the monday snapshot – Glenna Marie

Glenna Marie of 20 something going on 40 is going to open up the week for us with her contribution to the The Monday Snapshot – an evolution of the MMM feature, meant to bring the PAIL blogroll to life by giving its members a chance to feature themselves and make new connections. 

If you would like to be featured on The Monday Snapshot, please sign-up here!

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Hey y’all! I’m Glenna and I write at 20 Something Going On 40. The last couple years have been very hard on my heart and especially recently after losing my twins. But I am happy to say that currently in my life my husband and I are preparing to try again for a baby. We will be doing IVF for the second time and I’m very excited! Praying for exciting times ahead!

GlennaMarie

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Now, get to know a little more about Glenna with her answers to the Monday Snapshot “5 Questions”:

1) How long have you been blogging and how did you get started?

I have been blogging for a little over a year after I lost my daughter. It has just become a release for me. It lets me get what I have in my head out in front of me for me to face head on.

2) Tell us a little about your ALI journey and your family (3-4 sentences):

I have 3 babies that are all passed. 1 girl and 2 boys. I have 2 loving dogs and an amazing husband. This journey is a nightmare but it’s mine.

3) What makes you unique in the blogging world? (e.g. special talent, rare diagnosis, life experience)?

I believe the thing that makes me unique is suffering these losses at such a young age. And not only suffering loss but suffering through infertility as well. I feel that these experiences have made me feel a lot older than I am. Also I think my journey even before pregnancy. I.e. going through cervical cancer at 19, endometriosis, PCOS, and PID. These are all things I have dealt with and it hasn’t been an easy road.

4) One word to describe yourself: 

Adaptive

5) What blog or website (IF or not) would you recommend to others? Why?

A blog or website I often turn to would be ʺA Bed For My Heartʺ I found her on face book. The reason why I like it so much is because If I can’t figure out how to explain how I’m feeling or I’m feeling really alone I can turn there and realize that I’m not and that I am just another normal grieving mother.

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As always, we want to see your Monday Snapshot as well, so please comment below with a link to your post– and of course, go visit Glenna Marie of 20 something going on 40.

If you would like to be featured on The Monday Snapshot, please sign-up here!

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guest post: “New Chapters”

Julia‘s post “New Chapters” was originally posted on her personal blog, 3 Bed, 2 Bath, 1 Baby. It is being re-posted in its entirety here today with her permission. She had originally submitted an article to us regarding “The 5 Stages of Infertility Grief,” and we asked her to do the write up on it. Enjoy!

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I’ve been absent from the blog for a while.  And though I thoroughly enjoy the Toddler Town Updates (fear not, another is coming) I have something more serious to talk about today.  The state of the Uterus Address is back.

We’ve been trying since the new year for our second child.  We’ve kept it fairly quiet, as the pressure from family and friends of “Are you pregnant yet” took a VERY big toll on me emotionally and physically when we were trying for Ethan.  So, we’ve quietly been plugging along, hoping to have a second child.  My heart has been aching every 40 days as we learned yet again I wasn’t expecting, and I’d have to go through yet ANOTHER round of hoping and disappointment. It seemed like everyone in my moms group was expecting again, and I just felt… so left behind.

We put a limit of trying for one year for baby #2.  Neither of us wanted to go down the road of cascading infertility interventions, and NOBODY wants to see me on Clomid again.  My poor husband lived with an overheated girl in the middle of winter.  Snow was on the ground, and I had to keep the windows open.  But we both felt like we “should” try for another.

We kept it secret, except for a very small group of friends and family… because I didn’t want to pressure of “you’re drinking water… IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO TELL US?”  “Well you’ve had one, so the second will be easy!”  “You’re SO YOUNG.”  (Can we all have a collective sigh here?  *SIGH.*)  A co-worker even said “Well, you can just adopt! And plus you’ve had one, so the second will be easier!!”  I wanted to cry.  But instead, I smiled and said something like “Yeah, that’s not how it works. But thanks.”  She went off to teach her class, and I sat and cried.

When I originally read this article, we were in the midst of trying.  I related with so many of the stages of grief listed in relation to IF that it hurt.  Since then, the course of our lives has changed.

DENIAL: 6 cycles passed with us trying. Obviously, HPT #50 is wrong, I must pee on another “non-faulty” stick!!!!  I’m sure that’s just spotting from implantation, right?  Those crampy feelings must be that too.  And the sick feelings? Definitely NOT from overeating sushi.  Nope.

ANGER: The highs and lows of hopes going up and being dashed again and again started to take their toll.  As a sexual assault survivor, trying for a baby is triggering, and the idea of intervention again was also triggering… and then one day, we both just sat down, and the topic of baby #2 came up.  We waffled between trying and not trying for so long, I’m sure my friends in my mom group were sick of the “yes we are-no we aren’t” game… so I loathed to change again… but something happened.
We both sat down and said simultaneously  “I don’t think we should have another.”  We went through all the reasons why Ethan was enough to complete our family.

And this time it was so… easy to make the choice.

BARGAINING:  When we decided to try for baby #2, we went through many reasons in our mind as to why it was a fantastic idea.  “Ethan will have a brother!  We LOVE kids!  Won’t it be cool when it’s Christmas and we hear two sets of pattering feet?  Permanent playmates are awesome!  Only children are spoiled and lonelyyyyyyyy!*”   (*I was silly to buy into this one, I’m an only and neither lonely nor spoiled.)

But this time it was so… easy to make the choice.

DEPRESSION: Perhaps the guilt of it being so hard to have Ethan got me thinking that I HAD to try for another.  All that work, and stopping only at one?  You are supposed to have a brood to make up for all the medication, the trials, the ultrasounds, the surgery, the miscarriages… YOU MUST YOU MUST. YOU SHOULD YOU SHOULD.

But, it was so… easy.

ACCEPTANCE: For the past two years, I had been interested in being a Doula.  The “maybe” of #2 was keeping this dream on the back-burner.  Things just kept popping up, as if the Universe was saying “Julia, you CAN stop.  It’s okay.”

– Moms in my moms group started talking about wanting me as their Doula… I could get my practicum birth requirements completed.
-A Doula friend of mine had potential room to include me in her Doula business, giving me immediate access to clients, a friend in the business, a mentor, a partner…
-My birthday money would be almost to the penny what I’d need to get the required workshops paid for.
-A mom friend wanted to give me her library of birthing books.

It went on and on.

Nothing my husband and I have ever done has been the battle that baby #2 was. Nothing that has ever worked out for us  was this struggle and back and forth we endured.  We strongly both feel that the Universe gives us the path, and sometimes we just have to surrender to it instead of battling it. Though I spent a while mourning the loss of the baby that would never be, it was different.  More of an acknowledgement of my feelings, and excitement about the next phase in my life.

And it was so… easy.

I can’t tell you enough about the peace I now feel.  Knowing that at least for the next few years, but possibly forever, the pressure of tracking every cycle, scrutinizing every feeling I had, is over.  I look at Ethan in a new way.  In a “this is the only time I will have a child this age.”  I don’t believe in the Carpe Diem motto of parenting (because I don’t want to carpe today’s diem of him grabbing his diaper, pulling it above his head and smearing poop on his face… can you blame me?) However, I have a new focus on him.  I’m no longer planning for the baby that might not be, I’ve refocused on the one I have. Our family is complete, and I finally realized it.

It is a page I’ve turned.

And it was the best thing I’ve ever done.

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Where are you at in the 5 stages mentioned above?

Have you found yourself moving back and forth through the stages during different times in your ALI journey?

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Julia, formerly a molder of young minds, has briefly stepped away from that task to manufacture a child of her own. Along with the standard baby accessories such as hands and lips, she is planning on installing chrome side-pipes, rollbars, and a bitchin’ spoiler. She is fending off accusations that Jesse James is the true father.

featured post: “Worst Expectations: Motherhood Lost”

We hope you all enjoyed our tribute to Mothers of all types last week. (If you missed it you can go here for a link round-up of all our great guest posts.) My Mother’s day was great, I got lunch out, cards, a nice present and my husband told me we could do anything I wanted for the day, <insert evil laugh>. Poor husband needs to not give me such open ended options. My day was great, yet it was also bittersweet.

Having miscarried and also having known the loss of a failed adoption I feel Mother’s Day will always hold a tinge of wistfulness, a memory of sadness. And even had I not had those two experiences, I still remember the Mother’s Days when we were trying to get pregnant. I was bitter and angry at this holiday, I felt like a Mom already, I wanted to be a Mom, yet Hallmark and society told me this day, this day was not for me.

Serene Jones reflects on her Mother’s Day experience of losing a pregnancy four days before this holiday:

Fifteen years ago, however, my tears were bitter. In fact, I woke up on Mother’s Day of 1995 and couldn’t get out of bed. I hated the thought of motherhood. In fact, I probably hated all mothers.

My wretched state back then had nothing to do with my own mother. Rather, it was caused by a feeling of personal failure, and a sense that my own body had betrayed me. Only four days earlier I had miscarried a much-wanted, seventeen-week pregnancy.

From the second you and your partner decide to become parents you are already envisioning that child. Will they have my eyes? Will you enroll them in piano lessons or soccer class? What color hair will they have? And when you find out you are pregnant, or you have been matched for an adoption, in that instant your future child’s entire life is played out. It is played out in your mind, as you envision the birth, toddler years, school age years, college, etc. You picture it all. You think about how you’re going to handle the teen years (OMG!), how you’ll discipline, what traditions from your childhood you want to continue or change.

And when that is taken away, via miscarriage or adoption that fails to go through, it is very much a death. Not just a death of a couple thousand cells that was growing in your womb. It is the death of an entire life. I mourned the death of an entire life, twice, and for many of you that number is higher.  Serene touches on this and why it is different from other loss:

Because loss-of-motherhood is a suffering like no other. By the time I miscarried, I’d had my fair share of disappointment. There were failed relationships, the death of one dear friend to AIDS, another to a car accident, and a few of my cherished life goals had already slipped from my grasp. But none of this pain prepared me for the feeling of utter helplessness that came about when my pregnancy ended.

In those seventeen weeks, I envisioned my baby’s hair color, her first day at school, his college graduation, her middle-aged years, and even his presence at my funeral. Being pregnant overwhelmed my imagination with a wide, mysterious future stretching out ahead. Then, without warning, that future disappeared. I was a puddle of lost hopes.

I hope Mother’s Day was a joyful experience for all of you. If it was also bittersweet, I get it, all of us at PAIL ‘get it.’ You’re not alone, and this community here is proof that your experiences, your emotions, matter. This community is here to celebrate you and your path to motherhood, and to remember that the path is not always smooth and shiny. Here’s to you all, thanks for making PAIL what it is today.

I hope you’ll read Serene Jones’, Worst Expectations: Motherhood Lost , and let us know what you think. Comments are turned on, as this is not a feature post of a personal blogger. Please share your thoughts with us.

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Serene Jones is the author of Trauma and Grace: Theology in a Ruptured World, which explores the relationship between grace, redemption, and the trauma of reproductive loss. Rev. Dr. Jones is also the first female president of Union Theological Seminary and is a graduate of Yale University.

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feature post: coming home empty-wombed: our final infertility journey

This week’s feature post is a story about endings. About realizing when part, or all, of your fertility journey is coming to an end. Casey, of Chances Our , writes about her long journey of infertility, diagnosis of translocation (click here for some science on what translocation is), and the day it all ended.

Translocation, the type Casey has, causes recurrent miscarriages or results in a baby that would die soon after birth. It means the majority of her eggs are not viable. The only way to know is to undergo IVF (in vitro fertilization) and have the embryos tested for the disorder. Casey had undergone IVF prior to testing for translocation, and had 6 frozen embryos. At the time of her diagnosis they were told it was not possible to test those already frozen embryos, as they had been allowed to grow to Day 5, and the test had to be done at Day 3.

Three years went by and my husband and I continued along an arduous journey. We
had two more IVFs done, resulting in 28 biopsied embryos. We also had one
naturally occurring pregnancy. All of the biopsied embryos had the translocation
and were not viable, and the naturally occurring pregnancy resulted in my fourth
miscarriage. We decided that we were done with IVF treatments. Now we only had
the matter of our six frozen embryos to figure out.

Casey and her husband then were able to find a clinic doing cutting edge genetics work, including testing Day 5 embryos for this disorder:

The process was not going to be easy. I had to prepare for an embryo transfer
just in case there was a viable embryo after testing. Since I would be doing the
transfer in Chicago, but preparing for the transfer here in New York, I had to
work carefully with both teams of fertility specialists and make sure they were
always on the same page. And we had to ship our embryos from New York to
Chicago, which was scary and traumatizing. Talk about a fragile package.

And this is where I want to write that it all worked out, there was a viable embryo and their dream came true. But I can’t write that, and neither can Casey. I know what it’s like to come home “empty wombed.” But I don’t know what it’s like to know that this time, this time it’s forever. Sure, there are ‘miracles’, but there is also that moment when you have to say, it’s over. You have to let go, and really mean it and know it.

Casey shares in her post how sad that is, how the grieving process is not short or easy. But she also shares that,

I also felt immediately grateful and relieved to be officially done with my
journey with infertility treatments. I feel a lot lighter knowing that I am done
with tests, shots, doctor appointments, arguing with insurance companies,
dealing with pharmacies, surgical procedures and just feeling like my body is
not mine.

I hope you’ll read Casey’s post, Coming Home Empty-wombed: Our Final Infertility Journey, read about her fertility journey and share your thoughts and support. As always comments here are closed so you can comment on Casey’s blog.

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Casey, in her own words: My personal journey as an infertility survivor, battling endometriosis, recurrent pregnancy loss and a balanced translocation. Trying to help others on their journey.

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healing week: the afterwards

Being present in your own life movie

A concept that I love and that I really only just started actively participating in these past few months.

I had to stop blogging. And I had to put a firm boundary in place between the ALI community and my life. It is the absolute best thing I have done for myself in such a long time. I still read my friends blogs but I have to admit they are now parenting after ALI blogs and my reader has dwindled down to those people whom I have formed a really great connection with over the past few years. The reason for the distance – that’s my life now. Parenting after loss and living after loss.

Chandra mentioned in her post that “Society tells you, you got pregnant/you adopted/you had your baby after multiple losses – now move on” and I have to agree with this ideology to a degree. You do have to move on in and accept that whatever happened in your movie to the point you are at now can’t be undone in order for healing to happen. Living in the past kills the present and the healing process. It truly does. I’ll never forget what happened to us in 2010/2011. We went through trauma like no other, my husband and I turned into shells of our usual comedic selves. We lost and began resenting family & friends and we couldn’t see a way out of the hell that we were stuck in. There’s no way I could forget how my movie started but I do wish it hadn’t happened on a daily basis.

We got through the horrible beginning though and we have found a way to live happily again. I think that’s the most important part about the afterwards when you come from a past of loss.

Living.

Quite honestly, I forgot how to do that until our daughter was born.

Josey mentioned in her post that she was “sad people from an ALI background seem to feel that they are not allowed to have the hopes and dreams that your average pregnant woman takes for granted”. I really have to emphasis that for us – coming from loss – our hope never went away, our dreams never really died, they just got edited in our movie. Do I care now that my original script included a midwife, giving birth within months of all my friends, a joyous maternity leave filled with mommy and me classes with said girlfriends, a fat belly with no stretch marks and curly haired half-Italian baby? Nope, it got edited and the remnants of the original script that I wrote are on the cutting room floor.

The editors changed my script so drastically and what we got put in its place was 10 days to prepare for another woman to relinquish her child to me. Say what! I watched her give birth the most beautiful baby in the world out and have her placed in my arms. My family grew to include the most amazing people and my appreciation for life grew to include all those people.

Those editors…you hate them when they mess with the story until you get to the good part 😉

The good part: I became a mom. Just in a different way than I thought.

Occasionally though, like every good drama, there are references to the past in our movie.

We visit the daughter we lost often. We don’t make a point of doing it, but she just happens to be resting in a pond that is on our usual dog walk route. We wink, we kiss on her bridge, or throw some bread to the ducks and their babies and we remember her. However, once the dog sees the ducks and decides he wants to kill chase them or Ky starts screaming protesting in her stroller because WE STOPPED (OMG) for a second, we gotta move on.

And so the story of “us” keeps on moving.

Forward.

Now if you aren’t sick of my movie analogy yet here’s the scene at the end of the movie after the credits roll as you are walking out the theatre.

The girl (errrr me) stands up in front of a large group of people. She starts talking about things like – child loss, adoption, open adoption, grieving, and stillbirth. She opens her entire life/past up when people to who are in similar loss circumstances ask her questions about how she moved on through/after loss. She tells them that its okay if the story they thought was going to happen gets changed and they aren’t alone on the pages. She says

“scripts get changed all the time and you have to believe that the movie is going have a happy ending”

How do I heal? I talk about my story and I try my best to help people not feel alone when they arrive at the decision to adopt a child because their original script got messed with. I think my own personal healing is flourishing now because we are done with our family building.

So, I’m still here. I’m just waiting to see what else the editors have in store for me, not being scared of potential change to my movie, and trying my best to move forward despite the past.

Be sure to go back and read the healing posts written by: Josey, Chandra, Julie, and SRB if you haven’t already done so.

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tpicTracy is a mother to a gorgeous girl whom her and her husband adopted at birth in January of 2012. She holds a Master’s degree in Guidance Counselling and is a high school counsellor by day, self-admitted know it all by night, and gate-keeper of three enormous families on the weekend. She formed her new family by way of an exceptional open adoption and now spends her weekends making sure her family, her husband’s family and her daughters birth family all get to shower her with as much love as she can get. She can be contacted at theyalllived@gmail.com

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