As I sit down to type this, my heart starts to beat a little faster and my hands start to become a little unsteady. It hurts, it hurts to expose this wound... but I can feel in my heart that now is the right time to do this. Because after many days of trying to decide when is the right time to share this, I have realized that that only time is now. It is now because I am sick of getting up every morning and trying to put on an "I-am-strong-and-I-am-okay" front. Today... today, I need to be weak. I need to tell my story because I know that my healing can only continue once I therapeutically put this out there, and then try to take a step forward, even just one tiny step forward.
On a Monday morning at the end of September, I took the test. A test I felt with every bone in my body would be positive. I knew it, I could feel the swell of joy in my heart before the word "pregnant" even popped up on the screen.
T waited anxiously in bed... I tiptoed into our room, and before I could even remind him that we needed to be very cautious with our emotions, he wrapped me up in his arms. I could feel the quick thump-thump of his heart and knew he wanted to explode with joy-relief-happiness as much as I did. But we weren't naïve anymore. We knew what it was like to have our joy ripped right out of our hands, so we cautiously let our hearts soar like balloons while holding on tightly to the strings.
Four blood draws later confirmed that I was, indeed, pregnant and my levels were, indeed, doubling. All of my numbers were on the lower end of normal, but all doctors/nurses/lab techs assured me there was nothing to worry about. However, telling me not to worry was like telling me not to breathe. I took comfort in their words, but truthfully, I was a wreck all day, everyday.
In moments of worry, though, I believed with all of my heart that there was NO way it would happen again. There was NO way we'd have to walk that dark road again. Especially after months and months of doctor visits and ultrasounds and vials of medicines and checkups and injections and failed cycles and hormones. This had to be it.
To calm my nerves, my awesome nurse scheduled me for an ultrasound at seven weeks, eight weeks, and nine weeks. We thought more checkups would equal less worrying.
The seven week mark rolled around and before I knew it we were in the ultrasound room. It was the most nervous, the most anxious I have ever been. I refused to look at the screen. Instead, I held tightly to T's hand and stared into his eyes, waiting to see some form of reassurance that all was well.
And then I saw it... a little twinkle, a tiny up-curl of the corner of his mouth as his shoulders seemed to relax with a deep breath. He mouthed, "heartbeat." I turned to look at the screen and there was our baby with a tiny, beautiful, beating heart. I refused to breathe my sigh of relief until the tech measured the baby. I was seven weeks exactly - the baby was measuring six weeks, three days.
My heart sank, and I lost it.
After a lengthy discussion with the tech, she didn't seem very optimistic; however, she couldn't really assure us of anything because only time would tell. We were sent over to talk to our nurse, the nurse who had helped us at the very beginning of our infertility struggles.
When we walked into her office, she saw that I was falling apart. "What's wrong?" She asked. I told her I knew that measuring behind was NOT a good thing. She assured me that it was perfectly normal at this point, and what really mattered was that the heart rate was great for the size of the baby.
We left her office feeling a little more hopeful, yet not wanting to let our hopes soar too high.
We were walking an emotional tightrope, together.
A few hours later I got a call from the doctor who reviews the ultrasounds. When I answered, he exclaimed, "Congratulations!!" I was confused by his outright optimism and told him so. He assured me that he considered it a great checkup at this point, especially with the presence of a fetal heartbeat. I think that was the point at which I finally let myself breathe a small sigh of relief and actually consider that this might really be it. We might finally get our baby. Finally.
We decided to wait two weeks before having another ultrasound. The reason for this, honestly, is because my little sister's wedding was the following weekend. There was absolutely nothing I was willing to let get in the way of being 100% focused on my baby sister and her happily ever after.
And let me tell you, ignorance is bliss.
At nine weeks and one day pregnant, we were back in the ultrasound room. This time we were seeing my beloved Dr. J, the same doctor who came in on his day off to deliver CK. After the drama of the last appointment, we decided there was no one better to do a follow-up scan.
I was obviously a nervous wreck... that goes without saying. But on the days leading up to the appointment, I felt increasingly pregnant. There was no mistaking that my clothes were getting snug, I was nauseous, and I was absolutely exhausted. Because of this and also because of my hopeful heart, I truly believed with every ounce of my soul that all was well with our baby.
Once again, I held on tight to my rock, my T, and stared into his eyes.
Except this time, there was no twinkle. No hint of a smile. No mouthing of reassuring words. No sigh of relief.
He remained stone-faced. And before I knew it, the ultrasound was done and I could hear the pain in my doctor's voice when he said, "It's not good."
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.
This cannot be happening again.
I already loved our baby so much. It can't be gone. Please don't let it be gone.
PLEASE don't let this happen again. Please please please please.
But it did.
It happened. Again.
"Why do I feel SO pregnant?!" I asked through endless tears, convinced they had made a mistake.
"Because..." Dr. J replied, "Your body still thinks you are pregnant."
Our little baby couldn't quite hold on, yet my body was refusing to let go.
I have never, ever, in my whole entire life, ever been so heartbroken. So confused. So lost, so scared, so mad, so angry, so jealous, so alone, so resentful, so worried, so sad. And those who know me well know my life has not been without painful experiences. This, however, was the worst.
Is the worst.
There are many, many details I will not share from the week that followed. But because this blog is a raw and open and honest place for me, I will say that it was the absolute worst week of my life - a week that involved me witnessing something no one should ever have to see, me feeling the most incredible physical and emotional pain I have ever felt, a week that ended with a procedure we had tried so hard to avoid.
A week that felt like a bad dream - a week during which T and I just kept telling each other that this couldn't all be happening again, that we both just wanted to wake up.
And that's where we are still - waiting for this bad dream to end. Sitting in the darkness, scared and alone. Wanting to keep fighting the fight and wanting to try to keep choosing hope, but if we're being real here - how do you keep choosing hope at a time like this?
I remember, almost exactly a year ago, when we were heartbroken over our first loss. It was a few days before Christmas. And I remember thinking to myself, "Well, just enjoy Christmas with your sweet CK, because surely next Christmas if you don't have a baby, you'll at least be pregnant again." There was honestly no doubt in my mind. We'd gotten pregnant fairly easily, twice. How would we not be on the way to fulfilling our dreams of more children after an entire year had passed?
And yet, here we are.
After months and months of battling secondary infertility, we heard another beautiful heartbeat - and before we could even embrace the promise of a joyful future, it slipped right out of our fingers.
It has been a dark few weeks. I have felt more alone than I have ever felt in my entire life. The grief has smothered my soul, stolen my spirit, and robbed me of my joy.
And yes, I have my Cameron Kate. My beautiful, perfect, miracle daughter. My daughter who refuses to let me lie in bed to hide in the darkness. My daughter who is the only person who can truly remind me what it feels like to smile. My daughter who hears me crying as we drive down the road and says, "Mama is sad. Take a deep breath, Mama."
And yes, of course, I am forever grateful for her. But despite what people may think, she does not take away the pain of this. We feel so incredibly fortunate to have her, but our hearts ache for our family to grow because of her, for her.
As I watch her play with her baby dolls, carefully changing their diapers and disciplining them and feeding them and hugging them and kissing their boo-boos, I fall apart and the grief takes over again because she should've been helping to take care of a real baby brother or sister in June.
And now, we're not sure if she'll ever get that chance.
And it's not fair.
Why us? Why is this happening? Why is it so easy for everyone else? Why do we have to endure so much pain? Why even get our hopes up with that promising little heartbeat?
WHY WHY WHY.
My thoughts are raw, my emotions are real, and my grief is suffocating. But I'm here to try to move forward. Because I feel like the only way I can really start to do that - move forward - is to expose the wound, let it breathe in some fresh air... and then maybe, just maybe, it will find a way to start healing.
Every night, no matter what, the sun sets. The darkness takes over and it is nighttime and the day is done and we don't get to do that day over again. But every morning, that sun will rise again and we have to get out of bed and tend to life and breathe and put one foot in front of the other.
And right now, though life forces me to keep moving forward, I feel like I'm hopelessly, aimlessly wandering. I can only wonder if one day, some day, the sunrise will bring with it the promise of joy... and maybe I'll find myself choosing to walk toward hope again.