Friday, June 22, 2012

My Heart

" I bet it is safe to say that there are others like me out there that are rooting you on from afar." 

This was the last sentence of an email that I got from an old friend.  We ran into each other at the fertility doctor of all places.  Our parents were friends and we grew up together.  I had not seen her in years and then low and behold at 7AM on a random weekday morning, there she stood.  She looked up and saw me at the same time as I saw her and we both were overcome with emotion.

She knew of our loss and wanted to reach out but never knew how.  I told her I understood as I do. She filled me in on her life and the life of her family.  It was wonderful to catch up and I left there feeling very positive.  Then we got the call that day that we were not pregnant and I shut down.  Today I saw her email in my In Box and knew I had to write about it.  For how lovely it was to see her that morning, it was just as sweet to get an email from her that evening to let me know that Gary and I are never far from her mind and heart.

My last blog was a shout out of sorts - different from how I usually write.  I was worried I might not get any replies.  Never was I more wrong!  I heard from friends far and wide - friends I made through blogging, friends I have on Facebook, friends from my adult life and friends from my youth.  All week long, stories have poured in from my "sisters"...as that is what you are to me.  I read each and every word from women and mother's out there who reached out to me.  I shed tears over the love that was shown to me and the stories that were shared.  I am learning to blame myself less and less.  I am trying to forgive my body.

I often feel alone in this journey - alone with my anger and my sadness and my fear.  Like Gary and I are on an island that no one else has access to.  People want to visit, but they do not have a passport or the vacation time.  You all have shown me time and time again that nothing is further from the truth. 

I recently wrote about the sketch that we got made of Allie a while back.  It arrived about a month ago and we have been savoring it and slowly showing it to our family. A special thanks to Dana at http://portraitsbydana.com/ who made this amazing drawing for us.  She has a wonderful talent that she is putting to great use.  I found out about her from another blog and I hope to pay it forward my mentioning her on mine.  Without further ado, here is our daughter.  Here is my heart.  Here is Allison Paige.


Thanks again for all your love and support.  I am pleased to finally be able to introduce our angel to all of you.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Blame Game

We do not deal much in facts when we are contemplating ourselves.  ~Mark Twain 

Calling all moms who read my blog...I need your help.  I have been given an assignment by our grief counselor to talk to you (and I will bring this issue up at my next UNITE meeting, but that's not till July).

At our session on Monday, we were chatting away, making strides, healing, if you will, when the topic came up of my physical self.  Normally I do all I can to steer the conversation in another direction, but this time, neither our therapist nor Gary would let me call the shots.  We began to discuss my physical health and what I am doing to take care of myself and how I feel about myself when suddenly, my eyes started to burn and tears started to form. 

Taking a deep breath, I tried to explain that I was not too concerned with my physical well being as I was (am) pretty damn mad at my body. It was my body's responsibility to take care of my baby and it failed me. My body failed me.  My body was supposed to nourish and support my baby.  And it didn't.  And she died.

Now in my head, I know it's not simple as that.  I know in my head that I went to every doctor's appointment and stayed away from wine and sushi and soft cheeses and made sure to get rest and drink fluids and the list goes on and on.  No medical person or layperson ever thought for one moment that I was doing anything wrong because I wasn't.  And yet, I still blame myself.  I look at my body in the mirror and I want to tear it apart, limb by limb, piece by piece for letting me down.  For letting our daughter down.

Is this why I am not pregnant again?  Because I can't let myself off the hook and because I am carrying all this anger inside of me? I do not think so, and yet, I am sure it's not helping.  It did not help that 2 days after our appointment, I got a negative pregnancy test - again.

Could it be that I am onto something here?  Maybe I need to really work on myself, from the inside out, and make myself ready to carry a sibling for Allie.  Maybe I have no choice anymore.  I can't pretend it's not an issue when it clearly is one.

So moms - am I the only one that feels this way?  Did you blame yourself when you lost your babies?  I know rationally it makes no sense, but I can't be the only one that feels this way. If you do not want to reply here, please send me a private message via email.  I need this sisterhood now more than ever.

It was brought to my attention this week by some people that love us most in the world, that they are also worried about me and not sure I am ready to move forward and get pregnant again.  I got so angry and embarrassed - when did my health become an issue for anyone else for me?  But I know it came from a place of love and all I could say was that I am trying - each and every moment of each and every day to move on from the grief and the pain and the sorrow.  I am trying my best.

It does not please me when my head and my heart at not on the same page. So I am working on getting them back aligned.  And that means taking care of them both.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Role Play

On Friday night, Gary and I went to see a play.  We have season tickets to a local playhouse and every few months, we get an automatic "date night".  This month, we went to dinner at the outdoor beer garden where we had our rehearsal dinner and then went to see the play.  The evening was a great way to celebrate some recent successes we have both had at work  and to get some always appreciated one-on-one time.

Dinner complete, we went to the theater and took our seats.  As the lights began to dim, the director came out on the stage to introduce the production.  The director was a familiar face to us as she has acted in some of the plays in the past. She addressed the audience by telling us to please turn off our cell phones, unwrap any candies and the usual run of the mill stuff.  As she started to address the crowd, she was fidgeting with her hands, tripping over a few of her words and she was unsure as to where to look so her eyes were darting all over the place.  

I immediately realized that she was out of her comfort zone and that she was super nervous.  I felt so badly for her, but I was not sure why.  And then it struck me.  When she was on that stage and playing a role, she was smooth and confident and convincing.  When she was standing there as herself, exposed and open, she was timid, shy and nervous.

Well, her actions got me thinking.  All weekend long, I could not stop thinking about the people we are in different situations.  Last June when I went back to work after my FMLA time was up, I had to play a role every single day and it was really a survival tactic for me.  If I was exposed and open all day long, I would be too raw to be able to make it through each day.  I became the best actress that has ever existed, if I do say so myself.

As time marched on, I realized that I had to act less and less.  With my family, there is no role to play.  My guard can be down and my heart exposed.  With my friends, I can cry openly and know that they will find napkins or tissues to hold my tears.  But at the grocery store or the nail salon or the variety of other places that I visit now and again, I am an actress who holds my head high and still plays a role of someone who does not know the pain of carrying a baby to term and yet never hearing her cry.  I am a woman who is a mother, but will never be able to tell you my baby's first word or how old she was when she first started to crawl or walk. 

I hope that by the performance on Saturday night, the director was less anxious and more comfortable in her own skin.  But selfishly, I hope for myself more - that I become more confident in who I am as Allie's mother that I can shed the role I play so often and allow my true self to emerge.  I think I am getting there.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My Fair Lady

My sophomore year of high school, we put on a rather fantastic production of, "My Fair Lady".  My high school was known for their drama program and their musicals and plays were always done with experts in the wings, dialect coaches nearby and stagehands all around to make the most believable sets. 

I was cast as Mrs. Higgins and a star was born.  I wanted to live my life on that stage and I adored every minute of practice and rehearsals and eventually opening night.

I tried to study theater in college, but lacked the confidence to think I could really make a career out of my passion and eventually changed my major.  I thought about community theater over the years, but the most I am comfortable with these days is sitting in the audience of some small local theaters and humming along with the actors on the stage.

When I was in 10th grade, I thought being cast in this show was the coolest thing ever.  I became friends with some upperclassmen and I was finally involved in some extra curricular activities.  (Sports never were my thing!).  I remember one of my first crushes was in that show...and I remember when my best friend started dating him.  I remember the exhaustion of the rehearsals and the anticipation of starting a new scene and getting fitted for costumes. I felt alive and I adored it all.

This past week, I took my mom to see a local production of "My Fair Lady" as a Mother's Day gift to her. She loves the theater as much as I do and also has a soft spot in her heart for this show.  We went to dinner first and then walked over the the playhouse.  We were almost giddy with excitement.

The moment the first note was played on the piano, we both broke out into wide smiles.  We were tapping our fingers to the music and whispering the lyrics and laughing at the jokes that are from decades past.  It's an old show, but it still holds up!  The performances were wonderful and we had a very fun night.

In the middle of "I Could Have Danced All Night" or maybe "The Rain in Spain", I started to think about the 16 year old me of days gone by and what she would think of the 38 year old me that I have become.  What would she tell me?  Would she know that I still now have some of the same friends that I had then?  Would she tell me to study harder, diet better, dress anything but like the grunge meets Gap that I tried so hard to pull off?  Would she tell me the importance of family and love and hope and how those are the things you need with you as you get older?  Would she tell me to hold out for true love and then to be careful as once I think I have it all, my heart will break in a way that no human being can understand?  Would she tell me that it's ok - my daughter left her imprint on my life and heart and someday, her brother or sister will help me understand why she is not here?

No, she probably would not. She would have wanted to find a way to break curfew, sneak cigarettes, get to South Street on a Saturday night and just be a normal, 16 year old girl.  And that's ok.  Thinking back, I am glad that the me then did not know the pain that the me now knows.  I am glad I could spare her that as long as possible.

Henry Higgins to Eliza Doolittle: "I know your head aches; I know you're tired; I know your nerves are as raw as meat in a butcher's window. But think what you're trying to accomplish. Think what you're dealing with."  

Yes, I think it will do me good to remember the past, realize my present and still have hopes for my future.  For what I am trying to accomplish is indeed so very grand.

A Year In the Life

One year ago today, I became a bona fide published writer. I was ecstatic to get my first piece published and to share my words and story wi...