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Blunt and Blue
This is the final chapter of my Baby Chase series. If you haven't read the earlier posts, I've linked Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V for your reading pleasure.

Cleaning out the drawers in my desk this morning, I found my diary. I've neglected my poor diary since my children, and my blogs, were born. The last entries relate to my unsuccessful pregnancies. They were all so full of hope. Every single one. And then they end before Hollis. Because by the time I became pregnant with Hollis I was afraid to jinx myself by writing down my hope, by making it real.

In my last post I wrapped everything up with a nice little bow, didn't I?

The truth is, in my rush to get to the happy ending, I left out everything that was messy and indistinct. I left out the parts where I cried. I left out the parts where T became frustrated with my inability to leave our losses behind me and unable to understand my obsession with knowing as much information as possible. I left out the parts where I was hormonal and mercurial and weepy and timid and scared and angry and confident, all at the same time.

It's easier to leave out the mess, isn't it? To state that we had "decided" not to do IVF. To say that a little vacation made it happen. (Is there anything more annoying than hearing that?) In reality, it really wasn't like that at all. It certainly wasn't that easy. It was hard.

Everything was hard.

Sometimes it was hard to get up in the morning, to brush my teeth, to breathe.

Only by looking back through time can I blur the edges of what happened and what I felt and the fear.

Let's talk about the fear.

The cycle that worked? I didn't expect it to work. I just needed to be trying. I needed to have that 2 week wait to look forward to. I measured my life in small conception-related increments. It was my way of taking it day by day. I charted and temped. At the right time, I peed on sticks. I went to the doctor. I started over again.

When I found out I was pregnant in January of 2007 I was not expecting it. Not at all. I'd had the world's longest cycle, coupled with the plane stress, and at that point I wasn't on Clomid or doing injectables. We were flying solo.

My first beta was great. My progesterone was not. It was 13. If you recall from my earlier posts, my doctor liked to see a 20 with the first beta. So I started taking progesterone, even though there is no consensus in the medical community that progesterone actually helps maintain a pregnancy if it's started after a positive pregnancy test. But I took it anyway.

At 7 weeks, we saw a heartbeat.

It was the first time we'd ever seen a beating heart in my belly.

I finally got a grainy black and white ultrasound image to take home.

My heart flipped. Then landed with a thud. The baby was small for its gestational age. I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It came in the form of a positive prenatal screen. T was in Florida. My doctor's office called and told me I had to come in that day for an amnio. My test results had given me a 1 in 31 chance of Down Syndrome. I called T and shared the news. We made our decision very quickly. I would have the test.

There is a back story here, but it is one that's not really mine to tell. You see, our nephew has Down Syndrome. Perhaps our decision was made easier by the fact that our nephew, S, is the sweetest most wonderful boy to have blessed the family. Perhaps our decision was made easier by watching K and J with their son, by seeing the love and joy he brought to their lives. Personally, I think our decision was made long before I had a positive AFP. It was made when I held S for the first time and smelled his precious little baby smell.

But why have the amnio if you didn't intend to "terminate," you ask?

Because there are a whole host of complications that usually accompany the birth of such a child. S had to be airlifted to a hospital half way across the state, leaving his terrified parents behind. Even I, 1500 miles away was completely terrified. We weren't going to let that happen. S's parents and doctors had no way of knowing. J's prenatal screening had been negative. But we had the power to know. And so we would.

I had the amnio that afternoon, with a nurse holding my hand for support. Then I drove myself home and slept. And waited an agonizing 10 days for the results.

Everything was fine. We were having a boy.

And for the first time, at 20 weeks, I let myself believe that we were actually having a baby.

Then came the gestational diabetes, the insulin shots, the twice weekly ultrasounds and biophysical profiles, the early disintegration of the placenta, the oligohydramnios, the intra-uterine growth retardation diagnosis and, finally, the emergency c-section. And there I go again, glossing over the fear.

The end result was completely worth it. Every agonizing, wonderful moment.

For this.*

and this

That's not to say that holding a baby healed all my wounds. It didn't. But the pain, once sharp and green, with time, became blunt and muted blue. An ache in my chest for what might have been, rather than despair for what might not be.

I still think of them, the children that weren't. Their names are written in the back of my diary, written when I was irrationally holding onto hope for each of them.

I watch Hollis and Holden thrusting through life and it's hard to regret my path to motherhood. How could I regret what brought me my boys? But still, I'll never forget.

"What about Holden?" you ask. Holden will get a post all his own....

*Sorry about that bit of gore in the background in the OR picture. I blurred it with Photo Shop, but just try to avoid clicking on the photo to enlarge, m'kay?

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Blogger Mama Drama Jenny said...

Oh honey. I'm sitting here at my keyboard with tears in my eyes because you managed to totally nail it.

I'm still not recovered from losing those children. I probably never will be but I thought I was crazy for feeling that way...for not being able to just snap out if it. Today I feel less alone.

Blogger Jen M. said...

You have brought me to my knees. I can't even articulate it, as I sit here snuffling and wiping my eyes.

Your story...the first heartbeat....that marvelous baby being born....what a post, woman. What a post.

Blogger flutter said...

"But the pain, once sharp and green, with time, became blunt and muted blue."

that really just about says it all, doesn't it? Oh you beautiful girl.

Thank you for sharing your struggles. It's a heartwrenching and inspiring and beautiful story all at once.

Blogger Angela said...

What a post. Wow.

Blogger ExPatSW said...

It's been sixteen years and every January I think about who 'M' (what the baby would have been named) would be at ten...twelve...fourteen...etc. I wonder who C would be today if her younger brother had lived (because I'm convinced it was a boy!) I wonder how much longer my marriage would have dragged on if there had been a much younger child (C was twelve) to consider. I wonder how different my life have been. Would I have gone back to school at thirty-nine? Would I be living in London now? Thank you for expressing our pain so beautifully.

Anonymous Brien said...

I'll be honest. I've never been to your site before tonight and I'm only here because of your aunt's reference to your site on Wil Wheaton's blog page.

My wife is 8-months pregnant and was supposed to have a hysterectomy and therefore I (she) knows what you are going through. God bless you.

The real reason I posted a comment however is to say that your site's load time seemed very slow for me which is a huge turn off for me and perhaps others as well. It could just be my connection tonight.

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

You---jenny, her, her, all the women---loved and lost. That's a part of forever.

You relay and express so well what this is.

Thanks for that.

Using My Words

Blogger Emily said...

And so worth it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn! I hit the publish option before proof reading - let us try this AGAIN:

Knowledge is Power. I took all the prenatal tests offered, because I frickin' hate surprises. Yeah, I am a JOY at Christmas. "Don't get me a surprise, get me want I know I want."

I'm glad you got your "happy ending", or your "happy while in the throes of it" -- which is even sweeter. I think it is human nature to gloss over the painful parts of our journey -- otherwise we'd be walking around sobbing all the time. At least I would be.

I think you've hit a nerve with these posts, not only for women who've lost babies, but those of us who watch our friends struggle and can't find the words to express our sorrow. Thanks for helping me understand my friend S.'s pain a little bit better.

(Okay, I just broke my no-blogs-for-a-week vow. Just for you.)

I have a dear friend that has lost so many babies to miscarriages....reading this helps me to understand her feelings so much better!

I am so glad you were finally blessed with 2 beautiful boys! Hopefully reading this will bring peace to someone who is struggling with the same thing!

Blogger slouching mom said...

Beautiful, poignant, moving post, LM. Actually, the whole series of posts.


Blogger Michele said...

Once again beautifully written. Thanks for sharing your story.

Blogger Binky said...

I really enjoyed the whole series.

Blogger lildb said...

You dare to write about a subject so profound, to share your most secreted feelings on the matter, and then you aPOLogize for a smattering of real-life details in one of the photos that also, ahem, involves a not-small miracle in the same shot? no.

I won't stand by idly and let you do it, because you're my friend. you take it back. you take it back right this minute.

because I love you, sweet friend. and this story is truth and beauty and power. and no smidgen of it should be apologized for.

*stumbles down off of soapbox*

Anonymous Wright said...

Beautifully sweet. Thank you again for sharing. It took me a while to get pregnant - almost 2 years. Never saw the double pink lines until I got on Clomid. I'm not sure I could have handled losing any baby - I was completely crushed from just not even getting pregnant.

Blogger Christine said...

this: "I still think of them, the children that weren't."--me too.

you really are a great writer and these posts were so perfect.


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