The Movie Noah and Everything Else That Led To Public Meltdown

April 27, 2014

Yesterday was Darren's birthday.  It started off with a fun brunch downtown Portland with his family.

The last few days I've had some serious PMS (and negative pregnancy test) letting me know that this
last medicated cycle was a bust, which probably adds to my meltdown.

When we got home, I started reading a book I found online called "Brining in Finn." It's about a woman named Sara who had gotten pregnant via IVF with twins but lost them at 22 weeks due to going into preterm labor.  It's an amazing story of her 7 year IF journey. Every since losing Jude and Brinly I have had to be VERY careful about what I allow myself to read.  I'm been gifted a couple different books, but most the time they end up upsetting me.

For example, Darren got me this book for Christmas of a collection of stories of other women that have suffered a loss.  But unless they lost twins, due to my current grief, it almost made me feel more alone.  I had to put the book down when I read a story SO similar to J and B, but in her story, her Baby A made it after delivering Baby B.  While it's amazing she got the miracle, I couldn't help but feel hurt and forgotten that I did not.

All this to say, I thought maybe I was ready to read a story that I knew had hope at the end.  However, yesterday I spent much of the afternoon reading and ended up bookmarking it right after her cerclage failed and water broke.  Tears streaming down my face, I could relate to the story a little too much.  A smooth pregnancy.  Passing all the "safe" milestones.  And then out of nowhere a horrifying nightmare begins and while you are in it you cannot accept its real.

I had to get ready for dinner with the family and a movie.  At dinner I ran into one of my old favorite students.  She graduated a couple years ago and her and I had gotten close.  I truly love her and her twin sister and still keep in contact.  Anyway, this student had an unplanned pregnancy and was pregnant (much further along) when I was pregnant.  We ended up delivering on the same day (she was 41 weeks, I was 18) and we kept in contact during the hospital.  I am so amazed with the selflessness of this girl-her father had told her of a family he knew of who had gone through failed IVF and wanted to adopt.  She made the decision to carry the child and give her to this family.  Although I was pregnant with twins, I had originally been pregnant with triplets.  When I first heard this, I told her that if anything fell through, I would want to adopt her child.  This is odd because overall we don't feel like adoption is the current route for us.  However, if one of my students offered me something like this, I think I would be 100% in.  I knew for a fact I could love her child with my whole heart because of knowing her.  I also knew that the family she had chosen was awesome, and it was "meant to be" since I was pregnant anyway.

I went up to her to say hi, I hadn't seen her since we were both pregnant.  She ran around, hugged me and then with the sweetest saddest look stepped back, touched her stomach, and frowned at me, acknowledging the sadness that I hide from most people.  In that moment, I felt so loved and I truly felt like she "got it."  "If you know someone who has lost a child and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn't forget that they died.  You're not reminding them.  What you're reminding them of is that you remember that they lived and that's a great, great gift." Although her child is alive and well, she too experienced a loss to some degree.  She was just pregnant so she could imagine the pain and horror of delivering a baby too soon.  It was one of the first times that someone outside my family had the guts to bring it up and it was beautiful.  She and the adopted parents do open adoption so she gets to see her little girl often. 

After dinner we went to see the movie "Noah."  I knew several Christians are in a uproar because its not biblically accurate (it makes it seem way more legend meets magic meets mythical).  I didn't care since it's Hollywood, we were just curious to see the film.  Overall I thought it was kind of lame, with low-budget looking animations (the animals were all clearly fake) and Noah being slightly evil for a bit.  If you want to watch the movie, don't read further, but this was the straw that broke the camel's back (I'm the camel).

Sham, one of his son's, has a wife who is infertile.  Before boarding the arc, Noah's wife asks their grandfather to "bless" her to make her fertile.  Next thing we know his wife is pregnant.  Noah somehow believes all man kind is evil and that God only wants animals on the earth once the arc lands.  There are no women on the arc besides his own wife and his infertile daughter in law.  When he finds out she is pregnant he informs them that if it's a boy he will spare it but if it's a girl, he will kill the baby (to stop future reproduction).  So,  the couple tries to escape, Noah's wife tries to talk some sense into him, but he is 100% set he will kill the baby.

The girl goes into labor, has a girl and then what?  There is another.  Twins.  It's another girl.  She is sobbing freaking out hysterically because she knows Noah is going to kill them.  I don't know if it was the mirrored hysterical cries that started making me uneasy or the twin thing but I thought I was fine.

Next scene she is holding her babies on top of the arc and Noah comes up with a knife.  The babies are crying hard and she asks if she can comfort them first so they can die peacefully.  She calms them down and then Noah says "you shouldn't watch this" and she looks him in the eyes and says "no, they will die in my arms with me"  (cue second huge lump in my throat).  Noah holds the knife above them for a freakishly long time (my eyes shut trying to ask Darren to narrate) and after about 10 seconds of intense suspense, he lowers his mouth and kisses each one on the cheek.  He didn't kill them.

It all set in.  The book I was reading, my old student encounter, the cramping/spotting, and then the cruel reminder that God is my situation for whatever reason DID lower the knife on my twins, I had to walk out, run to a bathroom.  I put my head on the wall and lost control.  I hate crying in public, the type you can't control.  This rarely happens.  I was trying to be quiet but was probably freaking out the other women coming and going. 

In the car Darren's mom was sweet and said it was hard for her to watch and that she can only imagine how I felt.  I pulled it together but grief is a crazy crazy ride.  I had been strong for so many days.  I found this image on a support group I follow.  It's so true.  The bottom reminds me of grief. 

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!

My Bucket List:

My Bucket List: