Thursday, December 31, 2009

Here's to you, 2010!

Let's make a deal, yeah?

You treat me well, I'll remember you fondly. After all, you have so much opportunity ahead of you - my thirtieth birthday, possibly a promotion? Or no more credit card debt? Perhaps another pregnancy and possibly a living child? Maybe even a winning lottery ticket (which, let's be honest, since we're just starting out our relationship, is probably necessary in order to accomplish that credit card debt thing . . .)?

There is a lot of potential, friend.

I've got high hopes. Let's see what we can do.

Hey, I'm even starting you off right - no resolutions this year, save this.

May this year be one filled with peace and contentment, come what may.

Blessings and Happy New Year to everyone.

The End.

Dear 2009,

I gotta be honest. You sucked. You sucked donkey balls.

I'm sure it is not your fault. No, really. I don't blame you necessarily. But let's be honest, the year was a giant let down, especially after the distinct disappointment that was 2008. I'd had high hopes but instead . . . well, we've covered that already.

It was well documented the myriad of ways in which the year sucked, so no need to revisit. And while I'm feeling generous, I don't feel like slogging through the mire once again looking to see the silver linings or whatever.

I'm just ready to put the past (you) behind me and call it pax.

But I hope you'll forgive me for saying that I am really looking forward to 2010. Not because I think it'll be a spectacular year, but I kinda feel like it couldn't possibly get worse.

So cheers. We'll toast to you tonight and welcome in the new year, and I guarantee that it'll be with a sigh of relief on my part.

PS - that little parting gift with the thermometer crapping out this morning as I'm trying to determine ovulation? Very cute. Midnight cannot come fast enough.

Monday, December 28, 2009

That Procreative Stuff

Well, shit.

My temp not only didn't rise this morning, it dropped.

MTHFR, indeed.

Anyway, I've not discussed this much here because I've been busy, but also because, well, I'm not sure I have really wanted to open this up to too much expectation (even within myself). The last cycle of not really trying but finding that due to perversity there was a slim chance of pregnany made me realize how disappointed I was not to be pregnant. And while good wishes and encouragement and happy thoughts (but NO BABY DUST, because, ew)(on five or more levels) are very much appreciated, throwing out all the details of my cycle (even though, yes, this started primarily as a ttc/pregnancy blog) and knowing people are reading them feels a bit like added pressure.

Which, I acknowledge is sort of dumb. Because it can neither help nor hurt, nor be any bigger than the pressure I already feel (but am trying to reduce per my work with my therapist), but there it is. I had hoped to come in and announce that the vitex had worked beautifully, that I had just confirmed ovulation on cd 15, and that I was really pleased with our timing and prospects.

But this morning my temp dropped and the previous two were questionable to begin with. Additionally, the fertility signs were sketchy yesterday, my cervix doing weird things like not fully closing or moving back to low (I gave up on texture long ago). Cervical fluid was creamy, but copious and very wet. Which is also unusual.

I never have yet gotten a positive OPK this cycle. (Sidebar: Clearblue Easy is now packaging 20 digital tests together and some savvy shopping can help you find them for less than the cost of two boxes of 7. For someone like me, this is blissful news indeed. DH raised an eyebrow at the cost until I pointed out the cost of 20 opk's plus the box of 7 digitals. This is easier.)

We had had some concern about managing to find ways to have sex in my mom's house when we are not sharing rooms or beds and there were other people in the house with terribly thin walls, especially when one considers that exhibition has always been inhibiting for us and also that in the over 4 years we've been married we have had marital relations exactly 3 times prior to this and those were all while trying to conceive and we were desperate. And when one considers that 90% of our 'vacations' take place here, well, you get the picture, no?

We got lucky, or so we had thought, with the timing indicating that really, one night of sneaking around and being vewy vewy quiet would cover it. We managed it with nary a waking soul, and were releived. My brother left yesterday and we managed to sneak in a quickie when my mom went out to the store for a bit, and that just for fun because we thought I had already ovulated.

At least now she'll be returning to work so we don't have to sneak so much anymore.

But we're both tiring of this ride again. And the fact that after a beautiful chart, I did not, in point of fact, actually ovulate is wearying. It's frustrating. We can work enough sex to continue good timing, but we really aren't that into it right now. Which is so sad. But having been set back time and again and having been through over a year, I think - all added up together, of this ttc drama, we'd both like to skip this step and just be pregnant again. God knows there is more than enough anxiety surrounding that to waste much angst on ttc. Unlike 95% of women, I am all too aware of the fragility of pregnancy and in that tiny batch that need to know that pregnancy is not the goal after all, only the first mark in the mountain.

And that brings me back around to why I've not been talking much about it. In addition to not wanting the pressure, I don't want to write too much about it all. The anxieties I feel are all centered around what happens after sperm meets egg. I am anxious for that to happen and am doing a good deal to try and help it along, but getting hung up on if/when . . . I haven't got the energy right now. If we continue for another month or two with no luck, then perhaps I will feel that way, but for now. . . I just can't. I feel like we have a pretty good track record (which is of course, no guarantee for how things will go this time round), and we know how to time it all. . . my labs are all good, etc. So we just have to suck it up and do it.

I just wish it would happen faster.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

May you be blessed with love, peace and joy today, and all days.

Many thanks and love to you all who have reached out over the last four months to let us know you are thinking of us and of Gabriel and that you have held us up in your thoughts and prayers.

I have not acknowledged it all individually as I ought, but every single message, email, text, phone call, comment have been read over and over and appreciated.

We have enjoyed a very nice holiday thus far and are grateful for each other and our family.

Blessings and peace upon you all.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Addendum to yesterday

Cling Wrap is of the devil.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Madness of It All

I'm rushing. I really shouldn't even be posting this, but I'm in a lull for a moment since a batch of bread is in the oven (please be good, please be good, please be good) and I need to be off my feet for a bit, so the fudge will have to wait and I will be as brief as possible so that I can get Dh's stocking gifts wrapped before he gets home (though I am about 75% certain that he rifled through the bags after I went to bed last night anyhow).

But damn. I'm tired.

Leaving aside the procreative attemps for the moment, there is just so much freaking stuff to do. Work has been crazy, at least for me. I am not saying it was 100% go go go - I did take my dog up to work with me for the morning yesterday, and Jonah was very, very well behaved save for the time he barked right into my coworker's dog's face, frightening him - but it was rush, rush, rush. And I had repeated back and forth sniping with a colleague who was late and wrong and trying to cover her ass by blaming me (fortunately, my boss - who is also her boss now - sided with me. HA.). The biggest problem with that is that it took up all this time I hadn't planned on, so my own work was shoved aside to fix the crisis she created. Gah. I'm so ready for this break!

And then, likewise, at home, we've been running around and around and around. Just tons of stuff - finish Christmas shopping, clean the patio, clean the house (hahahahhah, I'm awesomely funny), wash the clothes, get out the suitcases, realize we forgot someone's gift, make yet another freaking run to an overcrowded store and stand in line forever, wrap, wrap, wrap, bake bake bake.

I'm worried about the gifts for the in-laws. I had this brilliant idea to do gift bags with a small personal gift and then baked goods and sweets for the rest. So yesterday, DH made cinnamon-sugar coated nuts (and I hope they taste ok. . .), and I parceled out little baby specialty jams and weirdly flavored coffees, and I added a handful of tiny candy canes and Hershey kisses. They will also receive decorated sugar cookies, fudge and a mini-loaf of banana bread (that is currently baking and please let them be ok). I thought it would be a nice rounded sort of gift. But since I can't really taste it . . . I don't really know. The cinnamon-sugar nuts seem ok, but maybe a leetle off to me. But I'm not sure if I'm being overly critical or not. I just hate to give something that is no good or that will be mocked behind my back, you know? Or seem chintzy and parsimonious.


Ok, I have to wrap now or it won't get done.

There was a point here I was going to expound on.

Instead I'll be brief. Man, it doesn't feel like the holidays. I have just about no holiday spirit. It's been so rushed, moving from one thing to the next, fretting over gifts and money that I have nothing left. I hope I'll be able to relax after we get home, but I sure don't know. I often feel exhausted during these sorts of vacations, because we spend just as much time go go going there - trying to fit everyone in for equal amounts of time and get some time on our own and get restful sleep in less than ideal circumstances.

And that's all leaving aside the ttc stuff. Yeah. Sigh.

Maybe a rousing round of Jingle Bells will help? I certainly have enjoyed making up new and terribly un-PC lyrics to Taylor Swift's version of Last Christmas. . .

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Barnabas or Beelzebub? You decide.

I'm beginning to think that we have perhaps misnamed the little black monster that lives upstairs and makes me question why, oh why, I thought getting a kitten was a good idea after swearing off the idea at the tender, but apparently much wiser age of 12.

Don't get me wrong, I like Barnabas very much, nay, even love my little rabbit-fur-soft bundle of love that tenderly rubs his head against my cheek, purrs in utter delight when merely seeing me at the end of the day, and licks my lips in affection (ok, I don't love that, because dude. YOU rub sandpaper across your lips a few times and see if you love it).

In short, he is sad when he doesn't see us, loves when he does, and is delighted when we play with him. In fact, he will play exclusively with a toy I give him simply because I threw it.

But there is a much darker side to that sweet little innocent face. Oh, yes, friends, much much darker. Plotting. Calculating even.

I see him in the bathroom, choosing his strategic positions, waiting, watching. The one moment you turn your attention away from that little stalker is the moment he's been waiting for. He leaps, jumps, twists, and claws out (naturally), lands on your unsuspecting lap or back or goes straight for your head. The yeeeeooowwwwch you screech in high enough levels that only animals are wincing in sympathy, produces a look of pleasure and the closest a kitten can get to laughing evilly.

He consistently attacks the hems of my pants (really, I'm convinced he's going for ankle), but ONLY when I do not have the squirt bottle to hand. He's gotten wily about that, trying to scratch or attack when the squirt bottle is not in his sight lines (oh, he hates that thing). I've watched him, eyes narrowed (both of ours), while he plots and plans.

And then last night. He's been given more and more freedom to roam while we are not there to supervise and has done beautifully. Because he has done well during naps, and even through an afternoon away, I left him out last night (ultimately, we have to let him free at night, or when I am pregnant again, bad things will happen as he occupies the entire upstairs bathroom and I cannot see the possibility of heading downstairs to pee and then back up again as a real one). What happened?

Oho, my sweet little fluffball? Went away. I could see the cold calculating gleam in his eyes, even in the dark. And sure enough, just as I am slipping into the warm embrance of Colin Firth . . . THWAP. That little bastard leapt up onto my chest from the foot of the bed and pulled his paw back and THWAPPED me directly across the nose. And it HURT. Little fucker. Then he did it again. THREE TIMES before I could untangle myself from the warm cocoon of blankets and call for DH. I could swear I heard him cackling as DH shut him away.

This afternoon, having not learned my lesson, I tried again. And the result? He tried to give me a new cartiledge piercing. Ouch.

But DH and I have figured out one thing - he is scared of the sound (or sight, god knows it could be either) of us having sex. Bwahahahahahhahaaaaaaa.

Oh, and one final piece of evidence that my cat is occasionally overtaken by a demon incarnate? He always, without fail, attempts to eat my gold cross.

Coincidence? I think not.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rough time.

I miss him.

It's a constant, dull ache. I miss him, and long for him. It's a part of my being. Sometimes it is sharper than others, sometimes it hurts more than other times.

This afternoon was one of those times.

It does not escape me that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of a child, nor that the angel named Gabriel plays a prominent role. It was something I marveled at in August in that brief period of time between confirmation of Gabriel's sex and identity and his birth and death. How neat, I thought, that Gabriel will always feel a little something special at Christmas.

Being so close to the time that his birth ought to have been is an odd feeling. Certainly, feelings are running closer to the surface than a month ago. But I wonder if that is just the season, rather than the time. My friend is due the day after I was. She is coming close to her time, and much as I want to support her, I find myself sitting back and apart. I so fervently wish her a speedy, easy birth and a healthy, bonny son. But until he arrives, I feel a twinge and a pain as my chest tightens with every update, and I find myself tongue tied and glassy-eyed.

My friend A asked how I was doing with it and I told her the truth. I am surprisingly calm. It stings, and yet. I don't really associate Gabe with January anymore. August is his month now. And I can say with certainty that I will not look at G's son and constantly compare. It won't be the exquisite, acute pain I had originally thought it would, at least once he's born, because . . . Gabe is of a different time.

We have spent a good deal of time trying to figure out how best to honor him at this time, how to fit him into our lives in a way that includes and remembers him, makes him part of our traditions, and is not crippling.

It's hard.

My wonderful friend Katie is arranging some of his photos for us, with copies of his footprints if I can get them to her. She's also creating something for my parents as well (DH is not comfortable giving Gabe's picture to his parents, as they have not expressed interest in seeing the photos). That is forthcoming, and I feel some surprising relief at finally getting his picture done and put up in our house. It feels like the right thing to do. But since those won't be ready for awhile, I wanted to do something else at Christmas.

We decided to do ornaments to represent Gabriel. One for our tree, and one for each set of grandparents. Having made this decision quite late, our options were somewhat limited and we found some silver 'G' ornaments this afternoon that we thought would be appropriate. Standing there, holding them, it hit like a ton of bricks.

I should be holding him, shopping for his first Christmas ornament. Not his memorials. God, how I want to hold him again. How I long to feel him near me more. The ache was so deep, the pain poured out like molten lava, magma pouring from the fissures of a volcano, tears streaming down my face in an instant. Dh held me while I cried in the aisle, Gabriel's ornaments in my hand.

It shouldn't be like this. It is though. All I can do is continue to love him and miss him. I hate it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thanks, CBS. But, um, no thanks.

Has anyone else seen those commercials they are airing, encouraging you to give a real gift to your loved ones by scheduling them for a prostate exam/pap smear?

The Soup just mocked it a moment ago, suggesting that perhaps one ought not to give their female partner a 'gift' suggesting that something is wrong with their vagina.

I'm inclined to agree.

While I'm all for DH being aware of my health and encouraging me to be proactive about it . . . er, no. Thanks. I'll take care of my pap smears myself.

Honestly? I find it creepy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I feel like I'm going to be sick.

My dad just informed me that my brother has told him he'll be sent to Afghanistan in June.

Mike is a first lieutenant in the US Army, a chemical defense officer and proud to serve. He chose the Army and chose to make a career of it after his tour in Iraq when his reserve unit was activated. He spent 11 months in Mosul attached to a medical unit in 2005, shipping out the day after Christmas 2004 and returning at the beginning of December 2005. As soon as he returned, he switched the remainder of his time as a reservist to ROTC.

What he told me was that he felt there were too many bad officers. Guys who had no idea what ordinary soldiers were like, who didn't understand how it worked on the ground. He told me that it was bad enough he wanted to leave the army, but instead decided that the only way to really make it work and protect his fellow soldiers was to become an officer himself, and be a damn good one.

He chose to go into chemical defense, for a few reasons. Mike liked that it was a smaller branch, that it would fast track his promotions (his goal is to retire at nothing less than Colonel and said if he could make brigadier general, he would). He also liked that it would give him greater opportunity to travel. Despite the dangerous nature of it, he told us that the liklihood of deployment was much smaller as a chemical defense officer.

And so it has been, until the extra push by Obama for more troops in Afghanistan.

My brother has not said a word to me, or to my mother. Which is how I know it's not just speculation right now. He wouldn't have told anyone in the family, even my dad, unless he had more information. I'm guessing he'll either tell us at Christmas or wait until after he gets back home from it.

Mike is a poet. 0His writing, whether poety or prose is amazing - fluid, stunning, sharp but delicate - always surprising to an older sister who marvels at what her baby brother has become. His BA is in English and he has a passion for all things Japanese. He has studied the language and can read and write passably, if not fluently. He is also hearing impaired, having lost 50% of his hearing in one ear and 70% in the other. He is fluent in American Sign Language and hopes to one day pursue a Masters degree in deaf studies. He wore hearing aids during college until his unit was activated and he received orders to Iraq. His disability ought to have disqualified him from overseas assignment, but revealing it might have disqualified him from further service. So he has learned to do without the hearing aids and no one who didn't know him has any idea he doesn't have full hearing.

He amazes me, this brother of mine. I puzzle over him. I harbor regrets - for not attending his soccer games, from being too cool to play with him when I got older, for not being around when our parents were divorcing and he was stuck in an unpleasant situation at home. Living apart from him for the last 11 years, I don't know if I can say I know him well. He has always been a true Gemini - aspects of his personality well hidden from his family, often an enigma to us. As he grew out of adolescent tempers, he has opened himself to us more, allowed us to see these other sides of him. I know little about his daily life, as he does not choose to share much.

But I know the strength of his character. I know there is a gentleness and compassion in him that he finds confusing, that urges him to help people, that has always been there. He recognizes and appreciates beauty. He doesn't always understand other people, is sometimes mystified by how they act. Mike prefers logic to emotion, and would be horrified and embarrassed by everything I'm saying now. I appreciate knowing him, and have enjoyed becoming a sort of friend-and-sister to him. I always feel I was not the sister I ought to have been, but I know he still loves me, because I am the one he seeks out for relationship advice.

I am terrified that he will be in danger again. That he will return to this war. I realize this is the life he has chosen and that as an honorable man, he will do nothing less than his full duty and be glad of it. I fear losing him. He is a beautiful soul.

Feeling a bit better

Now that I've had some time to settle in and digest this news, obsessively google cervical incompetency/cerclage/MTHFR/etc (real research forthcoming so I can gather my list of questions for the next meeting with my Dr B) and meet with my therapist, I feel more balanced.

Cerclages work a lot. And close monitoring helps tremendously. No guarantees, but then there never are any.

I think it's just a matter of standing at the platform, all hooked up now, ready for the bungee jump. I've read the disclaimers and understand how it all works. I've paid attention to the safety instructions and am all harnassed up and now I'm stepping out on the platform and it's hitting me full in the face - you are about to jump off a platform and the only thing saving you (in this analogy, life = sanity) is this thing cord which has been known to fail on occasion. But only rarely! Good luck!

It's scary. It's scary to look this in face and gather my courage. And trying again to conceive requires courage. Trying again after a loss is hard enough. Trying again after the death of your baby is harder. The more pregnancies I lose, the more despair lurks around the question of if we'll ever be parents. And not to demean an early loss (I've been there, it was devastating and hurt), but losing Gabriel was much worse for me than losing Chickadee. That pain is indescribable, and to sign up for the ride again knowing that pain is lurking out there, and worse, knowing exactly what it feels like . . . I don't know sometimes what we're thinking doing it again. I distinctly remember holding Gabriel in my arms and looking DH right in the eye and saying, "Never, never again. I will never go through this again."

And here we are. I'd say that 75-80% of the time we are ready and calm and eager to try again and get pregnant again. I've started temping again and have new opk's (more on that in another post) and we're joking about how we have to figure out how to have sex in the backseat so we can give it go this cycle (my fertile period looks to fall over our out of town visit, where we sleep in different rooms and keep very odd hours, making sex a difficult proposition at best).

And then there are those times, where it stares us right in the face and I have to ask if we are doing the right thing. Dr. K told me yesterday that she was relieved to hear how nervous I am, because it means I'm sane and I'm taking a serious look at what this requires rather than sugar-coating it.

I don't know. Only time will tell, I suppose. I feel better knowing I have an excellent medical team behind me, that I have good odds with a relatively simple procedure ahead of me, if I can get pregnant again. I know I'm not thrilled about having to be back at square one again and I know further that I am not enthusiastic about the roller coaster ride that trying to conceive after a loss is. When you have repeatedly lost your chance to be a parent to a living child, you begin to wonder if it's possible and it makes the lows lower and the highs higher and the middle times anxious.

But I'm doing the best I can, we are doing the best we can. And we have to trust in the safeguards holding us up . . . and jump. The longer we stay out here on this platform looking over, the scarier it gets. We can only hope that the end result is exhilaration and bliss (such as parenthood is - don't think I am romanticizing it), rather than injury and pain. Such is life, always.

I just have to believe what it says up there in the header - that all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. Otherwise . . . what is the point?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Frustrated and Overwhelmed (or, an overview of my shg)

I've been avoiding writing about this because I wasn't sure it was going to happen. There was a chance that due to illness and some bad timing that I might have been pregnant last cycle. Small, outside chance, but there. I didn't want to talk about it because I wasn't sure how I felt about it. One moment, I hoped a lot, another moment, I wasn't ready and the next I was worried about how it would be without having gotten all the tests done and taking baby aspirin.

Turns out I needn't have worried - except for a brief scare with a Target brand test and an evap line (no longer using those, that's for damn sure) which let me know unequivocally that I want to be pregnant again, despite the worries - my period showed up in normal fashion with enough warning on Friday. They had told me expressly that they couldn't do the shg if I was on my period, so I was concerned about the timing, but in this case, old Aunt Flo (gag me) didn't let me down. I was down to mere spotting yesterday and with a quick phone call, my appointment for this morning was confirmed.

I won't bore you with the details; it was fine. Not the most comfortable thing I've ever done in my life and I'd be happy to forgo it given the option of repeating the experience, but not terrible. Didn't enjoy the cervix pinch, but found it entertaining how teeny my uterus is in normal circumstances and I was amused to watch it being blown up like a balloon.

The doctor was the practice's RE, not my normal Dr. B. He briefly summarized the test results from my multitude of blood: normal, normal, normal, except for oh, yeah. I have a heterozygous mutation of MTHFR. That's all I know. He mentioned that it is considered controversial whether or not MTHFR mutations contribute to pregnancy loss, though he said he personally believes so, but also said that if I simply take a Vitamin B-complex supplement and folic acid supplement in addition to my prenatal, it should not be a problem. He also stated flat out that while he believes MTHFR mutations can cause recurrent loss, he emphasized that those are first trimester losses and is most likely unrelated to Gabe's birth.

He listened to my history and reviewed my chart and was fascinated to hear about my cervical ectopic (as opposed to befuddled, which is the normal reaction). He explained the procedure and on we went.

He quickly determined that the uterus looks just fine. Nothing structurally abnormal showed up, nor did I expect anything would. There was no evidence of polyps, fibroids or scarring that would prevent or impede normal implantation or placental development.

Then he decided to take a closer look at my cervix, and that's where I got thrown for a loop (though hearing that I probably don't have a relevant clotting disorder had already made me a little anxious, as after research I was fully prepared for that diagnosis and even welcomed it, knowing it would be treatable). He looked and said, "Ahhhhhhh-hummmmmmmmmm." I asked what that meant and he in turn asked me where my cervical pregnancy had been located and then pointed it out on his anatomical chart on the wall, needing only affirmation from me, which I gave to the best of my ability.

Specifically, he pointed to the top of the cervix, uterus side, also known as the internal os. Then he pointed out the damage on the internal os he was seeing on my cervix.

He said he couldn't say for certain that I experienced cervical incompetancy, nor that it was the defining factor in Gabriel's premature birth, but he suspects that is so. He said because it was at the internal os, rather than the external os, it would be harder to see via ultrasound and of course, we can't forgo the possibility that that pesky partial placenta previa (say that 10 times fast, dare you)wasn't covering it anyway. He said it might not be detectable through pelvic exam, where the external os would appear closed and long. And of course, we know from all the bleeding and the blood clot on the placenta that a weakened cervix is not the only problem that pregnancy faced.

Still. Awesome.

He said he is recommending cerclage for any future pregnancies, in addition to careful frequent monitoring.

I thanked him, felt relieved that I was able to have the procedure done before we began a real effort to conceive again, since it probably wouldn't have shown up without the procedure. I'm grateful that I don't have a blood clotting disorder that will put my future health in jeopardy. I'm thankful my thyroid is functioning, that I am not diabetic or pre-diabetic (very good for my weight), that my cholesterol is good, and that my blood pressure was better than perfect today. I'm thankful that there are some treatment options here.

But I'm also completely frustrated by this news. It does a few things. It brings me right back to the guilt I was feeling immediately after Gabriel's birth when I felt like my body failed me, failed him. I realize there is no logical difference between my blood and my cervix, but damned if it doesn't feel different. The one thing that had been mostly dismissed was an incompetent cervix, precisely because the pelvic exam I had at 12:00 pm that day showed no effacement and no dilation and I certainly went through plenty of contractions which were apparently opening the cervix. I'm right back there in the thick of that again and it hurts. If I didn't already have a therapy appt. scheduled, I would have called and demanded one, because it is eating at me.

It also strips away any illusion of control over the next pregnancy. While I know we never really have control, and while I feel I'm seeing the best doctors I can and that they are taking me seriously and working towards a common goal with me, I had hoped it would be a lot more straight-forward. I knew straight-forward (say Factor V Leiden) wouldn't be easier, but at least I had some control then, a plan then, something concrete to do to make things better.

Now I'm back to a murky set of facts: damaged cervix, likely cervical incompetency; lots of bleeding, possible early abruption, possibly placental malformation, possible complication of placenta previa; quickly descending preterm birth, maybe including PPROM but not sure; blood clot on the placenta, likely indicating abruption but with no indication of when the abruption occurred. The only thing we can do about these? Watch closely, wait tensely and cross fingers/pray. I will get the cerclage, though there are dangers associated with it and it scares me. I know I'll have a direct line to my OB and to MFMs if there are signs of preterm labor or issues with bleeding again. But . . . that's all illusory. There is no foreknowledge really to be gained by that, no real control given to us via that technology, only the reassurance that today there is a heartbeat and this hour the cervix is fine and hope that the next hour and the next day bring the same thing.

I understand that is really always the case, but it works for other people. They exist blissfully unaware of what is on the other side of the veil and how little control they have in any of it because they are on the good side of it all. The veil was ripped from my eyes and I know exactly what it looks like on the other side and it's fucking scary as hell to face that again and have no guarantees.

Naively, I wanted a guarantee. I wanted someone to tell me 'Hey, you've been through enough. This time you'll get your baby and can take him/her home with you.' or 'Now we know what caused it all, this time it will be fine.' I wanted that security, but I know it's not really there or really true.

I'm going to have a take a bigger leap of faith - when my faith has been sorely tested and stretched thin, when I've been in the smallest and worst of the statistics - and close my eyes and jump and pray to whatever being is out there that I survive it all, whatever comes. And I don't like it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Busy Bee

The end of the week at work was quite busy, and this weekend continued the trend.

We didn't get as much done as hoped (particularly because I slept late on Saturday and it was gray and chilly so we were lazy most of the day. But on Sunday . . . wow. I am terribly impressed with us.

The bathroom is still clean - wooo! DH, who normally loathes Christmas decorating, was being sweet and offered to decorate after all (I told him we didn't have to). I slept late again, but was up in time to get some stuff done.

In the morning (or what was left of it), we went and got the oil changed (and the air filter changed, and the rear axle fluid changed, and the car vacuumed) and inspected (it was only two weeks overdue!). And then we went to Target, where we picked up some essentials (like bread, milk, prenatal vitamins, etc.) and then home again. I was due to meet my friend A for tea in less than an hour, so I puttered around in the house while DH started clearing the patio.

See, when it snowed? Uh, I forgot to cover the plants. Because it is so rare for it to get cold enough to matter. That means we lost a lot of plants. Whoops.

Dh was clearning those. The good news is that the plants I wanted to remove were the plants hardest hit and the bed I wanted to keep intact looks like it will survive after he pruned it - it was overdue to be cut back anyhow.

I enjoyed a nice couple of hours with A and her son, who is a total flirt and has the best toothless grin and dimples and was just so curious about the world around him.

Then back home, where we worked to decorate the patio. There is still work to be done (much of what was pruned needs to be bagged and tossed, the beds need to be turned over and the patio needs to be weeded and swept yet). But we put out a few lights and I'm happy with that, though the tree needs another strand (I'm sure we have one amidst the stuff that was in the attic).

DH pulled everything down from the attic and I started thoroughly cleaning the living room, which requires that we do a whole lotta straigtening. We both suck at that. . . and it has shown for awhile. We both tend to be a little pack-rat-ish, and there were just random things on the shelves and on the dog's crate. And now? Holy cow. It looks soooo much better. I can see the top of the dog's crate. A bunch of old paperwork is gone. I can see the top of the desk, the shelves have been largely cleared of the detritus covering them, random bags have been emptied and things put away. It's looking so . . . clean! There is still work to be done in the living room (and we won't talk about the dining room, thanks), but we've made a really terrific start.

And the tree is up and lit, though undecorated.

Hell, maybe this year I'll be willing to take pictures, lol. We're even talking about setting up our second tree downstairs in the dining room. We think we may get it clean enough to make it worthwhile.

I'm really proud of us for (finally) buckling down and sorting through, throwing out and getting things put away. Next up - the bedroom/clothes/closet, the downstairs bathroom, the dining room and a good scrubbing of the floors. Maybe we'll get that done before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

You know, sometimes therapy makes me feel good.

So I had another appointment today with Dr. K. I've seen her four? times now, and will see her again next week. I think I like her. She can be a little kooky, but you know what? I really appreciate the global view she takes of things and I really, really appreciate the way she took the time to write a very nice letter to Dr. B (with my permission) stating that I am, indeed, seeing her as Dr. B requested and am, in fact, working within a framework strategy and then outlining the framework and strategies and inviting Dr. B to call her with any questions, concerns or comments.

I really do appreciate that.

Anyway, we've spent some time talking about my relationship with DH and about co-dependency. Which makes it sound like Dh and I are co-dependent, which is not the case. Dr. K feels we both have a tendency or pre-disposition towards co-dependency, but that is because she believes that DH's family is (and that mine perhaps was) co-dependent.

And you know what? It makes a lot of sense.

Anyway, I have no intention to rehash my last two sessions here, nor do I have a wish to go back over the past couple of weeks and share some things I didn't want to talk about here (but did want to talk about there) to give you a full story.

What I wanted to do in this post was nothing more or less than preen a bit. On two topics. One, is related to the above - the co-dependency thing. So Dr. K thinks both Dh and I tend towards that as the primary model we were exposed to. But she also thinks that we have managed to break away from a lot of those patterns and establish a pretty healthy relationship for ourselves. She does not think we are co-dependent and today she praised our relationship and how supportive we are of each other and how well we work 'in-step together'.

And you know what? That feels really good. Really validating. We are by no means perfect, and we definitely have flaws, but we really have managed to piece together a pretty solid foundation and have learned how to change some of our attitudes since we've lived together. And having that recognized and praised? That honestly makes me feel good, because it's something that is instinctive, but requires work and, well, love (as in the verb). I'm proud of us and how well we've been doing as a team.

Thing two? Also related to pride and less related to therapy but fully related to DH.

He has decided to return to school to complete his BA. I could not be happier or more proud of him. I guess what I should clarify is that he not only made the decision but has taken steps to make it happen and get registered for classes and get the funding in place.

And he's facing some really, really big fears in doing this. It takes a lot of balls to go back to school at any age, but especially to do so when it is directly tied into some serious issues in your past and some big fears.

I am so proud of him. I've never cared whether or not he finished his degree (but will admit to a fleeting thought of 'it'd be nice' or 'if you really want a better job, you may need to just suck it up and do this'); his happiness has always been the bigger issue - if he wants to do it, because it will make him happy to do it, awesome. If he didn't want to because he'd be happier, awesome. If he wanted to do it, but only out of obligation to someone else, not awesome.

But he really wants to do it and has made this decision himself and is doing it. I could just burst when I look at him, because I am so filled with pride, admiration and love.

My husband is totally awesome, y'all. I am just about the luckiest wife out there. Even though he leaves the seat up and could live in utter filth without noticing and likes green peppers. And I hate green peppers with a passion. Even then, still lucky.

Monday, December 7, 2009

If you bet no, you'd be wrong.

Yes, my friends, I have a mostly clean bathroom.

The floors still need to be done and towels replaced as we do a linens load or two, but the rest? Clean! CLEAN!

Except the tub should probably be scrubbed a second time. It just needs work. But DH is going to redo his patch job and resin over a couple of new cracks and I'm really psyched about that - and he is too.

Seriously? I didn't think it would happen but Dh came upstairs with me to entertain the cat (visions of the cat lapping at Scrubbing Bubbles ran through my head) but Barnabas seemed disconcerted that we were appropriating his space and wouldn't be left out. So Dh and I alternately cleaned together and distracted Barney and we got it done.

I cannot even begin to tell you how good it feels to have accomplished even that little bit. It looks sooooo much better. And Dh thinks he can redo the patch job in such a way that it could possibly buy us another year + with the tub. Which would be, like, a miracle. Truly. And a huge weight off our minds.

Who wants to take bets?

On what?

Whether or not I actually get my bathroom cleaned tonight.

I've been saying I would for, oh, a month now.

But I have an hour in between shows . . . in theory, that is the perfect time . . .

Any takers?

Also on the list for before this weekend arrives?

- laundry (both doing it and putting the clean stuff away. Stop laughing, it isn't polite)
- mend the dog's new pajamas where he scratched them up this weekend
- put away all the crap that is currently scattered over the dinning room
- dust and vacuum the living room
- clean out the fireplace
- change the sheets and do about three linen loads of laundry
- hand wash my cashmere sweaters (please let that hot chocolate stain come out of the yellow on, please please please)
- scrub the floors

Have I mentioned that putting away the laundry really involved sorting through it and creating three piles? Goodwill, summer clothes to be put away, winter clothes to be hung after sorting through all the shit DH has hung up haphazardly.

It's becoming so piled that it is beginning to get overwhelming. So I'm trying to break it into smaller pieces. In other words, tonight, my sole, singular goal is to clean the bathroom. And I'm not including the downstairs bathroom in that or the floors in that (though I will at least sweep). Just the freaking sinks and the toilets and the tub. I should be more than capable of doing those in the space of an hour.



Who am I kidding? I'm a lazy, lazy person.

ETA - Lest it sound as if I live in filth - the bathroom has been wiped down with Clorox wipes and the tub has been minimally cleaned at least twice by DH in the past month. It just needs a really thorough scrubbing, and that's my hope for tonight.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Torture of The Dog

Barnabas is becoming independent.

He has been allowed free to roam upstairs unsupervised. He shows absolutely no interest in the second bedroom, but an inordinate amount of interest in the overlook (the infamous one from whence his introduction to Jonah began).

Barnabas looked down upon me this morning, and lo, he was saddened. For he wanted to be with me in person.

So my smart kitten figured out where we went - ie, found the gate and jumped it. Made his way cautiously down the stairs. Found us, began purring and jumped into my lap. He is currently exploring.

What has this to do with the dog, you ask?

The only reason Barney is still exploring is that the dog was crated at the time. Because he could hear and then see Barnabas on the ledge, he started going nuts. He barks to get the cat's attention, and then barks to invite it to play, then barks in frustration because he can't get to it, and then whines because he wants to get to it.

We figured some crate time, where he could calm down, would be helpful. And so it had been until Barney descended to join us.

Now the cacophony of desperation, hope, frustration and desire is ringing throughout the entire house and Barney continues to look at Jonah with disdain (though not outright fear) and we wonder what the fuck we can do to make the noise stop. Obviously if Barney can jump the gate, he can come down anytime he isn't confined to the bathroom. Our goal is to get them used to each other and get Jonah to calm the fuck down, but how to achieve these goals is currently beyond me.

ETA: As the deafening noise continued, Barnabas got more and more agitated (though not scared, hissing, or defensive) and stuck by me instead of exploring. We decided that was plenty of fun for one day and DH took him back upstairs, where he made a beeline for the bathroom and voiced not one complaint about being shut up there. If the loud purrs are to be believe, he was quite pleased with our decision. The dog has stopped his barking and is blissfully and thoroughly exploring every place the cat visited on his little exploration of The Great Unknown otherwise called The Living Room. I'm just pleased I can hear myself think once again.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It is snowing.

As I type, flakes (big, fat, fluffy Hallmark-film-style flakes) of snow are swirling and falling. As the temperature is still above freezing on the ground, they are of course melting . . . but apparently, it's going to get colder and worse and they are telling us to expect icing, accumulations and up to 3 inches inside the city.

I mentioned this to my friend who lives in Wisconsin (Hi Cathy!) via googlechat this morning and she was boggled because they just had their first snowfall of about an inch. I lol'd (it was chat!) because we could get more than them. Who knows if it will actually come to pass or not, but . . . they are saying it could and probably will.

It's crazy! If nothing else, we are over 25 degrees below our normal temps for this time of year. That is crazy.

So I mentioned it earlier. I didn't want it to snow. It feels like bad vibes or a warning or something (since that happened before the ectopic, and the hurricane happened before getting pregnant with Chickadee). But I thought about it and realized there was no unusual (or hell, normal) meteorological phenomenon announcing the doomed pregnancy with Gabriel. We had heavy rain once or twice, but not even real flooding.

So, I'm tucking back my superstitions (which is good, as I live with a black cat) and opening myself up to the enchantment. For two reasons.

One - it's hard not to be enchanted by a pretty thing like snow that happens only a handful of times in my normal life. It's neat and fascinating and sweet.

Two - as I walked through the falling snow to my office, I was suddenly pelted with a few extra flakes that flew into my mouth and surprised me. And I thought I heard a musical laugh filled with excitement and wonder and a sense of the words "It's SNOWING Mama!" and how can I deny the wonder of a child at such a magical thing without denying the magic of my child?

So . . . let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

(and please please please let me get out of work before it gets bad!)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Restless and Unsettled

I am just . . . well, restless and unsettled. I don't know precisely why, but I've lots of mood swings and am feeling a little lonely and sad. I guess it's a lot of things coming together in the perfect storm. My therapist suggested today that it was perfectly natural and normal and not to be anxious over it, but I sort of am anyhow.

It's just such an uncomfortable feeling.

I'm just not happy today. The serenity I had previously is gone. Even if it is a result of luteal phase hormonal shenanigans (Dr. K's suggestion, in addition to the 'emotional ripples' caused by the upset at Thanksgiving and the fact that Gabriel's due date is looming and the holidays are always a difficult time for people who have suffered loss), it sucks.

I'm feeling worn out, run down, scattered and tired. It's not a lot of fun. I suppose a really good night of sleep would help, so I'll try to go to bed earlier. Worth a shot anyway, right?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I hate snow.

Does that make me like the grinch?

Snow is a big deal here, because this is hurricane territory, not snow territory. Hell, cold itself is a pretty big deal. My northern-type friends openly laugh at us down here because people will wear full puffy down jackets when it drops under 60 degrees. It is entertaining, admittedly.

Anyhow, I can count on both hands the number of times I've seen snow first hand, and at least three of those times involved being out of state for the holidays, so it's probably down to one hand, really.

Things shut down when it snows here, because people freak the fuck out - and perhaps rightfully so. We have no experience driving in snow or ice and are unprepared for it so it can be sort of dangerous to be out in it. But also . . . it doesn't happen often and it's not nearly as threatening to life and property as the other sorts of natural phenomena that occur here, so there is a vaguely magical feeling to it.

It snowed last year.

On December 3, actually.

It was completely awesome and exciting and I felt very childlike and filled with wonder as we watched real, large, actual snowflakes flurry around us and watched our patio furniture accumulate a decent covering and watched the roofs become limned with white. That was the extent, as it was too warm on the ground to accumulate. But DH and I stood outside for probably two hours watching in amazement. We called all our family to share our delight. And as it came down, I felt completely and absolutely filled with enthusiasm and optimism and hope.

It wasn't directed at pregnancy, though we were embroiled in the efforts to conceive immediately following the loss of Chickadee. The snow felt like a good sign, a positive sign from the universe or God or whatever. I walked back inside, brimming with good feelings, certain that this had been meant to tell me 'Good things are coming.'

I ovulated four days later and felt hopeful and confident.

And then it was the ectopic, followed by the shittiest year of my life.

How is this relevant and not futher navel-gazing and chest-beating woe is me-ism?

The Houston area is being told we might have snow! Friday! Everyone is abuzz with the news of this possibility. It's as much a topic of conversation as a looming hurricane, the sort of meteorological event which gathers people together to comment about the obvious around the water cooler.

There is a sense of excitement and a pervasive undercurrent of expectation and hope, as if this projected possibility of snow flurries whirling through the air is the harbinger of something good, hopeful. In short, it feels like the air is rife with what I felt last year when it snowed.

And I hate it. I'm a little superstitious and scared and the snow didn't bring good things on its heels for me last year. Is it any wonder that when the people around me look up, faces expectant and eyes shining, and speak of the snow with reverence that I wish to run and hide under my desk?

But hey, I'll try to think positively - maybe this year it's making up for last, and it will fortell better things than I currently expect. If nothing else, I suppose it's nice to see people more cheerful, more amazed, more willing to open themselves to wonder and fun, especially this time of year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Prickly Pear

I am a ball of stress and tension, and I don't know why. I mean, I can point out the work stress, but it's fairly minor right now. So it's not that.

I don't know what it is. I just know I'm feeling tense, and subsequently feeling snappish and sharp. And prickly. Oh, my, am I prickly right now.

There isn't a lot that is right that can be said. I have just about zero tolerance for people who expect me to give way to other people's feelings. I like to think I'm an empathetic and sympathetic person. I strive, generally, to understand where other people are coming from, to get their point of view and make myself see another perspective. I try hard to be generous and kind to other people's feelings.

But right now? They can all fuck right off, as can anyone who would like to tell me to be kind and understanding. I get it, I really do. I get that I am prickly and that it's hard to know what to say and what won't step on my toes and what is appropriate. I really, really do understand that. I'm very sympathetic to the difficulties.

And today? I don't care. I am more easily angered today. I am more likely to take offense today. I want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world, and because I can't, I am bristling and indignant at anyone who would dare to suggest that fault lays with me or that it is my responsibility to make our tragedy easier for other people to deal with. Fuck that, how about I just worry about me dealing with it?

The holidays are hard. They fucking suck. I mean, it is my favorite time of the year and I generally shy away from the victim mentality and from wallowing in the shoulda-woulda-coulda's. It is unproductive and embittering and I'm trying to look ahead. And right now, I'm having a hard time. It is fucking hard to know that if things had gone as they ought, I'd be washing tiny clothes and curling up around a big belly filled with my living son. It is fucking awful to be approaching that time I had so looked forward to, that would make us parents. It is hard to see the celebration and cheer everywhere and see reminders everywhere that life is not what we had expected it to be and that the pain never goes away, only wanes in intensity.

I knew it would be hard. I have been doing well, and I'm struggling to maintain that. Grief is not linear - that is bullshit. It's circular and you will walk around and around again, like a rose labryinth in a cathedral. I feel like I'm slipping backwards some to a darker place, and I don't want that. But sometimes we need those darker places, and maybe that's what it is.

Or maybe I'm just fucking hormonal. God only knows. I sure as hell don't. I just know that I am beyond irritable and I don't much like it and I don't quite know how to change it.

Oh, I can say with authority that getting a voicemail from the hospital and realizing that we have not actually received a bill is likely to mean that a bill was sent and not paid and fucked if that doesn't ratchet up the stress level about 5 notches.

PS - It's fucking cold and rainy, the dog doesn't want to go out, the kitten is attempting to eat my jewelry, and I haven't the foggiest fucking idea of when I ovulated, which is potentially problematic, apart from the sheer annoyance factor. I'm supposed to be having an SHG in 2 weeks and I most certainly need to be past my period - and I have no idea when it should be starting. Between all these tensions, it shouldn't surprise me that I currently resemble a bear drug from hibernation, should it?