Tag Archives: pregnancy

Birthing an Embryo

15 Jun

NB: Reveals details about my recent miscarriage.

#3 started out fun. We were on vacation, our first as a family that didn’t involve other friends or family joining us. We had a much needed, great time together at the beach. We went out for seafood one night and the low country boil I ordered smelled very bad to me, and Dave and I thought, oh, hee hee, what if we’re pregnant? And then I felt pretty sick after a glass of wine, so I thought, maybe I really am!

IMG_20180502_142323175Morris Lighthouse near Folly Beach.

img_20180428_201759My boys exploring the sand and surf. Oh how I love the ocean.

We got home and my period was supposed to start. I had some cramping, but after a couple days of no Aunt Flo and some sore boobs, I took a test. I couldn’t even wait for David to get home from work, so I had to call him with the news. I was shaking with excitement and disbelief.

“We’re going to need to get me a bigger car, honey!”

img_20180509_095855050_topIt’s a blurry pic because I was literally shaking. Though Rexy doesn’t look too pleased at the prospect of being a middle sibling haha.

Fast forward a couple weeks, where we had told grandparents but no friends yet, and we enjoyed spending a couple late nights in bed talking over baby names, especially girl names. Since we had already had two boys, obviously there were no more boy names left, so we figured out some girl options.

My brother and his family came in town over Memorial Day weekend, and right as we were about to go to dinner their first night, I popped into the restroom for a quick pee. I was pregnant, after all, and had to pee all the time. I was not expecting anything abnormal, as the morning sickness was already playing a strong game all day long every day.

Blood.

Not that much, but I told Dave anyway. Most of my pregnancy symptoms seemed to vanish the moment I saw that blood. I barely slept that night, worried about the newest baby, and our little Rex was just starting to get over a double ear infection and he was up all night with a 103° fever. The next day I rested some while the rest of the crew went downtown to shop and eat lunch, and when I bailed on dinner, wanting to eat at home, my SIL was a bit confused. So I said, “Well, to be honest, I think I’m having a miscarriage right now. I’m supposed to be about 7 weeks along.” We hugged and over the next few days I gathered my strength and we had fun.

img_20180525_210142170Cousins are the best.

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Of course this had all started on a Friday night of a holiday weekend, so by Tuesday morning I called my new doc for an appointment as soon as their doors opened. I hadn’t even seen them yet, as they don’t see OB patients until at least 8 weeks, and my first appointment with them was still two weeks away. They had me come in that morning for an ultrasound check. Dave met me there to help with the boys. I had had two and a half days of spotting, mild cramping, one hour one night of heavy bleeding, no cramping, and one day of heavy spotting, no cramping.

I went in, fully expecting nothing on the screen and a diagnosis of a miscarriage. They saw a 6 week old embryo with no heartbeat and said everything looked fine, but maybe my dates were wrong for my last period? No, I said, they were accurate. They couldn’t confirm a miscarriage based on my symptoms alone, so they sent me off with a “threatened miscarriage” diagnosis and told me to come back in a week for another ultrasound to see if anything had changed. I was very happy that they were caring and professional about it all even though I wasn’t an established patient. They offered for me to come in multiple times that week for HCG testing, but after all the blood tests I took during the IUI for Rex, I opted to just come in in a week and see if the baby had grown any more. It wouldn’t have changed the outcome either way and it seemed like only more hassle for me.

Queue heavy cramping as soon as I left the doctor’s office. Literally started in the parking lot while sitting in my car. That day I continued to only have heavy spotting, so I was on the fence about having hope. I did have a dream that night that the baby would survive and she was a girl and we named her Penelope Grace.

The next morning I woke up with no cramping and no bleeding. So I vacuumed the house. And then the cramping began. It was pretty severe; then the bleeding started. And oh the clots that came out! After an hour or so of this I started getting afraid to go to the bathroom. Luckily David was able to come home early from work and take care of the boys while I ran from the bed to the bathroom. This continued for about 2.5 hours and then it stopped completely. No more cramping. Barely any blood. I felt great, surprisingly, but knew that the end had come for #3. Dave made me a batch of dirty rice for dinner that night, which I was craving, and it’s the only thing I wanted to eat for the next three days. Bowls of that with a cup of milk, and a banana for dessert.

We agreed David would go back to work, and I took the boys to the grocery store and the library. Upon returning home, I started severely cramping again, the pain much more intense than it had been the day before, even though I wasn’t bleeding as much. I called David home again, took some ibuprofen and sat in bed with a heating pad. I didn’t get out of bed for the rest of the night. The off and on severe pain and bleeding continued for the rest of the weekend. One night I had a mild fever and I was concerned I was getting an infection, though my OB later told me she had never had a patient get an infection from a miscarriage (I had gotten one post-Walter’s birth so I was concerned about that).

img_20180602_102033227Doughnut treats while all this was going on.

img_20180603_121711787Grandparents came to visit to make sure we were all doing okay. It’s nice to have an OB MIL during times like this!

I went back to the doctor’s office on Monday morning for my ultrasound and nothing was there this time. Even though I had been prepared for that, it was very sad to see. I’m glad I could have that visual confirmation though, because despite everything, there was a tiny bit of hope inside me that some miracle had happened and the baby was going to be okay.

The whole experience was very surreal. After it taking two years and fertility treatments to get pregnant with Rex, I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant again so quickly, if at all, even though with Walter it had happened right away. I was still trying to wrap my head around there being a #3 when we lost the baby. In only a few short weeks I had been excited, terrified, in love, and even relieved to not have to be sick all summer during first trimester. It was a lot to process.

Dave says that I knew from the beginning that it wouldn’t work out. I was very cautious and kept saying, “If anything happens, at least we know we can get pregnant again without intervention.” It’s almost as if my pregnancy symptoms came on too strong and too fast for me to be comfortable believing in the pregnancy. Even though I have successfully made two tiny humans before, the whole process seems like magic and my fertility journey completely confounds me. I have no idea what would happen if we try again. Pregnant in a couple months? Never pregnant? Lots of miscarriages? There is no way of knowing, but oh such is life, and that’s the fun of it.

I alternate between sadness and peace every day. The baby had it’s own DNA (though most likely DNA that wasn’t quite right for this world), but I don’t think it ever had a heartbeat, which somehow relieves to me. Dave and I have grown closer during this time, which is the silver lining and blessing of the whole experience.

All in all I bled for about 2.5 weeks, and my morning sickness tapered and finished after a week. I thought because it was so early on that it would feel like a heavy period, but it was really a mix between the worst period of my life and a birth. I’ve come through this feeling very grateful to be able to connect with my friends who have had miscarriages themselves, for they helped me immensely while I was stuck in bed hurting. There should definitely be miscarriage doulas!

img_0206These guys! They, and their dad, are the lights of my life.

I’ve decided to use this as a wake up call to get fit and have already started working out and eating even healthier. I feel better than I have in a long time, and I like knowing that if the universe decides I should have another child (because really, what control do we have in this crazy thing we call life), I’ll be the best person I can for the experience. And if not, I’ll be a healthier, happier person besides.

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Channeling Ina May: Rex’s Birth Story

19 Jan

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All week – longer – I was having “symptoms” of impending labor, but nothing would come of it. I knew from my doula that second babies were like that, so I just decided to be patient. This patience was made easier by the fact that I was terrified to give birth again from pretty much the moment of conception. When I got pregnant with Walter, I knew from the beginning he’d come early. I had a feeling my entire pregnancy, and I was right. With little Rex, I had no idea when he would come. For all I knew, he could be two weeks late instead of one week early. As it turns out, I cooked him exactly the same amount of time that I cooked Walter: one day shy of precisely nine months.

Once the weather reports started coming in that a snow/ice storm would arrive on Friday, David started predicting that that would be the day I would have baby boy #2. He knew he’d have to drive to the hospital in harrowing conditions, and he told everyone that the whole week. On Thursday I met my mother for lunch and to exchange Walter so he could have a night with his Nini. After that I met my friend Sophia for a walk to a coffee shop at the High Museum for a latte. I was hoping a walk would stimulate the baby to come, plus it was a very pretty, but cold, day.

Thursday night I had several contractions in the middle of the night, and I thought upon waking that I would have to tell Dave not even to bother going in to work that day. But, I didn’t have any more once I woke up, so I thought it was another no-go day. I lounged around with the kitty, staying warm, and spent some time with the jigsaw puzzle we got for Christmas. Dave luckily had a short day due to the storm, and he went to go pick up Walter from my mom’s. Walter had been sick all night and day, so shortly before they arrived home around 4:30pm, I was at the grocery store getting sick-kid supplies. The self-check-out attendant asked me if I was going to have a baby soon, and I said, “Any day! My due date is in five days!” I had no idea that in reality he would be out seven hours later.

I got home and fed Walter some chicken soup that David made. We sat and watched TV and tended to the sick boy, who after some soup, ginger ale, and Pediasure made a somewhat miraculous recovery. As I sat on the couch with him, I started having really random contractions around 5pm. Every time one came (and they weren’t bad or long) I would say, “Dave, there’s another,” and he would look at me with excitement. The way things had been starting and stopping for days just like this, I didn’t believe anything was really going to happen, especially since they were ranging from 6 to 45 minutes apart and lasting for about 30 seconds.

I decided to take a bath to see if that would ramp things up or slow things down. My doula said that and a big glass of water would be good to evaluate labor. I had a couple contractions when I first got in the tub, but then nothing for a while. I got out and told Dave I was going to go lie down for a minute to get some rest, around 8pm. Starting then, I had one contraction every ten minutes. Lying on my side, holding my belly, I decided to tell my baby, “You can come now; we can do this” which I repeated throughout each contraction like a meditation. I was tired of fearing birth and figured I just needed to get it over with. I was also pretty much sleeping in between each contraction. It was a nice 30 minutes.

At the end of the third contraction like this, I heard and felt a “POP” inside of my uterus. I thought to myself, “Hm, was that my water breaking?”. I hoped it was because otherwise that sound would be a bit terrifying. With Walter, my water hadn’t broken until the L&D nurse broke it for me while I was pushing, so I had no idea what it was like. I hurried out of the bed (well, as fast as I could at 9 months pregnant), wondering if water would stream out of me. I felt a little bit come out and went to check it out in the bathroom. Nothing too much happened, but peeing on myself is not one of my pregnancy symptoms, so I called my doula to ask her about it. I was sitting on the bed cross legged, and she said to lay down for ten minutes. If when I sit back up again it drips or flows out, that’s my water. After the call, I stood up to change underwear, and a lot came out. I texted her back and then called Dave into the room to tell him what had happened. He got super excited and finished packing his hospital bag. I hadn’t had another contraction since my water breaking, so I told him he didn’t need to call his mom to set the Walter plan in motion. I wanted labor to truly start because I felt it might slow down if we started any action plans too early. I didn’t want anyone watching me, waiting for another contraction that may or may not come. However, I did call my midwife group to tell them what had happened. They weren’t concerned about me coming in right away because my fluid was clear, but the weather was getting worse outside. I said I’d come in probably sooner rather than later, since the hospital was 30 minutes away. I didn’t feel too bad yet, but I was thinking the sooner we got the drive out of the way, the better.

My contractions took a break while I had made all my calls, but they started again soon after, and were much more intense than before my water had broken. I wasn’t timing them, but to me they seemed to come every couple of minutes and not last very long. Soon enough though, I had one or two with pressure, and I thought to myself, “Oh my! That happened fast!” So I called David back to the room and said, “You need to get Walter to bed now, and call your mom to get here.” His dad ended up coming with her, which at first I didn’t want, but it turned out to be a blessing that he was there to stay with Walter, because Mimi came with us to the hospital.

img_20170106_2135434471Getting Walter ready for bed during labor!

By the time we got Walter in bed (and I sang him two sunshine songs in between my contractions), I was really ready to go. Mimi asked if we wanted her to ride with us. At this point, I was a little worried about having the baby in the car, because I was definitely feeling pressure during some contractions, so I said yes. We all climbed in, walking through slippery ice in the carport, around 9:30pm. During the drive my contractions kept up. They were short and intense. Mimi would ask me how I was doing or hand me water when I asked for it, and David was busy driving through the slush and sleet. I kept telling him to drive slowly and carefully, because to me he seemed to drive fast and swerve around other slower cars. At one especially long light, both my husband and my MIL wanted to run the red light, but I kept telling them they didn’t need to. We got to the hospital around 10:10 and slowly walked in over the ice.

David helped me the entire way to L&D registration, which was good cause we stopped a couple times, and I leaned on him during contractions. I signed in and would lean my head on the desk during a contraction. They took me to triage, where, to be honest, the nurse was rather rough and completely unaware of me as an individual person. They did two tests to check to see if my water broke (because I guess the leaking for an hour and the first test weren’t enough), and she actually said to me, “We’ll check to see if your water did break otherwise we’ll send you home to labor some more.” This was spoken to a woman who had just driven 30 minutes in an ice storm and who was, as it turns out, an hour from delivery. I told her there was no way this wasn’t real labor, but I don’t think she heard me. She then strapped me in to monitor the baby’s heartbeat during contractions and had me lie down. When I asked her if I could sit up during the 20 minutes of monitoring, she said no, to which I should have fought harder because lying down during contractions without drugs is awful. I wonder if that might have been why I had back labor later. I would squeeze Dave’s hand super tight trying to get through the pain. This was the only time labor was really bad.

She checked my progress and told me I was 3-4 centimeters and 70% effaced, which surprised me. I thought I’d at least be around 6cm. I’m pretty sure that because she so roughly checked my dilation that I closed up a bit, which happened to me last time I was in labor (even though the nurse had been nice about it then). But we’ll never know because I never had the chance to get checked again before Rex came out.

We went in to the labor room and dealt with the lights. I was also hot at this point so I took off my sweater. I asked for a glass of ice water and was told the nurse would have to get approval from my midwife before I got anything. I said, “No, I need some water now,” and David got me some as soon as he could. We put the back of the bed up so I could try to lean against it during contractions, as my doula had suggested during our meeting the week before, but it wasn’t a position that really worked for me. My doula hadn’t been able to make it to the hospital due to the snow, so when Jan, my OB/GYN MIL, mentioned that she was going to go, I asked her if she would stay. At that point I honestly didn’t really trust the staff at North Fulton, because they seemed to be ignoring me and the true state I was in. I thought the baby was going to come fast, and I wanted someone there I trusted to catch the baby. I trusted my midwife, but she hadn’t shown up yet, and the nurse, Vick, didn’t seem in a hurry to grab her. In fact, she kept asking me intake questions during my contractions, and there was no way I could answer her. At this point I was deep in my contractions, and I heard Dave have to either answer for me or tell her that she would have to ask later. She even continued bustling about the room doing gosh-knows-what, and I wanted to yell at her to leave and give me some privacy. The only thing I can fathom for her attitude is that I wasn’t screaming and crying; in fact, I barely made any noise at all. One of the only things I said the whole time was “Ugh labor is hard work!”

This labor was very different from my first in that I wanted to be touched by Dave this time. Even just his hand on my shoulder was soothing. Last time I think I felt self-conscious when people touched me. This time I didn’t feel that way at all. I had some serious back pain during my last half hour of contractions before pushing, which Dave and Jan tried to help by massaging, but that made it hurt worse. If they touched my back around the pain, that did help, but I could barely get out any instructions to them. I had no idea how long or close together my contractions were and no one was telling me, even if they were timing them (I had been told in triage that they were three minutes apart lasting one minute, but Dave said he thought I was making them slow down because of how I was being treated in there).

The only position I really liked was facing Dave, holding my arms around his neck. I could dangle in between contractions and the gravity and support I felt from him got me through during. I stood up for a little while doing this, but soon that was too much height, so I squatted on the edge of the bed being basically held up by him. He and Jan would say things to me that really helped my mindset. Jan once said, “Don’t fight them, let the contractions do the work,” which I really think helped me move forward. Many times I considered an epidural. I even asked Jan if I should at one point, and her response was “You’re doing great” which annoyed me, but she probably recognized that it wasn’t going to be long until the baby got there.

I thought of a few things such as getting in to the shower (which seemed way too far away) or sitting on the toilet because I felt the urge to poo. But I knew from my previous labor that that feeling is usually because the baby is getting ready to join you on the outside. And honestly I didn’t want the intensity of sitting like that again. It was when I sat on the toilet with Walter that I felt fear and the labor kinda went out of control (i.e. the doctor started leading the show instead of me). So I just thought to myself, “I’m going to try to poo here, and if it comes out, if whatever comes out, so be it. I’m trying to get a baby out of me.”

It wasn’t really that long after I was squatting on the bed, holding on to my husband, going with the flow, that I started to bear down. My body totally took over and knew exactly what it was doing. I said, “I think I was pushing on that one” and Jan said, “I saw that”. The nurse came in around then, and Dave tried to tell her I was pushing, but she basically ignored him. Jan then reiterated the sentiment, and the nurse said, “OK, the midwife is coming down. I’ll let her know so that she can come check her.” I believe she left the room at this point, and during my next contraction I really beared down. It was probably one of two or three big pushes I made to get my little boy out.

Jan went to the door to tell the nurses to really get in there, and then came back to me to tell me not to push and to breathe through the next contraction. But I think my body listened to her, and I didn’t really have a big urge to push. I certainly, this time, felt the “ring of fire” that everyone describes as the baby sits in the birth canal. I think this brief calmness helped me to go slow and not to tear like I did last time.

After that I continued pushing regardless of who was in the room. I knew Jan would be able to catch him if no one else got there in time, but I did sense when a bunch of people rushed in all at once. I was still wearing the “underwear” they give you in triage, which is very stretchy mesh, and the nurses were having an interesting time trying to remove them to catch the baby. I pushed when my body told me to push, and his head came out. I had another brief break, then pushed again and heard the word “shoulders”, so I believe the midwife had to turn him a bit to ease him out, but out he came! I was still wrapped up in David’s arms, and he later told me that I was pushing my belly against him, and he could literally feel the baby move down inside me with contractions and pushing. Once the baby came out they had me sit back and hold him to me. His cord was short and everything was covered in various bodily fluids, but it was a miraculous feeling to hold another sweet, warm, slippery baby of mine to my stomach. It was less than three hours after my water had broken and about an hour after we arrived at the hospital.

This birth was healing in many ways. I’ve never felt closer to my husband. I felt like we went through that together and that I couldn’t have done it without him. He literally held me through one of the most profound experiences of my life. And even though my first birth went pretty much as I wanted, I had this lingering fear from the pushing stages. After Rex, I feel only exhilaration when I look back at his birth. Despite the hospital scenery and regulations, I gave birth the way I wanted to. I conquered my fears… even though labor was so short I don’t think I could have done it any other way (i.e. with medication).

Oh Rex, how your father, brother, and I love you. You are a light in our lives and oh so welcome already!

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Pregnancy leaves no woman untested

2 Jan

Though maybe it does? I’m sure some women breeze through pregnancy as they do life. But I’m not talking about those women. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve wanted a baby, pregnancy is no joke. I don’t like the complainers though, because they’re missing the point of their incredible miracle.

I currently have an almost fully cooked babe in me, and I still don’t really understand or grasp what is happening. I remember looking at Walter as a newborn and just being amazed that he came out of me. It is truly unbelievable. I am growing another life. I will give birth to a human who with all luck and good fortune will grow into an adult who will have all sorts of experiences life will grant to him.

As I near the end of this pregnancy, a much wanted pregnancy, there are so many thoughts floating through my mind. First and foremost is, when will he get here? I thought maybe he’d come at the end of December, but my dad was right and he’ll be a January baby. Of course then I think, how will his birth go? What will Walt, Dave, and I be doing when he decides to join us on the outside? Will it be fast and relatively painless or a big struggle? These are huge unknowns.

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I’ve endured months and months of nausea, pain, self-discipline, and wonderment to get to this point (and yet I’d characterize this pregnancy as pretty easy-going. I’ve felt very lucky to feel as good as I’ve felt most of the time and all my testing went well). And yet, standing on the edge of bringing in a new life to our family and the world makes me wonder: how will it go to have another? Will he fit right in? Who will he be? Will he be as awesome as Walter? Did I do enough right for him? Mentally this has been a very different pregnancy than my first; did he absorb all of that? In a good or bad way?

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I just have to trust in him. And enjoy these last few days of us being together, as close together as two people could possibly be. From the moment he comes out, he’ll be experiencing the world without me, no matter how long I hold him tight.

Pregnancy/Fertility Thoughts

28 Oct

29-weeksAlmost 7 months pregnant!

I have been growing this little one with so much joy inside my heart. It is different though, after secondary infertility and fertility treatments. I think that was why I was so anxious about the birth of this one even from the very beginning. For so many months my body had failed to give me what I wanted, and I don’t think I was truly trusting myself, even after my pregnancy continued to progress smoothly.

The first time I got pregnant, it happened after one cycle of trying. This time it took 2 years almost exactly from the date I wrote “We can start trying!!!” on our Google calendar to getting a positive pregnancy test. By the time it finally did happen, we were trying so many things at once, only God knows what did the trick. It takes three months for eggs to develop from follicles; the egg for baby boy #2 originated from the month we were doing our anti-inflammatory diet. I was going to acupuncture every two weeks. I had an endometrial biopsy the previous cycle. And, we did a Femara IUI cycle.

I think there honestly is a different feeling (for me) to getting pregnant in the quiet intimacy with my husband vs the public happenings at an RE’s office. I suppose some people can hide that aspect of their lives, but I needed the support of my friends and family throughout our years of trying. And by the time I was going to an RE’s office several times a week, it’s hard to hide from the “did you take a test today?” questions — not that I minded. I enjoyed sharing the journey.

The book on orgasmic birth really did help my anxiety. While there were things I didn’t like about that particular book (the author was a bit aggressive, for one), it helped me get in tune with the feeling that “all this is natural, just let your body do what comes naturally.” And that’s when I realized I had a block against those type of thoughts because of how this little one came to be. But the truth is, if God, or the universe, hadn’t wanted it to be, it wouldn’t have happened, no matter how many interventions. I know many people who try fertility treatments for years with no success. So I’m slowly getting back to that assurance I had with Walter that my body knows what it is doing and can handle a birth. Can more than just handle a birth.

My goal this time is to push the baby out with a smile on my face, instead of hyperventilating. My goal is to feel the joy coursing through me every moment of his birth, as I have for every moment of his pregnancy… well, since the unbearable nausea ended. It’s amazing to me how negatively I felt, after trying so hard, when I finally got my wish granted. I’m glad that has passed, and I’m only looking forward to the things to come, like holding this little one as close as possible for as long as possible, and sharing him with all those who love our little growing family.

Edison didn’t get it right on the first try #infertilityproblems

7 Dec

Dealing with secondary infertility is hard. On one hand, you’ve had a kid, so you don’t fit in with people who have primary infertility. And then, you don’t fit in with those of an abundance of fecundity. My least favorite reaction, that I’ve gotten from many people, is: “At least you have one”… is that supposed to make me feel better? Or stop me from feeling my feelings? Do you think I’ve forgotten how lucky I am to have my son?

But really it’s my own internal thoughts that drive me nuts. I keep wondering… If God is in charge… does he not want me to have another one? If that’s true, is it because of Walter or because of me? Is Walter so special that I need to do even more for him? Or am I not a good enough mother to deserve another one?

Then on my good days I think… maybe the kids I produce are just so very awesome that it takes a long time to get it right. My one stellar kid equals like four regular kids.

Or, maybe not everyone is supposed to get pregnant whenever they want. Maybe it’s normal to space out kids every five years or so.

Maybe I’m supposed to adopt? I feel it calling to me.

But all I really want, at this point, is to stop thinking about it. I want to stop being reminded every day by either myself or external factors that there is even an issue. I need to live in the moment.

Comme ci, comme ça

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Right now we’re at a bit of an impasse. My regular midwife says “Oh plan a big trip you can’t get out of, and then you’ll get pregnant.” The fertility specialist I’ve seen once says it’s either endometriosis or unexplained infertility, both of which require IUI or IVF. Neither of which I’m planning on doing.

I’ve had a saline sonogram (which was terrible) and an HSG (which was not). Lots of bloodwork and ultrasounds. Charting: BBT, CM, cervical position. You get really good at understanding the acronyms on TTC conceive boards.

You read about people who have been trying for eight years with no success, and you feel incredibly lucky. You read about people who are frustrated after four months, and you want to say: chin up, you don’t have it so bad.

We’re looking in to supplements and diet changes, as I’ve been reading a lot about naturopathy and fertility. I basically do it all wrong as it stands, which I suppose for my body really matters (even though I think I was much more unhealthy before I got knocked up with Walt). We’re also seriously thinking about adoption. Hopefully in the next year or two we’ll add a bundle of joy to the Johnston clan, no matter what biology throws at us. And if Dave is lucky, it won’t be several new kittens.

WWMMD

21 Jan

What Would Margaret Mitchell Do?

I went this morning to the Margaret Mitchell House with Katye. I love that at 8 1/2 months pregnant she still wants to hang out and do stuff with me. This was one of the rare mornings that I used Walter’s preschool time for a simple pleasure outing, as opposed to working. I usually work. And clean.

The last time I hung out with someone super pregnant we went for a long walk and she started labor that night!

But this is about Margaret Mitchell, and she didn’t have any babies. Except her “baby”: one of the single best novels written of all time. The part I loved best about Gone with the Wind is not the whole slavery/Civil War thing, but how Scarlett, in a time when women didn’t always act that way, was an independent, smart, ambitious, business-minded girl. I loved her. Marriage, for her, was for helping her take another step up, and children were a nuisance. This was 150 years ago, when women were usually only allowed to want marriage and children. And they owned slaves. It was a long time ago.

Katye and I arrived just in time to explore an interesting art exhibit they had up before taking the guided tour around MM’s apartment. It was very cool and I learned lots more about Margaret Mitchell than I had found out reading her Wikipedia article after I finished GwtW. She was a very creative person and loved telling stories. She incorporated so many aspects of her life into her novel. Combined with the New South stories that her grandparents told her (she reportedly said she didn’t know the South had lost til she was 10, in 1910), the end result sold a million copies in its first 6 months. That’s some good business, both in 1936 and 2015.

MM’s apartment reminded me of the one I lived in on Charles Allen Dr. in 2008, which was also a converted 1920s house. I loved that apartment and every single moment spent there, even when the bathroom ceiling collapsed in on the shower in the middle of the night.

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A period piece in the room where GwtW was born.

Last night I attended my church’s LGBT Group dinner with Jason, my high school BFF who was my bridesman in ’11, and Katye and several other friends were there too. Jason and I very much enjoyed the first speaker, a wonderful transsexual Presbyterian minister, whom we heard when we went to an LGBT dinner in the fall, and I was excited last night to hear Joanna Adams speak. She was the pastor at Morningside when times were tough and there were fewer than 100 members, and our 1920’s sanctuary was falling apart. She turned it all around. I taught preschool at MPP in 2007 while she was there, so I met her a couple times but we didn’t get to know each other. She spoke last night on “Keeping Faith in an Interfaith World,” and it was, at the very least, quite interesting. I find this topic fascinating, as the world swirls around me with its melting pot of beliefs, news, and activity.

I try as hard as I can to find out as much as I can, all while having fun still and relaxing every now and again. There is always so much to do, and it is always a race against time, but I love the challenge. It’s life-breathing.

“It was in a way a comforting idea; if there was all the time in the world,
then the happenings of a given moment became less important.
I could see, perhaps, how one could draw back a little,
seek some respite in the contemplation of an endless Being,
whatever one conceived its nature to be.”

Outlander, Diana Gabaldon

The Benefits of Raspberry Leaf Tea

13 Jan

I love when life gives me signs. At least ones that point out that I’m going in the correct direction!

When my German sister-in-law was here for the holidays, she drank a million cups of tea a day, and said she does that every day (I forgot to ask her if it was just a winter thing). So I started getting in the habit of drinking tea again too because I don’t like caffeine and I always need a warm drink alternative to coffee. I had also been sick with a sore throat so tea with some honey did the trick quite well and was much more tasty than throat-numbing medicines.

My usual favorite tea is Bigelow’s I Love Lemon tea. But after a couple weeks of this I decided to branch out. In my mother’s cupboard was Raspberry Leaf Tea, and I thought that sounded familiar so I decided to brew a cup. It was good, and when I got home I continued making that tea (and drinking it out of the awesome new mug my SIL got me from a Brussels’ Starbucks).

Not but two or three days later I’m reading Outlander and nearing the end of the novel, the heroine meets an old lady who says, “I see you’re not pregnant yet. Drink raspberry leaf tea every day and that will get you knocked up.”

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The Dreaded Facebook Syndrome

7 Jan

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Lately I think I’ve been bitten by the evil Facebook bug. The one that tells you that everyone else has it so easy (even when you know that’s not true). If I were telling this to my mother she would tell me that I was having a little pity party for myself, and that is true. But it doesn’t change the fact that sometimes it can be hard to look at the good tidbits of 150+ friends and then *gasp* compare them to my own life. And since I can barely handle my Facebook newsfeed, you can imagine the anxiety that The Daily Planet inspires in me. Evil is lurking around every corner these days, did you know that?

Dave and I have been trying to get pregnant again for the last 9 months. A lot of women have spoken up lately about how difficult it can be to be miscarry, and how they need to grieve. But what do you grieve when there never is a baby? How often are you allowed to feel grief? Every month? That gets exhausting and I don’t need to be depressed every single month. So then, is it only if you ever get pregnant and something goes wrong? Some months I don’t mind Aunt Flo but some months, the months that I have hope, that I think I am pregnant again, are the real killers.

Maybe every 9 months of negative tests and your monthly menses you can call that “the missing baby”.

I am so overjoyed when I see friends and family pregnant, but sometimes it feels like the universe is laughing at me. Over the last nine months I’ve had at least 30 friends either have a baby or announce a pregnancy. I know it’s just that time in my life when people are having babies, but sometimes I just want to say “Come on, really? Another one? What about me?”

And then the house. I’m sick of talking about selling our house and continuously working to improve it. To top it off, lots of friends have bought houses in the last year, and it seems to all work out for them so easily. They’re either renting when they buy, their condo sells in a weekend, or their jobs pay for their moves, and yet, for us, I don’t understand why we don’t have a hundred people on our front porch wanting to move in. Or at least one! Most real estate agents want to sell our house but not bring buyers by. They also want us to sell our house for so cheap that we’d be paying people (more) to take it off our hands, when the agents are the ones getting the easy profit. The economy isn’t that bad, folks. This is a great house. This shouldn’t be rocket science.

And to top it off, the thing I was spending most of my spare time on, being a deacon at our church, has turned into such a bad scenario for me, so draining and infuriating, that I no longer want to darken their doorstep. It would be difficult to go into detail and not write a novella, so let’s just say I tried being a very involved member and it’s just not working out anymore. I would say that I don’t even know what I believe anymore, but that’s not true. I think I know now better than I ever have before what I believe. And I love the people at our church dearly, but maybe Groucho Marx/Woody Allen are right: “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.”

I’m trying not to lose hope here. I know someday soon that all the cards will fall in to place and I’ll be the person with all the great, happy stories… full belly loading the moving van… but some days, hope is simply hiding under a large, too-heavy-to-move rock. And I cry.

Being able to write this down and share this brings me closer to the constant knowledge that I have it good. Real good. I am amazed by our clean, running water. That we give away cell phones for free. Quick, cheap, and safe vaccinations. Choice. Freedom. My little boy.

Maybe there’s a line in the middle of all this, the line that signals peace.

A thoughtful little moment in my life.

16 Dec

I was driving home from my favorite church meeting of the year last night and thinking about how lately I’ve been all “I’ll be happy when this happens” or “Once that gets done I can be happy,” and that’s just not a good way to live. It is putting qualifications on my general enjoyment of life. And while lately it has been very stressful no matter what mood I’m in, I simply need to be happy in the present. I can’t say “Oh if our house sells everything will be OK” or “If I can just get pregnant again I won’t have to worry about that anymore.”

Christmas is just one more time of year that reminds me of what I have to be thankful for. A beautiful, healthy boy. A nice roof over my head. A lovely husband to share my mealtimes and accomplishments and sorrows with. Clean, running water. Lots of friends. The ability to dress as I want and study what I please. An annoying yet cuddly kitten. I could go on and on.

Our church’s Joint Session meeting is always in December, and the deacons and elders meet for supper and sharing of our faith stories. It is an introduction as well as a deepening of understanding among some of our fellow members. Two years ago I shared my story for the first time, and as I had looked around the table there were many I didn’t know. Last night there were so many familiar faces, it was wonderful to know what being a part of something can do to integrate you into a system. I could have stayed on the outside looking in, but being in the mix is much more exhilarating. I believe I’ve made friends for life through this church, no matter where I might fly off to.

For those of you who know me well, you might know that I am a skeptical yet trusting person. Those things might be contradictory, but hey, life is full of the unexpected. When I was a kid I was enamored by the phrase “Expect the Unexpected” (frequently bombarding my family with the acronym ETU). I don’t know what life will bring, whether it be glorious and glittering, or if I will be able to make lemonade with the lemons, but I hope I continue to be both trusting and skeptical. I think my skepticism keeps me on my toes, and I can also use my trusting nature (some might call it naiveté) to make sure I don’t drown in the negativity that is so easy to wallow in.

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Things I swore I’d do before I became a parent

4 Sep

It’s fun to look back and see if I actually accomplished my goals.

1. Never use a pacifier

— Kinda! We never relied on pacifiers. But we started using them in the car when Walt was an infant because he screamed bloody murder every second I was driving. Nothing helped… except a pacifier. We didn’t need it after he moved out of his infant car seat at six months.

2. Breastfeed exclusively

— Yes! This one was very difficult. There were times I hated breastfeeding, especially at the beginning and intermittently til Walt was 10 months old. Then it clicked. Maybe because I stopped pumping (a great device if you are out of the house but it stressed me out so much) or because at 10 months they’re starting to eat, so you don’t have to rely 100% on boob. Either way, we’re still nursing now at 2 years+

3. Not have the whole house be one giant playroom

— Nope! There is at least one toy (more like mountains of toys) in every room of the house. Except maybe the bathrooms. Oh, sweet sanctuaries.

4. Immediately put the baby on a sleep/feed schedule so he’ll sleep through the night

–Nope! Ha, ha, am I right?

5. Use cloth diapers

— Kinda! Oh boy did I try. Try and try and try. About six months ago we gave up cause Walt always seemed to have a diaper rash (and I mean always). Now we don’t get frequent rashes, and when he randomly gets them we can use the type of cream that gets rid of them (we had all sorts of natural, cloth friendly creams that did nothing). Oh well. Maybe it’ll work on future babies. I still believe in cloth diapering, and we still use cloth wipes.

6. Natural childbirth

— Yes! 100% drug free, quick birth. I was lucky.

7. Homeschool

— Don’t know yet! I’ve always said I’d put Walt in preschool for early socialization, which we started this month going two days a week and he loves it. I plan on starting around 4 or 5. A lot of people I know homeschool their children, so it doesn’t seem quite as contrary as it once did.