Observations While Peeing on a Stick

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I’m positive that it’s negative.

First of all, there’s something I’d like to say to pregnancy test manufacturers: WHY ARE YOUR PACKAGES SO DANG HARD TO OPEN?! I mean, really, can’t you give us a little tab to pull or perforation to tear? Why does that plastic have to be sealed so tightly without even the slightest bubble under which to slip our nail and tear the stupid thing open? Because when you take a pregnancy test, you’re a little on edge, no matter what you want the outcome to be. Is this some male packaging engineer’s idea of a sick joke? “Let’s make ’em scramble a bit before they find out if their life’s about to change…forever! Muahahaha…”

Ok, now that I’ve gotten that rant out of the way, is there any more degrading way to find out if a new life is growing inside you than by plopping down on the toilet and urinating on a small piece of plastic? I mean, c’mon. Hasn’t technology evolved enough for some kind of saliva test or eye scan or something?

And of course privacy is something unheard of around here. With a one-year-old and three-year-old roaming around, I can’t very well leave them to destroy the house just to find out whether or not our lives are about to get a little more crazier. “Mommy, what are you doing? Why are you going potty on that? Can I go potty on that? I want one! Let me see! Is it taking your fever (temperature)?” Yes! It’s taking mommy’s temperature. “Are you sick? Do you need to go to the doctor?” We’ll see honey. Give me two minutes and you’ll know.

Two minutes (at least it’s improved from three). The longest two minutes of your life will be when you’re staring at a plastic pee stick, waiting for something to happen. And of course I bought the analog kind (the plus/minus kind) because they’re cheaper. Because if the cost of buying a pregnancy test is a problem, having another baby would be awesome.

I stared (because it always helps to stare, and will it to produce the outcome you’d like). My eyes started to cross. The lines started forming. No, I had the wait the full two minutes to make a determination. Wait for it…wait for it…done. Darn. It’s negative. Wait? Why am I disappointed? I’d really like to space my kids out a bit more, less than two years apart is rough. Because during that two minutes, I’d already let my mind start to wander. The smell of a newborn’s head, the quiet comfort of a nursing infant, the joy of observing first milestones, and truth be told, I just really like my OB, and wouldn’t mind hanging out with her again.

But then I look up into the mirror, and see the bags under my eyes from lack of sleep (still), the few extra pounds from the last pregnancy I’d like to lose, and two very small children looking up at me, and I’m happy. Now is not our time. In the future? Maybe. But for now I’ll just enjoy the freedom of not being with child. A glass of wine does sound pretty darn good.

“Mommy, do you need to go to the doctor? Are you sick?” No honey, mommy’s just fine.

Outside My Womb, Inside My Heart: Our Story of Loss

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Coffee cup given to me by my amazing coworkers, who gave me a “surprise support” party. It was perfect. Still my favorite cup.

Be warned, there’s some harsh emotion/language in this post. If you’ve been through it, you understand. If you haven’t been through it, try to understand. 

I still remember the look on the bakery lady’s face as she handed me the small cake with the words “We’re Having a Baby” scrolled on it over the counter. “Good luck,” she said, as she winked and smiled at me. Little did she know how much I was going to need it. Not that it would have helped any.

I knew. I already knew something was wrong. I knew the moment I could barely discern a second pink line on the stick that something was wrong. Shouldn’t I be more excited about my first baby? Shouldn’t I be happy? I forced a smile, forced the laughter, but deep down, I knew. When we got home from telling my parents, cake and all, I found a small spot of dark brown blood, and my worst nightmare began.

The radiologist confirmed what I already knew. Our baby had formed in my tube, my right tube, and there was no way to save her. (I’ll always know she was a girl.) I was alone, so alone. The jerk of a doctor (who was later written up for his manhandling of my emotions) informed me that his “daughter had this happen in both tubes, so there goes extending the family.” Jerk. Then, he informed me I needed to drive myself to the hospital for emergency surgery. Jerk. To top it all off, he patted me on the back and said, “Go Get ‘Em!” Jerk, jerk, jerk!

I drove, in a daze, to the hospital. My husband met me there, worry flooding his puppy-dog eyes. After what seemed like an eternity, they told me there was an alternative. They could give me a drug to dissolve the baby. Dissolve our baby. “Aren’t there any other options?,” I asked, “Can’t you relocate the baby to my uterus?” I knew this wasn’t possible, but I was desperate. No, there was no option. And the drugs meant there was a chance of saving my tube. Like a lamb to slaughter, I had no choice but to let them inject me. And wait.

Two weeks went by, and to my doctor’s amazement, the baby had continued to grow! I was proud. Our daughter was a fighter. Proud and sad. So, so sad. My husband and I would melt together in a puddle of tears at night, helpless and hurting. As it turns out, they’d only given me half of the required dose the first time around, and I had to get another injection. Insult to injury. And I waited. Waited for my child to stop growing. Even as I type this, I can barely see through my tears.

I continued to go to work at my 8-5 through this all, a numb shell. I began having sharp, crippling pains one afternoon, and my (former) OB (idiot) told me it was probably just “constipation.” She advised prune juice. By the time I made it home that night, I could barely walk. I fell to all fours in the living room, and begged my husband to take me to the ER. When we arrived, I informed them of my condition, and they were nonchalant. “I have an ectopic pregnancy!” I told them, “I could die!” Still, they made wait, doubled over and sobbing.

Finally, a room was open. They made me walk. All of the wheelchairs were taken. I grasped onto my husband’s arm, barely able to move my body forward. They told me to lay on the table. I couldn’t. The pain was so intense I couldn’t straighten my body. I screamed. I remember seeing my shell-shocked husband pushed into the corner of the triage room while I was injected with morpheine. Then, the panic set in. I tried to pull out my IV, tried to escape.

Finally, after the drugs flooded my body, they were able to tell me (again) what I already knew. My tube had ruptured.  I was bleeding internally. I needed emergency surgery. Family was called, prayers were said. I remember waking up and hearing the end of a word. “Ectomy.” I knew enough about Latin to know that meant something was removed from my body. My tube. Salpingectomy.

I was convinced I would never get pregnant again. I was told that this was a “fluke,” unrelated to any scar tissue or malformation, and that I shouldn’t have problems in the future. I didn’t believe them. After all, they’d screwed up royally so far. I found this blog post I’d written (never published) shortly after the ordeal:

So, I guess I need to write about my struggles. That’ll help, right? Sometimes I just want to flick my womb to get it to wake up. I mean, how the hell hard is it to get pregnant? Crack-whores do it all the time. But, I’m the one-tubed wonder, leaning a little to the left. Even I have to admit that I’m embarrased at how pessimistic I must sound. I have become a more positive person lately. It wasn’t really a conscious choice, but rather a survival mechanism. After all, what choice do I really have? Negative people annoy me, and since I can’t get away from myself, I’d better straighten up.

Our first baby was due in September 2008, and that same month, I peed on a stick again. BFP (big, fat positive). I told my husband, “This time, everything is going to be ok.” And it was. Our darling Anna was born in June 2009, and I can’t imagine life without her. I mourn the loss of our first child, but I know I’ll meet her someday. There are two scars on my lower abdomen to remind me of her, scars that have faded with two subsequent pregnancies, but still remain. Fitting.

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These earth angels will meet their heavenly sister someday.

She formed outside of my womb, but not outside of my heart. She will forever be our angel baby, stubborn and full of life, just like her sisters. I’m so blessed to have my two daughters here on earth to hold in my arms. And if you’re going through the same thing, don’t lose hope. If you want to be a mother, you will be. Whether through natural birth, adoption, step-children, or other arrangement, you will be a mother. You will.

New Mom No-Nos: Things Not to Say to or Ask a New Mom

See? I told you she was cute!

Ten weeks ago I gave birth to a delightful baby girl named Erica June. Double motherhood is exhausting, but she’s totally worth it.

I’m not sure if I didn’t notice it as much the first time around, or if I was even more sleep deprived than I am this time, but people say annoying/insulting/ignorant things to new moms! I’m sure they’re well meaning, but I thought I would come up with a list of things you probably shouldn’t say to or ask a new mom (unless you’re just feeling mean spirited).

1. Is he/she sleeping through the night?
Um, just look at these dark circles under my eyes. And the fact that I just swerved into that wall while walking down the hallway. Do I look like I’m getting sleep to you? Do I?! Sorry, I’m just a little on edge.

2. Are you breastfeeding?
Nonya business. Unless you’re my doctor, or another new/soon-to-be mom looking for support, this isn’t really necessary for you to know. If breastfeeding is going well, awesome. If not, you’re likely to cause feelings of anxiety or guilt.

3. It looks like you’ve lost almost all of your pregnancy weight.
Nice try. The key word there is almost. Please don’t remind me of the 15-20-25 pounds I have left to lose. Instead, just say “you look great.”

4. Are you planning to have another?
For pete’s sake, this one’s still hot out of the oven! And besides, until she’s sleeping through the night, I’m done breastfeeding, and I’ve lost those last pregnancy pounds, I probably won’t be engaging in any activities that could put me in that condition again.

So there you have it. Next time you run into an acquaintance who just had a baby, simply say “your baby is beautiful and so are you.” You really can’t go wrong with that.