Dear baby

Dear Baby,

I don’t know if you’ll ever exist, but I want you to know I love you. I love you even now, before the spark of life has flames into you. I love you before you breathe your first breaths in this world. I love you, and will love you, no matter who you may be. I will love you no matter who you love. I love you no matter what you do. You will know that my love is not fragile or conditional, my love for you is eternal.

You will know that I fought heaven and hell and moved mountains just to bring you into the light. You will know you are my heart’s desire. I have loved you. I love you. I will love you. There is not a moment in my life that I have not loved you; you are my past, present, and future. My heart aches to hear your cries and to know you. Please, come and meet your mother. I am waiting for you, no matter who you are, and I cannot wait to proudly call you my child.

Doing the damn thing

Happy Passover and blessed quarantine, friends. Seems fitting the two are in one greeting together since, you know, plague and all. Anyway. Quarantine has done weird things for everyone, but for me it gave me the time to get back into fitness and focus on my health. Since I’m working from home now, I actually have time to take the dogs to the park for long walks. At least that’s where it started.

When I got pregnant with Sayre, I was running 4+ miles a day and lifting weights at the gym 6 days a week. I was in the best shape of my life. I wasn’t the thinnest I’ve ever been, but I was the strongest and healthiest (remember, there’s a huge difference between thin and fit). Then I got pregnant and, though I worked out until I was 9 weeks along, after that I was just so damn tired that it took everything I had to work all day as a teacher and drag my butt home and into bed. And then Sayre died. Months of severe depression passed until I finally started therapy and started getting better. I started working out again and was getting into the swing of things again when I found out I was pregnant with Aurora. I was so scared and nervous that I stopped doing anything. I laid on the couch or in bed most of the time I wasn’t at work because I was so scared to do anything to cause her to die too. And then…Aurora died too. I was so depressed and hated myself and that led to stopping everything. Therapy, exercise, everything that had helped me get better. A year after Aurora died, I found out I was pregnant with Miriam. I only got one week with my sweet little violet until she too died and slipped from my body, quietly and at home.

Which leads to all hell breaking loose and me and the rest of the faculty and staff at the college I work being sent home to work remotely. Here I am going from a 1 hour and 10 minute commute both ways to a whopping 20 second commute from the bedroom to the dining room table. All of this new extra time comes with a cost: our two dogs who expect things like long walks on the beach and martinis. Just kidding, they only drink bourbon. But really, they had too much energy to maintain a calm work environment for me so I decided to start taking them to the city park for walks on my hour lunch. The first time we went I was winded and dying after only half a mile and just walking. I was pissed. I used to be able to run 4 miles, for God’s sake! That’s when I made up my mind that the dogs were now signed up for PawFit because I was going to get back into shape.

And so it began. I took the dogs to the park either on my lunch or after work every day with the aim of doing just 1 mile a day to start. My calves burned, my lungs were livid, and the dogs were loving it. Then I got the bright idea that I should work running back in. This is the part in the story where the dogs become less enthusiastic. After talking with my friend who runs half-marathons, I became familiar with the Jeffing method, which is alternating walking and running to build endurance without getting injured. Here’s the problem though: I have no sense of time or my limitations. I think I’m 10 feet tall and bullet poof, not that great when you’re an out of shape 5’4 woman. I was trying to run too much and too fast, something had to give. So I downloaded the Couch to 5K app to help guide and regulate my runs. Game. Changed.

The first run was a 5 minute warm up walk, a 1 minute run and a 1.5 minute walk alternated 6 times, and then a 5 minute cool down walk. This totaled 25 minutes and 1.5 miles. Easy, right? Wrong. By the end of the run I was dying and firmly believed I would leave a young and pretty corpse behind.

Couch to 5K is designed to be just three runs a week, spaced out whatever way you need. Me being the overachiever that I am, I did two on back to back days. Would I recommend that to start? Not really, no. But it helped me get into the best rhythm for myself: run 2 days, light training day (walking the 1.5 mile goal for now), run 1 day, light training day, rest day, and repeat with modifications as needed due to weather and such.

Today, I upped my training time by 5 minutes and 2 additional walk/run sequences. And you know what? It was the best run I’ve had so far. I felt stronger, my pace was faster and easier, and my breathing didn’t resemble that of a dying basset hound. Right in the middle, when it got hard and I knew I was only halfway through, I thought of my babies. I said their names one after the other: Sayre. Aurora. Miriam. And you know what happened? My pace got faster and my breathing became easier. I thought about them and wearing a cape with their names on it as I crossed the finish line at runDisney. Oh, did I mention that I set my goal as running the Disney World 5K on my 30th birthday in January? Well, that’s what my goal is and I’ll be wearing a cape with my children’s names on it.

Quarantine Quiet

I have worked from home since last Friday, making it over a full week that I’ve been practicing social isolation and social distancing. I know some people are finding this difficult, the inability to come and go as we please in the wake of a new and still not fully understood virus. A pandemic. As my husband has pointed out, it is a little scary how well I have taken to self-isolation. Stores closing didn’t bother me, just reminded me of when I was little and my town was much smaller with fewer stores that all closed before 9pm. Plus, online shopping has been my go-to for years now due to my deep dislike of large crowds. My extroverted husband, on the other hand, is having a harder time not coming and going anywhere he pleases when he pleases. Opposites attract I suppose?

Deep down, I needed this time. I needed the world to stop spinning so damn fast so I could sit and catch my breath. So I could be still for a minute. I have been deeply struggling the past few months. My depression has been the worst it’s been since after Sayre died and I was starting to feel out of control. The world wasn’t stopping and I had to keep up and I just…couldn’t. When I would try to voice this to those close to me I usually got one of three responses: “But you just got a new job with better pay. Aren’t you happy?”, “You need to stop stressing or you’ll never have a baby. Have faith, I have a friend who (insert miracle baby story here).”, or “You need to go back to therapy and get on meds.”. All well meaning in their own way, but not helpful at all. Of course I’m happy with me new job, telling me not to stress only makes me stress more, and I’m happy those women got their miracles but I’m trying to get mine. As for going back to therapy, before now I didn’t have the time or energy. I woke up at 5am, got on the road by 6:30am, got to my desk by 8am, left work at 4:30pm, and got home a little before 6pm to feed all of the animals, find something for dinner, get ready for bed, and go to sleep by 9pm. I was exhausted by the end of every day. Also, therapy is expensive and it’s really hard to find a good therapist close to me. I had a friend who’s a counseling I wanted to talk to and reached out to see if I could back in October…then I saw a pregnancy announcement she posted out of the blue on Facebook. So that is no longer an option.

People just see me being sad over three miscarriages and infertility. What they don’t see is the former high school student who texted me that she was pregnant and asking me to pose as her guardian so she could get an abortion (I obviously said absolutely not because that’s very illegal) and then wanting me to adopt the baby, which I agreed to happily. She pulled out a week later and sent me an ultrasound picture. Then the person I thought was a very close friend got pregnant and didn’t even give me a courtesy warning before posting it on Facebook. Then literally everyone around me got pregnant and had living babies. All of my miscarriage and infertility friends except two got pregnant and carried to term. Then a lot of family issues arose and I felt my support system shrink to a very few people. This is my hell. And through it all, I had to keep getting up every morning, putting on makeup, going to work, and pretending I wasn’t wishing I was dead. It got really bad on several occasions and I’ve never been more grateful to have my dog who stared draped herself across me and stared into my eyes, telling me she wouldn’t understand if I suddenly wasn’t there anymore.

So, for me, this quarantine is a chance to take care of my own crumbling mental health. To sit and be still and feel the earth come alive around me and soak in her rebirth. I can just be and not feel guilty about having to go slow while everyone is racing by. I know others are scared, and I completely understand that, but I am just grateful. I hope the world sees how nice a slow life can be and that we stop forcing everyone to run at a sprint until they collapse and everyone asks why. I am tired deep into my soul and I need this time to rest.

There are many flowers that rely on the winter in order to bloom again come spring. The time of dormancy and stillness gives them the energy to once again be bright and beautiful when the sun shine returns. That’s how I feel, like a flower bulb that wasn’t given the chance to rest after a very long and hot summer. Now, nestled safely underneath cool soil, I am getting the chance to sleep and renew. I’m working on not hating everyone who got pregnant easily and got to bring home a living baby while my arms are still empty. And I do hate them, something I am ashamed of. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to have a living and healthy child. If these women only knew the number of nights I’ve cried until I couldn’t breathe and begged God, or any god, to hear me and help. The bargains I’ve offered up to God to grant me a living child even if it meant my life in exchange. The defeat when even that plea is ignored.

Years from now when we tell those who are too young to remember this time what it was like, I will say it was the time the world was forced to sit and open itself once again. When we had to look away from our distractions and into ourselves, listening. When I got to sit at my dining room table with the screens in the windows, a cool breeze blowing through the house, and birds singing their spring song. I am grateful for this time.

Letters from my depression

I have always seen my depression as a oozing, sticky, mass of inky blackness. It starts at my feet, rotting me to the ground. But I think I can somehow keep it at bay by throwing myself into work and socializing with friends. Then it spreads up to my waist and I try to get away from it even more. I struggling against it by making plans with friends, constantly calling and texting others, and trying desperately to keep busy.

But then it spreads again and this time it’s even faster. I can’t move. I can’t scream. All I can do is cry silent tears and beg someone, anyone, to notice how stuck I am and help me. I cancel the plans I made. I stop replying to calls and texts or hardly reply. I stop sleeping. Everything makes me angry. Everything makes me sad. But still, on one sees the black mass I’m now covered in.

I try telling someone how hopelessly stuck I am and they change the subject. I try telling someone else and they tell me I need to think positively. I try one last time to tell someone before the ooze covers my mouth. They tell me to go back to therapy and shit down the conversation. The blackness covers my mouth and keeps me from telling anyone else. Then it becomes all that I can hear. It says horrible things.

“You’re a burden. No one actually likes you, they’re all annoyed by you. They might mourn you at first, but everything would go back to normal once your grave was covered. You are the reason your babies died. You fat ugly bitch; YOU killed them. No one sees you so stop trying to make them. No wants to hear you so stop trying to speak. You will never get another baby; you are not worthy. Everyone else who gets pregnant is better than you. You are terrible at your job. Everyone knows how awful you are. It won’t get better, this is all you will ever know from now on. I will never ever let you go.”

Months of this will tear your soul to shreds.

Letters from my depression

I have always seen my depression as a oozing, sticky, mass of inky blackness. It starts at my feet, rotting me to the ground. But I think I can somehow keep it at bay by throwing myself into work and socializing with friends. Then it spreads up to my waist and I try to get away from it even more. I struggling against it by making plans with friends, constantly calling and texting others, and trying desperately to keep busy.

But then it spreads again and this time it’s even faster. I can’t move. I can’t scream. All I can do is cry silent tears and beg someone, anyone, to notice how stuck I am and help me. I cancel the plans I made. I stop replying to calls and texts or hardly reply. I stop sleeping. Everything makes me angry. Everything makes me sad. But still, on one sees the black mass I’m now covered in.

I try telling someone how hopelessly stuck I am and they change the subject. I try telling someone else and they tell me I need to think positively. I try one last time to tell someone before the ooze covers my mouth. They tell me to go back to therapy and shit down the conversation. The blackness covers my mouth and keeps me from telling anyone else. Then it becomes all that I can hear. It says horrible things.

“You’re a burden. No one actually likes you, they’re all annoyed by you. They might mourn you at first, but everything would go back to normal once your grave was covered. You are the reason your babies died. You fat ugly bitch; YOU killed them. No one sees you so stop trying to make them. No wants to hear you so stop trying to speak. You will never get another baby; you are not worthy. Everyone else who gets pregnant is better than you. You are terrible at your job. Everyone knows how awful you are. It won’t get better, this is all you will ever know from now on. I will never ever let you go.”

Months of this will tear your soul to shreds.

Aurora

Aurora. You would’ve been 1 tomorrow. My sweet winter flower; her mama’s birthday month twin. You were supposed to be my rainbow but, instead, there was more rain. You brought the dawn after the longest and darkest night. You, sweet girl, you saved my life. I would be dead today if you hadn’t been with me, wrists slit on Mother’s Day 2018. I decided to wait for my period just to make sure…and there you were instead. Light. Hope. Life.

Your brother’s death was a long blood curdling scream, whereas yours was the low wail of recognized pain. You have a little sister and I know you both welcomed her just as your brother welcomed you. Death became an old friend after He carried you away from me. Sometimes I still beg him to take me to you, all of you.

You loved pretzel bagels with cream cheese, cookies, and you gave me heartburn if I ate anything spicy or tomato based. I used to wrap my arms around my belly and will you to live, to be strong and perfect. I watched the sun rise while I pressed a hand over where I knew you were and told you about what our lives would be like together. You were, and are still, so incredibly loved.

Aurora Lucette. My dawn and little light. Your short life meant something. You saved me.

My mother called me brave

I’ve now had three miscarriages. The last being our youngest daughter, Miriam Ruth, at only 5 weeks. I went to the midwife four times during the one week I knew about her existence. I handed out books to children and held my belly to make sure she knew I loved her. I sat in a room full of pregnant women and newborns knowing I would start miscarrying soon. I interviewed for my new job while my precious child slowly slid from my body, smiling and touring campus.

In the days following when I first saw the blood and called my midwife to schedule rhogam, I was numb. My midwife, Dee, texted me every day to make sure I was okay. She made sure I knew I had support and asked if I wanted Xanax like after Aurora. She spoke my daughter’s name. My doula texted and called, lit a candle for Miri, and listened to me cry bitter tears. I handed more books out to children and chatted with everyone.

About a month later, I was driving to my new job and talking with my mom. I have an hour long commute so I usually call her to check in and catch up on the previous day. I was telling her about a former high school student who had texted me that she was pregnant. Sixteen years old, pregnant on “accident”, and texting me wanting me for advice. So much anger. So many tears. Why this child who didn’t even want a baby and not me who is desperate for one? I was crying as much as I could with eyeliner and mascara on and telling my mom how deeply hurt I was. After calming me down, she said something that struck a cord with me:

“You’re the bravest person I know.”

My mother called me brave. I told her I don’t feel brave and she recounted all of the things I’d done despite how much emotional and sometimes physical pain I was in. I think of this a lot when the darkness is at its worst. I was triggered in the worst way since Sayre when people I considered very close friends announced their pregnancy publicly without a warning and I had to run into it on Facebook. I spiraled. I have completely lost hope that I will ever be a mother. I have this one recurrent thought: Who will take care of me when I’m old? Who will mourn me at my funeral? No one. I am convinced I will die alone in a nursing home, no children or family to take care of or mourn me.

I do not feel brave. I feel like a mass of quivering nerves just trying to survive. But my mother called me brave.