New Year?

I wish a new year really meant a reset. A putting away of the the past and a new embrace of the future. A hard line drawn in the sand where the old doesn’t start seeping into the new. But that isn’t the way it works. It’s February of a new year, and it doesn’t feel new. I know it’s my fault. Last year had some tough moments. Really tough. And some of those moments have lingered.

There is a budget crisis at work that makes my job feel unstable. Well, in Illinois pretty much all colleges are in a budget crisis. I survived one round of lay-offs already. But I’m close to finishing my Master’s degree, so hopefully I’ll be in a good position to find something different if the need arises.

My daughter totaled my newly paid off car which means I now have a car payment added to the strained household budget. But she wasn’t hurt and we got a new car so we don’t have to worry about something breaking down and adding to the bills.

And the doctor told me I have about a 1% chance of having a baby at my age. Even though I got pregnant last year, the miscarriage wasn’t an anomaly. That was the norm. But… This one is harder. This one challenges a lot of what I believed. Mostly that age doesn’t matter. Because now it does and for more than one reason. It means that because of my age, I must let go of the desire I have for another child, of experiencing parenthood with the man I love. It also means that I’m robbing him of fatherhood and trusting that he can live with that. All of a sudden, my age has become a life changer. I wasn’t ready for that. For the past six months I’ve been hopeful. Every month, hopeful that we could be part of the 1%. But my faith has also been challenged, and I realize that I can’t will it to happen. I can’t just work harder at it either. And I can’t change my age, as much as I may defy it. If it happens, it will be a gift.

There’s a quote that frequently makes the rounds and is usually attributed to the philosopher Socrates, although he didn’t say it. A character named Socrates said it in the book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. This is a new year. And today is Groundhog day. I love the movie, but I don’t want to live with my life on repeat. I need to let some things remain last year’s issues and work even harder on acceptance this year. Of my age. My limitations. Once again, gratitude will be my comfort. For the best way to accept loss is to balance it with the blessings. I still have a job. My kids are safe. I’m almost done with my degree. I’m able to afford to replace my car. I have a 1% chance which is better than 0% and my guy insists he loves me no matter what. That’s what I’m thankful for today.

 

 

 

Finally

I’ve been lazy. Well, lazy with writing and I can tell. Writing helps clear my mind and since I haven’t been faithful with it, I’ve been having vivid dreams. Weird stuff about my dad and tidal waves and talking to dogs who can speak. My kids left today for a mission’s trip and I always worry when they’re going to be traveling. As any mother, I have fleeting thoughts of car accidents or muggings or some other danger that could befall them while they’re away. I won’t dwell on it, but it will make me uneasy for a while. However, I’m always proud of them for going and thankful for their convictions.

While they are gone, I’m moving some of our stuff over to my boyfriend’s house. My house is up for sale, and my realtor thinks that moving items out will help it look bigger. I don’t mind since I’m tired of trying to keep it clean enough to show at a moment’s notice. It’s a pain selling a house while you’re living in it. And we’ve been over at Patrick’s more often than not; we’ve been painting the exterior which has needed a lot of work including replacing broken siding pieces and rotten trim. Nothing lets you know the truth of a person more than working on a time consuming and difficult house project together. So far, so good. We still like each other, which speaks volumes. If you can spend hours cutting (and re-cutting) and painting (and repainting) wood without wanting to kill each other, that’s some lasting love. He has no idea how much I’m grateful for the little things.

And these days I’ve been feeling a lot better. My new doctor did an ultrasound and discovered that my miscarriage wasn’t complete at all–the fetus was still there. So a few weeks ago I had a D&C and began to feel better almost immediately. It took four months to get to that point. I don’t even have words for how disappointed I am in my old doctor who let things drag on without checking anything more than my hormone levels, despite my repeated warning that something did not feel right. But instead of focusing on the lost time, I’m extremely grateful for being back to normal. We’re going to try again and keep our fingers crossed.

Seriously? Can we just be done now.

The semester is over. Finally. I submitted my research proposal and took my last final exam yesterday. If all grading goes as well as I hope, I should finish this semester with a 4.0 gpa. Yay, me! If not, then, damnit, me. Or, if I were like a lot of the students here, it would be my instructor’s fault, of course. I’d say she just didn’t like me. But I know that’s not the case, so I’ll take whatever grades I get and keep plugging along, especially since my 4 week summer class starts next week. The instructor sent us the 48 page syllabus ahead of time…Gosh, I’m excited about that class. Gulp.

I like putting a period at the end of things. That means I can take a step and move on. I’m wishing that were the case with more than the semester. I found out that the miscarriage is still lingering. I’ve spent the last several weeks having my hormone levels checked with a blood test. Apparently, when a woman gets pregnant, her body starts producing a special hormone (hcg) that increases twofold every 2 to 3 days or so until the later months of pregnancy when it levels off. Blood tests measure it in number, and any number above a 5 is considered pregnant, although ideally the number should be zero in normal, non-pregnant conditions. My number this week registered at 117. I could go into a diatribe about my disappointment with my doctor at the moment and how things have been handled (or mishandled). Let me just say that his response was that something could still be left behind, but he’d like me to wait another couple of weeks to check my hormone levels again. Instead I made an appointment with a new doctor for next week.

In the meantime, my body hates me. I can feel it. I can feel that something is wrong. My regular female hormones are trying to take over in a raging battle that’s making me wish I were a dude. Yesterday was a particularly bad day. I felt on the verge of tears all day and had to avoid any cute baby animal-related videos on Facebook in case someone walked into my office at the wrong moment. Yet at the same time, I wanted to kick something. Hard. I secretly wished one of the posturing geese we have on campus would finally pick a fight. I would have won and it would have been epic. It’s a horrible feeling when you know you’re an emotional mess but you’re incapable of stopping it. You just have to hold on and try to avoid saying or doing anything that causes lasting damage. At one point in the day, my daughter texted asking for a favor. This was after finding out that I needed to stay an extra hour longer at work. And I was nice in my reply,  I really was. I even ended my message with a warning that I was not having a good day and she thanked me for the heads up. By 5 pm, just as I was heading to a new student orientation where I had to be available to answer questions of parents and their kids, I got a migraine aura. For those of you who’ve never experienced this, it’s like when you look into the flash of a camera and the ring of light stays behind in your eyes. I had those flashing, zigzagging lines in peripheral of my right eye which meant that I couldn’t see anyone coming at me from that side. I’m sure I looked like a weirdo constantly looking back and forth just so I could get a complete view of my surroundings. It lasted for almost an hour and  I braced myself for the migraine to follow. But it didn’t. Instead, all my hormone-filling angst of the day disappeared and I felt somewhat normal again. Damn, cruel body. I just saw the new Avengers movie and I realized that I can relate to the Hulk. At any moment, he turns into a wild beast and once he’s back to normal, he feels guilty and slinks away. I’m just hoping that I don’t also turn green.

I’m counting the minutes until I can meet my new doctor. I hope she takes one look at me and feels sympathy. I need to have this ordeal over. I tried to explain to my boyfriend last night how I’ve been feeling. I have to give him kudos for trying to understand, but I know I sound like a lunatic. Everything is horrible! Things aren’t working out. Maybe this is just a sign that we aren’t supposed to have a baby. When I get emotional like that, I miss having my family around. I need to feel connected to someone whom I know knows me. The people who can just laugh at me or slap me (not literally) and make me feel grounded again because I know they get it. I’m not crazy. But I now think Patrick gets it too. He did what I needed. Rationalized things for me. Teased me for being a mess. But also hugged me for a bit and told me things would be ok. Once again, I’m grateful for him. And for my kids, who also hugged me when I got home because I had given the heads up on my bad day. No questions asked first. Have I mentioned lately that I have great kids? So…I know I’ll get through things, like I usually do. It’s been a long time, but hopefully, I’ll have better answers next week. And I’ll try not to take anyone out in the meantime.

Another moment

I found out on February 6th that I was pregnant. It was a shock to say the least. I had gone in to the doctor for a sinus infection and mentioned that I had some abnormal activity with my “cycle.” They decided to run a test to rule it out and instead, confirmed it. When the nurse led me to an examine room, she casually handed me a piece a paper saying, “here’s your test results” before turning her back to me. I looked down and read the word out loud. “Positive?” She sheepishly looked back and me and replied, “yeah…and the doctor should be in a bit, so you have about ten minutes if you’d like to make a phone call.” Then she left me there. Alone.

I couldn’t call my boyfriend. That’s not something you call about when it’s unplanned and unexpected. Instead I sat down and cried a bit. It took me two more days before I could tell him. Not because I was afraid of him or his response, although I honestly wasn’t sure how he’d take it. More because I needed it to sink in first. I’m 44 years old. Most women my age find it difficult to get pregnant. I had somehow done it by getting off-track with my birth control and then spending almost a complete month TAKING birth control before I got handed that positive result. How was it even possible??

My boyfriend took the news in the best way possible. After he was sure I wasn’t kidding him, he said we’d figure it out. We’ve spent the last four and a half weeks getting used to the idea. Sharing our secret with only our families. Making plans for how we would make a baby fit into our lives. My body started changing even though I was only about 8 weeks along. I got cravings and mood swings. My jeans became impossible to keep buttoned up comfortably. My boyfriend was sweet with his teasing and considerate with his gestures, making me comfort food and coming up with cute nicknames.

Yesterday we were excited because it was the first ultrasound and we’d know how far along I really was. Just about what we thought. And our baby looked just like a peanut, curved and barely there. Only without a heartbeat. Somehow in just a couple of days, something had gone wrong. I still had symptoms, but we didn’t have a baby.

It’s hard to describe the emotions of that moment, when I knew before the lab tech said anything, that something was wrong. And it’s still hard today because it’s a weird sense of grief. We had just gotten used to the idea, not yet really excited, but getting there. We knew there were risks, but somehow I wasn’t ready for the end. It’s a horrible, swift shift in thinking that goes around like a tornado in the mind. Circling, circling. What and why chasing each other. And now I wait until I officially miscarry which is a lingering pain…

I know my boyfriend was also shocked and disappointed. We both spent some time with tears. But he admitted that it wasn’t the same…the guy is outside of it all a little bit. It’s not completely real like it is for the woman whose body changes with hormones and everything is a worry. Every morsel of food and drink and everything put on the skin gets a question mark: will it hurt the baby? And when something goes wrong, it’s impossible not to wonder if it was something that you did or didn’t do. It’s like when my oldest was born early, I felt like I had somehow failed in my duty as the mother. That somehow I didn’t provide what she needed. And yet I know miscarriage is common, regardless of my age bracket. And I will eventually come to terms with it. We both will.

I think for me the hardest part was thinking that I somehow had gotten that do-over I talked about before. Getting to have a baby with the man I love, in a relationship that wasn’t fraught with tension and difficulty. I had been given this unexpected gift and now I realize I was afraid the whole time that it wasn’t real. It’s weird what goes through your mind when you’re trying to make sense of things. Did I just not have enough faith?

I’m still struggling today. But I am thankful for one thing. I had a glimpse of something really fantastic, and my guy couldn’t have been better through it all. I’ve got a partner who truly cares about me. That part of my do-over is real.