My Story

The chronicle of the journey from infertility, to miscarriage, to finally raising twin girls born in June 2012.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Gift basket ideas

If you googled for birthday gift basket ideas or something like that, this post probably won't help you.  This is specifically for condolences and probably won't suit your situation.

I have to say that my extended family played this one about as right as it could be played.  A day or two after I got home, I stepped out to feed the cat and found a giant gift basket on my doorstep.  Well done!  I know you're thinking of me and I didn't have to do the social obligation of exchanging the gift and pleasantries at a time when I wasn't able to.  So many people give condolences and gifts for the reward of having their niceness acknowledged.  To give the gift without so much as expecting a face to face thank you really shows how unselfish it was.

And the ratio to "good items" and "not right" items was about as well balanced as possible.  Only 1 or 2 items out of about 20 were bad idea items so that's a pretty damned good basket.  I think we lived off that basket for a couple of days.

So here are some good ideas and bad ideas for a gift basket to a family grieving a miscarriage.

Food Items - your loved ones are having a horrible time feeding themselves right now.  Anything you can do to assist will be appreciated.  Know in advance that food is a very sense memory thing so the odds of you guessing correctly on every item are slim.  You have no idea what foods have become associated with "pregnancy" foods and what will just remind them that the pregnancy is over.  Be not afraid!  The care you are showing should outweigh the accidental reminders that you include.  But here is advice for what was good and bad for me personally.

Single bite foods.  Don't give me a casserole, I'm not going to heat up enough food for 10 when I know I can't even eat a full serving for 1.  If that's what you want to give, package it in single serving containers so I can heat one up and put the rest in the freezer.  And don't make me throw away a ton of rotting food 2 weeks from now.  2 or 3 servings of any one thing is plenty for a household of 2 people.

Precooked meat.  They included a precooked ham in my basket.  I immediately cut it in half and froze half and put the rest in the fridge.  I'm able to slice off a bit when I need to eat a bite of something substantial without cooking an entire meal.  Not recommended for your kosher families of course.

Cookies, a variety of cookies.  When I can't eat anything else, I can usually stomach a cookie.  I prefer soft, K prefers crunchy.  So a variety is a good idea.  Include oatmeal cookies to sneak something other than pure sugar and fat into their diets.  I'd say that there were 3-4 cookies of each variety included and that seemed to be a good number.  By the time I got through all the sugar cookies, I needed to move on to something else and something else was available.

Dried fruits and nuts - again, trying to find a means of stomaching a nutrient of some sort.  By the time I've taken a bite to see if I can tolerate something, even if the answer is no, at least I got that one bite of something.  My basket included some candied mango (but not the dry leathery kind) and I came to crave that.  Wish I knew where they got it so I could get some more.  Beware of too much dried fruit though.  If your loved one is on a stool softener like I am, an overload of fiber could be a really bad idea.  Cherries and prunes are an especially bad idea.

Soup mixes or ramen style soups are a good idea.

Chocolate.  Is there any occasion where chocolate isn't appropriate?   Unless she was allergic or diabetic before the pregnancy, chocolate is probably safe.  Even though I had gestational diabetes and was going to have to really limit my chocolate intake, now that the placenta is gone, this is no longer an issue for me and the doctors said that I really don't need to monitor my sugar intake anymore.

Random ideas that have occurred to me - English muffins and peanut butter.  Moist protein and granola bars.  Donuts.  Single serving cheeses like string cheese or something.  Single serving juices.  Produce might be a bad idea because it needs to be eaten right away but if you must, go for potatoes or other easily cookable things that can remain in the house for a long time if untouched.  Instant breakfast mixes.  If it will work in a packed lunch, it will probably work for the basket.

Phone numbers and gift certificates for any place that delivers.

Life Essentials - Who knows where your loved one might be in their grocery shopping cycle.  They could have a months supply of everything under the sun or they might have been on the verge of an emergency run to the store for toilet paper.  If you can put off an emergency run to the store for a day or two, that would be good.  Think trial sizes and samples of the following products.

Toilet paper.  She is going to be bleeding and when that softener kicks in, she's going to go through toilet paper like crazy.

If toilet paper is a little too personal for you, give travel packages of tissues.  She's going to want those for her purse anyway and can be used as TP if she's desperate.

Laundry detergent and dryer sheets.  I currently have a new thing of laundry detergent from Costco but I'm not supposed to lift anything heavy so I'm trying to remember to ask K to put the soap in the laundry when I run a load.  Alternatively, if there's a drop-off laundry place where you can just drop your clothes and pay for them to be laundered and folded, the phone number, location, and gift certificate to this place might be a good idea.  She was wearing something in the emergency room and might prefer to have someone else deal with it.  Or she just might not be up for household chores that need to get done regardless of whether someone is up for them or not.

Mild facial cleanser.  I usually prefer exfoliating stuff but my face was so raw from crying that I needed a small container of nonabrasive facial cleanser.

Shampoo, conditioner, non-scented soap.  Doctors might advise that she not wash with anything scented for fear of further infection or irritation.

A few days worth of pet food.  If your loved one has pets to care for, running out of cat food might force them to head out in public before their ready.  A couple of cans, or a small bag of kibble will allow a few more days of hibernating.

Think about what you would pack for toiletries when traveling and let that guide you.  But look over my "Do Not Include" list at the bottom of this post before you go shopping.

Luxury and Distraction Items - There might be some items that you are in a financial position to provide.  These ideas are going to run the gambit of very expensive to dollar store.  Just because the idea is here doesn't mean you need to include it.

An eye mask.  My eyes have hurt so much from crying that I requested K go and get me one of those gel filled eye masks that can be heated or chilled.

Reading material. Again, very specific to the individual.  I don't have the brain power for a novel right now, but I'm passing time with trivia books and magazines (non parenting magazines).  I personally love the Uncle Johns Bathroom Reader series.  I can read those for hours if I have hours in me, or I can just read a page or two if that's all I've got.  And I like a magazine called Mental Floss.

Housekeeping services.  Very little energy to clean the house right now and I was told not to do any lifting or much activity for 2 weeks.  This one is risky, she might have nothing else to do but clean the house and won't want that taken away from her or she might not have the energy and get sick of looking at filth.  I'd include this only if you're wealthy enough to throw your money away on services that may or may not be used.

Gift certificates for a massage.  Again, probably won't be used right away.  Personally, my shoulders are tightening, I woke up this morning with a cramp in my leg and I'm just generally feeling stiff.  As much as I'd like a massage right now, I'm not going to get one because I'd probably lie on the table and cry for an hour.  But it might be welcome a month from now.  Or I can see my body going through stress all over again in May when the babies were due and might want one at that time.

Scented stuff.  Some people find it relaxing, others find it cloying.  I don't recommend body products because you don't know what the doctor advised.  I'd also stay away from candles because the last thing you want is for your loved one to light a candle and forget about it in all the stress and start a fire.  But there are scented gels and stones that are probably safe and can be kept tightly wrapped if your loved one doesn't like the scent.

Simple video games and other videos.  Perhaps give this via Itunes or other download gift credits.  If you can find a way for her to waste a few hours, go for it.  But again, they need to be simple.  I was playing the Sims over the last month and while I enjoy that game in general, and I had expansion packs on my amazon wishlist, my SIL offered to bring over the expansion they had gotten me for Xmas and I had to head her off telling her that I had recently been playing it as a fantasy version of the family I was about to have.  I had made characters of K and I and was screencapping my game to have visuals for this blog because no one ever seems to take a picture of me.  Just before going to the hospital, I had my Sim give birth to a girl and adopted another baby girl so I could start playing out the twins portion of the fantasy.  Should have known when the game started crashing at that point, but I digress.  SIL had absolutely no way of knowing that and was very understanding when I awkwardly told her that if that was the game she got for me, now wouldn't be a good time to play it again.  So stick to games that can't be interpreted as anything more than time wasters.

Generic gift cards.  For places like Amazon where she can get whatever she needs.  If this was an IVF pregnancy, your loved one is completely broke and buried under bills.  And even with health insurance, I'm well aware that my emergency room visit is probably going to yield a whole new stack of bills.  I'd like to engage in a little retail therapy right now, but I also know that I'll regret spending the money later.  If you are in a position to make my life easier financially by giving a gift card that will allow me to spend some money on non-essentials, that would be most helpful.

A word on cards and condolences - Pretty much no matter what you say, it's going to be wrong.  That's the sucky part of loving someone during tragedy.

I don't think anyone of any religion wants to hear about how this was God's plan or any other version of God being involved.  If religion will provide comfort, your loved one will find that for themselves.  But if they are of a religion that you aren't familiar with, or if they are really pissed off at God right now, your words of religion will do nothing more than incite anger.  And that anger might be directed towards God, or it might get directed at you for bringing it up.

And for me, poems are so insipid.  Blech.  And I'm aware of the fact that you don't know what to say and that you offer condolences.  The person grieving honestly doesn't know if being reminded of their children is better or worse than them being ignored.  So no matter what you say or don't say, it's a minefield.

And if you've gone through a similar loss, the grieving person already knows that.  Include your phone number or other contact information as an invitation to talk but don't push it more than that.  The person grieving doesn't know how they feel right now so telling them that you know how they feel is just insulting.  And while you may have a similar story, it's not all about you right now, it's about the people that are grieving their own personal loss.

Go ahead and let the person know who is aware of what's happened.  That will save them the awkwardness of not knowing later who needs to be told and who might greet them with sad "I know what happened" faces at the next family gathering.  A good way to do this is just to sign a single card with "from your cousins......" or "with love from the Smith family".

I would recommend something along the lines of "We love you very much" and really, that's enough.  If you must write more, go ahead and refer to the grieving as a "family".  Something like "Your family is very precious to me and I wish to do anything I can to provide comfort for your family".  The response will probably be something along the lines of "yeah, fuck you and your comfort" but don't take that personally.  The thought is appreciated beyond the momentary angry reaction.

And I recommend referring to the grieving as a family very specifically.  It's a word that will work in whatever minefield it is that you're walking into.  The grieving can interpret this to include the lost children or to be referring to just the couple alone.  It doesn't impose your interpretation of the children as existing or not existing, especially when the couple is probably struggling with how they interpret that idea.  The couple is still a family, even if they are a family of 2.  During the whole infertility process, it was important to continue reminding ourselves that we are a family whether we have children or not.  Reinforcing this idea, without blatantly stating it (that will cause a backlash) is both safe and reassuring to the grieving. 

Do Not Include - Here are some things that are just probably bad ideas all around.

Cigarettes and alcohol.  Even if the mother was a drinker or smoker before the pregnancy, including these items will further reinforce that she's no longer pregnant and it doesn't matter anymore.  If she needs to live in denial for a few days, don't try to take that denial from her.  It will also encourage her to do things to herself that no doctor would advise.  The only time I've properly taken care of myself was when I was pregnant.  So if you give me alcohol, I'm going to hear you saying "the babies mattered, but you don't, so you may as well poison yourself with a martini."  If someone wants to comfort themselves with these items, they can get them at any gas station or corner store pretty easily.

Bubble bath and other body items.  I'm not allowed to immerse in water for a bath or swimming or anything for 2 weeks in order to prevent infection.  I'm really not supposed to have anything stronger than water on my bottom half when I shower.  Besides, I really despise my body right now.  Lotions and potions mean I have to put my hands on my body and .....just no.

Religious items.  See above.  Very few people find comfort in God during this time and the people that do have every resource to comfort themselves in this way without your help.  But so many are pissed at God, or don't believe anyway, or believe in a different version than you do, don't impose your belief on someone during this time.  Or anytime actually.

Gifts for the lost children or other commemorative items.  I don't know if I want reminders of my girls surrounding me or if I want very little to no evidence of their existence.  And I change my mind every minute.  So little booties, or hats, or jewelry, or things with their names on them, that forces me to decide and I don't want to yet.  Anything that I'm given in reference to them means I either have to keep it forever and ever, or feel guilty about discarding it.  Because it's about them, how can I not keep them?  On the other hand, I don't want a pair knitted hats in my house for babies that will never use them.  If you give me stuff, you're forcing me to build a shrine and that's just not healthy.  Anything I want in the house of memory of them, I will select it.  When I'm ready and what I feel is unique to them and to me.  Again, don't impose your ideas on me.

Herbal or other ingestable remedies.  You don't know what the doctor has advised and the grieving person doesn't know what might interact with what the doctor has prescribed.  Don't offer them something that might react weirdly or wrongly.  I'm pretty smart with a pretty good memory and even I have to keep looking at the doctors notes to remember what 2 vitamins I'm supposed to be taking twice a day.  Don't make me start reading labels and interpreting potential interactions on top of it.  I'll put diet or exercise aids in this category.  Don't tell her what to do with the body she's currently mad at.  And she's not allowed to exercise right now anyway.

Perishable food.  It will perish.  And I'll have to dispose of it. 

Plants or flowers.  We will spend the next week watching those die too.

Pets/Animals.  There are a billion and one reasons NOT to ever give an animal as a gift.  It's cruel on several layers to several participants.  Just don't ever, ever do it.

Overly personal toiletries.  As much as I've told you above to get the person those life necessities, not this one.  After a miscarriage, she is going to bleed and will require sanitary napkins.  She's not allowed tampons and may never want to use them again for emotional reasons.  However, if there's a box of pads in the gift basket, that just tells her that she's going to have a period when she doesn't want one and that you are WAY too aware of what her body is doing.  Besides, it's oogy.  Same with lactation pads.  Her breasts might leak and she might require these.  But she might already have some and she might not leak so again, don't tell her what her breasts are going to do or that you're that familiar with her body.

Clothing.  I really want to replace my wardrobe right now.  Both because it was gearing towards maternity clothes, and just because it's that time in the life cycle of my clothing that it's time for new stuff.  But in the last week, I've gained 5 pounds on top of my pregnancy weight only to see it drop 20lbs immediately after that to almost 10lbs below my prepregnancy weight.  And my boobs spent about 48 hours at twice their normal size before deflating and going back to semi normal.  All in a matter of less than 10 days.  If you guess a size too large, it will remind her that she is supposed to be bigger than she is.  And if you guess a size too small, she's going to cry because she's a fat cow and doesn't even have a baby to show for it.  She doesn't know her size so you sure as hell don't.  The only advisable piece of clothing might be a hat.  She might not be bathing regularly (depression does that) and she might find it useful to hide her dirty hair in a hat for a trip to the drive thru.

Balloons.  Balloons are for celebrating.  No one is celebrating right now.

Stuffed animals.  I'm either going to see it as a gift for my babies or as an item that will sit in my house and remind me of why I received it for years to come.  Or I have to throw it out.

Caffeinated stuff.  I love me my Coke but I'm also having a hard time sleeping right now so I'm staying away from it. 

Ok, I think that's about it.  You know your loved one better than I do so by all means, do what you feel is best for that individual.  But hopefully this will offer you some guidance if you don't know the person intimately or if you don't know how they react in a time of grief.  People often have unpredictable reactions during a time of grief no matter how well you think you know them.  Feel free to leave your own ideas and thoughts in the comments.


That was a good idea.

K and I have noticed a lot of sushi places in the neighborhood just about the time I suddenly wasn't allowed to try it.  I've tried it once or twice before but was fairly "meh" about it.  So we just made a mental note that once my body didn't belong to the girls anymore (pregnancy or breastfeeding), that's something we should try.

Today was the day.  I'm ready to get out of the house but not ready to face how busy it is out there and how many kids are around this time of year.  We took a guess that not many people bundle up their toddlers for a sushi lunch.  McDonalds, yes, but sushi?  Probably not the first place you think of to take your kids.

And as difficult as it is to cook a meal of some sort right now, I also don't want to spend $30 on a meal that I'm only going to eat a few bites of anyway.  And of course at most restaurants, even quickie places, sitting down to eat is usually at least a 1 hour commitment.

Sushi turned out to be a really good balance.

We sat down in front of the carousel of random foods and told the waitress that we don't know how this works.  She gave us the run down, just grab a plate as it goes by, they are priced according to the color of the plate, the pricing chart is over there, and when you're done, we count up the plates. 

Still had no idea what to try though.  We were assisted by the guy we sat next to, very friendly and perfectly happy to tell us what various things are.  And a waiter was also happy to give us suggestions.  So we give them an idea of our tastes (hate spicy, generally like creamy things, but we're up for trying a few risky items) and the waiter chooses 2 different rolls of cooked seafood with a creamier sauce to get us started.  Each plate had either 2 or 3 bites of food on it, perfect for a couple to try.

We spent the next half hour trying bits of this, bits of that, a little raw here, a little cooked there, with the assistance of the guy next to us and the waiter.  The results varied from "meh" to "that's pretty good".  But nothing fell below "meh" so I'd call it a pretty successful meal.

By the end, we'd each had about 6 or 7 significant bites of food.  Real food for a change instead of cookies and ho-hos.  And even eating only that little bit, I feel like I've actually eaten for a change.

So if you're in my situation, you know you need to eat but don't really want to, can only stomach a few bites at a time and you're sick of filling the fridge with leftovers, give the local sushi place a try.  They have tempura if you want something fried, even small bites of cheesecake if you're still in dessert mode, and there's no waiting from the time you're seated to get your food or from the time you're finished and have to wait for the bill.  And what few children were there were a bit older so I'm capable of even smiling at them.  You can walk in, eat 3 bites of actual nutrition, pay your bill and walk back out in 10 minutes if that's all the public face you can muster.  And there's an opportunity to chat with the people around you but no obligation to.  It was also one of the least expensive meals we've gone out for in our lifetimes.  Felt like I actually paid bite by bite rather than paying too much for a plate that I left half the food on.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

There goes my diet

I've never been a healthy eater.  I just don't crave healthy foods or have the patience to prepare them.

That all changed when I was pregnant.  Suddenly I wanted cottage cheese, fruit, massive amounts of veggies, and processed snack foods became disgusting.

All through the pregnancy, I had hoped that my changed tastebuds would stay changed for at least a few years to come.  That eating healthy would become a new habit that I wouldn't break.  I just naturally craved and understood what I should eat and how to balance my diet. 

When we went to the consult for the diabetes, I was so scared that my new natural balanced diet wouldn't be enough.  I'd have to actually learn how to eat instead of just naturally balancing food without thought.  So it was a major relief when they looked over my food logs, and my glucose numbers and said all was well.  I wasn't imagining it, I really had figured out how to eat healthy, and my girls did that for me, I didn't have to put any effort into the learning of it.

But as soon as I got out of surgery, I was hungry.  I had been hungry all through the ordeal but not allowed to eat as they had to keep my stomach empty in preparation for the surgery.  So after the initial vital checks upon waking, I was told I could eat and had no diet restrictions.  And the first thing I could think of that I might be able to stomach was hostess ho-hos.  An immediate clue that I wasn't pregnant anymore.

I'm having trouble eating.  Partially due to just feeling gutted and a little nauseous and partially due to, I dunno, it's just hard to eat when you're sad.  The first few days, I was subsisting on the gift basket that some relatives had dropped by.  It had some sugar cookies, candied mango, a few other sweets.  I tried to cook up one of the soup mixes and put some of the ham in it, but didn't find that appealing once it was made.  K picked up a box of ho-hos.

We're trying to find comfort foods that I can eat despite feeling sick at the thought of eating.  Stuffing, mashed potatoes, sneaking some cheese into the potatoes for protein.  I'm making an effort to eat actual food and not just fat woman food.  But it's hard to stomach.

K is cooking dinners or coming home with small things like some chinese food from the grocery store deli.  And it's an effort to eat them.  About 3 bites in, my stomach isn't rumbling anymore and I just can't make myself eat another bite.  Can only stand to put enough into my body to make my stomach stop aching and once I hit that, nothing more.  I've even had the fork up to my mouth with another bite and put it back down knowing I was done.

I can stand to drink so I'm trying to drink some milk.  Just to get something substantial in my system.  K picked up some of those breakfast drink mixes so I'll give that a go tomorrow.  Even water tastes rancid but I'm able to drink it anyway.

But protein, fruits, and veggies are once again gross and I feel like I can only tolerate non-nutrition snack foods again, just like before.

I saw the scale hit 245 today.  I know it's pathetic but I haven't seen it below 250 in years.  In the last 10 days, I've seen my weight hit 260 before it all started, 265 immediately after getting home, and now dropping to 245.

I suspect once I'm able to eat again, 10 pounds will probably pack back on immediately.  Too bad I know this weight loss is temporary.  I could really use a good head start on getting in shape once I have the doctors go ahead to engage in some activity.  Wish I could remember what it's like to want healthy, weight loss type foods in a balanced diet.  That was quite a perk of being pregnant.

Baby steps

So what can I do today to take a step to move my life forward?  It'll have to be small, but I have to look back on the day and have accomplished something.  A load of laundry maybe?  Put away some random piece of crap littering the house?  I don't have to rush forward, what might normally take a week, I can take a month.  But I should at least do something to move forward today.

Made a phone call asking my dad to recommend a career counselor.  Someone to help me figure out what my assets are and get them on paper in such a way that an employer will be able to see them. Even if I hope to be pregnant again very soon, I need to become a part of the world again.  Being a housewife may be very rewarding for some, and more power to them, but I've never been that woman.  I need an identity outside of the home.  At some point I need to join the workforce again and I've been not facing that reality for the last year or two and have been using baby making as the excuse. 

I've kept myself in a state of availability not only for the baby making but also in hopes that videography would pick up again.  There was a 2 year stretch in there where I was making a decent living as a videographer.  But the last 18-24 months have seen that drift away to nothing more than an occasional  afternoon or evening's worth of work.  I've been avoiding facing that reality for some time and the excuse of "I'm hoping to be pregnant in a month" followed by "I've got twins on the way" made avoiding pretty easy to do.

Facing this will make things better in the long run in several ways.  K married a career woman.  I really should become the woman he married again.  And being a single income household is just too hard. Especially if we have more IVF attempts that we're going to have to pay for and then children after that. 

Asked mom if she would go shopping with me for an interview appropriate outfit sometime next week.  I've been in jeans and jammies for a couple of years now so even if I did get an interview, I wouldn't know what to wear to it.  Neither mom nor I are big shoppers so going to the mall during this busy season would probably send both of us to the nuthouse. 

And as much as I'd like to at least make at least that step forward, my boobs are swelling and deflating at incredible rates so who knows what on earth is going to fit me properly a week from now.

I'm hoping to eventually find something part time and/or flexible.  I'd still like to be able to take the video jobs when they are available but it's just not smart to keep holding out for that.  Will probably hit up the temp agencies.  Get random jobs week by week so I can take the random video jobs as they come in.

The Dull Stage

Waking up is the worst part I think.  I don't wake up with active thoughts about what happened, or my girls, or anything else specific.  But the moment I wake up I have that realization that I'm about to start yet another day of dull grieving.  And that I have to figure out how to pass the next 14 or 16 hours until I can go back to sleep again.

I'm not ready to do a whole lot.  My abdomen is still somewhat sore, I don't know what my boobs have been doing for the last 48 hours but they've certainly been active with the growing and the firming and the leaking and the deflating, and I still have another week of the two weeks my doctor told me to take it easy.

And even though I'm probably in an emotional place to leave the house, I normally stick around home as much as I can this time of year anyway.  Traffic is awful, especially since we got a dusting of snow (Seattle freaks out in the snow), and every public place is just crawling with tired, angry, and frustrated people.  Add on top of that the fact that kids aren't in school at the moment and parents are doing their best to keep the kids entertained with trips to the mall and other pubic activities this week....I might be in a place to start facing the average number of kids in public, but the last 2 weeks of December are overload under the best of circumstances.

So I'm kind of waiting until January gets underway so I can get underway myself.

K is risking it.  He's going grocery shopping, auditioned for a show, went to a movie at the mall today.  Slowly immersing himself back into the world.  And he's reporting back to me the random little stings that he's surviving.  Like the friend he hadn't seen in a while who asked if he's a dad yet.  And glancing at the play area of the mall on his way to the movie.

He should be going back to work like normal next week.  These little excursions are kind of like practice so I don't go from having him here all the time to suddenly being alone all day.

Hardly any crying today.  And not really thinking specifically about what's upsetting me yet still being just generally unhappy.

It's just the flat, dull stage of grieving.  No active grieving stages presenting themselves, very little actual crying as a release, moments of feeling the need to move forward mixed with feelings that I'm sad that it's getting farther and farther away from me in time.  I want it to have happened yesterday forever.  I don't want it to have been a week ago, a month ago, a year ago.  Not ready to move forward, but getting sick of being stuck here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Week

Can't believe it's already been a week.  And I feel like every week has 2 anniversaries.  Every Wednesday will be another week since I lost them, and every Thursday is when my pregnancy week would have crossed into the next.  Tomorrow I would have been 20 weeks.

For twins, you can expect 38 weeks gestation and for a singleton, 40 weeks.  After 38 weeks, there's a threat that the placenta(s) can no longer support the babies adequately so if you haven't delivered by that point, it's standard to induce.

I was at 18 weeks, 6 days.  So one day shy of exactly halfway there.  And tomorrow, I'll be exactly halfway there had it been a singleton pregnancy.

We went to our first counseling session today.  Apparently we're doing pretty well with the coping.  We're trying to be together in this and be respectful of each others needs. 

And while I was a little afraid that the blogging would be discouraged, it was actually encouraged.  The counselor confirmed my feeling that as I write about each topic, it's almost as if finishing that thought puts it behind me.  Before I started writing, each topic just swam in my head as a story being written.  But once it was written, it's as if it's 95% over and done.  Still a touch of lingering thought, but not swimming so strongly with every other thought.

I'm trying to be ok.  And I'm trying to be ok with being ok.  No matter which state I'm in, either ok or miserable, it just seems so much worse than the other option.  An ever losing battle.

And I don't want to be a drama queen, of which I already have natural tendencies.  At what point do I cross over from grieving to drama queen?  At what point does K start rolling his eyes when we're watching tv on the couch and I mutter something like "I want them back" or "I'm starting to not remember what it feels like to be pregnant".  I know I haven't hit that point yet, but at what point should I knock it off?

I didn't cry much today.  A few times during the counseling session but that was somewhat provoked since we were there specifically to talk about it.  I probably have a few tears in me before I go to sleep tonight.

WTF Boobs? Go away belly!

As reported last night, my boobs have come to life.    It's been one week (almost to the hour) since my pregnancy ended and suddenly my boobs are front and center in a way they never have been before.

Shouldn't pregnancy symptoms be fading at this point and not appearing out of the blue?

Even just a couple of days after, I was sitting on the bed with no shirt or bra and saw myself in the distant bathroom mirror.  I looked like an orangutan.  Stupid floppy boobs with nothing in them just sagging all over the top of my double decker giant stomach.  Which is pretty much what I looked like before.

But suddenly last night, they swelled and became firm, and so sore, and leaking.  This was not a gradual change, just, BOOM!  Round knockers!  Like someone got out a bicycle pump and just pumped them up.

So much for maybe doing some clothing shopping today.  Other than underwear and jammies, I can't buy an outfit for a job interview that fits properly when my boobs are at least 1 size larger (if not more) than they will be 2 weeks from now.

I hate my stomach.  Ever since wearing a leotard in ballet class when I was 5 and I realized that I'm just built thicker than the other girls, I hate my stomach.   And growing up, I became not just thick, but all out fat.  And the top portion of my stomach juts out from just below the boobs.  And my stomach sometimes out juts those boobs.

I've always had this "when are you due?" physique.  Other than the fact that I have the double decker rather than the basketball shape, shirts have always skimmed my stomach making me look pregnant.

I just want to cut it off right now.  I'm fat, but I feel so little at the same time.  And I hate both versions.  I loved being fat when I was pregnant.  I couldn't wait for those rude people to ask me when I was due so I could point out my specialness that I'm not just pregnant, but I've got twins in the tummy!  I didn't walk around in spandex or anything, but I certainly didn't mind if my stomach was pushing on my shirt a bit.  If one of those rude idiots finds me now, there might be trouble.

And that's the only time in my life I haven't hated my body.

I just hate looking towards the floor and seeing my boobs and stomach in the way.  And how round my stomach is when my hand finds its way there while I'm sitting.  It just doesn't deserve to be this big anymore.

And at the same time, I feel so little.  So deflated.  I definitely look smaller.  I wasn't sure if I was showing or just still a fat person the last month of the pregnancy, but now we know.  All of that weight moved around to my front and it was definitely baby weight and not just my own fatness.

Mom is going to sign us up for the Y which is just down the street.  I might finally be motivated to learn how to exercise and get rid of this crap.  Or I'll fail at that too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tonights freakout brought to you by....

Breast leakage! 

Sitting on the couch with K and we're talking about how to get me back out into the world.  I was becoming a recluse before I got pregnant and the pregnancy just gave me an excuse to further recluse myself. 

What can I say, I have issues.

And I'm thinking that I've actually felt a little more like myself for a couple of hours.  Not crying, not a zombie, just more like myself.

Then I realize that I'm wet around the left breast.  And I look at my nightgown and find two large wet spots.  And there goes all of that ok feeling and I freak out again.  I'm just so disgusted with my body overall! 

And I have to send K into the back room to retrieve the lactation pads that I had purchased a few weeks ago (just in case) and I have to put on a bra and figure out how these things work.

One week ago, I was on the phone with the doctor, in pain, and about to head into the emergency room.  Has it been a week already?  It feels like it was 2 minutes ago and 20 years ago.  And now I'm sitting on the couch with a wet boob.  Lovely.

I was special

If I haven't gotten petty and unlikeable yet, this is where it happens.

There's nothing particularly interesting about me.  I'm not especially good at anything, my career is in the toilet, I'm not the nicest or most interesting person.  On a good day, I'd call myself pretty darned average.  And that's on a good day.

But for a short time, I was special.  Part of an exclusive club.  Superior.  I was pregnant with twins.  Not just pregnant, but twins!  Now that's unique! 

And don't think I didn't take every opportunity to make sure everyone knew I was special.  Preggie brain at the cash register, tell the clerk that it's the twins stealing my IQ points and coordination.  Oh you're pregnant with one?  Isn't that wonderful!  I've got 2! 

And this isn't an admission after the fact, K and I joked during the pregnancy how I felt superior to all those singleton mothers.  How having just one at a time seemed so inefficient and easy now that I know I'm going to be mothering two.

And after the mama drama, I was using that specialness to try to rebuild my social life.  I'm not a joiner, but K was worried about me being so alone and having no social support, so I started seeking out other twin mom's to get to know.  I went to a local Moms of Multiples meeting and liked the people there.  I emailed one of the women from my labor for multiples class and asked if we could get coffee or hang out some time before she's due in Feb.

I've not only lost my own momminess, but I've also lost all of the social opportunities that it presented.  I'd love to still try to be friends with the woman from class, but there's no way I can see her very huge belly, and meet her little boys in February without just wanting to kill myself.

And one of the things talked about at the Mom of Multiples meetings was how to get through the day when you don't want to be a celebrity.  That having twins in the stroller would cause people to cross the street to meet you and catch a glimpse.  I wasn't necessarily looking forward to being the center of attention all the time, but I was looking forward to people wanting me to be.  And to be oh so put out by how everyone wants to talk to me when I just want to do my grocery shopping, oh poor me being noticeable like a celebrity!

So I've lost my family and my social life and the only thing that made me unique.  And I don't have a career to turn to.  I have nothing.  No longer special.  Nothing to do all day.  I'm nothing more than failed housewife who can't even cook or keep her house clean.

I'm a walking cliche

Ugh, I hate being like this.  This sad, mopey person that every little thing can set off.

We tried going out in public the other day.  To a bookstore/cafe/meeting place nearby.

In the parking lot, there was a grandmother bouncing a little baby in the window while she waited for someone.  It was like she was waving that baby directly in my face.  And there were kids just being kids with their cloying screams and general loudness.  And someone called out "Order up for Charlie!"

And I tried to be ok.  I'm socially obligated to not be a weeping, crying mess when out in public.  You're supposed to do that in the privacy of your own home so no one else has to see it.

But there was some crying anyway.

I don't want to be that person who is stung by every stupid little thing.

Reports on the news of something happening in Charlotte, whatever state that's in.

Commercials with little babies.

Are those two little girls in that shopping cart the same age?  They look the same age to me and might be twins.

Stupid headlines on magazines "We're having babies!"  Yes, that was a headline at the drugstore the other day.  Right next to a headline about one of the Teen Mom's from MTV getting arrested for domestic violence.

Random words like multiple, protein, monkey, all relate to the pregnancy in some way.  And even if it doesn't set me off, I hear it and there's that moment where I have to figure out if it stung or not.  Either way, I can't not be affected.

I hate being a walking stereotype!  Someone that you can predict my every thought and behavior according to the situation.  I just hate being someone who's reduced to nothing more than the situation she's in.

And I hate that in my attempt to go through this together rather than pulling away from each other, I keep waddling up to K, standing like a zombie for a moment, and then my face pulls into itself and the tears start and I start repeating the same types of wishes and wants of getting the girls back over and over again.

How can I ever have sex again?

Again, graphic stuff coming.

The last sensation I had in my vaginal canal was the pressure of the sack trying to push itself out.

How can I possibly tolerate, much less enjoy, anything touching those walls again?  That feeling of fullness?  I'm afraid that the next time anything or anyone touches me there, I'm going to flip out.

I was already having issues with sex.  Orgasms lead to cramps and pain so I didn't want any orgasms.  And as most women know, if we can't fully relax and enjoy, our brains shut down any physical attempt at pleasure.  And I just felt so full, I didn't want anything additional being inserted into my body.  So I've already had 4 months of negative associations working against me before this happened.

K is so understanding.  So insisting that it's ok.  And if intercourse isn't ever on the menu again, we'll adjust in other ways.  And absolutely no sex if I'm ever pregnant again.  It leads to cramps, cramps can lead to labor, never going to risk it.  And we already misinterpreted one bodily fluid as being a result of sex, I'm never going to make that mistake again.  And K is doing what he can to convince me that he's perfectly ok with a year or more of taking care of his own business.

But it's not just the intercourse.  Or even the orgasm through other means.  There are so many layers that I need to peal away before I can ever enjoy again.

To have sex, any kind, you mentally rise above your average way of being in terms of pleasure.  And every moment I have beyond flat, be it laughter, or whatever, I'm reminded that it feels odd and then I'm reminded of why it feels odd, and I plummet back down again.

And at some point, there's going to be that first touch.  And no matter what the situation is, we're both going to be tense and wondering if I'm about to freak.  And if we're tense and wondering if I'm 3 seconds from hysterics, not exactly a fun evening. 

And sex felt different while pregnant.  How is it going to feel now?

And it's an intense connection.  I'm having trouble just looking K in the eye sometimes because it's a connection and it's too much.

And the look of disappointment that crossed over K's face when I explained some of these layers to him.  It's like it suddenly sank in that one of the components to our marriage might not work anymore.  It's certainly not the foundation, but it's a component.

But I've also been reading all the anecdotal evidence of how a woman is at her most fertile for the month or two after a miscarriage.  So how I can let that opportunity to possibly conceive naturally slip away without even trying?  It's like I want to submit to sex over and over again as a medical procedure.  If it doesn't work, at least we tried, and if it does work, well, you know.  But that's not going to work either.  If K knows I'm not in the mood or not enjoying myself, his body responds in kind.

Will this turn us into just roommates over time?

So now what do I do?

Clearing the house

Once the decision was made, I knew that I could not walk back into the house and see all the baby stuff.  That's been my MO before. 

K and I have lost 2 old kitties over the course of our marriage.  Both after a bout with fatty liver disease and there were medical implements around the house such as feeding syringes and medications.  And both times, I sent K home from the vet ahead of me to clear the house of those reminders before I walked in the door again.

And we did that this time too.  Once the decision was made, I wrote out a list of objects in the house and where to find them that were baby related.  We gave the list to my dad with a set of house keys so he could move everything to the back room for us.  It's all still there if I ever need to look at it for some reason, but I can also avoid it.

Prenatal vitamins on my desk.
The 40 week calendar book under some other books by my desk
The pregnancy books on my shelf.
The various handmedowns we hadn't sorted yet on the dining room table and by the couch.
The plastic double tub still sitting outside waiting to be brought in and given a place to be.
Twin tips books on each of our bedside tables.
Glucose meters and testing supplies.
Healthy pregnancy food books mixed in with the cookbooks.
The monkey face pancake pan in the kitchen.
Ultrasound pictures on the fridge.

And when I got home, I had to clear out my computer.  Because work has slowed to a halt and my social life disappeared, I was spending all of my time on being a mommy.  Mommy blogs, twin blogs, your pregnancy this week emails, coupon sites for diapers and such.  Delete, delete, unsubscribe, delete.

All of the ultrasound pictures and videos and pics taken for this blog were in a folder in My Documents.  Any pics in that folder are accessed for a small slideshow I have running in the sidebar of my desktop.  So move that folder to the "stuff" folder on my desktop.  Don't delete but don't have to look at it.  Will archive later.

The most recent ultrasound video we were given was from Oct 8th.  Just fluttering blobbies.  I so wish we had a video from that last ultrasound appointment.  The legs bending then kicking straight, and the perfect little spines, and Christina spinning around over herself.  But that wasn't recorded so it's lost.  I never bothered to post the last ultrasound pictures we were given because unlike the ones before that, these were just blobs.  The ones before that looked like babies, but the angle of the last one was from the top of their heads or they were mooning us, but just blobs, no baby profiles that look like babies.

And then of course, this blog.  What do I do with this blog?  And the forums I frequent. My preggie hormones have been a source of an ongoing joke there, how do I prevent people from asking how the preggers is doing?

I went online and used one of those blog to print services and created a book of this blog up to the end.  It will arrive in the mail in a couple of weeks and we can tuck ultrasound pictures and other various bits of paper into that and then put it away somewhere.  In 5 years, we can look at it if we want to and revisit our girls, or we don't have to.

Posted the end post to this blog, linked to it on facebook so I don't have to tell people over and over again. 

A friend in the forums had noticed I was missing for a couple of days and emailed to see where I was.  I responded from my phone while still in the hospital and asked her to announce for me so I no one would ask me about the pregnancy again but I wouldn't have to be the one to say it's over.

I don't know how I'll deal when I run into neighbors I had told.

Can I recycle their names?

I want to be pregnant again, with twin girls, because I want them to be back.  If I ever have a girl, I won't be able to help but feel like one of them is back.  Charlotte, the big sister, and I'll expect Christina to follow a few years later. 

I know that every baby is different and a new baby wouldn't really be one of my girls coming back, but just let me feel that way ok?  It doesn't hurt anything.

I've always dreamed of little girls.  And I've always tried to figure out what I would name them.  And while K and I bantered quite a few names around before finally deciding on Charlotte and Christina, I've had those names in my head since I was 12.  I thought I'd use Christina first and then maybe my little Charlie.  I'm not sure how I came to be so firm with Charlotte before Christina though.  Maybe because there was still a possibility of learning that Christina was actually Christopher at the next ultrasound.

That next ultrasound was actually scheduled for that day. At the time I was supposed to be seeing them as dancing blobbies on a screen, I was having surgery to remove them.  Same damned time. 

But I digress.  I've always liked those names before they had been assigned to anybody.  I just liked the arbitrary names.

But now that they were given to specific girls for a few days, can I still use them?  Is it wrong to recycle the names that way?  I just like the names.

And what about the whole monkey theme?  These were our little monkeys.  Is the next baby going to be getting monkeys as a leftover or can we still like just like monkeys because we like monkeys and still theme the nursery with them?

Will I punish a survivor?

In all of this, I've had one incredible fear.  From the moment it was established that my girls would not survive, I was already thinking ahead.

Will I someday punish my baby for not being my girls?  Will the next baby just be getting their leftovers?

I don't even know how to phrase that question.  My next baby?  My next babies?  My real children?  Surviving child?  What do I even call the next pregnancy?

And I also know that doctors probably won't help me get pregnant again until I'm over this question.  So do I be honest about this question and risk them not letting me get pregnant again?  Do I try to lie and pretend this issue doesn't exist so they'll help me be pregnant again right away?

I'm so afraid that when I'm pregnant again, I'm going to be cold and indifferent.  When they do that first ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy and it's a single baby, not twins.  I'm going to be so disappointed.  And if it turns out to be a little boy.  Disappointed again that it's not one of my girls coming back. 

How can I do that to a new baby? 

I spent much of this pregnancy being somewhat cool towards it.  The moment I feel happy, and I believe that I'm going to be a parent, it's taken away from me.  That happened at the end of the first IVF attempt.  I started to smile, and believe it would work.  And the moment I allowed myself that happiness and that belief, my body expelled the eggs prematurely and we had to stop the attempt.

And now it's happened again only so much worse.  I kept myself guarded during that first trimester.  I knew full well how many children are lost during that time and I protected myself and by extension the girls from turning that corner and believing and being happy.  I didn't want to lose one to vanishing twin syndrome so I kept myself guarded from twins until the end of the first trimester. 

I knew that the 2 points of no return, when I just could not resist being happy and accepting, would be learning their genders and feeling them move.  Once those two things happened, I would not be able to keep my guard up anymore.

And a week before it all happened, we learned they were girls.  And every night in bed, I'd lay there with my hands on my belly and question "Was that gurgle the girls?  Did that register on the outside in my hands?  Or was that just dinner gurgling?"  And we always concluded that it was just food gurgling through my system since each one felt familiar and not new.

I don't think I ever felt them move.  We certainly saw them dance on the last ultrasound, but never felt them.  But they had genders and identities and I just couldn't resist accepting them any longer.  I let my guard down, finally.  And just days after I let my guard down, once again, my body expelled.

How am I ever going to turn that corner again?  I thought I was safe for a short time.  After about week 14, I figured we were safe until I started the third trimester and I would have to start being afraid of them being born prematurely.  I allowed myself to be happy and to believe and the universe heard that and punished us for it.

So I'm so afraid of how I'll treat the next baby.  Will I go through the entire pregnancy totally indifferent?  Protect us all from my own happiness?  And after a baby is born, there's still a high risk period of 6-12 months from SIDS.  Will I lose all that bonding time because I'm afraid that the moment I'm just happy, the child will be randomly taken from me again?  After that time passes, will I be so accustomed to giving the baby the cold shoulder that I can't ever be affectionate?

Damned if I do, damned if I don't.  If I accept and be happy, it'll be snatched away.  If I keep myself guarded and cold, the baby doesn't deserve that coldness. 

How can I be disappointed to learn that I have a healthy, single, baby boy?  How do I live with being disappointed in my own child for not being my girls?  It won't be his fault so how can I be so awful?  But how do I not be?

This was my ultimate fantasy.  I know you're not supposed to prefer one over the other, "Just as long as it's healthy" and all that.  But I had EXACTLY what I always fantasized about.  Twin baby girls.  I had been dreaming about them.  I thought they were fraternal so I wondered if they would look just alike (like the Olsen twins who are fraternal but appear identical) or would they be so different from each other that people would wonder which one I was only babysitting?

And then in the last hours of their lives, not only were they twin girls, they were IDENTICAL twin girls.  They would have been so beautiful.  K and I are not exactly beautiful people, but neither of us have any really predominant features that would make a babies face look all out of balance.  Our features would have blended so well together and created the most beautiful freckle faced, red headed, identical twin girls.  The boys would have been clawing at our door in a dozen or so years.

So how can I accept anything less than the fantasy I had?

I feel so guilty for how I might treat another baby that doesn't even exist yet.

Hatred and Blame

No one will allow me to take any blame.  No matter what I say, I'm told "that had nothing to do with it, it wasn't your fault" 

I wish I wasn't smart.  I wish I could point out things that I or other people did wrong and lay some sort of blame.  And I've asked about every little "bad mommy offense" I could think of or that a certain other bitch had accused me of and the doctors simply won't allow the notion that any of those things had anything to do with what happened.  Believe me, I've confessed every bit of deli meat, every snuggle of my outside kitty, and no matter what information I give them, it's not the cause.  I know the doctors couldn't do anything to prevent what happened, so I can't blame them for not doing anything.  I was in the doctors office 36 hours before it all started being told that they've run every test imaginable and they can't find anything wrong so I need to stop worrying.

I need an anger focus.  And I've found one.  My brain probably knows that this is wrong and the blame shouldn't go here, but I need to indulge in some hatred and this is the only safe outlet.  I can't do any harm by blaming this person because the damage to that relationship was already done.  So I'm going to absolutely despise that Mama Drama Bitch, PR.

I'm not sure if I ever put into this blog what an effect she had on me.  She not only dumped me, but she was remarkably cruel about it.  During the fallout, I wrote a very heartfelt email to her and revealed my inner most fears and wounds and she took those wounds and used them to hurt me when she kicked me to the curb.  If she had simply said that we were going in different directions, perhaps it's time to go our separate ways, I would have been so hurt, but that wouldn't have been cruel.  It might have even been forgivable if she changed her mind later.

In one of my last emails to her, I told her of my deepest fear that while people might convince me to my face that they like me and that they are my friends, that behind my back they actually don't like me and they laugh at me or talk about what a bitch I actually am.  I'd rather someone tell me to face that I'm gross or annoying or whatever rather than to discover someone thought that of me while I deluded myself into believing they liked me.  Go ahead and don't like me, but don't make a fool out of me on top of it.  And that's why I allow so few people to be my friend.  Because someone has to work pretty hard to convince me they actually like me and that it's safe for me to believe that.  And at the beginning of our friendship, PR did that work, convinced me I was safe with her.

And how did she respond to that email?  A few excerpts quoted here - "I should have ended our relationship a while ago...."  "I stayed because I felt obligated to."  "There doesn't seem to be any honest foundation for a real friendship."  She didn't have to say any of those things.  She could have just said goodbye.  But she added those for no other reason than to make sure she could poke my wounds and fears on her way out the door.

Until the last week, I don't think I ever cried so hard in my life as when she did that.  I spent a solid week with adrenaline rushing through me with anger and fear of being alone, and that I was fooled despite how hard I protect myself from being that fool.  That was my entire social life (outside of my marriage) and when I was already fearing being alone due to the upcoming months of becoming a sleepwalking milk factory, she took away the only social support I had and was so cruel about it.  I remember spending hours sobbing on the bed while K tried to calm me down.

That bitch did that to me because she believed I didn't want my babies.  Obviously she's a fucking idiot who was seeing something that wasn't there.  She was never exactly the smartest bulb to begin with.  But to accuse a woman who has spent 15 years trying to get pregnant of not actually wanting the babies she was finally given?  Just because I talked about my fears and and the realities of the work coming up instead of being all fa-la-la and rainbows? 

She said I shouldn't be a mother if that's my attitude about it.

I'm not a religious person.  I fall into the poser pagan camp and don't accept anything mankind defines as a God.  But I have a nagging, almost superstitious belief that what you put out there in there universe is heard and responded to in some way.  Her beliefs are similar but much stronger than my own.  She does energy work and such.  Whether or not I believe it, SHE believes that what you put out to the universe comes back to you.

And she put it out there, in writing, that I shouldn't be a mother.  That I shouldn't be pregnant with my girls.  She wished this.

And during the whole of my pregnancy, I experienced stress exactly one time.  Once.  And she inflicted it on me.  And while medical science may say otherwise, I can't help but wonder if during that week of stress, was my immunity compromised?  Did the infection find my body and invade during that week?  Would I have been ok if I hadn't had those stress hormones and adrenaline rushing through my body as I cried that week?

I don't care what medical science says.  There's a logical progression to that timeline.  That the infection might have found me in that week, invaded while my physical defenses were down, and grew over the next weeks until it strangled my girls.  Medical science has no other explanation, so my brain is fixating on that one.  I need an explanation and that's the only one I can find.

And my seething hatred for her is blinding.  And it just kills me that in her stupid, insipid, little tiny, unintelligent "brain" of hers, she is gloating and saying "I told you so".  No matter how much the doctors could tell her how wrong she is and that I did nothing wrong and she's a fucking idiot, she will be out there, convinced that I wasn't good enough and that it's my fault.

PR, you put it to the universe that I shouldn't be a mother.  Congratulations, you won.  And if you ever see me in the grocery store, or the park, you had better turn around and walk the other way before I lay eyes on you.  But don't worry, as much as I'd love nothing more right now than to rip you apart with my bare hands and watch you suffer as you die, you're perfectly safe.  If I can't be dead and with my girls, you sure as hell don't deserve to meet them and join them.

But I hope beyond hope that every pain the universe can find to inflict on you as a result of your own stupidity and idiocy, I hope that pain is inflicted.  But I'll do nothing to cause it.  I know that your husband is out of work and you may not pay rent this month.  And while I don't wish it on your husband or little boy, if my family friend of 30 years, aka your landlord, decides that business is business and you're evicted and homeless next week, I'll smile.  But I'll have nothing to do with it.  I won't say a word to that family friend.  I won't give you the satisfaction of being able to blame me for your situation in any way.  But the rumor mill will tell me if that happens, and just know that it's because of your own life choices and the idiot you've demonstrated yourself to be for the years that I've known you.

And when that little boy grows up, I hope he despises you as much as your two adult children do.  Because fa-la-la and rainbows don't make a good mother.  Hard work tempered with love make a good mother and that's what I'll be some day.  You're not a good mother.  You never have been and that's evidenced in how much your adult children hate you and what dregs of society they turned out to be.  You might be a good playmate to an infant, but you have no capacity to do the hard stuff, like say no, and teach a child how to become an adult and how to contribute to society rather than drain it.  You're not a mother, you're a playmate.

And in 20 years, when my children are growing into respectable, wonderful adults, and you're teaching yet another one of your children how to apply for welfare, think back on your belief that I shouldn't be a mother and feel all the shame and pain of knowing what a failure you are.

I Want to Play House

We've been tearing the house apart for the last month to make room for the girls.  Everything that was being stored in the back room is scattered around the house.  We had new carpet put in the back room so I mean EVERYTHING is now in the main part of the house. 

The good thing about this is that there's no reason for me to go into that room.  No vacuum to retrieve, no old paperwork that might need to be accessed, no pet supplies that need to be used.

The bad thing about this is that there's no reason for me to go into that room.

And I really want to.  It's so warm now.  I want to go in and continue cleaning.  Vacuum the new carpet, clean up the paper towel that the cat shredded all over the floor, clear off that one shelf of all the painting stuff to be stored in the shed.

I want to put together the hand me down playpen/bed thingy and I want to put something in it.  I want to figure out where the crib was going to go and then put back up the little shelves that we took down when we painted.  I want to keep preparing the house for efficient double baby care.  Put up the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector that K already bought for the room.  Start installing the baby proofing equipment like cabinet locks and outlet plugs that we bought ridiculously early.  Keep purging the house of a lifetime of accumulated crap like old crt monitors and video tapes from a job I had years ago to make room for baby stuff.

For the last month, I've been ambling around the house looking for things I could prepare before I got too fat and tired.  We need to swap that bookcase for the one in the baby room because the shelves in that one are secure for when they start to grab onto things and pull themselves to standing.  That piece of furniture will eventually need to be bolted to the wall so they don't pull it over onto themselves.  I should sort through this bag of handmedown clothes and figure out what might fit during those first months and what will need to be stored a while longer.

I was playing house and I want to keep playing.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just got a phone call

From someone representing the hospital to take a satisfaction survey.  Are you fucking kidding me????

How on earth is anyone going to respond that they are "satisfied" in this situation????

On a scale of 1-5..........  Seriously????

There is no way I can answer that I'm satisfied about any portion of this process.  But I'm also aware that it wasn't the fault of the personnel.

So my options are either to say that I'm satisfied with the care I received, my babies just died, how the fuck can anyone be "satisfied", or say that I'm not satisfied with any aspect of this experience and have it reflect negatively on the people that were there that did nothing wrong.

I realize the person on the phone was just doing her job, but come on.

I finally just stopped her and said there was no way in hell I was going to be able to answer her questions.  But did she have a list of the personnel that was involved in front of her?  She did.  So I told her that the only thing I would be able to say is that the young nurse, another K name, she did everything I asked her to do, she did it the way I asked her to do it, and she's a credit to her profession and I would like to be put into her personnel file.  But other than to say that, there was no way I would ever be able to claim any satisfaction about the situation even though that should not reflect on the personnel.

Satisfied.  Satisfied?  AM I SATISFIED?!?!?!

You know what assholes?  I worked in marketing research for 5 years writing the fucking surveys like the one I was just presented with.  Hire me and I'll write you one that will give you the feedback you need without trying to make a person who just experienced the most profound loss of a lifetime say that they're fucking satisfied.

You just called a woman 5 days after the death of her most fantasized about babies.   To someone in the throws of grief, 5 days feels like 5 minutes and 5 years at the same time.

I know perfectly well that I received the best care possible.  That everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do.  Only one thing about their behavior irked me and that was that some of the diagnosis was done over the phone rather than by looking at me.  And even in my emotionally shattered state, I still recognize that nothing would have been different about his diagnosis if he had driven to the hospital, pulled out the ultrasound, checked me out, said the exact same thing he would have said over the phone, and driven back home.

And yet even having the brain power to know that, how can ANYONE say they are satisfied?  Nothing short of someone with the magical prowess of Albus Dumbledore waiving his most powerful magical wand over my belly while shouting "In Utero Reparo!" and the magical resurrection of my girls in perfect health would ever allow me to say that I'm "Satisfied" with my care.

Your survey is heartless, pointless, and just so fuckyouable.  It doesn't tell you a fucking thing.  And I speak from experience.  From years of learning how to write those fucking surveys in such a manner as to yield only clean information untainted by emotional response.

You, market research company of pure shame, are doing your employers a disservice.  And YOU, hospital board of directors of bean counting inhumanity are not only breaking your doctoral oath (first, do no harm) but you're not even doing so in pursuit of something useful and are thus inflicting completely pointless pain.  Oh wait, let me rephrase in terms that you actually give a shit about.  You're throwing money away and getting nothing in return for it.  And I know that behind the scenes, the personnel on the front lines are paying for your incompetence.  No one can say they are satisfied.  You are getting back surveys that say your staff sucks and I just know that you are evaluating and punishing them according to those survey results.

You can not get quantitative data from someone who has just been to the emergency room!  It's a fucking qualitative life event that can not be defined in numbers!  Wait a month assholes.  Send a qualitative survey in the mail so the victim can either tell you the details of the information you need, or throw it out if they can't handle it.  Yes, it costs more.  Yes, it takes actual brain power to interpret the information it gathers.  But at least that information would be, you know, fucking informative?  It might actually fucking tell you something.

Fuck heads.

Confirming what happened

One of the few things I remember during my recovery in the hospital was Dr. C coming in to talk to me.  I don't remember him being there long, or even coming in and leaving.

But I remember him sitting next to me and telling me what they found.  They were able to examine Charlotte and confirmed that she had also already been victim of the infection by the time I went into surgery. 

Doctors are unable to confirm that kind of infection until after the fact.  The evidence is in the water and you can't examine that water until it breaks like Christina's did or unless they retrieve it.  And because they can't retrieve it and still keep the baby alive inside of it, well, that's why they can't say absolutely for sure what's happening until it's over. 

That's why they couldn't definitively say "Twin B is infected, it's over" but rather they have to say "There's no way for Twin B to escape the infection once it's started and we have every reason to believe it's started."

I think this is true for both fraternal and identical twins, but with identical, there's simply no question.  They share a placenta, there's no escape.  I don't really know if it would have been different if they were fraternal.

But yeah, he confirmed that she was already infected.  I don't know why but it's better to know that.  I can't imagine if they had told me that she was clean and it just hadn't gotten to her yet but it would have.  That would have left an even larger lingering doubt.  I guess it helps because it means we were very close to giving her every moment of life possible before I would have been infected beyond repair as well.

Too Many Blog Posts

I've now written as many blog posts in the last 48 hours about my miscarriage as I did during the two months I was blogging the pregnancy.

And I feel guilty that I didn't have as much to talk about during that time as I do now.  It's as if this is more important to me than that was.

It's so not.  I wish I had written more so I would have more details of being happy to reread now.

But I talk and write about negative things to get them out of my head.  It takes it away from me.  And I keep the good stuff to myself because I'm selfish that way.  So I kept that good stuff to myself and now I'm having trouble accessing that good stuff that I want to remember and relive.  Probably sounds ridiculous considering how much I did write.

And right now, I simply have nothing to do.  I don't have a day job to go to.  I can't do my one distraction hobby (pottery) because I can't hunch over my stomach at the wheel and I'm not allowed to do any lifting.  It's the biggest holiday season of the year so there's nothing on tv and going out in public means being faced with all those children that would normally be in school or daycare.  And those kids are so riled up and sugared that even if there aren't more of them out there, the ones that are out and about are more hyper and impossible to ignore.  And I don't have any social distractions because I've spent the last 6 weeks trying to rebuild a social structure after the trauma of the mama drama.

So I'm writing.  And writing.  And crying.  And writing.  It passes the time.  And time is something I have way too much of right now.

And I still have a dozen topics in my head that I feel I want to get out tonight.

I Put on Pants for Christmas

Silly the things that matter when you're upset.

It was 2 days before this started that I finally had to give up on buttoning my normal jeans.  I remember getting dressed and pouting at K that it's official, I've outgrown my jeans.  I could button them if I really wanted to, but nope, maternity pants and belly bands from here on out.

2 days.

About a month ago I cleared my closet of all of my smaller clothes.  Since I'm a fat woman anyway, most of my clothing is loose and flowy in the stomach area.  But I cleared out anything that had any cling to it.  And since that cleared out most of my long sleeved shirts, I was planning on a little maternity shirt shopping spree after the holiday season cuz it's a little chilly around here to be wearing short sleeves.

I don't want to wear any of my pregnancy clothes.  Fortunately I only had 1 shirt that I bought specifically for the pregnancy.  So I have a set of pajamas that have a nursing top, a nursing/maternity sleeping bra, a package of 3 pairs of maternity underwear, 1 pair of elastic paneled maternity pants, a belly band, and that one shirt.

The jammies and bra haven't really been used at all.  Still tucked in a bottom drawer cuz I just hadn't busted them out yet.  That's the drawer of stuff I never wear (bathing suits, undergarments for formal wear, that kind fo thing) so I can just leave them there and not have to look at them.  Will still need to buy new underwear.  I bought the maternity pack of three because it's just getting to be that time again in the lifespan of my undies, the holes are starting and I needed to replace them.  I bought a package of undies at the drug store the other day so I can throw away the maternity undies.  I tossed the maternity jeans and that one top into the back room and closed the door when they came out of the laundry.

It's "the back room" again.  It had started to be called "the babies room".

I don't know where the belly band is.  I'm sure I'll run across it at some point and hopefully I'll be in zombie mode rather than affectable mode and can just toss it in that room when I do find it without too much grief.

But back to putting on pants.  Something I was afraid of.  What size am I now?  Am I still going to be too big for my regular jeans?  What if I have no choice but to wear my maternity jeans so I can leave the house?  What if they do fit and I have to admit I don't have pregnant belly anymore?

But it was Christmas day.  And K and I had been staring at each other and rambling around the house for days.  And it was hard enough to try to figure out what to eat from all of the pregnancy food in the fridge.  I was actually kind of hungry for a change.  So we called my parents and told them we were going to give it a go at being in public by getting some lunch at the local 24 hour 365 days type of restaurant and would they care to join us.

And I couldn't go to a restaurant in my jammies.

I opted for a pair of jeans that weren't my "a little too large most of the time, but worked really well when I was first pregnant" jeans.  Regular size.  And they fit.  And I cried.  It wouldn't have mattered.  I probably would have cried all the same if they hadn't fit.

Weight after failed IVF attempt last spring - 266
Weight during successful IVF/beginning of pregnancy in August/September - 252
Weight at the doctors office the day before I started labor - 260
Weight when I got home from the hospital - 265 (they pumped a lot of fluids into me)
Weight 48 hours after surgery - 255

Physical Aftermath

I still hurt.  Nothing strong enough to take a pain medication for, but I just hurt.

Every time I stand up, those lower abdomen muscles and ligaments that were actively and a little bit painfully stretching, it's still so sore like before.  I stand, and all my weight sinks into that part of my stomach and pulls down and it aches.

I was just relearning how to get out of a chair without aggravating that pregnancy pain and now I just want to be able to stand up like a normal person.  I don't want to do the pregnant woman push off with the hands, leading with the stomach ting.  That was cute and fun when I was pregnant, but now it seems so fake.  And like I'm trying to pretend to still be pregnant.  I'm many things, but fake and a pretender aren't among them.  And yet it hurts a little if I don't do that.

My lower back keeps rippling/spasming.  It only lasts 30 seconds to a minute or so, but it tightens and ripples, particularly when I first sit down and it hurts.  I reported this to the doctor like a good girl, but it doesn't seem to concern them.  They said to take some Tylenol.  But by the time I can open a bottle, it's over so that's kind of pointless.  I kind of figure it's probably the muscles around my back that are trying to figure out how to readjust to this sudden loss of about 5lbs of material and 2 inches or so of body mass.  The muscles were slowly stretched over the course of 4 months and then overnight, all gone, time to go back to regular size.  It will probably take a couple of weeks to resize themselves back to my normal circumference and will spasm as they do so.

And the shaking.  The goddanmed shaking.  I think this is more of an emotional thing because it seems to happen mostly when I'm gearing up for or recovering from another crying spell.  My whole body tenses and just starts shaking and won't stop.

Ugh, and the pounding heart.  Again, don't know if that's emotional or a normal physical side effect.  But as often as not, I can feel my heart pounding through my entire body.  Especially in my chest, throat, and face.  It's especially bad when I'm lying down to go to sleep.  I can feel it, I can hear it, and I can't relax my body enough to avoid it.

Still bleeding and twinges in the crotch.  There's not much bleeding left, just enough to be annoying.  And I get an occasional little twinge in my crotch. 

I feel gutted.  I mean, I was, so that makes sense.  I can feel my insides dealing with the surgery and while they don't really hurt, they aren't happy about it.

I can't figure out if I'm hungry, or if I want to puke.  Low grade nausea is constant.  And I can't tell if that's due to stress, or a standard post surgery feeling.  I want to fill the hole but food doesn't help.  And I want to be sick enough to vomit, but I can't.  So I can't fill and I can't empty.  Balancing food and water intake is difficult.  I don't really want to eat, but I don't want to keep feeling hungry either.

Stupid bruises.  The back of my right hand still has a visible spot where the IV was and while not visible, it's bruised throughout the back of my wrist.  And my other arm has a dark purple bruise from all of the needles I was using to test my glucose readings from the diabetes.

Every Cough, Every Bathroom Break

***Sorry, more graphic bodily function discussion ahead***

There are tactile reminders of what happened that simply can't be avoided.

I still have that damned cough.  And every time I cough, I feel it push through my entire abdomen and crotch.  I was already having some incontinence issues due to the weight of the girls on my bladder and just pushing everything in my body south.  I have already spent several weeks kind of preparing my body whenever I felt a cough coming on. 

Uh oh, here it comes, ok, tighten those pelvic muscles so I don't leak, and *cough* and ok, good, didn't leak that time.

And now I have the added tactile memory of coughing pushing out more than urine.  And I just desperately feel the need to hold everything in (through my crotch and abdomen) whenever a cough surfaces.  But there's nothing to hold in anymore.  And there's a weird desire to just let it all go and push all of my insides out because it just doesn't matter anymore.  But of course there's nothing there that can be pushed out.

And as unpleasant as it is, a person just can't avoid having bowel movements the rest of their lives.  Not exactly an optional bodily function.

I'm taking iron right now as well as a stool softener.  So my bowel really has no clue what to do.  The iron tends to have a side effect of constipation while the stool softener is fighting that side effect.  Now that a few days have passed and the softener has taken effect, sometimes it's really easy and it just flows out of me in a liquid. 

Other times it's solid and my body needs me to push.  So I sit on the toilet, frustrated, because I don't have the emotional ability to push.  The last time I actively tried to push out a bowel movement, I pushed out my girls instead. 

If anyone tries to say "don't think about it" "stop obsessing" "You're only punishing yourself by thinking about what happened", well, how does one think about anything else with these constant physical, unavoidable, tactile reminders?  At least once an hour, my body needs to either cough or poop and I'm mentally right back in that emergency room trying not to do either.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Did I have an abortion?

Gonna skip ahead a few days but will go back to them.  Disclaimer - I am adamantly pro-choice and pass no judgment on anyone who feels differently about their pregnancy than I felt about mine.  I am talking about my pregnancy and mine alone in this blog, no one elses.

One of the big questions in my mind for the next days was what procedure did I actually have? 

No one actually told me what the surgical procedure was called.  So I was left wondering, did I have an abortion?  My girls still had heartbeats when I was put under for surgery.  So while no one ever said that word to me, is that what happened?  During my time in the ER, I was asked a few times what surgeries I had undergone during my life.  If I went into the ER with another pregnancy, would I have to list that word as one of my surgeries?  Is that word going to be in my medical record?  How can I survive the knowledge of aborting the girls I so desperately wanted?

My pregnancy was aborted, but the medical procedure has a more technical name so I don't actually have to use that word when going over my medical history.

After a couple of days at home, I went to look at some of the paperwork I was sent home with because I couldn't remember what medications I was supposed to take at that time.  And I decided to go through all of the paperwork and wallow a bit as I reviewed it.

K asked if I really wanted to do that and sat with me while I did.

I cried as I looked at all of the sympathy cards from the hospital staff, and the little knitted hats that were included in the sympathy package.  And then the medical stuff.  And that's where I found that my procedure was a D&E.  I probably know what that stands for since I've looked it up since then, but I don't remember at the moment.

But what convinced me was the commemorative birth certificate for Charlotte and Christina.  Almost a silly thing to even exist.   Commemorative birth certificate.  Not a government acknowledgeable certificate of their lives because there was no death certificate to go with it.

But it exists because they were born.  They didn't have lungs yet, so neither of them took a breath.  They were born and died in the process of being born.  For every moment they were inside me, they were alive.  And I didn't do anything to stop their hearts from beating.

I waver between believing that and not believing that.  I had to birth them at some point, and they had no lungs to survive that process so there was nothing that would save them.  On the other hand, were they meant to die at 1pm?  1:15pm?  2 hours later?  What about another 24 hours?

There is no way of defining when the final moment would have been for them to be able to live their last heart beat while still saving my life.  And that will kill me a little bit every day.

Waiting and Deciding

Still 2 heartbeats at normal, healthy rates.  How is that possible?  The fluid has been gone at least 30 minutes, how can Christina be alive?  Is she going to hold on until we actively force her to stop?  I'm never going to do that.  I'm never going to actively shorten the time her heart beats so why won't she please go on her own?  And how can I possibly be wishing that???  I just despise myself for even having that thought.  And that's the cycle I was in all night.  Please be gone already and I despise myself for thinking that.

The water broke around 4am.  My doctor would be coming in at 7am.  And everyone insisted nothing could be done but wait.  I just can't comprehend that.  Can't we go in, remove Christina in an attempt to save Charlotte?  How can I be willing to sacrifice one for the other?  As minutes tick by, are we losing that opportunity?  No.  No one is checking on her so how can you so definitively tell me no?

And my logical brain is telling me that if there was something they could do, they would be doing it.  They weren't saying no to be lazy, they were telling the truth.  And my emotional brain was just screaming in denial of that knowledge.

At some point, I even said "I'm not leaving this hospital still pregnant am I?"  "No, you're not."

But for those hours, I was still pregnant, with twins who had strong heartbeats.  Her sack and fluid were gone, but Christina still wouldn't go.

And I was becoming terrified of what was coming next.  We were waiting to see if my body would start to go into labor again.  And I knew that I was going to have to go through the process of giving birth with the babies dieing as they left my body.  And no matter how untrue anyone tries to tell it is, emotional me still equated that with living through my body betraying us and forcing me to feel myself kill our babies.

And as I had been doing all night, I was begging to be put under.  I don't care if it kills me, I cannot survive the tactile memory of killing my babies by birthing them.

We called my parents to come around 5:30am.  I didn't particularly want them there, but I knew I probably would at some point during the next day and I decided to get them there before Dad had to go to work.  They live about 5 minutes from the hospital.  And while my Dad has no medical training, he's a judge who presides over disability cases and I figured that he could better understand and interpret for me what doctors were saying than either K or I could.  And if he could believe what they were saying, it would eventually help me believe it.  Unfortunately, there's obviously no way for Dad to be there without Mom so I mostly tried to ignore them both really.

And time still passed.  And someone suggested turning on the tv to help me wait.  No, no distraction is going to help.  If these are the last moments of my girls existence, I can't be distracted from it no matter how much I want to be.

My doctor, Dr. C came in around 6:30 though he wasn't expected until 7am.  Even though logic tells me that was the beginning of his day, he still looked like a man who hadn't slept all night.

I don't remember every exchange.  But they all focused around how I understand that Christina is gone, please try SOMETHING to save Charlotte.  I honestly understand that Christina can't be saved and might have to actively be sacrificed, but I can't comprehend why we can't try to save Charlotte.  Just so when I leave here, I can know that I did everything possible.  Even the acceptance of losing Christina to save Charlotte would be worth the horribleness of that acceptance if it would at least mean we tried.  I kind of knew that Charlotte couldn't be saved, but I didn't understand why we couldn't surgically hold her in place until she naturally lost the battle for her life.  If she has to go, at least let it be in spite of all efforts.  At least let me walk out of here with that.

And here is where Dr. C told me things that actually had some impact.  Up until these exchanges, no comprehension could be made.

He told me that Dr. David Fucking Spade was one of only 5 doctors who had ever even attempted a procedure like what I was asking for.  And that the woman returned to the ER two days later and almost died right there on the floor when her second baby died.  And if Dr. DFS said it couldn't be attempted, then there was no one in the world who could attempt it.

Option 1)  If we induced labor, I could birth the girls and it would be over.  There was some chance of being sedated to a degree and I might not remember every detail, but really, I probably would.

Option 2)  We could surgically remove the girls and all pregnancy tissue and I could walk away without infection and with every chance of another pregnancy.

Option 3)  If we continued to wait for my body to go into labor again on it's own, it couldn't be stopped and I would have to go through the birth fully awake and aware.  And by then, the infection will likely have spread to me.  At a minimum, I would have to have a hysterectomy and no chance of another pregnancy or just as likely, I would die during the birth.

Well this freaked K and my parents right the fuck out. 

It was very likely that I would die in the next 48 hours.  And I really don't care.  I can not stress that enough.  When it comes to the knowledge that I was about to die, I did not care one bit.  That information had zero impact on me.  It's something that has never had an impact on me.  I don't fear dieing one single bit and I never have.  I simply find no value to myself so my death just doesn't matter.  What I DO fear is going through a trauma that I can never forget.  I'd much prefer to die than to remember.

And because of that, option 1 terrified the fucking shit out of me.  No matter how much I might physically recover, mental recovery from that would be absolutely impossible.

As for option 3, I remember Mom trying to convince me that I was more important than my girls.  And I tried to explain that she felt about me the way I feel about them so shut the fuck up.  I somehow managed to leave out the shut the fuck up part. 

But K was really upset.  And desperately tried to convince me that he needed me to survive this.  And how important I am to him.  This has always been a sticking point in our relationship.  K is the man that every woman is trying to find.  He is the nice guy that all single women claim doesn't exist.  And though he does his best to convince me, I have never understood why on earth he ever settled for me, much less that I'm someone more than just average, or even annoying and difficult to be around.  And at this moment, he was doing everything possible to convince me that I'm valuable and that he needs me. 

I held out as long as I could.  My girls still had heartbeats.  They were still alive.  So in a moment that I will regret forever and will daily despise myself for, I resigned to option 2.  Everyone grabbed that moment of consent and the decision was made. 

I still don't care that I would have died.  Wish I had.  I don't want to be who I am now.  But there's nothing I wouldn't do for K so if he wants me here, ok, I'm here.  And I'll try to recover so he can have a wife again.  But being here is a sacrifice.

I don't even remember the next 5 hours until my surgery.  The next thing I remember is being on a rolling gurney looking at a different ceiling as I was moved.  I was expecting to hear someone tell me that they were going to put me under now, but I never heard that.

And then being awake in my hospital room, no longer pregnant.