We’ve all heard that saying, what goes around comes around. Right? Which is bullsh*t when it comes to infertility, nobody does anything to deserve this. It’s not someone’s fault, it just is. It’s a bad hand of cards, it’s the wrong place at the wrong time. I’ll stop with that, I’m starting to sound like an Alannis Morrisette song. Someone I know just went through a round of IVF, and it didn’t work. (Now before anyone gets any ideas, I know of several people dealing with infertility – I’m not going to name any names. Nobody is going to get outed here, I promise.) And I don’t think I was one damn bit helpful. All I could think of to say was “I’m so sorry”. How worthless. But there really isn’t anything to say, is there. I know that, but I wanted so badly to offer her more than that. I wanted to spare her some of the emotional sh*tstorm coming for her. I’ve waded through this muck myself, you see. I’m an expert, right? Hmph. I don’t know jack. It’s different for everyone, what’s broken, how to fix it, the outcome. Unfortunately, people who have walked this infertile path know that bad things happen to good people all the time. There is no fair, there is no justice, sometimes it seems like God closes his eyes and turns away. And then goes on vacation and forgets to turn on His stupid-a$$ outlook message so people can know nobody’s listening. The Universe doesn’t care.

How do you realistically comfort someone when you know what a crapshoot it is? I remember stretches of time when I thought I was drowning. Things got much worse before they got better. They did get better, and I have a daughter to show for my years of agony. But sometimes it doesn’t get better. As bad as you think it is it can always, always get worse. The whole process is so overwhelming, and I remember being so emotionally raw. Despair, anger, jealousy and fear all fighting for top billing. And echoes of those emotions are right underneath my skin, I was shocked at how much came flooding back. My throat closed up and all that came out was “I’m so sorry”….. When I heard that their cycle had failed, it all came rocketing back and hit me so hard I could barely breathe. I honestly thought I’d be better at this, but I don’t blow sunshine well. I wanted to be encouraging, I wanted to be comforting. I was none of those things. PTSD much? Probably. I sent her a couple of emails, sensing she didn’t want to talk. I don’t blame her, I didn’t after my failed cycles. Told her I was here for her, sent her a couple of links. I told her that I remember how hard it was to talk about, that just because I’m not asking doesn’t mean I don’t care. I pondered bringing her brownies. And then I marvelled at just how ineffective I was. I wish I’d been better for her. What would you have said?

Time for another daily dharma from Tricycle:

Gratitude

Gratitude, the simple and profound feeling of being thankful, is the foundation of all generosity. I am generous when I believe that right now, right here, in this form and this place, I am myself being given what I need. Generosity requires that we relinquish something, and this is impossible if we are not glad for what we have. Otherwise the giving hand closes into a fist and won’t let go.

– Sallie Jiko Tisdale, “As If There is Nothing to Lose”

I find myself feeling very quiet and serene when life is anything but that for me just now. A baby is a lot of work, my relationship with my husband is a work in progress as is my relationship with myself. But it feels like I’ve stripped away all the worthless crap in my life, and am finally only worried about what truly matters. All things are not wonderful in my world – there are financial, marital and family issues that I’ve dealt with for a long time, and they ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. Such is my lot. Things in my life don’t ever work out as planned, easy turns into complex and to be honest, I’m a pretty jaded person because of all that.

And yet.

For the first time I feel I can let all of that go. I’ve apparently made a choice not to clutter my life with any of my stupid baggage any more. I don’t know how or when I made it, but it’s done. I had no idea one of the things I’d get out of this motherhood deal was a new lease on my own life. So here I go about my tiny little day, being grateful…and damn, does it feel good.

There’s a picture in here, folks. No worries if you don’t want to see it…..

I’m still working, still amazed by how very little I care about my job anymore. Don’t see that changing any time soon. I’m not the person I was before, never will be. Still wish part time was an option, but it isn’t at this time. I know, oh woe is me – poor, poor pitiful me. I got absolutely nothing to bitch about. Even if I do, I don’t. And if I feel like I want to start bitching about something, I look at this:

…….and it all goes away. I still can’t believe this is my life, keep wondering when the universe will realize a mistake was made, will take it all back. I wonder how people who have never been through infertility do it. I wonder how they don’t ever have breath die in their throats at the possibility of losing their child, and I wonder how it doesn’t seem to occur to them every 15 seconds. I wonder how people can hurt anyone’s child, much less their own. And then I wonder what happened to create this piece of shit. And how does he get a kid and so many other people don’t. I mean really. WTF?? Then I go hug my kid and promise to do my level best for her forever and beyond.

Okay, last installment. Birth part III. So I go into labor on my own, and I finally get an epidural that works. Not totally dead down there, can move my legs if I really concentrate and feel, vaguely, a contraction if it’s strong enough. I snooze, a few more people we know stop by to check in. The doc checks me at around 3:00 and I’m dilated to 6 cm (at noon I was 3). I think it’s going to be several more hours and snooze again. At 4:30 they tell me I’m at 9cm, and there’s just a tiny rim of cervix left. He’d prefer to wait a bit to see if that goes away to have as smooth a delivery as possible. I agree, smooth is good. He comes back at about 5:15 and it’s time. What with one thing or another we don’t get everyone in there (two NICU nurses and an isolette were needed) and me ready to get down to business until about 5:40 and the little girl made her arrival at 6:09pm. I got a brief glimpse of her before she was whisked off to be cleaned up and taken upstairs. I got to see her 3 hours later and hold her hand for about 30 minutes before they took her away again. I couldn’t keep her in the room with me until she was more stable. And that’s pretty much it. She stayed in the room with us the second day and we went home the third. The actual birth was much more anticlimactic than the lead-up to it. She was here, safe. We’ve managed to keep her fed and warm, and not dropped or lost her. I feel that we’ve done remarkably well.

We had nothing at home for taking care of a baby. Nothing. A couple of newborn onesies and socks, newborn diapers that swallowed her whole. No place to even put her down. Two of our best friends in the world got our carseat/stroller combo we’d registered for while we were still in the hospital or we wouldn’t have been able to bring her home. The day I was discharged, my mother set out from Chattanooga bringing with her everything she and other family members had dug out of attics or bought in a rush. Bags full of newborn/preemie clothes and blankets, a bassinet and a changing pad/cover. An old pack and play, a blanket my favorite aunt started knitting for me a year ago. Then I’d miscarried and she put it away. She’d stayed up really late finishing it the night before my mother left so she could bring that as well. Mom arrived at our house about 30 minutes after we got home, sent D to the store to get diapers and formula, go rent a breast pump and get food for the adults. She did my laundry so I could at least have the clean panties I was so upset about before going to the hospital. And she stayed for a week and a half. It was like living someone else’s life. It was everything I’d wanted and been afraid I’d never have. It didn’t happen at all like I thought it would, the more we plan the more things go to shit, it seems. And yet….it all still works out. We still have her. I am still in awe of her, amazed that she’s really here.

I no longer check on her every 15 minutes. But I have woken up from a sound sleep to run into her room, heart in my throat only to find her snoring peacefully, her arms tucked behind her head. I have these visions, I see horrible things happening to her and I’m always just too late to stop them. I try to figure out how to get to her before she’s hurt, or lost, or frightened. My stomach clenches at the thought of taking any part of this journey for granted, we fought so hard to get here. I am so keenly aware of knowing I have to live with myself if something happens to her. Does every mother think like this? Is this just the ever-pessimistic infertile? I’m not so paranoid that I always have to have her in my sight, but I can’t stop the dark thoughts from occasionally flitting across my sunshine. At first I was always asking D “is she alright” if I was driving, or if I had been away from her for a period of time. Sometimes I’d ask multiple times during a 15-minute car trip. He’d indulge me but I knew he thought I was just being crazy. We picked her up from daycare the other day, and 4 times during a 30 minute ride home he asked me the same question. I finally just climbed in the back seat and held her hand and chatted with her until we got home. Made us both feel better. We’re amazed and thankful every day, and we know exactly how lucky we are. And we love this little girl more than either one of us thought possible…..

Okay, so I’m hooked up to the monitors, the room is predawn dark and we’re just sitting there in silence staring at each other. He sends a couple of mass texts, since we live nowhere near any family. No way anyone would make it or even could make it. We didn’t have any plans for anyone else to be there with us anyway, hadn’t thought that far ahead. We both try to get some sleep, though of course it doesn’t work. Around 6am, a friend of ours in town walks into the room and says “Hi” like we knew he was coming. He just chatted his way past the nurses and wandered right in. I’d had a shot of Stadol by then and later thought I’d hallucinated him. He’d got D’s text and headed right to the hospital because he didn’t want us to wait alone. He’s the kind of friend who lights everything up by just being there, the kind of person who wouldn’t think twice about doing something like that. I want to grow up to be like him someday.

So nothing is happening, contractions aren’t regular and the nurses are waiting on the doc to round and see what he says. Here’s where the time line starts to get hazy. The doc on call for my OB group comes in and says he wants a specialist to look at me (big surprise). The staff maternal/fetal medicine doc sends his nurse practitioner to see me, she wants to consult with him since I’m only 35w3d. She said something about giving me something to stop the labor and something about staying here for about two weeks, then she left. D and I looked at each other, he went after her to clarify what she’d just said. I can only think that she didn’t realize that my water had broken. Barn door’s open, darlin’. No going back now. Finally the MFM doc himself came in and said imperiously that we won’t be stopping this labor. (Um, even I pretty much knew you couldn’t at this point. But thanks for stopping by.) Then he said that we’d be starting pitocin since my contractions aren’t regular and in comes my nurse to hang it on my IV pole along with God knows what else is already up there. This is about 9am. They started with a very low amount of the pitocin to see what I’d do. I didn’t want to seem like a drug junkie, so I figured I’d ask for pain meds the next time she came in. Problem is, she didn’t come in until about 11:30. D and our friend had gone to get food and some stuff from our house and I kept thinking I shouldn’t ask for pain meds yet, it’s too early, what if it REALLY hurts later. So she finally comes in and I’m a mess. I practically crawl onto her head, begging for pain meds. She figures we should go ahead and call anesthesia to do my epidural. I wholeheartedly agree. The problem is, after one of them comes in to do it, they won’t place one for at least 12 hours after any anticoagulant therapy. Forget that I’m on such a low damn dose. Forget that in one fucking hour it’ll be 12 hours. Give a sister a break, man. So again, I do the logical thing and start crying. Messily. I believe I’ve stated before that I don’t cry pretty. We’re talking blotches and snot. Thirty minutes later they’re giving me the epidural, and it doesn’t work. They’ve managed to numb my upper half instead of my lower half. Only I don’t quite realize what’s happened, I just think it’s taking a long time to take effect. I even ask the nurse if I can go use the bathroom (thinking it would alleviate some of the pain) She positions herself next to the bed to help me up, obviously thinking I won’t be able to move. Not only can I move, I scuttled to the bathroom so fast (in between contractions) she almost couldn’t catch up with me. I hear her saying to another nurse, “Yeah, that’s it. Enough. Get them back in here. Totally not working.” So, they send another nice lady in to re-position the line, still didnt’ work. So they completely re-do it, with me helpfully telling them when a contraction’s coming (like they can’t see the monitors). I was told later, that they barely gave me any pitocin at all, I just went into labor on my own. Yay me.

Also known as the birth story, in installments because it’s a bit wordy. Nothing went right and yet it all still turned out okay, with a little help from our friends. And family. Okay, lots of help from lots of people.

So, I didn’t prepare for the little bug’s arrival until rather late in the process. Mostly because I fully expected it to go completely, horribly wrong. We eventually found some furniture for the nursery we liked and ordered it. Picked a color to paint the room and a theme (classic Winnie-the-Pooh), even finished registering for baby gear. We made the decision to replace the flooring upstairs with hardwood when I was around 4 months pregnant, and through one delay or another, it didn’t happen until the end of February. My dear husband also decided to do it himself (I told him he was batshit crazy, but he never listens to me), with help from a friend and my father-in-law. Needless to say, the project was a fucking pain from the beginning. We had laid the floor in the nursery, half of the hallway and most of another room when my FIL had to leave, with the promise to return to help in a couple of weeks. With his departure, all work stopped since it was Sunday evening and the Olympics were on and we were both tired as hell. I grazed my way through the kitchen, took a bath, slathered my itchy self in lotion and went to sleep tired, reasonably comfortable and happy. Woke up around 1:30am when D came to bed, realized I’d forgotten to do my heparin shot and took care of that (remember this, it’ll become important later). Then I went to pee and got a whole lot more liquid than I bargained for. Well, that’s odd, I thought. I asked D if that could be amniotic fluid, he said if it was the flow wouldn’t have stopped. Reassured, I trotted downstairs for a cheese stick, like ya do. Went to the bathroom again to check things out, more liquid. Feeling a bit unsettled at this point. Got a towel to lay on (just in case) and went back to bed. Was dozing off when there was another steady trickle which turned to a gush when I sat up. D had been asleep for 5 minutes. I poked him and said, “I think my water just broke”. He groaned, cursed, pushed himself up to a sitting position and crooked his neck to look at me and the towel, prepared to tell me I was crazy. Instead, he sighed deeply and said, “Get your clothes on”.

To which I replied, “No”.

He said, “We have to go, your water broke. The infection risk is huge. We have to get going.” I said “Everything I have is dirty. I only have two pairs of pants, no clean panties and I don’t know where a shirt is that will fit me. The house is a wreck, I don’t have a clue where to look for anything. I have to at least put laundry in, I didn’t do it all weekend because we were too busy. I’m not ready for this, I’m only 35w3d, and this is bullshit.” He put his hands gently on my shoulders and said, “Honey-baby, the very last thing you need is panties. The baby is ready, and we need to go. I can come back and get things later, we live 5 minutes from the hospital. I love you, you can do this. Now get your ass in gear, we gotta GO.” So I did the logical thing and burst into tears, dug around to find some clothes, put a maxi pad on to help with the leaking (riiiiight) and snuffled my way to the car. I had my insurance card, my phone, a charge cable for it and gum. That’s it. D had the keys and we drove in mostly silence, him patting me on the leg and me sitting there glazed. We get to the hospital, I get out of the car and I’m gushing fluid like the Colorado River. My legs and pants are soaked, I’m leaving a trail across the lobby to the check-in desk. I’m starting to get crampy and crabby. They finally come out with a wheelchair buried in those hospital bed pads. I plop down and get wheeled back to a room. The nurse helps me into a gown, takes some information and brings me extra blankets, pillows and ice chips. By this time it’s 4am. So it begins…..

I am a terrible blogger. I am a terrible commenter. some of that is about to change because I go back to work June 21st, and will be stuck in front of a computer for much longer stretches than I am now. Am I looking forward to it? Yes and no. The daycare is about two minutes from my place of employment which is good. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with friends and situations. I am not looking forward to the end of this magic carpet ride. And yes, even at this point it all sometimes seems like a dream. I haven’t even come up for air to check in on people I was checking on daily for months. A bit all-encompassing, new babies are. Mine has her first cold at present – she’s been irrigated, suctioned, cool mist vaporized and now she’s been pedialyted. You can now hear her snoring about one block away, mostly due to phlegm. But she’s asleep and happy. Even through this she smiles at me, with snot running and eyes bleary she’s still more good-natured than I can believe. She also likes her sleep, and I realize the incredible luck there as well. Breast-feeding never went well at all, never latched worth a damn. What started as a diet of 3/4 breast milk (thank you, Medela) and 1/4 formula has slowly turned into 1/4 breast milk 3/4 formula. I do what I can, but hey. Life must go on and everyone deserves to be happy right?

As far as donor eggs go, she is every inch mine. My heart squeezes in my chest every time I look at her and I thank our donor silently yet again. We’ve told her doctors everything, and some friends. At this point it doesn’t really come up but we’re prepping for it. We plan on telling her when she’s ready, we’ll burn that bridge when we feel it’s time. Donor IVF isn’t all that common around here. Her doctors (pediatrician and cardiologist, seen them several times – ‘nuther post) forget, and even people who knew all along what we were doing still forget. Oh, she gets that from you, her eyes are just like yours, etc. I don’t correct them, but it’s interesting how much of the “parents” even other people look for in a kid.

Meh. However she got here, she’s mine. I rock her, sing to her, hold her and soothe her. She smiles at me, visibly relaxes when she recognizes me and chirps for me. That’s all I ever wanted. The rest is up to her, and I’ll be here to help her along as much as she’ll let me.