new year

It is the last day of another year I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and upon reflecting I decide to not to celebrate its end. For girls like me, time isn’t linear and I see no need for resolutions or all night parties. Sometimes the darkness settles around me like a mantle; sometimes I find myself blinking in the sun, and the sun’s rising and setting is devoid of rhythm and remains unpredictable and still I’m being dealt constant blows from a random universe. No rhyme or reason. It’s all luck of the draw. 

I tug at the snarls in my hair. Things are actually looking up, I remind myself. But this pregnancy (my second in 2017) isn’t a given and there is no promise to be broken. I remember my D&C in April, three days before the second anniversary of my tfmr, as clear as crystal in my poor broken brain. And I remember the loneliness of loss, the only constant in my life for the past two and a half years despite Geoff’s warm presence, and I want to cry but I’m scared I won’t stop. What will happen to me? I wonder. I wish I knew the end.

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8+3

The emotional turmoil of pregnancy after loss is starting to wear on me. I am so tired, even though my thoughts race and my nerves sing a high-pitched and feverish tune. Panic and worry crashes over me in waves. I am floundering but Geoff keeps me anchored; I am lucky to have him, but the stress is still omnipresent and daunting. 

I had my intake at my new OB’s office yesterday. It should have been no big deal, but I got all spun out about it. I’m not sure if I’m just a neurotic lunatic at heart, or if my constant anxiety springs from all the loss I’ve experienced. Probably both. Sigh.

The worst part of the appointment was pretending I still believed I was pregnant. In the last couple days, I’ve become convinced that baby’s delicate little heartbeat has stopped. I wish I could have my innocence and optimism back, but both died when I received Molly’s diagnosis. This new office is basically a baby factory — they expect me to have a baby, but I find that presumptuous. So I sit there, twirling my hair and doing deep breathing exercises as my husband keeps his hand on my arm, and I play their stupid game because what other choice do I have? 

Talking to the nurse was fine. I had to give details on my losses, had to spell out “cystic hygroma” — Molly had a ten millimeter (huge) cystic hygroma, which is a sack of fluid surrounding her (and in her case, it was around most of her body), and later developed hydrops fetalis, which is fluid in her abdominal and chest cavity. Both indicate a chromosomal abnormality, both were new to the nurse because yes, I got hit by lightening with fairly rare defects but at the baby factory there is apparently none of that.

The appointment concluded with an hour and a half wait in the lab, followed by a blood draw, during which the phlebotomist frantically yelled at me that my insurance wasn’t going to pay for “a bunch” of the tests I needed even though my doctor had felt they were necessary, and that I was going to have to sign forms agreeing to pay out of pocket. Forms kept spitting out of the printer with my name in huge letters across the top, and I initially refused to pay, causing the staff to stop in their tracks and stare at me agape as if they had suddenly been thrust into a situation that they had no idea how to handle. It was incredibly stressful but it turned out I just have to pay for two of them, which is still nothing to scoff at but seemed reasonable after being told there was “a bunch”. I suppose it serves me right for trying to bring a child into the world under the Trump administration — it’s only going to get worse and I am constantly worried sick about it. 

slow morning

All I want is to be a normal woman for whom two lines on a pregnancy test portends a healthy infant instead of soul-crushing loss. My nerves crackle and twinge and I am electrified and frightened despite feeling drugged up by my increased dose of antipsychotics. It’s a strange sensation; I wish I didn’t have it. I know by now that even the strongest medications are no match for my anxiety.

Tomorrow is my intake at my new OB’s office. I hate going there — I feel like I don’t belong. The pregnant women in the waiting room all seem to be sneaking glances in my direction. Who does that girl think she is? She’ll never have a baby like us. I hide behind Geoff like a coward. They’ll never know I am brave.

enough.

I am 8 weeks pregnant and I can’t sleep. I seem to fall asleep easily enough, but awaken an hour later to bargain with the gods. Please let me keep this one. I feel like I’m losing it. My psychiatrist is concerned I’ll have a manic episode, which are common for bipolar women in the first and second trimesters. She halves my tiny dose of Paxil to a pointless 7.5 mg. I am fatigued, but I can’t shut up and wake Geoff at odd hours. He is incredibly patient with me, but he can’t make me forget how cruel life can be.

I try to blow off steam by shopping, like any good manic girl will do. I have no idea what size clothes I will wear in a couple months. Already my jeans are getting tight from early pregnancy bloat — my rigid denim high rise Levi’s are not happening right now. I look at oversize sweaters, shoes and socks. I start to feel overwhelmed by uncertainty, so I add a Nanette Lepore cashmere turtleneck to my cart. I have a gift card. It won’t break the bank; I’ve learned to be careful by now.

My little cat comes to sit with me on the couch. Noon finds me crying into my throw pillow with an appliqued songbird on it, convinced I am miscarrying again. Time goes in circles, nothing really changes. My grief is palpable, and as always I think about Molly. I feel like screaming and punching walls but instead I breathe. I wish for the millionth time I was a normal girl.

Enough, I tell myself. I’ve suffered enough.

So for now, I stop.

post-holiday hypomania

I accidentally deleted my last post. Man, you just hit that “trash” button and that shit is gone. Ugh.

Finally, I have some peace and quiet. I love seeing my mom and dad, but I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without hearing them loudly wondering where I had gone. I’m glad they feel at home in our home, but I wish they weren’t comfortable enough to rearrange my living room furniture to suit their own preferences. Sigh. It was a wonderful holiday, filled with the sort of hope and promise that has been so clearly absent the past couple of years. Childless Christmas’ are so heavy and silent. I’m overwhelmed by the possibility that they may not be a constant thorn in my side until I die.

Pretending that I’m not pregnant certainly takes a lot of effort. As I said in my accidentally deleted post, if this is my miracle then my mom and dad will remain blissfully ignorant until I reach viability. I don’t think my mom thinks I should be trying to have a baby with my mental health issues, and she has implied that she doesn’t want to be stuck helping us out with a new baby. She also seems to think a baby would somehow cost her money. That’s fine. She can totally think whatever she wants. 
When I told her I was pregnant with Molly, she just said, “I don’t think this is something you should be excited about.” Ouch.

Anyway, for my part I think I pulled the visit off well. I don’t think they suspect a thing. I kept my cool, save for snapping at my dad about his driving (apparently the city’s attempts to delineate traffic lanes are lost on him and he just drifts about the road cutting people off). Grrrr. After all I’ve gone through to get pregnant, the last thing I need is to get into a traffic wreck. I was sleepy and nauseous the whole visit, and like every other time I’ve been pregnant my boobs have swelled up and started literally busting through my bras but really, I think I kept things under wraps.

Now that they’ve gone back east…it’s one day at a time. My anxiety is still bad. I have an intake appointment with my OB’s office on Friday and I have to do paperwork for first trimester genetic screening. I have to get through 9 weeks without bleeding (my miscarriages were at 9 weeks so going past that will be somewhat of an accomplishment). And I have to call my psychiatric obstrician again and try to get my psychotropics straight (my regular shrink seems reluctant to medicate me, citing the severity of my illness). So…deep breath. I keep on trucking.

distracted ramblings

Holiday cheer. I’m looking forward to my parents’ arrival. My mom has been freaking out since I-5 was closed (I am just south of the train derailment), but rumor has it open again and hopefully things will go smoothly. Our house is clean top to bottom, my fridge stocked with what we need, and amazing Geoff has wrapped gifts.

One hiccup… So I was exhausted last night, having had lost sleep to the anxiety of my ultrasound. I was laying in bed, prepared for some hard sleeping, and suddenly I heard a bunch of young voices from over by the fence (the fence separate my apartment complex from the high school). There was arguing, and I heard a loud pop. “Did he shoot you?”, someone asked. “They’ve got a gun!” someone shouted. As quick as the voices had started, they disappeared. The kids scattered. “Call 911!”, Geoff yelled from the bathroom. Sigh. I called 911. 

Geoff wanted to go outside to see what was happening. No, I told him. I don’t understand the impulse to run towards gunshots and not away from them. The 911 dispatcher told me we should go deeper into the house. After much bickering, I agreed to let Geoff go outside when the cops showed up. The cops found a bullet casing, and I had to give a pajama-clad witness statement without my contact lenses.

Now, wtf? We deliberately moved here to be safer (we had arranged to move when I was pregnant with Molly, and officially moved in after my tfmr), and now I have to deal with gunshots outside my window. This is not something I handle well, and now there’s a slim possibility that I might not end up childless after all and I want to be able to provide a safe environment…ugh. Fuck. 

Thoughts. The universe has been fucking with me for a long time. I’ve adopted the belief that it will continue. Having had taking three of my babies from me as well as bonking me with the infertility stick, I was sure I had wound up in the worst case scenario. Now, if I lose this pregnancy, it will be cruel and it will hurt like a motherfucker…this is, one way or another, my last pregnancy. I can’t keep going after a loss as painful as this one will be, and if I actually emerge with a living child, that will be that.

The news is fucked up. I’m wondering if the universe is finally giving me a baby in exchange for my family’s health coverage. Yeah, you want a baby? Fine, but the GOP will pass this ludicrously cruel tax plan. FUCK! Bye bye, Social Security & Medicare. This is some Ayn Rand bullshit.

Maybe it’s time I get myself to the vocational rehabilitation office while it still exists. I’m college educated, just on disability for schizoaffective disorder. I’m not actually sure I can do this but we’ll see. Not ruling it out.

heartbeat

There is something growing in my uterus, heartbeat 142 bpm, measuring exactly on track at seven weeks and one day. I never thought I’d see a heartbeat again, and I certainly didn’t expect to see one of these again:

Christmas isn’t ruined, I won’t have to fake it with my parents (who will remain blissfully ignorant of this for a long while). 

My little cat clamors for attention, and I wish I could freeze time and stay right here for the rest of my life. I’m sure the exhilaration will give way to stress and worry very shortly, but right now I feel pretty fucking good.

robocall

“After the exam, the sonographer will share several fun views with you and a limited number of family members,” the automated voice on my OB’s phone system informs me. Fuck me. Really? 

And panic rolls over me and I feel nauseous and I know I won’t sleep tonight. What is the fucking statistic? One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage? One in five? I’m too agitated to Google, but surely it’s a sufficient percentage that I shouldn’t be expected to deal with this bullshit. Is it fucking normal for fertiles to bring the fam to a fucking TV ultrasound and everyone has a fucking party? Fuck those people, all innocent and trusting. What about people like me? 

I scrub at the floor for awhile. My parents have assured me they’ll get into SeaTac around 11 am on Thursday and I can’t have them showing up early and finding out that almost three years since losing Molly, their daughter is still a mess and still trying to have a baby.

I curl up on the couch. The floors are fresh and shiny looking, and my little cat hops up onto my belly. I’m so anxious, I can’t remember who I am and I’m up again to jam two bottles of Femara between my bedspring and the wall. The whole bed is quite heavy. My mom won’t bother to look. 

Geoff will be home in a half hour. I try to remember to breathe. The whole time, my upstairs neighbor’s kids are screaming and running amok, as she screams at her ex. It was probably easy for her, too, I think. I lay on the couch with a bitter taste in my mouth. I wish my life wasn’t like this…

ETA The robocall bothers me because it makes promises it can’t keep. I will feel cheated, I am sure, and I will be angry. Nothing feels worse than the anger. 

t minus two

My scan is this week and I am petrified. The memory of my last “sorry, no heartbeat” scan, about 8 months ago is crystal clear in detail. Me, hyperventilating on a cold table while Geoff stepped out to call my psychiatrist and get me rescue meds ASAP. They had promised me that if it was bad news, my doctor would come tell me face to face but the tech blurted it out immediately anyway and sent me on my way, refusing to call the doctor at all — I felt utterly betrayed and humiliated as she rushed me out as fast as she could, her discomfort at my grief making her brusque and dismissive. “Better luck next time!” she chirped. Fuck that tech.

I also can’t forget the scan where they wouldn’t take the dong wand out of me while I passed the fucking gestational sac of baby #2. It was physically and spiritually very painful, and the tech was expressionless and robotic and determined to measure my fucking ovaries even after I asked for privacy. There was blood everywhere. 

Oh, and reaching even further back into the past…the level 2 ultrasound that revealed Molly’s cystic hygroma. That was a doozy. 

I can’t imagine there’ll be a heartbeat on Wednesday, and I feel like I’m awaiting execution. I know that’s probably not fair to anyone who is actually awaiting execution, but I’m unable to see a future beyond this scan. This stupid happy state I’ve spent the last week’s in could end in a blink of an eye, leaving me even more broken than I was before. It’s fucking bullshit to have to deal with trauma when I should be excited and full of hope.

Deep breath. These are first world problems. I’m at least at a different clinic this time.

So I struggle to take care of my body, and it is a struggle. I only want to eat this funky ramen I found at Safeway — it comes with this weird packet of cabbage you dump in, and it tastes so unfamiliar to me in a sort of disgusting way, and I feel like I want to taste it again and again and I’m sure it has no nutritional value. I want to guzzle coffee, my one remaining vice which now tastes awful and makes me sick. I crave cigarettes and liquor and pills, but abstain of course. The healthy foods I have here hold no interest. And I can’t bring myself to do my walking in the freezing rain, despite the huge ugly raincoat my dad gave me as an early Christmas present. I have no control over my body; I feel like punishing it for that.

My parents will be here Thursday, apparently (they keep giving me the wrong dates and times and I’m ready to wring their necks), and I don’t know if I’ll be broken or happy, or whaaaat. If my mom suspects anything, she will go through my stuff until she finds an answer. Her lack of respect for my boundaries and privacy dates back into my childhood. I consider buying a safe to lock up my HPTs, both the positive ones from this go around and the unused ones in the bathroom. Operation Sterilize The House. I’ve had to do this for years.

I can’t sleep. I try to wrap presents, become frustrated. Geoff can do this — strangely enough, he once had a gig working at a Fendi boutique, and did gift wrapping during the holidays. He wraps gifts ridiculously artfully for a scruffy tattooed guy that had no business working for Fendi, in my fashion-girl opinion.

I am frantic with stress, but not panic yet. I’m sure it will come for me later. It always does.

internal countdown 

I’m staring at a blank screen on my computer, hands trembling as I fight the panic. I think my medication levels are back to somewhat normal; I just can’t stop thinking about how scared I am for my scan next Wednesday and fretting for my parents’ subsequent visit for what really might be the worst Christmas ever. Worrying has drained me and it is so cold and dark around winter solstice in the PNW– Geoff tries, but I am inconsolable and stubborn in my efforts to remain perched on the couch shaking with the fight.