due dates

We would have had a baby now. Or at least have been very close to it. You see, tomorrow is my first due date. Had that little life not left us I would be hugely pregnant or recovering from whatever kind of birth that babe needed to come into this world. That is not the case though. And ..I’m ok with it. I think. I’m better, in the very least. It used to be that not an hour went by that I didn’t think of him. Now it is not a day. I don’t want to ever forget but it feels good to be moving towards a healthier balance. September 18th will always be a day that sticks out a bit in my mind.

red budOur red bud.

So will February 28th. I was excited when we received that second positive pregnancy test although it was a quieter excitement than I was expecting. It was when I calculated my new due date that I felt that breathlessness. This new life inside of me is due one year, to the day, after my miscarriage. Or rather, the day I went to the hospital to have my uterus emptied because sadly that little life had already gone. For me though, that is the day. A lot of life is spent wandering, wondering, not understanding. But in that moment I felt the delicate hand of God.

It’s been a long, hard, exhilarating year. I think would have been a damn good mom had everything worked out the first time. Without a doubt though everything not working out will make me a better one.

I am grateful. For this pregnancy and the one preceding it. For the friends that let me complain about pregnancy without making me feel guilty. For the friends that will let me complain about parenthood without making me feel guilty. Because the fact that something is desperately wanted doesn’t negate the hardship that comes along with it. There is good and bad in all experiences and I am grateful for both sides. The bad makes you better.

the hormonal in me recognizes the hormonal in you

I’m having a lot of body issues right now. Being pregnant feels very passive; it’s not something that I’m doing, it’s something that is happening to me. It’s mostly waiting and observing on my part now. And while I’m not exactly saying goodbye to a bikini modeling career, it’s still disconcerting to watch my body grow and push out. Hey there stretch marks, I hate your guts. It took a long time for me to accept and even appreciate the way my body looks. And now I have to go through that all over again?? Pardon me while I whine for a bit. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

There’s a lot of guilt that comes with being pregnant following a loss. You don’t want to take it for granted because you know first hand there are so many women who would do anything to be in your place. Not enjoying the changes and symptoms that are happening to you feels selfish and ungrateful. I’m stuck not wanting to discount either experience. I want to be honest though; pregnancy has not been easy on me so far.

I attempted to turn my attention away from what my body feels & looks like and instead focus on what my body is capable of. Yoga class is the perfect place! Namaste, y’all. Ok except no not at all. I can still do most basic poses without modification but my favorites are off-limits now. Backbends and twists and pushing that edge of what you thought was your limit. The fun stuff. I have been relegated to YET ANOTHER child’s pose (with wide knees of course to make room for my belly to rest). Or maybe a super exciting downward dog-to-table vinyasa? Screw it, now I’m just sitting and picking the dog hair off my yoga pants. These are the moments I wish I had that big round belly already so at least everyone would know what’s going on. Namaste indeed.

I don’t have any wise, self-aware growth to end this on. I’m just mad and need a sandwich. Boo hiss.

IMG_4537.JPG

daring to hope

What a wonderful and difficult time this past month has been. We found ourselves staring at a positive pregnancy test with apprehension, victory, and pause. Yes! We did it! But am I ready for whatever life has in store for me in these next two months? Back in January, I was bursting with the strange newness of it all. It was a state in which I had never been before and I couldn’t wait to share the news with our family and friends. This time around it is jarringly familiar. There is a sense of déjà vu. As I go through the motions of downloading pregnancy apps and reading forums and driving to the OB I feel the presence of a ghost, something of a sister of mine who has been here before. She is so happy and I am so scared.

I was ready to be pregnant again but I was not ready to deal with my emotions. A special cocktail of dread and distance. I wanted to keep the news to myself at first as I didn’t quite know what to do with it really; the only other person to know besides Andrew was my star-crossed friend and pen pal Allana. After a couple of weeks it began to feel odd leaving out the biggest detail of my daily life in the phone conversations with my mom. So we told our parents. I felt my anxiety begin to dissipate a bit as though it was being shared by those who knew. I toyed with the idea of surprising our friends with an ultrasound (a step we never got to take before) instead of just words but I knew my nearest and dearest would want to help me through the first trimester rather than hearing the news (good or bad) at the end of it. So we told our friends and that anxiety spread out a little bit more.

A scare involving a blood clot and an unplanned ultrasound last week had me thanking God that I had reached out and was not going through this alone.

baby redmonWe got to hear the heartbeat. A strong 174 beats per minute.

I am now 9 weeks + 1 day. Our missed miscarriage grew to 9 weeks + 3 days and was found at an 11 week ultrasound. I am walking on eggshells to our next appointment.

I am not used to declaring what I want. It has always made me feel selfish. I am used to resigning myself to what is given to me, accepting that I am not special and do not deserve all good things. Right now, I am declaring what I want. My voice is shaky and meek and trying not to end my sentences with question marks. But it’s there. I want this baby to live, thrive, grow, and be born into this world and into our family. I want to go into our next ultrasound and see that heartbeat again. I want to fantasize about strollers and how our dogs will react. I want to decorate a nursery and pick a name. I want this. Please God, I want this.

life after miscarriage: four months later

Three and a half really. I’m rounding up.

BenjiThis one has had a rough week, my poor old boy.

RobinThis one has an innovative flair for decor styling. She’s an out of the box thinker.

BenjiFrog-doggin’

I’ve heard said a few times in the context of a yoga studio that the highest form of human intelligence and spirituality is to observe yourself without judgment. I spend an awful lot of my life observing myself with the intent of fixing it up. I am in constant acknowledgement of my faults but only with the purpose of progression. It’s become easier for me to observe myself physically (especially in that same context of a yoga studio) without judgment. Not so much with my thoughts, however. It is often a good decision both for myself and for others to correct angry & hurt thoughts and redirect them into something positive. But for today — for right now, I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to let them be.

I hate that it’s seemingly unacceptable for women to talk openly about the frustrations of trying to conceive. Save for online forums filled to the brim with neurotic acronyms (TTC, TWW, CM, BD, HPT, FX) and sickeningly cute phrases (~*~baby dust!~*~) there aren’t very many “safe places” to spill your ugly guts. I hate that when someone asks me about our decisions to try conceive I am both elated to have someone acknowledge what fills my mind every damn day and also terrified to speak because I don’t know how much I can say. “Why yes, we’re having sex all the time! Check out this app on my phone – see all those hearts during my ovulation week? We should have a pretty good shot this cycle, right??” Or how about, “I’m feeling pretty shitty right now; my period showed up two days late yesterday and another pregnancy announcement is on my Facebook.” And there’s always, “DO NOT DISTURB: CURRENTLY SURROUNDED BY THREE NEGATIVE TESTS COVERED IN MY URINE” Not exactly the most palatable coffee shop talk. Lord knows my nearest and dearest would give me a shoulder if I asked. I know they would. But I can’t bring myself to do that to them. You see, one of the many side effects of miscarriage is the bubble has been popped. Pregnancy has lost its mysterious innocence and the sparkling magic is gone. My limbs are made of needles and I’m walking through a balloon shop, carefully turning my fingertips in toward myself as to not scratch your rose-tinted glasses.

I hate that I am a mom in almost all that I do and yet my arms are empty. I hate that I see a couple date for three months, playing at “House” and deciding that “OMG babies are sooooo cute, let’s have one!”. Buy a damn goldfish.

I hate that I can’t hate them. Because the second I see another ultrasound or a water-breaking update my first prayer is “Please God let them meet their baby.”

I hate that my loved ones love on me and distract me with lunches & hugs and for just one moment I am filled before emptying out yet again.

I hate how this experience has highlighted what little trust I have in anyone or anything.

I hate that I am left to write these things because words are thickly cemented in my throat.

I hate that I am lonely and want to be left alone.

I hate that even I press down on these keys I am mentally trying to shield you from my sharp edges. My instinct is to reassure you that it’s not always this heavy and please don’t worry about me. I’m looking on the bright side, there’s a silver lining, everything for a reason, can I have a drink or five?

why we announced our pregnancy at five weeks

This first trimester has hit me hard. Really hard. I am exhausted all of the time and the (very short) list of foods that don’t make me sick changes every 24 hours. When you pair that with an upper respiratory infection in an asthmatic body, you end up with a very miserable Rachel on your hands. I was barely able to leave the bed for almost a week, which at least meant a lot of cuddles with the pups. Andrew has been an absolute saint this entire time. Whether it is eating his especially aromatic dinner downstairs away from me, making a grocery store trip the day after the Atlanta Snowpocalypse, or running the bath at 3am because I can’t sleep, he’s all too willing to do whatever it takes to make me feel the slightest bit better. He says that since it is my responsibility to carry our baby, his responsibility is to care for me. God bless that guy, for real. We have our 8 week appointment in a couple of days and we are both SO excited.

Benji

Since announcing the pregnancy two and a half weeks ago, I’ve been asked many times why we made it public as early as five weeks. Those are the words they say but those aren’t the words they mean. I am being asked about the possibility of miscarriage, but much like a jinx no one wants to say the word. If you don’t mind, I’m going to say the word. As the great Hermione Granger/J.K. Rowling once said, “Fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself.”

Am I afraid of the possibility of miscarrying our child? Of course I am. Do I think waiting to tell my world what’s going on until the magical 12 week period will decide whether or not I have a miscarriage? No. The fact is there is no safe period when it comes to pregnancy. Or parenthood for that matter. There is no time when you can safely put away your worries because you’ve crossed into an anti-risk barrier. The chance of losing your baby becomes smaller as you pass into each week of pregnancy, but it never goes away. I could miscarry tomorrow. I could miscarry two weeks from now. I could have a healthy pregnancy that ends in a stillbirth. My baby could be rushed off to NICU and not survive the night. We could bring home our child and have them for three weeks before they leave this earth. Or maybe nothing goes wrong during the pregnancy or birth and I get to say goodbye to my children at the end of my life instead of theirs.

All of these things have happened to mothers and it had nothing to do with when they announced their pregnancies. And furthermore, there was nothing they could do to prepare for that horrifying moment.

Robin

The why’s and the how’s that go into deciding when to spread the word are different for every parent. And what works for me might not work for somebody else (this applies to every single parenting decision ever, by the way). For me, it came down to wanting to celebrate our baby’s life, no matter how long or short of a life God has in store for them. This little one has a presence on this earth right now, not just at 12 weeks, and certainly not just after they are born. They exist right now. They are alive right now. And that is a wonderful and scary and exciting thing that I wanted to be known and cherished.

Some people are fairly private and would want to face a miscarriage in the intimacy of their own home rather than out in the world. In my journey of trying to live my life more wholeheartedly rather than dull the extremes of happy and sad for a more “manageable” lukewarm medium, I knew I did not want to experience that pain inside of my heart only. This baby is already so loved by so many and I knew I would need their grief alongside my own. I also hope that I am able to take the challenges presented to me and use my experience to speak out for others, whatever those experiences may be. I think mothers are expected to keep quiet about miscarriage, although I’m not entirely certain why. Is it an uncomfortable inconvenience to know about another’s pain? Is it seen as a failure on the mother’s part? Either way, I decided I did not want to keep quiet. And I’m also not going to spend the days I have with our baby worrying more than I need to.

Whether it is before or after their birth, if we lose our baby it will be the hardest and worst moment of my life thus far. But, it will not be a secret. And I will not be alone.

Pups

happy birthday to me

I’ve always loved having a birthday so close to New Years. New Years is a warm up of sorts for my ACTUAL new year. I love Christmas very much and therefore I don’t even begin to think about my birthday until January first. It always feels like a lovely surprise just for me after the holidays have been packed away.

Twenty-three was a whirlwind of a year. I had just graduated college (!), moved in with Andrew (!!) into our first home (!!!), got married (!!!!), traveled to Mexico (!!!!!), and had a grand total of three shitty jobs (!!!!!!) before settling into a more stable situation. That was a lot for me to handle. And at some points I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to. But, I somehow survived another 365 days and here I am.

photo (2)Twenty-four.

And pregnant.

photo (1)(!!!!!!!)

I am starting this next year and sharing the journey with another life. How strange and wonderful to know that my twenty-four is this little person’s zero. I have no idea what this next trip around the sun holds in store for me (us). But, I’ll bet there will be a lot more exclamation points.