Dear Joanna (4.27.15)

Dear Joanna,

I am flying to California as I write this. Actually, I’m probably already over California right now.

The last time I came here I had you! You were a tiny little bean, just six weeks along. During the trip all I wanted to eat was guacamole. Plus, I started to get morning sickness, but only in the evenings.

Maybe the best part of my trip was that by the end of it, I was the “most pregnant” I had ever been. Coming home from California and being almost seven weeks was a relief. It was a milestone for us, since before you, we lost a baby right around the six-week mark. You were still with us. You were still growing.

Sometimes I wonder, when there is another baby…will we feel relief when we make it to 26 weeks? 25 weeks and 5 days was when we found out you had gone to heaven already. I think there won’t be any relief until your brother or sister is in our arms, crying, full of life!

If you had not left us, I would not be going to California today. But somehow this trip feels like the start of a new journey. One that will be scary but one that your dad and I are willing to make.  I’m glad you’ll be with us every step, in our hearts and minds.

Love you, baby girl!

Mom

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TTC, BBT, PCOS?!

A year ago today I was pregnant. 6 days earlier I had gotten the first positive pregnancy test of my life. It was the most exciting and wonderful time. 

We had been trying to conceive (TTC) for almost 18 months and couldn’t believe we were finally going to be parents. We had told my parents the day after we found out, because as luck would have it they were with us that same weekend. 

Because it was taking so long to conceive and because I was taking my basal body temperature (BBT) and knew I wasn’t ovulating most months, it was really quite a shock!

That week was sweet and scary. Knowing there was a baby was exciting. But I was also feeling like something was not right. Like I was cramping. Like this baby was not to be born. 

Upon first check of my beta levels, I was definitely pregnant. The second check didn’t look promising and then the bleeding started. 

A year ago tomorrow. No longer pregnant.

That first loss was so hard to handle. Thankfully some of our best friends came to town that weekend and were with us as our hearts were breaking. 

This loss pushed us to see a reproductive endocrinologist (ER) – the fertility doctor. He actually said that everything looked really healthy but did diagnose me with PCOS. This confirmed my suspicions since I already knew I wasn’t ovulating regularly. 

The ER gave us options. Try on our own for a few more months but add metformin to help sustain a pregnancy, use mild fertility drugs to induce ovulation or use mild fertility drugs plus IUI. Because my health insurance didn’t cover any treatment, we opted to add metformin and wait it out a few more months. 

Somehow we conceived Joanna naturally. I wasn’t even a week into starting the metformin. A miracle at just around the two year mark of TTC. 

And now, here we are again. Hoping for miracles as we think about our next TTC journey. Will it take another 18 months to give Joanna a sibling?

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week…so on this first anniversary of my first loss, I just wanted to share a little more of our story. 

Dear Joanna (4.21.15)

Dear Joanna,

I wanted to pop in and say that I miss you.

I was driving to work from the dentist today and burst into tears. I know…it’s still happening. And I’m not ashamed. My tears for you will always come, and they will always feel right, even though not having you feels so wrong.

Why did I cry, you ask? Because as I was listening to the radio, a song came on called What Hurts the Most. I am sure you heard it before, from inside my belly. It’s about a break up, a great heart ache. About a man who so wishes he had said what he was feeling and acted upon his love for his girlfriend. But he didn’t and she left. He lost her forever. Though you didn’t leave by choice and though I never neglected to tell you how much I love you, I can relate.

I can take a few tears now and then and just let ’em out.
I’m not afraid to cry every once in a while
even though going on with you gone still upsets me.
There are days every now and again I pretend I’m ok,
but that’s not what gets me.
What hurts the most was being so close,
and having so much to say…
And never knowing what could have been.

I also cried because the last time I was at the dentist there was so much joy! I was finally telling everyone that I was expecting you. I scheduled my 6-month cleaning and was already celebrating that you would be here, that I would have a little baby to bring along with me to the dentist, all cute and adorable in your little car seat.

But it was not to be, Joanna.

My arms felt so empty on Saturday morning that I held Elephant close and swayed in the sunlight for a while. I wish you were here, cuddling Elephant, and that I could cuddle you in the sunlight. Sweet girl, you’re one of my greatest loves, and losing you is my greatest hurt – what hurts the most.

Hugs and kisses, beautiful!

xoxo,

Mom

Canceled Appointments and Dashed Hopes

On Monday I was supposed to have an appointment with my high-risk specialist. This is a doctor that was recommended to me by my OB and is supposed to monitor patients who are high-risk (a stillbirth automatically makes you high risk for any subsequent pregnancy) and hopefully make sure these pregnancies have positive outcomes.

My appointment was canceled. The office called me the day of the appointment and told me that the doctor was unable to see me and asked if we could reschedule.

Of course we can reschedule. Bill and I know that eventually we do want to have another baby. Joanna needs a baby brother or baby sister. At least one.

However, having my appointment canceled made me feel like I was not supposed to be having another baby. I’ve been waiting for this appointment for more than a month and it’s very hard to get in with this doctor. When they said it was canceled I thought they were going to also tell me that I couldn’t get in for at least another month.

That meant postponing making a plan for a healthy pregnancy. Not having a plan for healthy pregnancy makes me already anxious that the next one won’t go well. This canceled appointment turned my day upside down and immediately made me fear for the future.

Of course I was overreacting. Within the next five minutes we had found a time that works for both of us to reschedule the new appointment that was within a week of the original appointment. One week. No big deal.

I so badly want to hope that we will have at least one child living here on earth with us in the future. It’s crazy how quickly that hope can be pulled away. Pulled right out from underneath you.

But praise God for his grace that sweeps in and saves the day. He comes in to remind us that He is good, always. His grace wraps us in an embrace and says, “It’s going to be okay.” It says, “I got you a new appointment in only six days.” It reminds us that God’s timing is perfect.

Grace says no matter what your circumstances, no matter what you’ve been through, no matter what is in your future, God’s got you.

Be reminded today: God is [still] gracious. Always.

Pretty in Pink [A Celebration of Life]

These past few days I have had a lot of trouble thinking about what to say, which is why I haven’t posted in a while. So here goes nothing…

Easter weekend was pretty hard for me. I was surrounded by so many of the people I love. It was a beautiful weekend of joy and celebration. But at the same time, it was devastating. Thinking that I probably shouldn’t even have been up in PA, considering that Joanna could have been born early. Or, better yet, that she was growing and healthy and happy right up until 40 weeks: Tuesday. Which would have meant I couldn’t have traveled so far away for Easter. Those are the things I think of when I’m alone, when I’m in bed trying to fall asleep, when I’m driving in my car… If only things were different.

Speaking of 40 weeks, Tuesday on my due date we had a celebration of Joanna’s life. We decided to plant a winterberry bush in our backyard. It will get bright red berries in December (her birthday) and will have bright green leaves most of the rest of the year (that come out in Spring, around her due date). Prior to the evening of our celebration, we invited friends and family from afar to write “Dear Joanna” letters on tags that I designed and printed on light pink card stock. Then, local friends (and my mom and Aunt Barb) came over for a potluck dinner Tuesday. April 7. We hung all the mailed-in tags and the friends who could attend the celebration filled out tags and hung them as well.

We had wanted to plant the winterberry and hang the tags outside, but the weather was not cooperating. I was pretty upset at first. Something came out of my mouth in the car on my way home from work that sounded like, “God, You get to have Joanna, can’t I at least have nice weather for our memorial?” And it came out in a loud, angry yell. It was certainly a low moment for me, though anger is a common emotion for me to feel when I think about losing Joanna. Regardless, I felt better after saying what I was truly feeling, and a bit of peace washed over me, like God was answering me, “You carry Joanna in your heart, you celebrate her life every day, the weather can’t change that, or how much you love her.” And so I went home, put the tree in the house like a Christmas tree and we celebrated. It was beautiful. The pink really popped, plus we had pink tulips and pink balloons.

Love Mom

I feel so blessed to have so many family members and friends who joined us in celebrating, near and far. I am so grateful for their thoughts and prayers and support during the past three months. There is no doubt in my mind how loved Joanna was and still is – and no doubt that Bill and I are loved, as well.

Proud Parents

A final thought…I feel like making it to my due date and surviving this time is a huge relief to me. Every week I thought about how far along I would be in my pregnancy and what that would mean for us. And now, I am not counting down to the day when my baby would NOT be born. It has passed. I am here. Breathing. Sure, I will think of all those milestones we are missing as the rest of the Spring babies are born. I will be happy and sad all at the same time to see new pictures of those babies on Facebook and even meet some of them once their parents bring them home and are settled. But now, we’ve made it. Now, we look back with love and sorrow all at once. But now we also look forward – and try to hold on to hope that someday there will be a baby brother or sister for Joanna. We look in our hearts and we find her there.

Dear Joanna (4.3.15)

Dear Joanna,

I want to tell you something. Just know it is not your fault. It’s not mine either. Though it’s always hard to believe that. 

I am feeling left behind. 

Sometimes I feel bad feeling that way. I know I have friends who wish they were married and feel left behind. And I have friends who wish they could buy a house and feel left behind. Of course I have friends who don’t have children yet and probably feel left behind as well.

Still, I feel left behind because I don’t have you. All of your dad’s siblings have children. My brother has a son. Many of my friends who married after me, or are not married at all, are having children. Or even just friends who are younger than me. I thought it was my turn – our turn. Your dad and me.

We thought we were going to join the new parent club when you were born. While we did join a parent club, it’s not quite the same. Being part of the bereaved parent club…it’s one no one wants to join.

We thought you would be our Rainbow Baby, the baby who is born after a loss. But now, you’re another Glory Baby. Another precious life not living here with us, but in Heaven. 

But speaking of rainbows, your dad and I saw a rainbow today on our way home to Pennsylvania. We saw a few rainbows the summer we found out we were pregnant with you! This was the first I’ve seen since you left us and I want to believe it was sent our way to remind us you’re with Jesus on this weekend where we celebrate Him and His resurrection and our salvation.

Maybe, it’s even a sign to remind me, on the weekend before your due date, that there is hope of another baby – a sibling for you. Our Rainbow Baby. 

This weekend will soon be over. Your due date will soon pass. But I will still feel left behind… Behind you, already in Heaven. Someday, we will meet again. 

I love you, sweet girl!

Love,

Mom