Dealing with Loss.

I lost my baby at Costco.

Not literally, of course. And not my toddlers – they were safely strapped into the double cart, attracting as much attention as usual. No, I lost the teeny tiny glimmer of a future child my husband and I had just conceived. I can’t explain how I knew. But I did. I felt an odd sensation, and was instantly filled with panicky anxiety. I was nervous enough to be pregnant again so soon, and something just didn’t feel right. I tried to rationalize it away, but my body felt off. It knew.

It’s a strange thing, this grief. I was so excited to be pregnant again – my first babies are turning into big kids and I love every minute of it. I don’t want them to be newborns again – not by a long stretch. No, instead it is that I love toddlers so much that I want more of them. These little people that we made – we want another one. You’ve seen them – who wouldn’t? I knew it was time when I brought it up and my husband didn’t turn a whiter shade of pale. We were ready – we ARE ready. Our life is already chaotic. What’s one more?

It was just as easy as the first time – in fact, I found myself thinking it was too easy. We wanted a baby, and boom! Two pink lines. I was worried, a little, but mostly just overjoyed. We would be having a June baby – every teacher’s dream, right? With the right luck, I wouldn’t have had to take maternity leave. I’m terrible at secrets and so we told everyone. I don’t regret that; I don’t even know how to keep things to myself. And why would I? Pregnancy is exciting. Scary, but exciting. Which brings me back to Costco.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong that Friday, and I was becoming increasingly nervous about my first appointment. At the last minute we found out my husband’s work schedule changed and I would have to go alone. Considering the last time I went for a dating ultrasound they discovered TWO babies, I was less than thrilled with the thought of being by myself. I had a nagging feeling that wouldn’t go away. I got to the appointment early, did all the paperwork, peed in a cup. The usual. I saw the same nurse practitioner and we talked about all the logistics. And then came the moment of truth – the last time I was in this position, my life changed forever. And this time, again, it did. I knew immediately that something was wrong. She thought I would be almost nine weeks based off my cycles; I knew I should be almost exactly seven weeks due to my charting. Instead of a first heartbeat, however, the ultrasound showed only an empty gestational sac. A white circle.

She went on about “grey areas” and “follow ups” and how charting can be wrong, but I knew. I did the math over and over and over in my head and I knew. I was not five-six weeks pregnant. I wasn’t pregnant at all. It’s all kind of a blur; I scheduled the follow up appointment as I was told. I sat in my car and cried. I texted my husband and my mom, and cried more. I got home just in time to put my kids to bed, and they knew something was off. Everyone was crying. I couldn’t wrap my head around this. Miscarriages happen, but they don’t happen to me. I was going to have a June baby, and now all of a sudden I wasn’t going to have a baby at all. My friends and family were supportive; I tried to maintain hope. Things just didn’t feel right.

That appointment was a Wednesday. On Saturday, I started spotting, and by Sunday it was worse. I woke up Monday two hours before my alarm in so much pain I could barely breathe. I put in for a sub and tried to brave through the minutes until the doctor’s office would open. I made it almost half an hour before I gave up and called the triage line, where I was directed to head to the ER. I am so grateful that I have family around, as my husband was able to stay home with the boys while my dad dropped me at the ER, where my mom was already waiting. I was admitted quickly and everything happened fast. Ultrasound, painkillers, fluids, dizziness, nausea, cramps, the “M” word, tears, exhaustion. I was “treated and discharged” quickly and everyone was very kind. They instructed me to have a follow up ultrasound done, and that was that.

It’s strange, this sense of loss. How do you grieve something that never was? Everyone has their own path, I suppose. I remind myself I am blessed to have two beautiful boys, and I take comfort in the kind words and thoughts of others. The bottle of Don Julio my friend left on my doorstep surely hasn’t hurt. In the grand scheme of life, it’s just another small bump to overcome. A memory to tuck away, soon to be covered with piles of other, more wonderful memories. Greysonfleecesawyerfleece

Smelling the roses

In case you couldn’t tell from my recent blog posts, life is overwhelming right now. I’m struggling to find my rhythm, and I’m frustrated that there aren’t more hours in the day. The honeymoon is OVER with my students, so I am dealing with defiant teenagers all day, and then I come home to toddler twins. They are delightful, and they are exhausting, and I am exhausted.

I’m trying to focus on enjoying them, though. It’s hard to always be in the moment, but lately I have made a conscious effort to try and it has been rewarding. I occasionally go through Facebook withdrawals, but it’s worth it to read my boys their favorite book five times. Because – they have a favorite book! I mean, that’s mind-blowing. They actually have a couple favorites – literary blockbusters such as Bubbles, Bubbles; Nighty-Night; The Belly Button Book, and the cream of the crop – Superman Fights for Truth. I think they love that one the most because not only is it all about bananas, it features a giant BUUUUURRRPP that sends them into a fit of giggles.

The truly mind-blowing part, though, is not their excellent taste in books. It’s the fact that they are people. With preferences. And they can express those preferences. As any mom will tell you, there are months (and months and months and months) where you give everything to your littles, and you are rewarded only in tiny precious pieces of personality. A first smile. A coo. A laugh. A gesture. Little bits that you cling to; that get you through the rough times. But then you hit toddlerhood – and you get so.much.more. They turn into people! They can play with you, and point to things, and speak words or use signs. They crawl into your lap with a book they chose. They beg for a bath, because it’s part of their little routine. They do things that are human. They’re not little needy adorable blobs of goo; they’re people. They’re YOUR people. And they are amazing!

I hear a lot about toddler tantrums, and the terrible twos, and I’m not trying to take away from anyone’s struggles. They’re real. The frustrations that kiddos experience at this age are astounding in their quantity and depth. But for me, I am just so enamored with their budding personalities that I truly dwell on the bad. I spend the whole day managing teenager tantrums; I’m happy to read the same book twenty times to avoid a toddler tantrum. I don’t get much done around the house anymore because little people are sensitive and needy. But they’re also so incredibly cool. I think of toddlers as a reminder that I need to slow down, and manage my expectations. What is more important than listening to tiny incoherent babbles as my munchkin pages through a book? Why do I need to walk so fast that I can’t be bothered to hold a little hand? The answers are “nothing,”and “I don’t.” I thought teaching high school taught me patience – no. My children are doing that. Everyday. And I’m thankful.

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Balancing Act

As a mother, I really struggle with the concept of balance. How does one have enough time for kids, job, marriage, household, friends, hobbies, errands, chores, sleep? When there aren’t enough hours, what has to give? How can you avoid feeling guilty?

I really wish I had an answer to all of this, but the truth is I do the best I can each day, in each moment. There’s a lot of buzz out there on the internet about what we should be doing, but not enough about what we are doing. I am raising two beautiful children. I am teaching the youth of America. I am learning more about my husband and falling more in love with him each day. I am running a household. I am making new friends, but keeping the old – and losing some, and that’s okay. I am discovering that my favorite hobby is still reading, I just read Facebook more than I read best-sellers. I am discovering that I can survive on little sleep, but that it’s also not advisable.

Each day, I have positive moments. But for some reason, at night, I focus on what I did wrong. There is so much pressure and so much guilt. I should have had more patience with that student. I should have eaten more than just ramen for lunch. I should have sat on the floor and built block towers instead of sitting on the couch and scrolling through my newsfeed. Why is this? Why do we do this? We should reward ourselves more. We should recognize that some days giving 85% takes 100% out of you, and that’s okay, too. We are not perfect. We shouldn’t strive to be perfect. We should focus on just being.

As my family adjusts to our new reality – two full-time working parents, opposite schedules, ships passing in the night – we have to adapt. It’s a good thing, this change. It involves sacrifices, but also rewards. So my bedroom is a mess, but I get more sleep. My kids can entertain each other sometimes, and other times my needs can wait so I can entertain them. My husband and I – well, we can spend time together when the kids are in college, right? Sitting next to each other on the couch counts as a date night. And I should feel lucky we can sleep in the same bed each night – not a luxury everyone has.

On rough days, it’s hard to see the positives. They’re there, though, buried under the “shoulda, coulda, woulda, not-good-enoughs.” I have a lovely family. I am surrounded by a community of family and friends. I am lucky. Things are hard, but they are also wonderful. I can achieve balance. And on the days that I don’t, I can take a deep breath and know that there is always tomorrow.
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