Keeping the Tradition


I was out late tonight and by late I mean 8PM. I was tired, anxious, and more than ready to go to bed. I wasn’t going to write this post, this same post that I’ve been writing for the past three years.

However, when I dug out these candles and lit them in honor of my lost babies, I instantly felt soothed. My lost babies. I said it. Not my lost embryo or my lost product of conception, but my babies. Lost early, but a part of me forever.

For the first time, I can light these candles and not lose myself by the sheer weight of the sadness they represent. I can acknowledge and honor my babies, knowing they were real and that they mattered and still do. I am honoring their memories and it feels right and it feels okay.

That Post Where I Vow to Write More Often (But Really Mean It This Time)

pen and notebook

There is one truth about me that I cannot deny.

I am a writer.

I write hundreds of blog posts and diary entries on a regular basis. Most of the time I write these on my way to work, walking around my neighborhood or while driving. Unfortunately, these writings only exist in my imagination, never actually making it to paper or the digital screen.

I’ve got a list of reasons why this happens.

The number one being that A BABY CHANGES YOUR LIFE!

Remember when all those well-meaning fertiles would tell you that after you have a baby you’ll never sleep again? Well, they were right.

How about that one where they said that the high point of your day might be taking a shower?

Also true!

So yeah, between spending time with my angel and continuing to learn how to be the best mom I can be and working full-time, blogging has taken a back seat. A back seat in another universe to put it mildly. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day so I don’t even try. At least that’s what I tell myself every time I think about starting a blog post.

But the truth is I think I’ve lost my voice.Writing voice that is.

Maybe it’s because I’m out of practice. After all, if you don’t practice a skill, you lose it. Unless you’re Batman or something.

Actually, I think I am having a blogging identity crisis and have had it for a very long time.

Consider this (it might be true for you too): the bulk of my previous posts come from the darkest place in my life. Within that place is a different mindset, tone, and yes, a different person. Though the pain of infertility never goes away and the bad memories still overtake me if I let them, my perspective has changed greatly. And with a change in perspective, comes a change in voice.

So, what does my “new” voice sound like?

I don’t know.

I know I need to discover that voice through blogging, but I hesitate because there are still those in the trenches. Though I do not know their specific pain, I know what it feels like to be trapped in what feels like a never-ending sea of unhappiness and worry.

If I were to blog about infertility, but more about all things motherhood: love, laughs, diapers, breastfeeding, sleep (or lack theoreof) would I be betraying those still left behind? Would I be betraying myself?

Once again, the answer is I don’t know.

But I owe it to myself to find out.

Get ready because I might just be back. As soon as I get the baby to sleep.

The First Five Months

One year ago, on April Fool’s Day to be exact, I got a positive pregnancy test.That pregnancy test resulted in my daughter who is five months old today!

I have probably written a hundred or more blog posts in my mind that never made it to the digital screen. As much as I want to record everything for posterity’s sake both here and in places like my journal and yet-to-be created scrapbooks, I just can’t seem to get organized.My house is a mess, I’m completely exhausted, and I probably have damp clothes in the washer that have soured for the second time this week.

Yet. . .

I am the happiest I’ve been in my entire life!

Babybelle lights up my world in a way that I never thought could be done. Every day I wake up to a smiling, squirming angel that I fall in love with more every day.

I might say that the last five months have flown by. In a way, they certainly have but in some ways time seems to have stood still. Don ‘t ask me how this can happen, just trust that it can. This was especially true in the first month of her life. Everything felt so–surreal! It was almost like being in a perpetual daze. I sensed time and space move around me, but I felt like I could only stand still, processing my world at my own pace. All I knew was that I saw and now see the world through a different lens.

But enough about my own brand of weirdness, back to Babybelle.

Like most babies, she mainly ate and slept those first few weeks. In the meantime, I did what many first-time mothers do.

I worried incessantly about her.

Is she too hot? Too cold? Will it hurt her to pull a shirt over her head? Is she gaining enough weight? Am I actually producing breast milk? If so, is it enough? Should I burp her? How do I burp her? Will burping hurt her? Is there dust in the house? Is she breathing the dust? Should I bathe her? How do I bathe her? Does she have jaundice? How long will she have it? Does she have reflux? Should she take medicine? Am I holding her right? Is her head supported? Is the room too dark? Does she need sunlight?

Yep, those were the first couple of weeks, but looking back they were blissful because they were the first experiences we had as a family.

The second month, Babybelle was much more alert and had gained a few ounces. After she got her two- month shots, we started venturing out and she was more than ready to explore what was outside of our door. I learned a very important thing about my girl: she is a major people person! She absolutely loves to be talked to and I believe that if she could talk, she would babble on and on. It was at this point in her development that I realized that she will likely take on her Daddy’s personality!

The third month marked the month of the smiles. I knew that I would love seeing that first “social smile” but nothing prepared me for how extremely happy it made me feel when I began to see it in all its glory. She began to smile when she was spoken to and smiled when she was smiled at. The other day one of the dogs was panting and she interpreted this as a smile and smiled right back.

And what has her grin naturally led to during the fourth month?

fairy quote

What started out as her own little chuckle is now evolving into what I can only call as a baby cackle! If I could take that sound and bottle it up forever, I would. I never know when she’s going to release one but when she does I frantically grab my cell-phone hoping to record it, but I haven’t been successful yet.

Now that we are in the fifth month, I am eager to see what milestones she will reach. Within the last couple of days, she has been using both hands more and more, reaching for things that are within her grasp. She hasn’t quite mastered sitting up without assistance yet or rolling over (She HATES Tummy Time) but we will continue to work at her pace.

There is one thing that I wish would happen this month.  I hope she begins to sleep through the night. I realize that everyone has a different definition of sleeping through the night. Some say that it is sleeping 4-5 hours in a row and if this is what sleeping through the night is, she has mastered it. However, I define sleeping through the night as going to bed when I go to bed and waking up when I wake up. I can dream, right?

Actually, she had three nights in a row where she did just this. I was thrilled, not to mention well-rested. Maybe more of these nights are to come.

Speaking of which, we’ve all heard the (ridiculous) expression Sleep when your baby sleeps and I am going to do just that!


Microblog Mondays: Today I Went to Target

Microblog_MondaysToday I went to Target. Not as the type of shopper I once was: a despondent, anxiety-ridden, want-to-be mother who went out of her way to avoid the painful triggers of the baby section. Nor did I go as the soon-to-be mother who felt she was tempting fate by cautiously and curiously going to the aisle where those items were stocked.  No, I went as the new mother who can now look at those rows of bottles, cute clothes, and stacks of diapers with purpose and a calm heart.

I went as a mother who has a daughter wrapped in the arms of her husband, both waiting at home.

I went as a survivor who has finally found “a new normal.”

Today I went to Target and I have never been happier.

Three Weeks Ago Today. . . Part 2


Actually, my title should now read 5 weeks ago today because Babybelle is 5 weeks old today. Coincidentally, today is also her due date.

But back to my story!

As you recall, I was being wheeled in for a C-section. Yep, I was quite anxious. Not so much for myself, but for my baby. I was shaking uncontrollably already due to the medication which made things more than a little rough. The doctor calmly explained everything that would happen and what I could expect to feel. She also reiterated the fact that we would not be able to see any of the procedure as a large tent-like curtain would be  used. I think this mostly calmed me because I definitely did not want to see a live surgery, especially being performed on myself.

I pretty much felt the things the doctor said I would. I felt a little pressure and tugging as the procedure was performed, but in no way felt any pain. In reality, I can recall very little she said she said because my mind was occupied with one thought and one thought only: Please let me hear my baby cry.

My husband was standing beside me and was trying to be reassuring and strong for me, but I knew he was just as anxious as I was. Here we were minutes away from what we had waited close to 5 years for.

It seemed like my shaking was only getting worse and the doctor ordered more Demerol. Minutes passed and I heard the doctor talking through the procedure, but I felt myself getting more and more woozy. I knew we were getting close to the moment when she would make the incision. I felt more tears coming on as I could only think again : Please let me hear my baby cry.

Then, I felt a tug and the doctor said: “She’s got a head full of hair!”

(I took this as a good sign)

And then she said: “She’s practically jumping out!”

(I took this all as an even better sign).

And then. . .

My baby girl wailed the most beautiful and vigorous cry in the world!

And I cried with her.

The doctor held her up for us and it was absolutely surreal.

After a few moments, the nurse brought her closer for me to see and there she was! Her eyes were wide open and she continued that same cry. When we made eye contact, something just clicked.  For so long, she had been this abstract concept, and there she was, real. This is a moment I will remember forever.

I remember my husband asking if she was ok and then he took a few pictures. Then they were both whisked off to the special care unit. I was rolled away to a recovery room where I returned to my half-awake, half-dreaming stage.

After a while, I made my way to the room where I would be staying. My husband came in and showed me the pictures he had taken on the phone. He told me all about her I’m sure but I was so heavily medicated I don’t remember much.

Yes, not remembering due to medication is a running theme here.

However, I do remember seeing those photos and wanting to see her very badly. Since she was in the special care unit, I thought this meant that we would only be able to see her through the window. In my drug-induced state, I had emotionally prepared for this, but imagine my surprise when I was told that we would be able to step inside the nursery and visit as long as we liked whenever we liked.

I was finally able to get into a wheelchair and was on my way to the nursery to see her. We scrubbed in and there she was all snug and swaddled in her warmer with her hospital cap on her head. I stroked her skin and absolutely couldn’t wait to hold her.

It was absolutely incredible to have her in my arms!

I wanted more than anything to take her back to the room with us but accepted the fact that she was getting the best care in the nursery. She had to remain in the special care nursery (except for that last glorious day when she got to room-in!) because her breathing was a little faster than normal which is a condition associated with some preterm babies. Of course I worried nonstop about this and could write a whole post about having a baby in the NICU and the thoughts and emotions that go along with that, but I’ll save it.

The first night we were visited by most members of my family and I was beyond exhausted. I think I fell asleep on most of them! Of course, we didn’t get much sleep that first night with doctors checking in but I was particularly annoyed beyond words when a nurse visited me at 3AM to ask if I wanted to pump breast milk. I wanted so badly to say: “I just had a baby!  I just had major surgery! My emotions are all over the place and you want me to pump breast milk at 3AM?! Crazy much?”

But I did try the pump and got a few drops of colostrum which made the nurses very happy.

We probably had more visitors in the next couple of days than I have had in all of my life. To be honest, I was too tired and emotionally spent to enjoy most of them, but I did appreciate the gesture since I felt like I was living in another world at that point.

I knew I would be at the hospital an extra day because of my surgery and assumed that the baby would have to stay even longer since she was born so early. I tried to make peace with the idea that I would have to go home before she did but miraculously I was told that if all continued to go well she would be going home with us right on schedule.

And that she did! On Tuesday, November 4, we took her home.

This date was very symbolic for me because it was my grandmother’s would-be 97th birthday. She had died a few months earlier and throughout my pregnancy I had hoped that the two would have the opportunity to meet. Though that didn’t happen, I still felt her spirit that day.

So that’s Babybelle’s birth story in a nutshell. She’s been to the doctor a few times to have her bilirubin levels checked (she had jaundice and actually lost several ounces of weight after leaving the hospital), but she is doing very well. She has been to her one-month appointment where she passed with flying colors and has her two-month appointment scheduled at the end of the month.

Each day for us is a blessing with its ups and downs and challenges. I’ve thought of a thousand blog posts I could write and maybe now I can get to writing them. My story doesn’t end here and Babybelle’s is just beginning.

Three Weeks Ago Today. . .Part 1


Babybelle surprised us by arriving 5 weeks early on November 1 at 11:53 AM via C-section! It has taken me 3 weeks to sit down between feedings, diaper changes, and just loving my baby to write her very long birth story but here I go!

Depending on who you ask, it all started Halloween. Obviously, Halloween has a somewhat bizarre, crazy and eccentric mood associated with it (cue Thriller music) and this pretty much set the stage for everything that came for me. That morning I woke up feeling a little more tired than usual and was concerned when I had a pink tint to my discharge. I wasn’t completely freaked out because I felt like I was coming down with a urinary tract infection and knew that sometimes this could result in colored discharge or even blood. I felt ok enough to go to work but at the last second I called in despite it being short-staffed and decided to go to the doctor to get a test (best decision ever). After submitting my urine, the lab tech told me that “a UTI was brewing” but they couldn’t confirm for sure until Monday which was strange for two reasons: 1) I had had my urine checked that previous Monday and was fine and 2) Since when did it take a couple of days to know for sure if I had a UTI? Before, I was always diagnosed right on the spot. Anyway, the nurse called me in some antibiotics because, hey, better safe than sorry, and I went home and slept with plans to go pick them up that afternoon.

When I woke up, I called the pharmacy and they had no record of having any antibiotics called in for me. I panicked because my ob-gyn office closed at noon. I quickly calmed myself down and decided it was no big deal since I would just call Monday and get everything straightened out then. Surely, it wouldn’t make that big of a difference if the infection had just started, right? Except, there was one thing bothering me. Something I should have paid greater attention to. The normal discharge I had been having had turned much more watery since Wednesday afternoon, possibly earlier than this. I Googled “discharge that is more watery” like crazy and the majority of people said that they had this checked out and it was just urine.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you never remember anything else I tell you, remember this. If you even remotely suspect that your discharge has become more watery in your pregnancy, get it checked out immediately. Do not wait. Do not pass “go”. Do not collect $200.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times to trust Google and there are times to consult a medical professional. I decided to call the nurse at the hospital who had the doctor call me back. I told her my symptoms and she asked that I come in to have it checked out. I was a little surprised that she asked since I was sure that she would agree it was urine leaking from my supposed UTI. I called my husband and drove myself to the hospital.

Before all of this, I had joked for months with my husband that I would be the one to drive myself to the hospital when it was time for the baby. Cue the irony!

He met me there and the nurse immediately tested the fluid coming out of me. I got quite comfortable in the room and thought it was a shame I couldn’t stay awhile and rest since I would be going home soon, hopefully with some antibiotics for this newly developed UTI. Imagine my surprise when the nurse hooked bands around my mid-section and asked me if I was feeling the contractions I was having!! Contractions? No way, I thought! I figured they must be Braxton Hicks contractions at best because I felt absolutely no pain whatsoever. I felt nothing. In fact, I almost felt like laughing. I thought that the nurse should have felt quite silly telling me I was having contractions when I was clearly fine, right? After all, I was one day short of 35 weeks and had been having a textbook pregnancy with no indications whatsoever that I would go into labor early.

Just a short while later, my surprise intensified when the doctor arrived to tell me I was leaking amniotic fluid! Her recommendation was to induce labor in order to prevent an infection. Apparently, the risk of infection was greater than delivering my baby a few weeks early.

All the laughable surprise I had felt now turned to pure shock! I was going to have my baby very soon. Hello panic! While I had some larger baby items in place at home, I had no crib and car seat, few clothes, and little of the baby necessities I would need, like blankets, wipes, burp cloths and preemie diapers. I mean, my baby shower was scheduled for the following Thursday and Saturday! I wouldn’t be getting those items until then. Even more so, I didn’t feel emotionally ready to accept that a baby would soon be working its way out of my body. Would I be able to handle it? What would I feel?

I was moved to a room and my husband called our parents. I have to tell you, I think my coping strategy was just pure denial even as the evening progressed. After a while, I told my husband that I wasn’t really in labor and that the doctor and nurse were mistaken. I informed him that I had changed my mind about being at the hospital and decided to go home to wait things out. If it turned out the doctor and nurses were right, I promised to return to the hospital the next morning. Otherwise, we would just go ahead and have our baby at 40 weeks, like we planned.

Yep, that’s me!

Needless to say, we didn’t go home, but my husband had to go home and pack a bag for each of us since that was on my to-do list for the next day. You didn’t think I’d have a bag packed when I didn’t even have a car seat, did you? Funny though,the thought did cross my mind as I left for the hospital that evening. Anyway, our parents arrived and we got settled in and the excitement began. One of the nurses did a quick ultrasound (not sure she should have even been the one doing this at all since she confessed she wasn’t exactly qualified in this area)and thought the baby was in the breech position, but the doctor arrived and confirmed that the baby was head-down, just like she should have been. She joked that she was glad the baby was in that position as she didn’t want to have to break the news that I would have to have a C-section on top of breaking the news that I would be delivering 5 weeks early. Yep, there’s that irony again!

I believe the doctor checked my cervix and aside from the contractions my cervix hadn’t opened at all. Though I was leaking fluid, my water hadn’t technically broken and the doctor couldn’t reach the sac to do it, so Pitocin was administered. From there, things got pretty hazy. I remember having to get up to pee like crazy which is very hard to do when you are attached to IV’s. The contractions did get stronger, but were mostly manageable.

Somewhere in this time frame, the doctor came in and was able to break my water. It didn’t hurt so much but she said that she had never seen so much amniotic fluid leak out of a person in all of her years practicing. To me, it sounded like pouring gallons of water out of a jug. The pillow I had between my legs was absolutely soaked and the bedding had to be changed.

After a few hours, I asked for the epidural because I saw no point in being in pain, even if it wasn’t the worst I knew that it could be. Plus, I was a little afraid that the staff would get too busy since they informed me that everyone on the floor that night was going into labor, many of them having C-sections! More irony!

After a while, my mind got more foggy. At one point, I was administered Demerol but I can’t tell you if this came before or after the epidural (maybe before). There are no words to describe what Demerol did to my head. I felt like I was floating and felt relaxed though my mind was racing and I wasn’t sure if I was awake or dreaming most of the time. By this time, it was after midnight and the doctor thought that the baby would probably be delivered sometime around breakfast or daybreak.

I didn’t sleep much that night and the state of being half-awake and half-asleep intensified though I was very aware where I was and was concerned about giving birth. Then the strangest thing happened around daybreak.

It began to snow. Quite heavily. This is bizarre for a number of reasons: 1) We live in the south and this never happens, especially in November! 2) The previous day it was at least 70 or 75 degrees. I had been wearing short sleeves and open-toed shoes.

I looked out my window and there it was, everything blanketed in snow. Ok, it was only a view of the rooftop, but you get the picture. It was at this point that I decided I was hallucinating. I saw the snow. I heard everyone talking about it. I saw pictures of my nieces playing in it on Facebook but since this never happens, I felt like I was imagining it. At first I panicked, because I knew it wasn’t good to be hallucinating but then I accepted it as something real, beautiful and likely symbolic of my journey.

The doctor came in and checked me again the next morning. Progress made? Absolutely none. Maybe a fingertip. Labor had progressed very little, if at all.

It was at this point that I knew. I knew that there was a very good chance that labor would not progress for me and that this baby would have to come out via C-section. I suppose the doctor knew as well, but didn’t began discussing it just yet. But remember, denial was my coping strategy so I didn’t exactly start worrying about it.

What I did worry about was that the baby was starting to show signs of distress. Her heartbeat was accelerating. It wasn’t an emergency situation or anything but something that was continuing to be monitored. Actually, I never stopped monitoring it since it had started a few hours back. What kept me from having a full-on panic attack, I’ll never know. Probably the Demerol.

A few short hours later, the doctor told me that I still had made no progress and dropped the news that it would best to do a C-section since nothing had happened and since the baby was continuing to show signs of distress. Though I knew it was coming, I was still, you guessed it, surprised. My sister-in-laws had much longer labors that I had (I was only at about 15 or so hours at this point, if you can even call it labor). My best friend took over 24 hours! But then I remembered that they had made progress while I had made none.

The whole situation made me cry because when I asked the doctor when the procedure would take place she said immediately. It scared me because I was worried about my baby and how she would do and how the distress had effected her. The doctor assured me that this was not an emergency procedure but one that should be done as soon as possible for the best interest of those involved. I knew she  was right; I trusted her but I was still afraid. After talking it over with my husband, mom, and mother-in-law we were all in agreement to get started. After getting poked a few times, I was wheeled away and said a prayer. Stay tuned for part 2 of my story.

Tell the World


Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

Tonight I have two candles burning to honor my own personal losses.

Ask any woman who has experienced this type of loss. She doesn’t need a day to remind her of what once was. I am no different. My circumstances have changed favorably since last year and I am very grateful. Still, past memories haunt me.

This post will be short. I come here not to relive the past or talk about how difficult infertility and loss are, but to acknowledge and celebrate babies who were conceived and gone too soon. There is one thing I know to be true: these babies mattered and still do.

I also celebrate any man or woman who has the courage to give a name and face to loss. These are the people who possess the courage to tell the world about their grief and pain and they do so with a grace that is not easily found. Many of their stories are absolutely gut-wrenching, but they still tell them, hopefully finding healing in the process.

But they also do something else. By telling their story, they remove the stigma that is attached to infertility and loss. For this I am personally grateful. It gives me hope that some day I will be able to look someone in the eye and say, “I am one in four. I had babies that I lost. My babies mattered.”

As I get ready to extinguish the candles for the evening, I think of all my real-life friends and online friends who have endured loss. The sheer number of losses combined is astonishing. Please know that your babies’ lives hold meaning and have a place in this world.





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