The love I wasn’t expecting

10447061_469921366444635_6776470002636467206_nLong before I became a mother, before I got married, before we started trying and then doing fertility treatments, before the failed adoption and then ultimately he successful one…I know that I would have no problem loving kiddos. No matter how they fell into my life, I knew that I had a heart for kids. I’ve always been that girl, you probably went to school with someone like me, or maybe you were the one like me, the one who loved children and who mothered all her friends.

Then the girls came, dropped into our lives like tiny explosions, and I loved them immediately. Or perhaps I merely felt protective of them. Even when it was so hard and The Professor and I would cry and wonder what we had done to our lives, I knew no matter how hard it was, we would be their constant. They’d already had so much, too much, in their little lives. We would be the ones who never left, no matter what. Just as we had made a commitment to each other on our wedding day, the day we accepted those girls into our house, we made a commitment to them.

And just as any family, we’ve had highs and lows, challenges and successes (yeah, Babybee is finally potty trained!!!). And I love them. Oh, how I love them with a fierceness that takes my breath away. It doesn’t surprise me, that love, even the depth of it. Sometimes I think I always loved them, the love was there just waiting for them to absorb it. But there is something that surprises me and that is the fierceness at how they love me.

Perhaps that’s silly, or perhaps you too have been surprised by the love of your own children. Sometimes Babybee will hug me so tightly, squeezing my neck with her little arms and she’ll whisper in my ear, “Mommy, I love you so much.” Then Busybee with give me one of her brilliant smiles and giggle and tell me we’re having so much fun & she loves me to the moon. I can say without a shred of arrogance that I am the center of their universe (The Professor too, but this is my blog…) As unconditionally as I love them, they love me in return and for whatever reason, I never once considered this when I thought about becoming a mother. And frankly it thrills me and terrifies me (it’s a lot of pressure to live up to the way they see me) and it takes my breath away.

Odd (wo)man out

MjAxMi1kNjhhMjI4MjZlYzc5YWNjInevitably it happens. You’re out in a social setting with other women and someone brings up pregnancy or birthing stories. Four years ago this was particularly difficult to me as I was sans children. But even now, after being a mom for nearly three years, it happens, and no matter how wonderful the company and how kind and generous they are, when the discussion turns in this direction, I feel left out. A bit like the weirdo. Yes, adoption is super popular these days and I can speak, which authority, on many aspects of adoption or parenting a child of a different race or dealing with CPS visits, etc. But when it comes to pregnancy and birthing, well, I never got past 12 weeks so I’ve got nothing to share.

I try really hard not to feel strange, but I feel like suddenly there is a giant blinking arrow above my head. ATTENTION: Here sits a woman who has failed at the fundamental purpose of womandome. Okay, that’s a bit exaggerated (not to mention a made up word), but you get my drift. It’s nothing that anyone says or does. I know that no one is trying to leave me out. But it happens.

For me, there was no labor pain, instead I had years of failed fertility treatments, failed adoptions and then bureaucratic hoops to jump through for my girls. For me, I didn’t fail at breast feeding because I never got the chance to try, instead I had a colicky 8-month old who drank the most expensive formula they sell and still didn’t sleep through the night. Instead of sweet-smelling baby soap and the little plastic bathtub, we had a toddler who was terrified of baths so we got a baby pool, put it in the backyard and we’d strip her down, squirt some Johnson’s in and let her swim around.

My experiences at motherhood were different from most women’s, and yeah, I feel it sometimes, but I know that it doesn’t make me less of a mother. It just makes me a different mother. And that’s okay. Despite that longing for the whole pregnancy/birthing experience (that I suspect will never go away), I wouldn’t have built my family in any other way.

So how about you? Ever had one of those things that always makes you feel left out? How have you handled it?

81OJEsNbx5L._SL1500_-2On a much lighter note: I have a new book release that I want to share with y’all. It’s the first in a new Regency-set series, No Ordinary Mistress. It’s only $0.99 so I hope you’ll check it out.


I’m Robyn DeHart, AKA Basket-Case Mama, but not because I’m crazy (though really, what mom isn’t?) but because I have a slight obsession with baskets, well containers really. I’m a bit of an organization nut and I love to containerize stuff. And yes, I’m authorized to use words like that because I am also a writer. But back to the kids, so I’m mom to two ridiculously beautiful little girls and I can say that without bragging because I didn’t actually make them. The Professor and I adopted said little lovelies from the foster-care system here in Texas and now we’re a big happy forever family. Busybee is five and so full of joy it just oozes from her. Babybee is a three and is too smart for her own good.  www.robyndehart.com

The big 4-0

100_2299I’m not there yet, I just turned 39 in May, but that big birthday is looming. It’s funny how certain numbers can freak us out. I remember 25, in particular was difficult for me. I’d had everything planned out that I would meet my would-be husband in college and I’d be married by 24. Yeah, that didn’t happen and when that 25th birthday rolled around, I was in a funk. Silly when you think about it now, but then it was difficult. In any case, with that big 4-0 looming I’m doing what most people (women? do you think men do it too?) do before a “big” birthday, I’m planning all the ways I want things to be different. You know like before 40 I’ll be the new and improved Robyn.

Come on, I know y’all do that too. So here’s my list.

Spiritual – I want to be better about making my spiritual life more integrated into my daily life and not just a church day thing.

scale_upload-lHealth – this is probably the biggest for me and well the same damn thing I was struggling with at 29 before that big 3-0 birthday. (oops, but in my defense I got married when I was 30 and then, well, fertility treatments made me gain all the weight I’d lost in that 29th year…let’s pretend I’m not still carrying that 60+ lb gain around today, ten years later!) It’s not just about the weight though. I’m an inconsistent exerciser. Always have been. Once I find something I like I can stick with it for a while, but if something changes to shift that around, I have a hard time getting back on track. I’m currently in one of the “find something I like to stick with” phase. I need to just get up on my treadmill and get it over with. Also, in this category is my family’s health – I’m responsible for feeding most of the people in my family so it’s up to me to make sure I plan and make healthy meals. I’ve gotten lazy with that the past two years and I need to get back to my meals planning and cooking, it just works better for all of us.

Personal – I’m frump girl. Remember that from My Big Fat Greek Wedding? I love that movie! But man, I could so relate to her when she said that. Being a work-at-home mom means I don’t have to really fix myself up much. I mean I get dressed (most days) and even put on shoes and brush my teeth, but my hair ends up in a wad on top of my head and make-up only gets put on if we’re heading to church or I’m going to a writer function. I don’t even really fix myself up most of the time on the rare occasions The Professor and I have a date. Often because it’s a last minute – my mom offers to watch the girls so we can go see a movie kind of thing. But I would like to make a bit more of an effort with myself, try to look my best or at least look groomed.

Parenting – I think this will probably be an ongoing to-do for me, for all of us, I’d wager. Most parents (the non meth-making in the bathtub variety) strive to be better. We want to be gentler, kinder, more nurturing. I want those things. I think most of the time I do an okay job, but lots of times I could do better. It’s those moments, I want fewer of. I know I’ll never be perfect at it, but I’ll know I’m successful if my girls feel about me the way I do about my own mom.

100_0282The lazy factor – okay I don’t know if it’s just laziness or if there’s more to it, but damn somedays I just don’t even want to get up off hte couch. Granted I sit for my job so there’s that. I’m used to sitting. I like sitting. And some days dealing with the girls is enough to make me want to just get horizontal. But its those days that become a problem – I don’t exercise, I don’t do dishes, I don’t cook, I’m so wrapped up in how exhausted (and stressed) I am that I just sit and let life zoom past me all the while my house is falling apart around me and laundry is eating the bedrooms. Okay that’s a slight exaggeration, but I’m sure you know what I mean. I hope you do, at least, otherwise, I’m a slug and I just admitted that to all of you.

So there you go, my would-be, personal to-do list before I turn 40. Do you make such lists before your birthdays? 

And I have to do a little self-promo because I have a new book out. So let’s all look at the pretty cover together and we can ooh and ahh. You can go here to find out more about the book.

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The Brighter Side of IVF by Guest Tina Hergenrader

Almost a decade ago, when my husband and I found out we were infertile, I dedicated every spare second to learning about IVF.

Seriously.

As soon as our doctor told us IVF (thousands of dollars, a couple small surgeries, hundreds of painful injections) was the only way we would be a family, I went straight to Google.

And stayed there for the next several months.

I stalked Trying To Conceive (TTC) websites like I would be tested on what they said. At our doctor’s appointments, I had so many anecdotes and testimonies from my online friends rattling around in my head, I questioned our doctor like his professional peer. Because, truly, at this point I probably was. I certainly spent more time reading about Lupron injections than he did.

The TTC world is a strange one. I knew more about strangers’ menstrual cycles than I did about my own. It’s also a sad world. Obviously. Most women going through IVF want a baby worse than they’ve ever wanted anything. No matter how much money they spend trying or how many hormone-altering shots they grit their teeth through, the process often ends in heartbreak.

This is the stuff of (really, really sad) Hallmark movies.

Because of this, the whole TTC world has kind of a dark cloud over it. Even if (yea!), you get pregnant, you’re so worried your cycle buddy won’t be, you don’t want to tell any of your online friends. You certainly can’t ask your dearest infertile friend to throw your baby shower.

This is why people name their IVF blogs and TTC websites “MY IVF JOURNEY.” Women need a somber tone for this terrifying, lonely business they’re going through…and “IVF IS HELL” seems so brash.

Anyway, if the Lupron and progesterone shots don’t get you down (they always do, by the way), this dark cloud of TTC websites will. I distinctly remember one particularly low day with I googled, “IVF Humor.” The response was, “Your search did not match any documents.”
Ha ha…eh.

All this to say I’m here with some perspective. Four kids later (yes, they were all conceived through the miracle of IVF) and ten years worth of perspective, has helped me see that all of IVF wasn’t hell.
Only the shots were hell, really.

And the miscarriage.

But, wait, that’s not funny.

Let me try again.
Here’s the lighter side of IVF…
1. Look on the bright side! With IVF you have the perfect opportunity to choose your child’s birthday! Or close to it. Actually, the laugh is on me with this one. I chose summer birthdays for all our kids. Which, really? Every mom who has ever debated her child repeating kindergarten knows summer is the WORST time to have a baby.

2. Conceiving your child through IVF means you can call your dad, tell him you’re pregnant, and also never have to admit you’ve had sex.

3. When someone says, “you can’t be just a little bit pregnant,” you can say, “Actually, yes you can.” You can be a little pregnant when you have a couple of perfect embryos in your uterus, and you’re waiting to see if they’ll “take.” So, there’s that.

4. Twins! Triplets! The goal for IVF clinics is “one healthy baby” per IVF cycle. But, let’s be clear, the goal of the patients is “as many babies as I can get for all this pain and money.” The idea of multiple babies to an infertile woman is like dangling Louboutins in front of a shoeless SJP. So, when the doctors tell the patient, “Now, you understand there is a risk of twins, right? You understand the stress two babies can cause, right?” The patient is thinking, HECK YES! I know about the twins. And that’s exactly what I’m praying for, buddy.

5. When your kid is older, and they claim you don’t love them, you can always bring up how much money you spent conceiving them. “Sure, Jimmy might have a new XBOX. But, we had you instead. Sorry, honey. But now maybe you understand how much we wanted you.”

6. Most every day you get a progesterone shot, which is one of those deep-tissue ones that goes right into your thigh muscle. It’s one of those shots the nurses describe as, “you’ll know your husband hit the right spot if it hurts really bad.” Yes. One of those. Every day. The bright side of these shots is that you have the most amazing dreams on Progesterone. Like 4D, super-magical, intense dreams that really give your brain a work-out. Which is nice compared to the mush it’s been before that with the estrogen suppositories (yes, seriously) and daydreaming about babies for months.

7. You get an up close and personal look at what your body was designed to do. While tracking your cycle and egg production and ovulation, you see how outrageously perfectly God designed your body to function. Even the most cynical, egotistical doctors admit that whether or not the embryos “take” was a miracle they couldn’t understand.

8. Prayers. When you’re going through IVF, you can ask your best friends or your whole church to pray you’ll get pregnant. They can even have a little prayer vigil while you’re high on Valium and your legs are in stirrups at the hospital, getting surgically impregnated. When you’re trying to get pregnant the old-fashioned way, a prayer vigil during the actual act is a little more awkward.

9. You will grow closer to your husband. We would do lots of fun little rituals together during IVF. My husband would name the shots he gave me. “Oh, look. This one is the DOUBLEYOURENERGY shot. Take this and you’ll wake up with twice the energy!” Truthfully, he should have named all of them the THISHORMONESHOTWON’TMAKEYOUSOCRAZY shot.

10. The best part of IVF is, of course, the babies. Our four IVF babies are a blessing beyond my comprehension. The years have faded the memories of the miscarriage, hormone shots, and heartbreak. But the joys of IVF—the help conceiving these precious, beautiful kids—is obvious everyday.
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Kids
Christina Hergenrader is the author of eight Christian books. When she’s not writing, she loves to bake, take pictures, and soak up life with her husband and four kids. They all live in Texas with their ancient Cocker Spaniel and unusually slow Greyhound. Her most recent book is Starring Roles, a devotional about friendship.
Starring Roles

The grief no one talks about

It seems we’ve covered just about everything this month, talking about lost dreams with kiddos who have special needs and/or learning disabilities and lost babies through miscarriage. It’s been a tough month, but a great month. How wonderful that we have built a forum here where women can feel comfortable talking about our loss and grief and fears and moments of joy. This is what we wanted when we started this blog, but I can honestly say I never expected the kinds of responses we’ve received so thank you all for that.

But I wanted to talk about something today that it seems us women are seriously reluctant to talk about and in truth, I thought (when I was in the midst of the feelings) that it was just me, but I’ve come to learn that my feelings were all too common and it’s time for us to open up that can of proverbial worms. So I’m gonna be brutally honest with y’all, open up all the ugliness and it makes me nervous, but I have faith that you’ll all get it.

Now some of this I can’t speak to with any kind of authority because I’m an adoptive mom, I’ve never carried a child to term. But I’m going make a bold suggestion and say that those baby blues that people talk about…they’re not exclusively caused from hormones.

Let me explain. If you’ve followed the blog for long, you know that I literally became a mother over night. We had exactly 7 days to prepare our home for our two little girls and then suddenly they were there are my house, an infant and a toddler. We’d been through extensive training, I knew what to expect as far as possible problems with the girls, their adjustment, medical issues they could have, etc. I was as prepared as you can possibly be for all of the parenting issues, even the unique ones specific to our (then) foster-care situation. What I was not prepared for though was me and my own yuck coming to the surface.

I spent my entire adult life (and frankly some of my pre-adult life) wanting to get married and be a mom. Everyone who knew me knew that I wanted three things in life: be a wife, be a mother, be a writer. Two of those happened at nearly the same time, but as I mentioned in my previous blog, motherhood seemed an elusive dream, a butterfly I simply couldn’t catch. So imagine my shock when I didn’t settle into motherhood with grace and patience and well, joy. The fact was I’m not nearly as good at this as I thought I’d be. I’m more impatient, less tolerant, and less gentle than I expected. I love children and I especially love my children, but those early days (months) were dark – primarily for me.

I woke up in the mornings cringing and literally would look at the clock and count how many hours until naptime. I was terrified of being alone with them. And I was just miserable. Of course I was exhausted, emotionally and physically, but what the hell? I wanted these kids, why was I so damn unhappy? And the tears, Good Lord, the tears, my poor husband didn’t know what the hell was going on. My mother was a life-saver because she would come over and let me nap and she helped so much with just the day-to-day care of the girls while I found my footing. I didn’t know what was going on, all I knew was that I was unhappy and the guilt because of that ate at me day and night.

And I was plagued with questions…had I made a huge mistake? I couldn’t give them back, my goodness those precious babies had already been through too much. But I didn’t feel like I was providing a better life for them, I felt like I was fumbling in the dark, trying to find the light switch. I took care of their basic needs and I cuddled them and then I would have to sneak away to the bathroom so I could cry. I felt like I had ruined our lives. My husband and I fought like crazy – something we just don’t do. He was miserable and had no idea what was going on with me.

It wasn’t until I came through all of that darkness that I could sit back and analyze it and call it for what it was. Grief. Nothing sexier than that, it was just plain old grief and I for one, suspect all parents go through it no matter how they make their families. I resented the girls and the fact that my husband and I couldn’t just go to the movies or even run to Target. I resented them because my writing life all but dried up and I felt like my career was over. It wasn’t really resentment though, I know that now, it was merely me going through the stages of grieving my old life, my old marriage, the old me. Life changes, as the saying goes and nothing changes it more than children. But no body talks about the fact that it’s okay to be sad about letting go of what was. It doesn’t make you love your kids any less to be irritated that you have to consider them and you can’t just run an errand on your own. It’s a huge adjustment and it takes a while to settle into the new you.

Now I’m not saying that post-pardum depression isn’t real, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. What I am saying is that we all get those “baby blues” let’s just stop trying to think of cute terms to cover the feelings and talk about what it really is. Why should we have to silently feel guilty and wretched because we’re feeling something normal. Going through all of that didn’t make me a bad mom and it doesn’t make any of you a bad mom either.

So let’s talk about mommy grief. How was it for you? How did you get out of it? And did you recognize what it was when you were in the midst of it? 

Whiskers and hair loss and belly fat, oh my!

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(me on my honeymoon – before fertility treatments)

So I’m infertile. Well, no doctor has ever come out and told me that I can’t have kids, but the evidence seems pretty conclusive. To be honest I’ve had symptoms since day 1.

I’ve had issues with my period since it first began. My cycles have always been irregular complete with horrendous cramps. I didn’t really think much of it growing up and then in my 20’s I got a big old cyst and they talked about removing an ovary, but alas it dissolved on its own (painfully, I might add). Still no one diagnosed me with anything.

Then sometime after I’d gotten married I was at the doctor (my regular physician, only I saw one of his partners) for a sinus infection and he took one look at me, looked at my chart and asked me, “so how long have you been polycystic?” I had no idea what he was talking about but by the end of the evening I had read everything I could find on-line about PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome. Yep, I had 90% of all of the symptoms.

100_2431

(me post treatments +60 lbs)

Frankly PCOS is a really unfair disease with a slew of really unflattering side-effects. Facial hair, mine is pretty mild compared to some poor women, but still I have to pluck with regularity. Yet while we get too much hair on our face, the hair on our heads has a tendency to thin and fall out. (I mean come on!) Difficulty losing weight, yet gaining weight seems to be a breeze. Complexion problems, chronic miscarriages, irregular periods, and the list goes on…

Needless to say I made an appointment for a fertility specialist immediately. I won’t bore you with all of the details but they confirmed my diagnosis of PCOS as well as an inhospitable environment (yeah!). And we started with IUI’s (artificial insemination) – that’s when your hubby gets to make his special deposit in a cup and then you get to lay in the stirrups while they inject the magic concoction inside. Magic and romantic, I tell ya! But before the actual procedures come the meds. Lovely medications that make you super sweet (translation = scary bitch), make you gain weight and trick your body into thinking you’re pregnant so that when it’s time to take the pee stick, you’re completely convinced it’s positive.

Then come the tea leaves or at least that’s what it feels like. You pee on a stick and maybe there’s a line, so you call your hubby in the bathroom and he takes it apart (because he’s a pro at this by now) and you hold it up to the light. You take a picture of it and then upload it to your computer where you transpose the image (because that’s what all of you crazy TTCers do on-line) and then after several days of this, your period comes. And so do the tears.

(my last pregnancy test)

(my last pregnancy test – no tea-leaf reading needed)

Friends call with pregnancy news and you’re happy for them, but inside you’re dying. You see super fertile women at the store, you know the ones, 3 kids in the buggy and one on the way and you wonder what she’s done so well that she gets to have those blessings. You hear about the drug addicts that have baby after baby while living on the street or in prison and you wonder what the hell you’ve done so wrong that you can’t do this thing. This completely natural thing that you’re supposed to be able to do because you’re a woman. It’s our purpose. It’s why we have uteruses (uteri?) and breasts and the like. Yet for some of us, all that stuff is just a slap in the face.

In the end we did 8 IUI’s, tried 4 different kinds of fertility meds and I’ve had 3 miscarriages. This last miscarriage from the surprise pregnancy (last summer) was such a risk that my doctor told us that it would be best if we never got pregnant again. It’s fine with me, frankly I really don’t want to hurt like that again.

I am a mom by the miracle of adoption and I love my girls as if I’d borne them myself. BUT I still long to be a mother the “natural” way. I still long to feel life within me, to breastfeed, to see my husband’s features (and mine) in a baby we created together. It’s a dream that’s gone now, but it’s still there, still hurts sometimes, still catches me off guard.  I don’t suppose it will ever go away. I was that girl that wanted to be a mom her whole life, it was what I felt was to be my destiny. I thought it would be easy. My mom and sister never had a problem conceiving or carrying to term. But then again the statistic is 1 in 3 women. And I’m the one…

I’m sorry. I can’t find a heartbeat.

Way back when, back when my life was so different, when my husband and I used to get up and go to work, spend eight to ten hours at the office before coming home and going to work out, then coming back home and eating a leisurely dinner, then watching movie or reading a book, or any number of other things to chill out and relax, back when I worked in an office in a corporate job, one of our administrative assistants announced her pregnancy. She was so happy. She’d taken a pee-stick test that morning, and she’d gotten two lines. She was glowing, gushing, already picking names and shopping for baby clothes. I was happy for her, but didn’t think much of it. A few weeks later, when she went in for her first prenatal appointment and discovered her baby had no heartbeat, I remember the mascara-smeared tears sliding down her pale face as she sat at her desk. I remember how withdrawn she was, how lifeless. I remember feeling sad for her, and I have to think I told her I was sorry, but I don’t remember that. I only remember thinking she’d get pregnant again and have another baby. And she did, a beautiful little girl who is now a student at the Coast Guard Academy.

Miscarriage, to me, was just one of those things that happened, kinda like a false start in a swim meet. Growing up I had an aunt who had repeated miscarriages between her two live births. We were always sad, but it wasn’t talked about much and my parents always said she could try again. Then, much later, one of my besties from forever was giddy happy to be pregnant, then she miscarried, too. I remember being on the phone with her and listening to her cry, listening to her agony and devastation, and again, I’m pretty sure I told her I was sorry, but I didn’t get it. I really, really didn’t get what she was going through. Not until it happened to me.

Pregnancy didn’t come easy to me. In fact, we were downright reproductively challenged. It took us ten years and a whole lot of intervention to conceive. After five or so years we consoled ourselves with a trip to Hawaii.   Then another, and another. Before you knew it we’d become regulars. Then it happened. We did our first IVF cycle and we conceived. It was perfect, it was beautiful. Terrific HCG numbers. Strong heartbeat. Everything…perfect.

But I was scared. No one really understood why, because everything looked so good, but I was really scared that finally, finally our dreams were about to come true—what if something happened?  But we cruised past twelve weeks. First trimester in the bag. All those screening tests aced. Thirteen weeks. Fourteen weeks. Fifteen weeks. A girl. We were having a girl, and she was perfect. Sixteen weeks. I started to show. We went furniture shopping. Seventeen weeks. Everyone was so happy. We started thinking names. Eighteen weeks. We were almost half way there. Nineteen weeks.

Then it happened. I woke up one morning and noticed a bit of dark blood. I wasn’t overly panicked, but called the doctor anyway, and they suggested I come in for a sono to just take a look. I did. My husband had a meeting, so I went alone, all decked out in my cute little early maternity outfit. I settled in on the sonogram table, all chatty with the technician, and we got started. And her face changed. I remember that so vividly. The chatting stopped. It was like everything stopped. The world…my life. The room got so quiet. She wasn’t saying anything, just running that little thingie over my belly, with the most serious expression on her face. And I knew. Before she said those words, “I’m sorry. I can’t find a heartbeat,” I knew. And in those moments, those quiet, still, frozen moments alone on that exam table, everything about me, and everything about my life, changed. More than my baby died; the girl I’d been died, too.

Some memories of the ensuing days are incredibly vivid, like going in for the D&C and having the nurse ask me, “do you know why you’re here?”  Yes. Yes! I knew why I was there, damn it. Other moments are a blur. My husband and sister were amazing. I remember that. My in-laws, who’d been waiting so patiently for so long were lovely, as well. Only later did I find out my mother-in-law had hung up the phone and cried her eyes out. My own parents…I don’t remember. I’m sure they were sad, but emotion is not my family’s thing, and I just don’t remember much about their reaction.

Other things stick out, most notably the kindness of people I barely knew, and relative, or at least seeming, indifference of people I’d considered close friends. People who behaved like I had before, when confronted with someone’s miscarriage. People who, despite how desperately I’d needed something else from them, I now realize just didn’t get it. Didn’t understand. Because they couldn’t. Sometimes you just don’t realize how hot the fire is, or bitterly cold the winter is, until you experience it yourself. I ended up calling my longtime bestie and apologizing to her, for not getting it, not understanding, not being the friend she needed during those dark days.

So much ensued. Another pregnancy, this one twins. Eighteen more weeks of relatively perfection, until another sonogram, also at nineteen weeks, but this time with a perinatologist rather than a technician, and the frozen look on his face as he lifted a hand to chin and told me that he was sorry, but Baby B had passed away. Baby A was fine, and she was born seventeen weeks later. Today she is nine, and the brightest light in my life.

More stuff. More pregnancies. Another miscarriage. An ectopic. A failed IVF. Another miscarriage. Then another pregnancy…and another frozen sonogram, this time at sixteen weeks. Except he wasn’t gone this time. We still had a heartbeat. But he was failing, and the well-meaning doctor, the same one who’d discovered Baby B was gone, advised us to prepare. And we did.

Today that baby is seven weeks shy of turning five, and if you follow me on Facebook, you know just how ALIVE he is. Come May, for his birthday, I’ll tell his story.

When I tell people my history, inevitably many of them tell me how sorry they are. Some cry…they’re usually the ones who have walked in similar shoes. Others mutter something polite or change the subject.

But you know, it’s strange. When I look back, I now see a journey. I see a path, a path that led through some dark, lonely, shattering times, but brought me to a place where the sun still shone. I can’t say I’m happy any of that happened…how could I?  But I can look back and see life at work, transformation, like a stream working against rock. So many lessons learned, so many changes. But I’m so grateful for them, too. I’m grateful for all the things that I know now, that I didn’t before. I’m grateful for the pain that I feel when I hear about another woman’s miscarriage, and I’m grateful that I now know to open my arms and close them around her, hold on tight. I’m grateful that I can, because the person I was before…couldn’t.

Looking back, the road we walked taught me about highs and lows and hopes and dreams, about faith and fear, that kind of soul deep fear that gnaws away at you, about grief and sorrow. But it also taught me about humanity and compassion, and even forgiveness, because I realize now that sometimes when people disappoint you or let you down, it’s not because they want to, but because they don’t know. They don’t realize what you need or know how to give it to you. I’ve learned to never let my discomfort stand in the way of reaching out to someone, and that even if you don’t know the exact right thing to say, fumbling through something is better than dead silence.

I’ve learned that you can’t always change the road you walk, only how you respond to that road. That life isn’t a punishment, but a journey. That we’re not islands, not meant to be, that you can’t do everything alone. That it’s okay to hurt and be weak, to need help. That strangers can be unbelievably kind, and that crying is good for the soul. That sometimes you need to be broken, so you can be put back together and readied for what comes next.

And love. I learned to love in a way I never loved before, never even imagined, so bone-deep, so all-encompassing that it absolutely terrifies, even as it fills all these nooks and crannies inside you that you never knew were empty.

I’m often reminded of a parable I once heard:

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.

It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.

Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its richness and savored its aroma.

The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water. Each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”

Before my miscarriages, I was the egg, tucked beneath a shell and kind of hard inside. During my miscarriages I was the carrot, so broken down and weakened. But I like to think that with time I’ve become more like the coffee bean, transformed by the boiling water, but neither hardened nor weakened, simply changed into something new and different and better than before, ready for what lay ahead. And for that, for the person I’ve become, or at least the person I now realize I want to be, the person I try to be—the wife, the mother, the friend—I finally have peace.

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This Month’s Theme

This month many of our posts will circulate around the themes of miscarriage, infertility, and kids with special needs. These are topics we often discuss amongst ourselves, and we thought they might be topics many of you have dealt with or are interested in as well. So please stop by all month and join in the conversation.

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Spank me, Baby!

It’s doubtful that any couple ever expects infertility. It comes in many forms and affects both men and women and can be medically explained and frustratingly inexplicable. It’s painful and scary and life altering and at times hilarious. Any woman whose elevated her butt and legs after sex knows what I’m talking about. I’ve done everything from checking my cervix, my mucus, and my ph level to peeing on so many sticks I could probably do it in my sleep. The quest to become pregnant is life consuming in a way nothing else every is. It’s mentally and emotionally absorbing and unless you’ve been there, you don’t get it.

I remember when we first started trying and we actually tried to plan out when I got pregnant you know to plan what time of year we’d have the baby. It worked for my sister with both of her kids so I figured that’s the way it went. HA! Once we realized that it wasn’t going to be easy for us to get pregnant, our planning went out the window. It became totally about my cycles.

So here’s how things played out for our first fertility treatment. On day 3 of my period I started taking the meds. This particular cycle was Clomid, probably the most common fertility drug. I would later take other meds, but for this cycle it was Clomid. Also known as the bitchy pill – it gave me wretched mood swings and an ax-in-the-forehead headache. Frankly it was best that for the procreation purpose we’d be doing an IUI (intra-uterine insemination) because frankly I was too cranky to be in the mood. In any case I took the drug for a few days and then went in periodically for scans so they could measure my follicles. Once we got to the magic size, then it was time for the hCG injection and on this particular cycle it timed out so that I need that shot over the weekend which meant the task fell to The Professor.

Now I’m not squeamish about needles, you can’t really afford to be when you start on fertility treatments as there are lots of needles involved. In any case I felt like this would not be a big deal. A shot in the booty and we’d be all good to go. Okay so that is not exactly how it played out. We got prepared to do this. I was even partially bent over the bed to give him a good angle and I caught sight of that needle and got so freaked out I ran from him. Actually ran from my husband so that he was chasing me around the bedroom with a syringe. Finally I calmed down enough to stand still. And in a moment of desperation I said something to my dearly beloved I never thought I’d say. “Spank me, Baby.” To which he replied, “What?!” So I repeated it, explaining that the pop on my bottom would distract me enough that he could then give me the shot. Worked like a charm.

So how about you, have you ever done something you never thought you’d do? Have you ever struggled with infertility or having a funny get-pregnant story?

 


I’m Robyn DeHart, AKA Basket-Case Mama, but not because I’m crazy (though really, what mom isn’t?) but because I have a slight obsession with baskets, well containers really. I’m a bit of an organization nut and I love to containerize stuff. And yes, I’m authorized to use words like that because I am also a writer. But back to the kids, so I’m mom to two ridiculously beautiful little girls and I can say that without bragging because I didn’t actually make them. Last year my husband, The Professor, and I adopted said little lovelies from the foster-care system here in Texas and now we’re a big happy forever family. Busybee is three and so full of joy it just oozes from her. Babybee is a walking-talking toddler who has a heck of a temper but is so cute, it almost keeps her out of trouble. Though neither of my girls are newborns, I’m fairly new to motherhood compared to the other peanut butter moms, but we’ve settled in as a family as if we’ve always been together. When I’m not trying to keep up with my two bundles of energy, you can usually find me on my laptop on Pinterest, no, that’s not right, um…you can find me writing, yes, that’s it, writing my latest historical romance. www.robyndehart.com

Grieving with children

A couple of months ago I had another miscarriage. It was an unexpected pregnancy to begin with as The Professor and I had been told years ago that conception without medical assistance would be nearly impossible. We’ve struggled with infertility our entire marriage and frankly over the last two years I’d pretty much come to terms with the fact that I would never actually carry any of our children. That kind of knowledge comes with it’s own kind of grief. There’s a lot to swallow in that one simple realization: I’ll never feel life move inside me, I’ll never look at my children and see my husband’s smile or my eyes, I’ll never breastfeed….the list goes on. Like I said, it is its own kind of grief and well I’d come to terms with it. And then that damn positive pregnancy test.

our kitty Sydney

The weeks that followed that consisted of weekly doctor’s appointments with too many blood tests to count and more vaginal ultrasounds than anyone should have to endure. My ObGyn and then the Perinatologist couldn’t quite figure out what was going on with the pregnancy and then ultimately it was determined that it wasn’t viable.

Ah…life can sure knock you on your ass sometimes, can’t it? In the midst of all of this emotional drama, I was still writing and well, still being a mom. Being sad about stuff that kids can’t see and especially little kids can’t understand, it’s hard to explain. There were lots of times my sweet girls would come up and ask, “Mommy, why are you crying?” or “Mommy, you okay?” <– my littlest is a great talker, but she uses less words than her sister. Daddy did a lot of explaining and Mommy did a lot of crying alone in the bathroom.

our kitty Baxter

The pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage opened up a lot of old anger and grief about the whole infertility issue, stuff I thought I was done with. And well, I realized something, grieving as a mother is both harder and easier than grieving without kids. There was something so wonderful about those moments when I was so sad that I could reach out and squeeze one of my girls. Or how Busybee would come over and put her sweet little hand on my cheek and say, "it's okay, Mommy, don't' be sad." But it was harder too because I knew I couldn't just be sad all the time, I had to swallow a lot of it and put on a happy face so I didn't distress my children. But in doing so, they kept me out of going down that rabbit hole, the one I fell down into with my first miscarriage where I spent the better part of six months in bed.

So there you go, my recent assessment on grieving with children. How about you? Have you ever had to explain something like that to a young child or did you just grieve in private and hope they didn’t notice? *and you know since I don’t show pictures of our actual kiddos, you’re stuck looking at shots of our cats*


I’m Robyn DeHart, AKA Basket-Case Mama, but not because I’m crazy (though really, what mom isn’t?) but because I have a slight obsession with baskets, well containers really. I’m a bit of an organization nut and I love to containerize stuff. And yes, I’m authorized to use words like that because I am also a writer. But back to the kids, so I’m mom to two ridiculously beautiful little girls and I can say that without bragging because I didn’t actually make them. Last year my husband, The Professor, and I adopted said little lovelies from the foster-care system here in Texas and now we’re a big happy forever family. Busybee is three and so full of joy it just oozes from her. Babybee is a walking-talking toddler who has a heck of a temper but is so cute, it almost keeps her out of trouble. Though neither of my girls are newborns, I’m fairly new to motherhood compared to the other peanut butter moms, but we’ve settled in as a family as if we’ve always been together. When I’m not trying to keep up with my two bundles of energy, you can usually find me on my laptop on Pinterest, no, that’s not right, um…you can find me writing, yes, that’s it, writing my latest historical romance. www.robyndehart.com