Sunday, January 30, 2011

Making Plans...

I am making plans. Something that felt impossible a few weeks ago and now it fills me with more excitement than dread.

First, the hubby and I are going on a nice vacation for my break in February. We were originally going to go some where after the boys were gone, upon the advice of a cousin who also experienced a loss, just to be together and heal. The timing was not ideal nor cheap (we would have gone some time around Christmas/New Years) so we abandoned that idea in order to plan for one of my school breaks. With all of this snow and more on the horizon I am very much looking forward to a quick trip to the Florida Keys.

Second, the national art education convention is taking place in Seattle March 17-20. Had everything gone as planned with my pregnancy there was no way I could go what so ever. My EDD was 3/27 and the chances of me making it that far was slim. Well since the boys arrived unexpectedly early and are not here for me to take care of I need to embrace this chance to go to Seattle. It is a treat to myself and will hopefully help me reignite my teaching spark.

I won't lie...the trip to Seattle is a mixed bag of emotions. Just like I shouldn't be back at school, I should not be able to go to this conference. If the universe didn't hand me this new reality I would be happily taking care of my sons. But that is not what happened. So off I go on a grand adventure to the conference. I currently do not know anyone going (hubby can't go due to work) but I am sure I will know at least a few people from my grad program there...the director of my program is a heavy hitter in the art ed world and my alma matter is always represented. I am terrified and excited all at the same time...but I think the distraction will be good for me.

This feels huge. Making plans. A certain amount of hope goes with making plans and that is something I was afraid I would never feel again. I still am uncomfortable with the concept of hope but I definitely feel less anxious about the word itself. Saying it is easier, and I am becoming ok with feeling it.

There is one more plan I want to consider, but know I am no where close to being ready. Planning to try to get pregnant again. We have said we will and we have 5 frozen embies waiting for us at the RE. I have yet to contact my doctor or nurse to let them know what happened. The milestone I set was as soon as I got my period again I would get in touch with the nurse to give her the update. It has been 8 weeks and no definite sign that my period is coming.

This gives me more time to prepare for contacting them, but I am starting to get impatient for my body to get back to normal. I know it can take awhile, not to mention the stress of the last (almost) two months and working in a building filled with estrogen (90% of the teachers/staff in my building are women). I am terrified of trying again but know that I am not getting any younger. At 36 I feel like I have very limited time. And if we use up the frozen embies I am not sure I want to try another fresh cycle. The fear of hope strikes again.

For now I will focus on what I know...I'll be in Florida in a few weeks and Seattle a few weeks after that. This is good and it feels like progress.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It was real...

I do not like days like today. Actually there are many different kinds of days I do not like but this one is lowest on my list.

Today was one of those days where every part of my boys' existence feels like it didn't really happen. The IVF process, my pregnancy, the baby shower, my water breaking, the birth and death of my sons...all of it seems like it never happened. If not for my pudgy belly, the memory necklace on my neck and the memory boxes sitting in the guest room I feel like it was a dream at best.

I know it happened and still feel the pain. Is this a form of denial? Whatever it is I can not just let myself accept this feeling. I can accept the pain, anger, sadness and just about every other emotion grief has thrown my way. I know this feeling will pass as it has before. It is just not one I can move through.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Art Journal - My Heart

"It may be hard to see on most days, but my heart is shattered into may pieces. Even on my best days the pieces fit closer together but there is always that space in between. On the very worst days pieces appear to be missing altogether. There will always be two small heart shape pieces missing...I willingly gave these two tiny to William and one to form their very tiny hearts. I would do it again in a heartbeat, because my heart continues to beat without them. I am not sure how, but it does. The cracks may expand, causing an ache that can not be described, but my heart does not fall apart. It is only held together with tender ties formed by the love of my family and friends.

For them I am grateful.

Without their love my heart would surely fall apart."

I have been experimenting with different watercolor techniques just to see what happens and how it matches various feelings that my grief presents me with. This time all I could see were cracks and I drew the heart where there was a heart shape. It just fit my mood so perfectly the day I created this page. It was a decent day yet there was a physical ache in my chest that I had never felt before. Actually in my chest is not where I feel it...the sensation feels more out of body, perhaps inches away from my chest and it pulls. It is the most surreal ache I have ever had. It frightened me at first so I called my Mom (she's a nurse) to see if it sounded like any sort of chest pain I should worry about. Dubious at first, she asked me all sorts of medical questions and our best conclusion is this is an emotional pain not an actual pain. A broken heart. Not surprising with all that I have been through. Of course the stern nurse warnings and motherly concern was accompanied by strict
orders to call my doctor should I feel actual pain or discomfort based on common heart attack symptoms for women (as men tend to feel heart attacks differently).

This ache comes and goes, but is most strong when I think of Ethan and William.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Art Journal - I know I am a Mother...

"I know I am a mother,

but what I really wanted to be is a Mommy."

This is a profile copied in watercolor from a photo taken of me at my baby shower...a mere 3 or 4 hours before my sweet babies were born. I miss them so much.

Oh...and those stopping by for ICLW...welcome and hello!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Days Like Today Need Warning Labels...

I sincerely thought today was going to be a good day...a 2 hr school delay meant I got to sleep in a little, I was looking forward to starting a new project with my first graders and 2nd graders...I couldn't have been more wrong.

To start, I woke up feeling far from rested, a kind parent shared she experienced a similar loss which made me a little teary, and after all of that I opened a cupboard in my classroom and found a stack of parenting books a fellow teacher gave me but had yet to take home. That was the kick in the gut the led to my downward spiral. I crumpled into tears. Thankfully I was alone in my room because it was not pretty.

Thank goodness for our amazingly kind school nurse who gave me a place to hide when she saw my look of desperation when I could not find the assistant to the principal. I knew I needed to leave but wasn't sure what to do. That combined with my frusteration of not being able to keep it together until I got home was just too much today.

I know there are bad days (usually following a really good day like yesterday) and I just have to feel them. I haven't had one at school so even though I have been prepared for so much, including days like today, I was not prepared for what it would actually feel like.

Now I am home, taking care of myself and letting the tears fall when they need to.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Aww Shucks!

I am so touched!  My New Normal gave me this blog award...what a wonderful surprise on my birthday!!!

After spending a wonderful weekend with my family for my birthday weekend  and logging on to the web it was such a nice surprise! My parents live 3 1/2 hours away from me and that is where I was when I went into labor. We also decided to bury the boys on my grandparent's (my mother's parents) plot in the cemetery in my home town and finally got a chance to visit...the first time since they were buried.

I am still so flattered to have been chosen for a blog award...I toyed with blogging in the past but not much came of it and I stopped.

So here's how this award works.

  1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
  4. Make sure you contact these bloggers to let them know about the award.
Seven Things About Me

1.   I am still incredibly close with friends I made in kindergarten. Two of them are my bestest friends in the whole wide world!!!
2.   I grew up in a very small town in upstate New York and had never been to New York City until the day I moved there with one of the friends mentioned above after undergrad.
3.   My junior year of college I studied abroad in Manchester, England and at the same time the friend mentioned in #1 & 2 was in London. We traveled all over Europe together and had a blast. (Yes...this means I visited more places in Europe before ever stepping foot in NYC.)
4.   I have never seen the movie Titanic. When the movie came out I disliked Leonardo DiCaprio and decided to not see I am just holding out as long as I can because I am a dork like that! I am sure I would like it but I am not going to watch it unless it is for some monumental anniversary.
5.   Like my Dad, I can pack really well. Part of that came from backpacking around Europe, but a good portion is inherited ability. For Dad was able to bring me a sewing table, a chair and several boxes of books plus his bag for a week-long visit in a Ford Focus hatchback. Me...I was able to bring home a book shelf, two end tables and other odds and ends on the inside of my Honda Civic (trunk closed and nothing tied to the roof). We are good like that.
6.   I love to do all things artistic/crafty. I was an art major in high school and college plus I love to sew, knit, make jewelry, and anything that involves creating. I will try anything once and more often than not will do it many more times.
7.   I am addicted to reading blogs...I have hundreds in my Google Reader...ones about crafting, design, infertility, teaching art, art journaling, and most recently infant/pregnancy loss.

15 Amazing Blogs I've Recently Discovered

I am an avid blog reader, and now a blogger. The blogs I read are varied, but I want to recognize those who have given me the most reassurance and comfort the past year and especially the last month and a half. Being part of the infertility and baby-loss community has helped me keep it together on the days I need to and find release on the days I must. My heart aches for all of us.
(I tried not to repeat blogs other have given the award to, but we are a tight community!)

1. Brooke at By the Brooke
2. WannabeMommy at Musings of a Wannabe Mommy
3. Lis at Built In Birth Control
5. Jem at Ambivalent Womb
6. Angie at Butterflies and Rainbows
7. A at Infertility Just Sucks
8. Riley at It Takes A Village...
9. Jeanna at Jeanna's Motherhood Journey
10. Mo at Life and Love in the Petri Dish
11. Tina at Living Without Sophia and Ellie
12. Ya Chun at She Almost Made It
13. Sue at So Dear and Yet So Far
14. Christie at ...With Tears of Love
15. BabyInterrupted at Baby Interrupted

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sweet Comments...

I keep forgetting to write this and I am going to say it in one post before I forget again (I forget alot of things lately)...

There have been so many wonderful, supportive, thoughtful comments posted here since I started my blog. I try to send a thank you if I can but Blogger does not have the most user friendly way to reply. If I haven't thanked you for your sweet comments, please know they are appreciated...perhaps more than I can express. The kind words that have come to me have made me smile.

I am so glad I decided to start this has helped me reach today. A day that has been a day of gratitude.

A million thank you's.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day

Today is a welcome break from school. I know I just started back last Thursday but it has been exhausting. Mostly emotionally, but the physical aspect of working with classes of children ages 5-7 is more demanding than you might imagine.

At least twice a day I am caught off guard by a student's reaction to my absence or the loss of my sons. Thank goodness I spoke with the social worker to have responses prepared but it is still a punch in the gut when a sweet kindergardener asks where my babies are or a 2nd grader says I am sorry your babies died. I was surprised that these moments, while heart-wrenching, do not cause the breakdown I thought would happen. Perhaps it is my need to nurture and protect my students. Of course if an adult says the same thing I loose it. I can't explain it really.

I feel like I have reached a strange place in my grieving process. I am not desperately seeking solace in books about grief or blogs, I am not as over-whelmed by my sadness, but I am not exactly sure what I am feeling either. It is kind of like feeling numb, but not in the same way I did right after my boys died. Sometimes it feels like denial because my life feels so surreal.

I am starting to feel "better" in general but I don't want to. I don't want to let go of my sadness... I want to feel more than this semi-numb, kind of ok feeling.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Art Journal - 2010

"I am not ready to say goodbye to you were a roller coaster year but within your days my babies existed. They were conceived, they grew, they lived and sadly died. Leaving 2010 means leaving my boys behind."

I wrote this on Monday. This has been a week of many changes, but essentially it still rings true. I know that I will always have Ethan and William in my matter the date, place or time...yet starting a new year feels like it increases the distance between us.

When life was normal, I used to love the new year and my birthday two and half weeks later. My birthday was my personal new year, giving me time between Jan. 1 and my birthday to come up with my resolutions. This year I am excited by neither. But really, all that was normal is gone.

I haven't really thought much about my birthday until now. My personal goal (hope? dream?) was to have a child by the time I was 35. That birthday passed last year. And when I got pregnant from our first attempt at IVF I know that the boys were due after I turned 36, not the original plan but I was happy to be pregnant. Unfortunately, I was naive and apparently not specific enough. So here I sit on the cusp of 36 making the sad realization that my wish came true...I became a mother at 35, just not to babies who are alive right now.

A very wise teenager I know posted this on"if you wanna hear God laugh tell him your plans." Ain't that the truth.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Not Where I am Supposed To Be...

Today was my first day back to school. It was both harder and easier than I expected.

The most difficult part of my day was the act of getting ready and walking to school. I had a completely meltdown in the shower and I stood for about five minutes with my hand on the door knob before I could step outside to walk to school. I am so glad I went in yesterday afternoon to just sit and my room before today. It made walking back in to the building slightly easier.

All I could think all day long is, "I am not supposed to be here."

It is not because my day went poorly or that I didn't feel tremendous love from the teachers I saw today (because they were fabulous...I work in an amazing place) but because this was not the plan. This week was to be the beginning of my maternity leave. I should have been at home with my feet up or putting together the nursery which was never set up. Instead I was fighting of panic attacks, tears and trying to keep a good show up for my students.

What made my day easier, for the most part was the students. Being the only art teacher in a K-2nd grade school is a bit like being a celebrity...all the kids love you and are excited to see you. This is especially true when you have been gone for a month. I am grateful that an email message went out to parents informing them of my situation and teachers were told to keep students updated about my return and that they should only ask questions about what is happening in art class (not about my babies or why I was out). This meant no awkward questions and few surprises.

My first class today is a very small group of 1st & 2nd grade students with special needs. There are nine students who are so much fun to work with. When they came in to my room their faces lit up and one of the boys who tends not to express himself well immediately came over to me and asked "May I please give you a hug? I missed you." My heart melted and I said "Of course!" This little guy gave me the best hug...which of course every single one of them wanted a hug also and I couldn't resist. It was awesome to start my day that way.

Overall, with the frequent check-ins done by the teacher across the hall and the school nurse (both of whom are so kind and caring) and the joy on my students faces when they saw me helped balance out the sadness and anxiety of going back.

It still sucks and I hate that this is not where I am supposed to be. But I survived and will try again tomorrow. One day at a time, one step at a time back into what used to be normal.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dear Ethan

Dear Ethan,

You came into this world in a hurry one month ago, but like your brother, you became a part of me so much sooner. The time since I discovered that you were one of a pair seems to have passed in a blink of an eye, but I will hold you in my heart for an eternity.

It was such a surprise learning that I was pregnant with twins. I had secretly hoped maybe and Daddy was sure it was twins, telling everyone who as in the know about our IVF cycle once we found out I was pregnant. Of course it wasn’t confirmed for two more weeks, but he was sure.  And I am so glad he was right!

Since you and your brother were discovered that opened the door to more ultrasounds for monthly check ins. I loved going every month to see you. You were always moving, slightly stubborn and always in my heart. I thought I would burst with love every chance I had to hear your heartbeat and see you via ultrasound.

Unlike your brother, I was sure you were a boy. I am not sure why, but I am glad I was correct. And I know Daddy was excited. He was terrified of having even one little girl so he was over the moon when he opened the gift bags I bought after the 20 week scan and they both contained blue hats.

You were definitely your own self and made your presence very known once you were big enough for me to feel you move. I could feel you pressing and pushing high and to the right side of my belly. Since you were easier to feel, I enjoyed giving a push or a poke to encourage your twists, turns and kicks. My apologies if it bothered you, but how could I resist? It was so miraculous feeling you bump around inside of me. First thing in the morning after I woke up, I would lay there for a few extra minutes just to feel you.

As you got bigger you became the “alien bump.” I did not necessarily feel many kicks but I definitely could feel and see you push out against the top of my belly. I have no idea if it was your bum or your feet or some other part of you making that bizarre bulge, but I loved it! To be honest I loved it when you would slide down into my ribs on the right side, no matter how uncomfortable it was. Just as your brother did, you would squirm and wiggle when Daddy spoke to my belly. Oh how you loved to move. I have a feeling you would have been the one we would have to chase all over the place had you been able to live that long.

It breaks my heart that you had to come into this world too soon, but you were a fighter. You showed us your strength with all of your moving early on and again with how you struggled to stay with us even if it was for only a day.

You were as active the day you were born as you ever were. Of course I tried to let people feel you at the baby shower, but the stubborn streak popped up and you were still whenever anyone touched my belly. We were all so excited to celebrate you and your brother. So many friends and family ready to love you on December 4th.

After the shower, when my water broke I was terrified. You and your brother were in separate sacks but I am sure you knew something was going on. I am so very sorry that you were not able to stay safe, warm and comfortable in side of me. More than anything, that is where I wish you still could be.  But you are a mover and after your brother was born you would not be left behind.  The doctor insisted we try to keep you in as long as we could so the second NICU team could get there and set up, but you really wanted none of that. If your brother was out, you were coming out too. Without me even trying to push (and trying very hard not to) out you came and the doctor barely caught you. You entered this world feet first, probably ready to hit the ground running. You were a bit bigger and stronger than your brother even though you arrived at 23 weeks 6 days which is far too early. Your heart stayed true and with breathing assistance you stayed with us. You became our hope.

It felt like an eternity before I was able to see you. They second NICU team had set up in the room next to mine and much needed to be done to stabilize you and get you ready for transport to the higher level of care NICU a few hours away. Please know I would have done anything to see you right away and that time was not wasted since I got time to say good bye to your brother and the NICU team helped you so much.

When I finally did get to see you I was amazed by the strength in that tiny little body. I was allowed to touch you ever so gently and melted when I touched your palm with my finger and your fingers curled around mine.  I remember telling you I loved you but so much needed to be done still to care for you. I let the team take over again but knew I would see you one more time before you would head out to the other hospital. As promised, they wheeled you in for me to see you one more time before left in a giant incubator. Daddy snapped a picture and you can barely be seen inside that huge contraption.

It was heartbreaking knowing that we could not be with you in the ambulance but we knew you were in good hands. The night took forever to pass by and I think I may have slept, but before I could Daddy and I needed to give you a name. We kept going over and over our short list of names and few seemed right (I still fought hard for Elliot or Oliver, but Daddy wouldn’t agree). Ethan was one of the ones we both agreed on and we said it over and over. I can’t remember if it was me or Daddy that said “I think Ethan is the one” but once it was said we knew it was right. Your middle name was easy…Thomas is your Daddy’s middle name and your Grandpa F’s first name (you would have called him the Chinese word for paternal grandfather but I am not sure what that is).

The most important thing I can remember from that night was sadness for the death of your brother, but such hope that you would make it. And you did, if only for a day.

We got to the other NICU hospital as soon as we could with Papa and Grammie. Aunties Kaylia and Kim could not be put off and made the trip up to the hospital as well…despite the horrible snow. Daddy and I spent a great deal of time by your side. Later in the day Daddy brought Grammie in and then I brought Papa in. Grammie took some great pictures of you. I treasure them for they are when hope was still alive and so were you. We also brought your Aunties in to see you. Aunt Jolyn is very sad to not have been able to see you, bought we thought she would see you the next day.

Please forgive us for leaving you that night. You were doing so well and we were overly confident that we would see you in the morning. If I could change any moment of that day I would have stayed. It breaks my heart to know we were not there when you died. I am so glad that the wonderful nurses took care of you and held you and blessed you when I could not. We went back as fast as we could to get the chance to finally hold you, even though you were already gone.

Ethan, you are so loved and terribly missed. When you died, all hope that I held on to died as well. It is impossible for me to use the word and not think of you. It is a big burden to put on you, all of our hope. But you were strong and a fighter and I am sure you understand why we had such hope.

You are my second little sweet pea, my sweet little son, my second born who also made me a mother. But second doesn’t mean second best by any means. I hold you close to my heart with a small token, your initial that I can hold and kiss. I would give anything to have you to hold and kiss instead.

I love you with all of my heart and think of you every day.

Love, Mommy

Dear William

Dear William,

One month ago was the day of your birth and death, but you were a part of me for so much longer.

In July 2010 you were but a little blob of cells that were transferred back into my womb with a second little blob of cells that would grow along side of you. I can’t begin to tell you how much you were wanted or describe the joy that your Daddy and I felt when we got the call telling us that I was pregnant. From that moment on I loved you. I did not know at the time of course that there were two of you to love. That happened two weeks later and we loved you all the more. With each peek inside of me the excitement and love grew.

You were always the quiet and stubborn little guy; hiding behind your brother or low and to the back or sometimes turned in just the right way so we could see very little of you during the ultrasounds.  Please forgive us for all the poking and prodding that was done to get you to show yourself…but the delight at seeing you was worth annoying you just a little bit.

I also want to apologize for calling you a girl for the first few months…I was so sure until the 20 week scan that proved my sooo very wrong! There was no doubt that you were our little boy. Daddy was worried (ok…terrified) about parenting a daughter so you can imagine how excited he was to find out you were one of his two little boys.

We knew you were moving around and kicking, but didn’t feel you as much as your over-active brother. You really loved snuggling down near my back which made it hard to feel your movements…but oh boy did I know when you played soccer with my bladder or used it as a pillow. I hope that you felt my rubbing my belly down on the left side. They were the only way I could express how much I cared for you at the time.

Do you remember the times that Daddy would talk to you right up against my belly? It would make me giggle every time because you would wiggle and squirm when he did that.  Daddy never got to feel you kick, but I let him know when you did.

I hesitate moving on to the day we actually got to see you, the day you were born. It is such a mix of emotions because we had to say goodbye as fast as we said hello. It was the day that changed everything.

That was the day that many friends and family members came together we celebrate you and your brother. On December 4th Aunt Jolyn and Grammie hosted a nice baby shower and we received so many wonderful gifts. Everyone loved seeing how big you and your brother made my belly. I am sure you could hear the buzz of the excitement…it was all for you!

I have no idea what you were experiencing inside of me that day…I hope it wasn’t too uncomfortable. I had no idea what was coming that night. Since you were Baby A, the one closest to the exit, I am sure you were as surprised as I was when my water broke and your warm comfy environment changed. I am sure my terror caused you stress too. After all 23 weeks and 6 days is far too early to make your entrance in to this big scary world.

But arrive you did.

I remember clearly the last beats of your heart wooshing from the heart monitor before I was told to push. It was so rhythmic and soothing.  And then you were born, my first born son. The child that made me a mother.
I don’t know exactly when your heart stopped beating, but I do know that the NICU team did their very best to keep it going. When they told us 15 minutes of trying didn’t seem to be helping, Daddy insisted they try another 15 minutes. In my heart I knew you were gone, but we couldn’t stop trying just in case.

William, I am so sorry I couldn’t protect you and keep you safe. Never could I have imagined you not with us. Holding your little body and seeing you for the first time was so sad and wonderful. My love for you grew infinitely bigger and my heart broke knowing this is where our time together ended.

Please forgive me for not being able to give you more attention and time after you were born. We did the best we could under the circumstances. This was not how we planned for your birth…we wanted a celebration but that dream evaporated.

I do hope that you like your name. Daddy and I had not yet picked names when you were born, but we had a short list. If I had my way you might have been named Oscar or Elliot. I had actually turned down the name William, but when Daddy came back in to the room (I am not sure from where…maybe he was seeing your brother) and said “William” I knew it was the right name. Patrick seemed like a good fit for a middle name and it did come from our short list. In the middle of night while thinking of you I realized that your names were the first names of actors who played Captains on “Star Trek.” Yeah…we are geeks like that.

Where ever you are, please know that you are loved by many. Your brother is with you…look after each other. Grammie and Papa, your aunts and uncles and cousins love you and miss you too. 

You are always in my heart my little sweat pea. I carry your initial close to my heart, dear William, so that I have something to hold and kiss. It is not the same, but other than memories it is all I have.

I love you with all of my heart and think of you every day.

Love, Mommy

Monday, January 3, 2011

Taking Steps Back to Reality...

This week I am going back to work. I used to just call it school, like I was the student, not the teacher, because my job is fun. I am an art teacher...I get to share my passion. Unfortunately, after all that has happened, passion is not on the list of emotions I feel right now. Therefore, going back to school feels like going to work. And it is going to take some work to get me there on Thursday, emotional work.

My pregnancy and the fact that I was having twins was very public information. I teach art at a public elementary school (grades K-2) which means I see every student, all 500+ of them. My principal announced it to the staff at a staff meeting and then to the parent community at Back-to-School night. I also live in the community where I teach, on the same street. I had so much excitement surrounding my pregnancy and my twin sons. It was great having that much attention. Now that my sons are gone, not so much. I actually have a great deal of anxiety about going back.

Originally the plan was for me to go back today. But a week or two ago I realized that the one month mark since William & Ethan's births and deaths falls smack in the middle of this week. This is going to be a tough week just going back and not starting my maternity leave like I am supposed to, compound that with that huge milestone, I am going to be a disaster. That is not how I want to restart my school year. So instead I am going back Thursday to ease my self in with a short week. I also have an appointment today with a district social worker to discuss how to answer questions that are sure to pop up from my students and their parents.

Questions are going to happen and I have a hard enough keeping my composure with adults I speak with...I HAVE to have some measure of control over my emotions when talking to my students. And how do I even begin to explain that my babies are 5-8 year olds? What is appropriate since these are someone else's child(ren)? This is why I am talking to the social worker today. I can't even consider going back with out a plan of action or at least some canned responses I can practice.

I don't think I am actually ready to teach again but staying home alone is not great for me emotionally either. I kind of wish I had a desk job again, where I could hide and just do my job and leave. Teaching is a human contact occupation and there is no easing back in to it. No half days, no breaks when I need them.

I do love my job which makes this dread/anxiety so hard to deal with...I do miss my students, I miss teaching art...but I feel shattered, different. I am completely unsure of myself and how I will react to situations and I am scared of what that means for my students. Will I be able to give them the best possible experience if I am not whole?

When I began my teaching a few years ago (I was an office manager/bookkeeper prior to teaching) I was given the advice "fake it until you make it." I knew art, I had all sorts of pedagogical theory but very little real-world experience. And children, no matter how small, can sense when you have no confidence in what you are doing. So you fake it until you have the confidence. Most of the time it works...but this time I am not so sure.

I can't put going back off for ever. I need to start adapting to my new reality. Thankfully I have resources to help get me back. The support of the baby-loss community, professionals available through work and of course my friends and family are invaluable. I know I will survive, but I will be emotional and certainly not unchanged. Hopefully not to the detriment of those around me.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year...

I realized today that my 2010 ended as it began...with me not pregnant and wishing I was.

Last December/January I was still reeling from finding out a close friend was expecting again and was afraid to tell me (due to the fact that hubby and I had been trying for a year with no success). I still remember the sting of finding out so many friends, family and acquaintances were pregnant and no matter how hard we tried we were not.

This December/January I am feeling a whole new level of pain. I can't even find the words to describe the ache I feel knowing that my boys are gone. Empty, aching, raw, broken...this is some of what I feel but there is so much more. The sting I felt in the past is nothing compared  to this. Yes it hurt, but the way you might compare a fender bender to a 200 car pile-up.

There are so many "years in review" out there on tv, in blog land and in newspapers. I feel I should reflect and acknowledge all that happened this year both good, bad and down right miserable. Perhaps reflecting on something other than just the death of my sons will give me something more to hold on to.

January...coping with December announcement one BFF is pregnant (the one that has endo, is still breastfeeding her 1st child and in college said she never wanted kids) but still holding on to hope that hubby and I might be able to get pregnant on our own, but glad that my OB-GYN said if by the end of January we still hadn't conceived she would refer me to a RE. I turned 35 and had a great b-day weekend with my best friends (organized by hubby...what a guy!). I have art work exhibited in a local gallery...woo hoo!
February...swamped with a huge clay project at school, but loving it! Still getting a BFN, but no time to dwell.
March...already planning for the friends' trip to the beach in July (yeah), arranging doctors appt and fertility testing. Big project at school complete...success! Hubby gets a much anticipated job offer...yeah!
April...find out my bestest BFF is pregnant and is shattered. Is even more heart-broken when I learn that my bestest BFF has had a miscarriage. Ugh! Find out that my fertility testing shows no apparent problems but hubby has borderline motility issues. Double Ugh! Time to see the RE and find out what our next step is.
May...have our first appt with RE after a ton of bloodwork we discover I am borderline PCOS and combined with hubby's below average motility and my "advanced maternal age" IVF is recommended. Work on figuring out what to do and decide to go ahead with IVF. The hurry up and wait continues to see we can get the timing right before the embryology lab closes for a week at the beginning of July. Hope lives on!!! Prepping for art show...very busy again!
June...IVF #1 is underway! School year wraps up and summer is underway!
July...IVF #1 goes well, egg retrieval yields many eggs and ultimately 2 blasts are transferred back and 5 embies are frozen. Transfer happens right before beach week with friends so anxious the whole vacation but still manage to have a great time. Baby Cam (bff's baby I found out about in 12/09) is here! Have first beta the day after we get back...and it is a BFP!!! Have first u/s all looks good, have 2nd u/s and it is twins!!! is uber hot and I have lots of nausea but so very glad I do! Manage to get to the town pool a couple of times but spend a great deal of time in my house, with A/C and sleeping! I try to get prepared for the new school year.
September...back to school and itching to share the big news but hold off until we hit the 14 week mark. When I do share it spreads like wildfire through principal is over the moon excited and even announces it to parents at Back-to-School night. Nausea fades and I begin to feel somewhat human again. Having a student teacher is a huge help! So glad I decided to take one on.
October...feeling good and finally starting to get a proper baby bump. Dress up as a jack o'lantern for halloween. It is pumpkin blaze time seeing the thousands of the carved pumpkins all lit up!
November...Find out we are having two boys!!! Hubby is thrilled...I am a little sad since I was hoping for a boy and a girl but quickly get very excited about our little guys. Sister and I start planning my shower for December 4th. Still feeling good, but getting tired. Looking forward to starting maternity leave at the end of December. I cook my first turkey and we host the inlaws for Thanksgiving.
December...***I catch a cold, my first since getting pregnant (which is nothing short of a miracle when you teach art to 500+ K-2nd graders). Dec. 4th I travel to my hometown and have my baby shower. It is wonderful being surrounded by friends and family. After we got back to my parents that night my water breaks and my universe is turned upside down. We rush to the hospital and I give birth to my twin sons, William Patrick and Ethan Thomas. William does not start breathing even with intervention and the NICU team is unable toget his heart beating again. He leaves us a half hour after he arrives. Ethan is born forty minutes after his brother and is much stronger. He is taken to another hospital with a higher level NICU, where he spends the next day hanging on until night falls and his heart fails. The rest of the month is a blur of heart ache and tears with some good days.

So that is my year in a nutshell...a bit like a classic bell curve, starting off low, creeping upwards and then crashing down at the end. Or maybe it is like a roller coaster with steep ups and downs, a few twists and loops with a quick stop at the end. All I would really like for 2011 is a year that is a bit more steady and balanced.

Wishing everyone a year of peace, love and goodness.

 *** Edited to add missing text which disappeared somewhere between typing it and posting.