Saturday, May 26, 2018

Cold Feet

A few months before I was set to marry Paul, I had some pretty cold feet. My mind swarmed with questions, it all felt so permanent and as much as I loved him, forever is well infinite. That was almost 14 years ago, we did in fact get married. It is not always amazing because we are humans, but it is often amazing. Big life changes always put me a little on edge, some more than others. I can remember the end of pregnancy and feeling like I would never be ready to take care of a baby, even though I had been taking care of other people's babies for years.

In the past seven years we have made three major moves. While moving always makes me a little anxious those big moves didn't give me cold feet. In January, I was down right excited to be moving back to our home state. We are getting ready to move again just a few months later, we currently live in temporary housing. We opted for a short term lease when we  moved with intentions of buying our first home eventually.

We started the long process of buying our first home a few weeks ago. There is a part of me that is very excited about getting to paint the walls colors of my own choosing. I get excited about having our own yard. This process is not for the faint of heart, it is a roller coaster. I have settled on we aren't even saying we bought a house until closing day when we have the keys in our hands. It makes a lot of sense financially to buy a house, we can build equity, and do all those responsible sounding things. I don't mind being responsible, I have been fairly responsible most of my life. There were probably points in my life where I have been too responsible.

The process is in a lull right now, we are doing a ton of waiting, waiting has given me time to think about what it all means. One of the challenges has been to find a home that is big enough but not too big. I have been adamant that if we buy a home bigger than we need that we must find ways to use that home to serve others. I have also been pretty firm on not buying at the top of our budget because I want to live my life, I do not want to be controlled by home ownership.

Last year at this time we were departing on an epic summer road trip! I told Paul last week, I kind of wish we were taking another epic trip and not wrapped up in this process. We have joked about calling off the whole thing and buying an RV to live in. The thing is my entire life, if the toilet broke and we couldn't fix it ourselves we just called someone and it got fixed, the cost included in our rent. We never had to worry about the roof, the furnace, the plumbing.

Thinking about it all gives me cold feet, ice cold bare foot in the South Dakota winter, cold feet. In about three minutes Elsa is going to be singing up in here. I want to run in the other direction. This is so long term! Can we really afford this? Are we ready? Will we still be able to take awesome road trips? What if my whole life becomes about taking care of a house?

Then I overheard a conversation about how "young" people want so much more today. I chuckled to myself because there I was dreading home ownership and worried about what was too big. Also most of us can't afford what the generation before us did. We are lucky if we can buy a car let alone a condo. Its funny because it seems like people a generation or two older than myself who know we are doing this are more excited than I am. There was a time in my life when I longed to be able to do this home buying thing and now I stand on the threshold lacking enthusiasm.

Lest I sound like I am complaining about an opportunity not everyone gets, allow me expand a bit. I am super anxious about all this and I know that will pass. Perhaps 14 years from now and half way through our mortgage payments I will be full of joy or at least satisfaction. If I set all that aside, I wonder about the theology of home ownership. How will this allow me to serve others more fully? How will it hold me back? Jesus wandered and never had a permanent home. Can I reconcile that if I say I follow Jesus? (Of course he wouldn't have even had my current apartment.)  What do I do with all that stuff Scripture has to say about sharing with others. How can I celebrate my own ability to do this big thing, own a home, while others struggle to feed their own children? It wasn't all that long ago I struggled to feed my own child, with a SNAP card. It wasn't that long ago I lost the respect of people I cared about because my family benefited from the Affordable Care Act while I was a student. It was just a few years ago I didn't know how we were going to pay the rent each month, every month it felt as if it might be the month we had to separate our family in two states just to survive.

At this point at least a few of you are thinking, you pulled yourself out of that place. That is not true, it was through the ordinary miracle of community that we made it through. It had very little to do with us as individuals and nothing at all to do with the proverbial "boot straps" we hear about pulling on. For months we survived because a variety of people with whom we shared community volunteered to help us. People offered to open their homes to us. People paid our rent while I job searched for my first call. They cared for our child and pets when I went on interviews all over the country. It's not to say we didn't do anything to get to this place, it's that we didn't get here all on our own. We had help, a ton of help, help that many people do not have access to.

Now that I am in a more stable place, how do I use these gifts to help others? I fear perhaps that when I hold that key in my hand, when the walls are painted the colors of my own choosing, I might forget where it was I came from. That I will fail to see with fresh eyes those who need help finding their boots. It can be almost paralyzing at times if not overwhelming.

Today I am grateful for all the opportunity, the community, the life, the highs and lows that I get to experience. May God use me to serve the beloved community as they have served me.

Saturday, May 12, 2018


It has been a year since I had surgery to remove my Fallopian tube along with what was an ectopic pregnancy. It was a decision I made after chemotherapy injections proved adverse and ineffective in removing my pain. Willingly giving up a piece of your reproductive anatomy when you have spent years testing and trying to make it all work is no small decision. I would have done anything for relief, I would have done anything to put this experience behind me. I woke up from surgery and my road to physical recovery was well underway.

Emotional recovery is trickier than physical recovery. I have been deep in grief this year, a grief that is unlike any of the others I have experienced. I am grieving for something so complex it is hard to name. It is a grief that is not welcomed into conversations, no one calls to see how you are doing, people get uncomfortable when you bring it up. I have often felt left alone to deal with the complexities of it all. The first part is trying to figure out what exactly I lost. When I talk about this, I say I lost a pregnancy, not a baby. I say this because there was never a heartbeat, never an embryo, just hormones, placenta, and blood clots. (I saw the images from my surgery.) There is also a strong sense of defeat when after 8 years you finally see that second line appear only to have your heart broken. The last two years of that 8 involved many tests and interventions. Getting to that little second line took hours of testing, hours of the least sexy sex you could ever imagine, and money so much money.

For much of this year I knew I was sad and angry, this grief often feels like it has broken me. I could not put my finger on it and mostly I went it alone (this is not advisable). A few weeks ago I found myself on a retreat, life slowed down enough in those sacred days that I was able to let myself really feel the grief. As the week came to a close, I found myself in a worship service for healing. I sat and asked leaders for prayer for all the brokenness, those were the only words I could muster. My hands held, my head anointed with oil, tears longing to spring forth, I accepted the prayers offered for me. I returned to my seat in the worship circle. I closed my eyes and even though I don't believe in God being geographically "up", I tilted my head back as if looking at the sky.

I let the slow silent tears stream down my face. I remembered early on in the pregnancy when we fluctuated between viable and not viable. As a means of coping we named this situation growing inside me embryo Jo because it could be Joseph or Josephine. In that moment, I let myself see her, she was Josephine. I saw a girl, with my nose and dark hair. I saw Paul's hazel eyes and lighter skin. I watched her grow up, a free spirit but quiet. She loved people and colored pencils. I watched her loved by her sister, running through the same field in Vermont. I saw her and I loved her.

Then I imagined her with my sister in law, Donna, in "heaven". I saw D hold an infant Jo, I know she would love her. Then I saw the rest of my departed family gather. My dad came first, my Grammy, Tim, my Pop-pop, even my dead dogs showed up. I took Jo and I put her in a baptism gown. I blessed her and I handed her to my dad. I saw my dad holding my baby. I saw him as her grandpa. He smiled and it was as if I could feel in the very fiber of my being, his heart leaping with joy. In that moment I don't know who I longed to hold more, in that tender space I allowed myself to remember how very much I miss him. Perhaps this is a survival skill, the pain could easily consume me, swallow me whole, burn me up, it is not meager. Then walking up behind him I saw his best friend, my Uncle Doc, who died recently. He said. "Isn't it great?"

In that moment all the grief that breaks me was present together and there was in that togetherness a sacred joy and the peace which surpasses understanding. I knew that if anyone could take care of my could-have-been-baby, it was these people who loved me far to briefly on this side of life. I can trust them until I can be there, wrapped in the arms of my dad and Jo can finally feel mine. Eventually, I saw Jesus there too. The peace that was there renewed my belief that one day I will know peace again too. Not everyday will feel so heavy as it does now. I wish I could have photographed this transcendent moment with more than my words.

The next day, I wrote about all this in my journal, and for the first time I ugly cried because I knew what I lost. I lost a potential baby, something the science of a placenta will never quell in my heart. I have felt much lighter since this experience, I have in some ways found a new peace.

I have debated for nearly 6 weeks if I would share this story with anyone aside from those closest to me. It is so unlike anything else I have ever experienced. I wrestled for awhile with what to call this: a dream, a visualization, a vision. I have let go of calling it anything other than a gift.

People ask me what I think heaven is like all the time, it comes with the job. I don't know what heaven will be like. I do not know if indeed I will get to see these beautiful souls again. Sometimes I imagine heaven to be entirely different. When I reflect on these tender sacred moments, I wouldn't mind if heaven included this community and togetherness.

Today I am grateful for the space in worship to focus on my own healing. I am grateful for all the love I have known and will know in this life. I am grateful for this gift that has made grief more bearable. I am grateful for all the women who find themselves being brave in the face of infertility and unimaginable loss, especially the ones who have walked with me and whom I get to walk with. When I started this blog, it was to remind myself that though parenting was hard, I wanted to remain grateful for my LG everyday and I am profoundly grateful for her. Even in this moment as she yells from her room about how silly it is to have to put her laundry away. Especially at 3am when she crawls into my bed and I feel her breath on my face, its never promise, but always a gift.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Grief & Gratitude

I have an entire blog dedicated to the practice of gratitude as you may have noticed by landing here. Granted I haven't been writing for it much these days. Gratitude is something that comes pretty easily for me, it was nearly 8 years ago I started this blog. I started it because I finally had this beautiful baby girl and I was drowning in the day to day of motherhood. Some days were really hard and I never for a moment wanted to take her life, her breath, her very being for granted. She was the baby we didn't know we would have. So it began, daily writing with a theme, a thread of gratitude. From that practice, I still can find gratitude on some pretty awful days.

The time of year where life gets weird is upon us, aka the holidays. This vague term for all the gathering, gifting, and gorging we will do between Thanksgiving and 2018. On a good year this time of year gets difficult for two reasons. The first is grief, even though most of my grief is for loved ones who left this life years ago. My fond memories of holidays spent with them tend to tug at my heart when the tiny lights start twinkling or the prayer is offered at a meal. The second is parenthood, it gets ugly this time of year. Not as the parent of a child who is excited and bouncing off the walls for six weeks, that is tolerable. It just so happens that this is one of those seasons that brings out the know it all parents. The ones who are so absolutely sure they are getting it right that they just must tell you how to do it so you can be as successful as them a parenting. Look, I don't know if I am getting a dam thing right on this odyssey of raising a small human. She is spoiled this time of year with experiences and far too many things. Although I don't think she is "spoiled" in the sense of turning bad or rotting, despite our indulgences she has a heart for others. We are dedicated to making memories with her. (See above about grief and the comfort of memory.) Add to that we are far from family and friends for all holidays... they are just kind of a bummer. If it wasn't for this kid I might do away with them all together.

As the turkey left overs begin to disappear and the season of gratitude gives way to the season of consumerism (and maybe hope) I find myself in a pretty dark place. I have loved Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember, so much so that I have long proclaimed it my favorite holiday. It doesn't require me to be a consumer of goods. I don't have to mail cards, wrap gifts, dye eggs, buy candy, erect a tree in it's honor. I can simply enjoy a meal with family and friends while basking in a heart full of gratitude. It probably helps that it is the Fall's last hurrah and I love Fall. While we were taught the history of this day all wrong and we now know that the first Thanksgiving probably wasn't all amazing warm fuzzies; we can still strive to do better, strive for the ideal that is told as fact. We can own the honest history of pilgrims and native peoples while striving to do better. It is worth striving for an ideal where the full humanity of all people is honored and celebrated.

This week though something happened that left me gasping for gratitude that was once so easy to find. If you are a regular reader you likely remember that this spring I lost a pregnancy because it was ectopic. A pregnancy that was 8 long years in the making. The one that was going to leave this pastor with an early December baby, oh the irony. Due to the early complications of things I was never given an official due date but before it was complicated google made it easy to find out when that tiny human was to join the family. Next week I was supposed to be due to give birth and this week it became very clear that I wouldn't  have the comfort of knowing a rainbow baby was on the way. Perhaps quite the delusion, I kept telling myself that as long as I was pregnant by December, I would be OK. Chances are I wouldn't have been. Fertility related grief is complex while I grieve what could have been, I grieve also the loss of fertility in general. Fertility is fleeting, it's slipping through my fingers.

It seems that the more I pray the more I get a resounding "NO!" in response. This is all well and good God and I can disagree (we have before)... I can tell God I need some space. Except that whole pastor thing means I can't avoid God even when I would like to. As we approach the dreaded Advent with birth metaphors abound, I find myself, once again, more in an ash heap sort of mood. Some days I would like to ask God what did I do to deserve this? Oddly enough I can answer this question with beautiful theological grace when I am not the one asking it, essentially the answer is nothing. I am trying to be OK with this lack of fertility. I am trying to let go and let it be. Move on, it wasn't my lot to have the big family I dreamed of. Yet, I am here to tell you I am having a hell of a hard time letting go. I have a hard time saying this month I will not ride the ridiculous roller coaster of hope that I might be lucky enough just maybe to find two lines where there is forever one.

The thing about Advent if you are a church type or Christmas if you are the purely secular participant in this season... it is so full of hope for the impossible. We believe in miracles a little extra at this time of year. In church we wait, prepare, and hope for the birth of a baby who will radically change the world. A baby as the story would have it who is born to a virgin! In the secular world we wait with anticipation for whatever it is that gives the holiday meaning for us be it family or Santa Clause. It seems like around every corner someone is waiting to push some hope down your throat. I am ready to give up on you HOPE. Why must you exist in the world so powerfully. Hope is so radical in these uncertain times and I won't make it through Advent with out preaching about it.

Our family is in transition right now. It is one that has us evaluating how much we really need things. That begs questions like is it time to let go of the baby gear? Perhaps it is but I don't know that I can do it with out some sort of ritual of grief that isn't me, a box of tissues, and wine in the basement. Today we began to put out the Christmas things and I was reminded of a Christmas season when I had an abundance of hope. 2009, L's first Christmas. I nearly gave myself an ulcer trying to find the perfect and timeless stockings for our family. Being me I wanted them to match at least a little so I would replace ours too. I bought one set but my mom didn't like them which made me question everything I had ever done. I ended up returning them when I found some adorable ones in the Disney store. The day after Christmas I went and bought a few more from the set on clearance because when the next baby came I didn't want to do this again. Every year I leave those stockings in the bottom of the tote and a part of me feels as if it is dying.

These days I am not much of a "Black Friday" shopper but I needed to get out of the house for a few hours. We went and perused the sales, it seems that in every store I had to walk past the baby section to get where I was going. L begged to look in toys r us which locally is combined with, you guessed it, babies r us. I decided to make a purchase until the line barricade forced me to walk through the baby section. I put my items down and walked out. Paul commented, is there any one not pregnant around here? I said I didn't notice because sometimes I look at the floor to cope but I could hear plenty of newborns. You can't avoid this kind of grief there is something to remind you everywhere.

This Thanksgiving week I had a very difficult time being grateful. It isn't for lack of a thousand things for which I am grateful. Seriously I look at my kid and tear up more than you will ever know because my heart explodes with gratitude. She was after all an answer to a totally different prayer, "just one God". In the place of gratitude I have wrestled with grief and perhaps a bit of greed on my part. (I debate is it greedy to want more children? For the people who so desperately want just one, probably. For the ones who keep having babies with out trying, probably not.) What I can walk away from this week with is that I don't like grief in place of gratitude. Perhaps the challenge for me this Advent is to live into both more fully.

Since it is my discipline to always offer a nugget of gratitude at the end of a blog and I am seriously struggling in that department. I feel more like the coddled toddler on the floor mid tantrum wailing, "it isn't fair! I want it!" I will offer this: today I am grateful because even though I can't make a baby, I can make one outstanding Thanksgiving dinner. Those pies are the real deal.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Tired Grace

I seriously don't have time to write this blog. I am so behind on everything, I feel pressure every waking minute to be productive. It has been one hell of a week, well two really. So in the Saturday night chaos that is my life I share with you a photo of my current dining room table.

The pink flamingo table cover is left over from a birthday party three weeks ago that wasn't supposed to even happen in our house. It was supposed to happen at the pool but it was 68 degrees so we threw together an at home beach bash in 12 hours. The cards in the background are screaming at me that the thank you cards from said birthday should have gone out a week ago.

I digress, my open computer and books are all about finishing up tomorrow's sermon which has been pushed to the back burner all week while I was taking care of things like the church wifi, visits, printers etc. There was also an eclipse and the first day of school this week. It has been chaos. The various stacks of books are for different projects I am working on. Researching the reformation for a sermon series, journals, writing projects, books for bulletin prep, some work on a project to further my professional life, work for two organizations I volunteer with (and love) that are getting into the swing of things for the Fall, and that pager for my "side hustle".  I am carrying that thing all weekend because I missed last weekend when I was home for a funeral. It turns out fertility treatment is expensive and that side hustle is helping me pay off some bills. My calendar full to the brim for the next two weeks. Head phones to block out the sounds of all that is happening around me. Bills with newsletter notes on them.

All of this is on my dining room table because somewhere in the shuffle my desk disappeared and I didn't have time to both work and clean today. Let's take a minute to talk about how far behind I am on housework, on Friday I had to rewash the load I started on Monday, there is enough dust in here to declare us a bio hazard, I have some big organizing projects I intended to slowly work on and I am two weeks behind on my schedule that seemed like a good idea at the time. I guess I will move them further into the Fall.

Y'all I am so overwhelmed by all this. I was sitting here angry as all get out at myself that it is Saturday and I spent most of the day on my computer catching up on all the behind work for my full time gig. I wanted to clean up around here and hang out with my family. This is super important right now because my kiddo's biggest concern about back to school was not getting enough family time. It is festival week where we live and I only went down there with her twice. She and Paul have been going with out me to enjoy things while I catch up. Later I know I will hear about this. I will try to explain mommy has to work so we have a place to live while fighting off tears. Most of this stress is because I gave up a week to travel for a death in the family, it was time well spent. When you are the pastor and the only staff person, no one covers any of your work when you are gone, so I am doing two weeks worth of work in one week. Honestly, I had a few hours set aside yesterday afternoon to do some of this work, I dragged it all outside on a nice afternoon (on my day off). As soon as my backside hit the seat, I was interrupted by a conversation that proved to be nothing but hurtful. I should have known better.

My hormones went haywire this week too which has made me achy and tired. It is really hard to have stamina when this happens. Chances are I may have lost another pregnancy in the last two weeks but I'll never know for sure. Last week was emotional with being home with my family who I miss so much, steeped in grief, and seeing a few friends. To hug the people you love after years time is beautiful and happy and sad all at once. To stand with your siblings as they lay to rest their sibling from their dad's side of the family is tremendously heart breaking. I have all sorts of big feelings going on.

Then I learned my Uncle Doc was in hospice care and he died later that day. Having just gotten back from home, I can't turn around and do the trip again. This grief is a new kind of grief. My Uncle Doc was actually not my Uncle, he isn't even related to me, and his name isn't Doc. He was my dad's best friend and my "godfather". My dad didn't call a single person by their real name, and hence Doc. Uncle Doc worked hard these last 18 years to keep my dad alive in spirit. He kept in touch with me sporadically. I visited him when I was in the area. Mostly he would tell me stories about my dad that made him real for me. I don't have too many of my own. In some ways it stirs that grief up all over again because who will tell me the stories now? At our wedding, my Uncle Doc stood in for my dad in the father daughter dance. He must have asked me a thousand times what the name of that song was. Holes in the Floor of Heaven just in case you want to know. It is a lot to process.

The week has held, stress, grief, hormones, the first day of school, the local festival, two jobs, three pets, a kid, a house, a husband, and all that other stuff listed above. (I haven't even mentioned the news cycles and the state of the world). As I sat here at my dining room table mad at myself for not having gotten some of this work done earlier in the week so I could enjoy the day... I started reflecting on all that has happened this week. All the balls I did not drop. How tired I am. The thought occurred to me, well of course I am tired! That is where we get to the point of this whole blog, if I were talking to a friend or congregation member and they had a week or two like this I would tell them they were nuts for even trying to do half of it. I would tell them have grace, the mess will still be there. I really suck at having grace for myself. Maybe just this one time, I can allow myself a little grace. It has been a rough week.

This week I am grateful for my tired grace and knowing this is all only temporary.

Friday, May 12, 2017


I have way more to accomplish in the next two days than I have time for, so of course the urge to write has over come me. Let's start with a quick catch up... last you heard I was struggling through my body's response to the chemo shots I had. Ten days after that shot I was still struggling and facing the daunting possibility of a second round of shots. While my numbers were dropping they were not zeroing out. I asked how much longer? It could take up to 12 weeks. Then I asked when am I in the clear? Not until you hit zero. What about my trip in two weeks? We can't advise travel until you hit zero because you could rupture. At that point I was seven weeks in to this fiasco, nine if you go by cycle and looking at potentially 8-12 more... that is third trimester long. I had enough, I was in constant dull pain. I took more prescription pain meds in the 10 days after Methotrexate than I did after my neck fracture and c-section combined! I yelled and I cried my life had been taken over completely by the cells that could have been a baby growing inside me. Then I called and said can I just have the surgery now? They said yes and the next morning I went in and had my tube along with the growth removed. I didn't care if I only had one at that point I needed the fastest track to zero. Almost 9 days post op and I am not to zero yet but very close, with nothing to rupture. My mom stayed with us through all of this, which made it easier to bear. Post op I was in less pain than I was before. My only complaint is I am not up to speed energy wise.

I have been struck this week by how numb I feel. I fluctuate somewhere between soon this will actually all be over and what the hell just happened? The past 8 weeks of my life have revolved around this. It is like I am coming up for air and keep getting hit in the face with waves. There are huge chunks of time I can't remember. The thing I try to remember in grief is that the world doesn't stop spinning, yet this round of grief... my world did stop spinning. Through this crazy time I haven't had much time to do more than survive. An emotional freight train is going to hit at any moment. I am trying to figure out what I lost... did I lose a child? a potential child? some cells that multiplied wrong? Last year I spent time learning how to live out side of survival mode and now I am right back there. I m trying to catch up in a world that has spun with out me for two months.

My hope is this afternoon I will get the all clear to travel and next week I can take a long planned trip for renewal. Then maybe come back feeling reset. I am so over whelmed by all that has to happen in the next several weeks. Things normally I have planned for but haven't been able to. Mostly, I just want my life back, like it was before.

Today I a grateful for small steps toward normal.

Friday, April 21, 2017

24 Hours of Ectopic Pregnancy

After a week of miscarrying my mysterious pregnancy that never really showed up and mourning the loss multiple times, first as a chemical pregnancy, then as nonviable, and lots of questions and waiting and no answers. I went for what should have been my last blood work for a while, I was praying it would show declining numbers, I was (am) exhausted, as I approach week 8 of pregnant but not really.

I was due to be away on study leave this week but my trip was canceled because of my impending miscarriage, turned miscarriage. I was totally bummed to be staying in town rather than going out of town this week. Wednesday was a hard day after more emotional atom bombs from other parts of life dropped on Tuesday, Monday the pain was so bad I cried, which never happens. Wednesday I pretty much just slept the whole day, my body and spirit were exhausted. I was hell bent on pulling myself out of it.

Thursday I had plans in the city where I see the Reproductive Endocrinologist. First I would swing past for some blood work, then I was to have lunch with some new friends who get the whole infertility shit show roller coaster. During lunch I missed a call from the doctor's office. My plan was lunch at Panera, a leisurely stroll through Target, and if time allowed a few stops at craft stores before heading back to pick up my  kiddo. I walked out to my car and called the fertility people back. The receptionist tells me I have to come back right now for an ultrasound but she can't tell me why. A nurse will call me back, I have an appointment in an hour. Well, I can at least mad dash through Target and get what I need. As I pull up to Target the nurse calls me back and unable to inhibit my reaction to her telling me my numbers have more than doubled, I yell what the hell! Do you ever see this? Yes we are concerned about ectopic. I have had so many ultrasounds at this point that I am like here we go again, you have been looking every week and there is nothing, no explanation. At this point I just want this to be over. I run in Target and start shaking. This isn't the first bad news I got about this pregnancy while at Target, I was by the bike helmets when I heard chemical pregnancy (which honestly at this point would have been easier in the sense that it would be over now).

I head over to the office, they get me right in. At the end of the ultrasound I see them write "?Mass" near my right ovary. GREAT! Just great. I can see it, a blob, no clear structure. I also can see my endometrial lining has thinned down to 10mm from 31mm which makes me happy because I know when I see that the bleeding is almost over.

I get shuffled to the next room and wait. Mind you I am alone because none of this was scheduled and Paul is working almost two hours away. I have scrambled to get my kid picked up from school. The nurse practitioner comes in and starts asking me questions and then blurts out, you have an ectopic. Then head starts spinning and I hear Doctor is coming in, surgery today... when did you eat last... what have you taken today... blood clot disorders...

As I wait for the doctor to come examine me, I am frantically texting people because it seems like I am headed to surgery in the next hour. I have never been under general anesthesia and they ask me a ton of scary questions about it. I remember how adorable my daughter was walking into school that morning and how much I wanted to hug her. And that tomorrow is her "birthday" at school because she is a summer baby and I need to get home and make the brownies and buy the little water bottles she wanted to share with her class. I start thinking about everything that can go wrong and start to cry by myself in the exam room, my contact falls out and that makes it worse because now I am all like I don't have extras with me or glasses. I can't see. I get it back in which helps me stop crying and I decide I should probably stop watching so much Gray's Anatomy.

After many exams and getting to put my clothes back on the doctor whom I just met comes in. (I get another hug, this is how you know your life is going to shit when everyone in the office is giving you hugs and suddenly has way more empathy than clinical explanations.) There is finally an explanation, there is an ectopic that can finally be seen right at the opening of my tube on the right side. FINALLY AN EXPLANATION!

I have two options, because of the size of the growth of "pregnancy tissue" I can have surgery tonight, with a one week recovery period, go home tomorrow. No really I need to make those brownies, there is too much to get done for a night in the hospital. This will mean likely losing the tube which limits future attempts at pregnancy. Then there is a post op waiting period. My other option is a large injection of Methotrexate a chemo therapy drug that will stop the growth of the tissue eventually dissolving it entirely. This disrupts the DNA and also means a long wait before we can try again. I won't be pregnant for real, before the end of the summer. I ask about side effects: mild abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dizziness. Oh ok so about the same as I already feel. I am told the injections will hurt pretty bad because they go into the muscle. They apologize that I will need one more round of blood work and they have to stick me again. I want to say lady I am a professional pin cushion lately and it really doesn't hurt. The downside of all this is that it could fail, I could need surgery anyway, I could need a second injection.

I literally say well with all five minutes of information and time I have had, I think I will go with the injections. They will cost less and get me home tonight. Can I drive myself home? Yes.

I have to go to the hospital to the infusion center. My two nurses are both male and I swear half my age. My hero gives me a cup of water, my mouth is so dry I am afraid to talk to people. They prep me for these terrible injections. Do you know the worst part of these injections? The waiting an hour for them and the fact that I had to get them in my hips all bare ass. I got two injections at the same time one in each hip, from each male nurse, while standing bare ass and trying not to bleed miscarriage blood everywhere. You know what... they really didn't hurt. It stung and it stung for awhile afterward but honestly it wasn't nearly as bad as described. I also think my not being a hysterical mess was confusing to them, I tried to explain I knew I wasn't having an actual baby a month ago. I wait ten minutes an I am allowed to go home.

4:45pm I have the injections.
6:30pm I arrive home relieve the sitter and try to figure out what needs to happen tonight.
7:00pm Update family
8:45 pm There are demons in my intestines at first it feels like really bad gas. Ok No big deal they said my stomach might get upset.
8:50pm Sweet Jesus I need to the toilet now. I feel the urge to push like I am giving birth.
9:00pm OK let me get these essential things done
9:05pm Toilet!
9:10pm Send an email.
9:15pm HOLY HOPPING SNOT I need to take a shower to ease these intestinal cramps up. I feel as if someone is grabbing my intestines and twisting them. I also start getting the chills.
9:20pm Shower brings no relief, I sit on the toilet shivering wrapped in a towel. I am pretty sure I pooped out what I will eat next Tuesday at that point. (I lost five pounds last night.)
9:30pm First call to on call nurse. Hey my intestines hurt this doesn't seem "mild". And no one mentioned the chills. And my back hurts on the right side. I am supposed to report any pain on the right side. All normal take such and such.
10:00pm cramps stop, chills stop. I get comfortable for a few minutes.
10:15pm On the couch crying my back hurts so bad, exhaustion is a factor. I still haven't made the dam brownies. I am trying to walk Paul through what has to happen before morning. He makes the brownies.
10:30pm I SHOULD HAVE HAD THE DAM SURGERY. Someone is stabbing me in the back. I might pass out.
11pm next call to on call nurse. I can take more pain meds. They don't touch it. Apparently I was feeling the medicine/poison attack the growth of cells. Something I was told I would feel in 2-3 days as mild discomfort. HA! I felt my pregnancy die last night...
Counting the minutes until 3am when I can take a double dose of pain meds.
2:50am I fall asleep ten minutes before med time.
7 am I wake up with no pain.

8am follow up call from nurse. If pain starts again I have to go right to the ER.

All day today I have felt like I was hit by a semi. Queasy, tired, and so forth. I slept most of the day, Paul lost another day of work because we didn't know what would happen. I went for a ride with him this afternoon to pick our kiddo up. Every bump I felt every part of my insides. I feel like it's all bruised. This is miserable. The surgery may have actually been easier.

I have taken more pain medication in the past week than after my c-section and broken neck combined. I feel like I have a high pain tolerance typically. I don't know if this has been insanely physically painful or if the exhaustion and emotions and hormones have made it worse. It has none the less sucked a lot. There is a long road ahead, I will be closely monitored for the next several weeks and hopefully not need more injections.

If you have had to have Chemo more than once... for an ongoing treatment plan... you are my hero because one night of this was hell!

Today I am grateful for people who pick up my kid with a moments notice. For Paul who has been amazing while I have been down and out. And while it hurts, my daughter being comfortable enough to say, I am glad grandma is coming because we will have an even number of people and I can get some attention because really mom you have been getting it all lately.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pregnant but Not Having a Baby (A Ring of Hell)

I am so exhausted. I want to tell you about the past several weeks.

As you may have read a few weeks ago, I learned I was pregnant but it was a chemical pregnancy and I would soon lose the pregnancy. Only that never happened. It's been almost three weeks and all I have had is some spotting. Over these weeks I have had several blood tests that all show my HCG levels rising (although still on the low side of average). This last round showed that they were not increasing quite as fast as they should at this point. After the first two surprise rounds of "good" results from HCG blood work, we had to consider a new option I ovulated late and everything is just off by a few days to a week. While this was a nice option and helped keep me sane for days on end, it doesn't seem like this is what is happening. There have been over these weeks several periods of waiting days for the next test, result, or action. Every test has led to more waiting and few answers. I should have lost the pregnancy 3 weeks ago, shortly after it started. We have been on this roller coaster of mourning the loss of this pregnancy all this time. Our two week wait has turned into five weeks of waiting. Eating and sleeping are hard to do.

Last Tuesday I had an ultrasound that was still in the gray area timing wise and it showed thickened lining but nothing else. It may have been to early to see anything, so I was scheduled to come back on Thursday of this week to try again. Initially my spotting slowed down after this and I had to find a way to stay sane for nearly ten more days. I was making it through one long day at a time, all the while feeling both premenstrual and pregnant. Yesterday morning I woke up to cramping and light bleeding. This was met with an urgent ultrasound that still showed exactly nothing. What I am told is happening now, is that there is trophoblastic (spelling?) tissue growing but not an embryo. There isn't much talk of having ovulated later. There is really nothing positive happening. Essentially it is Holy Week (for my non-church types read: the busiest most stressful week of my entire year) and my insides are falling apart. At this point I am waiting for my body to miscarry. My doctors are eager to help this process along with medicine that sounds like it's straight out of a horror movie. I am not as eager. First off, see above, it's Holy Week, I don't have time to slow down or for pain killers. I simply cannot preach all hepped up (or down) on pain killers. Next week I was scheduled to travel for study leave, this has now changed and I plan to take it as "vacation" to deal with all the fall out from this.

I am hoping my body will in the meantime take care of it on it's own. However my body in all it's infinite assholery doesn't like to do what it should when it comes to this sort of thing. I was seeing a therapist about six months ago that wouldn't let up on how I need to love my body and how amazing it was. I quit seeing said therapist and this is why, if I heard that this week I might end up in prison. I have been betrayed by my body, AGAIN. Maybe one day I can think about that but not during this process. I am giving it what it needs, shrinking it, and still it insists on doing this weird ass shit! I am growing freaking like a quarter of a placenta and no embryo... I am not even losing a baby, I am losing a placenta. Dream of a baby sure.

I might mention hormones are in full swing. I cried last night and couldn't stop not because of no viability but because I STILL DON'T HAVE ANSWERS OR A RESOLUTION!

What happens next: We are not proceeding with any more treatment at this time. We have been through a lot in our 20 years together but this is by far one of the worst experiences of our combined lives. Should we decide to go forward again, we won't be telling anyone we have. It has been exhausting to talk about this constantly the past several weeks as we rode the viable not viable roller coaster. Every set back or step forward we had to inform all sorts of people. I even had to tell my board at work because it has been such a twisted process and he had to tell his boss. I don't even want to tell this story, not because it sucks but because it is unbelievable.

Today I am grateful for my constant partner in all this shittiness.