Saturday, December 21, 2013

Am I having an ectopic pregnancy? My personal story.

Ryan and Maddy, planting Olivia's memorial tree.
If you are reading this blog, you probably fall in 1 of 2 camps:

1) You are my friend, and read my blog. (Hi friend!)

2) You stumbled upon my blog because you are researching ectopic pregnancy -- either thinking that you may be having one now, or you are looking for stories of people who have had one. (In that case, welcome new friend! Although I'm sorry you had to find me.)

I know how hard it is to interpret symptoms -- to know what is normal, and what requires medical attention. I know it's easy to second guess yourself. I know what it's like to wonder if you are just overreacting, or if something is really wrong.

Since many of the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy can mask themselves as a lot of other issues, I thought I'd share more in depth about my story of my ectopic.

If this post sounds a bit clinical or devoid of emotion, I'm sorry. Trust me, going through this experience is probably one of the MOST emotional I've ever had. I've got LOTS of other resources on this blog if emotional support is what you are looking for. (If you are new in your loss, you may want to go through the archives in my blog to December of 2011 when my ectopic was.)

For the rest of you, I hope that somehow you will be helped by reading my story. And since yesterday was the 2-year anniversary of my rupture and loss of our baby (who I named Olivia), I think now is just as good of a time to share as ever.

So here we go . . .

Pregnancy tests and symptoms:

My period was a week and a half late. I had no other pregnancy symptoms, but maybe very, very mild smell sensitivity and a teeny weeny bit of queasiness. The pregnancy tests were negative (I took several), up until I was 5 1/2 weeks along. And I got a very strong positive.

(Now, I also tested positive "late" With Maddy. But I was having way more symptoms, mostly nausea, with her.)

This time, I had hoped the lack of nausea was a good thing. I thought, maybe this one's a boy... Or "every pregnancy is different."

I knew in my heart the lack of symptoms wasn't good news, but I only thought maybe a possible miscarriage. I had no reason to suspect ectopic... Yet.


I joked with my friend that this time my uterus was "cranky." I don't remember exactly when the cramping started. I remember having cramps one day, and I had to lay on the bathroom floor for about 15 minutes. They were sudden and made me stop everything. They were over quickly, but still made me late for work.

I researched cramping in pregnancy, and couldn't decide what to classify this as. Mild? Moderate? Severe?

"Severe" was probably what it correctly should have been labeled, but since it was over so quickly, "mild" seemed to make more sense.

Plus, I was kinda convinced I'm a wus when it comes to physical pain. So maybe the cramping felt severe to ME, but if someone else had felt it, it probably would have been mild, I figured.

About a week after we found out, I had about 1-2 hours worth of cramping. Same scenario. I remember posting on FB "So glad for a daughter who occasionally sleeps till 10.) Well, that was because I couldn't get out of bed from cramps.

I chalked it all up to "normal" stretching and growing of my uterus. I did not tell anyone seriously about the cramping, other than the "cranky uterus" joke.

One day while I was at work, the cramping came back. From the time I got a positive, to the time my tube ruptured, I was having more cramping at greater intensity, duration and frequency. And this particular day, it was so bad I could barely walk.

I was taken to my parents. My dad, who is a PA, did a quick abdominal exam to see if he could locate the pain. Ironically, I felt the most pain when he pushed on my right side, even though we later learned Olivia had implanted in my left tube.

He thought that either I had an obstructed bowel, had an ectopic pregnancy, or I think, appendicitis.

I was hoping for appendicitis.


My parents took me to the ER. They did a urine pregnancy test, which came back negative. I insisted that I was pregnant, and they did a blood draw.

My HCG was around 500. They told me to get my blood drawn in two days to compare the numbers.

They did both an external an internal ultrasound. They did not find anything... No sac, no heartbeat. Nothing.

The only thing was that my lining was thick which would be consistent with being pregnant.

The ultrasounds took forever, and were emotionally excruciating. The technician couldn't say anything, but I knew there was no baby on the screen. I was at the ER for about 4 hours, and most of the pain had actually subsided before I was seen. My dad had insisted I get seen anyway.

I was sent home being told I had either an ectopic pregnancy, a threatened miscarriage, or I was just earlier in my pregnancy than I thought I was. I knew the last option was NOT the case, but as that was the only option that gave me hope, I clung to it.

I was 6 1/2 weeks at the time of the ER visit.


My HCG seemed to bounce around. That is the only explanation I can think of as to why a urine pregnancy test was not showing up positive when my HCG was at 500. Two days later, when they retested, my HCG was 850.

The increase was encouraging, but because my numbers didn't double -- they were worried about the placement of the baby.


I didn't start spotting until I was at the ER I had some slight pinkish spotting.

It picked up a little that day, but not what I would consider to be as heavy as a period. The next day, I barely had any spotting. The nurses seemed encouraged that the bleeding had slowed, although they told me they were still concerned about the placement of the baby.

The next day, after news that my HCG had gone up, the cramping and bleeding picked up. I knew I was miscarrying.

After about an hour or two after everything started, I felt the need to push. I pushed out tissue. It was grayish and covered in blood, but was not a clot. It was about the size of what my ring finger and thumb make when I put the tips of my finger together in a circle.

I saved the tissue. My mom came over, and having experienced miscarriage herself, told me that this was the placenta and baby. We wrapped up the tissue sanitarily, double bagged it in
Ziploc, and put it in the fridge to save for the doctors.

The next morning, we were scheduled to go on a vacation. I called the on-call doctor that night, and asked if I should go.

They informed me that I could go, but must stay close to a hospital and must go in if my bleeding increases or I'm in pain.

The bleeding did not increase, and was about the same as a period. I went on vacation (though it was all very stressful and emotional.) Strangely I felt more pregnant during this time, but I just thought it was from my hormones trying to go back to normal.


For 3 days, I was for the most part pain free. I might have had some period-like cramps to go with the bleeding, I honestly don't remember. Those 3 days were honestly a fog of shock and grief, of believing I was no longer pregnant.

I had "miscarried" on Friday, and my post-miscarriage appointment was scheduled for 9 am on Tuesday.

As I was putting on my coat to go out the door for my appointment, I felt something like a pop, and very, very intense pain on the left side. It quickly radiated throughout my entire abdomen.

I would not classify this as a cramp. It was more like feeling like I had been stabbed in the gut.

I expected it to go away, but it did not. I did not want to be late to my appointment. I couldn't really walk very well. I could make it a few steps, then had to squat down to try to catch my breath. I called my parents and let them know I was in a lot of pain. They offered to come pick me and Maddy up and take us to our appointment, but I was afraid of being late. I insisted I was OK.

You, the reader, should know that I was NOT OK. And honestly, I knew I wasn't OK.

I simply didn't want to be a drama-queen. I didn't want to inconvenience anyone. I wanted to be superwoman, I guess. I just wanted to take care of it on my own.

Getting in the car and driving myself is probably one of the stupidest things I've done. Deep inside, I knew my tube had ruptured. I knew it.

I was in so much pain, it took me 30 min to drive 15 minutes away. I passed a fire station, and debated whether I should stop there and ask them to take me by ambulance. Again, not wanting to be drama (and also wondering if we could afford an ambulance ride), I opted again to try to cope with the pain instead.

I was dry-heaving in the car. The pain was so intense, it was causing me to throw up. I was also bawling. Maddy was in the backseat, and kept telling me not to cry, and that I would be OK. I also kept telling myself I would be OK. The whole drive, in between dry heaves, I was repeating aloud, "I'm OK. I can do this. It's just a drive. I'll be fine."

When I got to my parents, they met me outside. My dad pulled me from the driver's seat, as I could no longer stand on my own. My mom grabbed Maddy and took her inside, then quickly came back out to help my dad move me to the back seat of his car, where I curled in the fetal position. My parents debated which one should take me in. My dad decided that he should since I might need to be carried. My mom then called the doctor to let them know I was in bad shape, and to bring me a wheel chair when I got there.

She also called Ryan to let him know what was going on.

When we arrived at my OB/GYN, they got me in right away. Dad helped me in the wheelchair, and brought me back to the exam room. I couldn't stand or dress myself. So a nurse took off all my clothes, and got me in a gown, while completely supporting my body weight.

I did not want to be moved to an ultrasound room as everything just hurt too much. The dr did an internal exam (excruciating) where she determined that my cervix was open and everything seemed to be cleared out. Then she wheeled in the portable ultrasound machine, where she could see fluid and a mass by my ovary.

She said that the tissue I had passed was likely my uterine lining all rolling up and coming out in one clump.

She told me I had an ectopic pregnancy, that my tube looked like it ruptured, and I needed emergency surgery. The nurse got me dressed, and I called Ryan to let him know to meet me at the hospital as I would be having surgery right away.

It was hard to talk as I hurt so much. To Ryan, it sounded like I was dying. He came to the hospital expecting to say "good-bye" to me forever.


The nurse got me dressed again, and wheeled me out to my dad's car, where he took me 5 minutes to the local hospital. He wheeled me back in to the hospital, where they receptionist was trying to check me in. They briefly left me alone in the lobby for my dad to move the car to a parking space. I began dry-heaving again, and shaking uncontrollably.

They moved me to a room, where I had to go over my medical history several times. The anesthesiologist came in several times to make sure I wasn't allergic to anything. The nurses stayed in my room. They FINALLY gave me a shot (I don't know what it was) to help control the pain. As soon as they gave me the shot, I started throwing up bile. They told me it was the strongest pain medicine they had.

I remember them putting a band on me with my blood type, and told me I may need a blood transfusion.

After a few minutes, I felt some pain relief. The shaking stopped.

It only lasted about 10 minutes. After about 10 minutes, everything (nausea, shaking, pain) would come back, and I'd have to get another shot.

Everyone in our family came to the hospital. I only saw my dad, Ryan and my mother-in-law. The doctor came in and told me what happened. She said the baby died when my tube ruptured. I was 7 1/2 weeks at this time.

By the time I was wheeled into surgery, I was crying from pain again. The shot had worn off. My doctor told me she didn't know what my insides would look like. She said I might have to have a hysterectomy, but she would save everything she could. She said "I'll take care of you baby girl. I'll take care of you."

She gave me the comfort I needed at that time.

I briefly felt fear as they put me on the operating table, and everyone had masks. The anesthesiologist told me he was giving me the medicine. I was afraid to go asleep because I wasn't sure I would wake up. But I was so ready for relief, I gave in readily when sleep took over.


I had a hard time waking up from surgery. It was nighttime (maybe 7 pm) when I woke up in recovery. I kept having dreams that they moved the baby back to my uterus, and I was still pregnant.

 My mom and Ryan were with me. Apparently the nurses had been trying to wake me up for a long time.

I asked if I had anything left in there, and Ryan told me they saved my tube.  I asked if I had had a transfusion. Ryan said they took out the baby and tissue, and a softball-sized blood clot. I had lost a 1/2 liter of blood.

My doctor had (unbeknownst to me) gone out to my family after recovery, and showed them pictures of the pregnancy and clots. She let them know that the baby had implanted in my fimbrials (the fingerlike part of the tube that "catches" the egg from the ovary, and draws it into the tube.) Because that's where she implanted, my tube literally just split down the side when it ruptured, as opposed to worse damage that would have happened if she were in the middle of the tube.

Because of that, they scraped my tube clean, suctioned out all the blood, and were able to cauterize my tube back together.

I had the key-hole surgery, so I have 3 small scars. One in my belly-button, one on my left side by my hip, and one right above my C-section scar.

They discharged me before I felt ready. I had to get my clothes on (which didn't fit after the bloating from the surgery). They packed me up in our car (even though I couldn't walk on my own), and Ryan took me home.

I can't remember how long it took to feel normal. But I felt very weak for a LONG time.  I was bloated, and had horrible pain from the gas they pumped in me. My tube hurt for a long time. One of my incisions got infected and needed some extra TLC.

2 years later:

As a result of my ruptured tube, I still get lots of pain in that area. It usually comes on suddenly, and makes me gasp a little in pain, or suck in my breath till it's gone. The pain is less frequent than it used to be. When I first started trying to conceive, I had panic attacks thinking that I was having another ectopic.

The last two pregnancies I've had have been in an undetermined location. It appears as though I have just miscarried -- but since my HCG was slow rising, and they could not locate anything on ultrasound, I'm not 100% convinced they also weren't in my tubes. But we'll never know for sure. I just refer to those pregnancies as miscarriages.

My periods were also messed up following my rupture. My periods became more frequent, with more clotting and more spotting. My periods interfered with my daily life. Just recently, I had my FIRST (FIRST!!!!) normal period in 2 years.

My scars are barely noticeable. I had a test done on my tubes this summer, and my tubes are clear. However, there is scar tissue on the one that ruptured.

I have a higher risk for ectopic now.

I'm still waiting for a rainbow baby, and hope that one day, we'll have a baby in-utero that is healthy!

I hope that this has helped you. As always, if you want to share your story (ectopic or other pregnancy loss), please email me at

Monday, December 9, 2013

Going back to work

Just before Olivia, I was working part-time at an advertising agency, and was also building my own home-based business. Just weeks before we found out we were pregnant with her, I had promoted in my business and had replaced my income at the agency. And so, two-week-notice it was for my work! I couldn't wait for this new journey to start. Life was just falling into place, and I was so excited.

That feeling that everything was so perfect did not last long enough.

A few days before my last official day at work, I was sitting in an office party when the cramping I had been feeling suddenly became awful. After about an hour of me crying on the bathroom floor, trying to get on top of the pain, a friend told me she was taking me to the hospital.

A very long story short -- exactly a week after that ER visit (where nothing was conclusive), my fallopian tube ruptured. I was internally bleeding, and required immediate surgery.

They were able to repair my tube. But nothing could repair my broken heart.

I was grateful that I did not have to go back to my work right away -- as I had just quit! However, I did go back after a few weeks to collect my things and have lunch with my friends.

I was so nervous about going back. It was if I were a WHOLE new person entering that building. I was a broken, shattered soul with a put-together exterior. Normally outgoing, I was afraid of seeing anyone! I was afraid any wrong word would break me, but hearing no words that would speak to my pain would be infinitely worse.

I was also concerned about the trigger just being at that building would be. The very last time I was there, I was pregnant.

My friends were beyond gracious. The set up a table in very quiet corner of the building where no one would bother us, and ordered take-out for all of us. We caught up -- but I was feeling that internal pressure to just SPEAK about what just happened to me. I know they all were afraid of bringing things up, but I finally just said, "It's ok to talk about it and ask me questions. I WANT to talk about it."

They proceeded to let me speak, and asked gentle questions, and the whole thing went so much better than I could have anticipated. I ran into a few people I wasn't planning on. Some I told what happened, and others I just smiled on the outside. I think having such amazing, thoughtful co-workers made coming back, even briefly, pretty amazing.

My business, however, was a whole other story.

After we lost Olivia, I did not want to work at my business. I had no emotional or physical energy to pour into it. Not surprising, our numbers dwindled, and I became concerned that I wouldn't keep the promotion I just received for very long. But our rising bills just added pressure to the grief.

A few weeks after our loss, I had a few home parties coming up. I didn't WANT to do them, but I felt like I should -- especially with the bills! My sponsor, who has had a miscarriage, told me she absolutely understood and supported me in whatever I decided. Then she asked me a key question. "Rachel. I know you don't want to do the parties, and I wouldn't either. But I just want to ask -- at the end of the month, what would it feel like to have DONE them, and have a nice paycheck and some activity behind you?"

I thought about that a lot, talked with my husband, and decided to do the parties.

The first party I was a mess, absolute mess, the night before. I thought I was crazy for trying for the party --- but with a ton of help from my husband -- I did it! And it felt good to do something "normal." Sure, I made a ton of mistakes. I dropped things during the presentation, forgot names, and left half of my stuff that I needed in the car.

But -- I took one step.  And eventually, that led to another, and another and another.

We have now had two subsequent losses since our ectopic pregnancy with Olivia. Ironically, both times I had a large presentation scheduled on the same day as the heaviest bleeding.
Both times I went ahead and did the presentation. Both times I was uncomfortable, myhormones were EVERYWHERE, and I couldn't help but tear up often. But I gave myself tons of grace, and rested a lot once I was home.

For me, getting through that FIRST step after a loss is the hardest. And the sooner I was able to do it, the easier it was for me to keep going.

Another thing that helped was feeling "normal." When the nurse called to let us know our hcg had dropped and would miscarry (with our second miscarriage), I chose to follow through with my work that night. I could have cancelled. But I just wanted something that would distract me from my pain for a few hours.

I don't think there's any "right" way to go back to work. But I have found that being able to surround myself with supportive people, take that first step, let myself have a few hours of "normal," and listen to and voice what I really needed was immensely helpful.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What I didn't know

Two years ago, I knew I was expecting a baby. I knew life had changed. I had changed. I was changing.

A new start. A new beginning.

But there were a few things I didn't know.

I didn't know she was ectopic.

And you know what? I'm glad I didn't know. Because I didn't know, I got to experience tremendous joy for the few short weeks she was in me. Because I didn't know I'd lose her, I got to share with excitement to friends and family. I could celebrate. For those I hadn't shared with yet, I got to revel in the tiny little (big) secret I was carrying.

Her life only lasted a few weeks. We were just nearing 8 weeks when we lost her. Each life deserves some joy. And I filled that time with the joy of knowing her.

If I had known she would die, I may not have celebrated her life.

I didn't know we'd lose more babies.

Honestly, if you had told me that two years ago today would start the worst two years of my life so far, I wouldn't have been able to handle it. If you had told me that not only would I not keep her, but I wouldn't keep another baby 9 months later, and then ANOTHER baby another 9 months later, I would have lost it.

If you told me we would deal with infertility, divorce, death, cancer, accidents and unemployment in the last two years, I really would have lost it.

As it was, I almost lost it just losing one baby.

Gosh, I'm so glad I didn't know.

I didn't know we wouldn't have an answer.

Of course, the answer I assumed we'd have to our pregnancy test was a live baby. But we didn't get that answer to our prayers. The doctors don't know why we had an ectopic. The only "risk" factor was that I had a prior cesarean. (Bet you didn't know that was a risk factor, huh? Funny what they don't tell you.) But even then, at surgery the doctor said my tube had no scar tissue on it.

And it's the same for our last miscarriages. As far as they can see, I'm healthy. I'm the peak of healthy. A very healthy person with recurrent pregnancy loss.

I didn't know how much of an impact she'd make on me.

OK, so yes, assuming she'd lived, of course I knew what an impact she'd make on me. And I had assumed she'd lived. So I had dreamed of all the years ahead.  I dreamed about her first Christmas and First Thanksgiving. I thought about nursing, birthing plans, what kind of sport or hobby she'd love as a high-schooler, what she would look like, what her personality would be like, what the girls would look like playing together.

She had my dreams. She had my love. And I couldn't wait to share my life with her.

When we lost her, the world says "It wasn't meant to be." "Some babies just die." "This just happens." "This is your 1 in 4." "Maybe she would have been deformed, and you wouldn't want to deal with this." "This is nature's way." "This is God's will." "You are strong enough to handle this loss -- I'm not." "You will move on." "You can always try again." "It will be better next time -- I know it."

But in my heart, she was meant to make a mark on this world. Her life has value. And purpose.

She was supposed to be the one to share her presence. But since she's gone, I'm determined to make her life count still. I want to give her a voice.

I don't know how long I will write about her anniversaries. I don't think I will ever forget. But for now, I need to spend the day remembering her.

I didn't know I'd survive.

I never thought I'd survive the loss of a child. Now, some of you might be thinking -- a miscarriage is not REALLY the loss of a child. But, you need to know, it is.

Not that I think every loss is exactly the same. It's not as though I'm trying to compare myself to any other baby or child loss mom. Because I'm not.

But I'm just saying -- I didn't think I'd survive loving and losing.

But I did.

Not only have I survived, but I'm growing. I'm stronger, more resilient, more compassionate, more REAL, than I was before Olivia. I wouldn't say my faith is stronger, but I would say it's more personal. It's different. It's weaker AND stronger at the same time.

I didn't know the tears wouldn't always be there.

For a very, very, very long time, I cried. I cried for hours, I cried for days, I cried for months.

I didn't know the tears would slow.

But they did.

The tears still come. They came today. But they are not the harsh, bitter tears of despair. They are beautiful tears of memories.

I didn't know that the women who went through loss are some of the best friends I have, and the most beautiful, strong people I've ever known.

I didn't know that with the loss of my relationship with my daughter, how many other relationships I would form! That there is a whole crowd of women who had been there and were there to support me. And that there were women I was meant to support. I didn't know that, in spite of none of us wanting to be a part of this "club," we really were better together.

I didn't know how amazing people would be to me.

Strangers I've never met face-to-face. Church friends, old and new. Small group friends. Family. Our agency and those we've met through foster care. Friends from junior high, high school and college. People from all over -- supporting me and my family in our losses. By dropping off food, sending cards, taking care of Maddy, praying with us, reading our blog, hoping for the best with each successive pregnancy . . . All of it. Amazing. YOU have blown me away by your love and support.

I just didn't know how amazing you all would be.

I didn't know that I would grow, laugh and love again.

I didn't know if I could move forward without her. But I can, and I have. Not by choice, but by necessity. And God has given me the strength, grace and perseverance to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. To move forward with an adoption of precious little miss. To move my business forward. To keep writing my blog. To keep my faith, and keep trusting in His goodness.

I didn't know I could live with loss.

But here I am. Two years out. Missing her always. Excited to meet her in heaven.

But knowing that somehow, I'm better to have known her, even for such a short little while.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Alicia's Story -- Baby Kenneth, Stillborn at 22 weeks

Alicia contacted me through email and asked if she could share the story of her son. Kenneth was stillborn just last week, following 9 years of trying to conceive and a diagnosis of secondary infertility.

Thank you, Alicia, for sharing the story and photos of your beloved son.

-- Rachel

I recently gave birth to my son Kenneth Raymond, Jr. He was 22 weeks and 5 days old. He was 11" and weighed 1 lb., 10.5 oz.

My son was healthy, and up until that point, my pregnancy was problem free. He didn't take his first breath but he "lived." He lived inside my heart and he made his presence known from the inside every day.

The journey I've endured to conceive my son started nine years ago. I had many difficulties trying to get pregnant. I was diagnosed with secondary infertility after two years of trying. I've taken fertility drugs, I've done artificial insemination but to no avail. I still wasn't pregnant.

I had personally given up and had begun to deal with the fact that I would possibly never have children. After getting married last year, my husband would tell me of these visions he had of me carrying his child. Those visions and the way he described them were music to my ears and that alone made me look into seeking treatment again. After some tests we found out that my fallopian tubes were blocked and that that was probably the reason why I've been having a hard time conceiving.

I opted to have laparoscopic surgery to open my tubes, and lo and behold three months later I was pregnant with our son. I was ecstatic and my family was so excited for me because they knew how much I had longed for this. My one goal in life when I was a child was to be a mom.

Two days before losing my son, I had what I thought would be a regular monthly check up with my doctor. I mentioned some spotting and slight bleeding from the day before which prompted them to do a speculum exam. I had begun to dilate and my son's membranes had begun to bulge through my cervix. I was sent to the emergency room right away. I was admitted and kept under observation. I was having contractions I had yet to feel and my cervix was slowly opening throughout the day.

I had high hopes in getting a cerclage placed in but it was too late. My son was slowly pushing through and through. This was all due to a bacterial infection and an incompetent cervix. There was nothing my husband and I could do except expect the arrival of our son.

He was absolutely beautiful. The moment I held him in my arms was pure bliss. It tore me up inside to have to let him go knowing that meant I'd be coming home with nothing but a card with his prints and two pictures of his lifeless body.


It hurts every day. Without the love and support of my husband, I'm not sure where or how I'd be right now. As our last wish, we decided to cremate our son so that he could be by our side forever.

It's a scary thought for us right now, but we have hopes in conceiving a child again. Our son in some type of way has taught us what to look out for this time around. Because of him, we know what has to be done in order to carry out a full-term pregnancy.

Thank you for letting me share my story. I hope it inspires others to do the same.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Can someone PLEASE just find that switch?

I'm not sure exactly the moment when it happened, but I'm pretty sure it happened the moment that second line popped up on the pregnancy test with Olivia.

A switch was flipped.

And for the life of me, I don't know how to turn it off!!!

It was the baby-making switch. The one that gears my heart, my finances, my emotions, my decisions, my (lack) of rational thinking, my fears, my apprehensions, my (almost) everything in me to wanting to MAKE A BABY!

That switch got turned on with Olivia. I desperately wanted to make her, keep her, and love on her forever.

I didn't get 40 weeks with her. I didn't get to take her home. I got 7 weeks with her. It was not enough.

But that switch did NOT turn off. In fact, whatever messages it was sending my body only increased in intensity and drive.

I wanted Caleb. I wanted Elliot.

Now, I'm pretty sure what you might be thinking. "But Rachel," you may say, "you have little miss. You have Maddy. You have full arms and a full heart. You are in the middle of adopting. Surely you are satisfied??"

And the answer is . . . "Yes, I know those things. Yes, my arms and heart are full. But I'm not satisfied. That switch is still on. No matter how much I try to ignore it, appease it, educate it, rationalize to it, excuse it, give in to it, talk about it, indulge it . . . that stupid switch is still on and I can not turn it off."

And you know what? I think you should know that if I COULD turn it off, I actually would at this point. I really would. I would wait until my next promotion. I would wait until Ryan has his dream job. I would wait until the adoption is finalized. I would wait until we owned our home. I would wait until Little Miss was potty trained.

There are billion things I could wait for to make the timing "perfect."

And yet, that switch keeps sending me the message:

 "NOW. Do it now. Make that baby now. Try this month. And if you don't get it, try next month. Keep on trying. Because you don't know how many eggs you really have left. You don't know their quality. You don't know how much time you truly have before your ovaries stop doing their job, nor do you know when all those "perfect" circumstances will line up. You don't know how many more miscarriages or losses you will endure before you bring home a live baby. You have no idea. SO for the love of EVERYTHING IN YOU, KEEP GOING GIRL!!!!"

And yes. That's really what it sounds like.

The hard part is that I don't feel like many people understand. Nor are they supportive. Now, don't get me wrong. They are supportive of ME and love me to death. They are supportive of our family. But they are tired of seeing me hurt. Maybe they want me to move on. Maybe they are telling me I'm doing enough right now, I can't handle another loss or another high-risk pregnancy. Maybe they just don't want me to risk my life again. Maybe they want me to focus on little miss right now, and not another baby.

There are some people that really understand from MEND and from our Rainbow Baby group. But most, well, most don't.

And I get it. The part of my brain that is still totally rational can agree with most of their cases, and I could logically say, "Sure, it's probably not the best time to be trying to conceive."

But I can't find that switch.

It is like being hungry. You can tell yourself it hasn't been that long since you've eaten. You can tell yourself that you shouldn't feel so hungry right then. You can avoid all restaurants, and menus, and even ignore the fridge. You can refuse to read on Facebook what others are currently eating for dinner. You can even give meaning and purpose to your hunger.

But you can't just will away hunger.

It is a force to be reckoned with, willing your body to just satisfy it!

And a force just like the one that is in me.

I wish I could find the switch. I really do.

But I can't.

So, please, be patient and gentle with me as I work through this. As we try to conceive (or try not to conceive even when I want to) and I go through a lot of ups and downs every month. Please don't remind me of every reason right now is the wrong time, because I know all that. Know that some months Ryan and I are on the same page, and other months we really aren't. He is the rational one in all of this, and I'm doing my best to have us make good decisions and be as much on the same page as we can be.

Maybe instead, just ask me how I'm doing with all of it. And be gentle.

And one last favor -- if I do get pregnant and we have a baby, please don't ever say "I knew you'd be pregnant as soon as you adopted! It always happens." OR "You just had to let it go and relax. Once you let it go, God knew and gave you a baby." Or anything like that sort.

We aren't adopting so we can get pregnant. We adopted because we set on that course of action before we were pregnant with Olivia, and I always wanted to adopt. We've been on the adoption road for more than 2 years. We are adopting because we love little miss.

And "relaxing" has never really been a cure for any disease, let alone infertility. So we'll just leave that one alone, too.


One last thing. (I promise). Thanks for still reading my blog. I know it's a lot of the same . . .  "I want a baby I can't have." But -- you're still here, and I still appreciate your support. Maybe now more than ever. <3

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

15 things you thought you knew about miscarriage . . .

1. Miscarriage could happen to you. But you never thought it would.

2. It couldn't happen to you -- you're too strong.

3. It couldn't happen to you -- you're not strong enough.

4. If it DID happen to you, it wouldn't take long to move on.

5. Love must grow with weeks. The later the miscarriage, the longer and harder the grief.

6. In a miscarriage, the baby just sort of disappears . . . there is no labor or contractions involved.

7. You are safe after 12 weeks.

8. If you lost a baby to miscarriage, your friends and family would know exactly how to support you in your sadness.

9. As long as miscarriage happens in the first trimester, the grief can't be that bad.

10. If you take your vitamins, exercise, plan it out just so, and do everything RIGHT, you are not at risk of a miscarriage.

11. Only unhealthy babies and pregnancies are lost to miscarriage. There are very few other reasons for a loss before 20 weeks.

12. You have control over your body.

13. You would know if something was wrong with your baby.

14. Miscarriage is a bump on the road to family-building. You can always try again.

15. Miscarriage is a tragedy for other people. Not for you . . . Never for you.

15 things you thought you knew about miscarriage . . . 
until you had one.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


It's been almost two years, and I never thought I'd be dealing with this still: insomnia.

My friend Jeanne has mentioned a few medical issues that could pertain to my ridiculous wide-eyes that insist on seeing 2 am every night, er, morning.

Whatever is causing it... It has changed. It used to be that I couldn't sleep because every time I tried, I would have a nightmare about Maddy dying... Usually in the form of her falling into a black ocean and disappearing forever. (For those of you who have been on cruises, imagine having your child jump off the banister in the middle of the night... And that's how my nightmares were.)

A little later it became more about the fact that I wasn't grieving as I needed during the day. (Really, I stuffed it quite often.) so then it would come overflowing out at night... Usually on my blog.

Gradually, it became nothing about grief, or Olivia, or my subsequent losses. It just... Became. It just was.

I wasn't up thinking about anything in particular. I just wascup.

I think of my babies every day. Not intentionally... I don't sit around crying anymore... Or at least really not often. I don't put on my "grieving pandora station" i created that always brings me to my proverbial knees.

And yet... Here I am. Up almost all night long.

Anyone have suggestions?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A shadow

I should be right around 6 months pregnant right now.

It's easy to remember because Elliott was due only 5 days in the month before Maddy was due (Maddy was due January 20th, Elliott was due January 15.)

So 5 years ago this month, I was 6 months pregnant with Maddy, we moved into our current house, and I went on bedrest for the first time.

I remember how I felt. I remember which maternity clothes I was wearing. I remember approximately how big I was at this point.

I remember going through Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas with a big belly, lots of contractions, bedrest, and lots of expectation.

This year, the January due date still looms in my mind. Except this one is empty. This one holds no great expectations.

With our loss of Olivia, I was very caught up in the timeline. I always knew which week I should be on. I was painfully aware of others who were traversing through the milestones with a live baby in their belly. I hated myself for it, but I was insanely jealous. And insanely angry that it couldn't be me.

With Caleb, I intentionally did not allow myself to dwell on which week I'd be on. To be honest, I really just did my best to suck it up and take it like a big girl. I had times of jealousy, but those were tempered with the knowledge that my relationship with that pregnant person would move on, I would come to love their baby, and and my feelings were normal and would eventually subside.

Intentionally forgetting the milestones has been harder to accomplish this time around.

I realize that I was ONLY 5 weeks along. Barely pregnant, as some would put it. (As though people would say you were barely engaged or barely married ... But that's for another blog.) But maybe because that week that I knew I was pregnant was going so RIGHT, I really thought this was it. I don't know why, but I really thought I was getting a baby out of the deal.

I have not mourned this baby like I did with Olivia. I have not spent endless nights crying, pouring my heart over my blog, or telling everyone about my loss.

I have made myself do things before I was really ready. I made myself move forward before I could fully think about what (or who) I was moving FROM.

But this experience has been like a phantom for me. My baby is gone, flushed down a toilet at a gas station. And yet the pregnancy, in my heart, lives on as a shadow. Something that hints at what is real, what should have been. But is clouded, dark, and has no tangible form.

I cannot tell you how often I remind myself of how early I was. That it was a mistake to get attached, a mistake to care. That it is silly to name this baby. That truly, I am the only one who cares for his life, the only one who mourns what it could have been.

And yet, this shadow on my heart remains.

Baby Elliott ... You may not have been with me long. And maybe you didn't get the mourning you deserved. But I can tell you that I really did love you. I really did want you. And i'm really, really sad that January 15 will come ... But you never will.

Love you always,


Thursday, October 17, 2013

It's complicated

I think I'm pregnant.

But I'm probably not.

And that's exactly what I tell myself over, and over, and over again.

Your boobs really aren't THAT sore. And I'm pretty sure they were more sore yesterday, so that means you're not pregnant.

You're always this thirsty. (Not.)

That's not pregnancy nose. That's completely normal to gag at the smell of a chicken coop, when every once else seems to be just fine. And it's normal to think your clean drinking glasses smell weird, too. And for all the sudden not to be able to stand the smell of your kids' breath. (Right??)

You can't be pregnant. You have insomnia. If you were pregnant, you'd be dead asleep by 8.

You can't be pregnant. You weren't trying hard enough. You weren't doing enough RIGHT things. You weren't taking a prenatal. (Goodness, should I start??)

 You can't be pregnant. Because you ALWAYS think you're pregnant. And only 4 times have you been right. And only 1 time have you brought home a baby.

Which brings me to number 2 . . .

Even if you were pregnant, what gives? More than likely -- I'll bet somewhere around 99% -- you'll only be pregnant for a few short weeks. If that. You'll battle hope v. realism every day. Until the bleeding starts. Or the pain starts. Or your breasts feel less tender. Or the ultrasound screen comes up empty (again.) Or your hcg levels start to drop. Or your tube ruptures. Or. Or. Or. Or. Or.

None of the scenarios obsessively playing about in my head right now are about a live baby.

It's more like, what the heck am I supposed to do with another loss? How can I protect my heart? What if I just pretend I don't care? Will it hurt less then? What if I expect it? What if I tell no one?What if I tell everyone? How can my family deal with more bad news? What if the test is negative, and all this obsession is really for nothing?

And why the heck did we have unprotected sex to begin with?

And why the heck am I secretly willing that pregnancy test in a week to come out positive -- even when I know the outcome likely won't be?

And when the heck did all this get to be so dang complicated??

Ps. I wasn't pregnant.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The comparison trap

Today, a momma friend and I had a playdate (aka, Let our kids run wild for a bit while we enjoy a moment of sanity and coffee.) My house looked worse for wear, but it was a nice break for my soul.

Our conversation was very enlightening.

Really, your kids hit you in the face, too? I thought to myself as we talked.

You're kidding? I'm not the only one that has a hard time keeping up vacuuming?

Your kids won't eat a bite? Mine won't STOP eating, and it's driving me nutso.

And, maybe the not-so-expected . . .

So checking Facebook makes you a little crazy, too? Funny, I thought it was just me.

See, if you don't know me, you wouldn't know that I'm crazy-sensitive to Facebook posts on pregnancy. Now, given the fact that I'm in my early thirties, and people are popping kids out like skittles, I can't really get away from it. Some days most days, my newsfeed is completely full of pregnancy announcements, gender reveals, pregnancy complaints, ultrasound photos, belly shots, labor statuses and "Look, they've arrived" photos.

I once blogged that checking my newsfeed was akin to walking through a minefield. People didn't like that post so much. I guess they thought I was trying to compare innocent pregnancies and babies to a war field intent on obliterating people to pieces. So . . . on second thought . . . maybe not the best word picture.

But emotionally -- it CAN be like a minefield. It's like taking a beautiful stroll . . . everything looks calm, peaceful and innocent. And then BAM. Something blindsides you. And maybe it just hits you where you're sensitive. Or, maybe, it derails you for the entire day.

And since sometimes, I tend to think of myself as the center of a microcosm (aka, really, the universe), I thought it was JUST ME. (Don't we all?)

Until my friend said, "You know. I'm tired of seeing statuses about food. About what nutritious food my friends are eating and feeding their kids. Or what Skakeology program they are doing that is getting them in shape. I'm tired of seeing updates on losing that baby weight."

Now here is my super cute friend, who's way more in shape than I am, and her newsfeed keeps poking at her, like someone pokes at a bruise. Because she may be in shape -- but like she said, When is it enough? When have I lost ENOUGH weight? What if I look fine, but don't have that 6-pack I used to have? What if I like to go to McDonald's? What if I didn't lose weight as fast as the others? Do they look at me, and think, Gee -- she really could lose another 10 pounds?

And there it is.

See, Facebook is awesome for the really cool things. Like keeping in touch with old friends. Sharing photos with faraway relatives. Networking for your business, sharing thought-provoking blogs and articles, and meeting friends online who are going through exactly what you are going through.

But it's also the perfect setup for the perfect trap.


And I have a feeling, most of us are caught up in it. Especially us moms.

Checking Facebook is like "comparing everyone else's highlight reels to your behind-the-scenes," as a wise woman once said. And we all know the behind-the-scenes is not always pretty. Not always post worthy.

And instead of assuming everyone else has those same not-so-pretty behind-the-scenes, we falsely assume that their "status du jour" accurately represents their entire life.

That cute baby photo?

Maybe it conveys the idea that our little sinker is always this cute at meal time. That my life consists of going from one cute picture-perfect moment to another.

But that wouldn't be the whole story. Or even the right story.

It doesn't tell how this little miss had developmental delays causing her to eat at a 6-month level, instead of at a 12-month level. It doesn't explain that the reason she's eating Cheerios was because it was one of the only foods she would tolerate that was not a puree. It doesn't show the total frustration that often still consumes both baby and parents when it comes to food.

It doesn't show that the only reason she's in this house, getting the picture taken by yours truly, is because she is a ward of the state.

It also doesn't show how much our family went through (and how many babies didn't make it) on our path to become this little girl's forever family.

There always is so much behind the scenes, isn't there?

So what do you do when you find yourself on either side of the comparison trap?

I don't have any easy answers.

But for me, I've dealt with it this way . . .

When I know I'm feeling particularly vulnerable (to baby announcements or even clean house announcements or "I feel pretty amazing as a mom" announcements) I simply don't check my newsfeed. I'll admit, I keep posting. And perhaps selfishly, keep reading what comments people leave on my posts. But I don't go browsing through other people's lives when I know it's a matter of time before I'll say, "OUCH! That kinda hurt!"

I also try really hard to not take things personally. Their awesome day, or amazingly clean house, or rock-star worthy vacation is NOT MEANT to say anything about ME. It's not about me at all. And the moment I try to put myself in the equation, I take away any beauty that truly is in their post.

By that same token, I've stopped expecting people NOT to post. And instead, expect them TO post. The only thing I can really do is just take responsibility for my feelings, and take control of my Facebook time to meet my needs. Sometimes that means I block someone's updates JUST while they're pregnant -- and check in on their page on really good days. Sometimes that just means I take a mini FB vacation.

If I'm still thinking clearly by this point, instead of nursing the wounds of pricking my soul on that awful comparison trap, I make myself say all the things I'm grateful for. Gratitude has ridiculous healing powers for our hearts.

And if I'm really brave, I'll share some of those behind-the-scenes moments. Like this:

Screaming. Ehhhhh... not so cute.

Laundry. The bane of my existence. (Oh, that and dishes.)

What do you do you even do with this? Maddy's in there.
But finding her is like playing Where's Waldo?

Notice how my husband and I kinda look, well, dead?
(Maddy took this pic by the way. I didn't have any energy to hold up my hand.)

And last, I remind myself constantly of some of the wisest words ever shared with me.

"Curiosity did not kill the cat . . .

"Comparison did."

And I, for one, don't want to be that cat.

What do you do when you find yourself comparing? How do you get out of that trap and find gratitude in what you have? How do you navigate your Facebook "minefield"?

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Little miss trying out arbonne's new baby bath...

They are all so cute. Hard to pick just one!!

Oh, and Maddy's bed when we went in to check on her. I left her with 5 books to look at and 1 stuffed animal. Not sure how she even got under the covers!

Some snuggles with daddy post bath.

And, last but not least... These awesome tie-dye cupcakes we made for my second cousin's birthday.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Moving -->

Today we met our new (7th) social worker.

She was nice enough. She didn't seem as awkward coming over as some of the other social workers were (the state workers that is.)

It turns out that she is brand-new to adoption. She spent a few years at CPS, but we are her very first adoption case. And not only is she new, but she let me in on a little secret .... Her supervisor is also brand-new.

Sigh. Not quite what I was hoping to hear.

She was nice enough. And believe it or not, I did have my house almost entirely picked up (minus a few dishes from breakfast in the kitchen). She asked if little miss was easy... I quickly said no. Then she said, "So was Maddy easy?"

"Ummmm. Nope. Definitely not. My family doesn't really DO easy."

Just to make a point, Maddy had the most ginormous fit which included hitting and kicking me when our social worker was there.

The social worker commented that I was very patient. To be honest, I was thinking... "do I even have a choice?" I could either be super impatient, and lead a miserable existence because I deal with fits a lot in my life. Or I could be impatient in front of this brand new woman who will have a big say in our lives.

I don't think so.

So, I think I kept things together as well as I could.

I did notice I got a little bit grumpy toward the end of our appointment. But i think that was for three reasons. 1) I'm just tired of explaining everything over, and over and over again. I'm ready for someone to know us, know what's going on, and just be in the loop. We were just getting to that point with the previous worker, and I'm not ready to make the switch. 2) I was just waiting for her to ask about our miscarriages. She asked if maddy was our bio kid. And so then I just was on edge, waiting. I know my miscarriages have to be in the file. I'm required to tell them every time I have one.

So when is she going to open that can of worms?

3) Both girls were quite active, and I was having a hard time concentrating on the information she was trying to give me.

At the end of the appointment, I just sighed thinking, "Well, at least we have our agency's social worker. She knows what's going on, and she'll help me through this whole process."

Except, I found out later that day that she is leaving our agency this week.

So, it's up to God. All of this legal paperwork intimidates me. Newbie asked me to fill out a form I already filled out; and we went back and forth a few times on if I filled out the right thing. I want someone I feel like I can just trust to walk me through this process (which is why we have an agency to begin with.) I don't
want us ALL to be new!

And yet. We'll be switching social workers on both the state and the agency side at the same time for the FOURTH time in 7 months. Sigh (again.)

I don't mean to sound negative.

It's just that this whole process is hard to go through, and I'm ready for it to be over. I'm ready for her to be ours. Little Miss ----- Lewis.

Oh, and btw, if you wondered why I call her little miss, it's because I can't use her real name on social media or internet. But she does have one. :)

I am ready for her to be mine. I'm ready to be done with social workers, and agencies, and people in and out of our homes, and having to sign as "guardian" or "foster parent" instead of "mom." I'm ready to just move forward.

And honestly, I feel that way in so many ways in my life.

I shared with a friend today that I feel like secondary infertility and pregnancy loss has infiltrated me to my core.

Lately, I've been feeling infertile as a mom. Infertile as a business person. Infertile as a homemaker.

It's as though this idea that I start things I'm incapable of finishing ... Or that I can't achieve what my heart yearns for... has colored my whole world.

I am soooooo tired of crying. I'm so tired of grieving. I'm so tried of feeling incomplete and not enough.

I'm frankly just over it.

I'm trying really hard to come to terms with the fact that where we're at just might be it. I know I can't handle another loss right now. I feel like it would rip me apart.

So the only thing to do is move forward.

Keep plugging away at this adoption. Look forward to February 5, our next court date. Keep working on supporting women through my support group. Grow my team. Invest in myself. Make personal care a big priority. Set goals again, and stop being so afraid of falling short. Savor the family of four that I have. And be ever grateful for the loving man God has placed in my life, who I wouldn't trade for the world.

So. Raise your (proverbial) glasses girls. Here's to moving forward.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Before you're a mom...

Before you're a mom, people (usually older people) will say something like... " You've never known love until you've held your child."

And those of us who maybe had loved before being a mom would maybe snort (or plaster on a less-than-genuine smile) and think... "well, I sure didn't marry my husband because I hated him."

But then we become moms. And at some point, we stare at our child's eyes and know that they -- those people we don't want to admit that they -- were right.

That crazy eye-opening love moment may happen right after birth when your newborn is still covered in blood and vernix... But you're convinced you didn't really come alive until that moment. (Not the case with me by the way.)

Or maybe it's the first time your child catches a cold and suddenly mama bear comes out and you realize your heart would be decimated if anything serious happened to your kid.

Or maybe it's the first time that little person actually reciprocates the doting affection you've been slathering on since birth. The first kiss... Or the first "wuv you" they utter, gazing at your face with the deepest eyes you've ever seen.

(And for those of us who didn't get to hold all our babies, it might happen at the first pee stick that says, "Congrats -- you're a momma." Or the first kick. Or the first ultrasound.)

And it's in those moments, we concede to the all-wise, all- knowing "told-ya-so-but-I-love-you-too-much-to-rub-it-in" people.

We really hadn't understood love. But now we do.

(For those of you who are not moms yet, and think I might just be rubbing this in... Please hold on a bit, indulge me for a moment if you will, and read on. Please.)

But here's the thing they don't tell you. (i think it must be an accidental oversight or a true forgetfulness on their part. Or at least I like to believe so.)

The dirty, shameful secret that goes right along with the truth that so perfectly dripped from their nostalgic lips...

You've never really known frustration till you're a mom. Or anger. Or hurt. Or sadness. Or embarrassment (HELLO embarrassment!)

The thing is... Loving and parenting a tiny little person somehow magnifies EVERYTHING in your heart. NOT JUST LOVE.

It's not that you've never known love, or shame, or sadness, or joy. It's just that you've yet to experience it under the grandiose magnifying lens known as parenting.

For example, frustration takes on a whole new meaning when you are fighting with your husband (after all, we don't parent in a vaccuum) ... And then you throw in a screaming toddler, just for fun.

Maybe screaming toddler isn't just making a ear-piercing howl. Perhaps she's flinging the nutritious meal you've so carefully thought through and prepared violently on to the floor---while continuing her soul-defying shrieks.

Perhaps said baby hasn't napped in hours that day. Or weeks. Or worse (in my opinion) you FINALLY get her down, and she FINALLY falls asleep ... And then some contractors outside start drilling a hole outside your baby's window... and it's rattling the entire house. And the screaming starts. Oh, the frustration.

And so it goes.

I'm sure I could come up with examples for every emotion... But I'll spare you. (Besides, I don't feel that creative right now.)

I have to say, the strong emotions (not just the lovey kind) have completely thrown me into a self- deprecating woman at times.

I was not prepared to ever feel something akin to hatred (even if just for a moment) toward my OWN kids. I had I had no idea that I (sweet little Rachel) was capable of such anger. Let me be clear ... This is not anger directed at other's kids on the playground for rejecting my daughter's attempts to be friends. Or at other adults for giving me a dirty look when our little one throws a fit in public.

This is anger I feel at MY OWN KIDS.

It'a kind where wisdom finally pipes up and says, "hey lady. You need to put those kids in their rooms, and go take a breather before you say or do something you will regret." the kind that reminds me "But for the grace of God, there go I."

Maybe this is all too much to post considering I'm a foster parent in the middle of an adoption.

Maybe I keep referring to this as a universal problem because I so desperately want to know it's. Not. Just. Me.

Maybe it is just me, and you all are wondering if I should up the dosage to my anti-depressant. (Maybe.)

But for me, I'm tired of pretending.

Pretending that little miss fills the hole in my heart that was left when my 3 other babies were gone too soon.

She doesn't. That hole is still there. And to be honest, I've come to realize that filling my heart is a ridiculous expectation to put on a BABY. She can't even fill up her own sippy cup. Why would I expect her to be able to satisfy the crazy longing in my soul?

I'm tired of pretending that I love my kids every second of every day. I'm tired of giving glowing reports to the social worker. I'm tired of pretending that being a mom fills me up ... Because most days, it does the opposite.

I'm tired of pretending that I don't mind listening to screaming and crying a few hours every day. Yes. I said hours. When little miss cries about something (being put down to walk, not getting food fast enough, etc.) she often chooses to continue to cry even when the need is met.

She will start crying for food... I'll give her bite after bite... And she will sometimes cry through the entire meal.

She will follow behind me crying.cying.cying.crying all day some days.

And I'm done pretending. I really mind. I'm really feeling burned out.

Yesterday was one of those days. She just kept crying. Finally I sat her on the bed, which finally got her to be quiet. I know I shouldn't have turned away to pull a sweater out of the closet... But I did.

And of course, she fell.

Naturally, she screamed bloody murder and I felt so guilty for turning away when I knew I shouldn't have. (btw--you've never known guilt till you're a mom.)

And so after assessing the damage (none) and calming her down, I placed her back on the floor to her chagrin. And so she starting screaming.

To which Maddy started screaming over her to get my attention. I told Maddy many times to stop. But she just kelt getting louder so I covered Maddy's hand with my mouth, for which she kicked me.

Instant time out.

I rock little miss to sleep while maddy rages in the room next door.

One screaming child traded in for another.

Later in the day, I feel myself start to get frustrated and angry. I'm not sure when it started, or even why, but I became uptight mom who just wanted to yell at her kids for everything. I'd like to tell you I held back... But I didn't always. And all day long I felt like a terrible, mean mom.

It takes me an hour and a half to corral the kids and everything we need to run all our errands (during which time I discover my adventurer crawling around on my dinner table.)

I finally had a chance to leave the house for an Arbonne party. Thank goodness for some adult time.

And shortly after getting home, I hear little miss screaming. (no, I want to revolt, "you are supposed to be asleep and NOT screaming!! I just want a minute to myself!!")

I go into the dark room to pat her bottom to see if she was wet.. Yep... She was wet. And butt-naked. She managed to get out of her pantsuit and her diaper and pee all over the bed.

I cried.

I cried when I rocked my freshly dressed baby and told her she deserved more. She deserved a mom that didn't get so angry and resentful. She deserved someone who had more compassion. She deserved more love than I had in me to give.

And so we rocked that way for a long time. And then I cried the rest of the night.

For the first-time ever, it occurred to me that I don't like this stage of life. That I'm ready for grown up kids, and I'm done with the whole baby/toddler/preschool thing.

And realizing that made me cry even harder.

The truth is...

You've never known shame till you're a mom.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

19 days

"I celebrated Avery’s last birthday ever on October 5, 2012. Except I didn’t know it was her last. Our last. Nineteen days later, on October 24, 2012, Avery died instantly as a result of a single car accident . . ."

This is how AVERYday Ministries' blog begins. And yet, the end is not something you might expect
 . . .

". . . if  there’s one thing I learned from Avery it’s that it doesn’t take much to make a HUGE, POSITIVE difference in the world!

"So it only seemed fitting what to do with The 19 Days: we would share the joy. We would BE the joy. We would BE the kindness! We would BE the compassion that someone else desperately needs and equally deserves, even if we don’t know their story.

"And so, we challenge you to the greatest kindness and compassion campaign you’ve ever been a part of. One random act of kindness, every day, for 19 days. Post it, share it, take a photo and tag it using the hashtag #the19days. Let your neighbors know, your friends know, your Twitter feed and your Facebook know, that for #the19days change is coming. We are that change. "

Check out this blog.

What a wonderful legacy to leave for your child who had to leave this earth too soon.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Poop is still poop. No matter how you fling it.

That's it.

I'm changing my name.

I'm no longer "Rachel." Or "Mom."

I'm "woman who chases tornado baby around the house picking crap off the floor in a far less efficient manner than tornado baby can scatter it."

Or maybe "woman who not only cleans poop off baby bottom many times a day, but must also now clean it off of the floor from poop-flinging-ninja baby."

Or maybe, "woman who fishes Maddy's items that said tornado-ninja baby has deposited into a toilet full of poop that sweet-but-forgetful 4-year-old has forgotten to flush . . .again."

Or maybe, "woman who must make breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, bottle, snack, dinner, snack, bottle . . . then clean it all up . . . only to be ready to make another snack as soon as she's done cleaning."

Or maybe, "woman who let my little girl watch 2 hours of TV from my phone so I could get a little more (fitful) sleep in, and who accidentally slept too deep and woke to screaming ninja-poop-flinging baby way later than she planned."

 And, right now, you could call me "woman who is surrounded by an office of clutter, a kitchen that needs cleaning -- again -- a floor that has peas and watermelon sprayed after snack time all over the floor by tornado-ninja baby, laundry that needs folding . . . but who just needs a moment to herself to stop DOING -- and instead write about DOING."

Just keepin' it real.

And while I'm at it, I think I'll change my girls' names too.

Little miss is no longer little miss, or just tornado baby, or ninja baby. She is Master Screamer. Expert Food and Poop Flinger. She is Little Miss Poops-a-Lot. Sweet Snuggler. Crazy Wriggler. She is The Never-Ending Food Eater. She is the Melt-My-Heart-er.

And Maddy is Mom-Waker at 5:30 Morning-er. She is TV Craver. Sugar Inhaler. Expert in Manipulating Treats Out of Mom. She is Fit-Thrower. Sweet Snuggler. Funniest Things Ever Sayer.

And the crazy part of all of this is that as much as days like this drive me nutso -- I still melt when they snuggle me. Or tell me cute things. Or say they love me. And somehow, I ALMOST forget.

I know I wouldn't trade this stay-at-home gig for a plush office with a plush paycheck if my life depended on it. (Ok, maybe if my life depended on it -- I would at least consider.)

But on days like today, I do wonder what I've gotten myself into. I do wonder where "Rachel" went -- and will she ever emerge again?

For those of you who aren't parenting a child yet (by choice or not), I sincerely want to tell you it's all "snuggles and snails and puppy dog tails" or "sugar and spice and everything nice." I want to say that once you hold your child in your arms, you'll be so in love and so grateful that you will NEVER mind changing a poopy diaper. You'll just be so grateful they pooped!

I want to tell you that you'll only feel mushy love, and gratitude, and a heart that's overflowing.

But the truth is -- for every sweet caress -- there's a boob bite, or an arm pinch, or an accidental head butt while baby throws a fit that she cannot eat that poisonous berry. (How dare you mom!)

For every exciting milestone reached -- there's a feeling of "oh my gosh, haven't we gotten past this phase yet?!!?"

For every hug and snuggle -- there's defiance itself screaming no at your face, and you wonder how in the world you created this monster.

For every high, there is a low.

And no one feeling can capture it all. Gratitude can't cover it. Neither can anger or sadness. Or just feeling lost in all of it.

When I was engaged, I ashamedly admitted to a friend that I wasn't feeling particularly excited at the moment about our upcoming marriage. I was overwhelmed.

She simply, but wisely told me -- "Rachel, 9 months is a long time to let yourself feel only ONE thing."

And isn't that so true with motherhood? Even motherhood (or pregnancy) after loss?

You can't just feel one thing. Because there's so much more than one thing going on at the time -- both in your heart and in your world.

For those of us who cannot take our children for granted, absolutely there's gratitude. Absolutely there is a feeling that, "yes, this is a hard day -- but it sure beats burying a baby, or miscarrying, or struggling with infertility."

But that gratitude just isn't enough to cover all the hard days -- and all those emotions you'll likely feel when they come.

And they WILL come.

Just ask ninja baby. She'll tell you. (And then she'll fling some poop your way, just for emphasis.)

After all -- poop is still poop. No matter how you feel.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Still good in the world

Recently I had blogged about the hard stuff in life. It's still there. And I hadn't wanted to post about all the good things because I felt like that was ignoring the bad.

But isn't the opposite equally true? Only posting the bad ignores all the good?

So ... Here are a few good things in my life.

1) My marriage with Ryan has never been better.

I feel very much in love with him. I enjoy his company, his friendship, and his goofiness. He works hard for our family, and he loves us well. We still get annoyed with each other sometimes (especially him at me when I'm in my ridiculously goofy mood when I'm overtired...). BUT, in all, we are doing really well and I am happily married.

2) My sister and nephews just came for a visit. I didn't take many pictures, so when I get some from the picture-taking folk in my family... I will post them!

We went to the zoo. We also went to my cousin's on the water for a BBQ on the beach. We headed to Seattle (and I was sans kids!) for an all-you-can-order free food and coffee at Storyville coffee at Pike's place. (you should go... It's yummy! Get the salted caramel roll -- and, you're welcome, in advance.)

We celebrated my brother's birthday with a steak and veggie grill-out on my parent's deck. We celebrated my nephew G's birthday, then my nephew T's first birthday ... All of course with delicious food, good company, and chocolate zucchini cake and Tillamook ice cream.

I saw my sister and the boys every day. They just left yesterday, and I already miss them.

We also got to hang out quite a bit with my other sister and her family. It was such fun to have all the siblings and cousins together.

4) Maddy started preschool. Her teacher's name is Ms. rachel :) she loves her school. I think there are 10 girls in her class and only 1 boy. Poor guy.

5) Business is going well. This is my favorite time of year for working. Which reminds me of how lucky I am to be doing what I do.

6) Little misses' adoption is going slower than I hoped, and has been pushed back to jan/feb. :( but, all our paperwork is done and in, and there's nothing we can do to speed up the process. At least we will get our next (7th) social worker this month.

Little miss is feeling more and more like mine. I thought my heart might burst today she was so cute! She has these darling pigtails that are like these tiny curly-ques. She's adorable.

7) last but not least, God and I are making amends. Not thatI was fighting with Him per se... But it feels like my time in the desert is coming to a close for now at least. Recent happenings have helped me realize I don't ever want to be in the place where I don't need Jesus.

So there you go. There is still a lot of good in my world.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Neither here, nor there

Lately I haven't been much up for blogging. Or for posting on facebook.

I want to write about some stuff that's going on, but this is neither the time, nor the place (nor am I the person) for it. And I want to share the good... But that feels dishonest because it's not acknowledging the crap this life sometimes throws our way. The hurt, and pain, the grief.

It's not just old grief. It's new grief. A pain I've not yet known. And it's adding to all my experience. I'm tired of hurting. Hurting for me. Hurting for those I love.

And yet, I know this is not about me in the slightest way.

Sorry, I know this post doesn't make much sense. But neither does life.

Sometimes the curve ball really sucks.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Learning to deal

Last night I had a new friend over from my pregnancy loss support group.

We gorged ourselves on yummy snack food (ok, I gorged ... She politely ate) from Trader Joes.

And we talked about all the normal stuff when you have a new friend (how you met your spouse, why you chose the career you did, where you're from) ... And the not-so-normal stuff (did you name your baby, how you found out about your loss, and dealing with others' pregnancies after your miscarriage.)

We had a good solid couple of hours to eat, chat, and pamper ourselves with a footsoak and facial.

Afterwards I stayed up far too late watching my new guilty pleasure Drop Dead Diva (thanks Sarah for getting me hooked). At the end of one of the scenes, one of the main characters goes to the cemetery for the first time after a loved one died.

And all of the sudden, I've got tears streaming down my face.

Sure, we'd been talking baby loss all night. Honestly I "deal" with it all day long. I deal with it every time I see some one else post on fb about a pregnancy. I deal with it every time I see little miss. I deal with it every time my period comes. I deal with it every time I look at my flat non-pregnant belly.

It's not like I'm always consciously dealing with it. It's just something I'm aware of. Kinda like knowing what day in the week it is. I don't have to actively think about the fact that it's Saturday to be aware of the fact that we are indeed in the middle of a weekend.

It's just something I know to be true.

But every once in a while, there's a trigger that can't easily be ignored or waved away. And for whatever reason, seeing that cemetery brought so much to the surface.

I wondered what the personalities of those kids might have been like. I wondered if they would have been like Maddy at all, or completely (completely) different. I wondered how my story turned out the way that it did. And I wondered if I'm scarred forever.

Last night I dreamed that someone wanted to know what it was like dealing with other's pregnancies.

[And I say "deal" because it's really something you have to manage. Before our loss/infertility/whatever, I never had to deal with another's pregnancy. I was always happy for them. It came quite naturally, and besides the occasional shower or baby announcement, their good news didn't affect me too much.

Then came loss. And all of the sudden, you really have to learn to deal. Jealous and bitterness tip their hats to me, and say "Come. Stay with us a while. Be our friend." And I have to CHOOSE not to go there. Or at least not to stay there. I have to make myself say a congratulations, and mean it. I have to choose happiness for them, while at the same time, I acknowledge my sadness for me. I have to learn to deal.]

Back  to my dream.  I asked this person (in my dream) to imagine what it was like to have a family vacation planned. Everyone's going. You've planned it for months. It's coming up, and everyone's excited. Talking about excursions, and places to eat out, and clothes to pack.

And then all of the sudden, you find out there's this mistake, some random fluke from the airline, and you can't go anymore. You don't have a ticket. The plane will leave without you.

And you're still surrounded by everyone else making plans. They are sad you can't go, but there's so much to plan, so much to coordinate, that they still chat and talk about it in front of you.

It's like that -- except so much more complicated.

And so, today I really had to learn to deal. I opened my FB newsfeed, and the very first thing was a pregnancy announcement from a friend. And I don't mean, like Facebook friend. I mean friend friend. It stung that I heard about her new baby on the way from Facebook. But it was also a reminder that I don't tend to make it outside of my first trimester. But I was also really happy for her because I know she wanted this. Again -- complicated.

Shortly following that in my newsfeed was a gender reveal. And after that, a birth announcement.

Lots of dealing today. Lots of emotions I have to keep in check.

How do you deal?