Thursday, August 23, 2012

Life in the buckets: Moving on and staying put

Do you ever have days where you're not quite sure who you are anymore?

I have days like that. Well, I guess I know WHO I am. I'm just not sure which VERSION of me I am.

I kinda feel like there are two parts of me. Two equally valid parts. BOTH are me.

So, Exhibit A:

  • I'm super excited for my business. I'm a postive-minded, forward-thinking business owner who loves her team, loves her industry, loves her company. I devour personal development books. Few things get me as pumped as the privilege of leading others to the life of their dreams.

  • I cherish my family. Most days, I love being a mom. My favorite part of my day is mornings where my daughter is snuggled up beside me, and I read beside her till she wakes. My second favorite is cuddled up beside her at night, reading books -- trying my hardest to read them like you would hear on an audio tape. Sometimes I throw in an English accent -- ESPECIALLY if I'm reading Angelina Ballerina. Nothing like practicing a squeaky English accent to keep up on my acting chops.

  • I have so many moments where I DO feel content. I feel the warmth of the sun. I snuggle in my hubby's arms. I see the joy in my daughter's eyes. I just drink in moments where I just know that LIFE IS GOOD.
Exhibit B:

  • I feel stuck in my past, specifically the recent past. I wonder when I will feel normal again. I wonder when the sadness will pass. Sometimes, it's not sadness -- sometimes it's anger. I wonder when I'll ever feel like I just BELONG again. When will I be 100%?

  • I see pregnant women and I can't help but feel so jealous. Then I feel guilty for being jealous. Then I'm angry I have a reason to be jealous to begin with. So then I'm jealous, angry, and guilty all at once. Yuck.

  • Sometimes, the good things to come feel very far away. Pregnancy feels very far away, and trying to conceive feels hopeless. I have a hard time picturing a happy picture. A healthy pregnancy. A healthy baby. That dream feels like grabbing at smoke, and having it slip stealthily through my outstretched hand. As a matter of fact, sometimes Olivia feels vanishing smoke.

  • I have many moments where I feel so DISCONTENT. I can see only the bad. I see a never-ending mess I need to clean up. Negative pregnancy tests. Olivia's empty crib sitting in Maddy's room. And I just feel like LIFE SUCKS.

So my big questions for my counselor this week were:

1) Is this normal?
2) Are you SURE this is normal? Because this certainly doesn't feel normal.
3) How can I be two things at once? Feel two things at once? And be authentic at the same time?

And in case you were wondering, here's what she said:

1) Yes it's normal.

2) Yes, I'm SURE it's normal.

3) You can defnitely feel more than one thing at one time.

Think of it like having your feet in two different buckets of water. Before your loss, you pretty much lived in Bucket 1. You were optimistic about the future, you had lots of success in your business, you were looking ahead with lots of positive expectations.

Then you lost your baby. You jumped with both feet into Bucket 2. You were consumed by grief. Everything you experienced went through the filter of your loss. You lived life because you had to. But really, at this point, everything was just about your loss.

Gradually, keeping one foot firmly planted in Bucket 2, you started dipping your toes back into Bucket 1. Then, in time, you began keeping one foot in Bucket 1 and one in Bucket 2 at all times.

It sounds to me like that's how you are living right now. You are living through two experiences at one time, and that's confusing. Sometimes you're going to put both feet in Bucket 1. Sometimes you'll have both in Bucket 2. And sometimes, you'll just be living with both hope and sadness, joy and despair, faith and frustration all at once. Sometimes you'll be moving forward, even while part of you holds on to the past.*

Her bucket analogy really made sense to me. And made me feel so much better about . . . well . . . how I feel.

Being REAL is important to me. So it gets really confusing when I'm full-on business person, excited and happy -- or just full-on friend, wife or mom -- and suddenly, I realize I still am stuck in Bucket 2. Sadness comes, and I can't wish it away. A pregnant woman walks by, and I struggle to remember what I was just saying because something in my gut just feels like it was punched. Maddy mentions Olivia, or wishes for a baby, and I try to keep the tears away.

And there I am . . . trying to be both happy and sad . . . authentically . . . at the same time.

She asks what it will take to pretty much get back into Bucket 1.

"Oh," I respond. "I'd love to have a healthy baby. I'd love to expand my business. I'd LOVE to help some women promote and see more success. I think I could be more happy then, and be able to get back to Bucket 1 more."

But then she reminds me that finding wholeness will never come from those circumstantial things. It has to be something more. Something deeper.

And it's true. I really need to just focus on Christ right now. He alone can make me whole, even as I know a little part of me belongs in heaven.

And in the meantime, I've got to live with the dichotomy.

So if you hang out with me, forgive me if I slosh a bit and get you wet. I've got my feet in two buckets. And it's a pretty messy way to live. But I promise, I'm doing the best I can.

*This is the best paraphrase I can come with from my counseling session yesterday, not her exact quotes. I'm good -- but not THAT good. ;)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A mommy do-over

Just a second ago, I clicked on the little pencil icon  on my blog that indicates that I have something to say, and something that I intend to say well to a lot of people.

But I must admit, I clicked on that icon with no ideas, no thesis, no theme in mind.

Nothing -- but this ache in the very core of me that is so present, so strong, that it makes it so that I can almost feel my spirit deep in my chest. It is a heaviness I bear with me always. But at moments like this . . . well . . . there is no relief. It just is.

I have been surrounded by people today. But I miss the little girl that I never will know here.

And I miss Maddy too. I've been so preoccupied today, I never gave her my full, undivided attention to just forget life and invest myself fully in her best, new (make-believe) friend. (Who's named Nikananga and lives in a lake, owns 5 airplanes -- which Maddy is ocassionally allowed to take for a spin -- and eats trees for dinner). I didn't take time to battle catepillar car versus lady bug car. I didn't take time to make play-doh snakes and scary monsters. She fell asleep in the car, so I didn't even get to read "Worm Diaries" or her infamous bird book.

I did not play baby octopus. Or play hide and seek under the covers this morning. We didn't cook dinner together, and I didn't get to watch her set the table (which always makes me so proud to see her do). We did not share our favorite things from today, or pray together for a new baby, or sing rock-a-bye-baby to each other. She did not beg me for just one more minute of snuggles. I didn't have to pry myself away, wanting to snuggle forever but knowing sleep would never come if I do.

Instead, today, what I did do was occasionally snap at her when she wasn't operating at my pace of life, sigh deeply when I just wanted to potty by myself, and roll my eyes when she clung to my legs when the babysitter left.

Stellar parenting, right?

Some days, I think I'm on top of the mom thing. And then other days, like today, I wonder since when do other people come before the attention I give my daughter? When did it become OK to interrupt her, but punish her if she interrupts other people? Since when is it OK to be so impatient to have a baby, and at the same time, be so impatient with the baby I already have?

Tonight, Ryan and I were watching a movie, and Maddy called out for me. I scooped her up, and rocked her for a long time -- much longer than it took to get her back to sleep.  And I cried, and kissed her sweaty little forehead, and tried to smooth back her straw-like hair, tangled and sticking to itself and her face like spaghetti that's sat too long.

And I just rubbed her sweet cheecks, and kissed them, and told her how sorry mommy was. That none of my friends were more important than her and that my business is not more important than her. I just wished her little subconcious would pick up the message and deliver it to her soul where she would know more than anything how much I really do love her.

But I know that's just wishful thinking. Maybe, deep in the recesses of her mind, the memory is tucked away. But why settle for a wish, a hope, that by some off chance my daughter might get the message that she is one of the most important people to me on this entire planet?

Wouldn't it have been so much better to SHOW her today by my words, my actions and my attention, so that she would have had a message of my love that could never be erased?

I want a do-over. And I guess that do-over has a name. Tomorrow.

As Maddy and I sometimes say, "Today was rough. But tomorrow will be better."

Today was rough. Tomorrow WILL be better.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

When AF threatens TTC on 13 DPO after 3 BFNs

I can guess that you, my reader, probably fall into 1 of 2 categories:

  1. You read my title with ease -- after all, it's written in the language you practically dream in these days (or have dreamt in at one time.)
  2. You have no idea what the heck this post is all about. But curiosity won out.

If you think the title is crazy, well, welcome to my life.

My crazy life of TTC (trying to conceive.)

I don't even know what to write, other than I feel like I'm going nuts.

Life before ectopic and TTC was much simpler.

  • If Ryan and I had an argument one night, we pretty happily kept to our own side of the bed no matter the day of the month. 
  • I never knew when my period would arrive, and thought it was weird that people ever knew the exact date.
  • When I did get my period, my only complaint was that I ran out of tampons and had to use a pads for a day.
  • When I felt a twinge in my uterus or ovary -- wait, I never felt twinges in my uterus or ovaries!

Life after ectopic and TTC is much more complicated.

  • I have yet to come encounter a conundrum quite like the one where you fought all night, only to remember that you are supposed to ovulate that day.
  • I now know exactly when my period is due, thanks to my handy dandy iPhone app. (And so could the rest of the world if they ever got ahold of it!) 
  • When I get my period, it feels like all of my hopes and dreams have been put on hold and I feel despondent that yet another month has passed and we have to do it all again.
  • And when I feel a twinge anywhere in my body, I obsess over what it could mean. And I mean, OBSESS.

So just to give you a taste of this new craziness . . .

My friend got me hooked on this app where I basically chart everything from CM (cervical mucus) to cramping to breast soreness, to binge eating (does a lb. of grape tomatoes each day count?) to basal body temperature to anxiety to constipation to . . . to . . . to . . . to . . . to.

Seriously, the list doesn't end. I think there's about 80 things you could pay attention to every day if you wanted. And then there's sub-lists on top of that . . . is your cramping light, heavy or moderate?Are your breast really sore? Or only kinda maybe a little sore if your 3-year-old treated them like punching bags? And don't forget CM --- thin, stretchy, watery, creamy, non-existent? (Sorry, TMI, I know.)

Oh, and by the way . . . what "events" happened today? Did you have sex? OPK? HPT? Eat an orange? Get a sunburn?

Ok, so I'm started to get sarcastic. But you get the point. It's a LOT to keep track of.

My friend (correctly) advises me that the longer I put the info in, and the more I enter, the more accurate the app is going to be. So of course I've been documenting as much as I can, because my haphazard approach to BD (baby dance) is simply NOT working fast enough.

So for once in my life, I know the first day of my last period. I know the day I supposedly ovulated. I know the days I will most likely be fertile next. And I know the exact day my period is due.

And I actually really like knowing this info.

But, there's a WHOLE list of things that I don't know.

Did I REALLY ovulate when it said I would? Was I early, or late?

If I did ovulate, is my egg OK? Did it make it through the tube?

Did we time our BD right?

Is my hormone level right, or should I have started those progesterone pills I was prescribed when I don't even know if my hormones are off?

Is my queasiness the overabundance of garlic I ate tonight -- or is it something more?

Am I tired tonight because I worked during the day, and cleaned at night . . . or could it JUST be that I need the extra sleep because of a baby?

Is it crazy to pray that God would bless the baby in my tummy when I don't know that there is one?!

Is the light pink spotting implantation? What about the week's worth of cramping I had . . . implantation, ectopic, or indigestion?

Will I get my period? What if it's late?

I don't even know what BFN stands for, but I know I've had 3 negative pregnancy tests and I don't care if they were called the "Happy Rainbow Test," they still suck!

If 13 DPO (days post ovulation) is not too early to test, why am I still getting negatives? Why is my body not acting the same as it normally does for PMS?

If I have to breathe through cramps, but they only last a few minutes, do I list that as light cramps or moderate? Or maybe heavy?

If I am spotting, does that mean AF (aunt flow) is on her way? Or that my baby just implanted?

So there you go.

If you wonder why I suddenly stop mid-sentence and trail off . . . or develop a glazed look on my face  . . . or if I'm compulsively on my phone . . . chances are my brain is back to what my body is doing at that exact moment. I could be charting on my app. I could be compulsively googling "early pregnancy symptoms," as if some new symptom will pop up since the last 10 times I've googled them this week. Or I could be on a TTC forum, hoping someone, somewhere can just tell me for goodness' sakes if I really am pregnant!

iPhone -- where is the app for that???

So one day, while I'm compulsively checking my phone, I happened to a post that Obamacare now is offering us free birth control.

Oh my goodness, did you just read what I did? They can offer us CONTROL OVER BIRTH!!! FOR FREE!

So, Obama, here's my order:

I want to give birth in 9 months exactly. I want it to be uncomplicated. I want to be fully in control of every symptom and side-effect. I want to have a natural, unmedicated birth resulting in a healthy baby that nurses well, latches on great, sleeps at least 6 hours a night, has their nights/days straight right from the start, and only looks at me with loving, dewy eyes. No screaming, please. Oh, and I'd like that baby to come with a lifetime-health guarantee.

Oh ... and do you do express delivery?

Ok, ok, I'm done with sarcasm.

Here's the truth:

While I'm trying so hard to be in control, the reality is I really have no control. In the end, God does. And I'd probably be better off just investing that time reading my Bible app and praying than I would be searching Google over and over and over again, looking for answers that simply don't exist.

And the fallout of not having control over my body is that I'm craving organization in every other area of my life. (Or at least, I'm pretty sure this is what my therapist will say.)

I almost can't sleep at night because the office is a mess. I've gotten rid of 2 bags of clothes and shoes happily, while CHOOSING dusting, sweeping and organizing over going out to coffee. (Which, if you know me at all, I will happily put up with dirty dishes and dustbunnies if it means I get to see a friend!)

Last night, I literally could not stand the thought of waking up this morning to a dirty rug, so I drug out the vacuum last night at midnight, crossed my fingers it wouldn't wake Maddy, and vacuumed my floor before hitting the sack . . . only lay awake googling "Earliest pregnancy symptoms" and read every single link on the first page.

Then, I'm talking to Ryan about changing everything. Where we live, where we go to church, everything. I'm always so resistant to any change, but now I want to welcome it with abandon (and maybe even without wisdom).

I'll admit that there could be worse fallout than having a clean house and craving change. But I think the key issues for me really are that I don't feel content, and I don't feel at peace.  I mean, there are a LOT of things that I am very happy about now. But the anxiety and discontentment that I feel right now when things around me are stagnant or cluttered or dirty or just plain ugly are simply not OK.

This is not mindset and spirit God has called me to.


Ryan's approach to TTC is so much easier. "Rachel, if you are, you are. If you're not, you're not. Simple."

I know he's right -- and maybe it's just me  -- but TTC is about the least simple thing I've ever tried to do in my life.

Girls -- am I the only one?

P.S.  In case you're wondering, here's how the title should read in layman's terms:

"I want to be pregnant. I might be. I might not be. Grrrr."