Thursday, April 6, 2017

The House That Built Me

We were taking a walk after dinner the other night and talking about our move and new house. We told Sabrina how we'd be saying goodbye to our house now and moving to our new house to make memories there. Without hesitation she responded "but I'm gonna miss our house" and it literally knocked the wind out of me. Such simple words from my sweet, innocent girl. And I knew with all my heart that I too would miss our house, which is truly the house that built me. 

It's been four and a half years since I moved into this house. Chris proposed to me in this house. Sabrina came home to this house. Our family grew and formed and changed and thrived in this house. We painted walls and bought furniture and planted flowers. We had parties and cook outs. We lived and we loved here. 

There were tough times too. Learning to be a stepparent, learning to be a new mother. Struggling with postpartum depression, struggling with breastfeeding, struggling with a difficult infant who didn't sleep.  Struggling to find my new identity as a mother, as a wife, as an individual. Struggling to "do it all". 

This new chapter we are embarking on is exciting, but it is also very sad in many ways. I haven't fully come to terms with saying goodbye to our life here. I can't deal with the thought of Sabrina leaving her school for the last time. The thought of Sabrina saying goodbye to her grandparents and cousins and aunt and uncles is almost traumatic for me to think about.  I am comforted to know that we will still see family.  They will come to visit us in our new house and we will come back to visit too. We can stop and say hello to Sabrina's friends at school from time to time when we are in town. But this house, the house that built me. The adult me, the me that is a wife and a mother. When the moving truck pulls away, that will be goodbye forever.  And just like Sabrina, I too will miss "our house". 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pills and Needles

Photo from

This pregnancy announcement from a set of parents struggling with infertility has been making the rounds on social media over the last few days, and it has totally struck a nerve.  The last time I wrote, I shared the news of my non pregnancy, my positive pregnancy test that would never progress beyond that.  The outpouring of love I received from that post was incredible.  Texts, cards in the mail, messages on Facebook, from people who I speak to everyday and who I haven't seen since high school or college.  I can't begin to voice my gratitude for that love, at a time when I desperately needed it.

Since then, people will periodically ask me for an update on how I am doing.  Perhaps between the lines they are asking if we are still trying or even if I am pregnant and just not telling anyone yet.  Oh how I wish that were the case.

It's been 4 long months since that positive pregnancy test.  4 long months of nothing to report.  3 cycles of clomid, with the recent addition of an injection of HCG to trigger ovulation, all with the end result of dozens of negative pregnancy tests.

Just last night, I was walking the dog after work, and a family down the street from us, with a little girl Sabrina's age, walked by.  It was the first time I'd really seen them up close since the cold weather passed, and I realized for the first time that the little girl's mother was very visibly pregnant.  And it felt like somebody punched me in the gut; that should have been me.  I recently went to Muffins with Moms at Sabrina's daycare, and at least half the other mothers in the room had their young babies with them.  We went to a birthday party for Sabrina's friend from school recently, and most of the families with toddlers also had their little babies in tow.  Everyday there is some reminder of my pregnancy that wasn't and isn't.  
I was completely unprepared to deal with this infertility struggle.  I got pregnant with Sabrina the third month I was off the pill, with absolutely no intervention necessary.  Even my non-pregnancy happened immediately, the first month of trying.  But since then it's like my body has shut down.  I now know terms such a follicle size and trigger shot and overstimulation, none of which I was remotely familiar with a few months ago.  I now know what it feels like when your ovaries are so full that they feel like they might burst.  I now know the emotional ups and downs of clomid.  

I am so thankful for my husband throughout this struggle.  He is my rock and my best friend, always there to help out if I am not feeling well or to make me smile when I can't find a reason. It is ironic that he is in his 40s, much later than many men have children, and yet I am the issue here, at the ripe old age of 32.  I am broken, or that's how I feel most days.  Our bodies are designed to do this, yet mine just doesn't seem capable right now.

I know the next steps ahead of me in this fertility struggle, and I am not willing to take them. IUI, IVF, daily injections, sometimes multiple in a day, I am just not willing to go there.  I have been blessed with a daughter, and a stepdaughter, and I am not willing to invest the time, money, and pain of those fertility treatments that will detract from the joyful life I already have.  I just can't do it.  This is where the road ends for me.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everyone who has supported me, and us, throughout this painful journey.  It is truly in God's hands at this point, and I trust that whatever happens will happen for a reason.  I'm sharing this in the hopes that there can be less of a stigma around infertility.  It's a very private matter, but then again it affects so many around us.  I am someone who heals by sharing, who takes comfort in talking about the good things as well as the bad.  I desperately want to give Sabrina a sibling her own age, so I will stay the course and keep trying, but not forever.  A person can only take so much.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Pregnancy That Never Was

It was there.  That faint second line.  I was pregnant.  I called my husband in, showed it to him.  We hugged, whispered our excitement.  Blood test confirmed that I was VERY newly pregnant with a repeat test ordered in a week to confirm.  We kept the news to ourselves and quietly and happily counted ahead to a September due date (Chris's birthday month!), Sabrina being a big sister, plans for a gender reveal party, and all the other things that came along with finding out you're expecting.  I of course worked myself up into my usual ball of anxiety over anything resembling change, especially a change this big.  But I was happy.

Then the repeat test came.  I had figured out what my numbers should have been (HCG is supposed to double every 2 days, as all mommies to be quickly learn in their pregnancy journey) and it should have been roughly 150.  It was 40.  Hardly doubled in a week, let alone every 2 days.  My progesterone was almost 0 (3), down from almost 12 the week before.  Something was wrong.  I got my results in a message on my patient portal with the attached note of "We need to see you for an appointment".  Not exactly the way I wanted to find out that there was obviously something very wrong with my pregnancy.

So my husband and I trudged into the office a few LONG hours later.  They asked for any symptoms I'd been having, spotting, one sided pain.  Talked about risks of ectopic pregnancy.  The doctor told me that with the numbers as low as they were, it likely was an egg that was fertilized but never implanted.  This pregnancy of mine never really was.

But to me, it was.  The pink line was there.  The subsequent tests all said pregnant.  I FELT pregnant.  My chest immediately grew twice its size (kinda like the Grinch's heart) and began to really hurt.  I remembered those early signs.  Peeing more.  Being more tired.  Just feeling off, like something was different.  I may not have been pregnant, but my body begged to differ.  

So now I'm in this state of limbo.  My body still thinks it's pregnant.  The tests I take all say pregnant.  But I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that I'm not.  I never really was to begin with, other than a slightly elevated blood result.  The ICD-10 code on my patient plan read "Missed Abortion".  Really?  Is that really the term we want to use when a mother to be has been told that her pregnancy isn't viable?  Upon further googling, I saw the words "early fetal death" and stopped reading there.  I just couldn't read any more.

I've read many heartbreaking stories of pregnancy loss.  But the question I can't really seem to answer is, have I had a pregnancy loss?  I've lost the idea behind being pregnant, that's unquestionable.  But I don't feel like I can really place myself in the same category as those women who've lost pregnancies much later. I only had the idea for really a week, and even then I knew it was early and I knew that ultimately something like this could happen.  

Many women choose to keep their miscarriages and nonviable pregnancies to themselves. After some soul searching, I decided that I needed to do just the opposite.  I needed to share my sadness, my disappointment, in an attempt to not feel alone or ashamed.  I know so many others have been through similar struggles and I take comfort in sharing my pain so that maybe someone else like me can know they aren't alone either.  

I don't know what to feel.  I am sad, but not shattered.  I am disappointed, but not defeated.  My heart is sad for what would have been, but is also hopeful for what hopefully will be in the future.  I hope that we are lucky enough to get pregnant again soon, and hopefully that this time it will stick.  But for now, I'll quietly mourn my baby that never was, hug my fiesty, sweetheart of a toddler that I am lucky enough to have by my side, and feel secure in the fact that I have my best friend, my rock, my husband by my side through all of it.

The Chinese Gender Predictor predicted that it would have been a boy.  So in my mind, I will always think of the son that never really was for me, and hope that he is somewhere out there smiling down on us.

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Mother's Day Letter to My Baby Girl

The Sunshine of My Life


This will be my second Mother's Day as your mommy.  What a wild ride the past 18 months has been.  As I look back over your short yet universe-altering life, I can't help but think of how much I feel like I'm screwing it up.

Every single day, I see others mothers getting it right.  Just this week I saw Duchess Kate dressed in a beautiful spring dress and high heels walk down steps holding her newborn Princess Charlotte, basically the same day she gave birth.  24 hours after I had given birth to you, I hadn't showered, could barely stand, and hadn't washed my hair for 3 days.  A royal I was not!  I was just happy the catheter was gone and that the walk to the bathroom was a short one.

We had a tough start, you and me.  I see mothers post pictures and blog posts about their first days with their baby, full of awe and wonder at the new life that they have created.  You and I, we had a tougher time. Your first days were filled with tears, yours and mine. They were filled with frustration and pain and feeling like I couldn't get a thing right.  Some mothers, they just take to motherhood naturally, but I unfortunately had a different path. We got there, you and I, but it didn't come easy.  

I am one of those mommies who has to go to work everyday.  Well, except Saturday and Sunday of course.  But those days are spent cramming a week's worth of errands in, grocery shopping and cleaning and laundry, which your saint of a daddy takes care of, and trying to squeeze us time in there somewhere.  The guilt I feel as a full time working mommy will never go away. I spent every day of your first 3 months with you, at home, but then our time together was over and I had to go back to work.  I am sorry that I am not home with you everyday.  I am sorry we don't go to the library for story time or to the park for a play date.  I am sorry we can't go to Target on a Tuesday morning just for fun.  I know there are things that we won't get to do because I have to go to work everyday.  And I am eternally sorry for that, with every fiber of my being.

Sometimes I lose my temper and get frustrated with you, my love.  Another way mommy just doesn't get it right.  I am so full of love for you, but in some ways you are so much like me, headstrong and determined to do it on your own.  Those are the best qualities I could give to you, but some days, after a long hard day at work, or when I'm not feeling well, or when I just want a break, those qualities can push me to, and even past, my limit.  Some days, hearing "NO!" for the hundredth time or having you throw your dinner on the ground pushes me to my breaking point.  I am sorry my love.  I know you don't do it to make mommy mad and I know you are still trying to figure things out in this big world of yours. Just like you are trying to figure it out, I am too.  

But I hope someday, that you will look back at all my imperfections, all the ways that I haven't gotten it right, and realize that somewhere in there was an imperfect woman who loved you with every ounce of her soul.  Who knew she wasn't getting it right, and tried to do better.  I hope you see a woman who loved you but also loved her job, and gave both everything she had.  I hope you see your mommy as someone who wanted it all, and did her best to get it all.  I know I will continue to not get it right.  There will be more bad days when I lose my temper and get frustrated.  But I will never give up on you, on us.  I always wanted a daughter, and God blessed me with the best one there ever was.  I am so lucky to have you, my Sabrina.  You are the best Mother's Day present of all.

Love always,

Monday, April 27, 2015

Time to Lose Some Weight! AKA Crush My Soul

That's me on the end- the chubby one in the flowered dress.

Okay everyone, it's time for me to get real.  I mean really real.  I blog about lots of things (infrequently these days due to a high stress job and a crazy life to boot), and I've blogged about my insecurity about my body and my weight before.  But now starts my journey to getting back on track.

First things first.  I don't do diets.  Don't talk to me about Atkins or Paleo or Mediterranean or South Beach or even Weight Watchers.  I just don't do them.  I don't follow them and I fall off the wagon and I get mad and frustrated and give up.  In the past, when I have wanted to lose weight, the only things that have worked are exercise and portion control.  I will not put butter in my coffee, I will not consume coconut oil or whatever other latest fad is going on.  I'm not knocking it for others if it works, and I do have a great respect for the Weight Watchers program because I know it works well for many, some of my family and friends included.  But for me, I have to eat reasonably, while still eating what I want, and to do this I must control my portions.  Easier said than done, judging from past experience.

This isn't my first time wanting to lose weight, but it is certainly the most uphill battle I've faced with my weight.  I had my daughter Sabrina in November of 2013, just a few months after turning 30.  I swear, between the two of those life (and body) changing events, my metabolism, my body, everything changed.  I lost the weight quickly after having Sabrina, but I put quite a bit back on once I went back to work (mostly because I actually could sit down and eat a meal without a crying baby in one arm).  By last fall, I weighed just under 140 pounds.  Come wintertime, stress, depression, and lack of exercise, I went up to 144 pounds at my highest, using my home scale.  Doctors office scales are far meaner and I hate them and refuse to acknowledge their existence.  I'm sticking with my home scale to gauge my measurements.  

Yesterday, I had a sobering experience.  My daughter was napping, so I went to the basement and pulled out my spring and summer clothes to hang up in my closet, in the hopes that the weather will finally take a springlike turn.  I was so disheartened to see that all of my capri pants from last year (post-baby me, mind you) are a size 6.  The pants I am wearing now are a size 10.  2 sizes!!  And I can't even blame baby weight, because last summer I was 6-9 months postpartum, so that ship had sailed.  How is this even possible?  How did I let myself gain this much weight?  I don't even know when or how it happened.  It wasn't sudden, it must have crept up on me, a pound or two there, with no exercise done to prevent it.  

Living in the Northeast is brutal for exercise unless the treadmill or elliptical are your thing. For me, they just aren't.  The elliptical confuses me to no end- it's like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time, something I am not very good at if I'm being honest.  I can't force the upper half of my body to do something different than the lower half.  Bad things will happen.  The treadmill is okay but it is SO BORING and I do not have room for one in my home, not that I'd probably use it much anyway.  That leaves me with walking outdoors for exercise, which just honestly didn't happen this winter.  This winter was either the coldest on record (recent record anyway) or the second coldest.  Most days had below zero wind chills.  Sorry, but I'm not signing up for a 3 mile jaunt through sub-zero temperatures.  Not gonna happen.

Like every other mother out there, time is another huge factor in my weight gain.  Life is so hectic, working full time with a toddler, a teenager (my stepdaughter), and just a normal life to live.  I do a pretty good job of meal planning, so I'm not left scrambling at the last minute for what to have for dinner, because that is when you give in to take-out of the unhealthy persuasion.  But Chinese take-out and pizzas from Sam's Club are certainly part of my reality, because sometimes in the interest of time and sanity, those are the easiest way to get everyone fed reasonably cost effectively and in a timely fashion.  That's just life.  

But it's time to start changing my mentality.  Not to one of obsession with calories, because nothing annoys me more than someone who flaunts their healthy lifestyle in your face, but to one of making smart choices most of the time, allowing for the occasional indulgence in bread and ice cream (my favorites!!!).  To a mindset where exercise, some way, somehow, isn't something that can easily be disregarded.  Knowing that there will surely be days where getting my walks in just won't happen, due to working late or weather or illness or whatever, but not letting that derail me in the long term.  Making my health, my weight, my family's health a bigger priority.

I wanted to share this journey with those around me, because no matter if you are a mother (or father) of little ones or if you find yourself in a totally different place and time in your life, we all have struggles when it comes to diet and exercise.  It is so helpful to be able to share your struggles and your successes with others.  So today, I am officially kicking off my weight loss and fitness challenge.  I challenge myself to walk my goal of 10,000 steps 5 out of 7 days a week and to get to my goal weight of 135 pounds (or less!) in the next 3 months.  

I will check in periodically during the coming weeks to update my progress.  I know I will have setbacks, and I know I will struggle.  But hopefully at the end of this challenge, my own personal challenge to myself, I will come out at the healthy weight I want.  If you have had your own successes and want to share something that worked for you, or share your story, I would love to hear from you.  Just like when it comes to raising a child, fitness and weight loss takes a village too!