peace of mind.  The specialist did it and Jude actually looked directly at the screen and we could see his eyes move!  She pointed it out (I guess the eyelids are so thin you can see the lenses moving at times).  Darren got all excited and said it reminded him of a character off Batman.  Not exactly what an expectant mom wants to think of her sweet precious CUTE son (words normal people use to describe babies) but if it makes the dad feel happier thinking he looks like Batman character (in all honestly, I could see it, at this stage they look like little skeletons) more power to him.

Tomorrow I go home.  I'm happy but also scared.  Although I'm tired of my stay at hotel St. Vincent, it's nice to know I'm right here if something goes down.  One day at a time.

Darren told me there are all kinds of packages and cards for me at home which is so incredibly caring.  My friend "Mrs. Lost" Where is that bird? is going through IVF herself right now and went to look at her page I saw this image, so kind.  Thank you again to everyone.

My Bucket List:

My Bucket List: