Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What I know now about living through loss

I have been a horrible "blogger"...if you can even call me that. Absent, most definitely.

Let's see...the last time I posted was after I tackled the project of hanging up Lucy and Liams urns...yeah, I still have trouble saying that. It's been a long road since and we've tackled a lot.

We decided to go through another round of IVF in May and in true "loss" parent style, we kept a lot to ourselves. I'm really open about our struggles and losses but when it came to the fear and anxiety associated with going through this whole thing again, my husband and I really only felt like we "got it"'s isolating, honestly. 

On the day of our transfer in May while resting after the transfer in our hotel room, two bright rainbows lit up the bleak storm filled sky outside our hotel was a small reminder that our angels were with us.

I am a POAS addict (pee on a stick) when it comes to IVF cycles. They warn you not to. I don't follow rules. So when the time came that I knew I had gotten positive results with the twins, I started testing. Negative, negative, not pregnant, then faint, faint lines that nobody else saw but me and I faced the conversation that it maybe just didn't happen for us. I came home one day after work, sobbed, blamed myself for putting myself through this possibly too soon and went to bed. 

The next day, June 8th, Lucy and Liams original due date, I woke up early to get ready for work, took a test, showered, paid no attention...because my heart just prepped me for disappointment. I glanced at the test for a moment, with zero hope...1-2 weeks pregnant. I screamed. I jumped on my husband. I was elated. I also knew it was another sign that Lucy and Liam were looking over us. 

We kept the news pretty hush hush...a lot of people didn't even know we had even thought of trying again...they say announcing a pregnancy after a loss is one of the hardest things to do. I didn't get that, until I was pregnant. I felt like after losing this gift months prior that I just wanted to keep it to myself because if I spoke of it I would somehow jinx it. My husband was my saving grace to convince me we were going to be positive about this pregnancy and despite the loss we've suffered this was a new pregnancy. We had to go in open minded. He's right. Yes, you're right, Matt. 

As high risk as my pregnancy is, it's been very uneventful. I saw my MF (Maternal Fetal specialist/an OB essentially that only handles high risk pregnancies) right after finding out. We talked a lot. I love my doc for this main reason. It's not white coat demeanor with him. He's human. He's listened as I cried, complained, had anxiety attacks, vented anger. That first appt was just basically like meeting with a good friend who happens to be the main person helping me bring a healthy baby into this world. We set up a game plan.

So...I delivered my son Jude preterm, the twins preterm, so needless to say I am at high risk for preterm labor. Incompetent cervix. I really had no risk factors for this and honestly sometimes women deliver early but then have to be induced in later pregnancies so the fact that I had Jude early was noted with the twins but wasn't this huge red flag. Carrying twins showed the true issues I had. So I now was terrified. I knew it was a positive thing that we were pregnant with one baby. Multiples make you at risk for preterm labor in general but there also is no proven method to maintain a multiple pregnancy with incompetent cervix like there is with a single baby. For example, cerclage is not shown to be effective nor is progesterone therapy. I knew we already had that going for us.

13 weeks, I had surgery to have a cerclage...essentially they sow your cervix shut to prevent preterm labor. In Lucy's case I had really no signs of labor, my cervix just gave in and she started to deliver. A cerclage is meant to prevent this. At 16 weeks, I started progesterone therapy. Similar to progesterone shots in IVF but only once a week. These help keep the uterus and cervix "calm" and have been proven to prevent preterm labor...magic shots. 

That's really been it combined with bed rest. Modified bed rest, thank God, since things have been going so well. I can take my son to school, run a quick errand, etc but I have to treat my body like glass. Very little activity when I can and a lot of water and laying on my left side. So far, these three things and God have gotten us to 22 weeks. We had lost the twins at this point in their pregnancy. So it's been very stressful but very...reassuring?...that we've gotten to this point with zero issues. I go to my doctor once a week for cervix checks and my shot. So far, so good. I actually go today so wish me luck.

Anyways, I really just shared today because it is infant loss awareness month (well pregnancy and infant loss awareness) and being that we've been through both I found it beneficial to myself and possibly others to speak out about the top ten things I've learned and that people should understand about it. 

Here goes:

1. I am not this sad, broken person. Please don't feel sorry for us or think we go home every night and cry and live a somber life since loss has hit us. The best medicine for us has been laughter. We are still happy people who had shitty things happen to us. Should you be sensitive? Yes. But don't think I don't want to see baby pictures or hear the news of someone being pregnant with twins because of my loss. I'm not bitter. I want what happened to us to never, ever, ever happen to anyone else. I AM sad for what happened to us but I'm happy for other people's happiness.

2. Don't ever say at least to me. I want to karate chop people when they say this. At least, you have one child. At least, you know you can get pregnant. At least, they didn't suffer. At least, you're pregnant now. Understand this. Nothing. Will. Ever. Take. Away. The. Loss. Of. Our. Children. This baby could not possibly replace them. They are completely different people. Our five year old son cannot be responsible for filling the void of wanting more children. And quite frankly, its not ever anyone's place to determine these things. Don't "at least" a couple going through this, or the loss of infertility, etc. Ever.

3. Hard times reveal true people. Things like this make people uncomfortable, I get it. But mark my words, those that care, will be there for you. Even if they don't know what to say or do, they'll just be. I'm so thankful to certain people who know who they are that just sat there with me during what were probably really awkward moments for them because all I could do was sob. They just sat and that presence, wow, it was the best comfort possible. In the next breath, people who were not there during the difficult times will wonder why you've become closed off in sharing with them. I am not bitter or resentful but I guess more aware of fair weather people. Appreciate the ones who have climbed these mountains of grief WITH you. They are the ones who deserve to celebrate the happy times for you, too. And you owe no explanation, it's respecting yourself. You deserve it.

4. To touch on that last owe no explanation to anyone, about anything. People will judge grief. They'll think you're being rude because you don't feel up to being in groups or sharing things on their terms. You know for the first few months I was scared to even go out in public. I felt like a freak. And I remember going to my first birthday party after and people tip toeing around the awkward "I'm so sorry" or "I was going to send a card but..." or just whatever. Believe it, it was just as awkward for others as it was for me. I didn't even know what to say back. So I made the executive decision to take care of me. If I wanted to talk, I would. Wanted to go out, I would. Wanted to hide, I would. Those who truly support you do not need an explanation. 

5. Anxiety. Holy anxiety. I laughed when the doctor told me I was dealing with PTSD. Um, really? He warned me that it could worsen, would worsen. Suggested counseling. He was right. It got bad. I had anxiety about my five year old. If this unheard of thing could happen to me with the twins, anything could happen. I worried about the strangest things. Car rides gave me anxiety, doctor appointments, falls, anything. I was so worried that God would take him, too. It's irrational but I couldn't help it. I wanted to bubble wrap him. Honestly, still dealing with that, but, loss creates fears you never knew you had and the anxiety creates just heart stopping panic. Of course, then a pregnancy after loss, wow. Thank you to everyone who's been my support. I've had a really hard time. Panic attacks before my appointments, preparing for bad news. There was one scare where I had to be monitored for preterm contractions and due to an anterior placenta (didn't know this at the time)...They couldn't find a heartbeat. I thought I was going to just die from anxiety. I get better day by day but I'll be the first to admit this loss has changed me. I was warned I will probably be too protective when she's born and eventually will, hopefully, realize there isn't always something bad over the horizon. God help me, I hope so.

6. Life goes on and it's okay to be happy/sad. It was strange at first feeling happy about anything after losing our babies. You truly feel guilty. It took me months to realize that I can feel immense love and excitement for our life, our pregnancy and still miss my children. I'll have days where I go to a Dr appt and am ecstatic for my daughter's health and that night cry in the shower because I miss my babies and then after I'm rolling laughing with my five year old...there are no rules here. Happiness is okay.

7. Life is a gift. I have always been a grateful person. Having all my freedom taken away to the point of living in a hospital, dependent on everyone else, losing two babies I yearned for after previous loss...all this has made me appreciate the tiniest things. Like being able to watch my son run into school, taking a shower, good coffee...I am just like hell yes, life is a blessing. People who are crabby or complain about stupid things make me want to smack them. Realize what a real difficulty is, and then complain. Even on my worst days, I never complained. I only took in what God gave me and dealt with an optimistic heart.

9. Be present in the moment. My whole pregnancy with the twins I wished it away. Can't wait for this, can't wait for that. Now, I sit on the couch, feeling my baby kick and just embrace it all. It could be gone tomorrow. I know this well. So I embrace it. When my son wants to play one more game, I go that extra step. I may have urged to clean up before and rushed rushed rushed the moment. This isn't promised, none of it. So I embrace the moment.

10. Grief never ends. This is so important to understand. I say goodnight to my Lucy and Liam every single night and I relive the moments we lost them every time. Those emotions never go away. You just learn how to cope. You put the energy into love for them instead of sadness. It's okay for nobody to ever understand your grief. It's your own. Nobody needs to understand it. You don't need to explain it or justify it. It's now a part of you. The beautiful thing is, it can really be a positive trait. My grief has made me kinder, more aware, less judgemental. My grief has made me become involved in prematurity awareness and spreading my story and embracing other moms who have lost. My children both lived for hours, they continue to touch so many lives and only lived for hours. Let that sink in. Grief can be beautiful. If I can comfort one mother, educate another, just be the presence needed for someone to not feel grief has had a positive outcome. My children are always with me in that. Trust me. I can sense them, every day.

October is national infant loss, pregnancy loss awareness. Remember these babies, their mommies and daddies, sisters and brothers. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

You are definitely not alone!!

I have been such a blog slacker!!!

I have been on leave from work after delivering the twins and it's honestly been a day to day juggling act and honestly at the end of the day sometimes I just don't have much to say. I will say, things are getting better. One day at a time. 

We finally found that strength to hang the babies urns up and create a special little spot for them in our home. That was a difficult task which required a good amount of wine and a husband to help when I broke down in tears over not only what I was doing but over the fact that the damn shelf was not "easy to install" as the box said. Like I said, one day at a time. The end result was beautiful and bittersweet. I should be decorating their nursery not adorning their urns, that was stinging. Nonetheless, the project ended well!

It's crazy because it's a whole different type of grieving when you go through losing a baby (or in this case two) and have a child at home. Children do make everything a little lighter. It's hard to be down when your son looks at you with his huge innocent eyes and says some disgusting five year old type joke. Yep, hard to be down when you're walking around with a blessing like that. Harder even so because you find yourself imagining if the babies you lost would laugh like he does or have his quirky habits, his same brown eyes, etc...but it definitely opens you to a world of complete adoration for this gift you've been given. I could keep him in a bubble, poor kid. His response to me lately when I tell him I love him is: "You say that a million times!!! I know!!!!!" I don't care that he's annoyed, glad he knows how much I love him and how grateful I am for him!!!!!

So to get to topic for this post, it's National Infertility Awareness Week!! While unfortunately my heart has been introduced into this different world of a grieving heart also holds so much passion for the topic of infertility. This year's theme?

 "You are not alone."

I cannot preach to anyone enough who is possibly in the midst of a long struggle or in the beginning of finding they may be dealing with infertility how important it is that they know how far away being alone in this is from reality. 

I remember the moment I saw my positive pregnancy test with my son, Jude. I sobbed. Only it wasn't like the kind of sob I did with the twins or our baby prior. It was a "holy shit, I am not ready for this" cry. Of course, I was, I just didn't know. You don't really think about having a baby at 21. At least I didn't. My friends were entering the bar scene while I entered mommyhood. Best thing that ever happened to me and when I think of the night Jude was born it has a feeling of magic. Pure magic!!! So needless to say, I had zero thoughts of having any more children any time soon. I also never even considered that I'd ever have difficulty in having more. It happened so unexpectedly. I was young and obviously fertile. Yep. I was wrong. And knowing how bad my endometriosis was I look at my son as a miracle, seriously.

Anyways to wrap this up, if you're reading, you're familiar with my journey. I can remember the silence in the ultrasound room when my husband and I lost our first baby. I also remember a sign on the wall (as the hospital was a Catholic one) that simply said "If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it." No joke, I remember that moment often and I live off that basic quote. 

I went home after emergency surgery that essentially saved my life and grieved that baby that we never got to know. I remember discussing options and feeling so lost. IVF seemed so confusing and unreachable and pretty damn hard, honestly. It was overwhelming. I never thought I could do this. I wanted to give up. But again, if you know me, I never give up. Difficulties are small potatoes in comparison to the big picture. Today, I could vividly describe every segment of every exploratory surgery/procedure used to diagnose infertility, walk you through every detail and drug of the IVF world and list for you every herb, vitamin and natural remedy suggested for better IVF success. I got this. So if you're going through what I have and am, know this, you're not alone. Your faith needs to be bigger than your fears. Even after loss, struggle and the whole shebang, I stand tall and optimistic.

I was touching earlier on how hard it is to see anything but positivity when your world involves a child, they are so optimistic. My son feeds me a lot of my strength and courage to face everything we've been through...they say if you want to understand the world talk to a five year old. We were in Target the other day and Jude was making faces at an adorable little baby girl when he told me simply that he "missed his Lucy and Liam"...I assured him that we all do. His response was so innocent and optimistic and yet so adult like that it stopped me in my tracks. "Mom, I know you get sad because you miss them. Some mommies have babies that go to heaven, some mommies have babies but it takes (his exact words) 'a million years', and some mommies don't have babies. But that's o.k."

Profound. I'll wait a million years to experience another gift comparable to him!! 

Just remember, momma, you're not alone!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

let's break this crazy taboo

Grief is hard work. I have decided to take the advice I found while reading one of my favorite books Tuesdays with Morrie, you may be familiar with the touching story of a young man who spends his Tuesdays with an old professor of his from college who is essentially dying from ALS, their days are spent working through accepting that life for him is ending while finding the courage to enjoy it. There is a part in the book where Morrie (the dying professor) says something to the effect that he spends a brief amount of time every day to grieve for himself and then moves through the day as to not let grief consume his life. This makes so much sense to me as a newly bereaved mommy. I need to grieve but I also need to try to find a new norm and live. I take the time to scroll Pinterest quotes/pictures that make me think of Lucy and Liam, I read through my support group blogs and cry every morning and then I put it away, if I can. Grieving is hard work but it's copacetic. It's all part of healing, feeling the pain and embracing it.

I've come to notice pain and grief makes people uncomfortable and I understand that. I probably wouldn't have the ability to see grief for what it is had I not experienced what I have. I never understood the magnitude of loss until recently. I have genuine pain and compassion for people who I notice grieving. I wish I didn't understand so well how they feel, but I do. So I understand that people will say things with intent to comfort or relate without thinking these things through. "What's wrong?" (I'm grieving my children.) "At least you have one already." (Yes, and I'm grateful. Children however don't replace other children and our desire to have more children is our desire. It needs no explanation.) "They're in a better place, it wasn't meant to be." (Yes, they earned a spot in Heaven. They are in a beautiful place but would it be that easy to understand if they were your children.) I could go on, the point is clear. I am grateful for the attempt. Infant loss is really misunderstood and I feel bad for never realizing how hard it was for so many women I grew to know through my infertility struggles that experienced this great loss. I chalked it up to something I could never survive through...and then I did. I'm adjusting to losing two children that I fought for through years of struggling with infertility to have. I think it's hard for people to understand the intense desperation that infertility coupled with loss creates in a couples heart without having experienced it themselves. I understand that, so sometimes I wish there was more understanding for the topic. It shouldn't be a hush hush topic. See, I am not unhappy. Of course, I wish things happened a different way. I wish I was still admiring my children...Via ultrasound instead of through the photo albums of their first...and last day in this world. However, I still laugh, I still act crazy with my five year old and husband. I'm grieving. Don't feel sorry for me or become awkward when I talk about my children. Remember them with me. Admire their beauty and my love for them. I am just like any other mother. I loved my babies and I want to remember them. Yes, I am changed now. I am learning to understand the new me. Have patience with me for that. Be careful of opinions and comments. Our desire for more children was and is still a desire we have as a couple. Our pain for the loss we have suffered is brand new and now a forever part of us.

Coming to terms with the new me is my latest project. I started this blog to have an avenue for me to vent and others to relate. The ironic thing is most days this grief leaves me speechless. It's still awkward for me. One day at a time.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Joining a sorority

This past week I made the journey back to St Francis, Peoria for a two week check in. It's safe to say they were more concerned with my mental health than physical. You don't truly realize what you're going through when you're going through it...if that makes any sense. You go through the motions, but the reality of the situation has yet to fully sink in. My mind kind of went numb after we delivered our son. I was officially initiated into a sorority that I never wanted to join. The sorority of parents who have lost their children. "Delta Gamma holy shit this stuff doesn't happen to people like me" I can't describe the feeling of this new world any better. 

Checking out of the hospital was one of the most bittersweet moments. When I was first admitted and told by my wonderful doctor, Dr Leonardi, (who I love and will praise later) that I would be spending the rest of my pregnancy (90 some days) in the hospital, I was beyond overwhelmed. At first, the worry of my child at home was really my main concern. Not realizing the severity of the situation yet, I worried mostly about missing out on time with my son. I couldn't physically handle the amount of stress this caused me at first. I would cry at commercials that reminded me of Jude's favorite foods or movies we had made plans to go see. I would wake up and sob, go to bed and sob...all I wanted was his little body cuddled next to me, to smell his hair, hear him whine (you learn a whole new appreciation for what typically was an annoyance). In my mind, at that point, he was what I missed and who I cried for. On the day we checked out, though, I stood looking out the window of our now "postpartum" hospital room and sobbed for the children I'd never get to miss in the way I missed my Jude. My husband had went downstairs to the chapel to light a new candle for our son just as he did previously for our daughter as the nurse came in to let me know the paperwork was complete and we were free to go home. I never thought I'd want to stay longer...weeks ago you could have never convinced me that I'd feel that way.

The wheelchair ride to the parking garage entrance was such a painful experience. It was the first time I had been around anyone in the outside world for weeks and I felt like everyone knew I had joined this new sorority. I couldn't find the strength to look anyone in the eyes. I had no shoes, my clothes had basically been stripped prior to my life flight to OSF and we weren't expecting to be going home until May. I donned bright pink, polka dot slippers my husband had bought from the gift shop and I felt like everyone stared as I sat down in the waiting area of the garage waiting for our car to pull up. Oh yes, waiting for our car, the SUV we had just went out and bought a month or so prior that we made sure had plenty of room for three car seats was now another sad reminder of what we were leaving without. I have never felt so much like I could have screamed and kicked and been white jacket admitted then right at that moment. Instead I watched the car pull up, got up in silence and walked out into the snow slush in my fancy new slippers. 

Life began as a new sorority member. 

So back to my check up...I sat in a conference room and met with my wonderful doctor. I'll take a minute here to praise my specialist, Dr Leonardi. Words cannot describe how much I love this man. My husband and I would have found zero comfort in the despair of our situation without him. Seriously words can't even express the emotion I have toward him, I'm trying and can't find the words. We would probably honestly not be able to confidently attempt a pregnancy again if we didn't have such faith in him. Knowing our future pregnancies will be handled by him is this huge reassurance, he is just amazing. A self proclaimed eternal optimist, he always shed some light on even the most frighteningly realistic, heartbreaking moments. Once we started to realize the severity of our situation, it was really hard to not melt into the despair of it all. I honestly think solely because of Dr Leonardi and the amazing nurses/aides in OSF antepartum unit, we did not go crazy, to put it mildly. 

Anyways...again, back to the check up. I'm sidetracking so badly. We discussed the events that we had unmistakably now lived through. Yep, I'm still here, pulse is still beating. I was commended for my strength and blankly responded to that as I usually do. See, it's odd when you join this sorority as a mother who still has living children. I'm seriously not strong but I am a mom. So when I wanted to go home and curl into a ball and cry and sleep for days and drown myself in wine and self pity...I instead went home and maintained my normal duties as a mom to a five year old who knew nothing but his mom was finally home (score!!) and he had two more guardian angels. I was determined to pretend to be strong for that five year old. I didn't want him to take on the burden of a mom who was "changed"...although, undoubtedly, I am. It's the burden of this sorority, I am changed, but others don't see the interior, only exterior and I was born with a tough exterior...which makes it really hard. 

This check up appointment was truly important in discussing where we go from here. We lost our twins due to cervical incompetence and obviously extreme prematurity. Dr L explained that the saddest part of cervical incompetence is that most of the time, there is no warning, no way of truly knowing until the mother experiences the loss. Most incompetent cervix cases dilate with no pain, contractions, they are essentially "silent". Cervical checks were to be started on me at week 20. I was flown to Peoria at 19 weeks and 4 days and at that point my daughter's water bag was already protruding. It was essentially too late to do anything at this point but pray for a miracle. Most incompetent cervix losses are late...between the weeks of 16-24 when the weight of the baby or in my case babies (which obviously adds more weight as a multiple pregnancy) becomes too much for the cervix to hold. This point in pregnancy is late and yet too early for a baby to survive as the lungs have not began functioning. Risks of a baby being born even at the point of "viability" which is at the minimum 24 weeks include severe handicaps. We knew there was possibility that our children could make it to the point of survival but the reality of our situation with loss of amniotic fluid, extreme prematurity, etc was possibly having children that faced serious health risks and would possibly never know the quality of life we knew. We were even asked upon being admitted if we wanted to "discontinue" the pregnancy with Liam if labor started with Lucy knowing she wouldn't make it to save us the heartache of these risks with him. This was not an option for us. I put it in God's hands. I knew that God had a plan for our babies and us and don't believe it is our place to ever manipulate that plan. I now know, God wanted zero suffering for our babies and sadly I prayed, hoped and wished for a miracle and still joined this ugly sorority. We now know, in future pregnancies, a cerclage (which essentially is sowing the cervix shut) will be a necessity along with prolonged progesterone shots (which for all my IVF friends know this practice well)...but a "successful" pregnancy is definitely in our future. It's truly heartbreaking that it took us joining this "sorority" to find out that my cervix checked out on me after carrying that crazy, beautiful five year old I was mentioning. I hurt and cry daily for the children I will never know but in the same breath, thank God, because I am lucky to have a healthy child that drives me crazy. The Lord gives and he takes and its not my place to question that. I try really, really hard to trust in his plans. Obviously sometimes being human and so naturally selfish, I can't help that occasionally I may break down on the bathroom floor begging for my children back. That's reality. Still, I trust his plan.

So my check up was concluded with fair warning that this sorority I've now joined is a roller coaster ride that will stay with me for life. We were given the blessing to proceed with IVF again within this year physically (which is a subject for another post) but warned that it was the mental aspect that a lot of my care right now focused on. I was warned that with being on leave right now that rest was equally important for my mind as it was for my body. I was warned to make sure that I'm prepared that I may feel okay and then find myself having a breakdown when I see a set of twins when I'm out shopping at Target and I realize that Lucy and Liam would have been their age. I'm warned to acknowledge that the breakdowns are okay and even necessary in healing. I'm warned of so many aspects of this loss that I hadn't yet considered and sit doe eyed as they're discussed. 

This sorority sucks. I want to quit. But I've been pledged for it's important to focus on what it has given me aside from a big hole in my heart. It has taught me the value of life. Life is so fragile and truly a miracle. After going through IVF and literally watching the miracle of life happen from embryo to end result, I've never realized how truly huge the blessing of just having a healthy child is. I had a friend call me this past week and break into tears as she confessed that it hurt her so immensely that I've been dealt the struggles I have. She explained that she knew how much I appreciated my son and how badly I wanted a baby and how it made her go home at night with a new appreciation for her children. Pregnancy came so easily for her and it broke her heart that I've gone through what I have. The call was really an unexpected one in that when people expose their weaknesses and praise you, it's almost uncomfortable. Again, I'm honestly just dealing with what has been placed in my hands. I will say, that if my losses can shed light on how blessed a parent is to have a healthy child to kiss goodnight then I can bear that cross. 

I can't change that I belong to this sorority. I can't wish it away and sometimes I don't want to. Obviously, I wish I was being induced into the club of  moms that are mildly crazy and definitely on the verge of being overwhelmed into a breakdown because they're juggling that five year old and new life. I welcomed that stress. But I'm still a mom to four children, even though I only get to kiss one goodnight. Sometimes being part of this sorority helps me know that other moms and dads go to bed and only kiss some of their children goodnight and follow up with a nightly prayer asking that God is taking good care of the rest. The sorority means I'm in a group that doesn't disregard my children because they're not living. I want to remember them everyday. Every detail of their tiny faces, I never want to forget kissing their head, I want to remember it all, they're my children. It helps to know I'm not alone in those feelings and belong to a sisterhood that understands. I am not alone. Ever.

And actually since I also have that off the wall five year old, I'm not alone right now and I'm being nagged for my tablet so he can watch Netflix as we speak so I'll wrap this up. Like I said, I am not alone. Ever. 

The crazy child I thank the big guy for.

Friday, February 13, 2015

what loss taught me about love & marriage

My first blog post! I racked my brain with what topic to write on...with the loss of our twins being so incredibly fresh and my brain being overwhelmed with so many thoughts...I figured in spite of it all, I would start with a post about love and marriage, being it's Valentine's day tomorrow and because all of these significantly devastating events have taught me a thing or two about love and the strength of our marriage.

I look back on dating my husband and even into the early parts of our engagement/marriage and realize how I truly did not understand love. Sounds strange, right? Because I vowed to spend the rest of my life with this person...what do you mean you didn't understand love?! Red flag. No, no...I loved him but I don't think I understood the magnitude of what love and a marriage meant. Marriage was exciting: pretty dress, big party...I'm a Mrs, how grown up! seems that with the excitement of those moments we lose the true meaning of the commitment you're making and what real love is.

True love isn't the movie we watch that makes us wonder where we went wrong or the fairytale we grew up reading...and we know that. We know there's a line between reality and that built up version of what love is.

When we were early into our relationship and even up into marriage, I was jealous and insecure. I couldn't understand that this man had married me. I think immaturity has a lot to do with that, piled along with the emotions that infertility blindsided me with. Infertility has this nasty way of making a woman feel inadequate. How could this man want someone who can't even give him this family we're exhausting ourselves for? Making babies should be easy, it should be fun. These thoughts destroyed my self confidence. It took a long time to realize that my husband married me AFTER we lost our first baby, AFTER we sobbed in a cold hospital room where we were told it was going to be a struggle for a family, AFTER all of that...full knowing the challenges, he chose to buy a ring and propose a lifetime because despite the challenges...he wanted to work hard to make it happen with ME. Hindsight is 20/20...insecurities now seem so unnecessary.

Marriage changes things...and when people say that so many times it's focused on how it negatively changes things. I call bull on that. (Pardon my French.) Marriage is amazing and it has taught me what love really is.

Love is finding a way to navigate through the problems you have and finding a way to get past them. Love isn't clean and free of conflict. Conflict teaches us what we stand for. Early on, we fought often...about stupid things mostly. I look back at that and truly we misunderstood each other and hadn't figured out how to communicate on our own terms. If we hadn't had that blow out about how something as insignificant as why deleting his Game of Thrones on the DVR sent him over the edge...I don't think we'd realize that those insignificant things mean something to your spouse. In dating, you may say screw it. In marriage, you make note. What matters to them needs to matter to you. That's love. You start to protect them in a way you would your child, you want them to be happy. One of the hardest parts of my pain in losing our twins was seeing the heartache on my husband's face. I could have taken all that pain on myself to protect him from feeling that...because his feelings matter to me. That's love.

Love is having a family member. This person isn't a boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, lover...they are your family. This is important and not realized (at least it wasn't for me) until you go through something life changing like holding a child you created together as they take their last breath. You see, we feel the pain as a family. We cry together, as a family. I know that the emptiness I go to bed with sometimes, he goes to bed with, too. You feel strength because of that. It's strange because I had never felt so close to my husband until we went through this ultimate test of heartache. I never felt like such a team and that may sound ironic but when the dust settles and the outside world stops grieving with you...this man is my family, my partner...and we hurt together, we'll heal together and move on from this...together.

Love is not about vanity and superficial things and it goes past getting ready for date night...that marriage vow we took..."in sickness and in health"...I would tease him and hold that over his head while I was hospitalized and on complete bed rest while going through the loss of our twins. Love for me was my husband helping me go to the bathroom on a bed pan while all my humility went out the window, love was my husband making sure I was ordering three meals a day because he worried, love was him making the trips to Wal-Mart to buy necessities like feminine wipes and Twizzlers, love was him buying glue dots because it was so important to him that every card I received was hung up so I knew how many people cared about me, love was my husband juggling work schedules so he could sleep beside me in a prison style cot so I wasn't in pain alone, love was sitting with me while I was barely able to answer a question in a conscious state because of the meds they had me on, love was celebrating every time we had a positive milestone and then holding me while I sobbed and begged God to not put us through this. Love was and is just being there because that person means the world to you and you can't bare to see them go through any pain alone.

We left the hospital with boxes full of mementos and support information for grieving parents instead of babies. We drove the hour home in mostly silence. We cried together and held hands as if to comfort a pain that is impossible to comfort...but we felt the pain together. We knew that everything we had gone through and the ladder we'd have to now climb again would be climbed as a team effort as it has from the beginning of our journey. I feel sad and even angry at times...but because of the strength of marriage, I don't feel alone. I feel as though I am part of the strongest team I could possibly pull rank on and after we brush the dust off, we'll face the world of grief and healing and navigate through IVF again, together.