• Uncategorized

    Quarantine Chronicles #1: What the…

    Now That's What I Call Coronavirus' Album Meme Pops Up Online

    <<< This was written like two weeks ago. I’m delayed in all aspects of life >>>

    Well it took a global pandemic for me to resume blogging, but here I am. This is obviously some type of weird, unprecedented time and as a historian (and medical doctor, I will get to that later…) I really wanted to document the pure INSANITY of this time we are living in. We’ve all been through the warnings of Zika (yo baby will be all deformed), Ebola (KEEP THAT SHIT AWAY) and swine flu (swine is another word for “pig” — #facts), but this is truly unparalleled to anything we’ve ever seen. And we’ve seen the host of “The Apprentice” become President so we’ve seen a lot of shit. 

    So if you aren’t living on planet earth (and if you aren’t, leave a comment!) then you are in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Like a lot of people, I shrugged off the severity of this virus. I figured that we were better off than China and Italy and that somehow, through any God that people pray to and science, we would be in a better position. 

    Wrong. 

    I blame cruise ships. And Tom Cruise. 

    Anyway, over the past few days I’ve made a drastic shift in my opinion because the Coronavirus is here and it’s real and quite frankly, it’s a little scary. I’m familiar with the dystopian and zombie genre, I just never thought I’d be so close to living during one. Last week at this time, I was gearing up for “The Bachelor” finale with my ziplock freezer bag full of assorted m&m’s with minimal cares in the world other than Peter having the dullest final two ever. Seriously, what notoriously promiscuous, party animal, non-religious man is like “I definitely see a future with this devout Christian virgin.” What a dumbass. 

    44 Coronavirus Memes — Funny Coronavirus Memes


    Flashforward to this week and “The Bachelor” concerns seem so trivial and years removed from our current reality. Our county had its first confirmed case last week, BUT the person had recently traveled to Italy. By Saturday, we had our first case of local transmission. We were on our way to the mall for a fun surprise with the kids and literally turned around and came home. Schools closed. As a teacher, I’ve celebrated snow days, wind days, power outages, etc. But seeing every single school close INDEFINITELY was a much different feeling. This wasn’t something to smile about or to joyfully announce to the kids. This was downright scary. 

    That Escalated Quickly | Well that escalated quickly, Boy that ...


    Today, we are up to 14 confirmed cases and one death. I set up a homeschooling corner in our house which I thought was only reserved for anti-vaccine moms who made their own deodorant. Instead of “liking” pictures of people celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at bars, I despised them for not heeding medical advice to stay at home. There was a sudden, dark shift in the world and a realization that we aren’t untouchable, irreplaceable or protected. 

    But because I’m a scholar and life-long learner, I wanted to know as much as I could about our future so I watched the movie “Contagion.” 

    And let me tell you…

    Thank GOD we don’t have the virus Gwyneth Paltrow brought back from Hong Kong- instant death sentence. We are talking foam at the mouth and everything. However, everything else was exactly the same. The worldwide panic, shut down and even the term “social distancing.” Quite frankly, I thought it was a newly invented term like “conscious uncoupling” (another thing Gwyneth Paltrow brought into this world, ugh). 

    A Scientific Adviser On “Contagion” Said People Should Have Taken ...
    This bitch.


    Through this movie, Kate Winslet taught me the word “fomite” which are surfaces that can carry diseases. This officially brings up my science knowledge to two terms (I also know about ribosomes. Those are the sites of protein synthesis. I don’t know what that means, but it’s the only thing I remember from high school biology that I proudly received a 66% in. PASSED!). So because of my knowledge regarding fomites and new interest in medical tracing, I feel as if I’m ready to lead the medical community. I’ll start taking questions on Instagram Live at 5pm. 

    This has already been a crazy learning curve for everyone in our house as it is for everyone, everywhere. It’s unlike my naturally bitter and pessimistic personality to actually be positive in situations like this, but I can’t help to think that there’s silver linings hidden in the panic and fear. For example: added family time and not wearing a bra. 

    Okay, I need to go and have my 40th glass of wine because #LIFE, but I’m going to try and document our Quarantine Chronicles because what the f*** else do I have to do?**

    ** I guess I could teach my children. Raise them. Clean the house. Read a book. Shave my legs. Really anything that I haven’t done in years. 

  • Happy Stuff,  Hard Stuff,  Pregnancy,  recovery

    A Tale of Two Januaries

    It comes as no surprise that 2019 was simply not my year. In fact, by this time last year, I was already done with 2019. 

    This year has already proven to be different. 

    And I am so thankful.

    The past two Januaries are eerily similar, but with wildly different outcomes that span an exhaustive spectrum of emotions. I didn’t know the extent of this until the other day, but allow me to back-up here…

    Last year at this time, I was emerging from my first trimester feeling completely unscathed. While most women would be celebrating a sickness and symptoms free pregnancy, it did nothing to settle my gut instinct that something wasn’t right. Despite being reassured my doctors and ultrasounds that everything was progressing as normal, I knew it wasn’t. But Christmas and New Years came and we did the obligatory cutesy announcements to our close friends and family. I took the “congratulations” and well wishes with a cautious heart. As the second trimester loomed, I kept thinking that perhaps my paranoia was ruining what should have been a beautiful, celebratory moment. 

    This year, I am nine months pregnant and anxiously drinking labor tea and running several miles a day in an attempt to kickstart labor. This pregnancy has been a breeze. No sickness, no complaints. I feel like “me,” but with a little belly that shifts and reacts all day to remind me that yes, I am pregnant. This is happening. Again. This pregnancy has been complex: grateful that I’m pregnant, nervous it won’t last, gracious to well-wishers and yet too insecure to buy a baby onesie at Target. Everything feels like I’ll be jinxing the miracle I’m trying to maintain. It’s like tiptoeing around fire, walking on eggshells and holding my breath all at once– but for nine months and here I am…approaching the finish line of a race that I barely got to start last year. 

    As different as those Januaries are, they each had a defining day that changed the course of everything

    One day in January of last year, I lost the baby that I was so worried about carrying. 

    One day in January of this year, I delivered the baby that I was so grateful to be carrying. 

    It all seemed perfectly full-circle. A January that had robbed and wronged us had now redeemed itself in the most miraculous, unexpected way. I knew the timing of the miscarriage and birth were close, but I wanted to see how close. Going back into my medical records, I was left speechless…

    The incidents weren’t just close in dates.

    It was the same date. 

    Nearly at the same time. 

    In the afternoon of January 10th, 2019, I sat in a dark doctor’s room calling Ryan with that hyperventilating, panicked cry to tell him that the baby was gone. There was no heartbeat. There would be no baby.

    In the afternoon of January 10th, 2020, I laid in a brightly lit, peaceful hospital room with Ryan holding my left leg, a nurse holding my right and my midwife coaching me through each contraction. There would be a baby. 

    In the afternoon of January 10th, 2019 I lost a little girl that we would come to name Elizabeth.

    In the afternoon of January 10th, 2020 we welcomed another little girl and gave her Elizabeth as her middle name. 

    I keep asking myself, “what are the chances that these two events happened on the same day?” or “what does it mean that I had another girl on the same day as the one I had lost?”

    I don’t know the answers to those questions. No one does. In my heart, I want to believe something so generically comforting because it’s easier that way. I just know that she was and is with me and I believe January 10th is not only a new chapter for us but a true rebirth of sorts.

    I found the light at the end of the tunnel and her name is Penelope Elizabeth. 

    There are plenty of people out there that are still walking through the darkness, haven’t found their light and are unsure of what the future holds in the midst of loss. Admittedly, I am speaking from an obnoxiously optimistic and sentimental viewpoint. If you would have told me that “all would be well” last year, I would have responded with an eye roll and scolded you for being so cavalier and confident. Yet here I am, virtually preaching the cruel workings of the universe as if I understand why bad things happen. 

    But I don’t. I never will. 

    Right now, I’m comforted by my present and inspired by my past year.  I’ll never justify the saying, “everything happens for a reason” because that’s bullshit. Bad things happen that can’t be explained. 

    But good things happen that can’t be explained too. 

    And right now, I want to soak up every ounce of goodness that came out of January 10th. 

  • Hard Stuff,  miscarriage,  pregnancy loss,  recovery

    Rainbow

    When I first started documenting this process, I found myself titling each post with a single word that began with the letter “R.” I wish there was some type of poetic, deep explanation behind this, but in reality, it was just kind of organic.

    I never really thought that I’d be posting with a new “R” word.

    Rainbow.

    IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT THE BEAUTY OF A RAINBOW DOES NOT NEGATE THE RAVAGES OF ANY STORM. WHEN A RAINBOW APPEARS, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE STORM NEVER HAPPENED OR THAT WE ARE NOT STILL DEALING WITH ITS AFTERMATH.

    IT MEANS THAT SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL AND FULL OF LIGHT HAS APPEARED IN THE MIDST OF THE DARKNESS AND CLOUDS.

    STORM CLOUDS MAY STILL HOVER, BUT THE RAINBOW PROVIDES A COUNTERBALANCE OF COLOR, ENERGY AND HOPE

    A baby after a loss.

    I found out I was expecting again in April and was so frustratingly conflicted about everything. I was happy, but I also felt like I had to be happy. I was relieved that I got pregnant again, but panicked that I was pregnant again. I wanted to tell everyone, but also tell absolutely no one. I felt joy towards this new baby, but also resentment. I loved this baby but longed for the one before it.

    It’s a strange process to try and flick the lightswitch of grief “off” and to flick the one for “abounding happiness” on. The mind just isn’t that simple and no matter how desperate I was for clarity and for a “new beginning,” it just didn’t register right away.

    Many, many weeks and moments of my first trimester were spent wondering when this baby would go away too. The pregnancies were so oddly similar- no sickness, no overpowering textbook symptoms. There was just a line on a pregnancy test to tell me that I was pregnant. My mind, heart, and body were not entirely convinced of the science happening within it. It was very difficult to carry on with work, parenting, marriage, and life while carrying a new (secret) baby while simultaneously fielding questions about how I was doing after the last baby. It wasn’t the way anyone should have to spend those first months of pregnancy, but I know that so many do and for me, it felt safer to stay in my cocoon of secretness (and at times, indifference) than it was to be out in the open, excited with this news.

    As we started to reveal the news to those closest to us, it felt improper to accept congratulations or to celebrate with hugs and kisses. These people weren’t psychics. How and why were they so eager to be happy about something that ended in sorrow just four months ago? Maybe they were just putting on a brave face because that’s what they thought I wanted, but I just wanted acknowledgment and a quick change of topic. Once again, absolute conflict over how and what to feel.

    Every milestone has been met with comparison to the last pregnancy which brings on its own hellish mindset. . 

    The first ultrasound went well, but it went well last time too so…”

    We made it through the first doctor’s appointment and found the heartbeat. “They couldn’t find the heartbeat at this appointment last time and blamed it on the position of my uterus. Maybe she was already gone.”

    We made it through the second ultrasound. “She was gone by this ultrasound. We didn’t get this far last time.”

    We made it through the first trimester. 

    We allowed ourselves to breathe a slight and temporary sigh of relief. 

    Right after that deep exhale, I was back to being overly cautious, but maybe infused with a little bit of optimism. That’s where I am now. Lost between gratitude, hope, and happiness on one side and chronically thinking and expecting the worse on the other side. Some days I lean more towards one than the other, but it varies. Only when I am holding the baby will I ever feel truly at peace, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve to be happy over this right now. I took weekly bump pictures with Caroline, happily ate my weight in McDonald’s with Oliver– I need to find peace and contentment with this pregnancy. To truly enjoy pregnancy again.

    Sometimes I need that reminder from myself and sometimes I need that reminder from others. Announcing the pregnancy on social media was a big milestone. Once that picture was posted, there was no turning back. There was no avoiding the conversation, hiding my belly or dodging questions. People expected a glowing and elated pregnant woman and I wanted to be that. There was something about posting that picture to the world that allowed some chains of guilt to be removed. There is a duality to my emotions and that’s okay

    You can be happy, but still worried. 

    Worried, but excited. 

    Excited, but cautious. 

    Looking forward, but remembering the past. 

    I’m ready to embrace the rainbow.

    Finally.

  • Uncategorized

    The Why

    Four months ago today, I was having that godforsaken procedure done which means I’ve officially been mourning the loss of a  baby longer than I was actually pregnant with one. What a surreal thought to grieve someone that you never met, longer than their actual life. Prior to all of this, I would have naively expected a woman to lose a baby and find the cure in immediately getting pregnant again. I suppose the joke is on me because a) it’s not that fucking simple and b) I’m not pregnant, still.

    16 weeks have gone by since I laid in that chair, in that cold doctor’s office and gripped my husband’s hand and sobbed in the direction of my aunt. We said goodbye that day and life has resumed, people have stopped giving me the sad, puppy dog eyes and I’ve ceased to bring the topic up because “hello, awkwardness.”

    In all honesty, I am doing better. There’s some truth in the assholes who routinely said “time heals” or “it’ll get better over time” because it has. The initial wound has closed up some and the blows have softened.

    But then I have my hard days and when they’re bad, they’re bad.

    For example, two weeks ago I injured my knee running. Well, let me rephrase that because I didn’t do jack shit.

    My knee decided to be a little wuss and stop cooperating while running (there, much more accurate).

    Last Friday, I decided to try a treadmill run to test out my pansy ass patella (some medical jargon for you all). Needless to say, it did not go well.

    In fact, while limping on the treadmill determined to keep running, I had a complete mental breakdown that spiraled from my knee injury to the miscarriage to somehow openly, and loudly, fighting with God.

    I’m not the most religious person which must be shocking to you all because I have such high morals and such a pious persona, but organized religion generally scares me. Why are we all shaking hands? Why are we chanting in unison? Why are bad singers invited to sing? Why are we eating stale bread and drinking shitty wine AND sharing a glass with strangers?

    Sidenote: if Church allowed me to openly drink red wine as some type of BYOB then maybe I’d attend more.

    These are pressing questions. But trust me, I get it. There’s something comforting and reassuring about believing in a higher power. I got married in a Catholic ceremony and achieved all of the compulsory sacraments as a youth, but my faith has admittedly waivered through the years. I’ve felt disconnected and have too many questions that no one, on this planet and in this life, can answer.

    One of those questions as I literally stumbled through my run was “why?”

    Why do bad things happen? Why do we give thanks to God when all is right, but disregard his presence in his “plan” for us when things are really bad? We chalk it up to “everything happens for a reason” or silence our questioning under the belief that we can’t question God.

    But last Friday, I did question Him.

    Why, when I am a good mother, was I not given that baby? Why is running, the only thing that distracts me from the loss, taken away? Why are undeserving women who make poor decisions and don’t have a pot to piss in given perfectly healthy babies? Why are babies born into unhealthy and unstable homes when we can offer them stability and love? Why do I have to pee on an ovulation stick every day for nearly a year, but some drug-addicted floozy in the middle of a one-night stand can conceive effortlessly without fertility trackers and ovulation calendars? How is that fair?

    Why is that fair?

    No response.

    Silence.

    After I hit “stop” on the treadmill, I sat on its edge and sobbed. Hard. So loud and violent that my children who were innocently playing outside came running in to check on their mom. They hugged me, didn’t ask questions and returned to their playtime after I reassured them that mom was just frustrated.

    I suppose frustrated is a grand understatement. The inability to run forces me to recognize how deep this hole really is. There’s no distraction. Running has always been a hobby, but lately, it has served as some type of necessary therapy. Now it’s painful and actual doctors have advised me to cut back. (Um, no. Rest is for the weak!)

    Maybe that’s my why as to why I can’t rundon’t rely on a band-aid to power you through deep cuts. Running is a mask and disguise for a much bigger problem regarding my recent sanity. Take it away and the real me is exposed: a struggling woman that’s trying to power through emotions that society tells me to suppress. If I were a celebrity, fans would be applauding me for my openness and raw approach to grief, but I’m just an average civilian which means I just look fucking insane yelling at God on a treadmill.

    The universe does what it needs to do and without much explanation. Asking for answers is useless, but accepting unfairness seems like a sign of maturity and strength. I’m not there yet. I want a concrete resolution, but I know I won’t get it in this lifetime and I need to come to terms with that. Certainly, people have bigger questions that demand deeper answers than me, but we are all walking our own walk and right now this is my path.

    I’m making my way through, one limping and painful knee at a time.

  • Uncategorized

    The Gray Zone

    We’ve reached Friday. Another week of winter is done. Another week of the school year is done. One week closer to summer vacation and as my body confirmed this week, another week that I am not pregnant.

    It’s been three months since the miscarriage and I feel frustratingly torn by my emotions. It’s a weird state of desperation to get pregnant again and a simultaneous feeling that I’m not ready to be pregnant and perhaps, never will be. The last statement isn’t meant to garner “yes you will!” responses about faith, resiliency, and optimism. I know I can get pregnant. Three pregnancies have proven that. What I am concerned and struggling with is whether or not I want to be and if so, when?

    I’ve always envisioned myself with a lot of kids. Two was never my intention. Hell, it was only my beginning number. Three was a definite. Four was a maybe. Five would have been a dream.

    Now…I’m wondering…

    I’m questioning…

    What if I’m not meant to have more?

    My children are of an age of independence. They can dress themselves. They entertain themselves. They can get their own drinks. Not for nothing, but they can get me drinks- coffee and wine included. They’re two years apart and have an unshakable bond. They’re each other’s best friends. How would a third fit into that? Would they? No matter how joyous, a third baby would disrupt their lives. Throw a wrench in our routine.

    Our lives are settled and stable and now I question whether or not I truly want to start from the beginning again. The sleepless nights, the bottles, teething, the toddler temper tantrums, potty training, diaper explosions, smelling like spit-up for a year. I’m so far removed from the trenches of parenthood. Do I want to crawl back in and exchange my structure for chaos? I think I do, but every passing month that I’m not pregnant, I wonder if it’s foolish to try and be.

    Furthermore, the last three months have caused me to unfairly judge myself as a mother. My children are sweet, creative, imaginative, kind, intelligent and empathetic. I feel as if these two adorable, evolving individuals are the way they are because of the environment they’re in, the amazing father who gets on the floor with them and builds LEGOs, their compassionate teachers and their extended families that nurture them to no end. I feel, as of late, that I’m a lackluster mom. Someone who is a shell of her former, fun self. My patience is low. My kid-centered creativity is nonexistent. I feel like a taxi driver, a book reader and a perpetual nag for them to brush their teeth, get on their clothes, clean up their messes and eat their dinners.

    I’m not, once again, seeking some type of “you are a great mom!” response because yes, I know I’m a good mom at the end of the day. Rationally, I know I’ve helped shape them into these amazing little people, but if I were actually thinking rationally, I wouldn’t be writing this.

    I love them with everything I have which is a true sign of a good mom, but I question if I’m enough. Enough for them and enough for another baby. If motherhood were a job, I feel like my boss would be having a very awkward meeting with me about my “declining performance” and my “uncertain future.”

    Babies were always my kryptonite. I’d melt around them. I was the creeper in Wegmans staring at your baby, waving, playing peek-a-boo from across the aisle. Now? I feel despondent towards them. They exist. They’re there. Sure, they’re cute, but they’ve lost their luster. It’s like that Marie Kondo phenomenon: do babies spark joy within me nowadays?

    No.

    That makes me sad.

    I’m jaded, there’s no doubt about that. I’m healing, I’m aware of that. I’m a little broken, I get that. But how the hell do I fix all of that?

    Don’t tell me that it takes time.

    Don’t tell me to see a therapist.

    Don’t tell me I’ll get pregnant soon.

    None of these are cures. They are people’s default responses to an awkward conversation that, by the way, people are over having with me. It’s safer, easier and more acceptable to just shut the fuck up about it. Part of me doesn’t talk about it because I feel as if I should be stronger and be “over it” already. The other part of me doesn’t talk about it because I don’t want people to judge me for not being over it already.

    A new baby isn’t and shouldn’t be a band-aid for my miscarriage. A lost baby isn’t something that you can replace with another one. It’s not a goldfish. It’s not a pair of shoes. But at one point, babies were a source of happiness for me and now, I’m indifferent.

    Indifferent towards babies that are not my own and indifferent towards babies that could be in my future. I hate that feeling.

    That feeling of being in the middle.

    The gray zone of life.

  • Uncategorized

    Run down on the Run

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve falsely convinced myself and others that all is well and that there’s nothing more to note in this space. However, we all know that shit isn’t true. I’m just really super good at covering up reality. Way better at covering up my misery than I am my hormonal facial breakouts, but whatever.

    The truth is that I sometimes feel a little lost. The world has certainly resumed its spinning which I knew was going to happen. My personal loss is not the loss of others. It is not a shared misery. However, I didn’t expect the physical feeling of abandonment that I do right now. If life were a race, I’d still be at the start line, crying and confused while everyone else has lapped me numerous times. My apologies for the running analogy, but it brings me to today…

    A few weeks ago I registered for the Buffalo Marathon in May. Not because I love suffering through five hours of running, but to keep my mind occupied. Marathon training forces a very disciplined lifestyle– a rigid running schedule, long Saturday morning training runs, dietary restrictions and general busyness. Work, kids, a husband, family and friends were not enough. Let’s factor in a marathon.

    Today during the first stretch of our 14-mile run (ugh), I unconsciously separated myself from the group. I was alone with my thoughts and allowed myself to sink deep into those thoughts. It wasn’t pretty.

    Everything I’ve been avoided crept its nasty, sneaky way into my head.

    Everyone around you is pregnant and you aren’t!

    Everyone who is pregnant seems to complain about it a lot! That must make you pretty pissed.

    Everyone around you has a baby that they seem to resent. Sucks that you won’t have a baby.

    No one cares much about your dumb miscarriage anymore.

    You probably wouldn’t have handled a third baby well anyway. Look at you. You can’t even handle this.

    You did something wrong. Even though the doctors said you didn’t, you know this is your fault.

    You’re not going to get pregnant again.

    You’re only here running because you’re NOT pregnant anymore. YOU lost your baby.

    As the miles progressed and time went by, I felt more and more enraged by life. I’m not here to suggest that my problems are the worst. I know firsthand that people have and have had it much worse. Cancer, death, illness, injury– all terrible and all, in the grand scheme of life, far more damaging than my pregnancy loss. I get it.

    I am here, however, to bitch about my own problems because this is my damn blog. To me, my miscarriage was like a knife to my life plan. She was perfectly planned and profusely wanted. She is no longer here. There is a void in my life that I’m frantically trying to fill. 2019 was predestined to be her year and now it’s a ginormous haunting question mark disguised as a giant middle finger to my life.

    There’s a certain level of muteness I feel as well. Last week at a work meeting, I told a colleague that I missed last month’s meeting because I miscarried and I might as well have told her that I had a highly contagious strain of smallpox. It was awkward. Not awkward for me because I clearly don’t have a problem discussing it, but others don’t want to. I feel shy about my honesty and embarrassed by my prolonged pain. Society seems to dictate a certain mourning time period for this and I’m passed that. Now it’s taboo to speak about it. Another example of how I’m left in the dust.

    They’ve lapped me yet again in the race.

    Once we got back to the running store, I felt pissed. This shit card has been dealt to me and here I am trying to ignore it like an idiot. I don’t want to run, I want to be at home rubbing my belly and joking about prenatal hiccups or something. I don’t want to be drinking wine every single night, but I am because I’m really fucking pissed and despite what psychologists say, wine solves shit. I don’t want to be logging my daily calories to lose the pregnancy and mourning weight I put on, but here I am scanning barcodes and counting how many Tostitos I ate. The whole thing is SHITTY and I hate it.

    I sat on the sidewalk of the store and felt some internal rage fill me. As my friends stood above me to discuss the next phase of our run, I just wanted to cry.  One of those hard, lengthy, scary, uncontrollable cries, but that wasn’t the time nor the place. Screaming felt appropriate, but I didn’t. Punching someone or something felt justifiable, but there’s no one or anything to truly blame.

    Today was the first time, in a long time, that I just wanted to cry. My friends were thankfully there to ask if I were okay and to encourage me to keep running. Force the small talk, think and talk about anything else, I kept reminding myself. We ran for another hour after my mini-meltdown and I felt remarkably better. The physical pain of running helped with the emotional pain of my crap circumstances.

    Like I told my best friend today when I recounted the story, I am rambling. Nothing makes sense other than I know need to get back into my therapist and keep working on myself and my outlook. If this whole thing has taught me anything, it’s that I’m not alone despite how I may feel. With that being said, I’ve started writing a book. Like one of those things that you pick up and read. Those things, yes. It will probably go nowhere, but it’s healing to give a voice to the pain. If it sits on my computer for the rest of my life without anyone else reading it, I’m fine with that. Right now, it’s another outlet to fill the crack of my life’s foundation.

    Apologies if this is a rambling post that makes zero sense. I’m listening to a sad playlist and am on my 2nd (or 3rd, WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE) glass of wine and am racing to post this before my kid’s show is over.

    Time’s ticking, life is moving and I’m trying really hard to be apart of it.

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 32: Reopened

    DTo many people’s dismay, we didn’t find out the sex of our first child. In a world where everything is instant and surprises are limited and few, we wanted to wait. We wanted that unmatched moment when the doctor not only handed us our baby but announced its sex.

    It’s a…..!!!

    The entire pregnancy, I suspected Caroline was a boy. I couldn’t imagine being a #boymom or having to eventually talk about wet dreams, how socks should be changed daily or why deodorant is necessary after physical activity. Shocking, but as a girl, I’m more comfortable with girl stuff. I’ll talk to anyone about periods (it will ruin your life), teen pregnancy (all boys are bad and will ruin your life) and birth control (get on it, stay on it, don’t ruin your life).

    That awkward girl stuff comes way easier to me than awkward boy stuff which is exactly why I thought we’d be having a boy. Murphy’s Law and shit.

    When the doctor announced that Caroline was a girl, I was in actual disbelief. Had I not been paralyzed from the waist down, strapped on an operating table with my insides on the outside, I would have fainted. I was that damn certain she was a he.

    [[[Fast forward two years later and I got my boy in Oliver. He is a walking learning-curve for me. I find myself cleaning the floor around the toilet a lot and reminding him to stop mentioning his wiener, feces, and boogers. He’s a special kind of special and every day I feel foolish that I was so scared to have a boy.]]]

    This is a longwinded way to say that I never thought I’d have a girl simply because I wanted one so badly.

    I got very lucky with one.

    Today I found out that I had a second.

    Prior to the procedure, I consented to have the baby tested. I was desperate to know why. Desperate to know if I caused it. Desperate to know if that little being ever stood a chance.

    Turner syndrome (Monosomy X) and pregnancy loss are often related. Turner syndrome is a chromosome disorder in which a girl or woman has only one complete X chromosome. (Because a Y chromosome is needed for a person to be male, all babies with Turner syndrome are girls.) Though girls born with Turner syndrome usually have good odds for a normal life, the majority of babies with the condition are lost to miscarriage or stillbirth.

    A test that was likely to show nothing revealed so much, but nothing more heartwrenching and piercing as hearing, “it was a girl.”

    A girl.

    I flashed back to hearing that for the first time in the operating room, under such happy circumstances. Now I’m in my living room, anxious, sad and without a baby to hold.

    Not only have I envisioned the life lost countless times, but now I know the specific life lost. A little girl who would have maybe looked like my brown-haired, green-eyed Caroline. A little girl who perhaps would have liked LEGOS and dress-up like her big sister. A little girl who would have held her father in the palm of her hand and been the all-consuming light of her mother’s world.

    Now I know.

    Now I know what we lost.

    Hearing that news ever-so-slightly unglued the healing wound of this entire ordeal. Every day I’ve felt a little stronger, more steadfastly focused on the future and proudly breaking down less.

    But…

    Now it’s all reopened again albeit with a different reaction: no screaming, crying or listening to sad playlists in the shower. Instead, I feel stiff, robotic and numb as though I’ve used up so many emotions and shed so many tears the past few weeks that my body is rejecting sad news.

    Information and knowledge are wonderful and I’m happy that I get to fill in the gaps of doubt and mystery, but at the same time, this new information stings a spot that is already so sore and vulnerable.

    Now I know.

    Our girl <3

    She would have been wonderful, for that I am certain.

    Maybe that’s why it hurts so much.

  • Hard Stuff

    “Tissues Are On the Table If You Need Them”

    The only time I had ever been to a therapist was about 10 years ago when someone (seemingly) close to me berated me and made me severely question my self-worth. Over a decade later and I think I’d choose prison over therapy if that same person tried that shit again, but I digress…

    I saw a woman who was fairly helpful, at first. Then, towards the end of the appointment, she got out a color wheel and told me that many of my problems could be helped if I knew more about color auras. I can’t even manage to match my freaking foundation to my skin color and she wanted to fix family problems through Native American spirits and healing rainbows. The bitch was crazier than ME.

    Obviously, that left me with a pretty tainted view of therapy. As I grew into adulthood, I realized that wine, running, anxiety medication and unfiltered and unapologetic honesty were just as successful than finding my spirit color with a stranger wearing ill-fitting ponchos.  

    But then “it” happened and it felt as if my mind fractured into several, misplaced pieces. The flashbacks, the replays of the procedure, the regrets…it was overwhelming.

    So, there I was: a day into my 34th year of life and in a therapist’s office.

    Tony Soprano & I now have something in common

    I know there’s been a big push by society to openly discuss and destigmatize mental illness and rightfully so. Life is fucking hard. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, grew up in a storybook home or in a dysfunctional shit show. Our brains can be mean spirited assholes and despite our best efforts, sometimes it’s just a damn struggle.

    The therapist let me talk.

    No interruptions.

    No distractions.

    No judgment.

    No unhelpful, insensitive, cliche remarks.

    I opened up about guilt, moving forward, my raging hormones, my dramatic meltdowns, my resentment towards certain people and my adoration of others.

    I just fucking talked.

    She listened.

    One hour of talking to a stranger I found on the internet (not recommended to any teenage girls reading this) and I felt better. There was no magic pill or a profound realization. In fact, there were many moments of pure silence which ordinarily would cause me great panic, but it was oddly peaceful.

    I needed a soundboard.

    A safe space.

    She validated my feelings.

    It’s okay to meltdown in front of the kids.

    You are showing your children true emotion.

    That was your baby.

    This is a loss. Not a traditional one, but it is a loss.

    It’s common, but not to you.

    And most importantly, she made me re-think the way I looked at myself in those moments of sadness. The dark moments when the grief catches me off guard and I’m in the middle of something mundane like making the kids dinner, watching a show about affluent housewives or making lesson plans about the Revolutionary War. Those moments when I can’t see straight, hear anything and want to just absolutely, positively runaway from my own deranged mind. Those are the moments when I feel alone and feel frustrated by my own actions.

    I’m not crazy. I’m grieving.

    The world is moving again. I’ll catch up.

    She is right.

    I’ll regain my clarity. I’ll see things rationally again.

    I’ll catch up.

    This is just one step in that process.

  • Hard Stuff

    Birthday

    I love my birthday. I know you’re supposed to grow out of that feeling by the time you can wipe your own ass or drink legally, but it just never happened for me. Usually people are tapped out from gift giving at Christmas and straight-up broke to give two proper shits about my birthday a month later. Plus, it’s usually freezing which also greatly lowers people’s enthusiasm for my special day.

    But, every year I put on an awkward birthday celebration when I force my loved ones to drink with me and put candles on a damn cookie cake as if they care as much as I do. It’s precious, really. Sometimes I wear a pink tutu. Sometimes I wear a homemade “Birthday Girl” shirt. But there’s always pink champagne. Usually too much that I end up revisiting in the toilet later on…but it’s tradition.

    This year was obviously different. I was never going to have a “good” 34th birthday. It wasn’t in the cards this year. For maybe the first time in my life, I wished for a birthday boycott.

    No celebration.

    No cake.

    No candles.

    No presents.

    I woke up immediately wanting the day to be over. There’s something very dreadful about being wished a “happy” anything when you’re internally inconsolable. Some people didn’t know about the loss, others played ignorant, others openly said “Your birthday is going to suck, but we love you.”

    I love those people.

    They were right.

    I held it together all day. I accepted the kind-hearted birthday wishes, but by the early evening when my children were giddy with excitement over “mama’s day,” I just kind of…shut down.

    This birthday was going to be different. I was supposed to be in the early stages of my second trimester. I was supposed to be begrudgingly sober. I was supposed to be propped up on the couch with a growing belly, healthy baby and full heart.

    34 will be remembered as me being slightly befuddled by 4:30pm (Chardonnay– that dirty rascal), a stomach full of bloat and in a full blown mental-health crisis by 8:30pm. My heart couldn’t process what my head was telling me:

    The baby isn’t here.

    It was at that moment when I realized that my sadness was bigger than I wanted to recognize. That, right there is a sobering thought.

    I’m not that tough.

    So on my 34th birthday, late at night, I contacted a grief counselor. A gift to myself? Yes. A gift to others who will undoubtedly grow tired of my meltdowns? Yes.

    I much prefer my previous birthdays (even my 18th birthday when I decided it was “time” to wear a thong for the first time and walked around like I was…well, wearing a thong for the first time), but I’m realizing that I’m pretty lucky to have waited 34 years for a truly bad birthday.

    And was it all that bad?

    No. It was just different. An unexpected, unanticipated different.

    I’m still struggling. That isn’t news. Life is moving forward. I’m moving forward and that pains me, in a weird way. My birthday forced me to realize that there is an internal, mental conflict between “Public Allee” who smiles, accepts good wishes and celebrates her birthday and “Private Allee” who feels suffocated, stifled and slow to return to “normal.”

    But I’m getting there.

    Happy Birthday to me and Happy Birthday to my high-deductible medical insurance that is about to be HIT UP with counseling co-pays.

  • Hard Stuff

    Day 9: Remember

    You were loved. It doesn’t matter if you were in me for 10 seconds or 9 full months. You were my baby. You were loved.

    I must’ve taken two dozen pregnancy tests. The Dollar Store sells them so I didn’t feel all that guilty for peeing on something that only costs one dollar. Sometimes I’d test in the morning, rush home from work and test again. In my head, you had the ability to “spike” my hormones in a matter of hours and make your presence known through a test.

    In the downstairs bathroom, before work, I tested. In between putting on my mascara and straightening my hair, I thought “take a test. Why not?”

    Ever-so-faintly there was a line. Soft pink. Barely visible.

    But I was desperate for you. I knew it was there.

    It was a few days before Thanksgiving. School was energized with anticipation of the upcoming holiday break. I had a different energy though.

    I had you.

    The next day, I tested again and the line was darker. So, I took more tests.

    Pregnant.

    Pregnant.

    Pregnant.

    How was I going to tell your dad? On my day off I decided to prematurely decorate for Christmas. The day prior, I had bought a snowman ornament with two snowmen, one with an expectant belly with the words “baby” over its body.

    The kids and I decorated while dad was at work. We replaced everything with red and green and I dragged up my artificial tree from the basement. Many years ago, I bought it on clearance and for good reason: it sheds and looks barren. It’s an actual piece of shit and your dad hates it, but it’s all I had to work with on this particular day.

    He came home with pizza and a positive mood about being off for a few days. Surprised that we had decorated the house, I pointed him to the solitary, sullen tree in the corner of the dining room.

    It only has one ornament on it.

    Go look at it.

    He ran over to me. He picked me up off the ground, spun me around like some type of Nicholas Sparks book-to-movie adaptation. He kept asking “really?! Seriously?!” as the kids asked “why are you guys so happy?”

    Soak it in, I remember thinking.

    He was so excited. The best husband and father I could have ever imagined wanted another baby. Our third. Lord knows he knew what he was signing up for: dirty diapers, sleepless nights, a hormonal wife, expensive formula and a life restricted by a needy infant.

    But he was still so excited.

    My love.

    He was giddy to have another baby. It was never a question of if we’d expand our family, it was only a matter of when. We are in love with being parents and we were immediately in love with you.

    You were our little secret. We couldn’t wait to share you with the world.

    And we did.

    Your little soul was so loved. People cried at the news of your existence. Most had known dad and I had been trying. They were just waiting for the confirmation and there you were…

    Existing.

    Growing.

    You made me tired. So tired. Your poor brother and sister had to endure forced episodes of Disney Junior shows so I could nap. “Why are you always so tired, Mom?” they’d ask. Too tired to build LEGOs, too tired to play Barbie’s, too tired to pretend that I wasn’t dealing with first-trimester lethargy. But I would have done anything for you. Napped, puked, cried, whatever you needed.

    I love you.

    You do anything for the ones you love.

    One of my favorite aspects of being pregnant is that feeling of never being alone. As a mom of two, I guess I’m never alone as it is. It’s something I regularly complain about actually. I can’t pee without an audience. If it’s not the kids budging their way in, it’s the cats or dog. I’m always surrounded. But pregnancy is different. There’s something inherently beautiful about being attached to your growing baby. I had to make better decisions for you. You were always with me and that was reassuring and exhilarating.

    Now it’s just all just different.

    Empty.

    There’s a dark space where you used to be. I remember the inconspicuous smiles triggered by your  occupancy. Just walking down the hallway, I’d remember that I was pregnant and a sense of happiness would wash over me. I loved remembering that you were there…

    But I also forgot you were there sometimes.

    You were a quiet, pleasant, tranquil little house guest. You made it easy to forget that you were in existence. The first-trimester is notorious for making mothers ill, resentful and a walking, struggling being of intolerable symptoms. But you made it easy. Too easy.

    I had to remember not to forget you.

    You were there.

    Quietly.

    But you were there.

    In hindsight, I believe that you were so favorable and passive because you knew you wouldn’t be around forever. What an added level of cruelty to make me sick and to disappear so prematurely.

    It’s funny to look back and think of how there were moments I’d forget that I was pregnant. Brief moments of “pregnancy brain” when I had to remind myself that it wasn’t just me anymore. Now, I find myself remembering that it is just me now.

    People are moving on. The concerned texts, inquizitive voicemails and periodic “check-ins” are dwindling. People are going to forget this. For some, they already have. Some never cared to begin with.

    But I won’t forget.

    You were loved. It doesn’t matter if you were in me for 10 seconds or 9 full months. You were my baby. You were loved.

    I will remember. Forever.

    Day 9: Remember.