Our infertiity and infant loss journey began here...
In early February 2014, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with uterine cancer during preparations for our last frozen embryo transfer (FET). For now, the "daily dose" has changed to chemo pills but the journey continues on.
I started today with my first-ever mammogram. In celebration, I served pancakes for dinner. (get it?). Nothing like a mammogram to close out 2011! I guess it's fitting because I'm really ready to kick this year to the curb.
As in... Adios. Au revior. Ciao. Auf Wiedersehen. Tata. Sayonara. Salaam. Or as my dad's paisanos say in Scotland - Cheerio. Mr. Thompson would say "y'all come back now" with all his Texan charm...but like every woman on pro.gesterone, I prefer something a little more gritty with "kiss my (ahem)".
It's going to be one heck of a going-out party on Saturday night. My sister always pays homage to a celebrity who has died and this year we will have a lot of fun at the expense of Elizabeth.Taylor (may she rest in peace). I can guarantee that Liz's seven husbands will be paying visits all night to my brother-in-law who will be dressed in drag, draped in white diamonds and a cloud of stinky perfume. Too funny.
I will of course be providing all of the confetti for the occasion.
It's a little tradition I have every New Years Eve as I park myself (and my passel of nieces and nephews) in front of the paper shredder with a stack of blank paper and colored crayons. My cohorts and I (who look forward to this every year) then proceed to draw pictures of all the things from the year prior to which we are bidding good riddance. When everyone is done with their pile we ceremoniously present to the jeering group and shred away.
When midnight strikes that is what we toss it high into the midnight air and kiss it all goodbye (in 50 different languages, of course).
Very messy....and very fun. Cheap therapy.
Poor Mrs. Cox from my niece's daycare has been on the list every year. So has her wart. We've shred bullies, spanking parents and 3rd grade boys who don't check "yes" on the "will you be my boyfriend?" box. As for me, pictures of Mr. Thompson jabbing needles into body parts and fat checks to the fertility clinic have made the mix year after year. So have empty cribs and words like failure. Thanks to 2011's final IVF drama, the confetti should be especially good this year.
Birth control into the new year... daily shots... learning new terms like "pearl necklace" and "kissing ovaries"... 3 years of eggs harvested in 30 days (31 retrieved, 26 fertilized and only two that survived)... hyer-stimulation... bed rest... the transfer that didn't happen (thanks to OHSS)... disappointment in having to put two perfect Day 5 blastocysts into the freezer... daily dates with my feet in the air... drained abdomen and drained savings... FET failure... a doctor's disappointment... losing hope over a last chance... and all the self-doubt and sadness that tried to creep in afterwards.
Despite all of my excitement going into last year, there were definitely some challenges once I got there. So after I throw my confetti high into the sky, I think that my New Year's resolution will be to close the door and not look back on Any. Of. It.
Christmas was good in the Thompson household. Low-key and filled with love - just how I like it!
Mr. Thompson took me ice skating to a really neat outdoor rink on Friday night which was romantic and just what I needed. After we had skated a while we sat down to rest and he asked me what was wrong, why I was so different this holiday season from previous years. I finally choked out how I was feeling about three-year-olds at Christmas, ongoing "barrenness", and blah-blah-blah. He wiped my tears as I explained how I just miss our son - that little boy we had...yet never had...and with Nat King Cole crooning over the loudspeaker and Christmas lights twinkling all around, he just held me while I sat on the sidelines of a public ice skating rink and let the tears spill out.
Sometimes, I guess we don't get to pick the location of our release.
If I was giving an honest confession - I'd tell you that it felt really good to finally let it go even though there were a gazillion people around and the tears were freezing on my face (note to self: Mr. Thompson is right - don't hold things in for so long. Life is better when you let it happen as it happens). I'm sure we were quite the sight...but it felt good to finally get it out so who cares, right?! Five minutes later I was back on the ice feeling happy and light again.
Until a kid cut me off and made me bite it. Hard. (I may need a hip replacement and have a ton of bruises as proof).
And that was that. Saturday morning we woke up to holiday cheer as Little Brother decided to surprise us from Camp Pendleton. The Lonely Marine didn't want to spend a lonely holiday on a lonely military base so he jumped in his car and made the long drive north. I couldn't have been more thrilled as it never feels quite right without him. I love that kid.
We congregated at my sister's house where Little Brother made yummy prime rib for Christmas Eve which put all ten of us into a 12-hour food coma. Seriously, if you want the trick for making kids sleep in...serve them prime rib the night before! We didn't wake up until 10am on Christmas morning which was pretty good considering that there were kids who would have slept until noon if we let them. Not bad since my siblings and I used to sit on the stairs at 4:00am on Christmas morning impatiently waiting to see Santa's loot! I'll consider myself lucky for the extra sleep.
And then it was games and more great food for another two days....which will all be repeated again this Friday starting at 5:00pm sharp.
Little Brother will come back to town... we'll have more prime rib (an adults request!)... more food comas... more games... more late nights...and even later mornings... more laughter... and a whole lot more love.
But definitely no tears. I'm done with that.
For now. (Anyone else feel bipolar this holiday season?! I can't keep up with even myself these days. Here's to less highs and lows in 2012!)
After I wrote the last post, I didn’t go to the cemetery.Instead….
I went to the VA Hospital.
My new position at work includes managing our Services.to.the.Armed.Forces.Every year at this time we administer a program called “Holiday For Heroes” in which people all across American send us holiday cards to be distributed to service members, including veterans.For weeks my staff and volunteers have been going up to the VA hospital to distribute holiday cards.Day-after-day they have returned with wonderful experiences.
Yesterday, my Casework Specialist came to me because she found a big bundle of cards which had been forgotten.Being a few days before Christmas there weren’t any volunteers scheduled so I told her we’d go up and get it done together.When we arrived at the hospital she started handing them out at the entrance to the vets but I quickly told her that wasn’t how I wanted to distribute the remaining cards.
Why not pass them out on the patient floors to the people who would be spending the holiday in the hospital?She got a panicked look on her face and said that they hadn’t been allowed access to those floors. I told her to follow me and set about my business.
Over the course of the next 5 hours there wasn’t any part of the hospital that was off limits to us.We went to all the inpatient rooms.We went to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit.We were escorted through the Medical Intensive Care Unit.The spirit was infectious and we eventually received permission and encouragement from VA staff to go anywhere we wanted to go.We sang Christmas Carols to patients who had breathing tubes, hugged patients who were immobile, and the stroked hands of men who were so incapacitated that they couldn’t do anything but speak with their eyes.We read cards to those who couldn’t on their own and had relaxing conversation with old men from WWII to young men from Iraq and Afghanistan. In one room we spent time with a young man who had an amputation last week after barely making it home from Afghanistan alive. In another room we caused a fight between a Marine, Sailor (Navy) and pilot (Air Force) that had us all laughing so hard that I thought someone was going to die.
In short, it was the best experience of my life.
These men (and women) are the best that American has to offer and many of them are sitting all alone in a Veterans Hospital this holiday season.I can’t tell you how many told us that the card we gave them was the only Christmas card they would receive.There was no tinsel, trees, or stockings anywhere but there were two girls who were determined to spread a little holiday cheer on behalf of the generous American people.As I was reading cards I realized that many of them in our forgotten bundle were from a 92 year old woman in Miami, Florida named Eleanor.
I don’t know who Eleanor is but I wish I could tell her what she accomplished with all of her heartfelt holiday cards.Each was different and had a personal thought.She spoke about Santa, believing, and being away from those you love the most.She was an angel and from her heart…to mine…we touched the most brave and noble. I don't think it was a coincidence that those are the forgotten cards that eventually made it to the patient floors.
One gruff veteran choked back tears as he told us it was his birthday.A birthday that everyone had forgotten until we started singing an impromptu “Happy Birthday” that staff and other veterans quickly joined in on.
The moral of the story is this: Last night I had planned on crying over a little grave.Instead, I got a much better release as I shed tears at the bedsides of American soldiers.It was great reminders that when you are struggling or sad…you should always forget yourself, and go to work.
Do you know how magical three-year-olds are at Christmas?
Which is why I want nothing other than to go to the cemetery and stand over a tiny grave so I can bawl my eyes out. For everything that was...and everything that is not...and everything that may never be.
To be honest, this is why I'm having a hard time getting into the spirit this year. For the pure joy of three year olds at Christmas, I seem to be mourning more than I ever have before at this time of year.Usually when I feel this way, I know that I need to make a trip to the cemetery.
I kneel down, have a good cry, pick myself up, and then dust myself off.
I was feeling a little sad yesterday over all the hope I had last year for this Christmas so I went back and read some old Christmas posts. This one on Christmas Miracles (click to view) is worth sharing over... And over... And over again.
I love it because my mother loves it...just like her mother loves it...and on and on the tradition goes through a heritage rich in holiday spirit. When I close my eyes I can still feel all of the magical sights and smells of my own memories.
...Treks through the mountainous Christmas Tree Farm in eastern Oregon in our search for the perfect blue spruce (because they have the best needles). The children's tree in our downstairs Family Room complete with a circling train, homemade ornaments and old-fashioned bubble lights. Standing in awe of mother's beautiful tree upstairs as it stood in front of our large picture window. Coming down Wilson Lane and seeing the lights on that tree as a faint beacon at the end. Taffy pulls, homemade wassail and gingerbread houses. Peeking out my frost-covered bedroom window watching my dad's tractor leave to go dig out neighbors from the fresh fallen snow. Excitiment in knowing that he'd pile that snow really high so we could have slides, snow caves and ice forts. Licking the spoon after a deliriously good batch of mom's fudge. Dressing dad as "Elfonso the Elf" and going with him to deliver huge loaves of dutch oven bread to all our friends. Butter toffee and peanut brittle. Sleds and horse-drawn sleighs. Hookibobs up the lane with nothing but a good pair of worn-out shoes and cold hands holding onto the rear car bumper for dear life. Mistletoe. Clam chowder and children's nativity plays. The Christmas Book. Caroling with Elfonso who always sang really loud and out of tune. The softness of new flannel pajamas. Sleeping in the same bed with all of my siblings and hearing the faint jingle of outside bells as we finally drifted off to sleep. Waking up a few hours later and running to the stairs where we would line up in our birth order - youngest to oldest. Waiting... waiting... waiting... and never appreciating that it was still before 6am which meant that my dad had to leave to milk our gazillion dairy cows before 4am. Jealousy over my older brothers who got to help him because they were able to see the sooty evidence by the fireplace first. Watching the sun come up and squeeling in delight when the boot stomps finally came at the back door, signaling that it was time. Raindeer tracks and scattered hay as evidence in the snow outside.
Which is the reason I have always loved this time of year. We were old fashioned. We were homemade. We were seeped in tradition. And spirit. And laughter. And love.
So I'll confess: I haven't really been feeling any of that this year. With a very busy job transition and disgust over people pepper-spraying each other over a few bucks savings (which we now clammer for on Thanksgiving Day!)... I honestly considered forgetting Christmas this year. Until I laid under my $44 Cost.co Christmas Tree at 5:30am this morning and remembered all of the magic of my growing years. Those memories reminded me what it was all about and thankfully, something that was dormant in 2011 finally woke up. My tree isn't from a mountainous trek made by me, nor is it a blue spruce or perfect in shape (because I couldn't even see it until I brought it home and unfurled it)...but the smells are the same.
And the feeling returned.
My heart that was three sizes too small...grew...and it grew...and it grew. So I made a cup of wassail from a can (reminder to self: get the recipe from mom). I turned on music. I added ornaments. I nibbled on fudge from mom's 10th batch last Wednesday. I watched the sunrise and thought of my dad who is 500 miles away and still working in the pre-dawn December cold. Although he isn't milking cows or shoveling snow (by hand this year)...he's up and at it - 100% guaranteed. I'm pretty sure that my mom will keep baking goodies all weekend and Elfonso will start making his trips across town.
Which means I better start baking too.
Think I can convince Mr. Thompson to dress up in an Alfie costume?
I'm not a Wiccan but I think that they may have something with the "Rule of Three". Here's the proof:
The Three Stooges
The Three Pigs
Three Blind Mice
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Three Wise Men
To my knowledge none of them were Wiccan either but they all give good (and sometimes not-so-good) evidence to the Rule of Three. This is why I should have been very suspicious when my two sisters announced their pregnancies. I should have known that one more announcement would be around the corner.
And it came.
Even though it wasn't my good news, it did come from someone else that I dearly love. Dearly, I say. Maybe even the dearest (aside from Mr. Thompson) which is why I am blissfully happy for this person, while secretly oh-so sad for me.
To add salt to the wound, I had to take a pregnancy test for what has to be the gazillionth time. It is in moments like these that I'm 100% positive that God has a sense of humor. It's Day 44 of an every lengthening norm. I didn't want to take the test but Dr. H's nurse wouldn't give me a prescription to reboot my system without it (just in case). So I did (just in case). Negative results on the same day as an unexpected third announcement.
Which brings me back to the "Rule of Three". With this latest rash of announcements I propose that it become the "Rule of Five" since all three of the lucky announcers are going from four kids...to five. Let's chalk that up as a new trend and take heart that there will be two more happy announcements this holiday season. I sincerely hope that it's from two of my very deserving IF peeps who get a Christmas miracle.
Today, I spent five hours hanging out at a fire scene with a bunch of firemen. Cute fireman. Oh... I can't even begin to tell you how good it feels to be back "home" in my dream job. The things that I love and the job that I'm good at.
After we were all wrapped up the Fire Department Investigator came up to me and told me how grateful he was for me - that he was sure I hadn't heard that for a while. He had no idea how right he was! I almost planted a big wet kiss on his lips out of sheer joy.
I feel soooooo good right now.
It made me realize that the only thing worse than being in the wrong job for 7 1/2 years...is being in the wrong job for 7 1/2 years and one day!
And for the life of me I can not figure out why I have turned this position down three times in the past. Note to self: You can't put a price on job satisfaction!
Blossom where you are meant to be planted. As for me, Emergency.Services Management is definately where I was meant to be planted.
It's as simple as that. Yesterday was a big day for me as I ended one chapter to begin another. In the quiet moments of the day there were simple reminders from cherished friends and fellow bloggers that...
Life gets hard. Really hard. For all of us... and in all those hardships it is sometimes easy to lose sight of all of the beauty around us. The blessings, for which I personally have many.
Like many of you, there have been high hopes. During a season of "Believe" we turn our hearts and our minds to the possibilities of a grown up Christmas list. Last year at this time, I was going into my "last" IVF cycle with the hope that there would finally be a baby for this year's Christmas Nativity play. That didn't work out but you know what?....
Because, I can do hard things.
Christmas is magical. Simply magical. And I don't want to miss out on another moment of magic with the distraction of have-nots. Have-nots hurt us all, until we realize that we all have them.
I don't have a children... but my neighbor doesn't have a job. A dear family friend lost her family, a husband and three sons, in a horrible car accident. A best friend is preparing her three month-old daughter for a second open-heart surgery on a wing and a prayer (wings of angels/prayers of many).
My issues pale in comparison.
Especially considering that what I do have... is Max - my adorable two year old nephew who is going to make the best baby Jesus for the second year in a row in this year's Nativity (unless I can convince him to be a dog with a broken antler.) He will be next to his cousin Dalyn - the funniest little six year old who instead of a Shepard will probably turn into "Bo-Bo" the sheepdog.
Infertility stinks, along with all of life's difficulties... but I'm ready to rewrite the next chapter of my life starting with a little holiday magic.
She didn't get my Thanksgiving "Grinch" post and needed to remind me how awesome my pregnant sisters are. I smiled and told her that I didn't need to be reminded because my sisters are three of the very best things in my life. We stick together.
So she inquired about my "lapped" comment...
And I had to remind her about this (click to read) post. You know....the "Finishing The Race" post that I wrote which reflected on the brief (very brief) time that I was a Junior High track star. The time that I sprinted out of the gate and led the race...
Until I remembered about 1/2 a lap into it that I was a Sprinter running a distance race.
As a result, I got "lapped". Over. And over. And over. And over...again. This was the moment that I redefined the term "dead last" and I haven't forgotten it.
Now what does that have to do with fat thighs?... (put your seat belt on)
I have seven (yes, seven) siblings and I am incredibly close to each one of them (gasp, shock, awe!) We stick together! Four boys - four girls and I'm the middle child... so I'm like Switzerland on neutral ground. My oldest brother is 10 years older...my youngest brother is 10 years younger. My parents are amazing because in addition to eight children, they also took in a boy from the foster program and a girl with the Native American Indian Replacement Program. So technically...I guess that makes nine siblings. (Sounds crazy I know, but really it wasn't. I promise.)
As you can guess, my mom was/is a rock star. My dad too because as a Farmer he worked really hard to make sure I could wear my designer jeans in High School (did I mention that Switzerland can sometimes have expensive tastes?)? We were not poor and were never neglected - we just have a big fat family that has done my Scottish ancestors proud. My parents will be married 50 years next year which is a feat in-and-of itself. They raised us all to be productive members of society, which was another feat.
With those seven blood siblings...I have 23 (soon to be 25) neices and nephews. My oldest sister is four years older and has eight kids. My second oldest sister is two years older and has 4 (soon to be five) kids. My youngest sister is seven years younger and has four (soon to be five) kids.
Did I mention my mom had eight kids?
Which occasionally always makes me wonder what the crap is wrong with me! Obviously my gene pool is good so it has to be something else. I don't know.
Except this I do know...being lapped has nothing to do with them...and everything to do with me. My family has never given me anything but love and support and I've never interpreted their gain as my loss. They love me - I love them and Thankgiving wasn't awkward in the least because it could never be that way between us. We love each other too much. Our family is all about family, which sometimes makes it hard for me in a way than no one in my family can really understand or relate to.
You can only understand it when you've lost a baby. Or struggled a long time to be a mom.
Or have finished a race as people were laughing or leaving the bleachers.